Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Naming of Things or the Psychology of the Tyer's Art

At some point in their lives, all men contemplate and fear death. Perhaps more to the point, we fear not being remembered after we die. In the male collective unconscious, a far worse scenario than the pain of our final moments, is dying without having made our mark, without leaving our legacy. Undoubtedly, this is why so many of us choose to name our sons after ourselves. From the moment of our birth we may be doomed, but some small part of us will live on in our boys, and then in their sons, and so on - ad infinitum. This gives us hope where there might otherwise be none. So it is with bug chuckers.

Consider the propensity of fly tyers for naming their creations after themselves. Most any man who ties with some frequency and perhaps just a hint of passion will eventually open the jaws of his vise, allow the fly he's painstakingly tied to drop into his waiting palm, carefully study its proportions and color, and in a fit of triumph declare it his minnow, his bugger, his caddis, his stonefly. We've all done it.

And yes, this phenomenon is limited - by and large - to men. 

Recognize the following flies?

It's a safe bet that these two patterns are found in every fly shop in the country, if not every fly shop on the globe. On the left we have Dave's Hopper, as tied by its progenitor, Dave Whitlock. On the right is the ubiquitous Clouser Minnow, first tied by none other than Bob Clouser. I'm sure my readers have at least a few of each fly in their boxes. With hooks, thread, and bits of hair, both Whitlock and Clouser made an indelible impression on our sport. Even when they're gone - and I hope they've both long and fruitful lives - they will live on through their contributions to the contemplative sport.

Now consider another fly.

Recognize the pattern and its originator? Sure you do. What self respecting bug chucker doesn't recognize the Gray Ghost? Once more, we know the ghost is a Carrie Stevens pattern as much for the particular style of tying as for the fly's recipe. What amazes me is that Stevens didn't attach her name to what is arguably her most famous creation. Why?

Again, I would argue that men feel required to attach their names to flies out of the need for a legacy. Men need recognition. Men need to hear they've done their jobs well. Men need a collective pat on the back. Ask any woman whose significant other thinks himself a sexual dynamo.

And while I don't pretend to understand women at all - not even my wife, to whom I've been attached for nearly twenty years - it seems to me that women haven't the same requirements as men. I think women enjoy recognition. I think women want to hear that they've done well. I just don't think that women need that pat on the back. Women are much more pragmatic. Carrie Stevens didn't care if people were buying her flies because those flies bore her name. She was just happy to sell her flies. 

Of course, some might argue that tyers name their creations after themselves for marketing purposes.

More on that soon ...

Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Drew Effect

Three or four years ago, I started fishing with a friend of a friend. At the time, Ben Jose was a die-hard spin junkie, but gradually he turned to the dark-side - or the light depending on your particular perspective.

In the thirty or so years I've been fly fishing, I've been fortunate to learn something from all my fishing partners, and from Ben I learned to better appreciate my time on the water. I started to shift my gaze from the river to the trees just a little bit more, sit down and take it all in just a little bit more, and ultimately to better enjoy my time on the water. Observing Ben forced me to re-examine my preconceived notions of the what, where, why and how of bug chucking. I suspect that he would tell you I've been more a tutor to him than he has to me, but I would disagree. I may have taught him how to double-haul, but he taught me much more important lessons.

I digress.

Several months ago, Ben introduced me - via Facebook - to Drew Price.

I've never met Drew face to face, never heard his voice, shaken his hand, or watched him cast, but I feel as if I've known him for a long while. Since our introduction, we've had any number of online conversations about fly fishing, tying, and guiding. Drew has eclectic tastes when it comes to the long rod. He chases species about which I've only ever read, and he is quite successful in those pursuits. He was the first Master Angler in Vermont's new Master Angler program. Drew Price is nothing if not original.

Like Ben - and all of my fishing partners, for that matter - Drew has had an interesting effect on the way I think about bug chucking. For example, I was sitting at my tying bench the other night, and as I often do I was browsing through my material in anticipation of tying some Hendrickson emergers. I discovered I was a little low on the the Patridge 15BN I use for the fly. In browsing the web to find a supplier, I discovered the 15BNX, a relatively new hook with a more severe bend than its predecessor.

Oddly enough, my first thought wasn't of Hendricksons or trout. Rather, I found myself day dreaming of fish rooting through the weeds of a nameless, muddy backwater. I found myself thinking that new hook would make for an awfully tasty piece of carp crack. I found myself thinking of oddball fish and oddball flies.

Oddball fish. Oddball flies. This is The Drew Effect, and this is in part, why I'm so looking forward to 2011.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas

The other day, one of my daughters told me that my steelhead box reminded her of a holiday. I thought leaving you with a photo of that particular box might be a good way to wish everyone a very merry Christmas. I sincerely hope you and yours enjoy the season, and that the new year fulfills all its promise.  Ho Ho Ho and screaming reels - TRS

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Let's Review

With only a few weeks left in the year, I find myself thinking back over the 2010 fishing season. It's been a hell of a time; we've caught a lot of fish, a few big fish, and we toasted our efforts with more than our share of craft brewed ale. Add to that a little Les Claypool on the bass, and you've the following video ....

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

That's a Decent Fish

Tuna record shattered

405-pounder could break 33-year-old IGFA all-tackle mark

By Joel Shangle

SAN DIEGO -- On April Fool's Day of 1977, Curt Wiesenhutter claimed the West Coast tuna Holy Grail with a 388.12-pound yellowfin, taken near San Benedicto Island, Mexico.

That fish -- which, quite honestly, was a fluke hookup that occurred at 10 p.m. while the long-range boat Royal Polaris was on anchor for the night in the now-closed Revillagigedo Island chain -- has stood for over 33 years as the benchmark for the San Diego fleet, one of the most sought-after saltwater records in the world.

If the numbers that rang up on the certified scale at Point Loma Sportfishing Dec. 2 are verified by the International Game Fish Association, Mike Livingston will be the new Grail holder: 405.2 pounds.
Livingston, a retired school administrator from Sunland, Calif., weighed in an 85 ½-inch yellowfin with a 61-inch girth six days after hooking and boating the beast on a 10-day run to Baja's Lower Banks aboard the 80-foot Vagabond. The giant fish, which now must endure the scrutiny of the IGFA and survive a 90-day waiting period before it's officially verified as the all-tackle record, is the first 400-plus-pound sport-caught yellowfin ever brought to the scales in the colorful history of the long-range fleet.

"I thought the fish was a big 390s, because I'd never seen a 400-pounder before," said Vagabond skipper/owner Mike Lackey. "I didn't know what a 400 looked like. I guess I know what one looks like now."

Livingston's fish, which was caught fly-lining a sardine on day four of the 10-day trip at a spot nicknamed "300 Bank" for the number of super-cow yellowfin caught there in recent years, had been through the rumor spin cycle for six days before it was officially weighed in front of a raucous crowd at the popular San Diego landing.

Lackey and the Vagabond crew had repeatedly and carefully measured and estimated the fish at just over 397 pounds while still at sea and sweated it out for six days while the fish lay in the boat's forward hold, meticulously wrapped in plastic to preserve its weight.

"(Lackey) taped it out, taped it out, and then taped it out again," said Livingston, whose previous biggest yellowfin was a 100-pounder. "He looked at me and said 'Mike, I've got it at 396 and some change. This is a big fish'."

igfa world record yellowfin tuna
The reality of the first-ever 400-pound yellowfin caused Lackey to err on the side of caution, as he quietly reported with a 13-word Tweet: "Slow start today except for Mike L.'s big boy measuring out at 390!"Within 24 hours, that Tweet had spun TMZ-style into chatter of two world-record-size tuna (a 390 and a 397) and had put the San Diego long-range industry into a slow boil as the Vagabond finished out its trip to "Cow Town" and made its way back to port.

Internet chat forums from Washington to Southern California blossomed with whispers of a possible record-breaker, but industry veterans took the news with a hearty grain of salt.

"I generally don't get too excited about these things until they're put on a scale that's not on the deck of a moving boat," said Bill Roecker, the author of "At The Rail" and longtime dock reporter for the San Diego Sportfishing Council. "I've seen too many of these 390-pounders turn into 360-pounders once they're on the scale. This one, though? It looked bigger (than 405)."

From hookup to record book

Livingston hooked the fish on a sardine that was pinned on an Owner 9/0 Mutu hook, and fought it for 2 hours, 40 minutes on a 5 ½-foot heavy stand-up rod with a Penn 30-wide two-speed reel spooled with 100-pound Soft Steel Ultra mainline and 100-pound Power Pro spectra backing.

The 100-minute fight was non-eventful as giant yellowfin go -- "We see 200-pounders that fight a helluva lot harder," Lackey said -- but that might make the difference between the IGFA certifying it as a record and losing the record to a technicality.

"The fish never left the stern," Livingston said. "It'd go from port to starboard, from starboard to port and back again, but it never left the front of the boat. These fish all have different personalities, but all I could think about this one when I first felt it was 'power'.

"When I threw the lever forward on the reel, it lifted me right onto my toes. I weigh 215 pounds, and that thing lifted me like I wasn't even there. It was an incredible fish."

The fish is now in the beginning stages of the IGFA certification process, which includes a 90-day waiting period because it was caught in international waters. The San Diego fleet has seen multiple massive yellowfin denied record status because of miniscule details that can occur fighting a 300-plus-pound fish on an 80- to -130-foot long-range platform.

"We always take a really hard look at big fish caught off of these long-range boats because there's a lot of room for things to go wrong and go against the rules," said IGFA world records coordinator Jack Vitek. "The line can get wrapped on the anchor or the fish can get foul-hooked on somebody else's line and require assistance to untangle it, which disqualifies it because somebody else touches the line. Whenever we see something come in off the long-range boats, we keep a really close eye on it."

The certification process requires for Livingston to submit the leader and roughly 50 feet of mainline, along with a notarized application with basic information (length, girth and weight of the fish, a description of the gear), photographs of him with the fish, the rod and reel, and the scale used to weigh the fish, and a handful of sworn testimonials from witnesses aboard the Vagabond.

"I think everything is going to qualify," Lackey said. "(Livingston) was in a harness when he caught it, nobody assisted him and he didn't have any line-tangle issues. Fortunately, the fish fought at the surface most of the time, and it was smooth from the time he hooked it until we got it on board."

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Please Help

We need your help. A vital and scenic watershed is facing a threat unlike anything it has previously encountered. The Hoosic River and its trout are in danger.

"Beaver Wood Energy, LLC, has proposed a massive 29.5 megawatt biomass incinerator for the former Green Mountain Race Track in Pownal, VT and are attempting to rush the permitting process in order to qualify for millions of dollars in federal taxpayer subsidies."

This incinerator will burn 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The plant's cooling towers will extract 500,000 gallons of water per day from the river. When the river experiences drought, the plant will draw from an on-site well that is fed by the same water table that feeds the river. What remains of this superheated water will then be returned to the Hoosic.

The Bennington-Berkshire Citizen's Coalition has come together to, "demand that we are given the respect we deserve as citizens and taxpayers to have a time to complete a full review of the proposal as serious concerns have arisen related to air pollution, water use, public health and safety, traffic, aesthetics, natural environment, and historic preservation as well as the direct impact on abutting residential homes and neighbors, real estate values, and the local agriculture/farming community."

Please help us fight this menace. Click on the link below to register as a concerned citizen. There is no cost. There is no obligation. There is only your concern for yet another coldwater fishery facing the threats of ignorance and greed.

Please help .... Please ....

Monday, December 6, 2010


Thinking back on November ... what a time we had ...

Saturday, December 4, 2010

That's What Friends Are For

Saw this video for the first time on Moldy Chum, and I just had to embed it here. Clever ...

Friday, December 3, 2010

Merry Christmas: Reign in Blood

From one old metal head to any others out there ... Merry Christmas ya'll. Totally unrelated to fishing ...