A daily dose of photo fishiness.
A daily dose of photo fishiness.
Even though winter’s brutal grip is tightening, there is hope in the hearts of anglers. On December 21 at 23:38 (that’s 6:38pm ET) our little blue orb begins tilting back toward the sun. Though it only lasts for a flash in time, the winter solstice marks the return of the light. We also, apparently for the first time in like 372 years, will experience a total lunar eclipse coinciding with the solstice. Go outside at around 1:30am and look up. Wish I was in bonefish country for this.
As we plunge headlong into winter, many of us in the northern latitudes are looking into our rearview lamenting our fishing season as it recedes. Here in lovely Connecticut there are still some striped bass around and of course trout are available all year. Sea run brown trout seem like a great way to waste time. I will chew on a shoe before I’ll go ice fishing (unless there’s a heated cabin, beer and burgers).
Most of us are settling into our winter routines and trying to tackle projects fallen by the wayside. Some of you are tying bonefish flies for trips you may be taking (real or imagined). Fly rods and reels get cleaned and serviced (unless they’re mine). Fly boxes get replenished. Deer get killed. Maybe you’ll spend some time with the family you’ve been avoiding, who knows?
This is the time for building goodwill in the hearts of wives, girlfriends, children and parents (so you can justify that new stick, wheel or pair of Patagucci Rio Gallegos you’re lusting after). Take a cruise, go to Disney or, if you’re on a budget, maybe just up the road to the indoor water-park at the Holiday Inn. Bring
The Department of Fun Prevention your girl somewhere warm and give it to her (whatever it might be). If you’re feeling really benevolent, hug a duder.
I’ve been reflecting on the things I’ve seen and done in 2010 with long rod in hand. For example, I bought a sweet water whip last spring, A Stowe Mansfield canoe. It’s so sexy I can’t even stand it. It’s short n’ wide and perfect for standing and casting. Only 57 pounds, so even a weakling like me can easily port it. And I ported the shit out of that thing this year. I slid quietly into a bunch of wet places I’ve longed to
Saw hundreds of pike spawning in high water, including a 50 inch cow I poked with my tip top. Had a bunch of cinder worm hatches and slurping stripeedos all to myself. Got to cast to and sometimes catch Pickerel, smallmouth, largemouth and the lovely carp. Trouted it in favorite brooks, and went far a field to investigate rumors of brook trout in small places. Was at the right place at the wrong time for every decent little tuna blitz of the fall.
But adventures are waiting up ahead. Look at the coming year’s tide charts, and almanac, being careful to cross reference major hatches, and runs of salmon or steelhead. If possible, plan family outings during times when fishing seems least promising. That way you can focus without distraction what’s really important (to the other people).
There’s an invasive species splashing around our trout streams, flats, and beaches: Duders (pronounced: dood-ers). Thankfully, they are easy to spot and you can hear them coming.
Characterized by their injudicious use of the word “dude” to refer to everyone regardless of gender or age, duders are crapping up our precious fly fishing culture.
Often traveling in small packs, they are also talkers. The talkers I’m talking about talk a lot but usually don’t have shit to say—usually pontificating about women, top line growth, or the merits of Audi v BMW. Some red flags to listen for are offensive over use of words like ‘like”, “sick!”, “epic”, “word”, “sweet!”, “dope” “stoked” and other combinations of pseudo-urban/surf/ski-chic lingo. They also utter “über” a bit.
Ironically, they can’t hear each other (or themselves). Ear-buds, you see. It seems duders require tunes while fishing.
Armed to the teeth with blackberries, androids (which are, in fact, pretty sweet), or i-phones, they are incessantly tweeting, twotting, blogging, texting, Facebooking and, of course, talking. Every catch gets vomited out into the blogosphere accompanied by video evidence of their awesomeness. Duders are lurking on fishy forums sporting usernames such as IPOguru, fishstud, tightline, striperslayer, Imthebestcasterever, paraleptophlebia etc..
Donning the latest, fastest, breathable-est, shiniest, most expensive and therefore, best fly fishing gear, they are stomping into a fishing hole near you.
No, really. Because one thing duders seem to have in common is a good job. And apparently they’ve been made aware of the very good fishing near you. They also have boats, and lots of air miles.
In light of this, I thought it might be
advantageous wise to befriend a duder (Only because we should keep our enemies close, in order to effect change from within). I feel like they’re drawn to me anyway, because of my pointed sarcasm, obvious erudition and apparent fishiness (in a gregarious everyman kind of way). If I simply feign interest in dope rides, bags o’ money, good beer, sweet tunes, hot women, and epic blitzes I’ll be In.
They’ll be totally stoked to take me into the fold and introduce me around to the other duders. I’ll be like a bearded, undercover fly fishing sage and they’ll want me around on every adventure near and far. From this vantage point I can quietly turn mine enemy into a respectable angler.
Steelheading in British Columbia would be an ideal setting for instruction in river etiquette. Or, off to Idaho and rivers stuffed with trout. Maybe introduce them to the proper way to stalk bones and slug beers in Acklins and the finer points of slinging flies to late night stripers on the Vineyard. Dude, it’ll be totally sick! I mean in terms of effecting lasting social change and all.
I’ll keep you updated on this social experiment as it unfolds.
I have to confess something: been high-sticking it lately and it’s becoming a problem.
I’m a dry fly snob. I’ll own it. Presenting the dry fly and getting the eat is religion. Idiotically waiting, I’ll wear an ass shaped groove into a riverbank until fish begin to look up. It’s a foolish, narrow minded stance—and one I’ve regretted on more than one occasion. But I like what I like.
Nymphing is just, I don’t know, trouble. And I mean that on many levels. Tandem rigs, blood knots, split shot, bozo clown hair, measurements of water depth and speed which lead to addition, subtraction and advanced physics. And we haven’t even gotten the flies in the water yet.
It’s a taboo subject among purists. Some old timers tolerate it but don’t give it lip service. Others revile it to the point of sacrilege. I mean, is it even fly fishing? Advanced bobber fishing, maybe, but not real fly fishing.
There is no argument though, that subsurface flies are lovely to look at and touch. True creativity is flourishing among modern nymph artisans. What with their sexy use of cheerfully colored wire, playful sparkle, crafty beads (metals and plastics), glues, devilish epoxy and imaginative use of game birds. Nymphs are all naughtiness.
Going deep is a dark art to satisfy our baser desires, the id, the self—the bad. In other words, it’s fun. But why is it fun? Is it fun because it’s stupidly complicated and frustrating? Is it fun because the flies look cool and have cheeky, über-colloquial names and you must use two or three of them at a time? Or, is it fun because each time you loose a rig it’s like you threw a ten dollar bill in the water? All of the above, friends.
If dry fly fishing is dogma, nymphing is a cultish (yet surprisingly endemic) activity, abounding with splinter cells and sub-subcultures (Czech nymphing is all the rage among the younger, tattooed stream jock set) heading in seemingly disparate trajectories, the only common (and worthy) goal being to slay giant trout. And really, is there any other reason? After all, when temptation calls, are we expected to limit ourselves? Hell no! I say do whatever will put a bend in your rod and a smile on your face, even if it’s… frowned upon.
Thankfully, my brothers (and sisters) deliverance comes: in an endless, greasy mirror run dimpled by an armada of duns and the noses of happily rising tout. I will wait for it with a 15 foot 7x leader, and bottle of gink, pouring over box upon box of fussily tied no-hackles, comparaduns, para emerges, thorax-es, parachute caddis, rusty spinners etc. etc.
And with sweet salvation comes pious indignation. I will look down my nose at you, nymph. Don’t be offended or surprised at my betrayal. I told you from the start I was a devout dry fly snob. So what if I go slumming. Disingenuous? Yup. But I’ll turn my back on you, sure enough. Just sayin.’
See you in Hell.