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Salmon Inversion

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Striped Bass Slaughtered

Got this email today from Stripers Forever which includes a link to this video:

Please read this and make your voice heard and if you haven’t already done so, join their email list.

Stripers Forever members – on Jan. 15th the North Carolina, ocean commercial striped bass season opened.  In this trawl fishery, individual boats can keep the 50 largest fish that they catch in a day.  This practice allows and encourages the culling or high grading of the catch. This means that the boat will keep the 50 largest fish in possession but may continue trawling all day and may replace these fish with larger ones caught later. Replacing means they will throw the dead or dying fish over the side, substituting them with the freshly caught larger bass.  It is nearly beyond belief that such a system could be in place, but it is.

Here is the link http://www.examiner.com/fish-and-wildlife-policy-in-charlotte/commercial-trawlers-slaughtering-thousands-of-striped-bass-off-the-outer-banks to a newspaper story about the debacle.  The story itself contains a link to a YouTube video that shows pictures of the dead floating stripers.  The trawlers committing this atrocity tow their nets right through fleets of recreational and charter boats that are fishing on the schools.  Is it any wonder this resource is becoming scarcer every year?

SF has sent a letter to Louis Daniels Ph.D. the Director of Marine Fisheries in NC. We hope that you will send the note below or something like it in your own words to Dr. Daniels and let him know that this is a barbaric and unacceptable practice. Here is an e-mail link to his office louis.daniel@ncmail.net.

 

*************************
Louis Daniels PhD
NC DMF
3441 Arendell Street
PO BOX 769
Morehead City, NC 28557-0769

 

Dear Dr. Daniels – The world is now aware of the terrible misuse of the striped bass resource caused by the commercial ocean trawl fishery off the North Carolina Outer Banks.  These fish are worth considerably more per pound if allocated to the recreational fishery in North Carolina than when taken by commercial harvest.  But if the practice of commercial fishing for striped bass must continue in NC, certainly the participants should never be allowed to cull and high grade these fish.  It is already too late to save the thousands of large striped bass wasted by this fishery during the 2011 winter season, but we hope that you will use the power of your office to keep this from happening in the future.

 

Sincerely;

 

Your name here


Roots, Bloody Roots

Our tradition is that of the first man who sneaked away to the creek when the tribe did not really need fish.” -Roderick Haig Brown

Like the man said.

I’ll apologize in advance if this post sounds a little preachy. Sorry.

Also, if you are easily offended by foul language, you will be offended shortly. (Some folks think cursing is the lowest form of communication, but it is actually considered an art form in New England)

I don’t usually feel the need to defend myself but I’ll make an exception. Just for the record: I’m going to post pictures, articles, essays or other stuff I think is funny, cool, disturbing or stuff that other, better writers write about. Whatever interests me. If someone doesn’t like it, they can go fuck themselves I’ll continue posting stuff I like and maybe one day they’ll like it too. This, of course, doesn’t apply to you, dear reader

“Fishing, my friend, is a blood sport.” That is a quote from yours truly in response to an unhappy fly fishing guide who, sadly, unliked the Perfect Fish facebook page (insert eye-roll here). Seems he got a bit pissy about a photo I posted of a salmon being poorly handled. If you really give a crap, you can go read it here—you’ll need to scroll down a ways. Now, he could’ve sent me a private message to voice his valid concerns, but he wanted to make certain all 34 fans knew how he felt. OK, I would’ve dropped it, but a little bird told me he had more to say, elsewhere. Now, I’m sure he is a good guide and he’s clearly passionate about fish and fisheries, which is always cool. But I don’t go where he works and knock oars out of his hands. (I had something more insulting in mind for that last line but I’m trying to show restraint)

Now I know that most readers are normal, down to earth people who look before they leap. For example: let’s say someone puts up a photo of a slaughtered brook trout. An East Coaster like me, might think, “Well, that kinda blows.” Because brookies are like our steelhead, the only trout that belong here. But a cutthroat aficionado from the Rockies may jump for joy, because those rascally brook trout are a native fish menace. Obviously, it’s all about context. I’d certainly read that article, essay or post carefully before voicing an opinion.

Personally, I get testy when I see people keeping undersized striped bass and I’ve confronted a few face to face. But I also get pissed when I see people keep perfectly legal giant stripers and let them suffocate in a cooler. In fact, I’ve offered to dispatch more than one. I guess what I’m getting at here is that we should give our anger a bit of direction. Focus man! Focus! Choose a battle whose outcome is a bit more profound than getting a few people handle fish more humanely. Psst. I think the news it out: fingers in gills=bad. Good one.

Here’s some old news: Fishing (yes, fly fishing too) is hunting.  In fact, I propose that just about everything we do, in some way, springs from our long history of hunting. The human brain is a goal striving mechanism and for about 99% of our time on earth one of our main goals has been to kill and eat stuff (thankfully, now someone else kills it, packages it, and hides it in the isles of our local grocery so we can hunt for the best price).  Ad to that hunting for a mate, hunting for shelter, hunting for meaning in life etc. We hunt therefore we be.

By some incomprehensible galactic accident of evolution, we can happily catch and release fish. Incredible! If we could catch and release whitetail deer, that would be pretty fucking great. But we can’t. Besides, they taste really good.

When I walk down to the water with a fly rod in my hand, I have no illusions. I’m not there trying to be the goddamn fish whisperer. I am well aware of what it is I’m undertaking: Using the least efficient tools possible, I’m trying to make a fish eat a fly (made from dead birds and road kill), jam a hook in its jaw, observing with heart pounding ecstasy as it desperately tries to escape, all for my own selfish enjoyment. Then in an amazing turn of fortune (for the fish) and benevolence, I gently net him, retrieve my hook (oh yeah, it’s barbless because I’m ethical that way), briefly admire his awesomeness, revive and gently return him the water. How great is that?

It’s interesting that, historically, when something was referred to as “great sport” it usually meant the least amount of fun for the animal. It’s an irony of fly fishing that we use antiquated (yet high tech) tools to catch animals we so revere. It’s like the antique future!

Wouldn’t it be pretty arrogant of me to say to some guy with a cane pole or a southern trotliner that my way is better than your way, I’m a more ethical than you? Yeah, it would be.  If someone wants to keep a fish, well that’s his legal right (usually). I do like my way better, but that doesn’t mean it is. As a group, recreational fishers and hunters do so much for wildlife and wild places, it’s sort of hard for me to put a guy down for slipping his fingers in the gills of a stocked trout. Even if he lets it go and it dies, something else will make a living from it. Think I’d rather give money to a cause or join a group trying to take down a damn.

It kind of dishonors the fish if we somehow wave away angling’s history as a way to obtain food. So, when I say “blood sport” I mean to say, like many other activities which used to be purely utilitarian, fishing gradually became a sport, a recreational activity, culture, way of life, a passion etc. Isn’t at least part of the reason we choose the fly pole because it’s sporting –a self-imposed handicap? Whatever you want to call it is fine with me, but any phrase we choose is simply a euphemism. I will grant us this though: as far as fishing goes, fly fishing is the least bloody bloodsport. Usually there is no blood at all (unless you jam your fly into your guide’s ear). Yay us!

I know this is well trodden ground. I’m saying nothing new. Just a reality check.

Embrace your hairy man. Love him. (And, to my female reader: do the same.)

Now, on to other topics…


Headlong Into Winter

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 poach fish.

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).


Attack of the Duders

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.

Word.


High Sticking It to Hell

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.


It’s All About The Fish

Hey Fishers,

Welcome to A Perfect Fish Blog.  Seems everyone is blogging about one thing or other. I won’t bombard you with posts on every fish I catch or my opinions on fishing.

No.  The point of this blog is to share with you what’s going on at A Perfect Fish, which is creating images which capture the spirit and culture of what we do: Fishing–The visceral nature of what it is to fish, to be consumed by the hunt, the thrill of the “eat”,  of the hook up, fight and finally to lay hands on a cold blooded quivering work of art.   Then let it go (OK, I like to kill fish and eat them on occasion).

I’m mainly a fly fisherman, but I didn’t start that way, so I don’t judge how you choose to fish.  We fish because it’s fun.  It’s an obsession for some, merely a pastime for others.  I fall into the obsessed category (that’s what my wife tells our marriage counselor).

So, I created A Perfect Fish mainly for myself because I couldn’t find cool fishing shirts (and other stuff like hats & stickers) with style and humor.  There is a deplorable lack of cool apparel for anglers.  Mainly, we are relegated to established apparel brands like Simms, Patagonia, ExO, Orvis(ugh) and others.  Make no mistake, they all make superb technical stuff and some even have cool t-shirts.

Problem is it’s all sorta traditional, cookie cutter old guard fly fishing garb that everyone is wearing. It’s boring.

Going forward, what you’ll see and read here is an effort to go in a slightly different direction. You’ll see what I’m working on:  What inspires me, the art I create, and finally putting it on clothes so you can wear it.

The mantra is:  It’s all about the fish.


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