Category Archives: Travel

And So It Begins (Book Saga Continues)

The first striped bass release of the year.

Tosh Brown flew in to Baltimore and I was an hour late picking him up, violating one of my guiding life principles: Never piss off a Texan. But the book project rolls on.

We beelined it up to Havre De Grace, where the Susquehanna River empties into the northernmost reaches of the Chesapeake Bay. From there we drove up through Delaware and to the Jersey Shore. I had to bail after the first five days of this leg, but Tosh headed back down to Maryland to catch up with more rocks on the way down to Annapolis.

Special thanks go to many people for making this trip possible:

Capt. Tom Hughes

Capt. Sean Crawford

Bob Popovics and his entire crew. (And for that awesome dinner at your restaurant, Shady Rest.)

Capt. Shawn Kimbro

And last but not least the tireless John Page Williams of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

More details to come, and just in case it’s not patently obvious, the above photo is mine not Tosh’s and will not be found in anything remotely resembling a fly fishing photography book.

So You Want To Catch a Bass, Son?

Pre-tournament scouting results

The first thing you do is drive west. Past all the planned communities and through the endless horizon of cane fields, some thick with smoke from controlled burn, and make your way to the big lake.

Then drive onto and over the levee and the single lane bridge and meet buddy Don at the launch ramp. Don is a tournament bass fisherman. He’s pre-fishing and you’re going along for the ride, skating at 60 on the pad.

The ride takes you through some tight on the quick.

Don can do some things with a baitcaster in his hand. He’s working the bass in shallow, going off the grid and you’re trying to cast your fly rod in and around the tall grass and strip your so-called weedless through the  dense vegetation.

Hitting on the Gambler.

The bass key in on that soft Gambler. You can watch them follow your fly back to the boat but only the little button bucks take action. You’ll let Don have all those seven-pounders come tournament time.

Who let that fly rod slide into the quiver?

Judas Goats and Other Memories of the Galapagos

The Galapagos had a feral goat problem so the powers that be hunted them down and killed them. They used a tactic called the “Judas Goat,” where they captured a goat, fitted it with a radio collar, and released it back into the wild. The Judas Goat would return to the herd and scientists and hunters would track it by helicopter and gun them all down. They were conducting this on the islands of Isabela and Santiago during our trip there to chase striped marlin.

We stopped at a spot the goats might be. There was a path marked by a goat skull nailed to a post. The last Judas here must have done his job; live goats were nowhere to be found.

The bays had lava rocks jutting out along a few crescents. The rocks held fish that had never seen a lure or fly. Whatever they took to be prey had always heretofore been that; they had no reason to be wary or conditioned. We had Internationals on stand up rods and fourteen weights for the marlin; total overkill here. But we also had a few light spinning rigs and plugs belowdecks.

The Judas Buckhead.

The first fish, a buckhead parrotfish, came rocketing to the surface after the plug, we could see it slashing uninhibited all the way. The Judas Fish, we joked. If it hadn’t done it we may have given up and moved on.

The scientists declared victory over the goats a few years later, in 2009. It had to be done. When people put animals where they’re not supposed to be, they just keep doing what they do even to their own detriment.

Less Than Zero

Water I ain't fishing.

Florida is a cruel place to be when there’s fishing to be done and you’re not doing it. But I was down on someone else’s dime and had a job to do that didn’t allow for deviation, even to accept Marshall DeMott’s invitation to chase juvie tarpon.

Not that the fishing would have been favorable. The thermometer dipped into the 30s at night–they had snow flurries up north in Tallahassee on Friday–and today the temp seems to be holding at 55 degrees with a fierce north wind blowing everything out of whack.

These fish down here, they must be out of their minds, being run through a washing machine jumble of winter weather patterns over an extended period. Had I gone I could imagine a scenario of lockjaw and retreat. So I’m writing the whole thing off as a skunk avoided.