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Several books on hunting, fishing and wildlife topics are recommended, not all of which were published in 1996. An unusual selection is Willy Poole’s ‘The Hounds of Heaven,’ an English satire on hunters and their antagonists.
I write my favorite review of the year, I’m reminded of a question Dave Hughes poses in his fine Indian Creek: “What can you say about fishing.?” How much harder it is to say anything about fishing books! While picking the best sporting books of the year from the hundreds I review, I realize once again that it’s impossible to pick exactly 10, or to confine myself to books with a copyright of 1996. The resulting list ranges from conventional fishing memoirs to rowdy English satire. There are some odd omissions: no big-game books and no dog books. Still, the diversity of “species” reflects the health of the sporting field, whatever our critics say.

Fishing From All Angles: Meanderings of a Fly Fisherman is the first book from author Seth Norman. My one criticism is that the title gives little insight into the treasures inside. Meanderings isn’t just a flyfisher’s life (there are many fish caught by spoon and bait in it; Norman came late to “purist” fishing), but a book of glimpses into the deeply lived life of a thoughtful man with a passion for fish and flowing water. There are short stories and essays in the collection, but the line between fiction and reality is blurred. A former investigative reporter and psychiatric worker, Norman’s also been kicked out of Malaysia for sedition and has taught “flying fishing” to a crazed bunch of Polynesian anglers in Bora Bora. These experiences translate into writing that’s tough-minded, funny and insightful. Wilderness Adventures Press; 1-800/925-3339. $29.95.

Live Water, a new collection of fishing essays, features the musings of Tom McGuane – one of my generation’s finest novelists. The great charm of McGuane’s writing is the pure Irish melody of his prose his unique combination of cool, precise observation and the occasional leap into whimsy, though I also love his digressions. Here’s an example, taken at not-quite-random: “Then the trout stopped. There was one single turf of backing wound around the spindle at the center of my empty reel. The fish stopped right then and there! It was like Literature! He stopped long enough to let me think about how wonderful life could be when it had great Literature-style items in it, like coincidence and fate and elegant ironies. Then in that moment of anti-magic when Literature is converted to the far more familiar land where we actually live and breathe and spend our days, the great trout turned and straightened my hook.” Meadow Run Press; 908/719-8858. $50.

A Flyfisher’s World has to be some kind of milestone for Nick Lyons. He’s often worked as a writer and as editor and mentor to more writers than he can probably remember. But this fat collection of essays and recollections, which range from 1940s Brooklyn to private ponds in France, is the first of his many books to survey the roots of his passion for water and to explore its consequences, both good and slightly dubious. Lyons portrays himself as a flyfishing Everyman, prone to all our mistakes and frailties, bungling casts, buying things he can’t afford, sacrificing himself to the Fishgod for one more cast. When you read this one you realize, though it’s all true, he’s better than that…gentler, more thoughtful, wiser. If we read him carefully, a little of his attitude and grace just might rub off on us. Atlantic Monthly Press; 1-800/788-3123. $23.

Dream Fish and Road Trips is one of two books on my list by E. Donnall Thomas Jr., M.D.; I can’t even imagine living his life. He’s an internist, a hunter of big game with a longbow, flyfisher, bird shooter, pilot, world traveler, and a trainer of lion hounds; with all this, it’s almost unfair that he’s not only a prolific writer but also a good one. Dream Fish extends Thomas’s fierce joy in wild fish (of all species) into a wider world. Lyons & Burford; 1-800/836-0510, ext. 21. $22.95.

Hunting, Literally and Figuratively: A Hunter’s Heart: Honest Essays on Blood Sport is a collection edited by writer and conservationist David Peterson. The list of contributors is nothing short of amazing: the late Edward Abbey, ace birder Pete Dunne, Jimmy Carter, Terry Tempest Williams and Sports Afield’s Robert F. Jones, Thomas McGuane, Rick Bass, Jim Harrison, Barry Lopez and Peter Mathiessen. It’s another example of a book that should – though probably won’t – be read by all self-defined conservationists. As Abbey writes in “Blood Sport,” “Hunting is one of the hardest things even to think about.” Because it is hard, most humans don’t think at all; they react. in this volume, 42 good and intelligent writers reflect on their passion and sometimes fierce ambivalence for this most controversial of pursuits, baring their souls about the essential question: How can someone who professes reverence for life take it? That we all take life anyway, but that some do so consciously and reverently, may be a start at an answer. Henry Holt; 1-800/288-2131. $25.

Meditations on Hunting, a legendary classic by Jose Ortega y Gasset, is perhaps the first serious effort by a philosopher to examine the ethics of hunting and most certainly one of the year’s best reprints. Ortega wrote the essay in Spanish in 1942 as a preface to a friend’s book on big-game hunting; the essay received its first American translation in 1972. That book has become rare and expensive, but its poor illustrations detract from the wise and elegant text. Wilderness Adventure’s edition, boxed and beautifully bound in cloth, is a suitably dignified setting for the essential words, and Eldridge Hardie’s quiet pencil sketches enhance them. Wilderness Adventures Press; 1-800/925-3339. $60.

Big Woods, William Faulkner’s hunting collection, is the other great reprint of the year. If you are the kind of person who reads reviews like this, I don’t have to tell you of the merits of stories like “The Bear.” What you do need to know is that Brett Smith’s dark, foreboding etchings are the finest illustrations I’ve ever seen in a sporting book. Wilderness Adventures Press; 1-800/925-3339. $60.

Fool Hen Blues, E. Donnall Thomas’s second contribution, is a passionate insider’s look at Western-style bird hunting, with plenty of emphasis on plains birds. I love it even though he makes unkind fun of gun nuts. (“It’s not that I really have anything against them. Several of them are friends, and they even frequent my house….”) Wilderness Adventures Press; 1-800/925-3339. $30.

Guns, Buffalo Camps and the Act of Predation: Lock, Stock, and Barrel by Cyril Adams and Robert Braden should be added to the list if you’re one of those gun nuts. It’s a simple forthrigth and exceptionally well-illustrated little guide to “Best” English guns by two hard-core fanatics who don’t just trade in English guns but shoot them – well. (The second part of the book tells you intelligent things about how to do that, too.) The sharp-edged black-and-white photos will show you subtle differences worth 1000 words. To quote: “Although a prospective buyer may be told that fine Continental shotguns are actually better than English and that some companies have been making great guns since the dawn of wingshooting, one is compelled to ask, `Where are their hundred-year-old veterans?'” One is in my gunrack. But then, I also shoot a 50-year-old American pump. Safari Press; 1-800/451-4788 or 714/894-9080 (in California). $24.95.

Tie My Bones to Her Back (the title is from the old cowboy song “Leaving Cheyenne”) by Robert F. Jones just may be the definitive account of the buffalo skinners and their wars with nature, Indians and one another. The novel’s heroine flees the failure of her family farm in the Midwest and the suicides of her parents to join her brother in the buffalo camps, and ultimately ends up with the Indians. Parts of it are lyrical arts brutal, parts surreal. With scenes reminiscent of Hieronymous Bosch or Cormac McCarthy; the book should be filmed by Werner Herzog. Farrar Straus & Giroux, 1-800/788- 6262. $23.

Dancers in the Sunset Sky, also by Jones, would be a conventional “sporting” book if anything he writes (and which includes references to Kafka, Waughesque English aristocrats, and a tribute to a Jack Russell terrier who kills her own birds) could ever be called conventional. Jones is unique in his combination of matter-of-fact ferocious joy in the act of predation and his simultaneous realization of the beauty and evanescence of life. I suspect other hunters and writers feel these things, but few write of both. Lyons & Burford; 1-800/836-0510, ext. 21. $22.95.

Satire and Natural History: The Hounds of Heaven is good, is weird, and is the damnedest mixture of satire, adventure novel and a number of other things I have ever read. An English novel by Willy Poole, Hounds is the story of Major Lord Frederick Fitzhugh, who loses first his money and then his livelihood as an anti-hunting government takes over the United Kingdom. He steals his own hound pack (which is going to be executed) and flees to Slovenia, where he signs on to hunt wolves grown bold on the fringes of the Serbo-Croatian war: tragedy, horses, bad jokes, heroism, lurchers and lots of sex. It even has a disclaimer on the dust jacket: “This book is not politically correct and contains scenes of sex, violence, and hunting.” It was reviewed with raves in The Field and will offend many of my friends. I loved it. Michael Joseph Ltd. Contact: Books Britain Inc., 212/749-4713; or fax: 212/749-7509. About $10.

Having gotten this strange, let me end by discussing a few books that are not actually “about” the sports that appear here but should be read by any curious and literate sportsman or -woman. Eyes of Fire, more a handsome booklet than a book, is an account of the first “official” jaguar in the Southwest in 70-odd years. Author Warner Glenn is the conservationist, guide and hunter who brought the jaguar to bay and then let him go. The photos of a jaguar from four feet away will stop your breath. Proceeds from the book will help compensate ranchers for jaguar depredation and protect jaguar habitat. (Printing Corner Press. Write to Warner Glenn, P.O. Drawer 1039, Douglas, AZ 85608. $16.) Understanding the Bird of Prey by Nick Fox is the best manual on training raptors that I have ever seen, by a falconer and scientist who has the backing to support his theories. Most experienced falconers seem to have missed it, perhaps because they assume that they already know it all. I have been flying hawks since the mid-60s, and this book has rearranged my mind. (Hancock House; 1-800/938-1114. $49.95.) Finally – and most important? – read David Quammen’s The Song of the Dodo, his adventure-travel-history-puzzle book about island biogeography. I know that might sound dull; it’s not. It’s entertaining, urgent, haunting, perhaps heartbreaking, because it shows us where we are all likely to be headed, and why. (Scribner’s; 1-800/223-2348. $32.50.)

There will be no more tinned soup. That is the reason why your reliable and useful foodsaver gamesaver vacuum sealer emerges to help you.

Soup, which is made at home, will not last for a long time under normal condition. In fact, it could have a longer life than the filet of fish, but it could turn bad in just one week in the fridge, and that is presumably where you throw away all of your soups and leftover foods to be keep safe. Freezing food, of course, has its own bunch of issues. In reality, without a proper container or bag, your soup could be burnt easily by the freezer, meaning that it will cost you a considerable flavor.

If you would like to preserve the freshness of your foods or soups during a long time, even a year, using a proper vacuum sealer is the simplest and most effective method to do it. However, there is a specific technique to follow in this sealing process.

Freeze your soup at first

In fact, you could not use a vacuum sealer to preserve your soup when it is still in liquid state and then throw it into a fridge. The reasons are as follow:

Firstly, using a vacuum sealer to store the liquid could be a little bit difficult for you.

Next, as all of us know, liquid has a tendency to broaden under freeze conditions, and this would lead to a couple of damages to your vacuum sealer. For example, if you have ever put a bottle of coca cola in the freeze self of a fridge, it would result in some serious problems. Read more

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Some of the fishing and hunting highlights in the Northeastern states are described, along with various public land areas in the region. The Northeast has recovered from the era of slash-and-burn logging, and with environmental recovery has come a renewed variety of fish and game.
What was once a biological wasteland slowly recovered and evolved into something near paradise for America’s sportsmen. Woods and waters in the Northeastern states have in many cases healed old wounds; the virulent mill wastes. and slash-and-burn logging that characterized the region from before the Civil War until well after the turn of the century have been widely replaced by rich second-growth forest and sparkling clean water. It’s not all perfect, but it’s extraordinarily good.

Almost 80 percent of the entire state of Vermont had been clearcut by the 1860s, for example, partly for timber and partly to make way for grazing sheep. Whitetail deer were extinct statewide by 1870, and beaver also disappeared. Native brook trout were literally choking to death in streams filled by silt and sawdust. Now things have reversed; the state is nearly 80 percent forested, both whitetails and beaver are abundant, and wild brookies are found statewide.

The same cycle of recovery has been repeated through much of the region from Maine to Virginia and westward through New York and Pennsylvania. More than 65 percent of the entire Appalachian plateau has remained or–more typically–reverted to forest. According to U.S. Forest Service statistics, for example, New Hampshire is now 81 percent forested; Maine, 76 percent; Vermont, 77 percent Virginia, 80 percent; Connecticut, 60 percent; Massachusetts, 59 percent; New York, 56 percent; and Pennsylvania, 58 percent.

This regrowth of original forest has caused a resurgence of forest animals in the Northeast. The densest moose population in the US. roams the forests of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and New York, for example. The largest black bears in the U.S. live in Pennsylvania. Wild turkeys have repopulated and extended their original range throughout the Northeastern states. Beaver populations are at an all-time high. Coyotes have saturated the entire region, either through migration from the West or by expansion of a remnant population that replaced the timber wolf as the dominant predator.

Whitetail deer, responding to expanded opportunity and increasingly efficient management, reach full range saturation throughout the Northeast. Mountain lions, once well established here but long considered extinct, are now reported too persistently in these regions to be discounted.

Ruffed grouse thrive in the hardwood forests and the brushy edges of overgrown farmland, and pheasants prosper where farms still exist. In the coastal lowlands, bobwhite quail are native from Massachusetts through Virginia.

These sorts of recoveries have made Northeastern sporting opportunities as diverse as the landscape itself. On the same day that solitary deer hunters are tracking 300-pound whitetail bucks in knee-deep snow in Northern Maine, only a few hundred miles away Virginia waterfowlers are swatting mosquitos in a golden marsh, while in Pennsylvania and Vermont upland bird hunters will be afield with their dogs in pursuit of grouse or pheasants amid the last remnants of the nation’s most brilliant autumn foliage.

A wide range of state parks and wildlife lands are proportionately more important in the Northeast than in Western regions, because here it was the states that acquired large tracts early. It wasn’t until 191 1 and passage of the federal Weeks Act that federal land acquisition began east of the Mississippi. Today, however, federal lands are critical to the Eastern outdoor mix, especially in a region generally and often wrongly perceived as being only urban and only crowded.

Sometimes finding open spaces is just a matter of going in a different direction than the mob. Maine’s Acadia National Park is a good example. Millions flock to this 47,000-acre coastal park every summer, but only a comparative handful do anything more than drive around the park’s 27-mile scenic loop road. Even fewer sample the park’s fishing, which includes excellent landlocked salmon, lake trout, and brook trout fishing in places such as Long and Jordan Ponds. Saltwater fishing here is also little explored and can be exceptional for growing numbers of striped bass as well as vast schools of small mackerel and pollack easily accessible to shore-based light-tackle anglers.

The road less traveled can also lead you into genuine wilderness on Northeastern federal lands, starting in Vermont and New Hampshire where Green Mountain and White Mountain National Forests add up to more than 1,400 square miles of opportunity. October archers can backpack with bow in hand for deer through the Green Mountains, spending a week in wilderness and dining each night on freshly caught wild brook trout. Or make your own adventure in New Hampshire’s White Mountains, again hiking the backcountry for abundant wild brook trout and trying to scout some of the biggest whitetail bucks anywhere.

A different hike will give you some of the world’s best fishing all to yourself, this time at Cape Cod National Seashore in Massachusetts. Numerous federal access areas front mile after mile of federally owned beaches on the outer cape, where nearshore bars, holes, and tide rips can offer extraordinary fishing for striped bass and bluefish–especially in June and October. Most beach travel is restricted to foot traffic only, and most fishermen tend to stack up near the parking areas. Hike a half mile or so down the beach and you’ll fish with only seagulls for company.

Farther west, the Upper Delaware National Scenic and Recreational River offers some of the best public trout fishing east of the Rockies as it drains the southwestern Adirondacks and forms the New York/pennsylvania border, a region also rich with deer, bears, and turkeys. National Park Service rangers will check both licenses and lifejackets at canoc-access points, and might also give advice on the spring shad run, which is phenomenal.

A large and important string of federal lands dots the Appalachians from Pennsylvania to Virginia, providing wide opportunity for urban and rural sportsmen alike. You’ll find more than half a million acres worth of hunting and fishing in Pennsylvania’s Allegheny National Forest, for example, or you might choose to chase wild brook trout in the backcountry of 200,000-acre Shenandoah National Park in the Blue Ridge country farther south. Eastern Kentucky adds more than 1,000 square miles of public land in Daniel Boone National Forest, while Monongahela National Forest adds 900,000 West Virginia acres.

Importantly, there are urban federal parks, too. Gateway National Recreation Area in New York Harbor is notable for giving city dwellers exceptional bird-watching by canoe or kayak in Jamaica Bay or surfcasting at Sandy Hook–both a stone’s throw from downtown Manhattan. And in urban Washington, DC, for example,. the George Washington Memorial Parkway links several small parks that provide ready access for shore- and boat-fishing the Potomac River, newly recognized as a hotspot for largemouth bass as well as smallmouths and stripers.

Or take the best of both worlds. The Blue Ridge mountains of Virginia are remote and wild, overrun with deer, black bears, turkeys, and ruffed grouse, yet you can hunt there until dark and still make it to Washington, DC, for a fresh crab and oyster dinner. And next morning you could be hunting ducks on Chesapeake Bay.

Even though 35 percent of the nation’s people live in the Northeast, it’s doubtful that hunting and fishing opportunities in this region were ever generally better than they are today. It’s also doubtful that the region ever contained more big-game animals than live there now. Although there may have been more big fish in earlier years, there is more access to good fishing for more species today than ever before. After 300 years of settlement and development, it is remarkable, but true, that in the Northeast hunters and fishermen can say:The good old days are now!

 

* Straddling the spine of the Shenandoah Mountains along the Virginia/West Virgina border, George Washington National Forest is one of the most accessible wild places in the Northeast. More than a million acres of rugged mountain terrain and picturesque river valleys combine here to offer a wide variety of hunting, fishing, hiking, and camping opportunities that can be reached off Interstate Routes 64 and 81.

With its diverse habitat, the forest has some of the region’s highest densities of wild turkeys, whitetail deer, black bears, ruffed grouse, and squirrels, and is open to hunting during regular state seasons. More than 1,200 miles of streams and 3,190 acres of lakes and ponds offer fish ranging from native brook trout and smallmouth and largemouth bass to panfish and channel catfish, as well as stocked rainbow trout in some waters. There are thirteen developed campgrounds charging overnight fees, plus numerous primitive backcountry camping sites that are free. More than 200 miles of hiking trails follow waterways within the forest and connect with the famed Appalachian Trail that bisects the forest on its route from Georgia to Maine, Contact: George Washington National Forest, Dept. FS, Harrison Plaza, Harrisonburg, VA 22801.

 

* The White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire and Maine contains the ridgepole of the Appalachian Mountain chain, the spectacular Presidential Range of five peaks exceeding 4,000 feet and crowned by 6,288-foot Mount Washington, the highest peak east of the Mississippi and north of the Carolinas. Within a day’s drive of nearly one-quarter of the U.S. population, the 1,200-square-mile forest is visited by about 4 million people annually who drive up Interstate 93 to hunt, fish, hike, and camp–or just to relish the spectacular scenery.

Despite its popularity, the forest offers humbling and remote solitude to those who venture away from the roads on more than 1,000 miles of hiking trails, including a portion of the Appalachian Trail. Native brook trout thrive here in numerous mountain ponds and high-country tributaries of the Saco, Ammonoosuc, and Androscoggin Rivers. Heavy whitetail deer, black bear, and ruffed grouse populations lure hunters, who occasionally take whitetail bucks that exceed 300 pounds, bull moose of more than 1,200 pounds, and bears exceeding 400 pounds from the forest,

There are twenty-two organized campgrounds with varying facilities plus numerous primitive, hike-in sites. Contact: White Mountain National Forest, Dept, FS, 719 North Main St., Laconia, NH 03246.

 

* Smack in the center of the most densely populated region of the United States, Gateway National Recreation Area contains 26,000 unexpected acres of marshes and wildlife sanctuaries, and miles of sandy beaches. an urban “wilderness” within the New York City Harbor area of New York and New Jersey. Established in 1972 as one of the first urban parks in the National Park System, this gem is the outdoor sporting arena of some of the most determined (and successful) saltwater fishermen around.

Accessible by car, bus, or even subway, the bays and beaches are heavily fished by savvy urbanites from March, when the flounder show up, to as late as December, which sometimes offers the season’s last striped bass and bluefish. in between are ten months of fishing for flounder, striped bass, bluefish, mackerel, blackfish, sea bass, porgies, and whiting. The far beaches of Sandy Hook at the park’s southern end can require a long hike, but are hotspots for migrating striped bass in May and October/November when special, free night-parking permits are issued by the Park Service to those displaying fishing gear. No saltwater fishing license is required, but state regulations and limits apply. Contact: Gateway National Recreation Area, Dept. FS, Floyd Bennett Field, Bldg. 69, Brooklyn, NY 11234.

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In the heart of western trout country, which has been my home for nearly 25 years now, few of my angling friends have much good to say about walleyes, which they see as just another warm-water meat fish, strictly declasse, a favorite of the aesthetically unevolved–people with minnow slime on their hands.

“Show me a single book on the poetry of walleye fishing,” an otherwise companionable trout freak argues, knowing there aren’t any.

Another friend does an amusing riff on what such a poetics might entail. “The sun was but a red glow on the horizon when I switched on my Raptor D-137 Liquid Crystal Fish Locator and kicked the new 175-horse Merc in the slats. Some call the deep roar and the blue fumes noxious, but to me it’s the sweet smell and sound of walleye fishing. I popped the lid on my box of night-crawlers. The juicy buggers were knotted in a brown mess, tails wagging, as though they too were eager to get into some fat ol’ marble-eyes….”

There is little one can say against such wit, and I sometimes envy my staunchly purist friends. Imagine being unshakably certain of one’s narrow purchase on the wide world and all its diversity sure that you are Right and others are Wrong (or, at the very least, pitifully Misguided). It must be as comfortable as it is self-limiting.

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So when the urge hits me now and then to talk a little walleye fishing, I have to avoid my hardcore troutnik friends and seek out my mailman, Larry. Larry is from Brainerd, Minnesota, where the walleye is not only the official state fish, it’s the official state bird and flower as well. In Brainerd, children go walleye fishing as soon as they can fit their little fingers around a rod grip. Rather like the Swiss with alpine skiing, Minnesotans have walleyes bred in their bones.

Larry has lived in Montana for a decade now, and has taken up trout fishing, but I have only to meet him at the door as he’s stuffing bills into my mailbox and say, “Hey, Larry, walleyes,” and his eyes get big and bright. For a few minutes we’re two Midwestern boys telling stories and vowing that one of these days we’ll head back East together and maybe hit big Leech Lake or the wing dams near Winona. “Yahh,” Larry says, like a character out of Fargo, “we gotta do it. One of these days, for sure…”

I doubt either of us believes we’ll actually make the trip, though that hardly matters. What we’re after is the emigrant’s pleasure in familiar memories and a shared appreciation for a kind of fishing not much understood by our local trout-drunk countrymen, who tend to view our fondness for walleyes as either quaint or an outright cultural aberration, akin to dog-eating or sluicing game-birds on the ground.

None of this is made easier by the fact that the appeal of walleye fishing is not easy to explain to the uninitiated, especially if one wishes to avoid typical angling hyperbole wherein simple fish are for purposes of effect likened to royalty, Albert Einstein, pugilists and large barnyard animals. In all honesty, walleyes are not particularly exciting to hook; which is to say, they are minimally game fighters. No leaps, no scalding runs. Successful technique rarely involves the kind of precision-casting finesse often required for largemouth bass; and it entirely lacks the rhythmic poetry of flyfishing for trout. In the looks department walleyes might at best be called handsome in a clean-cut, fine-scaled sort of way–pleasantly golden and shapely, once you get used to the marble eyes and gappy, homodont teeth. Compared to any slice-of-the-rainbow salmonid, however, walleye physiognomy is admittedly plain-jane and unspectacular.

Local Treasures: Despite these shortcomings, in the Midwest country where I grew up walleyes were perhaps the most treasured of all gamefish–excepting muskellunge, of course, which were mythic. The appeal, as far as I can evince it, was two-fold. They were (and still are) considered the best-tasting of all freshwater fish. And they could be maddeningly difficult to hook with any day to day, season to consistency. Such a blending of utility and challenge is bound to prove irresistible to even the most vestigial pioneer spirit. Very few walleyes got put back in the water in those days. Catch-and-release except for runts, which we disdainfully called “cigars,” would have been not only a shocking concept, but an outrageous one as well.

Our techniques were simple and time-worn. Pinky jigs–with their stiff, white bucktail dressing and trademark hot-pink bullet heads–tipped with fathead minnows or nigh/crawlers. Rapalas and Heddon River Runts fished deep and slow. And the old-reliable June-Bug Spinner, with its oval blade and string of ruby beads and the long trailing hook, which was always sweetened with one or two nigh/crawlers. This was weighted and fished along the bottom; drifted; or, where legal, trolled at a snail’s pace. The hope was always that you would pinpoint a good school. Then you could anchor and cast jigs or plugs, taking big golden walleyes on nearly every cast until the school spooked and departed farther into the murky depths.

It was all a delightful mystery. Imagination and guesswork and pure uncertainty made the whole game intensely absorbing. You would lean over the gunwale of a 16-foot Lund and peer into the depths of a clear Wisconsin lake seeing boulders and deceptive, fish-shaped rocks 30 feet down, and you would wonder: Where the hell could they be? Or, bobbing along on a tea-tinted, windswept flowage, one of the huge man-made impoundments, you felt your spirits dip with a needle-in-the-haystack sense of futility. What were the odds of finding a, tight school of walleyes in such a whitecapped vastness?

Of course, that was another time, a comparative age of innocence. Our techniques were basic, and our understanding of the fish themselves was nothing less than primitive. Not like today. Today’s walleye fisherman is apt to be another breed entirely. Sophisticated, finely and expensively equipped, knowledgeable. The modern fanatic has one set of techniques for “prespawn” walleyes, and another for “post-spawn” (and specific approaches for the other key phases: pre-summer, summer, summer peak, post-summer, fall turnover, and so forth). Nowadays one hits the water armed with state-of-the-art electronic fishfinders, GPS locating systems, voice-activated electric trolling motors and an armory of specialist lures and tackle. A new custom “walleye boat,” replete with 175-horse outboard, can set you back 22 grand.

Golden Boys: Once only a regionally valued species, in the last 20 years walleyes have become the golden boys of national anglingdom. So popular that they have been stocked by demand in places as far from their natural habitat as Texas, Mississippi, Oregon and New Mexico. And the fish are no longer prized mainly as table fare. They have literally become a cash crop. Not only are there many local walleye clubs and friendly weekend tournaments, there is now a full-time pro circuit: professional walleye fishermen on the Professional Walleye Trail, roving the country in hopes of heavy catches and heavier, five- to six-figure checks.

Where there was once merely walleye fishing there is now Walleye World, part national industry, part zany subculture. Whether the commercialization of a gamefish is an American inevitability and a fine thing or a travesty on the essential heart and spirit of sport fishing is a debate too lengthy to go into here. I admit I was not particularly charmed by an industry rep at a national fishing show who, mistaking me for a fellow profiteer, rubbed his hands with unabashed avarice and gestured to a huge array of late-breaking walleye specialty gear. “I’m tellin’ you,” he said, “there’s big money in these moon-eyed fish. Won’t be long and we’ll be big as bass.”

This is a long way from the innocence of peering over the side of a boat into the mysterious depths of a clear lake, while praying that a walleye will find your jig. But I was buoyed somewhat a few days later, when I was invited to fish the Mississippi near LaCrosse with one of the pros who do it for a living. We launched the fancy boat and switched on the various electronics and, as my troutnik friend would say, kicked the big outboard in the slats. Zooming over water I remembered fondly from decades, ago, all the joys came back. The old brown river, the wing dams, the pull of a lure in the current.

We fished hard all afternoon, hooking only a few cigar runts. The pro was affable, unpretentious; pleasantly real. “These damn fish,” he said, grinning. “They should be here, only they don’t know it. With walleyes you never can tell.”

It was one of the rare times when not catching fish made me happy. Despite all the changes, all the technology and science and commercialism and fancy gear, the golden fish of my youth could still prove elusive. The challenge, the delightful sense of mystery, was happily intact. I just wish Larry, my mailman, had been along to share the day.

Walleye World has been accompanied by such a flood of specialty rods and reels, it’s not always easy to know what to choose. A few basic suggestions:

The generalist walleye outfit includes a six- to 6 1/2-foot graphite spinning rod, medium to fast action, with a flexible tip and blank-through-the-handle construction for maximum sensitivity. Match it to a medium freshwater spin reel with at least a 5:1 retrieve ratio. Six-pound-test line is a good standard for jig and drift fishing; but carry spare spools of 4- and 8-pound line just in case.

For vertical jigging, go with a stiff 5 1/2-foot rod; for casting or trolling crankbaits, try a six-foot lightweight baitcaster, fast-action with long handle and flexible tip, or the same basic configuration in a spin rod that’s seven feet long.

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Basic advice is given for buying all sorts of fly-fishing equipment: lines, flies, reels, rods, and fishing vests. Some specific products are described, and their prices are given. Addresses and phone numbers for fly-fishing schools are listed.
CONTRARY TO ITS PRISSY, ZEN-LIKE AFFECTATIONS, fly-fishing is a straightforward business and easy to learn. Provided you have the proper line, rod and reel (plus a few flies), the world becomes your rising rainbow.

But what gear is fight for you? Good question. The best place to seek counsel is, of course, your local tackle shop. So think of this as an introduction, then hie to the local dealer for further refinement. And remember don’t be intimidated by arcane talk or esoteric equipment; snootiness is something a handful of insecure fishermen have forced on the rest of us.

Line: Despite all the available gear–the glistening rods, ornate flies and stupid-looking caps–fly-fishing actually begins with the most unassuming part of the outfit: the line. Since the fly itself weighs next to nothing, what you actually cast is the line, with the fly trailing slightly behind as the line moves through the air.

Now, fly lines come in a variety of sizes, or “weights,” each one designed for a different type of fish and water condition. For tiny, anxious trout in creeks, a one-weight line–the smallest available–may be what you’re after. For big sharks and marlin in the ocean, a 14-weight line that casts like rope is available. Some lines float on the surface; others–with lead cores–sink, dragging your fly toward deep, sulky fish. All lines, however, are tapered toward their front, which, like a bullwhip, makes them easier to control as you cast.

For beginners hoping to use the same line across a range of conditions, I suggest a floating, five- or six-weight line in an easy-casting, double taper. For the money, the best one going is the Concept brand from Scientific Anglers ($13.75). Thanks to its specially designed front taper, Concept line is easy to cast, and it floats better than many more-expensive topwater lines. It’s also designed specifically for starting fly fishermen.

For those with a thicker bankroll, Cortland’s 444 line ($48) is the best stuff available. The 444 has a lubricant chemically bonded to it, which lets the line slide more easily through the rod’s steel guides. Still, half a C-note is a lot to spend for something that doesn’t improve the quality of your fishing appreciably.

Since lines are made in roughly 90-foot lengths, you’ll also need some backing. Generally made of thin, pliable Dacron, this line is spliced to the back of the fly line, filling out the reel’s spool and providing insurance in case the big fish you’ve hooked runs farther than 30 yards. (And, yes, this will happen.) Though I favor basic, braided Dacron backing from Orvis or Cortland (each about $7) on my reels, most any backing at your tackle shop will do. Just don’t forget to buy it.

Finally, you’ll need a few nylon leaders: the hair-thin, see-through threads that connect the heavy line to your dainty fly. Though leaders come in a dozen different varieties, just ask your dealer for a few 9-foot, tapered leaders that end in a 4X tippet (about $3 each), and all will be fine.

Rods: Where are you going to fish? If you live in the East, where rivers are smaller, you’ll want a shortish rod: a 7- or 8-footer. In the West, where larger rivers and stronger winds demand heftier equipment, you may need a 9- or 10-foot rod. Talk to your shop owner. Tell him where you’ll be learning to fish, and he will likely grab a half-dozen rods and suggest you step out to the shop’s parking area for test casts. After you’ve tried a few rods, one will feel better in your hands than another. This has mostly to do with your hand and arm strength, but still, when you find that rod–provided the price is right–buy it.

For fishing small, overgrown creeks, my favorite rod is the 7-foot, three-weight IMX graphite rod from G. Loomis ($315). Made of a matte-black graphite, this rod won’t reflect sunlight–and spook fish–like the lacquered finishes of other rods, and its fast action and lightness are well suited for short casts. If I need to lay a fly beneath a low, shoreline rhododendron in close quarters, the 7-foot IMX gives me the limited-range punch I need.

For more all-round performance, L.L. Bean’s Guide Series offers an 8 1/2 foot, five-weight wonder. This medium-fast-action rod pushes long, reaching casts crisply, yet it’s still short enough to use on crowded eastern streams. And at around $175, it may be the best rod available for the money.

Still, for bigger water, I’ll always swear by my 9-foot, five-weight Orvis Western Freestone ($230). A sturdy stick with a medium-fast action, this rod combines strength, lightness (only 3 1/8 ounces!) and a gentle touch that I’ve used to catch everything from Pacific Northwest salmon to Tennessee sunfish.

Finally, if you’ve got adequate disposable income, there’s the 8 1/2-foot Winston IM6 ($455). A three-piece, green graphite rod for five-weight lines, this thing makes even beginners feel like fly-casting masters. It’s the lightest rod going–just 2.9 ounces–yet its action, both fast and touchy, is what makes it such a pleasure to fish with. There isn’t an easier-casting, more sensitive fly rod on earth.

Reels: Rarely in fly-fishing is a reel used for anything but storing line. Sure, once in a while, when fighting a bruising fish, you may “reel fight” it, placing your hand across the reel’s face, then palming the reel’s spool to brake the fish’s runs. But, more likely, you’ll use your reel the way fly fishermen always have: as a spool to keep unused line from piling around your feet.

Still, there are a few things to look for when selecting a reel. For starters, see that all its metal parts are anodized, since metal that’s merely painted tends to chip and rust. And explore the different braking systems. Whether you choose a simple, spring-and-pawl-type drag or the more adjustable disc-drag is a personal question. Just remember that the reel needs to run forward and backward with equal smoothness. After that, your decision is a matter of rod balance, feel and available cash,

The most basic reel going is that black steel classic, the Pflueger Medalist. At $29, this sturdy, inexpensive click-drag reel has been around forever, and it will last a lifetime–even two.

A little higher up the price/performance scale is the Orvis Battenkill 5/6 reel (for five- or six-weight line). This is a smoothly performing, cast-aluminum classic that’s offered with either the spring-and-pawl ($88) or disc-drag ($100) braking system. It’s an elegant workhorse, and the reel I use most often.

For those after a new classic, the Nebraska-based mail-order house Cabela’s delivers. Its HP2 reel (for six-, seven- or eight-weight lines) combines a train-stopping disc-drag with bar-stock aluminum lightness. The reel’s aluminum and Delrin drag system is what makes it so terrific. (It has four times more drag surface than the next toughest model.) Just last weekend, I reel-fought an 18-pound Steelhead with an HP2 for half an hour, stopping his runs by tightening down the big, flat adjustment knob on the reel’s back. The HP2 is a bit more expensive than most other production reels ($150), but for those planning to catch bigger and stronger fish, this is the reel you want.

Packages: So you’ve done it. You’ve pieced together the outfit you’ll need. Now throw a wrench into everything: Ask your dealer about pre-boxed rod/line/reel sets.

For years, the fishing industry has offered quality, well-balanced boxed sets for beginners, often at a 40 percent discount over buying a la carte.

For broad-spectrum fishing, one of the best sets comes from the Pacific Northwest’s biggest rod-maker: Sage. Their Discovery Series ($230) includes a medium-action, five-weight rod; a floating, double-taper line; and a beefy alloy reel whose spring-and-pawl drag can really take the punishment. It’s a great package for Western trout and salmon fishermen, or for bass fisherman nationwide, who might be throwing bulky, air-resistant flies.

Another good boxed set is Orvis’s Green Mountain/Henry’s Fork kit ($220). Combining an 8V2-foot rod, a Madison III reel, and five-weight line, this set is well suited to catching everything: from bitsy Georgia brook trout to slab-sided Wyoming cutthroats.

For those after a well-crafted package at bargain prices, Cabela’s of Nebraska comes through. The company’s Fish Eagle II Series ($170) combines a 9-foot graphite rod with a polyurethane reel and five-weight line that’s competitive–performance-wise–with the other boxed sets. Remarkable.

Flies: Okay, so you’ve gotten the gear together. You still need a fly or two. Before you sprint to a fly shop and–hither and yon– bury $300 so you’re stocked for any emergency… wait. Halt. Hold it. Smarten up! It’s taken me a long time (and hundreds of dollars) to figure this out. But, these days, I’ve got a pretty good system for buying flies. So here’s my last bit of free advice.

The day before I go fishing, I stop by the local fly shop and ask what fly patterns have been working. As they show me, and I buy a few flies (which cost $1.50 to $2.50 a pop), I’m also likely to hear inside dope on the recent fishing, including the latest hot spots and what’s expected to heat up in coming days and weeks. So, sure, the purists may scoff, but, thus far, my plan has saved me hundreds of dollars–and it’s never failed. Always, as I wade into the river, I’m the guy who seems to have the right flies and the insider information.

SCHOOLS OF FISHING

Mastering the art of fly-casting can take months, even years of practice, but you can get a good head start from a few days of fishing with the pros. The following schools will teach you to east, choose and use tackle, read water for fish and help you build a short list of streamside entomology. All of the schools supply equipment and wading boots.

The Complete Flyfisher. A weeklong, holistic, hands-on school that turns rank beginners into Seasoned anglers in gorgeous surroundings in southwest Montana, otherwise known as trout heaven. Cost: $2,000, which includes everything, from pick-up at the airport to drift-boating through remote Montana canyons to top-flight wines at dinner. Contact: Complete Fly fisher, Box 127, Wise River, MT 59762; (406) 832-3175.

Dan Bailey’s Fly-Fishing School. The focus is on individual attention in Bailey’s two- to four-person classes. The course ends on the Yellowstone River, where parts eta River Runs Through It were filmed. Cost: $250-$400. Contact: Dan Bailey’s Fly Shop, Box 1019, Livingston, MT 59047; (800) 356-4052.

The John Blair School of Fly-Fishing. A one-day, introductory class perfect for busy government-types. Cost: $70. Contact: John Blair, 5366 Gainsborough Dr., Fairfax, VA 22032; (703) 425-6590.

LL Bean Fly-Fishing School. Bean’s offers a three-day introductory course and a two-day parent/child course in Freeport, Maine. Cost: $395 and $495 respectively, not including accommodations. There’s also a Bean-sponsored four-day saltwater fly-fishing school in the coastal town of Sebasco Estates, Maine. Cost: $1,495, including accommodations. Contact L.L. Bean Fly-Fishing Schools, Freeport, ME 04053; (800) 341-4341, ext. 2666.

The Mel Krieger School of Fly-Fishing. A comprehensive, two-day introduction to fly-fishing by one of the sport’s masters. Instead of working from a single location, Krieger takes his classes to different locations, stopping in San Francisco, Kansas City, Houston, Aspen, Sun Valley and other cities for a few days each. Cost: $420-$460. For dates and cities, contact Club Pacific, 790 27th Ave., San Francisco, CA 94121; (415) 752-1013.

The Orvis Fly-Fishing School. The 2 1/2-day course that sets the standard. Cost: $395, which includes the use of some great equipment. Contact: Orvis, Route 7A, Manchester, VT 05254; (800) 235-9763.

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When you want to be a frequent fishing wader, a pair of fishing waders can support your comfort and favorite during the trip. In general, they consist of waterproof boots and other accessories basing on your wading needs. To get the good styles, you must spend some time to consider different features.

However, even if you have the best breathable waders or neoprene waders, that means you can gain the best effect during the trip. It’s important to use your best boots effectively. In this article, we gather information to help you know how to use fishing waders.

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1. Kinds of fishing waders

The pair of waders you need to carry bases on the depth of water you want to wade. There are three choices available: chest waders, hip waders, and waist-high waders.

– Hip waders

These pairs are used for water high up to the knee. They have a lot of advantages, such as the lightest pair, the easiest and most comfortable ones for acting, especially in the hot weather. When you intend to wade in the shallows and smaller streams, they are convenient enough for the best results. Moreover, because of the small size, they are simple to prepare and you can comfortably do other things, like hunting in boggy terrain, digging for clams, and sailing boats.

– Waist-high waders

These waders are the combination between characteristics of the hip waders and chest waders. They are baggy pants and keep the higher water level from coming inside the clothes. Moreover, they include the belt loops and suspenders. Thus, you can wade in the higher water level and actively move around. Besides that, your upper part is comfortable and breathable on hot days.

– Chest waders

When anglers prefer the versatility, chest waders are the best option. You can wade in the dry condition while water is high up to the waist. The pair includes suspenders to keep waders securely fit your body and also have room for warm clothing underneath if necessary.

They are really needs for safety when you suffer from sudden accidents, such as stubborn fish landings, rogue waves, faster currents, drop-offs, and hidden holes. Plus, you are in the maximum protection while wading in the rainy and windy days, deeper pools, rivers with stronger currents, and wet weather.

However, you should put on a wading belt to avoid an accidental dunking.

2. The construction of fishing waders

The comfort relates directly to the construction of waders. For instance, waders which are designed for cold environments are too hot to wear in warm conditions.

– Insulated fishing waders

Most of those types used for cold conditions are neoprene waders that are made of the same material of wetsuits. To use for winter, they must be durable, stretchy, waterproof, and very warm. Their thickness is various for the different temperature of warmth. In general, they’re cheaper, easier to clean and repair than other types, but they aren’t breathable. Thus, if you’re sweating and the inside moisture is increasing, you should change to the insulated, breathable waders.

– Breathable uninsulated fishing waders

These pairs are much lighter than neoprene waders and the inside moisture can pass through the fabric. The main materials are made of polyester or nylon, waterproof breathable Gore-Tex or membrane, which prevents the outside moisture and lets the inside moisture come out.

Breathable waders are perfect for warm and hot weathers and also useful for cooler conditions. In summer, you can wear waders with shorts and T-shirt while in winter, you must wear some layers to keep warmth. However, breathable waders are less durable than other waders so that you may spend much money for repairing or buying new waders, especially if you wade frequently and go on rough grounds.

– Non-breathable fishing waders

Those waders are similar to the breathable pairs but the inside moisture can’t come out. They are inexpensive and good for warm conditions but not for hot climates.

Last but not least, if you have a budget to own the best fishing waders, you should purchase a pair and carry a repair box during the trip. You may suffer from accidental problems so you should check the waders and repair them as soon as possible. The high-quality fishing waders and the good use support your safety and comfortable in wading.

GigaFishing is a specialized website to share what is best in the field of fishing. The latest update of the fishing news . Website’s slogan is “share the best fishing”!

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The hobby of fishing collectibles has become a thriving business, one that has attracted its share of unscrupulous people. Sellers should seek out a legitimate appraiser before selling their potentially rare equipment. Rarity and quality are the two primary indicators of the equipment’s value.
You may have a gold mine hidden away in your closet – if you can stand to part with it.

I get more letters inquiring about the value of fishing gear than about any other subject:

“Dear Mr. Acerrano: I found an old bamboo flyrod in the at the other day and wonder if you ca tell me what it’s worth.”

“Dear Mr. Acenako: My grandfather died and left me a whole bunch of fishing tackle. Here’s a list of the stuff. Please tell me how much each item is worth and who I can sell it to.”

“Dear Fish Editor. I really enjoy your magazine. I bought a Rolley `Muskie’ reel at a yard sale the other day for $50. Did I get taken? what’s it real& worth?”

For a while I tried to answer each letter personally, though seldom could I provide precise answers. Few seem to realize how specialized the collectible-tackle field has become, and how much time and energy is required to gain a working knowledge of ever-fluctuating prices and values. It’s enough of a challenge to keep up with the flood and diversity of current tackle, much less stay in touch with the specialized and often fang-and-claw world of collecting. frankly, I don’t even try. I’d rather go fishing.

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Nonetheless, my mail proves there is a large interest in, and a dearth of knowledge about, this subject of buying and selling old tackle.

Seller Beware

My research on the subject led me to an amiable and knowledgeable man named Brian McGrath. For seven years McGrath has been editor and publisher of Fishing Collectibles Magazine, a small, slick-paper quarterly devoted to news, history an valuations of interest to amateur an professional tackle collectors.

According to McGrath, the first thing to keep in mind before buying or selling old tackle is: Beware Tackle collecting can involve big bucks and quick profits, which guarantees the presence of crooks, hustlers tiers and other cheats. “Horror stories abound in this field,” said McGrath, and cited a brief, recent example of a financially stricken widow who, hoping to sell her late husband’s Dickerson bamboo flyrods for whatever profit they might bring, contacted a “tackle appraiser and dealer” listed in the want ads of her local newspaper. The dealer paid her $200 for the rods, knowing they were worth $4000.

“Just one story of many,” said McGrath. “I could tell you horror stories all day.”

Luckily, fair-minded McGrath offers a free appraisal service to anyone interested in buying or selling antique gear [see box]. For sellers, he also offers advice on the best avenue to take with particular items. “You can go the auction route,” McGrath said, “or the dealer route. Or in some cases I can put sellers in direct touch with a buyer who I know is looking for that exact item.”

According to McGrath, a direct line to a buyer usually yields the highest price. Selling collectibles at auction can also produce high prices-though McGrath warned that this route can be risky. Some items might be sold at low bids, simply to unload them. Or a blanket amount for an entire collection sold at auction might be far lower than what would be realized by simply selling the items individually. The third option is to work with a reputable dealer of antique tackle, though the dealer’s middleman profits have to be factored in, and generally result in a lower net profit for the seller.

Quality And Rarity

How do you know if you have a salable, perhaps highly profitable, bit of old tackle, something worth getting appraised?

“The indicators of value,” McGrath said, “are, one, quality; two, rarity.” Your father’s 40-year-old steel filigreed baitcasting reel may look like an antique, but be worth only $20 or $30 in the current collector’s market simply because there are so many of those particular reels around. If that same reel was never used, however – if it’s still in its original box, for instance-quality and rarity shoot up, as may the price.

McGrath gave as an example the Gold-Series Ambassador baitcasting reels from the 1960s and early 1970s. Two years ago these reels, if in mint condition, were selling for $ 1000 apiece to the Japanese market – despite the fact that baitcasting reels in general are not high-price items.

Rarity can also be determined by an item’s history or ownership. McGrath recently purchased a Granger bamboo flyrod that had belonged to Norman Maclean, author of A River Runs Through It. This Granger rod would normally sell for $300. Maclean’s rod is worth $3000.

The Hot

Rods

Bamboo flyrods are among the hottest collectibles today – but only the good ones. Many of the factory-made or “production” rods – such as Montague, South Bend, and Horrocks-Ibbottson – are worth on $75 or less. A Garrison model in fine condition, on the other hand, can sell for $10,000, and all of the handmade rods from the “classic” bamboo period of 1930 to 1970 – including Leonard, Payne, Dickerson, Young – are eagerly sought.

“The antique fishing tackle market is getting bigger all the time,” said McGrath. “And broader.” It’s not just about rods and reels: Wooden fish decoys, once used for ice fishing, are bringing in big dollars. And much prized right now are turn-of-the-century fishing lures, especially those that originally cam in, and still include, wooden boxes. These Hedon and Winchester lures, if in mint condition, are currently commanding $700 to $1000 apiece.

From which we can deduce a final lesson: Hang on to your current fishing gear. Far enough down the road, it may become “collectible.” Someday it could even be worth a fortune.

A fly fisherman feels frustration at not being able to throw the line well and admits that he lacks the patience and precision to do so. He contents himself with his 75-foot tossing limit, which is short of the 90-foot ideal.
It’s hard not to take issue with the masters who tell us, while casting 90 feet of fly line with their thumbs and forefingers, “This isn’t hard when you make these simple moves. . . .” Then they show us a pig-tailed Brownie hauling the whole fly line.

It has not been easy to admit that a ten-year-old girl with an arm like a knitting needle can do this. Maybe she can also run 100 straight with the 20 gauge, but I refuse to dwell on that. What I am dwelling on is that I can’t throw the whole fly line, at least not well, or often.

I never wanted to run a 4-minute mile or be a dazzling light-heavy, but I do believe that to think of yourself as a good fly fisherman, you ought to be able to throw the whole line at will. I think it improves your normal casting technique and solves a lot of windy day problems. And last but not least, you can sure annoy most of your fishing pals who can’t do it….

Yes, I have taken lessons and they do help. But the minute the instructor leaves, my less-than-perfect timing returns with a vengeance; wind knots the size of sour grapes appear as if by magic in the leader, and rod manufacturers who thought they’d seen everything have been known to weep. I’ve spent my egg money for tapes and books, but they merely deepen the frustration. I have nightmares of nurslings snatched from their mothers’ laps roll-casting 80 feet and laying out long curve casts with rake handles.

Left alone, my consistent best effort is a little better than 70 feet; give me the nod and say 75, but the last 15 feet just don’t shoot. Where is that magical little touch that sends the backing humming through the guides? Where is the payoff for honesty, and hard work they promised me in Sunday school?

And success is as mysterious as failure. The one cast that does come alive and brings the backing knot out of hiding happens often as not when you least want it, sending the Royal Wulff deep into the widows or lining the one big feeding trout. But there is that one brief moment of satisfaction….

I had a whole morning just like that, fishing for Atlantic salmon on the George River in Quebec. A photographer was filming me and it was one of those very rare days when the line was long and straight and the loops tight, and I looked like I knew what I was doing. No doubt I had a favorable wind. The downside was that although we knew there were fresh fish in our stretch of river, I wasn’t catching any. So I went off to another pool and a beginning angler whose best cast couldn’t have reached 40 feet took my place and proceeded to take six nice salmon running 15 to 20 pounds. If I’d known those fish were lying so close, would I have been content to stand there and throw only half the line I was capable of throwing – in front of a camera? Sure, but not every time.

One of my fishing pals, knowing my love for 8-, 9-, and 10-weight rods has, with some disdain, called me a “jock strap fisherman.” I admit to it. I lack the patience and delicacy to toss size 18 and 20 flies to soft, sipping rises. I’m happiest heaving big Zonkers, Matukas, and other stuff the size of a house wren as far across the river as I can. When I was a small boy I believed that the farther away the fish were the bigger they had to be. I guess I still think so.

I’m not at all sure that my 75-foot limit isn’t genetic, like my inability to leap no higher than a foot and a half in the air. But I have practiced. I have also sought the answer in a mad frenzy of rod buying – the time-honored refuge of the inept. I have had rods from virtually every major, and a few minor, makers in the U.S. and several from England and France. I’ve ended up with a few favorites, rods I actually caught fish with. The other day I dug out one of these, an old Orvis boron/graphite for a 9-weight line, to try something I saw on a new casting video. I was pleasingly surprised at how good this outfit felt in the hand, and after a few false casts to get the kinks out of the line, I tried my best to come up to the level of the schoolgirls shown on the casting film. The second or third cast sent the whole fly line out past the rod tip! It was almost as effortless as promised, and I felt I could share a pool with any eighth-grader and not feel foolish.

But then I suddenly remembered last using this rod and reel setup on a big river in Canada where the guides keep you fishing one beat until you have cast the whole fly line or dose to it before they moved the canoe to the next drop. If you couldn’t hack the casting, the guides would grumble and make disparaging remarks.

After one particularly frustrating afternoon, I asked myself why I should be one of the sheep. Where is it written you have to listen to grumbling remarks or that a fly line has to be 90 feet long? So I cut 15 feet or so off the back of my line. I’m happy to report that the guides were thrilled with my improved distance and none the wiser.

You’ll be happy to know that this tactic also works with tarpon and bonefish guides. The moral here is pretty straight-forward: If you can’t reach what you’re grasping for, find a way to stand a little closer.

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Trinity Alps planning . . . houseboats, horsepackers, rafts In the Trinities, houseboating, horsepacking, and rafting are pleasant through the quiet days of September and usually into October. (See our article starting on page 52.) Operators should still have openings late in the season; if you’re making plans, call ahead to check availabilities as soon as possible.

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Houseboats rentals on Clair Engle Lake

While you won’t find the crowds of houseboaters that neighboring Lake Shasta is known for, you won’t find the same level of services either. There are a limited number of boats available; most users reserve well in advance. The season runs from spring through mid- or late October. Rental prices are weekly; range refers to options.

Cedar Stock Resort and Marina, Star Route Box 510, Lewiston 96052; (916) 286-2225. Rents 6-sleepers ($725), 8-sleepers ($895), and 10-sleepers ($1,195).

Estrellita Marina, Box 1163, Weaverville, 96093; (916) 286-2215. Rents 8-sleepers, ($895), 10-sleepers ($1,195), and 12-sleepers ($1,295).

Recreation Plus, Box 156, Trinity Center, 96051; (916) 266-3432. Rents 6-sleepers ($500), 8-sleepers ($850), 10-sleepers ($1,050), and 12-sleepers ($1,250).

Trinity Alps Marina-Fairview, Star Route Box 355, Lewiston 96052; (916) 221-6321. Rents 6-sleepers ($375 to $750), 10-sleepers ($550 to $1,095), and 12-sleepers ($925 to $1,850).

Horsepackers into the backcountry

Outfitters offer several services: dunnage packing (pack stock brings gear to location of your choice), spot packing (guide leads stock carrying you and your gear), and full-service trips (guide, food, and equipment provided; bring your own sleeping bag, pad, and fishing gear).

Six Pak Packers, Box 301, Weaverville 96093; (916) 623-6314. June 1 through October, offers dunnage and spot trips ($37.50 per pack animal and $100 guide service per day), and full-service pack trips (about $125 per person, per day).

Trinity Alps Angling Experiences, Box 176, Lewiston 96052; (916) 623-6757. Mid-May to early October, offers pack trips and float trips for fishing (notably fly fishing) and hiking. Typical two-person overnight trip including meal, fishing gear, and transportation costs about $225 for two.

Trinity Outfitters Inc, Box 668, Weaverville 96063; (916) 623-30000 (also a restaurant). June through October, offers dunnage packing ($225 each way), spot packing (from $225), and full-service trips ($100 to $125).

Trinity River rafting

Length of rafting season depends on water levels. Although the river is dam-controlled and levels should be raftable into August or later, check before making reservations. Overnight trips include all meals and equipment except sleeping bag and pad.

Great Out of Doors, 16475 Julie Lane, Red Bluff 96080; (916) 527-1417. Operates from June through September, offering guided trips from one to five days ($45 per person per day).

Turtle River Rafting Company, 507 McCloud Rd., Mount Shasta 96097; (916) 926-3223. Operates from June on, as water levels permit. All trips are guided and are tailored to rafters’ abilities; you can choose inflatable kayaks or paddle rafts. Shuttle service included. Offers one-day trips ($65 per person) and two-day trips ($130).

Wilderness Adventures, Box 938, Redding 96099; (916) 243-3091. Operates May into November on Trinity from Helena to the State Highway 299 bridge. All trips guided; on some, passengers paddle. Shuttle service provided. Offers day trips ($50 per person), two-day trips ($130), and three-day trips ($200).

In the clear-water cove, dark, saucer-shaped redears and blue-gills stood out boldly over a pale-gray gravel bottom. The water was barely a foot deep where the redears, hung, slightly deeper where the bluegills lurked, all diligently guarding their nests. Dropping the orange sponge-rubber spider over the nearest fish, I watched as its pectorals began rotating faster. Easing slowly up, the panfish eyed the bug’s quivering rubber legs, then sucked it in.

The pound-sized shell-cracker fought hard against the 4-weight outfit before slipped a hand under it, twisted the barbless hook free and watched it swim back to its spawning bed. Next came a flurry of 12-ounce bluegills, then several more large redears before the panfish grew wary.

Rich Tradition: Catching spawning bluegills and shellcrackers is a rich tradition for springtime anglers. They are abundant fish, readily available in waters close to home. They fight stubbornly on light tackle, and are tasty and prolific.

While bluegills take flies from now through fall, I’ve enjoyed my best luck with shellcrackers when they’re on their beds. That means May, June and early July for most of the country. Spawning activity is often heaviest around the new and full moon phases.

When bluegills and redears are amassed for the mating ritual you can usually see dozens of them hovering over shallow-water beds. (At other, times you might even smell them–something like cantaloupe). Look for the fish over gravel, sand or mud bottoms. Also be on the lookout, for the oval beds they fan out to deposit their eggs in, Search in coves and sidearms of lakes, the shallow ends of I ponds and eddies or slow sections of rivers.

Top Choices: A, sponge-rubber spider (Sizes 8 to 12) in green, white, orange, black, yellow or brown with short white legs is the first, choice for these fish. If the legs are long, trim them back so the fish doesn’t miss the hook.

Tiny cork or soft foam poppers, trout patterns like, the Humpy or Irresistible, plus a few terrestrials such as ants, crickets or beetles are other good dries to stock. Drop all of these over fish on, their beds or near shallow cover if the fish aren’t spawning Let the fly sit as long as you can stand it, so it looks like a stunned insect, then I twitch it once, gently. If a, strike doesn’t come, try nudging the fly once or twice more, but the best bet is usually, to recast and try a new spot.

If bluegills and redears aren’t taking on top, work your offering two to four feet down. Try the same type of sponge spider used on top, but add a bit of weight on the shank or a split-shot crimped 12 inches up the tippet. Also stock a few nymphs and wet flies like the Hare’s Ear, Bead Head Pheasant Tail, Black Gnat or Woolly Worm in Sizes 6 to 10. Work these with a slow, hand-twist retrieve, pausing occasionally to entice reluctant followers.

Bonus Catches: Found mostly in larger lakes and impoundments, white, bass surge up feeder rivers I and creeks to spawn. They can be caught readily on flies at this time. Go with a streamer such as the Clouser Minnow or Lefty’s Deceiver in Sizes 1 to 6. Work them on a sinking-tip line with a short leader using a sharp strip-pause-strip retrieve.

Crappies are another species that can be taken on flies. At dawn or dusk on a day with no wind, they will sometimes smash a Size 6 or 8 yellow, white or chartreuse popper. For the rest of the day, a better bet is a small streamer such as a Zonker, Simsnake or Tunghead Woolly Bugger in white or chartreuse. A slow hand-twist retrieving motion is often best.

RELATED ARTICLE: Timely Tackle

A lightweight rod of eight to nine feet taking a 4- to 6-weight forward floating line is perfect for most panfishing. Add a leader of six to nine feet and carry spools of 2- to 6-pound-test tippet material. For added sport, scale down to a 1- to 3-weight rod.

A second reel spool with a fast-sinking-tip line can be handy for deep-water streamer fishing for white bass and crappies. If you want to keep things simple, though, you can usually get by with just a weighted fly or couple of split-shot on a floating line.