Wednesday, March 31, 2010

More Turtles

My walking partner Brigitte called the other morning (at 5AM...) and said we would walk the beach that day. There was a fresh hatch of little baby sea turtles. The nesting season is pretty much over but there are always some stragglers. We found 6 turtles which were so cold that they seemed lifeless and were easy prey for the birds. We warmed them up in our hands while I detailed the dangers of ocean life and how they shouldn't befriend strangers especially ones that could eat them. In a few minutes they were charged up and ready to go.

Here's a little video of one making his way into the water.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The True History of Snagging (Honest!)

I was looking at new marlin lures the other day. They were on sale for 50 bucks apiece. Are you saying “wow great price” or are you choking and thinking “you gotta be out of your mind!!!?” If you’re thinking the latter, you may be one of those non-fisherpersons out there that just don’t understand the dynamics of fishing. Ya wanna catch fish? Ya gotta have gear.

Historically, men have spent their last dime on any new equipment that might help catch more fish. In fact the famous Viking fisherman, Eric the Blue, (I read somewhere that he earned his name from an ice-fishing adventure that ended badly) bought a new ship every year. His favorite sales rep, Iven Ja-öber, always promised that each years’ new boats would be a guarantee to greatly improved catching rates. Eric, the eternal optimist, believed Iven but his fish-catching never improved. Finally Eric's wife Olga couldn’t take it anymore. She started screaming at him in front of his friends, “How can you spend our last dime on a new boat every year and still not catch fish?!” Boy was his face red! Being embarrassed in front of his friends made him so angry that he changed his name, quit fishing forever and started pillaging and plundering. He will never be remembered as a great fisherman but man could he pillage!

Men kept spending more money on fishing gear and boats each year without catching more fish. Of course if you listen to the tales told to the sound of lattes being steamed in the morning, you would be convinced that everyone was catching boatloads of fish with the exception of you. The ancient mariners fine-tuned their tales of monster fish they had battled. They could hold their listeners spellbound for hours with stories of epic proportion. However, they could not figure out how to answer their lovely wives when asked "Oh, you're catching monster fish? So where are they already. Don’t tell me they got away or you threw them back!!!" Something was rotten in Denmark but it wasn’t fish. Soon most of the wives were nagging their poor husbands mercilessly. The whole fishing fleet became so desperate that they hired an evil genius wizard to solve their problem. After several weeks of meditation and incantations, inspiration came. "If the fish won't bite the hook" he reasoned, "the hook will bite the fish!!" He told the fishermen that if they built a treble hook big enough, they could just yank it through the water and whatever fish happened to be in the way... FISH ON! The fishermen tested the invention and found that it worked far better than expected. Now they had actual fish to verify their tales of bravado. It became a secret joke among the Vikings. One would look at the other and say, “She’s nagging.” Naturally the new method took on the name “she’s nagging” and was eventually shortened to “snagging.”

Today we have sophisticated equipment to help us in our quest to conquer the elusive lunker. We have depth finders, fish finders, weather reports, moon and tide charts and every shape and color of lure that you could imagine. You can also buy over-sized treble hooks at any tackle shop in the world. It looks to me like we will continue to keep these hooks in our tackle boxes even in the face of fines and possible jail time until nagging is also outlawed.

Friday, March 19, 2010


All right, you asked for it. Here's a look at part of my shirt collection. I couldn't photograph the whole thing without showing you how messy my closet is. Satisfied?

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Fishermen

There are two types of fishermen: sport-fishermen and serious fish catchers. My old granny said that there was only one type: lazy, good-for-nothing liars but this is my story and I’m stickin’ to it.

Both types of fishermen are found anywhere that fish can be caught. Many times they are fishing side by side. Both can be found using an appropriately sized hook or lure cast from a fishing rod. A sub-classification of sport-fisherman is called the “fly-fisherman.” This type will never be confused with a serious fish catcher. Their fishing rods are the diameter of spaghetti noodles and designed to cast extremely small hooks that have microscopic pieces of lint attached. Fly fishing was invented for those who are too squeamish to touch pieces of dead fish or worms. My friend Jim B. who is an accomplished fly-fisherman will argue that last point but he’s a fisherman and you know what my old granny says about them. Also, JB maintains that there is honor in not catching fish and the process is as important as the outcome. Go figure.

Sport fishermen and serious fish catchers have one particular thing in common. Both types regularly calculate the size and weight of their fish instead of actually measuring and/or weighing. There is a universal system invented by a fellow named Lenny. It’s called “Lenny’s ingenious estimation system” or “LIES” for short. This is a specific form of math like calculus or something. It was designed to add length and weight to a fish that is directly proportional to the time that has lapsed since the fish was caught. With a little creativity, this same method is applied to the fish that got away. In a rare instance, I was actually able to apply the math to a world-record tuna that I didn’t even hook. This practice gave rise to the saying that….”fishermen are born honest, they just get over it”.

A sports fisherman will quit fishing to have his lunch under a tree or to take a nap. Occasionally he will even throw perfectly a good fish back in the water. He would rather use a lure or fly instead of bait. If he goes home empty-handed, he just does not care.

Then there are serious fish catchers. Their goal is to catch their legal limit at least twice and go home with a cooler full of fish. The least scrupulous serious fish catchers frequently practice what is termed "snagging." To snag, you take this big hook, fling it in the water as far as possible then jerk it to the bank as hard and fast as you can until the hook stops. If you’re lucky, it stopped because an unlucky fish got in the way. It’s not real important which part of the fish gets in the way as long as it’s hooked well. The snagging method was designed to improve your chances of catching fish. This is much better than going home empty-handed and then catching flack from the wife. Although snagging is illegal in many parts of the world, it is accepted by most cultures as a fair and balanced way of putting food on the table. It is actually thought of quite highly in Alaska where it is occasionally legal.
(See “The origin of snagging” elsewhere in this blog)

Personally, I’ve done both. I’ve fished just for the pure enjoyment of it and I’ve snagged salmon to fill the freezer. Once I even had a friend offer to teach me how to fly fish.

My fly-fishing friend is a purist. In his mind, tricking a fish into biting an artificial bug is the ultimate thrill. When he describes how making the perfect cast and presenting the bug in the most natural way results in a hooked fish, his eyes tear up. Mine glaze over.

I had to listen to him wax stupid over fly-fishing so many times that I eventually accepted his offer of a lesson. First he selected just the right fishing rod ( not pole!) out of his collection for me. We practiced in the back yard. He was very patient but I soon got the idea that I wasn’t getting the idea. He talked about loading the rod correctly which turned out to be different than putting it in the trunk in such a way that it didn’t get broken. Finally after many lessons he called and said we would go to his favorite stream and do some real fishing. I have to admit that I was a little excited. I’ve never been particularly opposed to sticking worms on a hook but I wanted to catch a fish on a fly just to see what all the fuss was about.

We arrived at the spot, parked the car under a tree and unloaded our outfits. I put the rod together just like he showed me. He hand selected the perfect artificial bug for me from his own special box of hand-made bugs. We waded into the water. He positioned himself several yards away for his own safety and began casting. It was just like he told me; watching the fish come up and inspect the piece of lint you were offering was pretty exciting. I cast and retrieved all afternoon. I finally felt like I was catching on even though I wasn’t catching fish. I loved the way my bug hit the water with a “splash” but for some reason my friend winced every time it did. His bug was lazy; it just kind of landed quietly with no fanfare. My opinion was that all the fish he hooked were retarded for biting such a boring presentation and I certainly didn't want to catch any retarded fish. Finally we were loading up our gear at the end of the day. My friend put his hand on my shoulder and said, “After one day of fishing, I believe you have developed your own style.” Heck, I knew I had done well but not THAT well! He continued, “Your style is very similar to an elderly lady chasing a dog with a broom.”

Well so much for fly fishing. I knew it was a bad idea to begin with.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

I'm not part of the techno revolution but I gotta tell you about a site. Go to Somebody please explain to me how the heck they have 3-D photography of most of the addresses in the US and some of the rest of the world.

How Orwellian.......