fishing for words

(and tossing out random thoughts)

Leave a comment

what we see this Wednesday… (05/11/2011)



my favorite outdoor food really isn’t mine… (and breakfasts of legend)

This post brought to you by the writing prompt “Share Your Favorite Food
from the Outdoor Blogger Network (OBN)

I’m a food lover.

That’s why it’s difficult to narrow down my list of favorite outdoor foods to a single dish. Or snack cake. Or junk food.

When I’m in the Great Outdoors, usually fly fishing, it’s an opportunity always seized upon to graze freely. Though not out of doors, there’s always In-n-Out on the drive to or from the Family Cabin, the forward base of operations. A short few minutes away is Diamondback Grill. (Yes, we likes our hamburgers, though I favor the buffalo burger, medium rare.)

If I make it to the Eastern Sierras, there’s Bodie Mike’s Barbeque and the Whoa Nellie Deli for sandwiches in Lee Vining. And trips with the club to “The Eastside” come loaded with calories: pork posole stew, pasta, and barbecue beef sandwiches, all washed down with homemade beer.

While the above can be consumed out of doors, none are truly portable in the Great Outdoors.

That said, I’m not afraid of roughing it. I’ve spent time sleeping on rocks under a canvas roof or in the back of a questionable fly fishing vehicle (e.g. minvan). But age brings on a certain requirement desire for comfort. That limits much of my outdoor eating to the time I’m on the water.

Breakfasts of Legend*

Old-School Campsite Grill/Griddle

The source of Legendary Outdoor Breakfasts

I’d be remiss to not mention those breakfasts cooked by dear ol’ dad on the ancient heavy steel griddles that seemed to dot every campground we visited when I was a kid. You know the ones. They were made of ½-inch steel, attached to a matching steel fire ring or two “walls” made of cement and indigenous rocks.

Who knows how long the detritus of the forest — pine needles, sap, bird droppings, dead insects — accumulated on that griddle. But the first morning in camp dad would take a scrub brush to it and stoke up the fire to “sanitize” it. Once only coals were left, the cooking of one of the best outdoor breakfasts began.

There was a specific order to the cooking of this morning repast. Sausage or bacon came first, and a lot of it, to ensure a good layer of grease that was necessary in an era before Teflon®. Then the eggs, popping and sizzling like nothing you’ll see today in today’s non-stick skillets. Last, and certainly not least — and my favorite — bread slathered with real butter and “toasted” in the grease and any bits of eggs still stuck to the griddle. These were the breakfasts of legend.

These days another of my favorite foods is more of a meal: lunch on a guide boat. The phthalo blue of the open water, fresh air carried on a slight breeze, and the ribbing about the last missed hookset become condiments to whatever’s on the menu. Like that awesome pastrami sandwich from the local deli, piled with provolone, pickles and peperoncini on a rustic roll and slathered with spicy mustard. Sure, it tastes mighty good, but even better is that inevitably the “bite” will turn on with a vengeance as I chew that first mouthful.

As alluded to above, the Great Outdoors can lend a flavor to even the simplest of foods. Most of the lunches I toss together before heading to a stream or river are simple. Beef jerky, an apple, water and maybe a granola bar. (The less time taken to assemble lunch means more time on the water.) And every time, that apple carelessly thrown into my vest tastes so much better when eaten streamside — while a hatch starts, of course.

Nowadays, my favorite outdoor food is the one I never finish eating because I’m up on my feet again making that next hookset because the fish are the ones eating a favorite food.

* I believe my brother will whole-heartedly agree that there nothing that compares to our memory of these breakfasts, if not the reality. I think he’d also share my opinion that although there’ve been great breakfasts in the intervening years, there’s still nothing like breakfast cooked outdoors on these griddles, and eaten in the cool morning air of the Sierra Nevada high country.


when it absolutely, positively has to fool your friends (and people you don’t really know)

It’ll be like you’re once again big man on campus in high school as you amaze your buddies. It’ll rain down shock and awe and bring a smile to your face as you confound retired friends formerly secure in the knowledge that your payments into Social Security allow them to fish more than you.

Cloud Girlfriend Screen

Let’s face it; we’ve all jumped into the digital multiverse, “friending” anyone and everyone with the remotest connection to the hobby. Even that gray-haired guy on the river who would have been a fly fishing mentor in the more refined days of yore has adopted social networking, and now he’s one of your thousand-plus friends validating their devotion to the sport with a constant stream of grip and grin hero shots.

Fortunately, in watching the bleeding edge from on high, we may have a solution in sight. Rather than lament that Cloud Girlfriend didn’t exist when us nerdy types were in high school, we can soon look forward to Cloud Fishshot.

For an as-yet undisclosed fee, Cloud Girlfriend will provide a living/breathing female to act as your girlfriend for the purposes of Facebook updates. No bodily fluids will be exchanged, nor will you be seeing any naughty pix or paying for’ ‘hot chat,’ but you will appear to be less of a pathetic loser to the world at large.

It’ll be unbelievably simple to suitably adapt Cloud Girlfriend.

Step 1: Define your perfect fish.
Step 2: Specific photo: rod/reel model and preferred background or headless hand/arm shot.
Step 3: We generate your photo.
Step 4: Post the photo publicly on your favorite social network.
Step 5: Repeat as necessary to intimidate impress friends and gain their admiration.

Sort of like Tenkara, but without the rod. Or the line.

Cloud Fishshot Splash Screen


new fishing license; origami encouraged

California 2011 Fishing License of 22.25 Inches

At 22¼'' it’d be a very nice trout.

One of the more common discussions these days among Golden State fly fishermen these days, besides whether a bead head nymph can be called a fly, is the new fishing licenses. For those who don’t know, it’s likely that California’s fishing and hunting licensing system finally matches something your state was using 10 or more years ago.

My permanent annual license was kicked out by the Automated License Data System and it arrived the other day (a temporary was printed from the computer). Attached to the dollar-bill-sized basic sport fishing license is a required report card for the steelhead I’ll never hook.

I measured it. It’s sad when the license is longer than most of the trout that end up in my net. …Sad that the license is so long; I’m perfectly happy with smaller wild fish. Folks who add sturgeon report cards, hunting licenses or are lucky enough to have a lifetime licenses have reported lengths of 10 feet or more.

(I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that the license I purchased in Washington state last year and recently returned with fat zeros on the catch record card measured just about as long as my new California license.)

There’s an upside. It’s no longer a requirement to visibly display your license. I thought about putting mine in my wallet, giving it a girth not seen in many years.

That, on the other hand, may not be a great idea.

These licenses are printed on waterproof thermal paper. Waterproof good; thermal paper bad. Leave it exposed to heat source and you’ll be making a trip to get a new one.

However, a swipe of your driver’s license your local vendor can retrieve your current license data, and for a small fee, print a duplicate. Applying circular reasoning, maybe the boys in Sacramento, short on revenue, did know what they were doing all along…

P.S. Sometime after this post goes up I should be applying epoxy to a certain 4 wt fly rod.


here’s your sign*

Ridiculous hats and goofy waders are so yesterday. Not content to lurk in the shadows, only to emerge once in a while to demonstrate our fly fishing prowess through the actual act, it seems that public pronouncement of our affliction is the trend du jour.

Branding is “in.”

It used to be that it was the tools of the trade that identified fly fishermen — rods and all kinds of gear stacked in the back of the vehicle, maybe the driver sporting a logoed hat or jacket, an ash tray full of used-up flies and split shot, and a cooler of local hop juice. Now it’s decals, displaying one’s choice in rods, reels, fishing guides or philosophies.

Some might argue that the number of decals equates to experience and perhaps skill level. True or not, the fact that more than a few fly fishermen care enough to display their predilections on the back window of anything from a ’78 Chevy Stepside to the latest Range Rover offers an opportunity to decipher a sort of shorthand that can reveal a bit about the personalities you might meet the water.

My Tribal Decal-The DVFF

My Tribe

While fly fishing brands will forever be debated with great intensity, “tribal affiliation” decals announcing a favorite brand — usually Sage, Orvis, Ross, Abel, and the like — broadcast a general level of cash outlay for gear. Thankfully, there is no proven direct correlation between the expense of the gear and angling ability. (I did well enough with a $100 L.L. Bean rod/reel/line combo to be encouraged to continue down the path of financial ruin fly fishing enlightenment.)

Fly fishing decals make a declaration. “Zero Limit” is just such an oft-seen decal (also seen on t-shirts). This isn’t an argument; there is no discussion to be had. These pronunciamentos are designed to end, not start, conversations. (I, however, will gladly fish waters near a parking spot in which most of the vehicles sport this decal, subscribing to the thought that “The finest gift you can give to any fisherman is to put a good fish back…”)

There also are more benign messages signaled by decals announcing a favorite guide service or club.

A basic outline of what decals can mean:

  • More Expensive Brand Name** (Sage, Ross, Orvis, Simms, etc.): “Sure, I may not be catching as many fish as you, or even the biggest, but I look better doing it.”
  • More Affordable Brand Name (Redington, St. Croix, Cabela’s, White River, Etc.): “I don’t need no stinkin’ brand name, I got skills.”
  • Any Guide Service: Don’t make eye contact with these people. Seriously. They want you to ask about XYZ guide service, then will proceed to regale you and anyone within earshot with the 151st, hour-long retelling of their best day fishing ever.
  • Fly Fishing Club: Friendly people, who, when they don’t get out to fish often enough, live vicariously through others’ fishing reports.

**In all honesty, in response to economic conditions, most manufacturers now offer more affordable gear, but the premise remains sound.

Pride, Guide or Warning?

A better indicator of who you might meet on the water may well be found in the number of decals. In many cases, this simply may be a sign of the owner’s pride in being part of the sport. However, in some cases, the quantity of decals may serve as a warning.

A 2008 Colorado State University study concluded that drivers who place bumper stickers and other decorations — or “territory markers” — on their vehicles could be 16 percent more likely to engage in road rage. These decorations “…predicted road rage better than vehicle value, condition or any of the things that we normally associate with aggressive driving,” said researcher and psychologist William Szlemko in a Nature News interview.

So next time you’re wandering down to the river, take a look at he vehicles parked in the lot or alongside the road. Count the number of decals on each one.

You’ve been warned.

* Credit to Bill Engvall for this post title.

Want a second or third opinion on this fascinating subject? Check out today’s posts at The Unaccomplished Angler and Fly Fish the Yakima.


facebook faux pas

No, I don’t gotta love Facebook.

Written on a fellow high school alumni’s Facebook wall a while ago by She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, about your writer, and only presented long after the act to protect identities:

Are you in touch with anyone from ––––––– High? ––––– ––––––– is about the only one I have kept up with. Pat Konoske sounds familiar to me but I can’t quite place him.”

I thought I took her to the prom. Was I that invisible?

My psychologist insists that I exist…