Wednesday, December 16, 2009

To go to great lengths...

I once came face-to-muzzle with a huge black bear while fly fishing a little-known stream for Dolly Varden in the rainforest of southeast Alaska, and I honestly believe my heart stopped beating for a split second.

We were both fishing--I was working upstream and the bruin was wandering downstream. We met on a gravel bar at a bend in the stream, and, for a brief moment, we both stood frozen in place. The bear recovered first and quickly disappeared into the cedars at a quick clip while I exhaled and thanked the fishing fates for helping me keep control of my bodily functions.

Aside from a sketchy encounter or two with some stubborn moose here in eastern Idaho, that's largely the extent of my wild animal encounters while fishing.

So, I read with interest the tale of Tim Smith and his near-death encounter with a Nile crocodile while fishing for the unbelievably impressive Nile perch in Uganda this fall. Fishing, to the truly smitten, tends to take over the soul, and Smith's love affair with angling is palpable--why else venture in the remote African bush rife with man-eating crocs and boat-tipping hippos in search of fish?

I've often prophecied that I and others like me will die with waders on, likely swept away by some swift current we can no longer fight. I wonder if Smith believes he'll eventually succumb to a Nile croc while battling a 300-pound Nile perch from the stern of a fiberglass motorboat...

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Gotta have feathers, right?

Just read Bruce Smithhammer's essay on his recent chukar-hunting adventure to Nevada ... it's a thing of beauty, and I highly recommend it. Couple words of advice for the chukar curious: lung capacity. Don't leave home without it.

Great job, 'hammer... Gorgeous photos (yes, I stole this one--but my motives are pure). Keep up the good work, brother.

Power Bait, baby...

Scott Sandusky of Arnold, Mo., pulled in a new state record brown trout last month (28-plus pounds) from Lake Taneycomo near Branson using the spurge of the Western trout stream--Power Bait.

Hey, no offense taken here (I just hope he didn't throw the jar over the side of the boat). Good on Scott. I've taken my share of lake-bottom rainbows and browns on all sorts of canned bait while sitting in a lawn chair, generally hungover and more often than not, alseep (college, remember?).

Scott's big brown is one of many believed to thrive in the fertile depths of the artificial reservoir. In fact, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the lake is home to a cult-like gang of anglers who faithfully search out browns like the one Sandusky hooked last month.

"She was three feet long, and her back looked like it was six inches wide," he told the newspaper.

That's a huge fish, one most of us who chase browns with flies in the U.S. would happily declare the fish of a lifetime.

Congratulations, Scott. Now go wash that Power Bait off your hands.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Sportsmen and apathy ... a deadly combination

I just read Dave Richey's blog post on sportsmen apathy, and you should, too. Pretty simple message--if you're not willing to get involved to protect the rights of sportsmen to fish and hunt, and to protect fish and game habitat to ensure a future for our pastimes, then get out of the way.

Of course, the best way to ensure a future for fishing and hunting is to simply get out in the field and participate. Be aware of the various regulations and the frequently changing political landscape that is often skewed against sportsmen and women, and put yourself out there once in a while in a letter to your elected officials.

Folks, we can't count on anyone else to protect the places we fish and hunt or our continued access to them. This is a fight we must enter on our own. Read Dave's blog--he nailed it.