Wednesday, July 31, 2013

This Land is Your Land...

The vintage DeHavilland Beaver skittered away into the slate-gray Southeast Alaskan sky, leaving us with a short hike around a small isthmus to the mouth of the remote creek. The drum beat of the tell-tale rotary engine grew distant and faded altogether as we geared up and readied for the walk along the shoreline to the mouth of the unnamed sweetwater stream coursing out of the rainforest. In the salt, staging pink salmon frolicked and jumped from the water, their short lives arriving at the beginning of the end.

Here, a short plane ride from busy Juneau (there were five massive cruise ships at the dock and thousands of tourists milling about downtown when we took off from the airport) and yet hopelessly out of touch with civilization, we landed on our very own piece of real estate. Mine. Theirs. Yours.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Angry Birds...

fly fishing, seagull, bahamas
In line for take-off ... and about to start dive-bombing
bonefish anglers.
It happened in a split second, and I'm sure it was karma jumping in to kick my ass.

For four straight days while wading the flats off of Deadman's Cay, we'd been hounded by nesting gulls--it's understandable that the screaming, squawking, black-headed birds would be threatened by us as we walked quietly among their nesting islands in search of bonefish, and I think it's understandable that, after a time, the birds began to drive us nuts.

In a fit of frustration, as a maniacal gull dive-bombed me and spooked a sizable school of bones headed my way, I took a half-hearted swing at the bird with my 8-weight ... and connected. It was a glancing blow, and I immediately felt terrible for doing it. The bird flew off unharmed--if a bit startled--and I shouldered a pang of guilt for the rest of day.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Digital Pulp, Part Two...

Years ago, when I was working as the city editor of the Times-Standard in Eureka, Calif., my wife and I rented a house with a view of the Pacific over Humboldt Bay.

That we first had to overlook the cemetery and suck in the fumes from the Louisiana Pacific pulp mill was trivial--and to be expected when our combined annual salary afforded other luxuries, like case upon case of Kraft mac and cheese from the local Costco, or dollar movies from the local rental joint (the first time we went to the store, we had to step over the chalk outline left on the sidewalk from the previous night's murder investigation--seriously).

But after a time, it was the odor from the LP plant that tarnished the otherwise spectacular vista over the ocean. It smelled like boiling cabbage cooked in a ripe outhouse. It was foul. And with prevailing winds coming in off the water, the rendering pulp out on the spit between the bay and the blue water delivered it's aroma right through the screen door.

The door remained closed most of the time.

Pulp in megabytes. Can't beat the price.
But pulp isn't always a bad thing. Consider the second edition of Pulp Fly, now available electronically throughout the web (OK... that's a tenuous segway, but I've been dying to use the cabbage-and-outhouse description for years). With discerning fly fishing writers and marketeers like Bruce Smithhammer and Michael Gracie behind this second edition of the project, we might well be looking at the future of the craft. Let's face it ... writing about fly fishing is as old as the pastime itself, and there are scores of worthy communicators out there who have stories to tell. Via the Pulp Fly franchise, identifying those writers and conveying their words to the masses is much easier than it was, even just a few short years ago.

I loved the first edition, and I was honored to be asked to contribute to the second. The challenge to writers was to step outside the box and to push our comfort zones. After years of writing newspaper articles, features and editorials, and years more spent crafting press releases and doing the occasional blog post, I took the challenge seriously and crafted a short story about an angler seeking solitude in a remote Alaskan hideaway only to find that he wasn't the only two-legged critter wandering the bush.

Other fantastic writers contributed to this second volume, including one of my favorites, Erin Block, and others well-known in this incestuous little world of fly fishing media. Consider the opportunity to read the words of gifted photographers like Tosh Brown and Alex Landeen, or the chance to look behind the curtain into the minds of writers like Tom Reed and Will Rice, and you'll see that this second volume is a fitting sibling to the first.

Oh, and it's super cheap. Given that its only delivered electronically, it'll only set you back $6.95. Small price to pay for the chance to read some of best fly fishing writing around today.