1956 Fly Fishing Demo Film

Garcia History FilmIn 1956 Garcia, the distributor for Mitchell Reels in North America, made three demonstration films to help teach people how to fish with a fly reel, an ABU 5000 bait caster and a Mitchell 300 spinning reel. This is the fly-casting film, with instructor and casting champion Johnny Dieckman performing a variety of casts, including a wicked double haul.  Remember, this was well before the invention of graphite rods. [Read more...]

Stay Warm

Grunden PVC Jacket

Grunden Briggs 44 PVC Jacket – a life-saver

I’m not the only person to say that the coldest they’ve ever been is when they’ve been on the water.  But I may be the only person to say that the coldest they’ve ever been is when they were on the water and the air temp was 65 degrees.   It happened when I was guiding customers who were throwing tube lures to barracuda.  I had broken all the rules of staying warm: my hands kept getting wet, I kept running the boat to get to a new spot (increasing the wind from 15 mph to 40 mph), and I was underdressed.  Plus the water was even colder than the air.  Three hours into it I was too cold to tie a knot and had to convince my customers to go in.

I was less cold when I got caught in a blue norther two miles from the boat in Aransas Bay.   I was wearing shorts and a sweater, and the temperature dropped 20 degrees in about 20 minutes.  When the rain hit I was smart enough to get into the water (counterintuitive, yes), which was still in the low 80s even though the air had dropped into the 60s.

What are the cardinal rules for staying warm on a skiff in winter?  Here are mine, more or less in order:

  1. Wear wind-proof clothing.  Nothing lowers body temp like a strong wind or running in the boat.
  2. Don’t get wet.  If that means skipping the flats that you’ll get spray getting to, do it.  If you do get wet, dry off.
  3. Wear one or two layers more than you think you’ll need.  A five degree-temperature drop over the course of a day is huge when the temperature starts at 70 degrees.
  4. Don’t wait until you are shivering to go someplace warm.  Remember, you have to run to find warmth.

After a couple of experiences with hypothermia, I kept a Grunden PVC jacket in my storage area in cases of emergency; there were many times over the years that I was glad to have it.

FDR’s Port Aransas Tarpon

Roosevelt Tarpon FishingFrom the days when gaffing and slapping tarpon up on the dock was the MO of most any guide comes  this video of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt landing a few tarpon in Port Aransas, Texas.  The year is 1937, and Roosevelt is guided by Teddy Mathews at the helm of his Farley built ‘Marcy Boat’–crewed by builder, Barney Farley Sr. [Read more...]

Skiffs in the Mountains

Islamorada 18 BoulderBelieve it or not, there are a fair number of flats skiffs floating around the US Rockies, serving as guide boats on lakes and reservoirs or tricked out for specific species, like carp.  Here’s proof: Chris Cooper’s Islamorada 18 parked at his property near Boulder, Colorado.  Chris is the carp fisher’s carp fisher, and is so addicted to sight-casting to the fish that he brought his skiff–complete with its multiple poling/casting platforms–to the Front Range.

Fish Dreams

photo by Lel4nd

I still sleep with my hands curled like they are holding a pushpole.  It started when I was fishing so much that I developed a permanent tension in my hands.  I mentioned it to Steve Huff once a long time ago and he said, “Funny, I do the same thing.”  Maybe this sleeping life is closer to the real thing than we realize.

Louis Cahill’s recent blog post on fish dreams–or more specifically on if fish dream, and if they do, why–got me pondering my own fish dreams today.

Ever since getting off the water full-time I’ve been blessed with dreams that alternate between swimming (migrating?) big distances–often swimming from Key West to the Marquesas–and some epic story that involves an underwater landscape.  Both can be explained.  The epic swimming dream is probably an answer to trying to get into the heads of fish: the mantra “be the fish” is a near-nuff tag line to that one.  Dreaming of an underwater landscape without water is a bit more obtuse.  But I’m sure it comes from a need to perceive the topography of the flats without water–something you truly need to do to understand hydrology and fish behavior.

Pretty cool that dreams can draw in all this stuff we learn and re-present it in stories.  Do they mean anything at all?  Do they help us solve problems or, as Cahill suggests, file information? Maybe so.  But the dream is a reward in itself, especially if it is filled with reminders of all the mysteries we’ve engaged with.

NHL Florida Panthers Coach Kevin Dineen Wins Redbone @Large

Kevin Dineen Duane BakerOne thing the NHL lockout has done is provide coaches with more time to fish.  Which has been a good thing for Panthers head coach Kevin Dineen, who won the celebrity @Large tournament last weekend at the Ocean Reef Club in Islamorada.   Earlier in the season Dineen won as the top celebrity catching and releasing two tarpon at the Robert James Sales S.L.A.M. in Key West, and part of the Redbone’s Florida Keys fall trilogy series of tournaments which in November celebrated its 25th anniversary.

Jose and Palolo Worms

Palolo WormAs the cold creeps in, something to get you thinking about the “opposite” time of the year–and to remember Jose Wejebe by: Spanish Fly TV’s segment on Palolo worms. [Read more...]

Trolling Motor Caddy

The trolling motor caddy is a new product and has just been introduced by Boat Outfitters.  It fits all standard shaft diameters and adds just enough storage space to the bow of your skiff to eliminate stepping up and down to get leader material, pliers and lures, or most anything else being carried in your pockets or around your neck.  Boat Outfitters even provides a measuring guide available on their site for accuracy.

No need to remove it following installation; when storing your trolling motor to make a move it remains securely fastened and out of the way.  Priced at $34.99 and available through Boat Outfitters.

  • Trolling Motor Clamp-on Drink Holder & Gear Organizer
  • Fits all standard shaft diameters – Measure Your Trolling Motor Shaft
  • Have a common trolling motor? – View Our list of shaft sizes by brand & model
  • Add storage space and functionality to your trolling motor!
  • Integrated Drink Holder, Pliers Holder, Leader Storage, & Rod Holder
  • Fabricated from durable 3/4″ King Starboard (not cheap injection molded plastic)
  • Remains securly clamped when trolling motor is retracted and stored

A Simple Knot for Braid

Improved Cinch KnotHe may be a freshwater fanatic, but Team Catfish owner Jeff Williams shows an interesting and extremely simple way to attach line to lure–which he calls an Improved Cinch–and says it works fine for braid. It’s a knot he says his grandmother taught him. [Read more...]

“Praying at the Albie Altar”

Tom Magee Albie Altar

“It got this bad: Tom MaGee prays at the albie altar. It took several days but it finally got Tom a fish.”

Vince Staley sent us this image of his friend Tom MaGee calling on higher powers–apparently any that were willing to listen–in order to hook up with a false albacore off the coast of North Carolina this fall.