Monthly Archives: January 2008

January Fishing Recap

Not incredible fishing, but at least I fished a little. Why does Spring have to wait so long?

(note a few shots taken by the Go Pro camera mentioned in another blog entry. Worked pretty well, but taking some trial and error. Found that the subject has to be pretty far from the camera and that the underwater world is much different than above water, you can really see the fish out to 20′ just fine. I figured once the fish got beyond 5′ away it would be wasted data space so I turned it off when the fish got out that far…lesson learned.)

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Fryday Wheeee

Dairy Queen burgers suck bad. What part of that meat makes DQ management think people will gravitate towards their restaurants for a tasty bite of filler smothered in cheese. If it weren’t for the fact that my wife wanted to meet for lunch and that she wanted Starbucks at the mall (the only Fivebucks in Charleston) I’d never eat there. Well, the Blizzards aren’t too bad in a pinch and the gravy isn’t bad in the overpriced chicken basket meal, but how on earth do you screw up gravy? I assisted in some investigations at the Chas. Town Center concerning their sanitation last year. I cannot go into details, but if I have to eat at the mall I prefer DQ and rest assured it isn’t for culinary genious.

I got volunteered to tie some flies at the KVCTU booth at the WV Hunting & Fishing Show tomorrow afternoon so if you’re around stop by and give me a shout. There was a time I was downright giddy to go to this show, but after about 10 consecutive years of it I’m getting pretty tired of it all. Incessant blowing of turkey calls, taxidermists I’ll never use, Botswanian outfitters I’ll never use, massive crowds…I’d normally pass. I’d love to go to a fly fishing show sometime though, I could dig that.

Thanks to Rick B. for giving me a shout last night after finding out about an outdoor photo & film festival sponsored by Adventures Edge in Morgantown. I’ll have some submissions. Here is their website, caution, it’s old school html…why does this store have a .org address?

It’s Friday, wheee (caution: f-bombs and strife…and gonads)

antideg

Still have no word on whether or not the antidegradation bill has gotten a bill number and sprouted legs yet. Some rumblings that the bill may be dead and that some in the WV Legislature are ready to let it die and allow the Federal EPA to take over Clean Water Act enforcement in WV. There is debate as to whether that would be beneficial to our cause or not. Some are skeptical that the federal government can do anything efficiently and will probably make it worse. My contention is that the WV DEP has a horrible track record of enforcement of any Clean Water Act issue (see recent EPA fine on Massey Coal Company due to the lack of enforcement by WV DEP) and that the EPA might actually DO something in the case of a violation. In addition, the DEP has submitted 309 streams to be protected under Tier 2.5, which would mean 10% allowed degradation from point source permits. These are arbitrary streams. There are double this amount of streams on the B2 trout stream list which includes only wild, native and year round trout streams of significance (i.e., fingerling stocked streams). I for one, believe that scientifically almost all of these streams would qualify as candidates for Tier 3.0 (no degradation). Wait, did I just say Tier 3.0? Yes, the federal EPA does not recognize Tier 2.5, it isn’t in their vocabulary. Tier 2.5 was created as an arbitrary compromise with industry interests nearly a decade ago, a compromise that they do not intend to abide by now as these interests are pushing for no Tier 2.5 designations on private lands and want the stream list narrowed to less than 60 waters.

I personally have no reason to believe that the EPA taking over the Antidegradation Listing in WV would be nothing short of a MAJOR victory for trout and clean water.

 

MacLean, SchMacLean

Sull McCartney sent my recent photoshop creation to John MacLean for his enjoyment. I was hesitant as I predicted some sort of legal threat. In “On The Big Blackfoot” John mentions the marketing boon that the book/movie A River Runs Through It created. I’m fairly confident that I broke some sort of copyright laws by even looking at a photo, let alone tampering with it, but it was all cool. John responds,

Sull:
  Tell Phil the picture is very amusing and he needn’t worry about applying for legal aid. Thanks for sending it.
  Best wishes, John N. Maclean

on cameras

 

Recieved a new piece of equipment for my arsenal this week. I bought a Digital Hero 3 from Go Pro Camera. Actually, I got it from Amazon.com instead of directly from Go Pro, mostly because if you order from Amazon, you get a discount on the memory card (2 GB card for something like $15). I found out about this camera from AEG Media’s blog, they recommended it for low budget filmmakers like me for nifty underwater shots. The Digital Hero 3 straps to your wrist and features a small camera inside a waterproof casing. It is waterproof to 100′. I haven’t used the camera yet, but here are my initial thoughts:

  • The lens is tiny. Not unlike a Polaroid digital camera I had that I recently sold. The tiny 2 mm lenses normally suck as they do not allow much light in. I have a feeling that underwater shots on headwater brookie streams where the canopy is intact and the stream lies in a canyon will probably not work very well. Not to mention tanin stained streams.
  • I got it for the video function. It takes 3.0 megapixel still photos, which may end up being what it gets used for as I’m really skeptical if the video quality will be good enough to view on television via DVD. Even then, 3.0 megapixel shots are cool for the interwebs, but not for high resolution magazine quality or larger prints.
  • It has a continual still shot feature where you can set it down and it snaps a photo every 5 seconds until you push the shutter again. This will fill up the memory with a bunch of useless photos, but might end up being really cool for solo trips and distant angling shots as well as for use when snowboarding, mountain biking, etc.
  • The “surfer strap” that comes on it seems like it might not hold the camera in the horizontal position very well if rigorous activity, but we’ll see. It comes with a different “glove strap” that looks like it will work better, may try using it.
  • There is no rear lcd screen, so you’ll have no idea how your photos/video turns out until you get home and put it on the pc.
  • Might be fun to strap the wrist strap around dead limbs laying along the stream, turn on the timer and hold the camera way up high for unique angled shots. Not sure if I trust myself to hold it way underwater on a limb though, that might be a recipe for losing your camera.

Should be good fun experimenting with this camera. It only costs about $140 which is much less than any other waterproof mechanism. I built a waterproof housing for my digital camcorder for these types of shots, but the housing weighs about 10 lbs. and is a real pain to carry around on the stream. It also has a slight leak that I haven’t worked out yet. If the Go Pro works out for me, I may be looking to unload the camera housing. Let me know if interested. Here is a photo of the housing…

Cranberry Girl

So I’m sitting at the vice this evening tying some #20 Microsofts (my name for this pattern consisting of what is essentially a soft hackle zug bug) and I begin reminiscing about past fishing trips. The thought occurs to me that I’ve only told 90% of everyone I meet about the “Cranberry Girl” and there may be the odd straggler who hasn’t heard the story. So here goes-

I can’t remember the exact year, sometime around the mid-1990’s. My friend Andy Stotts and I were on an epic fishing trip into the Cranberry River. Now if you’re not familiar with the Cranberry, it’s important that I fill you in. There is a road along the 20 mile stretch of the headwaters of this river, but it is gated and no motor vehicles allowed. We both fish very fast and were about 4 miles in and in a secluded area of the river when Andy turns to me and says “hey, I think there’s a naked girl up there on that rock”. I look, but don’t see anything. We fished on upstream and once we got within maybe 50 yards or less of this gigantic boulder this girl stands up, not a stitch of clothes. Let me tell you, not only was this the most welcomed bizarre sight in such a strange place, but she was hot. I’m talking pick this chick over Jennifer Garner. I’m trying to appear as though I’m fishing while peering at her through peripheral vision, a bashful 20 year old not realizing the moment of a lifetime. Andy, on the other hand, drops his arms to his side and stares full on and grinning from ear to ear. This chick turns and bends over giving us a nice view, dusts the sand off her feet and wraps up in a towel. Then her 400 lb. friend stands up (clothed) and they scurry off.

To this day, I remember it like it was yesterday. Andy still has reoccuring visions as well.

It wouldn’t be fair to the story to leave it at that. After we fished upstream, naturally we doubled back to see if she’d returned, but it was not to be. We continued, now with even more bounce in our step, to fish and fish we did! We fished all the way to the confluence of Dogway Creek at the beginning of the C&R section, on up the C&R section and into the South Fork of Cranberry a small piece before the sun set on our epic day. We had fished 15 miles in and now it was dark. During the day we’d consumed a grand total of about 4 granola bars and now we had to hike 15 miles back out, in the dark, in cheap wading boots. We made it to within 1-2 miles of the lower gate (where we’d parked) before our bodies shut down. I was honestly scared that we’d have to be rescued. Somehow, mind over matter and we mustered the energy to basically crawl out of that place. Never again will I fish/hike for 30 miles in a single day…unless there’s a naked girl on a rock somehow mixed in.

An old photo of me on the Cranberry, circa ~1995? I’d been fly fishing for probably a grand total of 6 months in this photo. Proud as a peacock of 7″ stockies.

Another old photo of me fishing the Cranberry. This one taken by my friend Shane Thurman. Tighten that loop up son.

Okay, a little better loop. Man those were some naive days. I was self taught at this point in time.

A funny thing happened on the way to the trash bin

My house is about 150 yards from the trash bin where the garbage dudes pick up the goods. I’ve officially declared jihad on my stash of useless stuff and one of the first orders of business was to toss the megastack of flyfishing rags and catalogs that have accumulated over the past few years. Good lord magazines are heavy en masse. So my trash day is Wednesday (today) and the 11:00 pm hour rolls around before I finally decide that it is time to brave the fridgid winter weather and haul the garbage down to the bin. Who needs a coat in 20* weather? Not me.

Well off I go, the first 3 bags went without much fuss. On my second trip back to the house I scooped up the bag containing the magazines and catalogs laden with some other various stinkage…greasy food scraps, bottles containing various liquids, smelly diapers. Standard fare. One third of the way the bag blows open on the bottom depositing its contents on the dark frozen tundra. Curses were mumbled as I wanted to hold as much warm breath still inside my body as possible. I sprinted back to the garage and grabbed another bag, came back and rebagged the mess. This time, the new bag held up for about 10 yards before it blew out and again, deposited the formula in a path of momentum. Holding in warm breath wasn’t a concern this time. An olympic sprint back to the garage this time. Return. Rebag. Ten steps and another blowout. See the pattern here? Fortunately, the remaining bags weren’t living animals or my inner rage would’ve resulted in an arrest. As it were, the only arrest was nearly my heart as rage plus hypothermia don’t make for a quality health experience. Somehow, through a triple overbag process I made it the trash bin. It would only be fitting if the mess blows up on the garbage guy this morning and they follow s.o.p. and leave the mess laying around the trash bin for me to collect when I get home. Sweet!

State of the Trout State

Well we’re neck deep in it now. About 50 more days and the fate of trout water in WV may be sealed, at least for antidegradation purposes. The legislative circus is full bore and the antideg bill is front and center. The primary special interests affected by this bill (e.g., chamber of commerce and coal companies) are quietly making their deals in backrooms while the public fight is from those industries totally not affected by antidegradation, the non-point source guys with the farm bureau and the forestry industry. Tier 2.0 allows for 20% degradation from NPDES point source, Tier 2.5 allows for 10% and Tier 3.0 allows for no degradation. The only streams afforded Tier 3.0 are those in wilderness areas, which makes their listing moot to begin with. TU and other conservation groups are fighting for Tier 2.5 protection on 309 streams that the DEP has presented to the legislature. These 309 are only a portion of the 800-1000 wild, native and year round trout streams in WV. While that may seem staggering, these industrial interests (even those who won’t be affected at all by Tier 2.5) are lobbying to have the 309 dropped to just over 50. Basically, they want no streams on private land protected by Tier 2.5. The Farm Bureau and the WV Forestry Association have spread the lie that farmers will have to move their cattle, won’t be able to build barns, won’t be able to sneeze without getting a permit. The antidegradation bill requires that Best Management Practices be followed by non-point source pollution industries, regardless of the Tier level. These BMP’s are recommended by agricultural academia, soil conservation districts, etc. anyway! It’s about being a good neighbor and not screwing up the water quality.

So I would encourage every interested person out there to write letters to legislators and to local newspapers in WV. I’ll be submitting a letter to my hometown newspaper asap.

On a more positive front, Back The Brookie is going to have some great native brook trout projects in 2008/2009. Work will begin this week for the limestone work on a tributary of Anthony Creek in Greenbrier County. Brush will be cleared from an old forest service road, gravel will be put down in necessary areas (funded by BCTU) and then dump trucks will begin hauling limestone sand to neutralize the pH problems there. In addition, KVCTU is working with Meade-Westvaco on some tributaries of Big Laurel near Richwood. There’ll be some work for volunteers on that one. USFS Marlinton District will be doing some major work on tributaries of Williams River as soon as plans are approved as well. We also got word this week of some big time funding opportunities for native brook trout project(s) in WV.

In addition to the annual Elkhorn trash cleanup, it looks like we’ll be needing some volunteers to help with an Arbuckle Creek cleanup this spring as well. You may or may not know that I’ve sort of adopted Arbuckle Creek as my project stream. We will probably be discussing some of the environmental impact issues with local interests on this day as well. Arbuckle has great potential and if we can push for a cleaner creek the sky is the limit. The following are a couple of photos taken on Arbuckle last week. The first is the warning sign at the trailhead before you drop into the canyon, the second is the sewage outfall that has been screwing up the creek badly.

blog entry marathon begins now

If you’re reading this then you’re one of 3 people who is still checking my blog. The holidays started a snowball of brainfreeze that essentially shut down progress here. But I promise to at least post random meaningless thoughts almost daily for a while now.

On Buster Wants To Fish, a fly fishing blog I check pretty often, they claim that nobody cares what anyone wants to pontificate about indicator useage. Well then, why pontificate about any freaking thing concerning fly fishing, catching of fish, angling wyth ye hook or life for that matter. People that fly fish are people that cared enough about angling in general to curiously take it to another level. We mostly all started with bait. Some strange curiosity compelled us to do something difficult, learn to fly fish. Therefore our brains do not generally operate on pure poo. We philosophize we fly anglers. Get the hell over it.

Oh, and strike indicators are crap. Comparable to using rubber worms & powerbait on a fly rod and leaving the plastic on your cork grips. Suck me. I have an opinon and you may not agree with it. I also like tree hugging environmentalists and raging capitolism at the same time.

So that actually segways into the next topic of Phil’s introspection…a job interview. I’m interviewing for a position for the WV Rivers Coalition soon. Anyone with any grandiose vision on this non-profit group that’d like to share please do. I’ll give it my all at the interview, but I would like to know more than they’ll give me at the interview before I can make a decision to join on.

I’d like to fish somewhere this week if anyone is interested in tagging along. Shoot me an email.

Phil’s 2008 Agenda

It’s too cold to do anything right now. I can’t even do much rod work in my garage shop right now because it is so cold there. Varnish won’t flow. I’m operating on very little sleep this week as well. But just to feed a nugget to the blog here are a few goals for 2008:

  • Hit Vandalia Angler II hard. I promised to have the next DVD released by Fall 2007 and I failed on that. I was just not happy with the quality of the footage I was getting related to my vision for the project. Like I told Shockey, I may end up scrapping 50% of my footage. Just wasn’t good enough. Despite that I’m only working with cheap equipment and on a 10 cent budget I still intend to put out something that is as good as any other fly fishing production going. Not to mention that the message is too important to screw it up. The message being conservation. This film will have a conservation twist to it and I have multiple interviews I’m going to try to get going in the Spring. I will not even venture as to when I will finish this thing as I’ve been wrong before.
  • Tarpon fishing in Florida. This is the goal anyway. Andy has been after me to go with him on annual tarpon trips the past 2 years and I’ve bailed on him at the last minute each time. Going to try to pull it off this year despite the fact that my wife may be quitting her job and going back to school full time.
  • Backpack trips, multiple. Several guys have expressed interest in some trout bum trips this year and I intend to pull a few off. I want to pack/fish through the Otter Creek, Red Run, Laurel Fork and Seneca Creek backcountries. Hopefully I can get them all this year.
  • Take my 3 year old son on way more fishing trips than I took him last year and get my 2 year old daughter more involved as well. I don’t have access to any farm ponds within 1 hour of where I live so it is tough to find somewhere that I can get immediate success for a short attention span type of kid. That has been my deterrent to date. If anyone would give permission to my kids for some farmpond fishing or have any suggestions in the Charleston area please let me know. The public waters around here are not very user friendly for kids.
  • I want to do several smallmouth floats this year. I bought a new 9′ pontoon last summer and only had it out one time and that was on a pond. I intend to do a couple of floats in it this year including the Elk River above Sutton Lake and hopefully some part of the Greenbrier, preferably the upper stretches where stopping to fish native brook trout tribs would be an option.