Disaster Preparedness

As the weather cools down and the fall foliage sets in, its easy to forget that this year has had its fair share of natural disasters. Most recently, the NE was hit pretty hard by Hurricane Irene which swamped Vermont and upstate NY and caught alot of folks offguard. We were expected the coast to get hit, not inland.

Earlier this year saw the earthquake in Japan. Rough stuff and devastating loss of life. I recall the donation efforts that happened right afterward. The Hill-side’s effort was very notable–they made a product to sell for charity. In May they created the “Wa” hankerchief. “Wa” was the ancient word for “Japan.”

Now, Japanese brand, Muji, brings forth Emergency Kits as part of its “Whenever, Whatever” campaign. The kit is not yet available in the US.

Itsumo, Moshimo - Whenver, Whatever
via JapanTrends.com

I like the project, The Burning House, that asks, “what would you take with you if your house was burning?

This blog by Foster Huntington (also see Restless Transplant) has caught my imagination lately…I’m thinking of what I’d take myself.

  • the missus
  • Ninja (the cat)
  • wallet, phone, keys, charger
  • ipad
  • Jack Spade tote (good for dumping everything in)
  • picture of my Mom, and the missus’ parents
  • passport
  • weathered copy of “the Rolling Earth” by walt whitman
  • redwings
  • leatherman
  • barbour jacket

I know you’re probably wondering where my fly fishing stuff is…I keep it in the car.

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Nightmare and the Cat

Was tooling through my playlist and found a track “Sara Beth” by Nightmare and the Cat This past Spring at SXSW, I was doing PR for HP and we brought in Django James and Samuel Stewart to play the HP stage. As I sat around jawing with the brand manager and my colleagues, I remembered these effervescent younglings bounding about the camp. I kept thinking, “who brought their kids?”  Well, that evening they proved that though they may just be kids, they have an artistic maturity that defies description. An intense, euphoric show, they performed with painter, Gary Basemen. Here’s a couple of lo-fi music videos filmed by Kristin Burns. If you’re in LA, they play Pins & Needles @Bedrock next week, check ’em, I promise they’ll knock your socks off.

Help MADE RIGHT HERE Get Made

I’m responding to an all points bulletin…and man, if I could “greenlight” anything, just one show this season, Joe Gannon and Max Wastler of menswear blog All PlaidOut would get my ducats for Made Right Here. In this hilarious travel show, messrs. Gannon and Wastler visit some of the best American apparel makers and get in on the Americana movement firsthand. Here is the teaser. You want to invest, know a producer? Reach out.

Now, Hollywood, give ’em a show. I mean seriously, if you can greenlight Redneck Rocket Scientists…then you can do this. You OWE us for that and Snooki.

Red Eye Wiggler, Jr.

Nice find at the Brooklyn Flea on Saturday…I saw two boxes of vintage Helin Tackle Co. flatfish casting lures. One had a flatfish and the other had a Red Eye Wiggler, Jr. I chose to buy the wiggler thinking it was made by Helin. Turned out to be something more interesting.

The Flatfish box, but something else inside...

Not a flatfish…

A nice surprise

 

The Red Eye Wiggler was made by Dr. Frederic Hofschneider, a Rochester, NY-based dentist, inventor, and holder of a number of “dental” related and lure patents.  Hofschneider patented the supposedly very effective “Red Eye” fishing lure in the early 1920s.

Dr. Hofschneider in 1913
Hofschenider practicing dentistry in Rochester, NY

The Red Eye Wiggler has eyes that to me, mimic the small mouth bass. The copper flash and those beady eyes ought to be DEADLY on Kensico this winter on the Lake Trout and Browns. I may be a fly fisherman mostly now, but I’m not above chucking a little steel once in a while, especially if it’ll land a world record Lake Trout as noted below…

via Montana Jim on Treasure Quest

 

Fall Big’uns

So it’ll be fall soon and that sadly means several of the Croton Watershed rivers I fish will be wrapping up for the season. I took opportunity of the cold-snap to pursue “fall-run” browns on the Amawalk (Muscoot River). Browns spawn in the fall and leave the reservoirs for the small streams and tributaries that connect reservoirs. I’ve learned alot over the summer, caught many species of fish, but a  “big’un” alluded me…until yesterday. My favorite river lies between two largish parks providing hundreds of acres of solitude. A mile hike and several crossings rewarded me with lots of wildlife, including a Great Blue Heron, deer crossing the river, various snakes and frogs. I came across a copperhead that had a baby brown trout in his mouth.

After trekking over rocky outcroppings, through thickets and groves of hemlocks and swampy floodplains on the river’s edge I finally reached the outlet, the flow had really leveled out. Gone were the riffles. Standing there was an old-timer, must have been 70 at least. I was still huffing and puffing from the hike so I wondered how he’d made it in…turns out there is a more level shorter hike from a nearby highway. Oh well. “Tom” said he’d been fishing the river for forty years and it was the first stream he’d every fly-fished on. He seemed impressed I’d “bushwhacked” in to reach this spot and gave me first choice of fishing. I noticed several gorgeous rises downstream, big ripples that suggested big trout and headed in that direction. He graciously said he’d fished that spot for several years and was happy to share.

I tied on a #16 caddis and went to work casting across and letting it dead drift downstream. The first take was violent, he was on for half-a second and a big headshake and he was off. My heart was racing. I resisted casting again immediately, and following the rules, let the water return to calm for about 8 or 9 minutes. I tied on a smaller caddis with a bit of sparkle to the tail, and cast again. I fought “micro-drag” for a minute, then cast again. Just when I thought I’d put the big brown down, a big SLURP and the caddis was down. A voice in the back of my head was trying to wake me up from my shock, STRIKE DAMNIT, STRIKE! I struck and struck hard. He was on. It was like a brick had grabbed hold of the rod. Head down, the brown dove deep as they do and went for a couple of runs upstream, thank god. Downstream and he surely would have broken me off. I played him for several more minutes, keeping pressure on, keeping his head turned toward me. And he swam toward me giving me time to reel in some line. I reached for my net on my back and–it was gone! Somewhere on the hike I dropped my net! How was I going to land this big guy?

I calmly backed up toward shore and the fish rose enough for me to see him. He was at least 20″, long and fat with a very dusky sandy color suggesting he’d been deep in the reservoir all summer (where less camouflage is needed)! Now my heart was in my chest. His head was broad and fat. Oh Lord, how the hell was I going to land him? I could put my hands under his belly or grab him by the collar, but I’d have to pull him in close, and he’d surely spook. But I got him in, five feet, three feet, one feet. He was calmly treading water below my feet. And then I pulled him slowly him up to reach for him. Then I made a total rookie mistake. His head out of the water, I grabbed the line. And he woke up! Two big head shakes and he was free. He sat there looking at me…me looking at him, eye to eye. Then, he slowly put his head down and swam for a hole. What a fish. Sorry no pictures, but his image is burned on my mind’s eye.

Yep, fall fishing can be a lot of fun, and it doesn’t have to be all trout. Sometimes going for wily smallies can be just as much fun. While recently rafting in West Virginia with my brother, I took the time to hit the New River, a trophy smallmouth river. Wading out on a nice bend where the Dunloup Creek joins the New, I was able to cast just ahead of some nice little class 1 rapids. Behind every boulder there seemed to be a smallie! On a 5 wt they provided plenty of action, jumping and diving. Fast warm water can be a fly fisherman’s best friend, the fishing is simpler. A wooly bugger or conehead worm in just about any pattern will suffice.

Now as the cool crisp winds dry the leaves creating the hush sound of the woods in the fall, I feel a bit anxious. Winter is on its way. Soon the land will be still, but for now big ‘uns await in the cool creeks just below the colored canopy.

Denim on the Coldfront

There’s a coldfront blowing through Brooklyn. I’ve got sweet potato fries in the oven, the fixins for a blue cheese salad, and a steak coming to room temperature. Autumn, bring it on. I love this time of year. Now, I don’t need any clothes or fall gear. I’m well supplied…but maybe a new pair of selvedge denim made right here in the USA?

 

Raleigh Denim (Raleigh, NC)

 

The Stronghold (Venice Beach, CA)

 

Strivers Row (Atlanta, GA, I love this country urban thing, love it)

 

Baldwin Denim (Kansas City, KA)

 

Roy Denim (Oakland, CA)

 

Imogene + Willie  (Nashville, TN, nice long backstory here…)

 

By Gauley

My brother and I have always gone on adventures together. Years ago, after a couple of beers at our bar in Philly, he turned to me and said, I’m moving to London, why don’t you come with me? I didn’t even think about it. I said sure, no problem. I told him last Spring I was learning to fly fish and I told him why don’t you take a class? He called me by the end of the week to say he’d taken it and when were we going to go fishing? This summer, when his birthday was approaching he called and said, I’m going whitewater rafting, the Gauley, class V rapids, and I said immediately count me in. But…after a few weeks waiting for the date…I let a little bit of fear slip in. What if I get hurt? What if, what if, what if… I called him and said, nah man, I’ll go to the river, but I’ll just fish. Then, fortunately, I woke-up from my thirty-something coma and said to hell with it, yeah I’m down for a little adventure.

Fayette, West Virginia is a 9-hour drive from Brooklyn–I loved every minute of it, out the door at 5am, through the Lehigh Valley at dawn, over the Susquehanna River and down into the hill country of Virginia and then through the Shenandoah Valley around time for breakfast in Staunton (a town where my free and enslaved black ancestors lived during the Civil War), and then across the Monongahela National Forest right through the Alleghenies to the New River Valley just after lunch. The New River is a trophy smallmouth fishery and the nearby Gauley River (upper and lower) is a top 5 whitewater rafting destination with class V rapids and often considered #2 in the US. The Gauley is a tailwater, and its rapids are the result of releases from the Summersville dam. The Gauley itself is the second oldest river in the world. We hit the Middle Gauley putting in just before “Backbender”…starting with a Class IV!

I can’t do justice to describing the river. You’ll just have to take a trip there yourself one day. I can tell you that you’ll think you’re out west, in Montana or Colorado, you’ll think there couldn’t possibly be a WILDER river (until you visit the New River). You’ll think you can’t possibly be having this much fun. The bone-crushing rush of falling into a 10′ hole with whitewater churning around you and the fear turning to screams of joy as you’re propelled out the other end of a chute, the scream of an eagle on a long slow run, the pitter patter of rain on the river and the distant sound of thunder, your senses will be strummed like a guitar as you harmonize with the Gauley. Our guide, Ben from Colorado, was a patient and commanding guy, easy-going but firm and he got the most out of our little crew. We didn’t flip once, no one fell out of the boat, though we watched plenty other boaters take a dip.

My brother is upfront, I'm right behind him.
Pushing through "Backbender" on the Gauley
Crunch!
Entering "Upper Staircase" on the Gauley
Pushing through
Entering Lower Staircase on the Gauley
Pushing through
Entering "Pure Screaming Hell" on the Gauley
Surfing "hellhole" in "Pure Screaming Hell" on the Gauley
About to flip at the "hellhole"
Escaping the "hellhole"
Saluting Pure Screaming Hell on the way out

After a few rapids, we were veterans and were happily bouncing through rapids called “Rooster Tail”, “Roller Coaster,” and paddling like mad through others, like “Rattlesnake,” and “Heaven’s Gate.”  As we came out of an unbelieveable “surf” on a class V known as “Pure Screaming Hell” where we narrowly avoiding flipping, I looked at my brother, and said a mental thank you–for him, for the people in life that take me out of my comfort zone, for the ones I will trust to take me new places. We took a voluntary dip through some class I rapids and soothed our weary bones in the cold water as a thunderstorm bore down on us for our slow float out. We were wet, we were getting wetter, and by golly, we were happy.

Ashe

I’m off to the US Open tonight courtesy a ticket from my boy. I’ve been many times and if you’ve been, you know that a night session can be ELECTRIC. Imagine the pent up energy of players and fans after two days of rain delays?

Arthur Ashe Stadium will be jumping.

Speaking of Ashe, I’ve been toying with developing a documentary about Arthur Ashe. Though its only in preliminary stages, I’d like to concentrate on one key moment out of his life. That’s going to be hard to narrow down when he had so many GREAT moments.

– First black Davis Cup Captain

-First black to win US OPEN, WIMBLEDON, AUSTRALIAN OPEN

-Honored by Presidential Medal of Freedom

He was an amazing player, activist, sportsman and black cultural ambassador. His rivalry with Jimmy Connors was legendary. At Wimbledon in 1975 he beat Connors 6–1, 6–1, 5–7, 6–4.

But I’m thinking about a post-humous moment: After his death, Arthur Ashe’s body lay in state at the governor’s mansion in his home state of Virginia. The last time this was allowed was for Stonewall Jackson of the Confederate Army during the Civil War. A statue of him was erected on Monument Avenue among J.E.B. Stuart, Jefferson Davis (President of the Confederacy), and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson.

There was a tremendous amount of controversy over the monument because up until his statue’s placement, the recognized icons in stone were all associated with the Confederacy, were all racist whites who never thought blacks in America could achieve the remarkable things that Ashe could. I believe the placement of the monument could make quite the film.

Meanwhile, tonight is a night for joy and passion! If you’ve never been to the US Open, make the pilgrimage and go at night, you won’t regret it.

 

 

 

The Riverkeepers

As I returned home from Florida on Labor Day, our flight took us over the Hudson alongside Manhattan before banking right into LaGuardia. Immediately noticeable was the mocha stain on the water, the result of thousands of tons of silt being washed into the river from tributaries flooded by Hurricane Irene. There was a clear dividing line in the middle of the bay, just past the Statue of Liberty. This of course, is having an effect on the ecology of the river, its quality and wildlife. I also learned later that various towns on the Hudson were dumping their raw sewage directly into the river because the hurricane damaged their water systems. It got me to thinking, “whose job is it to take care of the Hudson?”

The answer, a Riverkeeper. “The origins of the Riverkeeper go back to England in the Middle Ages when villages would hire a private citizen to look after the trout streams so that no one could abuse the waterways that were owned, utilized, and enjoyed by all of the people in the villages. The Hudson River Fishermen’s Association first introduced the Keeper concept in the U.S. in the mid-1980’s when they hired John Cronin, a former commercial fisherman and congressional aide, to patrol the Hudson full-time.”

After twenty years of working to defend the Hudson, Cronin has been nationally recognized as a hero for the environment, and written a book with Robert Kennedy Jr. about riverkeeping. He also wrote the acclaimed documentary, “The Last Rivermen,” with director, Robert Nixon, about the last generation of professional fishermen on the Hudson. Here’s an excerpt:

Cronin is no longer with Riverkeeper and now runs the Beacon Institute for Rivers and Estuaries which develops technology for environmental innovation and water policy development.

Today, Riverkeeper is not only focused on cleanup post-Irene, but on the issue of fracking. Their latest campaign, “Don’t Frack with New York” anticipates the environmental damage fracking will have on the Hudson and is lobbying Gov. Cuomo and NYS to “indefinitely extend the Executive Order that requires the DEC to go back and review the regulations under which gas drilling using fracking can occur.”

There are many Riverkeepers out there, men and women who regularly monitor, test, and defend their homewaters through advocacy and policy development. One of the more famous unofficial riverkeepers works on the Mississippi, Chad Pregracke. He is the recipient of more than 40 awards for his work cleaning-up the Miss’ and advocating for clean water. While not a scientist or policy maker, Pregracke set his sights on one task that would have the greatest impact, to remove trash. Pregracke even recently won a contest by Mitchum which named him the “Hardest Working Man in America” . Through his organization Living Lands Waters, Pregracke pulls millions of pounds of garbage out of the Mississippi, and I’m not talking tennis balls and empty bottles of Tide, his barge pulls out buses, cars, sunken houseboats, tires, barrels, what have you. Pregracke is also the author of From the Bottom Up, One Man’s Crusade to Clean America’s Rivers.

Imagine taking on the challenge of cleaning up the Mississippi–a 2300 mile long river with thousands of tributaries and factories… To get an idea of what it takes to give a hoot and get something done, check out Pregracke’s efforts below (he says boom! alot). Now Pregracke didn’t do it alone–he has had 70k volunteers! Its clear we all have it in us to be Riverkeepers. So whose job is it to clean up the Hudson? Remarkable stuff to keep in mind during Labor Day. BOOM!

Paying Dues

Is it me or did hurricane season start early this year? With the goal of spending 4 lovely days in Destin, Fl swimming and fishing shot to hell by Tropical Storm Lee, I could only ponder that perhaps we HUMANS are really f*cking it up for ourselves. Faster climate change equals earlier hurricanes, more storms, more ferocity, equals less fishing!

Still, good times were had with the Yun clan–my father-in-law owes me a shot at winning my money back at poker. Oh and he beat all his son-in-laws in bowling too. But then again, maybe we let him win… A wiry, fit, little Korean man who sleeps on a stone bed. Yes, a stone bed. Of course he was going to win!

Despite double red flags on the beach, I did manage to get out on the water twice on day one and once again on the last day in a break between the showers. On Friday, just before Lee hit, I got up at the crack of ass…I mean “dawn” to fish a pier and was rewarded with a beautiful sunrise.

Later that day, with some careful guidance from Jan at the SanDestin Orvis, I had my first flats wading experience  near the 9th hole behind the Bayside Inn on the Choctawatchee. I scared up a few trigger fish, had a good swirl with I think was a trout, and generally watched alot of jumping mullet. Big mullet, anywhere from 5 to 10lbers who are unfortunately, vegetarians. On a pier after dozens of casts at low tide, I managed a largeish ladyfish who tail walked three times and popped-off. I forgot to “bow” as she jumped. Finally, Lee hit and I was driven off the water by torrents of rain that fell in sheets obscuring everything.

So dejected by the weather, I drowned myself in junkfood and of course, oysters.

On my last evening, inbetween rain bands and in 30 mph winds, I couldn’t take it any longer. With approximately an hour to fish before the farewell dinner, I boogied over to the pier and tied on a red klouser. I figured, the color of blood would give me a valuable jumpstart with limited time on the water. I watched a school of pilchers getting crashed right up against a reedline and could see silver fish swimming broadside taking their fill. I cast in, and immediately hookedup with a little zippy…something. It took only a minute to pull him in with the 8wt rod, and to my delight, I had a small gorgeous Jack. Like all fishing, you’ve got to pay your dues. I think I’ve put down a pretty good deposit for a redfish! I’ve got a sore arm from slinging the 8wt, but I gained invaluable experience venturing onto the salt on my own.

More pics over at my tumblr blog, a deadbait