5 Ways to Find Fishy Dudes in NY

When you live in NY, remarkably you’re surrounded by a good number of angling options. And while we have great waters, salt and fresh, the sheer size of the city might give you the impression its tough to meet and hang with other anglers.  Maybe you’re just not into party boats. Well, quickly, here are five ways to enjoy the camaraderie of other anglers in the five boroughs and maybe find a fishing buddy. Oh, and maybe a good bar too.

1. Hit the bar at a NY Trout Unlimited meeting

The NYC chapter meets every now and then to discuss conservation, fly fishing, and of course, protecting trout habitat. They also meet at a kick-ass bar! Blackstones Pub in midtown has an old-time saloon look, flatscreens for the game, pool tables and a nice jukebox. So you can grab a pint and linger after the meeting.

2. Take a fly-tying class at the Brooklyn Brainery

Midcurrent.com contributor, angler and fly tyer, John Melfi will be teaching an introductory fly tying class at this open source, community classroom in mid-Nov. Just in time for seasons end…or for the Salmon River steelhead run, take your pick. The Brainery is in Cobble Hill on the border of Red Hook and there are no end to great bars down there…I like Fort Defiance.

3. Catch a show at the Bklyn Rod & Gun Club

This low-key rod and reel club/bar in Williamsburg ‘hood of Brooklyn has a free and open-membership. If you fish or hunt and are stuck in the city, you can hang-out, tell fish-stories, drink and catch fantastic emerging music acts at their space. Follow them on Twitter for show times.

Jose Colon teaching fly tying at Bklyn Rod & Gun Club. Note the drumset behind him!

4. Compete in the Brooklyn Fishing Derby (well, next year)

The annual Brooklyn Fishing Derby along the shores of the East River (yep!) the East River, gathers anglers of all types, even fly fishermen, to compete to bring in striper and blues from Oct 1 to Nov 5. I didn’t compete this year (maybe next). This derby makes it easy to get out fishing with a variety of packages from Greenpoint’s Dream Tackle supply. But the Derby holds regular Saturday meetups during the competition at two great bars, either the Brooklyn Ale House or The Woods. Think its crazy to fish the east river? Here’s the latest leaderboard on Oct. 31:

  • Striped Bass: Damar Douglas, 41″
  • Bluefish: Ricky, 36″
  • Fly Division: Preacher, 21″ bass
"East River Blue" photo by Geralyn Shukwit via BKUAA

5.  Hit the Salt with the Salty Flyrodders

I recently joined the SF,  the guys are friendly, a real mix of blue and white-collar dudes with a couple of artists sprinkled in, with a common passion for fishing the salt’. They have meetings regularly in the Queens Botanical Garden where they often hold casting clinics. However, its their monthly outings to Breezy Point, Long Beach, Montauk and so forth that makes for the fun times. I recently caught my first striper on the fly hanging with a SF member on Orchard Beach the other day. It was a schoolie, but I’ll graduate eventually.

BONUS!

Also try joining the Westchesterfishing.com forums and find a fishing buddy for-a-day or the occasional invite to row the boat on one of the reservoirs while your “host” hauls in monster lakers and browns. If a jackass tells you to bring your own oars, skip it. If he tells you to bring the six, do accept the invitation.

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Goodbye Condit

Chock one up for us humans. We may make a lot of mistakes, but we have the know-how to fix them too if we try.

 

 

The Condit Dam on the White Salmon River stood since 1913 and was the nation’s second tallest dam. Earlier this month, the Elwha river saw the beginning of the removal of two dams. Its one of three dams recently removed in the state of Washington to protect and improve fisheries. The dams blocked the migration of Chinook salmon and Steelhead. It also prevented sediment from flowing downstream. The Yakima Nation lobbied hard for the dams removal with environmental groups, but in the end, the cost of upgrades by the Pacificorp owned dam were just too much. It was cheaper to restore the habitat. For more on the Condit Dam removal, and the work of Friends of the White Salmon River, read this.

A Catfish in Paris

Taking a quick break from writing to post this follow-up to my fishing in Paris question. As I walked the Ill de la Cite in Paris, I finally came across some anglers. They seem to use a long reelless rod (well over 11′ long) with a bobber and some live bait. Others used a conventional spinning outlet on very long rods. Others plumbed the depths of the Seine’s bottom with even heavier tackle. I was lucky enough to watch a guy pull in one pug-ugly catfish.

Now, my friend Erik from London wrote to me recently and told me the fishing’s come back in the Thames too. London’s calling.

Brodin Nets

So on my last trip to the Titicus River this year, where I landed my first 20-er, I lost my net. It’s a mile hike over some rough terrain to the outlet where the big’uns are and though I backtracked carefully, I couldn’t find my net. Thankfully, Trout Unlimited is having its 2011 Gear Liquidation and you can get some dope TU-branded goods for donation at or below retail. I took advantage of the liquidation to donate for a Brodin TU net, similar to the one below.

The Brodin Teardrop

 

Its 21″ long, net opening is 9″ wide and made of wood, with an embossed TU log. In the next year, Brodin Landing Nets is moving to use completely sustainable wood from Costa Rican plantations, teak in fact. The Brodin TU net has a traditional nylon net bag, which can be a bit of a pain if you get a fly stuck in the mesh. Eventually, I’ll upgrade to the ghost net. The good thing is you can reuse your original handle and just purchase the ghost net and install it yourself.

 

Brodin Ghost Net, photo by Clint Lozier

Oregon guide Greg Hatten has put together a nice little video of the Brodin in use on his own wooden boat guided drift tours. The music is a bit over the top, but it sure looks fun.

 

When in Paris…

You could say I went to Paris for the art (Mona Lisa, Monet) or the literary inspiration (Hemingway, Pound, Joyce) or the history (Napoleon’s tomb anyone?) but in fact, I went for the food. After reading Alan Richman’s GQ article on the new wave of bistro chefs, I knew I had found my reason for the trip. Because until then, selfishly, all I could think of was the fact that the shopping really couldn’t be that better than New York (I was right, in fact, its worse…Paris menswear is stuck in eroticised pubescent “boy” mode). But Richman piqued my curiosity, so I set out to hit at least five of the most significant bistros of the moment during the week long trip. I knew we had to go to L’Ami Jean. I hoped we could get a reservation–and to Le Troquet. I made reservations at some tourist-traps just to cover the basics, Chartier, Brassiere Bofinger. We had a recommendation to try Les Papilles and so that went on the list. In the end we made it to Chez L’Ami Jean, Les Papilles, Le Pantruche, Chez Toinette (really an old standby but recently rediscovered and regarded), Restaurant Miroir, and Chartier (a tourist-trap just for kicks).

Chartier

Barely worth mentioning for the food, except that we had FUN just being tourists and gawking at this century-old restaurant near the Opera. It was our first night, so the duck confit was tasty and the frites, crisp and the meal seemed very Parisian.

Duck Confit at Chartier

Chez Toinette

A sleepy cafe with very few tables and only one waiter, the food was very good, but a tad bit over-decorated. I started with a fricasse of “girolle” mushrooms with herbs, which I would repeat for our one home-cooked meal. More duck was had, roasted and served with fall root vegetables, but the Parmentier of Fresh Codfish my wife had was a standout, flakey and piquant served over a bed of mashed potatoes.

the Codfish Parmentier at Chez Toinette

Le Pantruche

It was pleasant to find two great bistros in our little neighborhood off the Rue du Martyrs. In fact the area is quite hip, our flat on the Rue du Navarin was a few steps from the Williamsburgesque Hotel Amor and Le Mere Maison. Each night we would come back and pass the hipsters who so desparately looked like they wanted to live in Brooklyn.

Le Pantruche was delightfully modest and the quality of food growing exponentially better than our previous meals. We split the terrine of foie gras which melted in our mouths and over the crusty baguette. I had rable du lapin (saddle of rabbit) with chorizo which was light, sweet and spicy and without any gaminess. Desert was poached figs and salted caramel creme. My wife raved over the salted caramel panna cotta.

Menu at Le Pantruche
Rable du Lapin at Le Pantruche

Les Papilles

We nearly missed our reservation as Les Papilles is located deep in the Latin Quarter, past the Luxumbourg Gardens and near no Metro stations. Turns out I also forgot to confirm (a MUST), but the manager seemed to sense our desperation and sat us. We picked-out a slightly over-priced bottle of wine, a 2003 Chateau Chante Alouette from St. Emilion. I chose it for the name, but was rewarded with a 92-point bordeaux blend that set the night on fire!

Again, we had duck, but it was delicious moist and tender. The prix fixe meal began with a root vegetable soup poured over bacon and crouton. A cheese course followed, and then the roast duck.

Chez L’Ami Jean

The absolute highlight of the trip, I called and called to get reservations before the trip and no one picked up. I tried again in Paris at 9 in the morning and got through finally and scored a 10pm reservation, not a problem since we were on NY-time. This basque bistro is considered the best in the city at the moment and it didn’t disappoint. With little explanation of the menu, we dove in and took the chef’s menu, “Le Petit Voyage.” The meal began with a rich dark fish soup, almost too salty to eat but impossible to stop. After that course we had scallops and foie gras over a filet of mackerel airy, sweet and creamy, and salty.  Next up were razor clams, chewy and briny. The main was a gorgeous duck breast with almonds. Before desert we had a cheese course, followed by a massive pot of riz au lait (rice pudding) served with a salted caramel creme and ice creams. The restaurant itself was nothing special, in fact it felt deliberately run-down and ramshackle, but the food was inspired and heavenly.

the Mackerel under foie gras at Chez L' Ami Jean
Razor Clams at Chez L' Ami Jean
Yours truly with a fine Basque wine and rice pudding at Chez L' Ami Jean

Miroir

When we told our host at Le Pantruche of our little food adventure, he recommended Miroir, also on the Rue du Martyrs but above the Pigalle closer to Sacre Cour. We ate here on our last night, and frankly, after our delicious home-cooked meal and L’Ami Jean, we were finished. The food was undoubtedly good, but I’m not sure we could really “taste” it anymore. My wife only ordered one dish, the tuna tartare. She knows I am against ordering tuna from any restaurant (its endangered and in serious decline), but I couldn’t deny her. I had a rabbit and foie gras terrine to start which was cool and simple and moist, and then porcelet (milk-fed young pig), which was like a very tender pork chop with a nice gaminess that tasted of the farm. We finished with the poached pear and rice pudding…I was after a repeat performance of L’Ami Jean’s rice pudding but alas, the rice was underdone. Still tasty, but incomplete.

Tuna Tartar and Porcelet at Miroir

At the end of the meal, my wife looked up at me, with tired eyes, sated, and said, “I’m ready to go home.” I was ready too. You know how the excitement of tourism is a natural high that you can ride for days, but in the end, almost everyone wants to go home and have their Mom’s roast chicken. Still, I would recommend any of the bistros here to you if you are planning to visit Paris soon. Reserve early and of course, always confirm. Cheers.

Hudson Valley Cider Route

God I love Autumn. I love the crispness of the air, the feel of a warm wool sweater, dragging my feet through the fallen leaves…a cup of hard cider. During my recent trip to Paris I had a Bolee D’Amorique, a bowl of hard cider from Breton. That’s why I was excited to see Tuthilltown Spirits promoting the Hudson Valley Cider Route on their Facebook page recently. I was already planning on going apple picking this weekend and visiting a distillery, so the timing is perfect. The Apple Project recognizes and celebrates NY Hudson Valley orchards and he ciders they produce. The website features cider makers (sweet and hard) a map, and tips on where to procure it fresh in Beacon, Hudson and Red Hook.

In fact, its officially “Cider Week!” Cider Week is a week-long celebration of hard cider, and over 70 restaurants and bars in NY and the Hudson Valley are serving it up at tastings, classes and special events. You can get more more information here. Seems like the closest participating restaurants, Diner,  Marlow & Sons are all over in Williamsburg, Ft. Defiance is serving too in Red Hook, so I’ll check it out and let you know.

Interested in making your own hard apple cider, free from preservatives? Check out this instruction from Green Deane of Eat the Weeds. It only takes a week to make a 3% alcohol content cider. Read the article and watch the video to see how incredibly simple it is.

 

 

The Apple Project is an initiative of Glynwood Institute for Sustainable Food and Farming, a not-for-profit farm and organization dedicated to helping NE NY farmers. They have done some pretty incredible work out of their Cold Spring offices, including creating TedXManhattan’s “Changing the Way We Eat” symposium in Feb 2011. The next symposium is in Jan 2012.

 

 

Pebble Mine, Hell No

If you’re an angler and  haven’t heard of the battle over the proposed Pebble Mine in Bristol Bay Alaska, well, you’ve been living under a rock. You may have heard the recent NPR stories covering the proposed gold and copper mine on state lands in Southwest Alaska. But if you tuned-out or maybe weren’t listening closely and were curious to learn more, watching Felt Soul Media’s award-winning documentary film Red Gold would certainly draw you in.

 

Trout Unlimited is touring the  Save Bristol Bay Roadshow which tours Red Gold  for two weeks in seven cities with one clear goal in mind–to keep Northern Dynasty (the mining operations) out of Bristol Bay Alaska.

Here’s a perspective from the developers, Pebble Limited Partnership.

 

 

These videos which were released as TV ads, features a cross-country trek by a “local” from the proposed site to the bay, over a week and 120 miles. The point–I guess–is to say that if the mine is out of sight, and 120 miles away, it couldn’t possibly harm the bay, its people, wildlife or ecology? This little bit of PR magic relies on people not seeing past a bit of visual trickery. The mine and its roads, pits, and pollution would of course stretch much farther than the site itself, and destroy miles of river tributaries (70 salmon streams), bring chemicals and minerals to the surface where they will eventually run-off, and cut salmon off from their spawning grounds while poisoning the air and water. Jobs may be had, for a little while, but at what cost? The shameful thing about the PR is the use of the native local and completely ignoring the true topography of the land she traverses. As a former adman, I can tell you that it is highly unlikely the actor walked 120 miles in a week. No actor or paid representative would do it–the unions wouldn’t allow it and it would be prohibitively expensive. There is little truth in advertising here. That’s why documentaries like Red Gold are so important. If the filmmaker is doing a good job–they are trying to balance a story from multiple perspectives, without giving up the right to come to clear conclusions. The tour begins today in Seattle, Washington, and also today, officials are literally counting votes right now to see if the Pebble Mine initiative will go forward.

 

 

 

 

So Far Paris

I left my camera cord in Brooklyn, which is a shame because I wanted to blog more during my week in Paris. So, here is a short list of the places we have visited so far.

Musee Orangerie (impressionists)

Musee Rodin

La Place Vendome

Opera Garnier

Tour Eiffel

Jardin Tuiliere

Musee du Quai Branly (outstanding Jean Nouvel building)

Les Invalides (Napoleon’s tomb

And we are eating our way through Paris at the bistros du moment:

Le Pantruche

Chez Toinette

With L’ Ami Jean, Miroir, les Papilles and L’Epidupin to go.