Coming: Montauk on the Fly This Year

Just caught the the F.C.A. 2011 Montauk Slam on Salt Water Series, part of the Redbone Tournament which benefits Cystic Fibrosis research. The action was incredible! Bluefish, albies and stripers blitzing below dozens of boats in the storm-grey rips off Montauk. It was cool to see the Rise Fishing clan in action–Capt. Amanda Switzer, Bryan Bechard, and Capt. Paul Dixon. Its only late February but I can’t wait to go fly fishing for a slam this year!

You’ll have to watch Salt Water Series on the Outdoor Channel to see the 2011 tournament action. However, check this video at about 6:25 seconds in to see what action really is.


A word about Rise Fishing,  guide and pro fly fisher Capt. Amanda Switzer’s new killer fly fishing company, not only are their rods high quality and affordable, but Rise Fishing Co. set a new  industry standard by pledging to donate 20% of all profits to conservation and new angler outreach. Rise recently donated 200 of their Green series rods to TU youth camps. I’m down with supporting a company that supports the future of the sport.


Winter in Fort Tilden

Visited Fort Tilden during President’s Day weekend with my wife. I love walking on the beach during the winter. You have the place to yourself. The cold wind whipping off the ocean seems to separate the particles of sand on the beach and reorganizes them into beautiful sculptures. Winter’s beauty and cost becomes evident as life seems to standout more in the pale sunlight. Death too, the entire cycle can be witnessed.

Fort Tilden  is a long pennisula, contains a maritime forest, freshwater pond, and several WWII batteries that are now grown over with brambles and scrub. The batteries long halls are now dark and empty but are galleries for some fine local graffiti art. On the ocean, I spotted a lone trawler lazing along a sandbar. In the surf, dozens of large seagulls were diving in shallow water after every wave crashed onshore–their target, small brown crabs. They were feasting.

In the sand, my wife and I searched for silvery driftwood and shells. Twice I stumbled on the bodies of birds that didn’t make it through the winter–and this one, our mildest in years. Whether of old age or some other factor, the birds lay in the sand, stiff, slowly decaying, a stark contrast to the diving gulls just a few yards away.

In the distance, Breezy Point, the infamous jetty known for producing trophy stripers and blues, was being dashed by wave after wave. Winter in Fort Tilden has one word to me, relentless.


Winners of deadbait Cabin Fever Contest

I’m pleased to announce the winners of the deadbait Cabin Fever Contest. You’ll recall I asked for your help getting over my cabin fever. Fortunately, your advice has helped me breakout of my funk and get outside. I decided to explore some Connecticut water and was rewarded with bringing some very large brown trout to hand on the Mianus River in the middle of February. On the first trip, a lean 18″ brown, and last week, a 12″ and another 14″er. Plus I made some new friends on the water.

But enough about me! Here are the winners of my little contest.

1st Place: Jim from Passin Thru Outdoors

“Sometimes I will grab my camera and force myself to go out and take pictures, even if just in the backyard. If there is snow, I might do some tracking or shed hunting even.”

2nd Place: Tiffany from A Little Campy: The Campy Mom’s Guide to Family Camping

“Go camping. If you live in an extremely cold part of the country, you can still rent a cabin or yurt or maybe you own a small camper or RV. Just getting away for the weekend will do wonders for you.”

3rd Place: Chase from Feather & Scale

“I pull out the whiskey and learn new things to cook.”

Per the rules of the contest, Jim gets first pick, Tiffany second and then Chase will receive the last item. Thank you all for supporting deadbait. I’ll be reaching out to the winners individually.





I draw a tremendous amount of inspiration from author, hunter and conservationist, Steven Rinella. Rinella is the author of The Scavenger’s Guide to Haute Cuisine and American Buffalo: In Seach of a Lost Icon. Like another modern-day subsistence hunter I know, Jackson Landers, Rinella has turned his great passion of the outdoors into a media career–he has hosted the Travel Channel’s The Wild Within, and now is the host of MeatEater on the Sportsman’s Channel. In MeatEater, Rinella’s goal is to focus on hunting and gathering from the cook’s perspective.


I’ve met and spoke with Rinella a couple times now and find him to be affable, humble, and smart man, plus, he’s got midwest roots like me but lives just around the corner in Brooklyn. Sadly, Time Warner doesn’t carry the Sportsman’s Channel, but New Yorkers can see exerpts from his new show on the MeatEater website. FYI, the show is produced by Zero Point Zero Productions the same folk behind The Wild Within and Tony Bourdain’s hit shows No Reservations, The Layover, and David Chang’s foodie magazine Lucky Peach. I won’t go into it here–but ZPZ are also behind the killer app, Pat Lafrieda’s Big App for Meat. Quality!!

I’ve no doubt I’ll be tuning in online to MeatEater the moment they get their Youtube channel up and running (hint-hint). My bro recently launched his cured meats biz in DC and I’m hoping to become one of his suppliers this year… In fact, a memorable quote stands out from Rinella’s conversation with another food hero of mine, Michael Rulhman. “Being a better chef, is being a better hunter.”


Its well into the new year and time for the first Film Craft of 2012. Here’s an eclectic mix, no theme, just fun.

Let’s kick it off with Randolph Engineering. My boy Eric put me on to this incredible Massachusetts-based eyewear company a few years ago. RE’s handbuilt sunglasses and shooting glasses have been worn by American aviators and outdoorsmen since 1972. Recently, they collaborated with Michael Bastian for their first fashion line, but don’t worry, Randolph Engineered eyewear is rugged, durable and affordable. I’ve got two different pairs of aviators and no plan to ever buy another brand, ever.



I was given a Makr keychain which is aging quite nicely. The leather has picked up a cool patina, and now I’ve got my eye on one of designer Jason Gregory’s rucksacks. Gregory started Makr Design Studio and goes from sketch to CAD to prototype to product from his home base in Florida. Spend a moment on his blog to see where he draws inspiration from.



Here’s a bonus video demonstrating how Makr embosses their packaging.



I’m dying to get my hands on one these Edisto Oyster Knives from the Williams Knife Company. Chris Williams was featured in Garden and Gun magazine recently. I can easily see an Edisto showing up on The Bureau of Trade in 50 years…



Field Notes, where to begin? I’m pretty sure the first words I ever wrote in pencil must have been in a pad like Field Notes. Here’s a look at the printing process for the always useful Steno.



A final film  reminds me that maker-culture is about making life better. What I admire about Kinfolk out of Portland, is that they honor and simplify the art of communion in the craft of the get-together. Here’s their manifesto. It’ll make you want to make a stew and invite some friends over for an impromptu gathering.


Mianus Brown

Its been a strange winter. Today Punxsutawney Phil said we’d get 6 more weeks of winter, and yet it was 60 degrees in NY yesterday! Well, not to look a gift horse in the mouth, I got out on the water. This year, I vow to explore more CT streams. In fact, there are a few streams and rivers in CT closer to me than the East Branch in Brewster, which happens to be blown out at the moment. I decided upon the Mianus River in Fairfield County, CT, just outside of Stamford because it was only an hour and 10 minute drive, had a TMA (trout management area) which meant it might have “holdovers” from last year, and it has a good reputation.

I bumped into Jeff Yates, the local TU chapter president, who was about to lead a stream walk with some engineers, a hydrologist and concerned citizens. The Mianus chapter has done years of work on area-streams, and several erosion projects on the Mianus. Yates was a really cool guy who was excited to see a New Yorker on his homewaters. He gave me a couple flies, Jeff’s Killer Caddis, and a copy of his new book which I will be putting to good use this spring.

Taking Yates advice I started humping and headed for the most remote area of the Mianus River Park. There I found a log laydown across the tail of deep bend which scoured a beautiful 6′ pool. The water was emerald green and bright. I realized I needed to go deep and to have action, to look like an injured baitfish coming over the log. I tied on a black beadhead bugger crept up the embankment and cast three times. From under the embankment a silver streak darted out and grabbed the bugger and I raised the rod setting the hook hard. My 5wt bent nicely and then I realized I had a good fish on and had to keep the tension on and land him quickly. If this trout had taken a run in the current, he would have broken my 5x, I was certain. I quickly got him to the shore and scooted into the water, missed him with the net–realized–he was longer than the net! One more reach and he was in.

What a fish! Since the Mianus receives a fall stocking as the TMA period opens, I knew there was a chance for a +15″ fish, mine was 17″. Skinny, he clearly wasn’t eating much, but then winter is tough. I did spot some big #10 grey stoneflies popping off in the late afternoon, but no rises. For certain, I will be back on the Mianus once the weather warms up and before the regular put-and-take season opens in April. An angler I met on the river suggested that DEEP might stock early this year.

Finally, I got a chance to take in the erosion projects that the Mianus TU chapter had done. It was beautiful work and no doubt is preserving this little stream’s quality and characteristics. I could tell they had more work to do, as there were some clear streambank problems, but the stream seems in VERY capable hands. I’m considering asking the NYC TU chapter if they want to lend a hand during the Mianus spring stream day. I’m certain I’ll be there. Here’s a good trailmap for your reference should you be interested. If you’re in NY or CT, I suggest getting Yates book too, because you won’t find much research online and only a local like Jeff knows the secrets of this overlooked county.