The Napa Valley of Oysters

In the last couple of years during my family visits along the Chesapeake I’ve bumped into Rappahannock River Oysters on more than a couple of menus. Not being very educated, I wondered aloud about Virginia’s oyster provenance. Ever the oyster fiend, I tried them and did the oyster swoon.

I didn’t know the story behind Rappahannock’s until now. Seems cousins Ryan and Travis Croxton revived a long-held 100 hundred year-old family business that their own fathers were discouraged from entering due to the near-destruction of the fishery. Now, using aquaculture, Rappahannock River Oysters are sustainably producing four kinds of oyster: Rappahannocks, Stingrays, Snow Hills, and Olde Salts. Boldly taking them to the #1 restaurant in America, Le Bernadin, the oysters have found glowing, loyal fans in some of the nations top chefs. It doesn’t hurt either that the oysters are literally cleaning the Chesapeake’s waters. A mature oyster can filter up to 60 gallons of water a day and at one time, when the bay was clean and several oyster brands worked it, you could see clear 60′ to the bottom.





Postscript: I’m hearing good things about the emerging War Shore Oyster Company too…I’ll have to try them soon.

The First 70

Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, there’s something precious that you love that you wish other people would just leave it the hell alone. But they won’t leave it alone. They want to kill it, defund it, bulldoze it, develop it, sell it off, or just plain waste it.

Don’t believe for a second that you can’t stop them. You can do it. And if you need help, I’ll be there.

White Fly Hatch on The Housy Right Now

Damn. I’m in the middle of packing, and would ya’ believe it, the white fly hatch (Epheron Leukon) is happening on the Housatonic AS WE SPEAK according to the Housatonic River Outfitters + local CT blogger Passinthru the Outdoors. As the day cools off and the water, the big holdover trout should come out to play if you know where to look, otherwise, Housy’s legendary smallmouth bass will keep your rod bent. HRO has your patterns.

Maybe if I pack all night….

Take note though: Thermal Refuge areas (cold water sources such as tributary mouths and spring holes) are all closed off to fishing within 100 feet of the white signs until 9/1.

Let’s Not Say Goodbye

I fished the East Branch of the Croton yesterday fully aware I wouldn’t see her for a while, maybe a long while. I hit my favorite holes and she willingly guided me to rising trout. I danced in her riffles. She knocked me on my butt at least once–a love tap to remind me that she was never a push-over. I told her I learned from the best.

Together we took a handful of rainbows, gleaming red and chrome, and a few swarthy, thick browns bespectacled in red spots. Somehow she arranged every weather condition in a single outing. The day began overcast and then a pouring thunderstorm made the river drum. In turn, an early mid-morning cahill and caddis hatch caused the trout to enter the tailouts and eagerly take my fly. As the sun came out and the weather warmed, the shadowline across the river became a great place to dead drift a parachute adams downstream which a strapping young brown happily took.

As I tied on a bugger mid-day, I took perch after perch, again a subtle reminder that the East Branch would always play hard to get with me. What a flirt.

Here are some pics from my last two forays to the Croton.

Mindful Eating

Twice this season I have taken home trout for the table. The first time it was early in the season, and I knew some of the larger holdover trout would be out and hungry. I took two on the dry fly, kept them in the water until I was ready to go, and dispatched of them with the ice-shock method. They were fileted and grilled. They were served simply and tasted delicious. In that case, it was my own small ritual to take and prepare something from the land, eating as a way of saying thanks and honoring the trout. In the second instance I caught a large brown trout in the evening and it took too long to play him and I was fairly certain he would not survive, so I dispatched of him with the same method, and served the trout up with fresh herbs and vegetables.

Though its not possible to eat sustainably in this way, its possible to enjoy and feel the connection with the food when you yourself are witnessing death, cleaning and gutting the fish, experiencing how the living fish transforms to food. It becomes a responsibility to pay attention to the act of eating.

I’ve written about Torvar Cerulli before and in truth owe my readers a long-awaited review of his book, The Mindful Carnivore. But Torvar has dropped a second video to announce that book is now available as an e-book–congrats Torvar!


Don Ville “On my business card it says that I’m a shoemaker.”


Croft Craft Custom Boats “I just love to fish browns at night, but I needed a boat to do that.”


Dry Fly Distilling “I think our job is to take this great raw material, and do everything we can to get out of its way.”



Kinfolk: Brooklyn Dinner


J. L. Lawson & Co: The Rack


This Must Be the Place: John Coffer “They become valued objects, not just an image.”

Wangari Gardens

As my readers may know, I’m moving to Washington, DC in just two weeks. I’ve renovated the links list and now you’ll find a “life in the District” category and a few DC-area blogs. I won’t lie, I’m nervous. But that’s because I’ve been spoiled by Brooklyn, a city of artists, dreamers, immigrants and cultural do-gooders. My wife told me yesterday that she felt it, a chapter closing, a new chapter beginning. So many good things are happening in our nation’s capital. Here’s one:

Wangari Gardens, named for the Nobel-prize winner Wangari Maathai, is a urban farmer’s market, community garden and park, that was repurposed by a group of intrepid gardeners, urbanists and community activists. For more on their unique story, go here. Just one example of a true urban renaissance under way in DC, I look forward to bringing you more, and taking part.

Night Trout

I’ve read the late Jim Bashline’s book Night Fishing for Trout and staying later and later to apply his tactics. So far this season I’ve encountered more eager trout than ever after dark. I just can’t believe guys aren’t staying later on the Croton Watershed, because the lots and pullouts are empty just after dusk. We all know there are big fish in the rivers but OK, the occasional bear has been spotted in Putnam county… Still Bashline is right when he says that vast majority of the toughest characters are afraid of the dark. Me, I ain’t scurred! Not when these are the rewards…

I got him swinging a white bugger in a hole on the East Branch of the Croton that I’d seen a true pig of a rainbow emerge from a few weeks ago.
He took on a #14 parachute cahill in an eddy…I just heard the SLURP!
One of my largest browns on the East Branch of the Croton took a black beadhead bugger swung through a deep chute. At first I thought I was snagged! Great fight on my 5wt.