Shad on My Mind

Potomac Shad

Yes I have shad on my mind. I anxiously look out the window from my offices in Rosslyn overlooking the Theodore Roosevelt memorial, an island on the Potomac river. The TU National Capitol Chapter recently helped the National Park Service and local government to refurbish docks at the historic Fletcher’s Cove boathouse to ensure anglers will be able to pursue this worthy fish in just a few weeks. Shad really were the food item that fueled the birth of this nation.  You’ve got to pickup The Founding Fish by John McPhee if you’re an angler or care about fisheries management.  Melissa’s Lesh’s film just won first runner up at 2015 RVA Environmental Film Festival. Produced by VCU Life Sciences’ Outreach Education Coordinator Anne Wright for the Science in the Park website, and narrated by former James River Park Manager Ralph White, the film documents the plight and management of blueback herring and American shad in the James River. The film features interviews with Michael Odom, Hatchery Manager of the Harrison Lake National Fish Hatchery, and Alan Weaver, Fish Passage Coordinator for the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.

Putting in Some Time

Ok, I’ve been meaning to find a way to put some time in volunteering in 2014 and found a sweet opportunity to start. The other day I took a “voluteer” day off work (i.e. one of my vacay-days) to help my local TU chapter float stock a nearby river’s trout management area. They dropped the water-level at the dam, the weather was 50 degrees and sunny, and the company was outstanding!

I’ve put a lot of hours on this river so setting up other fly rodders to enjoy the fishing is a nice way to give back. 625 rainbows went in, and a mess of browns are next. If you’re a DC fly rodder, email Jay Sheppard at for time and location if you want to participate in a float stocking this Friday the 20th. Its a great way to meet folk who care about the water and trout as much as you do!

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TU veteran and stream champion Nick Weber after a release at “Nick’s Hole” on the river.


Of course it ain’t always about the fishing. The chapter has planted dozens of trees in key areas to stabilize the banks of this river, and recently worked with the MD DNR to conduct repairs on this tailwater’s reservoir dam to enable cold water releases to flow from the bottom of the dam to stabilize temperatures year-round. That’ll be good for the trout, and more holdovers mean more opportunities for anglers.

Too Bad

There is a #12 black winter stonefly hatch going on in Georgetown on the Potomac River right now in DC.

Too bad the ‘Mac has no trout.

Too bad the river is high, swollen and brown so doubt even the Smallies are active.

Too bad I can”t leave work early because I’m betting stones are popping off right now on the Patuxent and Gunpowder!

Potomac Black Stonefly
Potomac Black Stonefly

New Obsession? Hope Not.

This is a Painted Redstart that I spotted in my yard this morning. I can’t begin to tell you how lush my backyard and neighborhood is in Spring and Summer, with mature trees hundreds of feet tall, full brush and surrounded by parkland with marsh and meadow. I think this attracts a wide variety of birds to our little “flyway.” As I’ve seen all the usual suspects over the past year, including the rare Baltimore Oriole in my yard at one point. Anyway, hope it doesn’t turn into an obsession. I’ve already got one, but now I’m wondering what I could do to our backyard to enhance our resident and migratory birds stay with us?


2013 Snallygaster Beerlist is Here!

The 2013 Snallygaster Beastly Beer List has been released so you can plan tomorrow’s tastings carefully. There are over 200+ draughts this year in every concievable category for the craft beer lover. The full list is available in a pdf here. While I’m not particularly excited by the new location at Union Market (how comfortable can a parking lot be?) I’m looking forward to trying quite a few rare treats. See you there, I’ll be the one with the baby strapped to his chest.

Snallygaster Beerlist 2013

La Colombe Torrefaction Coming to DC

La Colombe Coffee

BOOM… Wish I could say I broke the news but I’m a month late learning about this – Young and Hungry let DC know La Colombe Torrefaction was coming to the Shaw neighborhood late this year in Feb. How the F did I miss that?

So stoked. I’ve met the founders Todd Carmichael and Jean Philippe Iberti a few times, and am friends with some of the baristas that have been with the company since its inception back in the mid-90s in Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia. I love what they do – and when they opened three cafes in NYC a few years ago I was first in line. They don’t go in for all that ultra-fancy science-kit coffee but their sourcing and onsite roasting program is impeccable – as well as their trained baristas. I’m also a fan because when I grow up I wanna be like the Todd who  also happens to be a genuine modern-day explorer. Todd’s show, Dangerous Grounds, where he travels the world searching for rare and isolate coffee, is frankly the safest thing he does. He’s a world-record holder and ultra-marathoner, and was the first American explorer to cross Antartica to the South Pole ALONE, on foot and with no assistance. He arrived at the pole on December 21, 2008, after a total travel time of 39 days, 7 hours and 49 minutes. That same timestamp is tatooed to his right bicep. Ok, do I have a little bit of  man-crush, maybe. But I truly love La Colombe and am so glad its landing in DC.


Photo by Prince of Petworth
Photo by Prince of Petworth




Cured Tasting at Smucker Farm

A couple weeks ago I popped in to DC’s Smucker Farms over on 14th Street to get a tasting of some Cured  charcuterie. I was there to support my little bro but damn if Smucker Farm didn’t get most of my attention. I’ve only been in  once or twice before, but recently they’ve added a substantial selection of fine wines and beer. Strangely enough, I’ve never had my brother’s charcuterie with wine – and man it made the bresola and coppa pop to wash it down with a tasty Syrah.

I also spotted Running Byrd sweet tea – a delicious brew made by another Union Kitchen artist, Ben Byrd. I’ve had the apple pie sweet tea with a splash of rum during a recent barbeque and frankly – can’t wait to have it again with my favorite bourbon.

Since most if not all of Smucker Farm’s produce, meat and sundries are local or come from Pennsylvania, Maryland, DC or Virginia, its a real pleasure to shop here. You know you’re doing something right – and food is highly curated, so you know you’re getting something special too.
















A Visit with Cured DC

Count me lucky because my brother Chris is a jack of all trades. He is a contra-maestro Capoeria teacher, PhD grad of the London School of Economics, father (who’s already provided me great advice AND named his firstborn son after me), and an artisan food maker. To be specific, the man cures meat like its nobody’s business, and as family, I occasionally get the perk of first dibs. Like when he previewed his top-secret lamb prosciutto with me last week. I mean, damn. Lamb prosciutto.

Now, count yourself lucky if you live in the DC area because Cured DC products are now available at Derek Brown’s Mockingbird Hill Sherry and Ham bar, Glen Garden Market (the coolest new local market in Dupont Circle), and direct from Cured DC in a CSA form. For more, go here. And if you’ve got something to trade, maybe I can score you some of Chris’s duck prosciutto on the down low. Its next to impossible to get now that its on Mockingbird Hill’s menu.


She’s Here

So my darling Yunah Anne Johnson was born last week on an early Monday morning bringing joy and happiness into this sometimes jaded man’s life. She’s a perfect (aren’t they all?) melange of my wife and my features, though she’s got big feet and and a toe larger than her big toe (thanks Mom). She’s blessed us now with the experience of parenthood and though we’re rank amateurs, we’re making improvements day by day. I can put a diaper on under 30 seconds half-asleep and can recognizer her “gas face.” And this is just the beginning. The other night my one year old nephew Yemi Joel Johnson (yep he’s my namesake) came by with his parents and he was walking everywhere, getting into everything, and blubbing up half-eaten words, all smiles, and eager to show off his dance skills. It was astonishing to imagine what will happen over the course of the next year of our lives! But for now, I’m glad she’s just plain here. And that everyday I get to wake up, several times a day in fact, to her  bright eyes, cooing and crying.  Let the adventures begin!