February2011

Lady and gentleman, we have a winner!

The Unaccomplished Angler is pleased to announce the winner of the giveaway contest iPhone 3 trout skin case by Montana Fly Company, and the winner is…Joe.
Joe’s entry, which was randomly selected by the accounting firm of Werner & Werner, clearly indicated a man who needed this iPhone cover:
I have an iPhone 3g. My wife and kids used to think I am crazy because of the fly reel ring tones I have installed. They are getting over that so I need something else to help maintain my reputation.
After I informed Joe that he was the winner, he wrote back:
I never win anything so this is exciting.

Yes it is, Joe. I know what it’s like to never win anything, so when one does happen upon a little luck, it feels good.

Joe probably thought all he had to do was provide me with his mailing address and he’d be done.  Well, not so fast Mr. Freeloader! First, he had to engage me in a bit of informational conversation as I posed a couple of questions to him.

I asked Joe how he came to discover the Unaccomplished Angler. I’m always curious about how people find this place:

I found the Unaccomplished Angler through a link on another fishing blog (I can’t remember which one).  I look at some and never go back, others I go back to for the perspective on fishing, life, and humor.  UA is one I go back to.  Keep up the great work.

Flattery will get you everywhere, Joe. I appreciate the good word, and thanks for coming back to this blog.
Next I asked Joe a little bit about himself as a fly angling person. It’s nice to get to know readers of the blog, in a virtual sort of way anyhow:
I am a middle-aged fly angler (at least I used to be).  My experience is far less than the sum of my years.  I come in and out of the sport as other commitments and interests compete for my time.  My favorite fishing is in small mountain streams.  We have those and tailwater streams in North Georgia.  I stubbornly start each day fishing with dry flies until I decide it is time to catch fish.  Mostly I enjoy being on the stream; catching trout is a bonus.
Sounds like we may be kindred spirits, Joe, except that I’m still middle-aged. Or at least I think I am.
I’ve also been fortunate to have had a couple of chances to fish for bonefish in Abaco, Bahamas.  I’d like to do more of that.
Careful, Joe. Nobody likes a braggart.
Now that the kids are grown I hope to have more time for vacations focused on fishing rather than trying to sneak in a day.  I’m looking at something out west this summer.
Go west, young man. Just don’t go too far west. I recommend you stop before you get as far as Washington. Idaho has some nice waters for trouts, and of course there’s that place called Montana which I’ve heard is OK, too.
Thanks again,
Joe
Thank YOU, Joe

Jumping the gun.

When Large Albacore rang me up and asked if I was free to fish the Yakima on President’s Day, I felt something was amiss– something didn’t feel quite right about going trout fishing. It’s February, and it has been cold: fishing isn’t usually real productive this time of year to begin with, and frankly neither Albacore nor I feel much love from this river even when it’s in prime season. But I’d fished the Yakima twice by this same time last year, so maybe I was making too much of a hunch. Besides, when a buddy whom you don’t get to see as often as you like calls you up to go fishing, you gladly answer that call. Even if a little voice inside your head is telling you that  fishing probably won’t be very good. Clarification: fishing is always good; catching not always so much. Especially on the Yakima River. For me.

The weather had been clear and cold all week. A system was set to move in from the coast during the day but the incoming weather was moving slowly, and clear skies followed me east to Ellensburg where I met up with Albacore. Because his raft was still in winter storage we would be on foot, which is not usually how I fish the Yakima. However, being a sunny optimist and one who always sees the glass as being half full, I acknowledged that the exercise would be good for the atrophied leg muscles of winter.

We stopped at our first location to explore some water that neither of us had fished on foot before. The river was running much higher than it normally does for this time of year, which was odd.  After all, there had been no precipitation in over a week, and it had been very cold so there was no meltoff.  So why the high flows?  More interestingly, the water was quite clear, and tinged an odd color of green.  Odd for this river, that is.  The water was colored the hue of typical west side rivers: steelhead green, as it were. I’d have preferred to have been fishing for steelhead in these green-tinted rivers if it weren’t for the fact that these green tinted rivers had been closed early due to low returns of wild steelhead. I didn’t then nor do I at this time understand why the Yakima was so high, yet so clear at the same time. And why it was so green is a mystery to me. Oh well, it was green. And it was high and fast.  We all know what that does to a fly that must get down deep to where the semi-comatose trouts are hiding in the dead of winter: it makes things difficult.

Albacore strung up his rod with a Pat’s Stone and a San Juan Worm dropper, fishing dirty under an indicator. I opted to start the day by swinging a size 18 bead-headed soft hackle nymph. This has been a reliable somewhat effective pattern and method of fishing for me on this river so I thought, “Why not start out the year right?” I hadn’t been on the Yakima since October: long enough ago for the self esteem wounds of the last few outings to heal over with emotional scar tissue. I was starting fresh, with a renewed sense of confidence. That confidence didn’t last long.

We fished a couple of distinctly different areas during the day: far enough apart to resemble entirely different rivers. But the vastly different waters of the same river had something in common: a lack of fish.  Neither of us had a bump. Not even so much as a tug from the tiny lips of a whitefish, which is remarkable given Albacore’s prowess at hooking those native dandies. We walked, waded, and explored. We paused for lunch on the tail gait of Albacore’s truck, providing me an opportunity to properly admire his new tires, which he readily admitted were long overdue. His truck really should have been re-shod before winter formally set in, which was made evident on our last trip into a raging snowstorm several months earlier. We bitched about the state of the economy, groused about the Pebble Mine, and agreed on what was wrong with young people today. Just to make sure that we aren’t perceived as a couple of middle-aged curmudgeons, it should be noted that we also took ample time to laugh about the simpler things in life. On more than a couple occasions we brought up the matter of the green water.

All in all the day was rather pleasant: 45 degrees under sunny skies and only a few minutes of wind that would be considered a bit annoying. The collective mood was relaxed as we reminded ourselves on several occasions that it  just felt good to get out, do a little casting and a bit of catching up. And frankly, a skunk always tastes better when shared with others. As we returned to the truck I observed a little angler who reminded me what it’s all about.

We parted ways at the end of the day, vowing to return in a month or so when things warmed up a bit, Albacore’s raft was removed from storage and the fish began actively feeding. As I drove west the sky grew ominously darker. Before I’d ascended the east slope of the Cascades I encountered snow and was reminded that winter wasn’t quite ready to free us from its grip just yet. And the Yakima wasn’t quite ready for me.

Or perhaps it was the other way around.

Stop Eating Wild Steelhead

This may appear to be a West coast issue, but actually it’s important to everyone  so I’m sharing it with all readers of the Unaccomplished Angler in hopes that you’ll pass the word, post it on your blogs, etc.  This is a grassroots movement to educate the general public about the plight of wild steelhead on the left coast, which are a non-sustainable resource and widely listed under the Endangered Species Act. And yet, on a few rivers where they have not yet made the ESA list, they continue to be harvested and sold to markets and restaurants, even though they are not a self-sustaining population.

In the Northwest there are watchful individuals and groups who are keeping an eye out for markets and restaurants that feature wild steelhead on their menus and in their seafood sections. Recently a couple Seattle area restaurants have been informed and educated on the matter of these fish not being sustainable, as they’ve been marketed to be.  We need to be the voice for these fish since they can’t speak for themselves. We need to educate the retailers and consumers. In doing so hopefully we can put a stop to the harvest by taking away their market.

If you’re inclined toward the Facebook thing, please give this group a “like”. As stated on the Facebook page:

This long overdue Facebook group aims to help educate the public on wild steelhead harvest. Even with rivers not meeting their escapement goals, the tribes of Washington’s Olympic Peninsula continue to harvest these depressed stocks of fish.

With the generous funding of Allen Fly Company, stickers are being made available for purchase. Proceeds go to wild steelhead conservation efforts.

Order a set of 5 stickers for $6.  Fly the colors on your rig, drift boat, etc.  Give a couple to your friends.  The more who understand the situation the better our chances of saving these wild fish.

Here is the direct link:

http://www.allenflyfishing.com/products/wild-steelhead-stickers

Order your stickers, and like the title says: Stop Eating Wild Steelhead

Feelin’ lucky, again. Now it’s your turn…

Yes, I feel lucky. Again.

A while back I gloated mentioned that I’d seen some good fortune come my way when I won a couple of giveaway contests. Well, my luck continues to be good because recently I was randomly chosen as the winner of another contest offered by Montana Fly Company.  What I won this time was something I had already been planning to buy: a Trout Camo fly box, rainbow flavor. It’s cool looking, of solid plastic construction with a secure locking lever, and I like the slitted foam fly keepers: that’ll be an improvement over my current fly boxes that do not have the slit foam. The only problem is that this box will not house all my flies, so I’m going to have to order another one, maybe a brown trout version so I can tell them apart. Thanks to Montana Fly Company for randomly selecting me as the winner.

And now I would like to share some Montana Fly Company love with my readers and give someone else a chance to feel lucky.

I recently crawled out of my technological hole and became the owner of an iPhone 4. Admittedly the sole reason for wanting an iPhone was so I could get a River Camo iPhone cover. There was some confusion (on my part) as to what phone this cover would fit: The cover was said to fit an iPhone 3G. Conveniently, my iPhone is an iPhone 3G, in a sense–it’s an iPhone 4, but has 3G service. The matter was a clear as a river running high with Spring meltoff. Well, I took a gamble and lost: the cover fits an iPhone 3 (as in 3rd generation), not an iPhone 4. Apparently the 3G in this case is not referring to the service network. Oh well, luck can only last so long.

Rather than return the cover, I’m offering it up to the person with an iPhone 3 who leaves a comment explaining why they should have it. Play the pity card. Tug at the heart strings.  I’ll randomly choose the winner and announce it February 26th.

In case your iPhone looks like this, it’s an iPhone 3. The cover will fit your phone.  But not mine.

Guest Blog: Is it Really Better in the Bahamas?

This is the first ever Guest Blog on the Unaccomplished Angler. The point of this entry is to share with my reading audience the details of an exotic trip— to travel vicariously through someone else (if you wait around for the Unaccomplished Angler to take a trip to the Bahamas you’ll grow old waiting).  The following entry comes from my friend Sir Lancelot, with whom I’ve had the pleasure of fishing and also the privilege of cleaning his BBQ grill. Aside from being the first, this may be last guest entry to grace these pages.  Please note that I have not edited this story for content or tone. My intent was to make only corrections with regard to the countless errors in spelling and punctuation but grew weary of that, so you may find some errors. Disclaimer: The views expressed herein are not my own, nor does the Unaccomplished Angler accept responsibility should you experience certain side effects such as nausea, vomiting, bloat, indigestion, dizziness, ringworm and memory loss.

Is it Really Better in the Bahamas?

By Sir Lancelot

Is it really better in the Bahamas?  That is a hard question to answer as the frequency from “Mrs. Better in the Bahamas” didn’t seem to suggest that it was, but that is another part of the story all together.  We took a fine family vacation to a little community called Spanish Wells (think North end of Eluthera) over Christmas.  We rented a little house right on the beach and had fun, fun, fun.  Our partners in crime were the Helpin family (I changed the name to protect their identity).  The Helpins have children similar ages to our own, the father likes to fish and our wives get along, so it was a good match.

The day that I nearly got my arse kicked by The Unaccomplished Angler.

When I got home I sent an email to my friend, Mr. Unaccomplished Angler, to see if he would like a write up of my trip.  He responded with something along the lines of “F___ you for going to the Bahamas.”  I was expecting something a little more cordial and appreciative of my efforts but no, all I got was a  “F___ you” for it.  I shouldn’t be surprised and I kind of had it coming.  Last summer while sitting on the side of the Yakima River he (UA) floated by about six inches away from my own boat.  The guys I was fishing with didn’t know that I knew Kirk The UA.  So, when I looked up and said, “Get the F___ out of my hole,” with a straight face they were worried that I was picking a fist fight.  Needless to say no fight broke out and we all managed to catch a few small fish that day.

Spanish Wells is little community of about 1500 people on an island called St. Georges Cay in the Bahamas.  It is the quintessential quaint little fishing village.  The people there are all lobster fishermen.  The fish processor has the supply contract with Red Lobster and we can attest that it is very good eating.  Usually when I have traveled to the tropics in the past the people have been in one of three categories:  The first one is desperately poor.  Although I feel for these people, and do some things for them, it is often hard to see and be around when I’m maxing out my credit cards on a vacation.  The second category is incredibly rich.  Although these people often feel for me, they don’t do anything about it.  The third category is your average Joe like me who are trying to look incredibly rich for one week.  The people of Spanish Wells didn’t fit into any of these categories.  They were average Joe’s of the middle class:  Nice people, not pretentious and just going about their lives.  It was a lot of fun being around a bunch of schmucks like me.  The North side of the island faced the reef and had sugar-fine sandy beaches.  There were also some nice bonefish flats there as well.  The south side of the island contained the harbor.

We stayed in a house on the beach (Ocean Dream Beach Cottage).  Mrs. Better in the Bahamas would have none of me staying by the boat.  Prices were reasonable:  $1,800 rented a 3 bed 2 ½ bath house during high season and it was right on the beach.  $250 rented a 14’ Boston Whaler for the week and another $250 rented a golf cart.  It’s really cool to drive the golf cart everywhere and you drive it on the left hand side of the road.  Mrs. BITB is still yelling at me every time I pull out of the driveway to be careful and drive on the right.  The owners and hosts of the house are Jody and Tara Pinder.  They are wonderful! Catered to our every need, were there to help, not too close and just genuine, caring, fun people.  Their children didn’t fall far from the tree and when we arrived home and got a new puppy she received the name Kali, after the Pinder’s youngest daughter Kaliston.

Spanish Wells is a dry island but don’t let that be of too much concern to you casual drunks.  The liquor store is at the dock on Eluthera, only a 200 yard boat ride away.  Kahik beer was the local favorite and we consumed it by the barrel.  The rest of your favorite brands of hard alcohol were available there as well.  The best deal (as you can tell I’m a frugal basta__)  was the duty-free shop in the Nassau airport.  $18 bought a 1000 ml bottle of Crown Royal.  That was a great deal.

 

Now that the house keeping is done it’s onto the important part: fishing. We fished for bottom fish most days.  It’s easy, was close-by and our kids loved it.  We caught the local favorites such as Porgys, Grunts, Groupers, Triggers and other bottom fish.  No one worried about Ciguatera and no one got sick so I guess it was OK.  On a side note there are lots of Lion fish in the Bahamas.  They don’t belong there as they originated in the Pacific Ocean.  We didn’t catch any while fishing but saw them frequently while snorkeling.  I speared one, we ate it and it was delicious.  It seems weird to me that a fish I used to pay $50 for in an aquarium store sat on my plate and was gobbled up.

My good friend Mr. FFred Helpin was in house one day.  I was sitting down on the beach with our wives and the kids.  We were just sitting there relaxing and taking in the sun, sand and water.  All of a sudden we hear the word, “F___ ” (don’t think FFred) come screaming out of the house.  The girls looked at me like I would know what to do.  I thought it was them who would know what to do with that word, but nonetheless I had to go and deal with it.  I trudged up the beach and back to the house expecting to see something horrendously wrong.  Well, I was right.  Here is my friend FFred up on a chair, his face is beet red and he’s so pissed off he’s just about ready to explode.  You see FFred had just had a little incident with his fly rod and the ceiling fan.  There was about 50 yards of fly line draped in several large loops hanging down between the blades.  In addition the last 4 inches of FFred’s fly rod hung as limply as the last 4 inches of himself.  It really was horrendous, fly line tangled in the ceiling fan and a busted rod to boot.  As his good friend, I put on an Oscar-class performance by not laughing myself into an early heart attack.  I calmly helped him unravel and then we headed to the tackle shop for some epoxy and thread.  A few hours and a large portion of our Kalik beer later FFred and his fly rod seemed to be on the mend. (Editorial comment: Had the UA been present, there would have been photographic documentation of this debacle)

The wind blew while were there quite a bit.  Between our schedule, the wind and the guide’s schedule, we didn’t get out Bonefishing until one of the last days.  There are good numbers of Bonefish on the flats of Spanish Wells and Eluthera and they don’t get much pressure, either.  None of us had ever fished for them before, so I’m told my ineptitude at catching them is typical.  I’ll keep telling myself that story anyway.  We did see a fair number of them.  We waded across the flats, had them follow our flies and the kids of course managed to catch a few.  John Roberts was our guide (242.557.7794).  He is a nice man, a good guide, and very knowledgeable about the sea and the animals we saw in and around it.  He also had fun and worked well with our kids.  Our day on the flats also sent us away with a good number of conch, which are excellent table fare.

Over all we had an excellent vacation, met some very nice people, caught some fish, had a lot of fun and oh, by the way, it is Better in the Bahamas.

Thanks to Sir Lancelot for experiencing such a lavish vacation, and for taking the time to write up your account of your adventures.  I assume by “it” you mean “fishing.” You suck.

Sir Lancelot of Hackbury