nascar and bass fishing

Out with the old, in with the new: 2011, the year in review

This will sound like an all-too-common cliché , but the older I get the faster time seems to fly by. It’s some sort of conspiracy–I’m convinced that someone has actually sped up time and/or shortened the calendar, because it seems nigh on impossible that 2011 is almost one for the archives. Whatever the case may be, the fact remains: another year has passed and another is about to begin. Because I’m a sunny optimist whose glass is always half full, I am all about looking ahead rather than dwelling in the past. That being said, let’s dwell for just a bit before we move on, shall we? Here are a few highlights (a term that is up for interpretation) from the UA in 2011.

January 

2011’s umbilical chord had barely been cut when it became clear that Charlie Sheen wouldn’t be the only one winning. Within a couple weeks of the New Year, I was declared the lucky winner in not one, but two contests. First, I won a box of Clif Bars and then a subscription to Flyfishing & Tying Journal. I shoulda quit while I was ahead, but I didn’t. On January 14th I posted what would prove to be my Magnum Opus as a blogger: Fly Fishing Needs Dirty Harry. That defining entry was the beginning of the end, and before the month was out I announced my retirement from the blog industry by declaring goodbye to the blogasphere. Because I no longer had a public fly fishing image to uphold, I promptly fled to Idaho for some steelhead fishing on the Clearwater River with a bunch of roe-fondling gear chuckers. It felt so dirty, and so right.

February

If January’s events were an indication, there should have been no February for the UA. But after some soul searching, I decided to unretire. During my three week hiatus from being an active-duty blogger, there was a lot of speculation about my whereabouts and I felt compelled to put to rest the rumors. Turns out I wasn’t quite ready for the AARP. But it was clear that nothing I ever posted again would take me close to the level of widespread acceptance that Dirty Harry afforded me. I just hoped that readers would accept me for who I was: a one-hit wonder, of sorts.

March

Befitting the month that is said to come in like a lion and go out like a lamb, I came out with both barrels blazing. The website got a total makeover thanks to the amazing help of Rebecca Garlock of the Outdoor Blogger Network and Outdooress fame, and a new logo thanks to Itchy Dog Productions (which is rather self-indulgent). If I couldn’t offer consistently good content, at least I could package the Weekly Drivel® in such a way that it looked good. Perception is everything, right? Somehow during this month, a cardboard cutout of “me” sprang up and began to slowly circumnavigate the globe, or at least the country. At the end of the month, I took my son steelhead fishing for the first time. We paid a visit to the mecca of Vampires, Forks, WA. My intent was to show the lad how it’s done. He caught two fish, the last of which was landed under a double rainbow. I came home smelling of a skunk and my angling unaccomplishments had me feeling quite sheepish as March became a thing of the past.

April

I opted not to engage in April Fools Day trickery this year, for some reason. I’m not even sure why in retrospect–perhaps because it was to be expected of me?  The year prior I had crafted an April Vokey April Fools lark, but I wouldn’t stoop so low as to do that again. Perhaps I was attempting to become not so predictable. Or, I simply had nothing to offer. I’ll admit I was beat down by the weather, which continuted to be much colder and wetter than normal. A lack of Vitamin D brought and gas pains had me in a bit of a fishing funk. The only thing of note for April was that the schedule changed for the Weekly Drivel®: no longer would I be posting on Fridays, and instead moved the weekly deadline up to Wednesday. This may have been due to the fact that internet statistics show more people read blogs on Wednesday than on Friday, or it may have been due to the fact that I wanted to spend my Thursday nights watching quality TV with Mrs. UA instead of handcuffed to my keyboard, sweating a Friday deadline. Oh, April also marked the crowning of my good buddy Derek Young as the 2011 Orvis Endorsed Guide of the Year. It’s good to have friends like Derek (I’m quite certain he cannot say the same of me). I did not get out to fish this month, which normally would be a fine month to do so at least a couple of times. April showers proved to be incessant rains.

May

In a month that normally brings good fishing and Spring flowers, May was a lousy weather month across most of the West this past year. Thanks to La Niña (the Bitch), which had a stronghold on the climate for several months, Spring sucked eggs. Bug hatches and everything else were a month behind schedule, at least. I managed to get out and fish twice: once with Derek and Jason Small (a semi-pro photographer who intended to come along to shoot photos and ended up stealing all the fishing glory); the second time as part of the annual Children’s Hospital auction float trip. Actually, I wasn’t even fishing but rather was tasked with rowing a raft for the Reverend and The Father. But no matter how frustrouting May was, it was also the month that marks the annual pilgrimage to Yellowstone. I always look forward to that trip, no matter how much or how little it changes year to year, which it does.

June

Fed up with the crappy Western Washington Spring weather, I proposed a radical solution that never gained much traction: removing the Cascade Mountains. Unlike the removal of dams, breeching the mountains may have been an idea that was ahead of its time. I posted of our Yellowstone escapades, but as part of my ongoing campaign to be not so predictable, I did so out of sequence. I thought this cutting edge approach to journalism might increase my readership from 8 to 12. The jury is still out on whether or not that worked, but by month’s end the UA was up to 10 readers. And those 10 readers were treated to a review, sort of, of John Gierach’s newest book, No Shortage of Good Days.

July

Ah, summer finally arrives to the Pacific Northwest. At least in theory. The calendar may have indicated that it was the first month of summer, but there were obstacles that prevented it from fishing like a typical July. Eventually La Niña would loosen her grip, but July was still  month of developmentally-stunted weather. That didn’t seem to bother my son too much, as he became a professional bass angler. Olive the Woolly Bugger began her quest for Hollywood in earnest with a campaign to garner support from the internet. She could still use your help (hint-hint).

August

August was a big month for the UA as he ventured via Montana to Victor Idaho to participate in the Casting 4 A Cure event. I felt very fortunate to be able to participate, and hope to do so again. What I do not hope to do again is hit another deer while driving in Montana. The first leg of the journey took us to the Bitterroot River for a day of fishing with Jay Dixon. Having never before fished “the Root”, it was a real treat.  And I outfished Marck, which was also a first, but I would certainly never boast about it. Recommend you give Jay a shout if you plan to be over that way.

September

The UA celebrated it’s second birthday this month and predicted that readers should expect some irrational behavior fitting the terrible twos. If you were Owl Jones, you didn’t have to wait long for that unsavory behavior to come your way as I announced a Boycott of his website. Fortunately Mr. Jones caved into the pressure and the boycott was soon lifted and Owl resumed his quest for world domination. An epic Crane Fly hatch this month spawned a concept that I thought would be more popular than it turned out to be. Based on the luke warm reception, apparently the world wasn’t ready to combine their love of yard maintenance and fly fishing: Lawn Trout.

October

With a run of Pink Salmon numbering in the gazillions, I sought to harvest at least a few of these fish and made an attempt at doing so. The score after two attempts?  Pink Salmon: One Gazillion; UA: Zero. The erratic toddler-like behavior predicted a month earlier manifested itself once again as I declared war on Canada. A Cease-Fire was announced within a week. Having crashed and burned in my attempt to humor the world with my antics in September, I announced my idea for another radical idea that combined fishing and another popular American past time: BASSCAR. This proved marginally more popular, but I realized I would have to go back to the drawing board if I hoped to conceive of the next big thing…something that would attract Google’s attention. As it turns out, people seeking a fly fishing blog apparently want something actually having to do with fly fishing, as my review of the Sage One got more traffic than BASSPRO and Lawn Trout combined. Go figure.

November

The eleventh month of the year is not typically a very productive fishing month for me, and this November was no exception. However, my fishing unaccomplishments are rivaled only by my elk hunting unaccomplishments. Another thing you can do when you aren’t fishing and consequently have nothing to write about with regard to fishing, is conduct interrogations interviews with people who do fish. To that end I did my first interview with a fly fishing celebrity this month, as Olive the Woolly Bugger sat down for a chat. Interviews seem to be a popular fad in the fly fishing blogasphere, as I was grilled over at Eat More Brook Trout. Continuing with the whole interview theme, I gave Chris Hunt a dose of his own medicine in the form of 20 Questions. I began to realize that I really need to do more fishing.

December

I continued to acknowledge that I needed to do more fishing, but December isn’t the month to acknowledge this because fishing tends to be in limbo this month. I had several excuses for not fishing, however. Some of them were even valid reasons. I sat inside, attempting to fend off a case of the Shacknasties, and putting my creative brain to work. The jury is still out on whether my creativity will be rewarded, but pouring energy into a series of greeting cards is better than pouring alcohol into my system or writing about pink Fish Tacos.

As we say good riddance to 2011 and look ahead to 2012, I wish my 10 loyal followers a very Happy New Year and thank you for your continued support. With 8 more months of potential antics befitting a two year-old yet to come, I make no promises that you will read anything here worthy of your time. I do however, offer apologies in advance. I just hope we’re all still here this time next year.

BASSCAR: It was bound to happen

I was recently driving back from an Unaccomplished Elk Hunt (more to come on that later), crossing the vast expanse of Eastern Washington. Helping to ease the pain of the fruitless hunt and 6 hour drive was a Fish Schtick podcast in which professional bass fisherman Darren Gallaher was interviewed. Now I’m not a particular fan of a tournament bass fishing (nothing wrong with it, just not my cup o’tea per se), but I do like fast boats so I listened with great interest as Fish Schtick host Teeg Stouffer (of Recycled Fish fame) recalled his butt-puckering experience of racing across the surface of a lake at well over 70 miles per hour. Apparently he left behind some brown stains on the upholstery of Darren’s boat. Good stuff right there – recommend you listen to the podcast HERE.

Another sport of which I’m not a particular fan is car racing, although I do appreciate fast cars (unfortunately I do not own one or the trip would have taken far less time). As I listened to the Fish Schtick podcast I couldn’t help but draw similarities between professional bass tournaments and NASCAR.  With the emphasis on speed and uniforms adorned with sponsor logos, they share much in common, not to mention there are a lot of southern accents in each sport, too. Undoubtedly there is also some overlap with the fan base of each sport. My revelation isn’t anything new, but I’ve yet to see a formal proposal for a new sport that combines the two so here it is…BASSCAR: The inevitable union of NASCAR and Professional Bass Fishing.

NASCAR race cars are to be fitted with hitches (which will attract new sponsors from the hitch manufacturing industry), to which will be coupled bass fishing boats/trailers. Obviously some alterations would have to be made to the trailers in order for them to be able to withstand speeds approaching 200 mph, but that won’t be an issue for the motor heads out there that love to tinker. Lightweight alloys, racing wheels and tires, high speed axles…no problem.

The race courses will be a combination of oval tracks, open roads and boat ramps. And of course, waterways. The cars will scream around the tracks much like they do at NASCAR races, although the track segment of the competition will be considerably shorter so as not to bore the audience to allow for the remainder of the race to conclude within a reasonable amount of time. A certain number of laps would have to be completed before the cars pull into the pits and have their tires changed and bass boat trailers hitched up. At this point the cars, with their boats in tow, would exit the race stadium and hit the open road en route to a distant bass fishing body of water, again at break-neck speeds. Obviously roads would be blocked off to prevent civilian traffic interference. Wildlife that would wish to cross the roads during the race will be on their own.

Once teams have reached the destination waters the drivers will be tasked with quickly backing their trailers through a challenging obstacle course, again at the greatest speeds possible, before descending the ramp and getting the trailers into the water. Good brakes will be essential here. At this point the pit crew would be on hand to quickly unhook the boat and tie it to a nearby dock. A good pit crew will prove invaluable here, tending to matters such as insuring that the drain plugs have been installed and the beer coolers adequately stocked. Prime positioning will be on a first come, first served basis–an incentive to obviously do well prior to this point in the race. The driver must then quickly park his race car and trailer in a designated location some distance away, change out of their race suit and sprint to the dock where the vessel awaits. Once in the boat the angling portion of the competition begins and will play out very much like a bass tournament.

A sport like this would combine the skills of race car driving, recreational trailer maneuvering, and of course, bass fishing. But another aspect of BASSCAR would be physical fitness. The foot race from the designated vehicle/trailer parking lot would be far enough from the boat dock that the race entrants would be required to have a certain level of agility and fitness in order to be competitive. I believe that by including this element it would make the sport more appealing to a wider, west-coast audience, and would of course attract a greater number sponsors, such as Nike and other running/fitness industry companies.

I’m not sure how quickly BASSCAR will take off in popularity, but I do know that the Unaccomplished Angler wants to sponsor a team. Unfortunately there’s not a lot of money in our camp, so Team UA may not be very competitive.