Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Fine mess I've gotten into this time

When one door closes, others open. This, above all else I have found to be true. Right now I am standing in the arch of one such newly opened door. Before my eyes stretches our Nation's largest National Forest, in our Nations 49th, and largest state. A place where the rainfall averages 152in. annually and the longest and shortest days of the year provide 19 and 6 hrs. of light respectively. A place where salmonids thrive, black bears and wolves roam, and eagles soar year round. The place I now call home, Prince of Wales Island, Alaska.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Welcome back Kotter

Alrighty, I'm back. Not, not back from France, that happenned a long time ago, January 1st to be precise but I'm back here blogging. Or whatever it is I'm doing.

I've been gone a bit since I decided to begin preparing to take the GRE test. What a deep hole that issue is. Forget about that for now. What has really been taking my time is tying flys. Yes, it's back to the bench, behind the vice, under the bobbin for some serious impressionistic tying.

Now, I think it's only fare to mention that the majority of the masses think of aquatic insects and their relatives when they think Fly Fishing. This ain't the pansy shit I'm into. No. I'm into salt-water bass slammin action1 This does not mean tying dry flies on size 22 hooks. This is creating patterns that mimmick fishes! I am not interested in catching a fish with a mouth that's going to "sip" flies drifted on the current. No, I'm into tying streamer patterns. These are the big boys of fly fishing.

I have been hanigng out alot at a web site called Stripers On-line in an area called Surf Talk. It is an amazing resource for anyone interested in fishing. It is biased towards saltwater and skewered in favor of Striped Bass but there are other facets represented as well. The forums in surf talk are a pretty good place to exchange ideas and talk about what's hot, what's not, what works, what doesn't and what's never been done before. People from all over the Northeast put up posts and I gotta tell you there are some pretty damm amazing things that show up.

So, this is where I've been chilling. My screen name there is M. saxatilis. For those that don't know, M. saxatilis is the scientific name for striped bass. Or Squidhound, or Rockfish, or Striper...best to have one accepted name...Morone saxatilis. Linnaeous had it right.

I hope to bring you a few pics in the next few days of a few of my creations. I must admit I have gotten quite good at this. It makes me laugh that I can tie an amazing likeness to a squid but, in all likely hood, will never fish it. WHy? Cause squid don't hang out in NJ coastal waters where I fish that's why. Although, I hear King Salmon feed on squid...

Ok, So there'll be no pics today but I promise some by the weekend. RIght now I am trying out something neat and I am pretty stoked to see if it'll pan out.


Sunday, February 25, 2007

Tuesday, December 19, 2006


I am off to France with my underpants! Have a great holiday!!! I have some really great ideas for posts for 2007, I hope you'll like them all. No new posts for a week or two.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

10 Bass, 3 Days, All shorts

This past week the Manasquan River saw small striper action during the pre-dawn hours on the out-going tide. I decided to give the Fly rod a first time try not to long ago and had some pretty good results. Although I did not have my camera with me when I caught my first striper over a week ago, I did have it this past week and managed to snap these pictures.

Wednesday of this week saw the ideal stage of tide at the pre-dawn hour and the fish showed up en-force. As soon as there was enough light to make out the surface of the water, I discovered small baitfish jumping over the fly-line as it drifted along in the current. This was promising.

It wasn't long before I felt a quick jerk on my line that I knew I had a strike. A quick tug on the lie to set the hook, raise the rod, and I was in. It was tough getting these pictures with one hand while fighting the fish with the other. It's a good thing the fish were between 15-24"else I would have not been able to manage this juggling act. The water is pretty clear and I was standing in about 3ft. of water when the pictures were taken.

The conditions remained the same for my fishing trips Thursday and Friday as well. Each trip was extremely successful, 10 fish in three days using a Fly rod. All of these fish pictured here were caught on the first day. After I reviewed them I realized they all looked alike! There was no way to add subject matter for scale to determine individual size and I was not willing to raise the fish out of the water for the sakes of a picture.

All of these fish were caught using a "Clouser Deep Minnow" in color combination Chartreuse/Yellow tied by yours truly! I might add that for any novice fly-tyer the book "Clouser's Flies: Tying & Fishing the Fly Patterns of Bob Clouser" by Bob Clouser is quintessential. The book has excellent pictures and detailed explanations so that any novice could turn out great flies with a little practice. A must for any fly tiers bench reference.

It was interesting to note that ALL of the fish I caught over the three day period were hooked in the right side of the jaw, hook firmly embedded in the lower maxillary. This made me wonder if the fish weren't swimming against the current feeding on baitfish moving with the current. From an energetics perspective this would make the most sense as the Stripers could remain relatively motionless on the sandy substrate allowing the current to circulate through their gills, rising up into the current to take the occasional unwary prey. Or, my clouser.

The fish were caught both in the dark and during dawn light. I was very hesitant to go fly-fishing in the dark. My casting during daylight when I could see what I was doing is bad enough yet alone trying to fish in the dark when I couldn't. Sometimes though you just have to suck it up. I am very glad I did. The pictures are the physical remains of memories that for me are enough to fuel my interests until next year.

These small fish were so vivid in their coloration. Many pictures of Stripers that I have seen in the past were much darker dorsally than these fish here. I suspect that these fish here were experiencing a physiological response to environmental stimuli, an adaption to the clear water and sandy substrate.

At some point Wednesday morning I saw this guy wade out into the river with a 8' aluminum ladder. He went out as far as he could, firmly planted the laddre in the sand, climb up, and begin fishing. I had never seen this before and was really intriqued. I am guessing this is not practiced during the incoming tide. There is a really great discussion of fishing with ladders at Surf Talk. I couldn't resist the opportunity to shoot these pictures of the guy. That obnoxious green line down the middle of the photo on the left would be my fly line. Just couldn't get it out of the way.

It's to bad my camera couldn't capture how far this guy was out in the channel. What really made me laugh at this set up was that this guy was fishing way (and I do mean way) out there and all of the fish I caught were taken less than 50 ft from the shore. This guy must have known something though... What that might be I couldn't exactly say.

That will probably be the last of the fishing I do for 2006. If the current warm conditions exist there is a good chance that these fish will remain in the rivers and back bays into late January. Now, I am not thrilled with the idea of fishing in the snow but it sure would be something to try. If it happens I will be sure to bring my camera!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Bucktail Processing Pt. 1: De-boning your Bucktail

As you may be able to tell from a few of the links posted here I have an interest in saltwater fly-fishing, fly tying, and all things saltwater- streamer related. As such, I recently found myself in a position with access to Virginia White-Tailed deer tails, or as more commonly known, "Bucktails".

As a fly tyer I am continually using this material in my practice of mimicking saltwater fish species, or more precisely, the prey species of MY prey, the Striped Bass (Morone saxatilis). Because this is a relatively new endeavor for me, and, given there are so many effective saltwater patterns out there requiring this material, I manage to go through lots of tails. Most of which is lost trying to get over the learning curve. In other words, I waste a lot of materials. And since they cost anywhere from $4.00 - $8.00 a piece at your local fly shop, the money adds up quickly. However, when I found myself in a unique position with access to literally hundreds of tails, I decided to learn and prepare my own. It was a win-win situation with a minimal investment of time and money.

I researched around on-line to find out all that is involved with processing tails. In no time I had amassed a sufficient amount of information on everything from curing, to storing to dyeing. I put into practice my new-found knowledge and documented nearly every step as best I could so that there is a more permanent record of my experiences. I have presented them here for you.

These methods are by no means fool-proof and I am sure that anyone that makes money from this will readily tell you my way is riddled with errors. That's ok, remember, this is what works for me. If you are planning to follow these instructions please do so with a grain of non-iodized kosher salt. More on that later.

You will need a good selection of tools as pictured below. My kit includes scissors, a thin blade, pointy sharp knife, and most importantly, a thread puller (pictured at right). I obtained this one at my local supermarket in the sewing aisle. By far the cheapest and most effective tool to have for de-boning tails.

With bucktail in hand, stroke the fibers to remove any dirt, burrs, or caked blood that may clump the fibers together. I like to flex the tail a good bit with my hands, I feel this loosens the skin a bit and in some instances aligns the bone for a straighter cut later. Begin by making one cut through the skin and fat down to the muscle tissue within. Depending on how the tail was removed from the deer there may be more or less fatty tissue in this region. In this picture the visible "white" is fat, the "reddish-pink" the bone.

Carefully insert the thread puller under the skin taking care not to poke the point down into the tail. This will prevent you from sliding the puller forward and may make the effort messy. Apply a slight upward pressure on the tail and slice the skin an inch or two at a time.

It is important to cut one to two inches at a time because the hair fibers closest to the skin become tangled and matted and will get cut by the thread puller. It may not be significant at the base of the tail however, depending upon which fibers you value the most (base/center/tips) you may end up with a short supply. It pays to stroke the fibers ahead of the puller to "clear a path" through the fibers. This is much easier to do than to explain.

Take care when you reach the tip of the tail with the thread puller. I pinch tip of the tail between my thumb and pointer finger while slowly sliding the puller forward. It is easy to tell when you have reached the end this way. Take care when punching through the tail tip not to stab yourself with the point of the cutter.

With the tail completely opened, use a sharp knife and with short strokes, slice between the skin and the tail. If your knife is sharp it will make short work of this part. Try to remove as much fatty tissue now to avoid intense scraping later.

Notice the tip of the knife positioned between the skin and fatty tissue. This is a good place to begin your slicing.

Carefully work your way up and down both sides taking care to cut completely around the bone tip section. It is important to COMPLETELY Remove tissue connecting the tip of the bone. Failure to do so will result in a clump of hair attached to your bone that could have otherwise been left on the skin.

The last part of the bone to come free is usually at the tip. Place the knife in between the bucktail and bone and slide it as far forward as it will go. Using the flat of your knife blad, apply light downward pressure on the bucktail and gently lift the bone straight up. This will free whatever remaining tissue is left.

Scrape out any remaining fatty tissue and you are finished! With any luck it will look similar (or better!) than these below. With the de-boning out of the way, the hard part is over and you are ready to begin curing your tails.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

And our award for "Best use of a Vehicle" goes to...

This is a rather fun set of pictures I have collected and I hope you will find them amusing. In the normal course of my day I am constantly looking for new and exciting images. As you can see, this passenger is clearly "car sick" as is evident by the discoloration in its face and by the tongue that hangs listlessly out of it's mouth. After carefully assessing the situation before moving in ready to apply my first-aid knowledge I realized this patient was beyond my help. In fact, there's really only one person that could help this patient. More on that later though.

The day wore on and more and another of these car sick individuals rolled in. In one instance I tried to talk to it but found it was in no condition to make any noises what-so-ever. I mean seriously though, how can you diagnose your patients if you cannot even hear their ills and aches? The patient appeared to be in a state of lucidness. Coma-like. Non-responsive. I began to wonder if something more sinister wasn't afoot here. I needed a closer look. I needed to determine what I was dealing with here... . What forces were at work? What viral pathogens are to blame for this? What if it were contagious? How long before the CDC found out? Could this reach pandemic proportions?I had to act swiftly if the human race had any chance at all for survival Reaching for my pry-bar and flashlight I decided to move in.

Now, any ordinary lay-persons might conclude that nothing was wrong with these patients. But to my trained eye I knew differently. Zero pupil dilation, low respiration (did I check for that?), extremely weak pulse. Never mind the lack of internal organs, pools of near-bye blood, and gaping shotgun wound to the upper thoracic region. I remember thinking I was glad these two patients would be the only ones. Perhaps my fears could be laid to rest or were simply a manifestation of my boyish unfounded laden linguistic superhype hypothetical intrinsic thinking. Or as the Medical for clinical science puts it "BULLSHIT". No, this wasn't the case and my worse fears were realized at the sight of what came next. The El Camino from hell! A long time ago a near and dear friend of mine helped me distinguish the differences between an El Camino and a Cabelero (sp?). I never understood why he called the El Camino the "Harbinger of Death". I could now see why! It came off of the street belching smoke like a demon spawn from hellfire!

What was happening here? How could so much carnage be contained in the bed of ElCamino? It could have been El Diablo for all I knew. El Diablo in disguise. It must have been worse than I thought. Average, every day citizens were converting their vehicles as medical transports to bring in their sick and dying. I began to feel helpless at the patients continued in one after the other. All of them exhibiting the same symptoms. Lolling tongue, viscerated cavity, bullet wound to the upper chest area. And this El Camino filled to the brim with madness!!!! I had to get away. The weasels were closing in on all sides. That rotten attorney of mine Dr. GOnzo had fled hours ago. I knew i had to leave. That's when I realized that my patients were not suffering from an ailment...in fact, they were already dead.

Oh, and if you're still wondering who the only person able to help these patients might be, well, that'd be the butcher. Yummmmmmmmmmmm.