September 23, 2008

Bear continues to get my Goat

Dear BG,

"You're tacky and I hate you."

Love,
FH

OK, hate may be a strong word. I mean, how can I hate a guy who provides countless hours of entertainment as he laughably plays out over-the-top stunts and gives completely incomprehensible and illogical (and often dangerous) advice in his one-man outdoor version of Fear Factor? I suppose so long as we can agree that Man vs. Wild is a shock-comedy moreso than it is a wilderness survival series, than we can agree that it's good TV.

To be completely honest, I love to watch the show. I mean, my survival skills and understanding of nutritional needs are marginal at best, but sitting through an episode of "What Ridiculous Thing Will Bear Do (yes that image is from a MvW staged scene)/Say/Eat Next?" makes me feel like an authority on the subject. For example...

Monday night was my first opportunity to view the Louisiana episode (originally aired 8/27/08). Although I did miss the first few minutes, I have to say, I wasn't even sure at first that it was a new episode. I mean, how many times can you do a show about southeastern US coastal swamps without rehashing the same subjects?

First of all, we have learned that Bear loooooves protein. You might say he likes it more than your average man. Perhaps he sometimes forgets that bears (little b) are omnivores as well. Or maybe he just has an unnatural...well, we won't go there, he's a married fellow. What's my point? Well, lets take his selection of an alligator for his meal. Simply from an energy standpoint, probably not the best choice. Bear correctly ruminates on the lean, high-protein qualities of alligator (along the lines of chicken or fish...but not quite either or both). Excellent news if your priority is keeping your slim figure and muscle tone. Of course, if you're trying to fuel yourself out of a dangerous situation...well, carbs and fat are a good thing. Both are converted to energy much more quickly and at much less cost than meat. And generally speaking, carbs are easier to find. But hey, lets not bust him up too bad. If you're hungry and you got a shot at a 6' gator, you should take it, right? The equation is simple, Bear>Alligator. Everyone knows that. What could possibly go wrong if, lost alone in the swamp, you choose to fight an alligator that's relatively the same size as you, only much stronger, quicker and has more dangerous weaponry? Not to mention the fact that Bear states outright that once he had become engaged with the gator, there was no backing down. Yes, much safer to jump on his back and really piss him off rather than carefully move away and let him continue to be slightly irritated.

Well, I guess he did end up getting a lot in return for his risk. Probably could have pulled 40 lbs of meat off that gator if he wanted. What he would have done with it...who knows. Risk life and limb and kill 150 lb gator for a pound of gator meat and some "cordage." Yup. Smart.

Of course, even if you think wrestling a gator for some meat is a good idea, it's tough to support his next foraging attempt. Noodling? As a survival technique? Are you kidding me? All episode he's been playing up the dangers of these gator-infested swamps (which failed to deter him from tangling with one). And yet, he decides to feel around below-water tree cavities that he can't see, all the while commenting on the dangers of snapping turtles, snakes (which he later antagonizes in an old shack), and the "tooth-filled mouths" of the catfish themselves. He was afraid he might scratch himself on a nail while preparing his raft (in itself, another issue) and open himself to infection, but has no qualms about potentially losing a finger, hand, or worse in search of yet another protein-rich meal.

Listen, I'm not here to badmouth noodling. For some people it's a passion, and worth the risk. Fine. But if you're talking about survival, you live by the standard code of not making things worse. Nobody in their right mind would go blind-noodling in a survival situation.

Of course, it wouldn't be an episode of MvW if Bear didn't get an opportunity to urinate either on- or into-himself. Naturally, he gets stung by the catfish, and claiming to feel the effects of the venom, he goes with the sure-fire cure-all...whiz. Assuming the prick did prick the Prick, and said Prick did feel the sting of the venom (not just the pain associated with a prick, er, puncture wound...), how is whipping out his prick going to benefit anyone other than Mrs. Prick?

I know what you're thinking. Pee works for jellyfish stings, of course it works for catfish.

I'll let you in on a little secret. It doesn't. When a jelly stings you, it actually leaves lots (technical term) of little injectors (another technical term) that may or may not immediately bombard your skin with toxin. In fact, sometimes the jelly is already gone before you ever feel it. And, sometimes it may take minutes...even tens of minutes...for all the "injectors" to "fire." The ammonia in your urine does not alleviate the effects of the toxin. And even if it did disrupts any "unfired injectors" from firing, thereby saving you additional pain from a jelly sting, believe it or not, catfish venom, when present, is not particularly similar to jelly venom in either makeup or method of delivery. Pissing on a puncture wound might work better than washing it in swamp water in terms of preventing infection, but it is not going to take the sting out.

Oh yeah...and that was not a 20 lb fish. I'm calling bullshit.

His attempt at a raft...also laughable and equally pointless. At least he decided to abandon it rather than pretend like he really could construct a seaworthy craft. Enough on that.

Ahhh...then there's the loft he builds. Let's start with the gator-skin lashing. My first thought was..."that's gross...won't it attract bugs and animals?" Then he grabbed the Spanish moss, stating outright that as long as you pull it directly off the tree, it will be free of pests. There's no way in hell I'm about to believe this statement. First of all, what makes hanging moss any less attractive to pests than moss sitting on the ground? Pests can't inhabit or climb trees? Well, obviously they can. And on top of that, he directly contradicts the advice given by either himself in the Everglades episode or by Survivorman's Les Stroud (not sure which, but I remember one of them saying it; if BG is gonna have a survival show, he should at least pay enough attention to the competition to not make an ass of himself...I'm sorry, as much of an ass of himself). There are too many conflicting statements on whether hanging Spanish moss really does harbor pests for me to sort it out, but why take a chance? (USDA says it does...that's good enough for me) I hope he went back to the hotel room infested.

Well, maybe I'm being a little too hard on the ol' Bear. Come to think of it, the alligator and catfish meals must have been the right choice. I mean, at the end of the episode, after battling the elements, wildlife, floating deathtrap swamps, exhausting bog grasses, rivers and his own lack of smarts, he still had enough energy to monkey-climb around the rigging of a "deposited" shrimping boat and effortlessly Tarzan back to earth from a rope pulley.

Here's to you Bear Grylls. I sincerely hope you can manage to continue outdoing yourself with ridiculous stunts in the name of "survival."

September 22, 2008

Allergic...

...to my office?

Maybe it's just the withdrawal from spending the entire weekend outside. Maybe it's just the fact that summer has indeed ended. Maybe it's the mish-mash of papers strewn across my desk, mocking me. Maybe it's all the organic/health food I've been eating recently.

I can't stop sneezing and my eyes are itchy.

Maybe I just want to go home.

Weekend Roundup:

Irish 2000 Fest at Altamont Fairgrounds - Why is 2000 still in the name? Anyway, spent a couple hours Friday night. The Guinness was delicious. Tossers actually showed up on time and, though the set was still short, rocked pretty well (better than last year's disappointment anyway).

Chowder Fest along Troy's Riverfront - A little warm for chowder sampling Saturday, but at least it wasn't August. What was with the country music though?

Sleeping Beauty - Rounded out the weekend by saying my final goodbyes to summer with a little hike. It certainly felt like fall. More on the trip later.

September 18, 2008

Ax Men Axing Salmon

Once upon a time I thought clearcutting had pretty much been abandoned. Maybe that's because, as early as elementary school, we were told all about the history of our local Adirondack Park. The potential impacts of stripping vegetation from forested hillsides and mountains was ingrained at an early age. At the age of 10 I had no reason not to assume that the rest of the country operated responsibly managed forestry industries. Then I saw the History Channel's Ax Men for the first time. Hard to believe that I had made it so far through my life without ever questioning my naive assumption. It's always enlightening to see the raping of our natural wonders glorified in HDTV.

Bacon's got some images of an otherwise picturesque landscape over at BWTF. The viewshed is the least of many issues related to clearcutting (and other irresponsible forestry practices). Who would have thought increasing the potential for erosion and landslides could ever possibly harm a species on the brink?

We present this as a reminder of the private, extraction industry’s intent on bending over a commonwealth public resource while that same public sits fat and complacent in front of their glowing 78″ flat-screen, putting their temporary pacification-disguised-as-comfort above our future generations’ right to walk their State Lands among big trees, drink clean water and fish over native fish.

It's important to point out our own role in this as poor citizens and stewards. Another thing I learned in elm. school was that, along with all it's privileges, American citizenship carries some hefty responsibilities. At the very least, we can educate ourselves about the impacts of what we are watching on that flat-screen.

And while I can't completely join in Bacon's sentiment of extractive industries as the evil empire, I will repeat the saying..."If you give them an inch...." Remember, it's our (and our legislators' and regulators') job to keep them in check.

September 17, 2008

Motivation Renewed

According to some, I'm not a morning person. But, if it means free breakfast and coffee with a pretty smile, I'll get myself out of bed at just about whenever I need to. If it's just to get to the office on time, trust me, I ain't rushin' (I love my job, but not more than the snooze button). It's a problem of motivation. (is this really the best clip youtube has to offer?)

Likewise, it's been tough to prioritize fishing lately, what with the weather, car shopping, intermittent lack of transportation...and general laziness. Last night I finally had (just barely) enough time (and sense) to make it back to default pool for the first time in weeks...months...and was rewarded.

Honestly, I didn't expect much. I just needed to get out, and had about an hour before it would get dark. As much as anything, I wanted to see the condition of the stream and, just maybe, spot a few fish that had made it through the summer.

I took about 10 minutes (an eternity for me) to just watch the pool before I decided to do anything. The water was perfect; that slight amber stain, flowing well above summer lows and well below spring highs. Still, fishing a dry would be tough; at this level, the currents are quite complex and it's tough to get a good drift for more than a foot. Not that it really mattered, because nothing was hatching or falling. There was the ever-present swarm of gnats over the bank, and one dragon still holding onto summer. No mayflies, stones or caddis to be sure. Even the waterbugs seemed to have disappeared from the surface.

I could see some chubs feeding along the edges of the rocks and under the 2 half-sunken trees. Nothing with the appearance of a trout. Out of the corner of my eye I could have sworn I saw a small boil, but even if it wasn't just the current, it was likely to be just another chub.

The decision to dredge was easy. Current and color were perfect for nymphing or even swinging streamers. There was no surface activity worth pursuing. And my 5/6 would let me high-stick something meaty in close before flipping it further out.

Of course, I don't like easy decisions, so I broke out the 3 wt and the dries. Just to make it a little more challenging, I tied on a fly I've never caught a fish on. Now, elk-hair caddis are deadly. I've heard others make this proclamation. I've seen others catch trout on them. I've even been hit on them regularly. But never so much as a chub or sunfish to hand with them.

It took a while to get the feel of the 3 wt back. With 10, 20, 30, 40 feet of line out...it continued to feel like a toothpick after months of throwing a WF6F with heavily weighted, bushy flies on a poorly balanced outfit. Her action is still smooth as butter though. She needs a name.

I honestly didn't think I'd turn a trout. I had a few hits at the head of the pool, but most were obvious chubs. There was one splashy rise that I took to be a potential trout, but we just couldn't get on the same page so I headed the ten yards to the pocket-riffle above the pool. Here, casting cross-current, max (dragless) drift is about four inches. More often, it's zero. And cross-current is pretty much the only option.

And then, the gods smiled.

15 feet out, tucked behind a rock, between two strong flows, a little jewel must have been waiting for me. I've never seen a six inch fish make such a large splash. I immediately tried to get her on the reel simply to avoid tangles, but even in the current I couldn't get the fish to pull out the additional 3 feet of line. As I brought her to the bank, I knew right away she had to be wild. Born and raised very near where I stood. She was certainly too small to be a spring stocker. To my knowledge they didn't stock here in the fall. And the colors...oh the colors. She was so dark on the back that I at first pondered if she wasn't indeed a native.

In hand though, it was clear she was just a baby brown. A baby, wild brown. In a heavily stocked, chub-infested, recently polluted-with-sediment section of (overfished?) stream. Beautiful parr markings and spotting. Completely intact, long, membranous fins with white edging. Not a single scar on her, save the one I just put in her mouth. I fumbled for my phone to snap a quick photo, but realized she was hooked a little deeper than I would have liked. Remedying that and returning her safely took a much higher priority. Hey, I appreciate anybody that reads this, but knowing she is there is worth a lot more to me than sharing her with you. (However...here's an approximation...first photo...mine was prettier)

And that was it. I watched the water a bit longer before returning to the car. An unexpected wild trout is hard to beat, and I didn't feel like trying to. 1 fly, 1 hour, 1 fish...and a whole lot of motivation.

September 16, 2008

News of the day...

This just in...ummm...no real news on BPA.

Another inconclusive epidemiology study for everyone to get excited about.

But the results do not establish a causal link between BPA and disease, and the study design does not allow researchers to determine which came first: higher exposure to BPA or illness. "I think our study definitely puts a scientific question mark over this compound," says epidemiologist David Melzer of the Peninsula Medical School in Exeter, UK, who led the research. "Still, this is the first study. It has to be repeated."

Oh, there wasn't already a question about BPA's influence on human health? I guess at least they're continuing to study it, but does anyone else get tired of sensationalized reporting of minimal findings? Maybe I'm just feeling grumpy cause I haven't been fishing in...?

A bio-energy I can support.

Genetic engineering is amazing, isn't it?

Scientists at San Diego–based Genomatica, Inc., have announced success in manipulating the bacteria to directly produce butanediol (BDO), a chemical compound used to make everything from spandex to car bumpers, thereby providing a more energy efficient way of making it without oil or natural gas.

Ok, it's a little scary...they actually state that they had to make e. coli more resilient in order for the process to work. Hopefully they're not playing with fire here. But in general, it's a cool idea; particularly since it seems virtually ready for market.

"This isn't an aberration where we need $250 per barrel oil to be cost competitive," Gann adds. He says the researchers so far have produced less than two pounds (a kilogram) of BDO; he expects a pilot plant to be up and running next year.

As everybody knows, "it's the economy, stupid," and "every little bit counts," so this is exactly the type of development that we should be aiming for; simultaneous reductions in cost and ecological impact. Just keep an eye on your septic, you don't want it filling up with Speedos just because you let a few of these guys loose.

One more thing then...

Our national parks just might not all be trampled by snowmobile traffic. Hey, I got nothing against snowmobiles and ATVs...I just don't believe they belong everywhere.

September 15, 2008

This Just In - We're Still Killing Fish

Well, it's certainly no surprise to hear that more freshwater species of fish are in more danger now than were 20 years ago...but the numbers are no less disturbing.

September 11, 2008

Educate the youth

This would be funny...if it weren't so fucking lame.

The good thing is they're young...so maybe they have time to recognize the flaws in their technique. Then again, it leaves many years remaining if they don't convert.

While you're there, check out the rest of JD's page. He mixes up hardware with the occasional bait or fly, and has good advice on all 3. Big time promoter of protecting the west coast's wild salmon as well.

September 10, 2008

Has the Large Hadron Collider Destroyed the World Yet?

Well, has it?


Thanks for the update Pat.

Beguiled

2 Evenings

1 River

4 Locations

12 Flies

100's Spotted

0 Landed

That's my story for Monday and Tuesday.

Sometimes exploring new territory can be frustrating. Especially when fish are immediately spotted but refuse to cooperate. The Mohawk has still been my venue this week. I had actually hoped (wished) to fish above just the falls, but couldn't quite seem to find access down there. So I worked some other areas.

Managed to hook up with one 6" smallie at stop 1. Of course, I couldn't even keep him on the line. But, the area looks to have potential for future visits. Saw some bubbles from what could turn out to be feeding carp.

Stop 2 looked to hold much more promise. Massive carp rooting, rolling and splashing everywhere. I threw everything I had in every direction I could, hoping that if they weren't interested, at least I could entice a largemouth out of the weeds. All I ended up with was a 3 second struggle with a 4" pumpkinseed.

Stop 3 was a little change of pace. It essentially comprises a small spillway around one of the locks. When I say small, I mean small...no more than 15' across at most spots, and running for only about 150 yards in length. But it looked like perfect small stream smallie water when I stopped by Monday night. Tuesday however, after the rains, it was raging a little harder. Still, as I approached the head of the run from the concrete wall, I thought I saw tailing fish. Big ones. Black tails. Either these were gigantic smallies or random trash that had gotten sucked down the chute. Then one rolled. Drum. BIG drum. 10 lbs + big drum. And I could see about 10 from where I was standing, all holding in the current, tails high. I tried some buggers. I tried some bunnies. That was all I could really get down to them with the currents pushing hard. Nobody was interested. Then, I felt some weight. I was hooked up! The weight gave some and I saw why they weren't interested in my offerings. I pulled up a solid 3" square chunk of mussels. These things must be covering the bottom here. I gave up for the time being and tried swinging bunnies downstream for some smallies, but to no avail.

Stop 4 was actually what you might consider the "tailout" of the spillway run, when it re-enters the main canal. Water looked good. Good sized bass were taking things off the surface, along with some panfish. But once again, I couldn't find the key.

Hey, nothing ventured, nothing gained. At least I found some promising territory.

Unfortunately, nothing I do has been able to get this dish out of my head this week. This is the second morning in a row I woke up smelling it, only to be disappointed. Curse you FOTL!

September 8, 2008

Him wants fishes.

Haven't been out in forever (over a week is forever). It's tougher when you have no car. Planned to scout/scare up some local trout early on Saturday but Miss one-h-Hanna had other ideas. Now I'm jonesing. If I don't make it out this afternoon there's no telling what I'm capable of.

September 5, 2008

Looking for something to do?

I'm an EMS homer. I'm not ashamed. I love them. Don't gimme any of this REI bullshit. All I ever see in their catalog/fliers (which I never asked for, thank you) is overpriced gadgetry. Bean is good, even great. But when it comes to the shit you need at a price you can afford, EMS is my people.

OK, enough with the free advertisement, GoBlog tipped me off to EMS's new outdoor activity/planning site, mntnLIFE. Looks pretty cool so far. Essentially a collection of trips/trails for 9 different categories (under 3 subheadings...water, earth and snow...insert crack about using water twice).

Check out New York's hiking trails. Pretty expansive for only a couple weeks. Not so sure about the difficulty ratings just yet (Pharaoh Lake and Black Mt get the same rating as Dix, Algonquin, etc.?), but it's another resource, and it's got the potential.

Couple others I use...well...occasionally...

Summit Post - GREAT site. Gives area background, trail descriptions, often photos, maps, profiles, etc. Just for hiking though.

Views from the Top - I actually haven't used this site since they re-formatted (hey, I said occasionally). It basically lists reports and trail conditions for the Northeast, now in a forum (previously, literally, in a list of most-recently-posted).

DO SOMETHING!

September 4, 2008

What? What? You got somethin' to say?

Bring it! He don't give a f--...


...seriously...

Hungry fella?


In case you were wondering what he started with.


This falls under the "Things Occasionally Seen Just Outside the Office Window" category. This guy likes to hang around the office complex and watch for injured or dead ducks and geese...I'm dying to see him take a carp out of the pond. (above photos courtesy of Tim Massie)

Here's one from a similar incident in the not too distant past...apparently it was a blustery day...yes, that's carnage behind him through the whole courtyard.

We don't take kindly to folks that don't take kindly 'round here!

Palin, Pebble, Potato Salad (Potato Salad?)

Hamburgers, hamburgers, hamburgers...(yeah...I don't know...I'm tired).

These just links, no time writey.

Tom Chandler on Palin and Pebble.

Murdock on Pebble and the community (and big bows), live (though sick) from AK.

Ballot Measure 4 text.

September 2, 2008

Are you havin a laugh?


The great wide virtual world brings you the (hopefully intentional) comedy of Emo Guide Service.


Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhh.

via moldychum

This is what happens...



Or when you drink and drive. And then flee the scene. Young lady, I hope you learned your lesson.
Yes ladies and gentlemen, it may very well be the end of the "Grandma's Car" era...damn. She's served me so well. And even with all that damage to the trunk, only one of 5 rods came out broken (spinning rod, not too upset).
Notice the jeep in the background...little miss DWI actually hit that car, and propelled it into mine...while on an uphill slope, in the vicinity of a stoplight, in a 30 mph zone. People, don't be stupid, don't drink and drive. She was real lucky she only totaled 3 cars and not someone's life.
Me, I'm pumped. I've got a big mediocre insurance check headed my way, and I've already dedicated a portion of said funds for a new spey outfit. Maybe I will have a shot at the salmon river this fall. Definitely steelheading in the winter. Happy happy joy joy. Now...to replace a car...
On a fishing note, headed to Oswego again Saturday (after no sleep again Friday night...I must be some sort of dynamo). Thankfully, Joe drove. Incredibly, Pat joined us. Fishing was a little slow, but it was a hell of an experience. Pat puked...multiple times. But we had a blast. 3 salmon and a lonely brown in the morning, 3 more salmon in the evening. And then Joe took the suicide run back to Troy. Amazing that guy. Drive from 2:30 am to 5:30 am; fish from 6 am to 12 pm; eat, drive and mini-nap from 1 pm to 3 pm; fish from 4 pm to 8 pm; drive from 9 pm to 12 am. At least he got some sleep Friday night.
Not only that, but we got our good-deed in for the weekend...towed in a family who had a breakdown about a mile plus from port. It's good to be somebodies hero.
On a personal note, Congrats to Dave & Megan! (Finally) got engaged. Had a chance to celebrate a bit with them Saturday night--...er, Sunday morning. Finally got to bed at 4 am Sunday.
And of course, what would a holiday weekend be without a little smallie action? Hit the Hudson for a couple hours yesterday with Nate and Brian. Couldn't get anything from shore (save a couple chubs) so we trolled a bit and picked up 7 or so bass...all around or under 12"...a very relaxing trip.
So that's it. It's Tuesday and I'm back at work. Had a full weekend. Now I have some shopping to do.