Something Thoreau wrote on November 4, 1852

“Must be out-of-doors enough to get experience of wholesome reality, as a ballast to thought and sentiment. Health requires this relaxation, this aimless life. This life in the present. Let a man have thought what he will of Nature in the house, she will still be novel outdoors. I keep out of doors for the sake of the mineral, vegetable, and animal in me.

My thought is a part of the meaning of the world, and hence I use a part of the world as a symbol to express my thoughts.”

MG signing off (to go outside for the rest of the day)

Get them started fishing. The younger the better.

I’m not sure whether it was the lack of video game consoles, the un-structured playtime (i.e. playdate what?) or the fact that Al Gore hadn’t yet taken the initiative in creating the internet, but when I was young we spent most of our free time outside. Fishing was very, very high on the list of activities. It presented challenge, competition, and a harmless direction for the expenditure of allowance dollars. No adult types asked any questions.

There is no doubt in my mind that it stuck. I still fish every chance I get, albeit only with fly gear now. That, in turn, has led to my looking at the household budget with flies and lines at the top of the non-discretionary list. Nobody is asking any question, still. And while I don’t have children of my own (a debate on that particular point may well lean towards the general benefit to mankind of not having my progeny walking the Earth after I’m gone), most of my friends do. Those friends, for the most part, fish as well, and many of them are already getting their kids started.

Remember these little tykes? They’re not only fishing – they’re getting publicized (see here and here)! Those boys are six and four, respectively, and I doubt their barely two-year old sister is far behind. Pete McDonald’s little gal is out on the boat, and her favorite word is “fishy”! My personal fly tying instructor David Luna has been taking his boy out fishing too. Little Diego is 3 1/2 years old, and I’ve heard he can already outcast me. I love it.

I’ve got a point here, but I just can seem to get to it. Oh yea…get them started fishing! And the younger the better! They’ll be happier, healthier, more full of wonder. Teach them about catch and release – they’ll quickly grasp the idea of conservation that way – kill only what you plan on eating. And show them how to cook fish too. (Editor’s quick-note: Don’t ever engage in cooking a trout, wrapped in bacon, in the Desolation Wilderness, when there’s a bear alert on. Trust me on this one.)

You don’t need expensive equipment, and you certainly don’t need to start off fly fishing on day one either (goodness knows I don’t need the competition). Just get them out there, and do brag about the fun. Fishy Kid, an organization created by two very fishy (in a good way) dads to promote the idea, is running their Three Months of Summer Fishing Contest right now. That’s as good a place as any to show off what your kids are doing with a rod n’ reel in hand, and they might even win some sweet gear to boot.

MG signing off (still full of wonder, just with a never-dwindling supply of smack-talking capability)

The bad and the good in the “Joe Six Pack” economy

Pint Of BeerFind the silver tasty golden lining

The heavy lifting is complete – number crunchers just realized that beer sales are no longer recession proof. Yep, folks are imbibing less, which flies contrary to the premise that when the economy is in the tank people take the drink to drown their monetary woes. Where that found money winds up is another matter (h/t Paul Kedrosky):

Personal saving — DPI less personal outlays — was $545.5 billion in January, compared with $416.8 billion in December. Personal saving as a percentage of disposable personal income was 5.0 percent in January, compared with 3.9 percent in December.

So maybe people hopped on the wagon after the holiday season, or they all just ran out and bought home brewing kits.

Still, Lefty Kreh told me a while back that when recession hits, people go fishing. Cabela’s might just agree with that.

ISE Denver a standing room only affair

Line outside the ISE Saturday open

Well worth the lines

I whizzed by the International Sportmen’s Exposition last Thursday afternoon, and spent the better part of the day there the following Saturday. The first round was consumed primarily in ‘closed door chats’ – at this event it meant stopping every ten seconds for someone to say hello to the subjects (as well as mumbling “who’s that dude with the tape recorder”) – you can find summaries of those here and here. It was not particularly calm, but still cool and collected. Saturday was a different story, time was spent mostly fighting crowds. Good crowds – the place was jam packed.

Miscellaneous notes derived from non-existent notepad

Greg Pearson with trophy Atlantic Salmon

I bumped into an old friend, Greg Pearson, who is representing Waterworks-Lamson and Scientific Anglers in the Mountain West with San Miguel Mountain & River Products. We spent some time reminiscing, and the rest arguing which was better, Greg’s trophy Atlantic Salmon catch from Nova Scotia (a life sized picture of which was now strewn around on the backboards of manufacturers’ booths), or the boat full of schoolie yellowfin tuna I ran into one fine day in Mexico (which only Greg ever saw pictures of). Greg won. Also, this guy is not only one hell of a fisherman, but an accomplished artist too – you can check out his finer work here, and the creativity he invoked on my behalf while jazzed up on Steve Schmidt’s coffee here.

My good Australian buddy Craig Berg succumbed to peer pressure and picked up a closeout Sage Fli 6-weight for a spring trip that’s now securely past the planning stage. Blue Quill Angler made the deal, and their cash registers were not otherwise hurting for some ringing. In fact, I noticed both a lot of deals to be had and a lot of people taking advantage of them. The fly fishing industry may think it is on shaky ground (or maybe it’s just the mainstream media trying to kick everyone after blowing their credibility in the real estate market), but there is certainly some pent up demand for new fly fishing gear if the price is right.

Continuing on the wheeling and dealing front, John Mazurkiewicz, also working with Scientific Anglers, gave me the scoop on SA’s oft-labeled ‘overpriced’ line, the Sharkskin. He said it not only was selling well – it was selling out! This didn’t surprise – the product was described by my friends at local Denver purveyor Discount Tackle as a big step above anything else on the market. And when I opted for a Rio Gold as a recent replacement they took me in the back, under the guise of showing me some pictures from a redfish hunt down in Florida, and proceed to kick my ass for the decision. While the bruises are still healing, I tried stopping by the Discount booth during my visit. It was three deep with people picking up product, meaning not only is innovation still alive and well in fly fishing, but commerce has not hit a brick wall yet either. One of my 6-weight WF lines is on its last leg – I’m opting to test the latest and greatest come spring, thereby avoiding another beating AND contributing to the economy.

Catch Magazine

I chatted briefly with Brian O’Keefe, one of the Drift movie anglers who is also co-founder of Catch Magazine. He noted that producing great content and drawing advertisers is a 24/7 endeavor, and they’ve got their noses to the grindstone – O’Keefe’s ability to teleport himself around the exposition floor (with the machine he stole from Dr. Who no doubt) is a good sign that the working pace was accurately described.  I personally love the online magazine format they’ve put together – in my opinion the future is bright there. Of course, I’m biased – Catch’s latest release included an outstanding piece by Adam Barker, centered primarily on Utah, and with emphasis on several waters I frequently got skunked on frequented while there. Oh, the memories!

Finally, I swung by the American Fly Fishing Trade Association booth. David Phares was running a raffle when I arrived, and getting through was impossible while David stood on a chair, disguised in a wig and playing to the crowd. We finally got to speak after the audience dispersed, and I’m only saying this for the benefit of women attending the remaining ISE events where Mr. Phares will be: Dave is going to try convincing you ladies that he’ll tie up a beautiful fly with a lock of your hair – he tried this on the female friend with me (bad choice – she doesn’t fish), and above the warning calls of the lovely gals working beside him. He’s a charmer, and you’ve been warned!

Wrap-up

I received an email this morning from a friend who attended Saturday. He’s a bit older than me, and dropped fly fishing years ago when work consumed his every waking moment. I’ve been taking him out over the last few seasons, hoping to reinvigorate his interest (and get him to subsidize my stream-side lunches)…

Nothing has fired me up as much as Lefty’s lesson.

Lefty casting

My free sandwiches are in peril!

Everyone was in great spirits, and despite the economic difficulties facing our world right now. In one respect, however, the show got lucky. We had balmy weather the first of last week here in Denver (highs in the upper 60′s are enough to make anyone happy in January), but by the time I left Thursday a cold front was moving in. Nevertheless, I did get to meet several of the folks working the event, and they were asses and elbows keeping things running smoothly. Which it did, so they deserve like 99% of the credit – mother nature gets the rest.

Bottom line – the show was a resounding success, and I’m already looking forward to next year.

Comcast: my friendly, caring, and cheap dogsitter

Today must be National Bash Comcast Day.

Someone started a rant about Comcast’s poor service. Glenn Reynolds picked up on it and is now running a poll asking his readers to help him decide which service to switch to. Others are piling on.

How about turning off the TV for a bit and getting outside, eh?

I am a Comcast subscriber. A happy Comcast subscriber. I have the minimum cable TV subscription possible, and the only reason I turn on the TV is to keep the dog company when I’m out. Even that has competition, since the neighbors love taking him, and…

I keep a Mac Mini around as a backup computer, which also serves duty as a nightly server backup machine (with a neat little AppleScript/cron job combination) and as a stereo system (married to Bose Companions, all sitting on the fireplace mantle). I’m now piping Minnesota Public Radio through it during the day – that has elevated my already stupendous canine friend into the intellectual elite, with a combination of classical music and mixed talk (although frankly, my dog would probably bite me if he knew I was comparing him to the “intellectual elite”).

I find it hilarious that people are squawking about the fact that kids aren’t too keen on the outdoors anymore while simultaneously pissing and moaning about their cable service.

By the way, I also have a Comcast internet connection, and it screams. I’ve moved twice with it and always found the techs courteous and willing to work with someone who possesses a bit of technical know-how (like understanding how to get a connection through the modem without having to install software). They are always cool as cats as far as I’m concerned.

Maybe I get treated well by them because I loved getting dirty as a kid (and still do)?