The Wall Street Journal does carp on the fly (UPDATED)

wsj-brownliningThe Wall Street Journal just had to see what brownlining was all about, so they sent crack reporter Justin Scheck to investigate:

Brownliners enjoy fly-fishing’s primary perks — the suspense of watching a fly disappear beneath the water’s surface, the struggle of man against beast, the spinning of fish stories. If that doesn’t come with fresh water and clean air, so be it.

The pursuit is an affront to fly-fishing’s traditional ethos. Since English nobles began using bamboo rods and whiplike lines to cast weightless flies to trout, the sport has been associated with pristine wilderness. “More than half the intense enjoyment of fly-fishing is derived from the beautiful surroundings,” angling legend Charles Orvis wrote more than a century ago.

Read the whole thing. And don’t forget to watch the video, where my compadre Tom Teasdale catches a honker catfish on a Kenyan Stone. You heard me right – a catfish, on a stonefly. Take that, purists!

Justin and the Carp

But, there’s one thing you won’t learn from that Wall Street Journal masterpiece: business journalists can fly fish! During a shoot break I handed Justin my rig, and he immediately found his groove with the stout eight. Ten minutes later it was fish on. We were not going to let this one get away, and a mad scramble ensued to get this roughly thirteen pound baby into the net. I’d like to take credit for something other than the lousy photo, but Tom and Fat Guy Kyle performed the roundup and lassoing. Additionally, I think the whole bit is a tribute to the quality of the WSJ editorial and staffing honchos – they know a good man when they see ’em. It’s always a good day when everyone in the crew hooks up.

Also undisclosed until this very moment: in order to get the WSJ to pay our ugly water a visit in the first place, I covertly GUARANTEED they’d get some good footage and a storyline. I [tacitly] omitted that fact when roping Mr. Teasdale into the deal, but that’s what fishing friends are for – stretching the truth regarding a day on the water. It was risk-taking at its finest, and the unhedged bet paid out. Further, with my future photojournalist’s career clouded in significant doubt – nobody including the WSJ is ringing for my pics – I’m now stewing on the idea of launching a fly fishing derivatives market-making desk. We’ll write all kinds of risk for brown water and blue, a variety of species, and expire contracts along with the fishing season. I’m going to start recruiting ex-credit default swap traders any day, so boys and girls of AIG…get your resumes ready! I’ll also be hedging the trading desk concept with another business model – picking rigs and flies for real journalists (for a stiff fee, of course) until the ball is rolling.

[singlepic id=95 w=150 h=112.5 float=left] Editor’s note: Special thanks go out to my neighbor Corey Christensen, who loaned me his brand new duck hunting waders so Mr. Scheck stayed safe from passing diaper bags. Unfortunately, Mr. Christensen is now demanding a slice of future trading desk spreads as compensation, so if you have some worn out leaders you can pass my way I’ll deliver them to him as a hush payment. He’s still wondering why I always outfish him despite his being a pretty lucky guy, but the aged monofilament tapers I’m always handing him are my other brand of insurance policy.

UPDATE: Boy, the following comment from “Doug D.” over at the Journal’s discussion page really torqued me:

I really don’t think that was the aim of the story, though, but I do think the author missed an opportunity to expand on the gentleman’s comment that brownlining is a “sanctioning” of nature’s destruction. At first I thought that these men were doing something novel in making the best of their environment, but then I realized, yes, they’re giving up in the fight to preserve nature spots. I bet these men would still jump at the chance to go fishing in pristine nature settings, but I’d hate to see this concept really catch on—just imagine a dad teaching his son to cast a rod while adding, “Watch out for diapers and shopping carts, son.”

For the record, I wasn’t keen on giving Ms. DeeDee the pleasure of a response, but it was grating. So…

1) Did you know that the local chapter of Trout Unlimited sponsors a carp fishing tournament each year on the urban section of the South Platte River?

2) Did you know that said tournament’s entry fees are used to pay for cleanup of the South Platte?

3) Did you know that the cleanup occurs in the upper two mile section of the river below Chatfield Reservoir, with the intent of making it a prime trout habitat?

4) Did you know that during last year’s tournament, a decent sized rainbow trout was caught?


5) Did you know that several of the folks featured in the article/video are accomplished trout fishermen (ex- the ‘accomplished’ bit for yours truly)? Or that some of them even guide on our pristine Colorado waters, for a living?

I doubt Doogie Howser Ms. knew any of these things, but he surely knows how to pop off in grand elitist style. The fact that more trout are being caught each day on the very water the missus deplores proves teaming up, not shooting down, works. The comment is a perfect example of what’s wrong with the sport and the industry – it’s my way or the highway – any attempt to expand without the use of #18 dries and a wooden stick makes you satan reincarnate.

By the way, bubb – we’ll be picking up all the discarded leaders you and your nancy boy faux-environmentalists leave behind on our trout streams, again this coming weekend. And not for any individual glory, but as a team that acts, instead of flaps.


Fat Guy Kyle says:

I again thank you my friend for letting me be a part of this, I think this will help our blog as well as your site!

@JPL – certainly fun.

@FGF – Let you? You’re bigger than I (by a very small margin)! Site? I don’t give two shits about this site. Hell – I’m licensing all your personalities for a new action figure line!

as long as mine comes with the Kung Fu grip

Matt Dunn says:

This is great man. Congrats.

corey says:

You’re lucky I had to loan out my waders and didn’t get to go show you up. It would have been bad PR if the local rookie outfished the seasoned vets.

@JPL – Double Kung Fu Grip for you, my man.

@Matt – Thanks!

@corey – You still have much to learn, young Padawan, but the force is with you.

Allen says:

G – Great piece. As a guy who grew up passionate about fishing while living in the shadows of the Manhattan skyline, I assumed every puddle held something until I could prove otherwise. I actually caught bluegills (and snapping turtles) out of sewer drains, true story.

It is sad, yet typical, of Jeff Bright (whom I can only assume to be one of those whip-stick elitists we so despise) to claim that this endeavor is tantamount to “sanctioning nature’s destruction”. The condition of the South Platte is the responsibility of the State of Colorado, not Mr. Teasdale or others who find enjoyment in its existence. On the contrary, I believe those individuals are pioneers who prove that despite our relentless efforts as a species to destroy Mother Nature she will always continue to spit in our collective faces, deservedly so.

Oh, and by the way, when was it ever determined that we were “abandoning” the “idyll”, we’re just broadening our horizon.

the one thing left out of the article is that not all of us fish in “ugly” places. If Mr. Bright would read some of our blogs, he would know that we are just as passionate, if not more, as the “blueliners” about the environment.

Once again, we get pigeon-holed by folks failing to delve deeper than the surface scum, and finding out what brownlining is really all about: Just Fishing.

and don’t forget to throw ol’ Douggie Douchebag under the bus too

@Al/Rough – I’ve got nothing against Jeff stating his opinion, but reality couldn’t be further from the truth. I’ll refer to the recent update to this post for further revelation.

Allen says:

Here, here. And so what if we sometimes fish in what others determine to be “ugly” places. Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder anyway, and to me a 10lb carp is much more beautiful then some 10 inch rainbow that was probably bred in a hatchery. Half the time I am so focused at the task at hand that there are brief moments where I couldn’t tell you where I was.

TJP says:

What a hoot! Someone sent me the WSJ article and here is a cast of a few characters I know/knew! Had to check your blog to see your personal commentary. (I like your write up better). So, you weren’t catching any ducks this carp outting? (I still laugh about that!) Actually surprised you’re on this after our first outting of doing such.

Nice to see CC is still at the FF it on some level. Give the guy a decent leader, and spot for him while you’re restin’, will ya!?

I’d have to disagree with Allen and say that it is all of our responsibities in keeping our wild and urban areas clean (incl. waterways). You don’t really think we can leave this to the state, do you?) Denver Chapter of Trout Unlimited has joined forces with other groups to help this process on the S. Platte thru town. This is an ever-expanding project and more funding rolling in. Exciting!

In fact, some of you may be aware that many trout have been caught here, including the 21″ rainbow that was landed during the Carp Slam Tournament (2nd annual event of this same TU chapter, last fall.) Thus proving that mother nature does adapt and work around our follies. I know, I didn’t believe such either. Look here:

Here’s another from 2 yrs ago, You’ll recognize the background!

Wishing you all well wherever you’re finding your fishing pleasure and for whatever species you choose! I love it all! I’ll see ya on the water!
(Obscure hole is calling – ’bout 2 weeks out. We should go and catch up on life!)

Pep- catch up let’s!

Thanks for those links too (I was too lazy to dig them up after my post-post rant). Also, I think Al meant legal responsibility, not moral. The guy taught me how to catch trout, and was obsessively picking up random bits of abandoned mono off the banks while I was grasping the concept of high-sticking – he obviously understands the altruistic motive.

TJP says:

Knew you knew about those links. Happy to provide.

Was not sure that was same Al. Legally, the state is not too fond of us screwing with their drainage/flood control ditch. We’re converting a person at a time… This is picking up steam and better than our annual river clean-up twice a year. Annual Carp Slam helps promote this urban river project. I’m all for making it cleaner and nicer. It only adds to the bio diversity — incl. fish. We’ve now got cats, carp, crappie, smallies, mooneyes and a few trout.

Funny how many comments I get while picking up all those old leaders and tippet sections on-stream or parking lot. Really, let’s all keep it together and in place. It’s just not that difficult. Have you noticed the several new products within the industry for this very thing? Ok, I’m still using my pockets…

So, I was thinking it was too early for a good carp fight. How’s the battle this time of year? That water is still kinda cold, isn’t it? I usually think about it around June for a good battle.

IKO IKO IKO… First cast is all you! Be ready. Be prepared. As much as you don’t want to catch that first fish of the day on the very first cast… Maybe we need to visit the Oak and discuss nxt. wk.?

Same Al. And yep, I’m using my pockets too. But I’ve also found a good use for that stuff…give it all to Corey! 😉

On the carp, well they’re on the move. Picked up this 20+’er a few weeks back, and lost a half-dozen to pops and pulls just Tuesday afternoon. Now seeing stop and snort behavior, versus just cruising and hoovering.

IKO? Hell, I’ve still got a pile of them since I haven’t been pulling that gig. It’s been mostly slabs of meat and saltwater rigs since late last summer. Black sculpins in the middle of the day! I’m not even sure where my five-weight is. Ping me nonetheless and we’ll get out soon!

TJP says:

Thanks for your updated commentary toward the DD at the Journal’s page. Thanks also for mentioning the TU gig again.
Members or not, all are welcome at any of their meetings across the nation, which can be very informative and entertaining. If not TU, the Federation of Fly Fishers (FFF) is also a great group that works towards improvement of fish/water environs.

Ironically, I’ve attended several different TU chapters meetings where Barry “Carp Meister” Reynolds has been the speaker to discuss carp and other “alternative species”. Might I also recommend the carp and pike videos and books by he and his cohorts! (No I’m not related or employed by the man. He’s just that good!)

Thanks again for the day’s entertainment and your style in matters fishing-related and worldly!

Tom says:

So I guess it’s yesterday’s news now……I bought 13 copies of the WSJ today. If that’s not sanctioning nature’s destruction through the senseless waste of paper I don’t know what is. You know I immediately threw out anything that didn’t have my picture or my name on it. And as soon as I go home I’ll built a shrine to myself and dump some toxic waste into the Blue, cause that’s how I roll. Destroyer of Nature….Tom Teasdale. PS, I will no longer be answering to Tom Teasdale…..from this point forward I will be referred to as Front Page…..or Wall Street, which ever you prefer. Thanks Gracie. YOU are the man.

Note to the general public: I’m still deciding whether to delete the comment directly above, in the interests of preserving the idyllic tradition of fly fishing of course. But, I have to see the shrine first. If the comment doesn’t wind up removed, you’ll know I’ve either died from hemorrhagic fever while fishing the Blue, or I’ve discovered a tasty recipe for channel cat.

You go away for a week and a bunch of blogs you throw down with blow up big time. Way to go all.

Great article, but Michael you’re a Florida boy, you should have told the reporter that they’ve been ditch fishing the Tamiami and every other canal in Florida since the 1950s at least. For a little historical perspective here we need to hear from the crackers and others who couldn’t afford the bonefish guides and stalked the skeeter infested muckwaters for their fly fishing kicks. Someone at the WSJ needs to talk to the Land Captain Steve Kantner about this. In fact, as soon as I get my bearings, I’m going to get on this over at FJ.

I was just the babysitter.

kbarton10 says:

Now we know where the diapers were coming from … nothing like local color ..

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