29 November 2010

13 fly fishing blogs & e-zines to get you through winter

This post has been on my mind for about 6 weeks. Waking up on Saturday with 4" of snow on my truck after being in sunny, 24°C weather in Louisiana finally cemented my resolve to write this.

If anyone detests the cold of winter like I do, you'll appreciate this...or you'll hate me for providing you with so many online distractions and/or getting you depressed because you can't go fly fishing in your particular region (like me).

Below is a list of blogs and ezines that you should definitely subscribe to in order to keep sane while it is colder than a witch's tit outdoors this winter. I'm not ranking them as they each provide something different from each other. They all provide subscription service through email and/or RSS. They are not spammy. Trust me. (Their twitter handles will be provided where possible. I'm all about the twitter...)

So grab a hot chocolate, put your feet up by the fire, and enjoy.

In no particular order:

1. The Trout Underground (@tcunderground)

Read it because:
Tom Chandler is the Bill Bryson of online fly fishing writing. He writes often, provides lots of links, and has a sarcastic wit that anyone who has ever read a Bryson book will appreciate. Tom is all about small-stream fly fishing & posts frequently on conservation issues, especially in his native Northern California.
My favourite post:
There's a lot to choose from, both short & long. I really enjoyed An Underground Quiz: What Kind of Fly Fisherman Are You? and think that's a good place for you to start.

2. Catch Magazine (Catch's blog here)

Read it because:
It has some of the best fly fishing photography & videography found anywhere. Catch is a free e-zine & comes out every 2 months. If you're really not into reading all that much, but like looking at pretty pictures, this one is definitely for you. Bonus: all the back issues are easily accessed from the current issue.
My favourite post:
From Issue #9 (January 2010), Angler's Element: Snow. Which is ironic, considering how much I hate winter.

3. Skate The Fly (@SkateTheFly)

Read it because:
Dylan Rose & cohost Dave McCoy are hilarious and true & total fish bums. I consider that a plus in my books. Their video podcasts involve drinkin' & cussin' & talkin' about fish. Also plusses in my books. Their blog has the occasional rant, pics, philosophical searches for meanings...ok, maybe not. But they're worth checking out.
My favourite post:
Skate the Fly TV, Episode 3, with Coach Duff of Hawaii Bonefishing. They include the following warning: This show contains more profanity than the last Quinton Tarantino movie. My suggestion to Dylan was to make Coach Duff a regular feature in a "what grinds my gears segment" of Skate The Fly TV.

4. Sleeping in the Dirt (SiD's blog here)

Read it because:
Lines like this: Dying one day at a time, in corp. America. Taking back life with every day spent on the water. The site is an account of my days spent living it, quite literally sleeping in the dirt. The guy behind SiD, Aaron Otto, is the guy I find myself totally cheering for in this whole fishing "biz." He publishes an e-zine with "no sponsors, no advertisements...no shit" and just gets out there and does it. Hard core.
My favourite post:
His very recent Year in Review (November 27 archive) on his blog is pretty epic. I loved SiD3: The Road Trip Edition. But everyone should check out the feature on Aaron & his gallery in Outdoor Life's Best Shooters profile.

5. Buster Wants To Fish

Read it because:
Like the fellas at Skate The Fly, these guys are hardcore fish addicts & pull no punches in their writing. The gang of Buster Wants To Fish posts some humorous stuff, including videos, tunes, links and the occasional deep thought.
My favourite post:
Their take on the purity of Tenkara fishing. I couldn't have written it better myself. Though I really wish I did.

6. Deneki Outdoors (@deneki)

Read it because:
They provide lots (and LOTS) of great tips for chasing salmon, trout, steelhead and bonefish. Awesome pics & gear reviews, too. I hesitated putting Deneki on the list, as they are primarily an outfitter, whereas the other blogs are more...independent...but these guys just put up so much awesome material, consistently! And really, if & when I get around to (winning the lottery and) booking a week to the Bahamas to chase bonefish, who do you think I'm going to contact? Probably the guys behind the blog that has taught me a lot about bonefishing.
My favourite post:
Lots of tips to choose from, but their 5 Ways to Blow a Shot at a Bonefish actually came in handy for me last week while I was sight-casting to redfish.

7. This Is Fly (@thisisfly)

Read it because:
It's pretty damn cool. And it's free. This is an e-zine where art, music & fly fishing come together. Published every 2 months, This Is Fly introduces the reader to fisheries & locations that are sometimes outside the typical angler's realm of thought. They also have a daily blog with some cool links, music, videos & other content. Bonus: can't stay online? You can download a PDF of the magazine to take with you, say...on a plane ride, for instance...
My favourite post:
A few come to mind, like finding out my redfish guide in Louisiana was featured in Issue 25...after I had already booked him. And the tarpon article (Tapam) in the current issue is super-cool, too. The article on bonefishing in Los Roque (Issue 23) ranks up there, too. Notice the tropical themes; they'll either get you through winter or cause you to shoot yourself.

8. The Fiberglass Manifesto (@fbrglssmnfsto)

Read it because:
The voice behind TFM, Cameron Mortensen, sent me a t-shirt from a free, random draw! That's enough reason right there! Or you might just enjoy lots of great & informative posts, gear reviews, pics...and chances to win stuff! Cameron is one of the most prolific fly fishing bloggers going, and is also on the William Joseph prostaff and the brains behind fishykid, which promotes getting kids (& parents) out fishing & learning about the environment.
My favourite post:
Any post that gets me a free t-shirt. Ok, I kid. Cameron's tales of fishing in Montana in October are a great place for you to start. (PS-it's not always about fiberglass rods, either.)

9. Bonefish on the Brain (@bjornorama)

Read it because:
Bjorn Stromsness' Bonefish on the Brain is just pure fun. The excitement he gets just writing about bones is infectious. Pics, videos, do-it-yourself tips & gear reviews are the norm.
My favourite post:
Bjorn has lots of great posts & he typically keeps them short (much like I planned to do). His who & why is a good read.

10. The Outdooress (@outdooress)

Read it because:
Rebecca Garlock has bad-ass river cred and is a great writer. She's also co-founder of the Outdoor Blogger Network, which 411#3 is a member of (I managed to write this blurb without mentioning she's pretty hot, too).
My favourite post:
Her quasi-rant on Idaho's governor potentially dismantling the state's parks & recreation department and her post on OBN re: writing an 'About' page are both good starting points.

11. Flatswalker

Read it because:
Great writing. Some of Davin Ebanks' writing is damn near classic literature. Posts are predominantly about fly fishing the flats around his home of Grand Cayman for bones, tarpon & permit. His writings definitely don't do anything to subdue my desires to pack it in & head down south for the winter.
My favourite post:
A post that really resounded with the minimalist in me is Midweek Sermon: Less is More. Of course, I'm a hypocrite regarding that topic, because I will definitely be putting my redfish hero shot up on 411#3. But I justify it by it being my first & only hero shot...so far...if it gets emailed to me.

12. Angler's Tonic

Read it because:
Greg Thomas' blog is a full-service rest stop on the road to procrastination. He's got just about everything covered on his blog: gear, travel, music, food, drinks; you name it. And you can't go wrong with any blog that discusses the virtues of The Tragically Hip...an American that digs the Hip (almost) gives me hope for our neighbours to the south...ok, I kid. You guys are alright. Seriously.
My favourite post:
It isn't totally about fly fishing, but I really liked Greg's post on the Screaming Trees (one of my faves from the grunge period).

13. Idylwilde

Read it because:
The guys at Idylwilde seem to be on a life-long journey. To a frat house. Though it's not all fun & games  over there. They tie flies and then they have to do extensive product testing on said flies. It's a heavy process. Especially the product testing. Product testing in Oregon. Washington. BC. Alaska. Northern California. Other places...bastards.
My favourite post:
I dunno...they're all good. Here, read about their annual steelhead hajj. Where they go away to "work" in BC for a while (seriously, I can't complain too much about my life and I'm not too jealous about the guys at Idylwilde. Well, maybe a little bit).

Well, that's it, folks. I hope you enjoyed the post & also enjoy reading the writers on the list.

Stay warm!

PS- you can also subscribe to 411#3. I can keep you warm at night, too. Subscription details are on the sidebar to the right, near the top.

27 November 2010

411#3 YouTube Channel: The Music & Fly Fishing Depot

The YouTube channel for 411#3 has been updated with all the music & other videos featured in the posts. They're listed under the Favourites to the right of the channel page. Just click on the logo to the right to be taken right there.

(Just do it, it's not like you're going to be any less productive at work)

There's a lot of music in there & I'll (try) to add more frequently.

For you fly fishing types, there are hidden gems of fish porn in there, too.

Speaking of favourites, here's one of my real favourites. Gordie rocks.

25 November 2010

Redfish Trip Pics (part of the Saltwater Chronicles)

I shot all of the pics of my trip with my ipod. I brought my Canon D-SLR with me but didn't end up even taking it out of my hotel room.

I used Hipstamatic for most of them; I really like the retro look the pics get from that app. My only complaint is the 7-10 second "shutter lag" after snapping the pic.

I'll have a more in-depth post about the trip soon, including my own hero shot of one of the reds I caught (hopefully...the guide is going to email them to me).

Flying into NOLA & looking at where I'll be fishing

Yeah, had to do it...

Open beverage laws & advertising 'Huge Ass Beers' on the street: #win

Capt. John Iverson, on the poling platform of the flats skiff

Capt. John one-casts a 12-pound red...

...and then gives me a lesson in proper Hero Shot form

Saltwater Angler (self-portrait). At least I look the part...

22 November 2010

Saltwater Chronicles, Vol. 1 - Teaser

Time/Date: 1930, 22-Nov-10
Location: The Big Easy

Made it into New Orleans yesterday after being up for ~36 hours straight. Grabbed a quick shower & hit the streets for a self-(un)guided tour, found a big ol' greasy burger place staffed by a bunch of (self-proclaimed) queens that called everyone "baby," wandered around a bit more. Lost money playing blackjack, bought a bag pretzels, went back to hotel, and was in bed by 10PM.

Judging by the 18,000 people wandering around (drunk) wearing football jerseys with their faces painted with fleur-des-lis, I made the assumption there was some sort of sporting event going on.

I haven't had a drop of alcohol here, but I love the fact that when I choose to do so, I can wander the streets with my beverage of choice, as long as it's in a can or plastic cup. Hey New Brunswick, is that so wrong?

First day chasing redfish can be classified as a success. Here's the fishing report I gave to Bucky via Facebook:

Spooked a billion, gave 4 fish a concussion by hitting them on the head with weighted flies instead of "presenting" flies 1-2' in front of them, hooked 9, landed 5. Smallest ~5lbs, biggest ~10lbs. And they fight like bulls. Saw my backing twice, even w/ 20lb leader on...pics to come, the guide used his camera.
Had two "mat wants to drown himself" moments: 
1. cranked the guide in the back with a weight fly when starting my forecast. 
2. guide was running the outboard motor, randomly picked up his rod & hooked a 12lb-er on first cast 2 min after I flubbed a cast to a group of 6+ fish & spooked them all. I repeat: he caught it while driving the boat with the motor on. I suck.

Pics & such to come in a (very near-) future post.

Music by The Subways (who have one of the coolest myspace intro vids ever, btw; see it here).

18 November 2010

'About' page for Photos updated

Time/Date: 0130, 19-Nov-10
Location: the woods of NS

The title of this post says it all. You can check it out here.

Included on the page is a semi-cool pic from Girl Talk's performance at FredRock. That shit was nuts. In the fun, Las Vegas-kind of way. Just a wholesome good time.

(Girl Talk just released a new album, btw)

Here's a clip from FredRock. Not the best audio, unfortunately, but pretty sweet view:

Here's "Play Your Part (Pt. 1)"

All for now, sleep tight.

Ipod Photo Phun

Time/Date: 1845, 18-Nov-10
Location: Undisclosed former gold mine in Nova Scotia

I brought my D-SLR on this trip for the trip to Louisiana and figured I'd maybe shoot some pics of the project area too.

Then I got here and realized how dreary of a place it is. The constant overcast weather & continuous off & on rain doesn't help, either.

The forested area the drill rig is focusing on is just like any other forest. Funny thing about a lot of project areas, especially in Canada: see one, see them all.

Strolling around the abandoned mine & mill site provided some semi-interesting shots though. Enter Hipstamatic & Plastic Bullet on my ipod touch.

(get them on iTunes here & here)

It's still dreary, but at least the photos look kinda cool.

Music: Deftones. I could write three posts on them; they've been one of my top 2 favourite bands for quite a while. But I won't. Give 'em a listen.

16 November 2010

Update with some tunes

I promise I'm not letting things go here at 411#3, though I admit the number of posts in November is embarrassingly low. I will definitely attempt to fix that over the short-term; I have been jotting down (dozens of) ideas & topics for posts since I started this racket, and I have yet to scratch the surface.

For now, please accept this as a reasonable facsimile of a post, with, of course, some music below.

Here's what's up:
  • I decided to complicate my life a bit by taking on an additional contract for a drilling program in Nova Scotia. This came up at the last second (called on Friday, onsite on Monday) but it seemed like the right thing to do (at the time). I'm not entirely sure what's in store for 'Geologist Mat' in 2011 (yet) and I have to finance this (fly fishing bum) lifestyle I'm working on somehow. I'm still finishing up data compilation from the project in Burkina Faso while I'm here, so I'm essentially working two contracts at once.
  • This is the second project in a row for me that is predominantly en fran├žais. I consider this a bonus as I still need (a lot) of practice. I'm kinda pissed at myself for not speaking the language since returning from West Africa, especially since my gf est une belle francophone.
  • I think I figured out this font issue I've been having in some posts. My next task is to learn how to embed a music player. If you rather the youtube versions, please let me know (it'll save me some time).
  • The trip to Louisiana for redfish is still on!!! I (somehow) negotiated that into my contract with my client. I'm super-pumped for it (only 5 more sleep!!!) but have yet to cast my new saltwater rig (i.e., old rod & reel with new saltwater flyline; see this post).
  • I'm probably going to (significantly) stimulate the economy of the Gulf Coast while I'm there (hence taking this contract I'm on). Some of these redfish flies go for about $10 a pop!
  • Two weeks or so ago, I wrote about the latest issue of Catch Magazine being released online. I should have held of for 3 hours on that post as I received the email alert from This Is Fly (daily blog here) about their new issue. Click on the image below to check it out; they have great photography, art, music and, of course, fly fishing.
Current Issue of This Is Fly
Here's some Citizen Cope. I've been listening to the Clarence Greenwood Recordings (a lot) while finishing up data compilation.

10 November 2010

Yes, I'm alive...and you should be thankful you are, too.

Time/Date: 1900, 10-Nov-10
Location: F'ton

This is probably the longest I've gone between posts. And this isn't even a full post...

Short version: been busy working on geo data & slinging booze at Lava & helping out at Fredericton Outfitters. And throw in about 30 hours of a flu-induced coma. But that's neither here nor there

Tomorrow is Remembrance Day. It's kind of important. I urge you to do something tomorrow to honour those who have served. Go to the service.  Or turn on the radio & observe the moment of silence. Even if you only donate an extra $2 for a poppy, just do something.

Murch & Meghan posted this video. Yeah, it's from a cell phone company; regardless, it is very poignant. If it doesn't get you even a little emotional, you're a heartless and/or ignorant bastard.

Now that you're all emotional wrecks, I'll bring you back with some fun music; something else to stir a little Canadian pride: Hey Rosetta!

All for now, keep it real.

05 November 2010

Vodka et Vendredi: The Frisky Bison

Time/Date: 2005, 05-Nov-10
Location: F'ton

Remember, remember, the fifth of November...

Ah, never mind, that's for some other blog.

What I really want to talk to you about is vodka. I think that's more important on this Friday night than trying to light a bonfire in the pouring rain. If you'd rather read about Guy Fawkes, click here.

Last week we received delivery of two new brands of vodka that are exclusive to Lava Vodka Lounge. As we strive to have the best & largest selection of vodka found anywhere, we special-order brands unavailable at NB Liquor stores throughout the province.

One of those brands was Stoli Elit, probably one of the finest vodkas I have ever tasted.

Zubrowka, from Poland
But the real surprise was Zubrowka (pronounced "Zoob-ruv-ka"). It's a bison grass vodka from Poland, very "Christmas-y" with hints of sweetness, spice & heat on the tongue.

Being the student of booze I am, I quickly hauled out our reference book to confirm my initial thought: this could be mixed with....apple juice?!? Yes, apple juice.

It's called a Frisky Bison in the UK, and here's the Lava version of it:

Step 1: Fill a small tumbler/rocks glass with ice.
Step 2: Pour in 1 oz of Zubrowka.
Step 3: Add 3/4 oz of apple juice
Step 4: Add 3/4 oz of filtered water
Step 5: Stir & enjoy.

It tastes like apple crisp. Or grandma's apple pie.


03 November 2010

The way I see things...now, anyway...

Time/Date: 1935, 03-Nov-10
Location: F'ton

This isn't a rant. It's more of a manifesto of sorts.

I think it's important for me to put this out there as a basis of what I stand for in that whole "work-life balance" crap.

Yes, this is a fly fishing blog. But, as anyone who has read more than the last three posts, it's a little bit more than that.

What brought this on? A simple IM conversation I had with a fellow geologist.

It went like this:

Not me: "I would think a geology job would be a bit more ideal than working at a bar."
Me: "Yeah, you would think that. But I don't."
Not me: "Well..more respectable at least haha."
Me: "Respectable, huh? I work 18 hours a week, spend lots of time with my dog & gf & friends & other interests without being away 9 month of the year. That sounds respectable to me."

The thing is, I don't just work 18 hours a week. I work 18 hours a week as a bartender. I work my ass off throughout the day, every day. I'm currently working on geotechnical data processing from home. I help out the boys at BabZees Entertainment as much as possible whenever they're doing a show (I actually picked up members of Finger Eleven at YFC this afternoon). I help out at Fredericton Outfitters. I'm on the executive & am the bar manager at the Loyalist Rugby Club. I'm learning to write (hopefully well) and shoot/edit photos via this blog. I volunteer and/or fundraise for the Nashwaak Watershed Association & the Miramichi Headwaters Salmon Federation. I'm attempting to get Fredericton City Council to implement an idling bylaw. And I also get to have a life, girlfriend, dog, etc. In fact, I'm busy as shit & I'm looking to cut back on some of this to have even more time.

The kicker is, I do all of these things, whether they provide income or not, because I want to. Could I do them if I had a "respectable" geology job, being in the field 9 months of the year? Doubt it.

In 2008, I earned more income than I had ever imagined I would in a year. And I was miserable. It wasn't my job; I loved my job. But my entire life was my job. Things came to an end on December 5th, 2008, "due to current market conditions" (my favourite line in my lay-off notice). I had spent 13 out of 16 months in the field...being respectable...and had zero life whatsoever. And it was totally my fault. Not my former employers' fault; it was mine & mine alone.

The last two years of my life have been a total learning experience, and it's definitely not even close to being complete. Do I have all the answers? Hell no. But I can tell you this: I have never been so friggin' happy & content as I have in the last 23 months. Why? Because it's not all about work anymore. Or buying useless shit. Or wearing Banana Republic or Armani or any of that other crap you're "supposed" to wear. It's about appreciating what you have & doing what you love.

While laying on their deathbeds, I'm pretty damn sure nobody has ever muttered, "I wish I worked more" with their last breath.

I'll share two tales, one true, one not, with you. I read these back in early Ought-Nine. Both helped me regain my focus on what's truly important. And both are about fishing.

Tale #1: The true story (taken from Paul Myers' A Simple System to Achieve Your Goals):

A while back I went to a conference in Boulder, Colorado. It was a business conference, but I went because I was curious. There were two people who were going to be there that I wanted to meet.

While there, Jonathan Mizel, the conference organiser, told an interesting story. I'm telling this from memory, so I won't get it word for word, but you'll see the point, I think. It was about his first discussion with his new business coach.

Jonathan was really excited about the process. (He has big goals.) The coach asked him what he wanted to get out of their conversations. Jonathan said he wanted to get rich.

The coach asked him what he meant by rich, and Jonathan said he wanted to make a million dollars. The coach asked him, "What would you do if you had a million dollars right now?"

Jonathan thought for a second and said "I'd go fishing!"

To which the coach replied, "Jon, you don't need a million dollars to go fishing."

Jonathan does a lot of fishing these days. And he's moved from Colorado to Hawaii.

Tale #2: The Parable (what's a parable? Click here):

An American investment banker was taking a much-needed vacation in a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. The boat had several large, fresh fish in it.

The investment banker was impressed by the quality of the fish and asked the Mexican how long it took to catch them. The Mexican replied, "Only a little while." The banker then asked why he didn't stay out longer and catch more fish?

The Mexican fisherman replied he had enough to support his family's immediate needs.

The American then asked "But what do you do with the rest of your time?"

The Mexican fisherman replied, "I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siesta with my wife, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos: I have a full and busy life, senor."

The investment banker scoffed, "I am an Ivy League MBA, and I could help you. You could spend more time fishing and with the proceeds buy a bigger boat, and with the proceeds from the bigger boat you could buy several boats until eventually you would have a whole fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to the middleman you could sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You could control the product, processing and distribution."

Then he added, "Of course, you would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City where you would run your growing enterprise."

The Mexican fisherman asked, "But senor, how long will this all take?"

To which the American replied, "15-20 years."
But what then?" asked the Mexican.

The American laughed and said, "That's the best part. When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich. You could make millions."

"Millions, senor? Then what?"

To which the investment banker replied, "Then you would retire. You could move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos."

Understand now?

Here's some Finger Eleven. They're playing at the UNB SUB Cafeteria tomorrow night, check them out. Details here.

01 November 2010

Sharing: Issue #14 of Catch Magazine

Time/Date: 1245, 01-Nov-10
Location: my "home office"

My home office is pretty damn cool, if you're into that whole fly fishing thing:

Anyway, the purpose of this post is to alert you the new online issue of Catch Magazine is now live. If you like top-notch fly fishing photos & videos, click on the pic below.
Cover Shot, Issue #14 - Catch Magazine
What would this blog be if I didn't share information? Web 2.0, baby.

Need some music while you browse the mag? Here you go: