24 July 2012

Traveling Angler Tuesdays Tip #5: Networking

Traveling Angler Tuesdays launched June 26th, 2012 on mattrevors.com. My mission is to prove the concept of fly fishing travel abroad is not just the realm of old rich dudes and magazine writers & photographers. Keep checking back regularly as I share tips & tricks to get you to fly fishing locales you dream of going to. To see past articles & tips, click here.

Oh Asheville, you so crazay!
Greetings from beautiful Charleston, SC!

This is edition of Traveling Angler Tuesdays will be short. This Traveling Angler is on vacation.

My lovely girlfriend and I departed Fredericton last Tuesday afternoon, embarking on an epic road trip. We swung through southern Ontario to hit the Toronto Zoo and Marineland in Niagara Falls, then pointed south to the Carolinas.

What's the draw of the Carolina's, you might ask?

For one, redfish. Of course.

But secondly, there's a cluster of cool dudes living down here that I wanted to meet and (hopefully) fish with. Guys like David from Southern Culture on the Fly and Cameron of The Fiberglass Manifesto.

Herein lies the Traveling Angler Tip of the week: learn how to make friends. In the professional world, this is called networking.

I briefly wrote about this in the Traveling Angler Tuesday post about research:
Hitting up Twitter, Facebook and Google+ and asking the right people if they or anyone they know have information might give you some leads as well. New to the social media thing? Sign up for Twitter and follow me. Then follow the fishing people I follow and politely ask us some questions. Twitter folks have all the answers.
The guys I've met or will meet I have spoken to before, either on Twitter or Facebook or Instagram or SCOF's web forum. To finally meet with them in real life after "knowing" them for months, if not years is pretty amazing.

And that is why networking in the fly fishing world is awesome.

Pro tip: Don't network in the douchey professional sense. The anglers on twitter & who write don't really like it. Don't be greasy or selfish. Follow some people on social media, read their stuff, make informative comments when necessary, share their links to their online content. Be friendly. Most people in the fly fishing online realm are extremely friendly & willing to share information, but be helpful to them in some way as well. Putting SCOF & TFM stickers on the new fairing of a roof rack is a start :)

*          *          *

I'm under the gun to get out of the hostel room & get to a beach, so that's it for this week's Traveling Angler Tuesdays (I didn't proofread this as much as usually do, so please excuse any typos).

The new Chupacabra
I'd like to give shout-outs to the following folks for helping our epic road trip so far with tips, information and other awesome stuff:

  • Thomas at Diablo Paddlesports, for helping with lots of questions & calling the dealer ahead of time for me.
  • Luthi's Fly Fishing in Greenville, for setting aside my new Chupacabra kayak and helping me instal my roof rack for it in the parking lot!
  • Cameron of The Fiberglass Manifesto, for Chupacabra info, restaurant & sightseeing ideas in Asheville and Charleston, and helping pick out a PFD for me in Columbia.
  • Dave of Southern Culture on the Fly, for the campsite referral and taking us out fishing on Lake James, where I knocked off a bream for my Species Journal!
We're off to see the fellas at Lowcountry Fly Shop this morning on our way to the beach.

I'm goin' redfishin' this week. I hope y'all wish me luck.

16 July 2012

Traveling Angler Tuesdays Tip #4: Carry-on your rods and reels!

Traveling Angler Tuesdays launched June 26th, 2012 on mattrevors.com. My mission is to prove the concept of fly fishing travel abroad is not just the realm of old rich dudes and magazine writers & photographers. Keep checking back regularly as I share tips & tricks to get you to fly fishing locales you dream of going to. To see past articles & tips, click here.

"32.8 million bags were mishandled by airlines globally in 2008 – an average of 90,000 bags per day,"- from What You Should Know About Mishandled Checked Luggage on Airlines
This stat surprised the hell out of me, and I already knew the numbers were pretty high. I just didn't think they were that high.

With dismal numbers like that, the Traveling Angler needs to put the odds in his favour.

Needless to say, the best way to have the odds in your favour is to have a rod and reel to fish with. You don't want to end up at your destination without a rod and reel, so carry it on.

Clothes can be borrowed or purchased, even if it's a ratty t-shirt and a pair of flip-flops from a street vendor.

Flies, pliers, nippers or knives can be bought or borrowed.

But without a rod and reel, you're pretty much screwed.


Note: This applies to four piece rods. If you're traveling with two piece rods, you're on your own. I can't help you, other than to say 1982 called and they want their fishing pole back.

If you're taking only one rig, it's pretty easy to carry in a rod tube. Or maybe purchase one of these. You can get similar for two rods & reels right here.

If you're carrying three or more rods & reels, plus spools and such, I highly recommend the Orvis Safe Passage Rod & Gear Case. Mine is pictured above. It can hold up to six rods in their socks, plus their reels and spools. It is within carry-on size limits, and I've yet to have an overhead bin too small for it.

Pro tip: You can read a good review & better description of the Orvis rod case by the guys at Gink & Gasoline right here. You should also subscribe to them. They have probably the best fly fishing blog going right now.

My typical carry-on M.O. goes like this:
  • In the Orvis rod case: rods, reels/spools, leaders, camera & charger, MacBook charger, phone charger, iPod cable, ebook cable, sunglasses case, toothbrush/toothpaste, Buff, sun gloves, hat (if not on my head), loose change collected on travels.
  • In the Guatemalan Coffee Bag Satchel: MacBook Air, ebook reader, iPod Touch, smartphone, magazine, headphones, passport, wallet, boarding passes.
Note: Yes, that's right, I said satchel.

The above method puts me on the ground in my destination with my valuables AND my rods and reels.

Not to mention fresh breath, too.

*          *          *


Typically in air travel, you will come across some busy-body working for an airline or even the TSA or CATSA (that's the Canadian TSA) that...interprets...the rules a little differently than what is published (or makes sense in any civil society). They will say you are not permitted to take your fishing rod on the plane due to government safety regulations.

This is untrue.

Note: I had an very cranky airline agent tell me my rods weren't permitted on the plane as per government regulations. Now if this uppity bitch model employee had told me the airline did not permit fishing rods in the cabin, that's one thing. I would have complied, as the airlines make their own policy. But she had told an untruth, so I invited her to come to the security checkpoint with me. She declined, and so on I went...with the rods.

Here's what they say. I highly recommend you print the webpages these are from & stick 'em in your satchel...or other carry-on bag...

TSA (e.g., the occasionally mean dudes in the United States airports)
  • Fishing Rods / Poles: Fishing Rods are permitted as carry-on and checked baggage. However, please check with your air carrier to confirm that it fits within their size limitations for carry-on items. Ultimately, it is the carrier's decision as to whether or not it can be transported as carry-on baggage.
  • Tackle Equipment: Fishing equipment should be placed in your checked baggage. Some tackle equipment can be considered sharp and dangerous. Expensive reels or fragile tackle such as fly's (sic) should be packed in your carry-on baggage.
  • The website for this information is here.

CATSA (e.g., the barely-above minimum wage earning unarmed folks in Canadian airports that, in larger cities, can barely speak English and have never laid eyes upon a fly fishing rod & reel before)
  • This website wasn't really friendly to copying and pasting written regulations, but here it is in screenshot-form (you can view the website here):

*        *        *


Mexico is a crap-shoot, so it deserves extra attention. I will relate my experiences here so you can decide your own course of action.

When I flew into and out of Cancun, I had zero issues. Not even a glance at the rod case as a carry-on. I am guessing this is due to some relative amount of experience with anglers flying to and from Cancun and then moving to points further on the Yucatan Peninsula.

Flying through Mexico City just four weeks later was a clusterfuck of idiotic proportions.

I was permitted through Canadian security, as usual, and no issues through security and customs upon landing at MEX. But when I went to clear security for my connection to Guatemala City, the fun began. First there were questions, and general handling and fondling of the rods and reels. Then consultations with a supervisor began, with another supervisor coming in for moral support.

General stabbing and clubbing motions with my Redington Predator 6wt butt section soon commenced, followed by a lot of shrugging of the shoulders. Another supervisor showed up with a large binder, which drew the attention of four people. Pointing at the binder and me, and loud conversations over one another went on for about six minutes. I stood quietly with my hands folded while this went on.

With a series of head-nods, the binder was slapped shut and I was told I could go. With my rod case.

But while walking toward the gate, I was run down and scolded by a Mexican lady-hobbit in a supervisor's uniform. She brought back to the security checkpoint and told me to wait. Her scoldings then moved onto two other supervisors and the original officer that opened my rod case.

After a few minutes, an English-speaking supervisor shuffled over to me and sheepishly apologized. I had to check the rod case. I swore. A lot. Fortunately his English wasn't that good.

With four rods and reels, and all the other odds and ends I packed in the rod case, I was nervous about checking the bag. Especially in MEX. I paid the bag-wrapping dude $20US to do a really good job wrapping it. I handed over $3400 in fishing gear and accessories to the airline agent.

Fortunately it arrived in Guatemala City, and intact.

*          *          *

In conclusion, here are our lessons of the day:
  1. Always carry your rods and reels with you on the plane (beware of the sky check system, too).
  2. Be prepared to (very politely) argue your case. Print off the CATSA/TSA flight regulations from the links above and carry them with you to back up your story.
  3. Be prepared to possibly check your bags in foreign countries, especially those lands unfamiliar with fly fishing gear .
As always, questions, comments, suggestions, or any additional tips and tricks are always welcome in the comments section.

Happy trails.

- MT

13 July 2012

Gone Fishin'

Just putting the finishing touches on my packing job for a two-day crown reserve water trip. Crown reserve here in New Brunswick is "a limited entry fishery, whereby angling opportunities on prime salmon and brook trout angling waters are allocated on a rod-per-day basis" (Gov't of NB website).

In other words, it gives us peasants who don't own the best private salmon pools a chance to fish good water without paying $500 per day.

Of course, when the government introduced mandatory catch & release regulation on some stretches to ease pressure on low salmon numbers, two-thirds of the peasants gave up their allocated days.

Civilized world, meet New Brunswick... #Facepalm

But for me, it's two days chasing my nemesis.

Happy Friday.

10 July 2012

Traveling Angler Tuesdays Tip #3: Research

Traveling Angler Tuesdays launched June 26th, 2012 on mattrevors.com. My mission is to prove the concept of fly fishing travel abroad is not just the realm of old rich dudes and magazine writers & photographers. Keep checking back regularly as I share tips & tricks to get you to fly fishing locales you dream of going to. To see past articles & tips, click here.

So you, the Traveling Angler, have decided to travel for fish.

You have a passport. You have a zillion airline rewards points. And you have decided where you're going and what you're fishing for.

Now comes the fun part: planning and research.

The key thing to remember in the planning and research stage is this: Google is your friend.

The two most important questions to ask in planning your fly fishing trip are when and how.

1. When?

This is probably the simplest yet most important part of the research: when is the best possible time to go?

It is important because you don't want to spending January chasing either Atlantic salmon in the Gaspé Peninsula or migratory tarpon in the Keys.

A few keystrokes in Google or a quick email or phone call to a guide or local fly shop should tell you when to plan your trip.

2. How?

There are a few choices on how you're going to take your trip and spend your money. For most people, it comes down to cost and expectations.

The Traveling Angler has the following to choose from for accommodations and fishing:
  • Lodge or camp-based, with meals and guides included.
  • Guided, but finding own accommodations and meals.
  • Do it yourself (DIY).
  • Combination of guided & DIY.
A big part of deciding is logistics; in some locations, DIY is not practical nor cost-effective (or possibly legal). Other locations, or if traveling in a larger group, a lodge-based trip might not be possible. DIY or a combination of hiring a guide and DIY might be the cheapest and most sensible route, especially if one of the group has experience in the area you're traveling and fishing.

There are pros & cons to each but, as mentioned above, it comes down to cost and expectations:
a) How much money am I willing to part with? 
b) What is the likelihood of having a successful fishing trip?

Asking yourself (and your traveling companions, if applicable) when you're going and how you'll be fishing will set the foundation for the trip.

*          *          *

Now you're ready to start researching the finer points of your upcoming trip.

The finer points, of course, are the small details that will make or break your trip. This section will help you make your final preparations. Here are a list of things to consider:
  • Weather: knowing the weather conditions will determine what you pack for clothing. Too little or light, and you're uncomfortable. Too much and it's a pain to carry it around (note: I will be posting about packing in an upcoming Traveling Angler Tuesday tip).
  • Gear: Are you bringing your own gear, or using gear provided by a guide? Do you have the right rod and reel setup? Your Montana trout rig will not suffice for permit fishing.
  • Terminal tackle: Do you have the proper leader, tippet and flies for the species you'll be fishing? Do you have enough to last through your trip? Know that most countries outside of the US and Canada DO NOT have fly shops to top up supplies, so it is imperative you bring what you need with you.
  • Technique: Are you sight-casting? Do you need to make 75' casts with 16-foot leaders in a twenty knot headwind? Are you wading? 
  • Physical considerations: Are you in decent enough shape to wade all day in tropical heat? Do you have food allergies? Do you need travel vaccines? Do you need to bring sunscreen and fly repellant? Are you covered under travel insurance (note: I will be posting about travel insurance in an upcoming Traveling Angler Tuesday tip)?
  • Currency: Do you need to buy the local currency? Is it cheaper or more legit to do so in the host country or at home in your local bank? And, of course, how much (note: I will be posting about budgeting your trip in an upcoming Traveling Angler Tuesday tip)?
  • Accommodations: Are you staying at a lodge? Hotel? Hostel? Campground? House or condo rental? How much will it cost? Who will book it and pay the deposit, if necessary? How far is it from your fishing location?
  • Food and drink: Is your trip all inclusive? Are you eating locally? How much should you expect to pay per meal? How much does a beer cost? Are there local grocery stores? Refrigerators or coolers and ice? Is the water safe to drink without treating? 
  • Transportation: What happens once you land at your destination? Is someone picking you up? Do you need a rental vehicle? Does the rental company have any limitations (e.g., in Alaska, I couldn't take my rental down unpaved highways)? Do you need a shuttle service or a taxi? Is there anything you should avoid (such as any and all green cabs in Ouagadougou)? Does the lodge provide a pickup or transfer service?
These are all things that should be considered before you step out your door with your rod case over your shoulder. Preferably a few weeks before that.

If you are heading to a lodge or on a guided trip, the majority of the questions above can be answered via an email or phone call to the lodge or guide.

Pro tip: If the questions cannot or do not get answered by the lodge or guide, run the f**k away! Do not give your hard-earned cash and time to some donkey-run backwater outfit that can't tell you what leaders to bring. Book your trip with reputable lodges and guides, always!

Most of those questions can be answered with a quick Google search. More detailed information, such as fishing tackle and technique for a DIY trip, can be found with Google, too, but expect to spend a bit more time browsing web forums and blogs for this information. 

Hitting up Twitter, Facebook and Google+ and asking the right people if they or anyone they know have information might give you some leads as well. New to the social media thing? Sign up for Twitter and follow me. Then follow the fishing people I follow and politely ask us some questions. Twitter folks have all the answers.

Pro tip: Don't sign up for web forums and immediately start a new topic asking for directions to a good fishing spot. Longtime users of forums really, really dislike this.  Spend some time searching and reading through previous threads. There's usually a gold mine of info on time of day, fly patterns, techniques. If you still have questions, steer away from specific locations. Maybe ask for a recommendation for a guide or fly shop. This might be just a Northeast US and eastern Canadian thing; I'm not sure. But we don't like spot-burning on the interweb for our honey holes for stripers, salmon, trout and bass, I can tell you that.

If you have any travel companions, split the load up and assign a few research topics to each person. Google Docs or a DropBox folder is a great way to keep track of your findings.

Pro tip: cloud computing, such as Google Docs and DropBox, is the Traveling Angler's friend. More on that someday in the future.

The list of questions and tips above is by no means comprehensive, but it is damn-well close. 

*          *          *

My Research at Work

I travel a fair bit for work. As such, I'm a big fan of the side trip. 

My reasoning is if I'm getting flown to some random place for three or four weeks at a time, it is my duty and responsibility as an angler (and writer) to fish there. I might never be back there again.

Of course, fishing may very well be limited by geography, season, weather, travel itineraries and, obviously, work (imagine, huh?). So research is a very big part of these side trips. 

It might mean bringing three rods and a slew of flies, such as this recent trip to Alaska with my 5wt, 7wt & 10wt in tow. Or it might mean bringing my tying material and leaving the rods at home (e.g., Nunavut in April).

Here are a few examples of how a little bit of research beforehand (and occasionally during) has resulted in making some work trips into fishing trips.

Last year I worked in Northern British Columbia for a few weeks. While there, I scoured the internet to research the best possible bang for my buck to fish once my project was completed. From what I was reading, I felt DIY wasn't going to be practical: the river system there is huge and the runoff was in full, making wading impossible...and there are big-ass grizzly bears around. 

I ended up booking a day with Derek Botchford of Frontier Farwest on the Bulkley River on my way back home. The logistics involved delaying my departure flight by two days and booking a cheap motel room. That's it. It took three emails and two phone calls to make this day trip happen.

Unfortunately the timing wasn't right for the Bulkley's famous steelhead season, but I managed to hook a chinook and a bull trout, and spend a day having great conversation with a really interesting dude while running up & down the river in a jet boat. It was totally worth it. And it wasn't that expensive.

Note: But I didn't see any grizzly bears, damn it!

On the other hand, when I found myself in Yellow Pine, Idaho for the month of October for work, it was all DIY. Within 30 minutes of my plane landing in Boise, I was pulling into Idaho Angler in my rental truck. I bought a license and started peppering the helpful staff with questions about where I was heading and what I could expect for fishing. They helped pick out a selection of flies for me and I was off. Bull trout were the order of the day (and month) and they were pretty fun.

When I returned to Boise, I popped into the shop again. They remembered my face & asked me how it was. Since I wasn't flying out until the next day, they directed me to the Boise River for rainbows and what fly to use. I had a blast.

Pro tip: Pay a visit to a local fly shop. Be friendly. Buy some flies or leader or a magazine. They should give you some little nugget of information to make fishing their area a little easier.

Here's an example of failing to research...and then researching like a man obsessed:

In Northern Saskatchewan last August, I didn't bring any fly rods with me. I only had roughly forty minutes between my flight into Saskatoon and my flight north to the project area. No possible way to buy a license in forty minutes, and online licenses weren't available there.

Once I arrived at the project site, I quickly discovered the majority of the guys were fishing obsessed. And it turned out I could buy a license, at the commissary of the aerodrome I flew into. So there I was, in big pike country with no fly rod. But the guys gave me a loaner spinning rod. And then I hit the internet.

I was up until 2AM reading everything I could find online on techniques for fishing pike. The next night I went fishing with the crew and caught one on my first cast. And then caught some more. Two nights later, I caught the largest pike anyone had ever caught on that project site. 

I'll be the first to admit it was luck of right time, right place. But the research I did online told me the structure to look for, the depths to fish at and the retrieve to use. So how much of that is luck?

Unfortunately the pike wasn't on a fly rod, so it sits on my Species Journal with an asterisk...for now...

After catching the big pike, I didn't get invited to go fishing any more. So I turned my attention to the elusive Atlantic salmon back home. Each night, after my work was done, I would read articles and forum posts about Atlantic salmon fishing, and scroll over the Miramichi River in Google Earth. Of course, I caught two on my first afternoon fishing once I returned home. Research works.

Note: Frequent readers will know my ego has since been deflated back to normal, sit-in-the-corner-mumbling levels with regard to Atlantic salmon.

*          *          *

With a bit of time and effort, and some help from Google, research can and will help you, the Traveling Angler, make the most of your trip.

Questions, comments, suggestions, or any additional tips and tricks are always welcome in the comments section.

Happy trails.


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05 July 2012


nem·e·sis (noun)  \ˈne-mə-səs\
  • a formidable and usually victorious rival or opponent
*          *          *

My first experience with Atlantic salmon was with my uncle Guy (pronounced either the correct French way, as in 'Gee Lafleur,' or the bastardized version, as in Guy Smiley. Totally your choice. He'll go by either). Uncle Guy was the first one to put a fly rod in my hand on the Miramichi River.

I was 15 years old and grounded for missing curfew or something like that. I wasn't a bad kid by any means, it's just my parents had an (unreasonably) early curfew for me. It was easy to be late for curfew; I'd have to leave halfway through movies to be on time for curfew.

My friend & neighbour Paul used to tell me: "You can be late or not late. You can't be 'more late.'" It was hard to argue with that logic, so I really missed curfew that time. Turns out you could be more late after all.

So Uncle Guy came and hauled me off to his brother's camp for a few nights to get me out of my parents' hair. He introduced me to: fly casting for salmon, reading current seams, reading holding water, drinking Japanese sake, and drinking Lamb's Rum. Some punishment, huh?

Note to self: when I become a parent, never send the kids off with uncle Guy to a fishing camp for 'punishment,' but by all means send them for life lessons...

I hooked one salmon, did a massive trout-set, and it threw the hook on the first jump. And that was that.

*          *          *

Within a couple years, I started playing competitive rugby, curfews went away, I was off to university, yada yada yada. Salmon fishing didn't happen again for a while. I did, however, start eating salmon in its raw, Japanese form while in Vancouver.

If you ever find yourself living in Vancouver, you should expect to eat a lot of meals alone unless you eat sushi.

I preferred the wild Pacific salmon over the farmed Atlantic salmon. It had a better taste, consistency and colour. Consistency was the big thing when I started eating sushi: some things I couldn't chomp down on without getting a little queasy. I was good with the wild salmon, all wrapped nice and neat with rice and seaweed and avocado.

But I never fished for salmon in British Columbia (well, not until last summer).

*          *          *

I started trying for Atlantic salmon on the fly rod once again a few years ago. At first, they were admittedly half-hearted attempts with poor conditions and late in the season. I always considered salmon fishing as 'bonus fishing,' something to extend the fly fishing season after trout season ends (trout season here ends on September 15th, while salmon season runs until October 15th).

Once I made my move into smallmouth bass fishing on the fly, I dismissed the salmon fishing as an annoyance: dealing with private pools or crowded public pools, fickle fish, fickle anglers, extra driving time & money spent on gas, so on & so forth.

Smallies on the fly were keeping it real....yo.

But one can only get razzed for not catching salmon for so long when you're always hanging about a fly shop before you really have to go out and do it (if only to get people to shut the hell up).

So I hit the books and the interwebz on everything I could read on salmon fishing. And steelhead, too, because there are lots of similarities between the two fish. And it paid off: my first day on the water after my extensive self-directed online course, I caught two, back-to-back. I felt like King Shit of Turd Island: what was so hard about that?

Then this happened.

I was in a deep, dark place when I wrote that. And not deep in the woods, like Yellow Pine, Idaho, either. It was Joseph Conrad-type shit for fishing.

Atlantic salmon became the official nemesis of Mat Trevors.

Constantly outwitted by something with the brain the size of a pea? For that, there's MasterCard.

*          *          *

This season, things started off differently. More upbeat, cheerful. Fish came easy: bass and trout here at home, grayling in Alaska.

Even the other night, I was casting away to see if any of the salmon run made it upriver as far as I was when I received a text to go bass fishing. "Gladly," I thought. No big deal, haven't seen any fish roll or jump*. Besides, I was going back out salmon fishing in the morning, further downstream.

* - The Atlantic salmon's propensity to roll and jump can send me into the above-mentioned deep, dark place: there will be several, if not dozens, of fish jumping, rolling and splashing around. Sometimes within a few feet of where I'm wading, scaring the livin' bejeebus outta me. Based on my personal history, once salmon start to jump & roll, I should just leave. My nerves get too frazzled from the combination of seeing lots of fish, having them jump behind me to freak me out, and having none of them take a fly. See what I mean? They mock me. Nemesis.

The next morning (yesterday, as I type this) is when things went a little sideways.

The pool was crowded. Two guides and their sports worked the privately owned water just above the public pool. Two anglers in a jonboat were fishing the far side of the public pool. And eight people, including myself, were doing the cast-and-step shuffle, as dictated be Ye Olde Angling Etiquette.

Crowded or not, it turned out to be one of those epic sessions: eight fish were hooked in the span of about an hour. All bright fish, fresh in with the recent high water.

One of the biggest of those eight salmon was 12-15 pounds. It was fought hard and fought well for about seven minutes. With about ten feet of fly line out of the tip, the salmon was soon to be tailed. But then it decided to fuck with the angler, swim directly toward him and throw the hook in the slack line. The angler tried his best to maintain a positive demeanour, but disappointment and disbelief was unmistakable.

In reality, I fought the fish for a good length of time and was going to release the fish anyway. I'm excited that I chose the right fly, read the water correctly, made the proper cast, hooked the fish and fought him well. I didn't even have to handle him, so he was off to swim and spawn and be hooked again. But I would have an easier time sleeping at night (and handling the upcoming razzing at the fly shop) if I would have at least grabbed the leader before he popped off.

I'm going back tomorrow morning, getting on the road in about seven hours. On the water in eight.

And hopefully I'll be face to face with my nemesis shortly after that.


Saw this post in the NYT blogs. I absolutely loved this part:
My role is just to be a bad influence, the kid standing outside the classroom window making faces at you at your desk, urging you to just this once make some excuse and get out of there, come outside and play. My own resolute idleness has mostly been a luxury rather than a virtue, but I did make a conscious decision, a long time ago, to choose time over money, since I’ve always understood that the best investment of my limited time on earth was to spend it with people I love.
I feel ya, dog...

Three years ago this month, while showering off the shame of a boozy (Sunday) night, I came to a decision to step off the treadmill. I had been downsized "due to current market conditions" the previous December. From the time of the layoff until that July, I sent out CV after CV, resume after resume.

I knew very little about life outside of working. Of course, 'working' to me meant fieldwork: 12-16 hour days, seven days a week, four to six weeks at a time, seven to ten months of the year. It didn't really do anything to encourage learning anything about life outside of work. But I didn't seem to mind, and there I was actively trying to jump right back into it.

A life well wasted is a good life indeed.
It took a minor shame-spiral while showering to have the same clarity as the writer above:

Time > Money

This provided a foundation of a few basic ideas for my navigation of the 21st century:
  1. The idea of a job for life is dead & gone. Loyalty to a corporation does not get reciprocated.
  2. There's a big difference between what you need to live and what you want/think you need to live.
  3. Working for yourself, with multiple sources of income, is far more secure than relying on one and only one income stream.
  4. Being busy for the sake of being busy is ridiculous.
  5. Cable TV: sucks donkey balls, insults my intelligence, a huge money-suck.
  6. Catching fish (and traveling) is more enjoyable than sitting in an office.
I still don't have everything figured out, but those six concepts have guided me well over the past few years.

If only I had the same clarity before buying the Aluminum Bastard...

- July 1st, 2012

Note: since July, 2009, I have worked as a bartender, geologist, carpenter, bouncer, social media consultant, copywriter, logistician, project manager, music promoter, fly shop employee, Cuppow salesman, fly tyer, guide, t-shirt seller, and writer.

I'm busy when I choose to be busy, and I have yet to starve to death...but if I relied exclusively on promoting music or selling Cuppows or T-shirts, I surely would have...

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03 July 2012

Traveling Angler Tuesdays Tip #2: Points plans

Traveling Angler Tuesdays launched June 26th, 2012 on mattrevors.com. My mission is to prove the concept of fly fishing travel abroad is not just the realm of old rich dudes and magazine writers & photographers. Keep checking back regularly as I share tips & tricks to get you to fly fishing locales you dream of going to. To see past articles & tips, click here.

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With a bit of effort, it's possible to fly anywhere in the world for a pretty reasonable price. The best way to do this is with airline reward points.

Airline reward points, also called frequent flyer miles, are given by airlines to encourage and reward brand loyalty among passengers. Typically one reward mile or point is given per mile flown on that airline (or a partner airline). Collect enough points in a year and you receive perks such as 'Elite Status,' complimentary upgrades to First/Business Class seats, and access to airport lounges (with free food, drinks, wifi, comfortable seating, etc).

But the real bonus is cashing in points for travel.

Pro tip: you can also cash in your frequent flyer points for merchandise and gift cards. I'm not one for telling people what to do, but DON'T EVER DO THIS!!! Using your miles could get you from Boston to the Yucatan. Or it could get you a $100 gift card to Old Navy.

The concept of 'free travel' is dead and gone, but this is the closest you can get to it: for a certain number of points plus the ever-present taxes & fees, you can go places. Lots of places, both near and far.

Here's what you need to know:

Each major airline has a loyalty program. They also partner with other airlines that will complement their routes, e.g. Delta, Air France and AeroMexico will allow you to earn and redeem points in Alaska Airlines' Mileage Plan Program. Here in Canada, I can earn and redeem miles in Air Canada's Aeroplan on United Airlines. And so on.

Partner airlines are grouped into networks, of which there are three major networks:
  • Star Alliance: 28 member airlines, including United, Air Canada, Lufthansa and Air New Zealand.
  • SkyTeam: 17 member airlines, including Delta, AeroMexico, Air France and KLM.
  • OneWorld: 12 member airlines, including British Airways, American Airlines and Cathay Pacific.
It's good to have one frequent flyer membership for one airline in at least two of the networks, if not all three.

However, it makes little sense to have two or more memberships within the same network; it's not possible to combine the points for a reward ticket. For example, I cannot take 18000 United frequent flyer miles and 37000 Aeroplan miles to get a 55000 first-class ticket to Europe. So pick one loyalty program per network from a carrier you will likely use and bank the miles from flying on their partner airlines to that membership account.

The two reward programs I frequently use are Air Canada's Aeroplan in the Star Alliance network, and Alaska Airlines' Mileage Plan, which crosses over to partner airlines in SkyTeam and OneWorld networks. These allow me to fly just about anywhere in the world using their mileage plans. I do have memberships to British Airways and American Airlines but have yet to use them.

Truly the fastest way to accumulate reward points, short of taking back to back round-the-world trips, is through a credit card sign-up bonus. Most airline credit cards give an initial bonus large enough for a short-haul flight (which you, as you'll read below, might not use for a short-haul flight once I'm done with you).

Signing up for credit cards might not be for everyone, for whatever reason. And carrying a balance for any length of time will quickly negate any savings you will receive from cashing in points for travel. But if you can pay off your balance every month, signing up for credit card bonuses and using it for your day-to-day spending is a great way to accumulate reward miles for travel.

I have a CIBC Aeroplan Visa and and American Express Aeroplan card, both of which gave an initial bonus of 15,000 Aeroplan miles. That's 30,000 miles without stepping foot into an airport. Combine that with miles accrued through travel that year (~48,000) and I have over 78,000 Aeroplan miles, without charging a cent to the cards.

Select retailers may partner up with airlines to offer additional chances to accumulate points. For example: Esso offers 1 Aeroplan mile for every $3 spent on gasoline. If it takes $75 to fill your tank, you would receive 25 Aeroplan miles. But using an Aeroplan-branded credit card gets 1 mile per dollar charged, so your $75 gasoline fill-up nets you 100 Aeroplan miles. Filling up every two weeks can mean 2600 Aeroplan miles over the course of a year. It's not much, but if you're filling up every two weeks anyway, wouldn't it be nice to get a little something in return?

Pro tip: Regarding those short-haul flights I eluded to above: it's isn't always worth it to cash in points for them. Sure you might save yourself $150-$400 by using 15,000 - 25,000 points. But when you consider how much flying (or spending) you have to do to accumulate those points, it might be best to hold off using those points and save them for a longer (& more expensive) flight. If you purchase the ticket with an airline credit card, collecting miles, and also gain miles for flying, you might find yourself better off for it. This is up to you and your circumstances. Take some time to work out a little cost-benefit analysis to see what will work best for you (sorry, I took a lot of economics courses back in uni).

There are loads of resources on the web on getting the most out of frequent flyer programs. It even has a name: Travel Hacking. Google it.

Two of my favourite people writing about travel hacking are:
Check out what Chris & Tyler have to say about points plans. It seems to work for them.

It also works for me. My return ticket from Fredericton to Belize City for my upcoming trip cost me $60 out of pocket. Bam.

Happy trails.

As always, any comments, questions or additional tips are welcomed in the comments section.

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01 July 2012

Long weekend redfish fix

'cuz everyone needs a redfish fix, long weekend or not...

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