27 January 2013

Counting down

Much like a child awaiting the arrival of Christmas morning, I'm counting down the days.

There's slightly more than two weeks left to go for me on this project; once I arrive home, I'll be taking a break from work for six to eight weeks. Note I've omitted placing the words 'much needed' prior to 'break.' This past week is the first I've worked since leaving here on December 18th; I won't try to convince you I have it that rough...though the chaps in the picture above (part of my security detail) might suggest otherwise.

After arriving home in February, my lovely girlfriend and I will spend the next week sorting our belongings and packing what won't be sold, donated or tossed. Frantically, I might add.

I'll be attempting to replicate the packing abilities of minibus drivers seen here in West Africa, with assorted baggage, bicycle and fishing kayak towering several feet over the height of my truck's roof.

I'll admit I'm looking forward to this.

A lot, I might add, because it's just another step closer to us getting on the road to our new adventures on Vancouver Island.

And that's what I'm really looking forward to.

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Here are a few Vancouver Island beach flies I've tied for coho & pink salmon.

All are variants on fairly well-known (locally, at least) Pacific NW salt patterns. Changes to the original fly recipes were made not to add in a 'creative touch' but due to lack of availability of the originally-listed tying materials.

Ferguson Green and Silver

Pink and blue Handlebars

Cathy's Coat (or Kathy's Koat) variant

Bead-head Handlebars
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12 January 2013

East, then west.

If things had gone to plan, I'd be sitting in an airport right now, bound for a return trip to Africa.

But for various reasons, most of which weren't confirmed until yesterday afternoon, I'm tapping away at my desk instead. This, in my mind, is not a bad thing.

I like my work all fine & good, but an extra week at home is appreciated. Even if it means a 33°C temperature difference.

Note: It's an unseasonably mild day here in New Brunswick. Had I written this earlier this week or last week, that temperature difference would be more like 48°C. For my 'merican cousins, that's the difference between 81°F and -5°F.

So if things go to plan (version 2.0), I'll be sitting in an airport or on a plane next Saturday, bound for a return trip to Africa.

*          *          *

If any of you follow along with my dribble on Twitter and Instagram, you're probably all aware of our plans of relocating. But in case you missed it, here it is: after I escape the clutches of work in Africa, we're moving to Vancouver Island.

We'll be doing our best Beverley Hillbillies impersonation with our moving truck, which may be familiar to car manufacturers, dealers and me as my 2003 Ford Sport Trac.

Valuables that can't be left behind & must be loaded on the truck include my Chupacabra kayak, fishing & tying gear, my bike, my lovely girlfriend's ever-growing book collection, as well as numerous personal & kitchen effects, including my various coffee snob paraphernalia.

And we mustn't forget Awesome the Dog and his crate, too.

After we pile a small U-Haul truck's worth of gear in and on a small truck, we'll then drive from the eastern side to the western side of the world's second largest country in February, known to some as 'winter.'

We're making the move for a number of reasons, but is best summarized by these two reasons:
  • I'm on a mission to bridge the divide between the East Coast and West Coast rap scenes, and to prevent any escalating violence while promoting a confluence of the ideals and creativity of hip hop and rap from both coasts*. 
  • My lovely girlfriend, Awesome the Dog, and I all absolutely hate winter. And both my lovely girlfriend and I would like a change in scenery, at least temporarily. Awesome is unable to communicate whether he wants a change in scenery as well, though. 
Note: The twelve months of fishing Vancouver Island provides, as opposed to six months of fishing here, has absolutely nothing* to with the decision.

* - Denotes a blatant lies, also known as a 'fibs.'

Follow along on this farcical adventure, complete with tweets of frustration and photographs of triumph and/or disaster on the aforementioned Twitter and Instagram, as well as here on mattrevors.com, in February, 2013.

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Enjoy a tune:

Don't see a video above this? Click here to view the full post.

07 January 2013

UPG Fly Box Winner!

Twenty-four entrants.

Actually 26 comments; two people made two comments each but without any malice.

One winner.
First comment on the post was left by............


Justin writes over at stream2stream.net; y'all should definitely pop over to read his stuff while you're at it.

Congrats, Justin!

And thanks, Umpqua!

04 January 2013

So what's up?


I've written here before about how much I like the UPG fly boxes from Umpqua Feather Merchants.

They're lightweight, rugged, and large capacity without being obnoxiously large.

And now I can say Umpqua backs them with legendary customer care, too. But you don't have to trust me on this. I'll prove it to you.


The Issue
For the last year or so, I had two UPG boxes: the Double-Wide for bass bugs or redfish flies, and the Streamer box, for, ummm, streamers (duh!).

Both UPG boxes were repurposed for my trip to Belize in September. Bonefish flies & general patterns went in the Streamer box, and tarpon flies & beefy crab patterns inhabited the Double Wide.

On our last full day of fishing, the boxes slid out of my backpack while we were motoring between flats. They proceeded to soak up the sun for a few hours while temperatures hovered near 454°F. I may be exaggerating the temperature just a little, but not by much. It was hot. 

As Umpqua presumably does not do product testing at the second inner gate of Hell, the foam on the sides of the two boxes exposed to the sun became warped, and the adhesive melted.

Long story short, I killed both boxes through neglect.

When I discovered my mistake that night, I was disappointed. The UPG boxes are my favourite by a long shot, but they're not cheap enough for someone like me to say, "Oh well!" as I toss them in the trash. Like a rugby player on a blood sub, the boxes would remain in the game as long as possible.

Adhering to my sometimes-frequent principles of reduce, reuse, recycle and repair, I wrote Umpqua a message explaining my stupidity and asked if I could buy replacement foam for the two boxes.

Note: I bought the UPG Flats box shortly after returning from Belize, bring my UPG box collection to three. That's how much I like these boxes.

The Response
Due to a technical glitch, they didn't receive my original message right away...or ever. BUT...once I finally spoke to someone at Umpqua (Luke...and he contacted me on his day off), they didn't waste any time to answer.

Luke said they'll take care of things after New Year's Day and apologized profusely for my original message getting misplaced. By midday on Wednesday, David from Umpqua's customer care responded:
In answer to your original question, no, we do not have replacement foam for the UPG boxes.  However, if you give me your mailing address I’ll put some new boxes in the mail for you today. 
Sweet! Two new UPG boxes! 

That was more than I ever expected: it was my own damn fault the foam warped & lifted, and I was fully prepared to buy the replacement foam inserts (or make my own).

Two new UPG fly boxes was awesome.

Needless to say, when UPS arrived THIS MORNING (Friday, as in less than 48 hours from the first message on Wednesday), I was taken aback with the size & weight of the box the delivery driver handed me.


I ripped off the packing tape, tossed aside the paper wrapping and peered into the box...

Holy shit!!

Six fly boxes and a hat.

The replacement boxes for the Streamer & Double-Wide, plus a Magnum Dry, a Magnum Midge, a Weekender, and another Flats. And a hat.

Holy. Eff.

Umpqua Feather Merchants, you have completely outdone yourself. I'd almost let you get away with dognapping Awesome the Dog or eating all of my mom's meat pie after this display (almost...but I would at least share the pie with you).

Merry F**king Christmas to me.

Thanks, Umpqua!

Luke & David, you guys rock.

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Since I now have two UPG Flats boxes, I'll give one away through a random draw. 

I try to be a bit of a minimalist when it comes to accumulating things, plus I'm moving & trying to downsize...and it feels good to give awesome stuff away once in a while!!!

So here it is:

Comment on this post by 0800 EST on Monday, January 7th to be entered to win the fly box.

While you're at it, pop on over to Umpqua's Facebook page and give 'em a 'like,' too. This part isn't necessary to win, but it'd improve your chances through karma. Trust me on this.

In summary:
  • The Prize: One (1) UPG Flats Fly Box.
  • To Enter: Leave a comment on this very post you're reading now by 8AM EST on Monday, January 7th. 
  • To Enter, part deux: For karmic reasons, go 'like' Umpqua's Facebook page. It's not necessary to win, but it's karma, dude. Karma.
  • The Rules: One entry per person. Winner will  be selected through random number generator and announced Monday, after 8AM EST...at some point...
Good luck to all!

01 January 2013

Traveling Angler Tuesday: 10 DIY Tips from Cod

Mista Cod, he of the Chronicles of Cod fame, takes being a Traveling Angler to a whole new level.

Last winter he undertook this epic adventure: 
  • drove from Calgary to Houston, flew to Belize & fished permit; 
  • flew back to Houston and camped on the Gulf Coast to chase reds; 
  • drove from Texas to San Diego and then down the Baja to camp and fish for roosterfish;
  • drove back to Calgary, but stopped along the way to pop over to Cuba for a week-long liveaboard  trip.
Needless to say, when he offers up some advice on fly fishing travel, it might be good to pay attention.

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(not necessarily in order)

10. Use all available resources
Use Google Earth, fly shops, maps, tourist information kiosks - Lonely Planet books are bad ass - every bit of info you collect is good. Sometimes you have to filter through a lot of it to get good stuff but keeping your ear to the ground and at least humour every lead; it can sometimes help you.

9. Observe 
Watch what others are doing. This is a great source of information that's so easy to obtain. If others are catching and you are not, watch what they are doing. It's there for the taking. 

8. Don't beat yourself up 
If the conditions are screwed, if there are no fish around, if you're getting frustrated: take a day off or an afternoon or whatever. If you have time, take a break or a nap. It gives you a chance to mentally recharge. It allows you to add some depth to your trip, learn some new shit, or just generally relax.  

Don't beat yourself up, it's fishing and you are supposed to be enjoying yourself.

7. Follow your gut 
This can save you a lot of grief. Whether it's a road, path, area, or tingling spidey sense, if shit don't seem right...it likely isn't!!  Sometimes you get shit info. If you don't think fish are there, don't like where you are, or just aren't feeling it: make changes! 

I am a firm believer in fishing with confidence; when you do this everything leans a little in your favour.

6. Patience
Super important. "If it was easy, everyone would be doing it." We have all heard this statement before. Achieving hard shit is cool. 

Spin fishing, on a whole, is way more productive than fly fishing; why don't I just huck bait? Not gonna happen. You have taken it upon yourself to "DO IT YOURSELF." Expect a learning curve and be patient. Don't focus on what you're not doing, rather make note of the things you are learning and getting better at.

5. Network 
Hang out in fly shops, at boat launches and places where fisherman congregate. Talk to people, tell them what you're there doing. You'd be surprised of the number of people you can meet and the great info you can find out just by chatting with other fishermen.

4. Know your enemy
Going into the unknown is an often daunting task. If it's a new fish you're targeting, try to get some background info on them; e.g., flies, tides, diet, size or techniques. 

Bring tying material if possible; sometimes you show up with the wrong stuff. It's nice to have the option of spinning up some new bugs. It's a good confidence builder and it adds depth to your trip.

3. Set realistic goals 
The chances of you showing up and shit-canning the fish that you're after are slim to none. Set realistic goals ("I hope I get an eat" or "I hope I can catch a decent one.") 

Don't be disappointed if you don't achieve your goals. Look for the positive: maybe you thought your vision got a bit better or you figured out something that made you cast a little better in the wind. 

If you've never been there or done it before, what makes you think you're gonna whack 'em??

2. Be flexible
When you do things on your own, you need to be a little more flexible than on a guided trip. Expect to fish less, explore more, have more down time, make mistakes, and fumble the ball more generally speaking.  

You might have a few wild goose chases, expect them. That's all part of DIY fishing: embrace it. Thats what makes it awesome and rewarding. You figured it out. Not your guide. Not your local buddy. It's then truly your fish.

1. Time or money
Many people have one of these. Very few have both. Make an honest decision which one you have.

If you only have a few days, or a week, then maybe a guided trip makes more sense. 

If you've got no dough but spare time, do it on the cheap: go longer and expect your pitfalls due to inexperience. 

I justify extended trips by telling myself, "It cost so much to get here, I might as well stay longer." I prefer to have time on my side as opposed to money when it comes to DIY. 

For example, weather can shut you down. If you go on the week with crap weather, your fishing will likely be the shits. If you're there for three weeks instead, you'll likely encounter good conditions at some point. 

Sometimes shit just takes awhile to figure out, too.

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Thanks for taking the time to write this up, AC! 

Be sure to follow Cod's next adventure over at Chronicles of Cod

He can be hit up via Twitter at @chroniclesofcod

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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 from the Traveling Angler Tuesdays series, click here.