Thursday, January 31, 2008

On the Road Again

Off again, this time for 3 days in an 8'x12' booth in the Meydenbauer center, for the Bellevue, WA version of The Flyfishing Show, where for the 2nd year in a row we will be donating our time and tongue to the Sportsman's Alliance for Alaska, fighting the good fight to save Bristol Bay from silly Canadians and their mining companies. Just because you screwed up your country is no excuse to mess up the greatest rainbow trout fishery in the world, eh?

After the flyshow, it's off to the OP for some fishin' time with Rathbun...word around the campfire is that he's a fishy kid, so we're doubly stoked - Steel, and a predatory partner to chase them with. Things just haven't been the same since the Fanz went to Thailand and Sri Lanka for the winter...

At any rate, if y'all can remember to feed the fish for us, and maybe let the dog out once or twice, that would be good. We'll be back in no time.

Later, Baiters.



Sunday, January 27, 2008

Apologies all 'Round

Things have been hectic around the Neil Creek Compound as of late...

With travel plans finalized and fishing schedules being worked out, we came to the realization that the "play and travel" days far outnumber the "work and toil" days for the next 2 months. A good thing if the 9 to 5 grind is your scene, but bad news if deadlines are to be met, as ours are.

Writing is best accomplished in a minimal-stress, relaxed environment. Ideal settings include after a day of summer fishing, or a lazy afternoon spent daydreaming and typing.

Winter, however free of distractions it may seem, is NOT the stress-free, ideal setting for undamming the flow of creative juices. Especially if someone else is paying you for your knowledge, experience, and perceived writing ability. Winter is a small, dark place of indeterminate length, a cramped, cold environment that limits the flow of the juices, so to speak.

With the Wife off to another "seal-squeezer" conference and the dog installed in front of the pellet stove, this last week was as distraction-free as any we were going to see in the near future, and in order to vacation and play with a clear conscience, we did what was necessary. We wrote, often feverishly, and often into the wee hours of the morning. Final tally...on the level of 10,000 finished words since last sunday. Not to mention the attendant research. The rewriting, the reprhasing, the final editing...

We're worded out.

Sorry. We didn't leave any time for you.

But we strive to make things right again. All this writing is not going to waste, really. It will be part of an Alaska Fly Fishing site that will launch around April...more details to come.

At any rate, We are back from our self-imposed exile. It is still only 8° outside, and there ain't any fish to catch, but dammit, only 64 days and counting.



Word.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Breakfast of Champions, v2.0

While Wings and a Latte might be the most satisfying breakfast duo since Bugs and Elmer, these fine noshables have waaay too much fat for the average fella to eat on a routine basis unless engaged in strenuous activity for at least, say, 15 hours a day. Every day.

Being that it IS winter, and the only thing we do strenuously for 15 hours a day is sleep, there really isn't any justification for the Wing Thang. Sure, a fella needs protein...Yeah, that latte tastes good, too... But not being able to fit into our waders come spring would sorta suck, you know?

So what's the solution, you ask?

Top Ramen. It's not just for poor college kids anymore.

Long the butt of many dorm jokes, Top Ramen shines in the post-academic arena as the versatile base layer for all sorts of culinary wizardry. Our personal breakfast favorite is Chicken base with an egg, some cilantro, a little ginger, a smattering of scallions, a few Thai Chiles and a skosh of nước mắm (that's fish sauce for you white devils)...Instant phở.

Noodles, you say? Uh-huh. For breakfast, even? Yup. Couple hundred calories, a little fat and some sodium, and just the right amount of protein all swimming happily in a hot spicy broth. Who needs a latte when you have capsaicin? All of this in only 5 minutes, too.

Gaze upon the Breakfast of Champions, mortals, and let it be known...

7 for a Dollar at A&P.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Places You Haven't Been #477

SouthEast AK is a pretty big place, geographically speaking. 8 really big islands, 20 or so just plain big islands, and about 1,000 other, smaller islands make for a lot of fishing area. Toss in the accompanying mainland coastline, and that fishable area gets a whole lot bigger. There is so much water to fish, so many flows to explore, that we seriously doubt a person could fish them all in a single lifetime.

While we would certainly relish the challenge, there are some flows that are so epic that a fella can't help but return year after year. We ain't exactly sure why we are drawn back to these places, as some are an enormous logistical bitch to get in and out of, but whatever the reason we return like a fool to folly.

Last year we got the chance to return to one of the epic flows of Southeast, this time in the company of Big B, Cap'n K, and BeeGee. 4 guys with flyrods, a lot of beer, some cigars, and 9 hours on a Mainland stream makes for a pretty good time. Toss in some hefty fish and a beer-fueled game of rod tube baseball, and you have all of the trappings of a hell of a fun trip.

Capn K and a dance partner.



One of many.



An unexpected guest.



Ever since we saw that German dude with the Seychelles bone, we been wantin' to do a parody of that shot...some might get it, others not.



Did we mention Beer?



Waitin' for the Plane.




Waiting for the spring...75 days and counting.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Fish Widget

It's gonna be a long winter, so don't let the damn fish die.
Feed 'em by mousing over and clicking.



Thanks. Can you let the dog out too?

Now if someone could just come up with a widget like this that would allow us to practice our E-casting, that would be sweet...

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Waiting...

82 days.

82 days to ready the gear, the mind, and the soul.

82 days of waiting for the snow and ice to retreat for another year.

82 days until we can celebrate the return of the spring Dollies.

82 days.

Soon.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

RoadFood, Vol. II

There are folks out there that cook chicken and burgers on a gas or charcoal grill, slap some sauce on 'em, and call it "BBQ". We are not one of those folks. Our "Barbecue" consists of the 2 true barbecue food-groups - Cow and Pig. In order to qualify as true 'cue, meat must possess the "pink ring" of tasty love that can only come from a low n' slow wood-fired pit.

In the mid-'90's, we came into possession of a true 'cue pit, with a grill big enough to do about 40 lbs of ribs or brisket, and a firebox set low and off to the side. After receiving a little instruction on how not to burn the crap out of hundreds of dollars of meat at a whack, we got our initiation into the world of Barbecue. Living in the culinary wasteland known as AK, we thought our barbecue was right up there with the best, surely worth a Michelin or two...

...Then we went to Texas. The Wife is originally from Texas, and the In-Laws live just outside of Austin, so we made the inaugural, obligatory "New-Future-Son-in-Law" journey over the holidays. It was on this trip that we made the first of many journeys to the Wife's childhood home, the scrubby little sulfur-and-crude-smelling central Texas town of Luling. Luling is a fairly unassuming little town, with 3 points of history going for it, to wit:

1. It is a historic "end of the road". In the late 1800's, the Southern Pacific Railroad had a "Sunset" spur that terminated in Luling, and it was also the terminus for a freight line originating in the Mexican state of Chihuaha.

2. It is the site of one of the most productive oil strikes in Texas (and American) history.

3. It is the home of Luling City Market



On this inaugural visit to Luling, we stopped in at City Market, which the Wife had warned us "didn't mess around with that sissy 'cue", meaning that they had the two food-groups - Cow and Pig - and there weren't a whole lot of frilly sides gettin' in the way. Meat, meat, and more meat, that's why a fella went to City Market, she said.

That was 11 years ago. Every time we get back to Texas, there is always time allotted to go to Luling. Along with Taylor and Llano, Luling forms the "Barbecue Triangle" of Central Texas, home to such august institutions as Cooper's, Black's, Smitty's, Kreuz, Louie Mueller, Davis, Vencil's, Luling Barbecue, and of course, City Market.

First-time visitors are greeted to the sweet smell of Post Oak smoke, permeating every nook and cranny of the building. To get your meats, you walk into the pit, first contemplating the extensive menu.



No Plates. No Trays. No Holders. And, like the sign says, "No Forks - Use Fingers." Everything gets slapped down on butcher paper. And whatever you do, don't ask for Chicken...



After the Carnage, the remnants are rolled right back up and bagged for later gnawing. Notice the level in the sauce bottle, pre- and post-feast.



A note about the sauce: As we consider ourselves barbecue gastronomes, we feel qualified to tell you that this sauce is some of the best Pig sauce available anywhere.

If you ever find yourselves somewhere in the vicinity of Luling, TX, do yourselves a favor and pull up to City Market and get a taste of what Real Barbecue is all about.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Merry ChristmaHaunaKwanzaaKah all over again.

Got a package in the mail from Northern D today...

Awhile back, D and his pals decided to give up beading for the next season. Being the Gentlemen that we are, we pointed and laughed for awhile, then politely extended a wager of honor. We bet D $20 that he would use beads again, and we named the date, too: about 6 days after the first drop, when the trout go from being giddy to wary to downright evasive. As a helpful service to prevent backsliding, we offered to keep his beads here at the Neil Creek Savings and Trust.

Amazingly enough, he sent us a box of beads. Good ones too, with some full-on custom doctoring, perfect for slingin' dirty-style in the salmon flows around here.



What...you think we would be silly enough to give away another man's secret colors?

Geddahfuggouddahea.

Wherin We Mourn a Passing.

For about a year now, the morning ritual went: coffee, gatorade, icepack and elevation, check the email, read the online newspaper, then cruise a few boards and blogs, see what the unwashed masses were bitchin' about. Most of the places we stopped are now listed on the blogroll on the right side of this page, and some of them were a powerful inspiration for the inception of this blog.

This morning's check was rudely interrupted by a headline on one of my favorite reads, The Voluntary Beatdown. Seems Bacon_to_Fry is hanging it up, after 365 days of solid effort. A year's worth of excellent writing on fish, fishing, environmental issues, and retarded kids chuggin' Mountain Dew. 52 weeks of dissin' nymphers and defending out-of-the-box approaches to fishing...Done. Fini. Kaput.

In terms of writing style, Bacon was all over the map. From stone delivery to 3 sheets wandering, the writing covers all the bases...If y'all think that fishing is a subject that is too cluttered to write about in stream-of consciousness style, go check the archives of the Beatdown. Bacon manages to capture the giddy breathlesness of incredible events witnessed by few and understood by fewer, the gravelbar musings and mutterings of the broken, and the tinny inner voice of instability that accompanies the sickness of the Coastal Steelheader...all to excellent effect. We will miss the daily Beatdown.

All is not lost, however. Bacon made a regular Wednesday appearance (with Mingo's Girl, the World's Best Holder-Upper) over at Buster Wants To Fish, so for now we will assume that his writing will continue, albeit in a different environs.

So. To the one year run, and the inspiration and entertainment you have provided for us, we say...

Thanks, Bacon.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Thinnin' the Herd

January is closet cleaning time. Rods, reels, miscellaneous crap layin' around the house...somethin's gotta give. We are rapidly running out of rod storage options, and the reel basket is overflowing.

So, the following items are for sale. Pics are available upon request. Prices are negotiable, and here's where you do the homework:
We ain't gonna give prices.
You have to make an offer on an item, then we dicker and haggle.
If you are a good dickerer and haggler, there are some deals to be had here...we want to divest ourselves of some of these items pretty badly, others not so much. Money Talks. Trades not only accepted, but widely encouraged, the more creative the better.
Old-School fleamarket swap-meet mojo. Let the buying begin...

Rods:
Orvis T3 11wt 9' tip-flex 4 piece.
Sage TCR 8wt 9' 4 piece DEMO. SOLD
Sage RPl 6wt 9'6" 2 piece.
Sage SP+ 5wt 9' 2 piece.
G. Loomis GL3 7wt 9' 2 piece. SOLD
G. Loomis IMX 3wt 9' 2 piece.
Lamiglas G1000 9wt 9' 2 piece.
Echo Classic 6wt 10' 4 piece.
St Croix Avid 9/10wt 14' 3 piece.

Reels:
Ross Colorado 1 SOLD
Ross Colorado 2 SOLD
Teton Tioga 8
Teton Tioga 12LA
(2)Airflo Balance57
Ari 't Hart design ATH Gallatin 1

Misc:
Simms drycreek hip pack - SEE NOTE BELOW
Lines in 3-5-7-8-9-10-11 wt, various n sundry.
Wooden net, 8" handle, 15"x10" mouth.
Well-used waders...all MK. G3's, RiverTeks, and el cheapo Stearns. Lotta aquaseal in the g3s, none whatsoever in the RT's or the Stearns.

Gear Stuff:
Okuma Classic 450L
Penn 309
Quantum 1420MG
Shimano Calcutta 200
No-Name 7 1/2' Jig Stick
(2) 7' 1-piece telescoping Crankin' sticks, one has cork, the other hyphalon

NOTE: The hip pack has our name and addy inked in on the bottom. So far, this has disturbed a few people...If you own a sharpie and can cross our name out, there is still a good deal to be had here.


Post-holidaze bargain shoppers, here's your chance.

Make us an offer we can't refuse.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Holidaze Redux, post #100, Resolutions, and blathering.

We are just about over this whole respiratory infection thingy. Strong tea, nose hosing, a new humidifier, staying away from beer, and about 9 gallons of gatorade have helped things, so we are almost out of the woods on that front. We would like to think that we are well enough to do the friday night Usual with Surf n' Turf, but something tells us that a few beers after the Hockey Game could lead to a major setback.

Speaking of the devil, Beers were consumed with the Moldy B2 and Chief-Angler ER over the holidaze, and as usual when Beer is present, plans are hatched. We're not sure if all of our scheming and plotting will come to fruition, but it sure is fun pondering the possibillities over beers.

B2 on the left, Chief Angler on the right. Some foo' in the middle.


While we're on the topic of The Moldy Chum, voting has commenced for the "Slab Of The Year" contest. We ain't gonna stand on a soapbox, kiss babies, or hand out $20's, but we do have a horse in this particular race to tell y'all about. We got a feelin' that a gold medal is sorta out of the question, but it would be nice to see some love for a big honkin' AK Saltwater King done up flystyle. Just sayin'.



Post #100. A fine time to look back at the dust we have created and time we have wasted...
Coho - 23%
Dolly Varden - 18%
Beads, love thereof - 12%
Being a Geek - 7%
Tearful reminiscing about unfrozen waters - 5%
Flies - 5%
Music - 3%
Huge Mountain Goats, Moose in Wires (tie) - 1%
Miscellaneous Drivel - 25%

...Which might substitute for a segue into a few of our New Year's Resolutions, in no particular order:
-Take More Pics.
Lately, we forget the camera, or leave it in our pockets. No more. It's digital, it ain't like it's wasting film...

-Get With the 2-Hand Thingy.
We have been switchroddin' for a few years, but lately the bum shoulder has been making singlehandin' a bitch...gotta go all-in with the Old-Man stick, save what little cartilage is left in the vecchio braccio di destra.

-Fish the Surface.
Coho and dollies are fun n' all, but the real targets this year are the heavy hitters. Steelhead don't normally do the Skated Fly thing in AK, mostly because the water is right around 37°. We might be on to something that could change that. Kings on the surface...need we say more?

-Bring a Rod.
Gonna get one of those Beulah travel rods and just keep it in the carry-on. A fella never knows when the opportunity will arise, eh?

Maybe we'll get a chance to use a travel rod in about a month... the Fly Show is going down in Bellevue, WA, in about 4 weeks, so there is a distinct possibility that the travelling road-show and Beer Fountain will be seen somewhere near the Meydenbauer Center around that time. Anyone wanna take us fishin'?



Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Things that make us go Hmmm, Installment #8

Makes a fella wonder if Sen. Larry Craig didn't pass through the Phoenix Airport on his way to Minneapolis...

Hmmm.

Post-Holiday Roundup, I

If you or someone in your family didn't receive one of these this christmas cycle, well, we are sorry. Hours of entertainment. Just think of the fun you could have at the Hofbräu München tent during Oktoberfest...

video