Monday, August 16, 2010

Hiatus Over!

Hello all! No...I have not fallen off the face of the earth, but the last couple of months have been taken up with a death in the family, my son's (the third and final child) graduation from college, and other various responsibilities and distractions. Now that I have made the last tuition payment I will ever have to make for the remainder of my natural life, new opportunities to fly fish in the salt from shore and from the W500, will be hopefully forthcoming. It's been a hot summer up here in MA, and the stripers are sulking in the deep, cool, offshore waters during the now dwindling daylight hours. Bluefish are still obliging whilst the sun is high, and I hope to try for false albacore from the W when they show within the next couple of weeks. I also want to try taking some video and posting it here for your, and my, viewing pleasure, if I deem the footage worthy of sharing. Bear with me....there will be more to come soon!

Friday, July 2, 2010

What Was I Thinking!?

A word of warning here.....this post is going to get deep into the weeds regarding my thought processes in devising a fly fishing rigging system for the W500 kayak. There is a lot of detail that some might find tedious, but if you're a rigging freak, as I seem to be, you might get something out of it. Very well, then, you've been warned!!

To start with, it's important to know that the ratio of time spent thinking about rigging a kayak for fly fishing versus the time spent actually installing the rigging is something on the order of 100 to 1! No, really! During the process, I found myself just standing in front of the boat and staring at it for 15 minutes at a time, just "letting the wheels turn". And that is how it should be. The worst thing you can do to a brand spanking new paddle craft is to start drilling holes in it willy-nilly based on some vague notion or ill-considered assumptions you may have about what you "need" to comfortably and efficiently fly fish from it, only to find out once you're on the water that you really didn't have a clue what you needed or didn't need! "Curb your enthusiasm" and resist the urge to immediately rig up when getting a kayak for the first time or acquiring a new one to replace or supplement an old one. Take some time on the water, over several outings, to fish out of your new paddle craft before you assume anything. Trust me, after a few sessions , it will become readily apparent to you what issues need addressing. Then, and ONLY then, can you even begin to think intelligently about just how to address them.

I have been fly fishing saltwater for 20 years, but in the span of all that time, probably only a couple of dozen days out of a kayak. Even though I owned an earlier version of the W (the W300) for two years before getting the new W500, when I started to think about how to rig the new boat for saltwater flyfishing, I really didn't have a grand plan, but was more oriented toward solving a couple of challenges I had experienced during my first few outings with it out on the near-shore waters of Cape Cod Bay, coupled with my experience with the rigging installed on the old W300. Standing and paddling the W has never been an issue, as the design of this fine craft, especially the new W500 model, makes these things so easy that they immediately become second nature, and fade from conscious consideration, leaving all thoughts and senses free to focus on spotting fish and executing casts that are fast and accurate. In a nutshell, this is what makes the W the superb fishing platform that it is. My boat, which I ordered in the "T" or touring model, comes with no rod holders or fishing set up of any kind, What it does come with, is foam flotation in the four hull tips, and, the cockpit and deck rigging option, which Wavewalk describes as a "preparation for a cockpit cover" and consists of a length of shock cord, or bungee, strung around the outside of the rim of the cockpit under inverted "J" hooks, as well as several sets of riveted rigging loops. The boat is inherently flyline friendly as the cockpit rim and the saddle-style seat feature graceful curves and rounded edges. The coils slide freely over the curves and slip down gently on one side of the saddle or the other into the hulls as I strip the line in. If the wind is up, the line is protected down in the hulls and stays put.

The first problem that needed to be addressed was how to safely and efficiently carry the rod-reel-line combinations I might need on any particular outing. I own 6 wt., 8 wt, and 10 wt. outfits which cover the entire spectrum of fish I target as well as the conditions I am likely to encounter on the waters in which they swim. It is rare when I will need all three on the same trip, but then, it is better to have the proper tackle along and not need it, than need it and not have it. So I needed to be able to easily carry a minimum of 2 rigged and ready outfits, and possibly a third. I had devised a fairly workable set-up on my W300 a couple of years ago, and rather than reinvent the wheel, it made sense to build on that approach, where I used a pair of rubber paddle clips to carry a single rod, secured by small bungees through the rigging eyes just above where the the clips were mounted. That rig worked ok, but retrieving the rod from the holder was a two step process that involved undoing the bungees on each end, requiring me to slide or step from one end of the boat to the other. Plus, as I discovered one day as I drifted toward the exposed bank of a salt marsh creek at low tide while playing a hooked striper, the rod tip of my second rod in the holder was vulnerable to damage or breakage should wind, or current, or a fish, carry me into the bank before I could grab the paddle and make an adjustment. In areas like SW Florida, narrow mangrove tunnel creeks, save for ceiling fans and screen doors, are where fly rod tips go to die. So, taking my inspiration from the rod tip tubes built into most flats skiffs, I came up with the idea of using 24 inch sections of inch and a quarter pvc pipe to replace the forward paddle clip on the original set-up. I secured these near the top of the sides on the outside of each hull toward the bow using a pair of non-corrosive plastic brackets sized to fit the pipe spaced 18 inches apart. Two one inch self-drilling screws with rubber washers per bracket, sized to fit the bracket holes, secures each snugly to the hull. To prevent the tubes from sliding in the brackets I used a zip-tie just outside of each bracket snugged up tight to the tube. Now, with one hand, I can undo the bungee holding the rod handle to the rubber paddle clip, grab the rod and slide it out of the tip tube. Sliding the rod I'm switching from back in is just as easy. In all but the roughest water, the rod handle rides snugly in the paddle clip even without the bungee, allowing me to be even faster on the draw! Two fly rod rigs, one on each side of the kayak, secure and protected, conveniently stowed and readily accessible, with the option of a third rod in use or at the ready in the cockpit! Problem #1 solved!

Problem #2 While paddling and scouting for fish, whether sitting or standing, I needed to figure out: a) how and where to place a rigged fly rod securely at rest in the cockpit, even in windy or choppy conditions, within easy reach, and ready to cast with several feet of fly line stripped off the reel and neatly coiled down in the bottom of one or both of the hulls, and b) where to safely stick the fly where it wouldn't dangle around with the hook point exposed, or tangle in the fly line. This was a tough one and proved to be the most difficult to design a practical solution for. What I finally came up with, after several iterations, still isn't perfect, but works fairly well most of the time. I bought a 12 inch long by 4 inch square foam block with a shallow beveled notch on one face, designed and usually sold in paired sets to use as cartop pads upon which to transport a canoe or kayak. These come with a slit and 3/4 inch circular cut-out running the length of the non-skid underside of the block, designed to snugly fit over the cross members of a standard roof rack. As it happens, the 6 foot long saddle in the W500 is segmented by 3/4 inch wide slots 6 inches on center. (saddle doubles as an integral fish ruler). By cutting a 10 inch by 2 inch piece of 3/4 inch plywood and wedging it one inch deep into the slot just forward of the boat's center station, I found that I could slide the foam block down onto the one inch by 10 inch exposed part of the plywood, where the whole thing sat firmly together with the non-skid bottom of the block flush with the surface of the saddle seat. I can rest the rod handle centered on the beveled notch on top of the block with the reel off to one side or the other. I cut a shallow slit in the bottom of the bevel notch to pinch the fly line in place and prevent the coils from snaking back out through the guides. The hook of the fly is then safely stuck into the side of the foam block to immobilize it until it is time to cast. The rod tip is pointed directly forward between the hulls and the butt section of the rod near the first stripping guide, rests at the forward edge of the cockpit rim in a notch formed by a small bungee looped around a bailing sponge, sold specifically for mopping up paddle drips and spray that may accumulate in the hull from time to time. I have water tested this configuration and can confirm that the rod is indeed stable in its resting "cradle" and stays put even in a stiff (20-25mph) wind and a 2 to 3 foot chop. Problem #2 solved!

Problem #3 When I am paddling along and suddenly sight some fish, how do I quickly, smoothly, quietly, and efficiently transition from paddling to casting. The essential element that enables this transition is a secure place and an efficient system to quickly, and I mean within 2 or 3 seconds, stow the paddle where it is out of the way of the cockpit rod and fly line, because 5 seconds after that, the 30 to 60 foot cast should already have been made and the fly should be in the water within 2 or 3 feet of its intended target. If that sounds difficult, that's because it is, and it has to be practiced until you can go from paddling to stripping within that 5 to 8 second window without thinking, in order to be consistently successful. Furthermore, this skill is extremely perishable unless employed or practiced on a regular basis, something most of us cannot do unless we happen to be professional fishing guides, divorced, independently wealthy, or retired with an understanding spouse! Since I am none of these, I offer up myself as humble evidence of how quickly this ability can degrade, as I struggle for part, or sometimes all of each outing to rediscover the rhythm of this process. Consequently, I am only intermittently successful (some would say lucky) in my fly fishing endeavors, but I sure do enjoy the hell out of it! But I digress.

What I eventually came up with to be able to quickly and securely stow the paddle made use of the existing factory cockpit rigging that came on the boat, and employed 4 pieces of hardware known as "lacing posts" that I found on-line. These are made of nylon and are each mounted with a single screw through the center. The 1/2 inch tall posts are a squat hourglass shape in profile and are designed to accept up to 1/4 inch shock cord around the narrow central hub through which the mounting screw passes. The shock cord or bungee is held securely in place by the flared top and bottom of the post. The idea was to use the bungee around the cockpit to loop up and over the paddle shaft and hook it around a pair of these lacing posts mounted on the top edge of the cockpit rim about an inch on center either side of the midpoint of the boat's overall length. This set-up allows me to both stow and retrieve the paddle quickly, using only one hand. Pretty slick. I wanted to have the option of stowing the paddle on either side of the W, so an identically placed set of 2 lacing posts was installed on the opposite side of the cockpit rim as well. Why not use just one post to hold the loop over the paddle shaft on each side, you ask? Well, I tried that in a trial set-up on my older W300 and found that it took a second or two longer and more manipulation with thumb and forefinger to confidently seat the bungee around just one post. Plus, the two sets of posts allow me to set the paddle down across the rim of the cockpit between them where it rests securely enough for quick casts or adjustments on the water without having to employ the bungee itself, particularly if I rest my knees up against the paddle shaft. Problem #3 solved!

Problem #4 Anchoring. Since I either fish or traverse water that is generally anywhere from 2 to 20 feet deep in my home waters of Cape Cod, and since, if I had to guess, the average depth of the water I fish over 90% of the time in the course of a year averages 3 to 8 feet, I have opted to use a conventional 3 pound kayak anchor and @ 30 feet of anchor line to hold the boat in a desired position when needed. The anchor holds reasonably well most of the time, but takes time to deploy and to periodically readjust if need be. Last March, I was introduced to Stick It Anchor Pins on a guided paddle fly fishing charter with Dave Loger in Placida, Florida. Dave favors the 7 foot model for overall versatility. What impressed me about this product was the simple, durable design, and the speed and ease of using it, particularly in shallow water, i.e. 1 to 4 feet deep. I came away from that trip knowing that, at some point I would likely be ordering a Stick It to use on my own kayak. So when I started working on the fly fishing rigging for the W500, I ordered the pin in the 7 foot configuration to have it in hand so as to be able to devise how to carry and store it on the boat, and also how to best employ the product in ways specific to the unique Wavewalk design.

Carrying and stowing the Stick It on board the boat was essentially solved when I came up with the rigging to carry the fly rods and the paddle. As it turns out, the 7 foot Stick It fits perfectly in either side mounted rod holder with the pointed end protected in the rod tube and the "T" handle end snugly wedged into the rubber paddle clip that normally holds the fly rod handle. Alternatively, if I choose to carry rods in both rod holders, the Stick It can be carried just like the paddle, using the cockpit bungee to loop it to the set of two lacing posts on the opposite rim. In terms of deploying the pin at anchor, I fashioned a 30 inch homemade lanyard with a loop on one end and a small S style carbiner on the other to clip to any one of the boat's rigging eyes. The pin can be inserted through the lanyard loop, stuck into the bottom, and secured to the kayak with the carbiner. I clipped two more large S style carbiners on the front rigging loop eyes through which the pin can be inserted to anchor off the front of the boat between the hulls. On the rear of the W500, I crossed the bitter ends of the cockpit rim bungee, stretched them back and hooked them to the rigging eye loops on the opposite outside of the rear hulls. This creates an area between the rear hulls that I can just stick the anchor pin between the crossed and stretched cockpit bungee cord and anchor the boat from the rear end. Scratch problem #4!!

As a reminder, you can view pictures of any and/or all of these rigging ideas for the W500 on the slide show posted below. I hope this essay on the thinking behind the rigging was useful, albeit a bit long-winded. All this stuff has been crowding the available memory space in my cranium for weeks now. If nothing else, I hope it elicits some feedback and comments. Either way, I feel better for purging!

Sunday, June 27, 2010 Album: W500 Flyfishing Rig


Finally figured out how to get some pix up on here. To view the pictures/slideshow on full screen, move the mouse over the picture above and click the icon in the lower right corner. Comments welcome. Enjoy

What I Know

I have been walking the Earth long enough to know that I only know what I know. One of the things I know that I know is that there is a lot I don't know. The older and more experienced I get in all areas of my life, the more I discover, or am made aware of by others, that the scope and sheer immensity of what I don't know infinitely eclipses what I will ever know. I also know that what I know, or claim to know will always be evaluated by others according to what they know, or think they know, or perceive that I don't know. Ultimately, most people with at least a modicum of functioning grey matter can accept that whatever any of us knows or claims to know is always subject to qualified review by what we each and/or collectively consider to be the consensus of well informed opinion. The rest of you (and you know who you are) can go pound sand!

All of this is to say, that when I profess that the Wavewalk W500 kayak is "THE ANSWER", it is only my humble opinion, based on my own ranking of criteria for what is essential in a fly fishing paddle craft, and my own fly fishing and paddling experience. There are those with much more experience and skill than I out there, people I hold in high regard, that are of a different mind.
There is, however, a certain maturity, security, and comfort in one's own skin that is revealed by an expressed acknowledgement of the legitimacy of alternative points of view and a willingness to affirm, if not endorse, that what is best for one, may be something less than that for another. I would like to think that I am open-minded enough to be worthy of a tent in that camp.

Suffice it to say then, that it is my considered opinion that there may well be enough shore bound fly fishing participants of a certain age and level of physical fitness out there who are looking to enhance their access to more fish via a craft that they can comfortably and legitimately paddle, stand, and cast from, to constitute a consensus of some kind. What I know is, that I cannot ever remember being so favorably impressed by any product, of any kind, as I have by the Wavewalk W500 kayak. Part of that has to do with my passion for saltwater fly fishing and the degree to which the "W" has enriched my fly fishing experience. Part of it may be that my memory isn't what it used to be. Be that as it may, I find that I have to consciously temper my enthusiasm for the boat whenever I share its virtues with other fly fishers. I am constantly explaining that I am simply a satisfied customer of Wavewalk, and not a sales rep. Not yet, anyway. This is a boat with a design that is so beautifully simple and so inherently adapted to stand-up paddle fishing, that I find it almost impossible to believe that its creator does not, and to my knowledge, has never ...fished!!! And to top it off, he's from Israel of all places!! The whole thing is so improbable it's hard to get my head around! Add to that that he's right here in Sharon, MA, so I could readily water test the boat before I got one, and it's almost too good to be true! Since I've had a chance to fish the W500 several times now, I have devised some fly fishing specific rigging ideas that you can see pictures of in a slide show I've posted above. The next entry will be about the "thinkin' behind the riggin'".

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Here I Stand

The first time I ever tried flyfishing, or any kind of fishing from a kayak was back before Y2K on what has since become a nearly annual March trip to SW Florida to visit my father in Port Charlotte. These are always road trips as my wife does not fly, but we usually plan a side day trip somewhere along the route to break up the drive and get acquainted with a new part of the South and all of its rich culture and cuisine. As great as it is to see Dad, the truth is that the prospect of 80 degree sunny days and the tug of a fish in my stripping hand has become virtually vital to sustaining my psyche throughout the endlessly cold and often snowy months of January and February each year. Throw in a couple of Red Sox spring training games, and the lift these two-week Florida sojourns provide can carry me all the way through to late April, when the first outing for striped bass in the upper reaches of a Cape Cod estuary signals the beginning of the saltwater flyfishing season in my home waters.

I had tried wading some of the mangrove shorelines near Dad's place on prior visits, only to find that, for the most part, the soft bottom typical of these areas was not able to support my 200 pound frame. After twice having my flats booties sucked from off my feet in knee-deep mud, I figured there had to be a better way. So, purely out of frustration, and without enough scratch to hire a flats boat Captain, I walked into Grande Tours, an ecotourism and kayak sales and rental operation right on the water in nearby Placida, FL to rent a kayak. After recounting my wading ordeal, they set me up in a sit-on-top model and, after a short safety/paddling primer, handed me a map of Coral Creek and pointed me upstream toward its east branch where some snook had been obliging recent anglers. As I took my inaugural paddle strokes and began to glide silently along among the mangroves, I immediately got the sense that I was a part of this beautiful and exotic environment, rather than an intruder. Birds of all kinds and colors flew or roosted just overhead. Schools of mullet swam within a couple of feet of the kayak. Warm gentle breezes came and went in the same rhythm as my breathing, or so it seemed. This kayak and paddling thing was really cool!

Fast forward an hour. My back was killing me. My ass was wet. I had seen several snook under the kayak but not until I was right on top of them. Finally, as the sun angle got lower behind me, I was able to spot three snook moving along a deeper mangrove edge 60 feet out ahead in the back of a lagoon. As I attempted my first cast with the fly rod from a seated position with my legs outstretched and braced against the foot rests, nothing felt right. I got the floating line and the brown over yellow Clouser out there around 35 feet, but where do I strip the line? Into my lap, or overboard into the water!? I opted for my lap. Wait...where do I put the paddle? Better strip the line overboard. Miraculously, a few fumbled casts later, I actually hooked a 24 inch snook, which towed me right into the mangroves. I was able to land and release him. But the thrill of my first fly rod fish from a kayak was tempered by the discomfort I was feeling. After paddling back to the launch ramp at Grande Tours, I was so stiff and sore, I could barely climb into the seat of my truck for the drive back to Dad's place.

Years have come and gone since then. I still very much enjoy the economy, exercise, stealth, access to water and fish that flats boats cannot reach, and feeling a part of your environment that kayaking facilitates. Over time and with more experience, I have gotten a little more efficient fly fishing out of a variety of sit on top kayaks, but I have never been able to get really, truly comfortable in any of them. Being so low to the water, sight fishing is next to impossible, even with good sun. Although I can, on a good day, if I am very careful and deliberate, actually stand up in a couple of sit on top kayak models, in no way am I comfortable enough to flycast while standing in them without worrying about falling in the drink. And then there is the stiffness and soreness that always accompanies being confined to that confounded "L" position. The only choice one has to counteract the inevitable discomfort is to beach the kayak, assuming a beach is available, and get out of it to stretch for a few minutes every so often. Once again, I figured, there had to be a better way.

The kayak and canoe market has tried several approaches to address the stand up issue for fishermen, as it is this element that is so integral to fishing from any watercraft, and particularly to fly fishing. Over the past several years, we have seen various styles of outriggers and pontoons to retrofit existing designs. You have the Stand n Fish add-on apparatus which frankly defines the "Rube Goldberg" approach to the problem. Then came Freedom Hawk, with their integral deployable pontoons, their levers and cables and grab bar and pull rope to help you up and out of the dreaded "L" position. Can you comfortably stand and fish from it? Absolutely. But that capability comes at the expense of almost everything else you want in a paddle craft. Try paddling while standing to scout for fish with the pontoons even partially deployed. Even with the pontoons retracted completely, the boat paddes like a log. It comes in three pieces and has to be assembled each time you launch, broken down when you transport it, and reassembled the next launch. And I don't know how others feel, but, save for some adaptive devices that have utility for those with physical limitations, the only moving part in my paddlecraft should be me. Too complicated. Too many moving parts. Too many trade offs. I was still holding out for a better solution. The challenge was huge. A simple, sleek design that was comfortable to paddle, stable enough for anyone to easily and comfortably stand up and cast from, tracks well, and has plenty of dry storage. Then, one day, while searching the web for just such a paddle craft, I found what I have since become convinced is "THE ANSWER". I found Wavewalk.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

In the beginning.....

Near as I can remember, I think I walked into Jim Bender's fly shop in Worcester, MA sometime in 1990. I had been a saltwater spin fisherman for many years, going back to my pre-teen summer vacations with my family near Scusset Beach at the east end of the Cape Cod Canal. I cut my teeth fishing 1/2 ounce diamond jigs for mackerel and pollock off the end of the canal jetty with Zebco 202 spincast outfits. One morning, during the summer of my 21st year, I awoke early at the summer cottage we rented on Sagamore Beach to see a school of mackerel finning the surface of a glass-calm Cape Cod Bay. I grabbed a light 6 foot Mitchell 300 spinning outfit on the deck and sauntered down to the water's edge and tossed the 1/2 oz diamond jig out into the middle of the school. I reeled in the jig to within 35 feet of the shoreline where I promptly snagged bottom.... or so I thought! The line was still moving sideways, and within a few seconds, I saw the swirl of a large square tail!! Fast forward ten minutes, after my yelling and screaming "It's a f#'!k??g striper!!" had awakened everyone in our cottage as well as everyone in the cottage on either side of ours. By the time they all got down to the beach to see what the comotion was all about, I was holding, no, hugging a 16 lb. striped bass in my arms! That was it. From that moment on, saltwater fishing would always be a part of my life.

By the mid 80's I had bought a 13 foot Boston Whaler, despite being married with two of my eventual three children to feed, and without telling my bride, (initially) about the purchase. (BIG mistake!! Not recommended!) I was hooked on casting surface plugs to the ravenous bluefish that showed along the south side of the Cape every spring, like clockwork, on or around the 17th of May. They still do. The striper fishery had completely crashed during those years, so blues were the only game in town, until sometime in 1987 or 1988. Striped bass were starting to reappear along the coast in fishable numbers, and I felt like I had the spinning thing down pretty well, and the fishing mags were all touting fly rodding in the salt. So, I went to the only flyshop in the area looking to get into the sport. Jim was patient with my questions, generous with information, and outfitted me with a Sage DS series 9 wt rod and a Lamson reel spooled with an intermediate slow sinking line. I fished the hell out of that outfit, even after I sold the Whaler in the mid 90's. It took stripers on the Monomoy flats, Pleasant Bay, Brewster Flats, and Pomponesset Bay, all on Cape Cod. I took it to Florida with me in 1994 and caught my first snook and redfish on it. Soon after that, I invested in a vise and fly tying tools (thanks again Jim!) and began to fashion my own flies to help me pass the long cold winters and to experience the added satisfaction of catching fish with my own creations. In all the years since, Jim Bender has been a mentor and outfitter without peer IMHO, and remains my go-to source for quality gear and sage (excuse the pun) advice. One of Jim's friends and long time flyfisher both in the salt and the sweet water, Bob Thunberg, was also very helpful to me in the beginning, and to this day will always chat when we meet on the street or at the shop.

Over the years, in order to learn new fisheries in Florida and shorten the learning curve, I have engaged the services of a few guides who have helped me immensely in my growth as a fly angler.

In the Charlotte Harbor area of SW Florida, paddle fly fishing guide Dave Loger has been an excellent resource and has consistently put me on fish using a variety of paddle craft. Dave is a consumate professional, meticulously prepared for anything you may encounter on the water from flies, to fish, to first aid. I suspect this comes from the discipline learned during a 6 year stint in the armed services and his subsequent years as a commercial aviator, where attention to detail can mean the difference between life and death. When you fish with Dave, you just know that you are in excellent hands, and that his focus is entirely on you and your time on the water. A first rate guide, and a first class guy!

In the Everglades, Capt. Ned Small has consistently gone the extra miles to show me as much of that incredible resource as he possibly can on each charter. We'll cover 70 or 80 miles on a typical day, leaving the dock behind his house in Everglades City by 6:45am and returning as late as 5pm. He'll point out shell mounds, birds of all kinds, vegetation, eagle rays, and sawfish. Sometimes we'll skirt the outside islands. Other times we'll fight our way up narrow creeks and mangrove tunnels to a hidden spot. He has an easy, relaxed demeanor about him, a unique and entertaining writing style in the "Reports" section of his website, and an uncanny sixth sense about flyfishing what I consider to be the most beautiful, complex, alluring, and compelling fisheries and ecosystems in the country, and perhaps the world. To illustrate this point, Ned guided me to an early May encounter with my first fly rod tarpon a couple of years ago. He spotted the fish laid up tight to the mangroves. I would never have seen that fish on my own. After repeated casts to that tarpon , I swear I heard Ned yell "Take" a full two seconds BEFORE I saw the fish flash as he finally turned and ate the fly. It was as though Ned was operating in a time warp two seconds ahead of Everglades real time. Spooky, but impressive. Once a redfish, snook, or tarpon is hooked, that easy-going manner gives way to an intense focus on the business at hand. I try and fish with Ned at least once every year. He makes it fun, enjoyable, and educational, and he does it all in one of my favorite places on the planet.

In Biscayne Bay and/or the canals south of Miami, if you want to get up close and personal with this fishery, if you are up to staying on the water for 10 to 13 hours a day, if you want all fly fishing, all the time, all day long.... then you want to fish with Cordell Baum. If there is a more overtly passionate flyfisherman walking the face of God's green Earth, then I have yet to meet him. I love Cordell's intensity, and his all-out approach to guiding. If he feels he needs to pole you over 10 miles in his canoe to put you on problem! If he has to wait out a thunderstorm tucked up into the mangroves so you can get a shot at some tailing bonefish or permit in its aftermath..... no problem. Born on the outer banks of North Carolina, raised in Alaska, and transplanted to Miami where he learned that fishery completely on his own, Cordell has a compelling personal story, very reasonable rates, and several fishing packages to offer. After 3 days of fishing the westerly shore of Biscayne National Park with Cordell, you'll learn alot about that beautiful fishery, and be inspired by his passion for what he does.

I want to thank all of these fine professionals and good people for all they have done to enrich my education and experiences as a saltwater fly angler. The next entry will cover what I consider to be the best and most exciting and innovative human powered flyfishing platform I know of. Intrigued? Stay tuned!

Here We Go

Ok. After endless procrastination and in spite of a seemingly visceral reluctance to embrace yet another element of the still daunting world of computers, cyberspace, and social media, I have decided to tip-toe into the 21st century via the creation of this outlet for my own thoughts and ramblings.

The title of this effort comes from what can be best described as my "status"(to borrow a term from Facebook). As a fifty-something guy wrestling with all of mid-life's issues and challenges, I find that simplicity, and the incorporation of it into as much of my life as is possible, has become my own holy grail. For me, the feel of the cork handle of a fly rod in my hand as I stand among the elements of a Cape Cod estuary or a Gulf Coast mangrove ecosystem, seems to distill all life's complexities down to what is truly important. For me, fly fishing brings clarity of thought, reveals my life and my loves in context, orders priorities, and, in so doing, enables the pure joy of simpicity. As a result, if I am not fly fishing, I am thinking about fly fishing, or something that will help me do it better, and more often.

All this thinking has filled my skull with more than its limited capacity can retain. So, from time to time, I'll spill it out here. If anyone inadvertently stumbles across this cerebral outwash and can find some use or amusement from anything in it, all the better!