Abercrombie & Fitch was once one of the premier purveyors of gear and clothing for fly fishing.
Modesty was not their strongest trait but by most accounts, if they were not the “greatest sporting goods store in the world,” they were pretty darn close.
As a younger man, my boating experience consisted mostly of drinking beer on the pontoon boats of others. I went bass fishing with an uncle once (Caught my first bass, too. Thanks, Uncle Dwight!) but I was 10, so what did I know about boating — other than we went really fast? There was also a long-ago week on sailboats in the Caribbean but it was still more or less me drinking beer on someone else’s boat. And a lot of rum, too. I think. I can’t really remember, but that’s not the point.
Boating is just not something I grew up with. Knowing better than to fib about such a thing, I was completely honest regarding my lack of boating experience once, during an interview for a job that required quite a bit of boat work, and still got the job. I hauled people and gear, fuel oil, tractor parts and even sheep, to and from an island on Lake Champlain for a time and didn’t make the evening news so, while I may not be the most seasoned of skippers, I do have tales to tell and slightly more than a passing knowledge of boating safety.
If that is not enough to convince you of my experience with today’s topic, I currently oversee a small fleet of wooden craft resembling rowboats in that they have oars and are roughly triangular in shape. Continue reading
In last week’s Friday Fish Sticks feature at OwlJones.com, Owl posted a link to a video of a robotic fish and speculated about the potential of expensive, robotic lures. I’m sure there are self-propelled lures out there and I have no doubt that, with the advances in polymers and nano-technology, it won’t be long before we can get rid of all our complicated gear and use tiny cameras to guide a lure into the mouth of a fish, flip a switch and command a tiny motor to tow our quarry to shore for us.
The thought of robotic lures made me laugh (and shudder a bit) but those who pursue fish have always found ways to put new technologies to use. Inspired by Owl’s $57.00 robotic Rapala, I share a few ads I came across while putting together this week’s edition of Flashback Friday:
We live in an age where just about anyone can quickly, and generally unbidden, share just about anything with just about anyone else, anywhere else. The problem is that, if you make it possible for just about anyone to share just about anything, most of them will.
That’s a lot of sharing.
Digital technology has become cheap and easy, as has much of the entertainment it provides, coming at us faster and faster all the time, but there was a time when it was hard to share what we are doing right this instant and had to settle for sharing what we had done instead.
Why, before we had satellites and wireless signals a guy would have to wait until he got back to camp to call his buddy at the office to brag about his big Labrador brook trout — and only if he was lucky enough to be staying at a camp with a telephone!
That camp phone doesn’t have a dial but it has a hand crank, used to get the attention of an operator, who then dialed the number for you (such service!). Doing it this way must have taken forever! Maybe even as long as a minute and a half. Continue reading
The thing about opening a can of worms is that you can never fit back in the number of worms that came out. They wiggle and they wriggle, spreading slime and bedding all around and for some reason, even though it’s just a bunch of worms, most people do not have generally favorable reactions to such occurrences. Somehow, opening a can of worms has been perceived as something so traumatic that we dare not do it and the phrase has found its way into every day use.
Internet discussion of politics? Can of worms. Ask the members of the Neverwas Nonesuch Angling Society what color to paint our oldest cabin, the Parmacheene Belle? Can of worms. Suggest an outright ban on the use of worms at Fish in a Barrel Pond? There’s a real can of worms for you.
Now, I do not personally know anyone who would resort to such a thing but I suppose I can perhaps understand how an angler, especially one who is trolling when things are slow, might think about giving in to the temptation of tipping his fly with a teensy bit of garden hackle, just enough to give the fish ideas but only until things pick up, you know. Why suffer, trying to catch fish on a fly when everyone knows a ten year-old kid with a pocketful of worms will outfish a grown man using a fly most every time.
Worms are as easy to find these days as propane, donuts and cash, but what was a fellow to do back in the old days, before refrigeration and credit card reading technologies?
The answer to that is, he gathered them himself, like a man. Continue reading
Went to the feed store the other day and decided to make the trip over Terrible Mountain worthwhile by stopping in at one of my favorite antique “malls” in search of material for a future Flashback Friday feature. I found a few not-so-old issues of Outdoor Life, two USDA Yearbooks I don’t already have in my collection (1928 & 1935), a cool old snapshot from a fishing camp in 1924 and a partial set of the 1916 Audubon Society Pocket Bird Collection Educational Leaflets.
"Headquarters Camp, Wakely Pond NY, 1924"
In the corner of one of the last booths I visited I noticed a beat up rod tube, missing the top, with a price tag sticking out that read “Fish Pole $XX”. Tacked to the wall of the booth was a sign that read “20% OFF CASH SALES” which brought the price down to “$YY” if I wanted said fish pole.
The label on the tube indicated it originally held a bait casting rod but what came out is definitely not a bait caster.
The image of a fisherman used by Bass Footwear in the late 1940s is that of a rugged outdoorsman; a guy who looks like he belongs on a rock in the middle of a stream, holding a rather nice brook trout he might just cook up, streamside, as soon as he hops to shore. He’s got the boots to do it in, too. Leaving the issue of his trousers aside, all in all he’s quite a specimen.
Within just a few short years, though, a new kind of outdoorsman was emerging and Bass replaced the man who hopped rocks amid torrents, wearing jodhpurs with tall wool socks rolled over the tops of his boots, with a man who, instead of hopping, evidently pranced.
I have felt the first stirrings of spring. Winter is nowhere near being done with us yet, snatching away yesterday’s balmy warmth with yet another cold, arctic blast last night, and I am still trying to get caught up with what winter hath already wrought, but I have felt them.
I’ve heard them, too, those sweet trillings of warmer things to come, but it is much too early for peepers and wood frogs and red-winged black birds among the willows. What I have been hearing is the gosh darn phone.