October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween to everyone. And remember, should you be the unfortunate soul to have raisins, Mary Janes, or pennies placed in your Trick or Treat bag, practice catch & release.

October 30, 2009

'Enjoy the Fight' Fishing Brace

Stumbled across this fishing item today. Not sure how large the market is for this sort of fishing brace, but unlike a lot of fishing gizmos I respect the fact that this actually appears to solve a legitimate problem.


Gear Review - William Joseph Amp Pack

I've been looking to get away from wearing a fishing vest for a while now. I like my vest, however I've found it to present some challenges in both very hot and very cold weather. In hot weather, the additional garment just makes me hotter. In cold weather, the extra layer is fine, but I usually already have two or three layers on, and the fit is not optimal. So after doing some research (& a trip to Cabela's), I decided to jump into chest packs with the William Joseph Amp pack. I recently took it out on Valley Creek for an afternoon of fly fishing, and thought it to be review worthy. Enjoy.

Overview: The William Joseph Amp pack is a nice paradox. One one side, it's a small chest pack that ideally accommodates only the basic essentials. On the flip side, it utilizes some really high-tech features that make it anything but minimalistic.

The real draw to this bag is the unique magnetic No Zip closure system on the main compartment and smaller front pocket. Unlike packs that use zippers, there's no fiddling to open your bag and nothing to snag your fly line on an errant cast or retrieve. Simply grab one of the rubberized pulls to open. To close, just push it shut and the magnet automatically self-seals. It's that easy.

Other than the closure, the layout is similar to other chest packs. The small front pocket folds down to form a workstation shelf. It comes complete with a removable foam fly insert to keep a full menu of flies ready for the taking without the use of a fly box.

The larger internal compartment is segmented by mesh dividers into 2 sections, and also features two small zipper pockets for tiny accessories.

Feel: One of the things I like about this bag is that it has really nice "touch" By that I mean all of the places you'd regularly make contact with your hands or body are well done. Examples of this are shown in details like the neck strap. It has a very soft cushion that does not irritate your neck in the slightest. The string pulls that open the magnetic compartments are coated in a clear rubber that give them a nice lightweight bulk. It's all executed well and appears nothing was skimped in terms of materials.

: All of the straps are easily adjustable, so the pack fits your body nicely. The neck strap in particular has some length to it so you can wear the pack up on your chest, or if you prefer lower down by your stomach. While the waist strap is also adjustable, I do question if it would accommodate a 2XL+ angler.

Function: The Amp's size (130 cubic inches) is more than adequate to carry around everything I need on an outing. I loaded it up with flies, tippet, leaders, a multi-tool, floatant, a digital camera, wallet, car keys, and a cell phone. Not a huge haul, but after fishing for about 4 or 5 hours, felt no fatigue or neck/back strain from the contents.

All of the inside compartments are very cleanly laid out. The smaller inner zippers zip easily and there is very little concern of any items falling out, even when bending over while the pack was open.

Now to the calling card, the magnetic closure. While this may sound "cheap" or unreliable, the magnets are quite strong and really do firmly hold the pockets shut. It's something that can't be accurately described and is much better observed in person. In practice, I find it much quicker and more convenient than zippers - believe it or not opening and closing the pockets repeatedly becomes a little fun.

Style: While not aesthetically offensive, I wouldn't say the bag is a visual work of art either. It looks like most other chest packs on the market with relatively clean but dull neutral tones. The stylized "William Joseph" logo is spread across the front and may be considered disproportionately large for the bag. I guess the manufacturer feels the need to advertise...I'm usually not one for wearing billboards, but I can look past this.

: Since the No Zip closure is magnetic, there is a large red patch with a bold Stop sign urging that people with pacemakers not use this bag. I'm not a doctor, so I'm not sure if it would actually kill you, but it's not worth finding out.

Areas for Improvement: While this bag is advertised as "water resistant," it would have been nice to at minimum included a waterproof drybag or compartment on the inside of the larger compartment for sensitive items. It's certainly not a deal breaker, as you can go out an buy an inexpensive drybag if needed. My current solution if a simple sandwich "zipper" bag - in which I toss my wallet, cell phone, and car keys. It's a simple enough workaround to this issue, but something that really should have been integrated.

Price: At at suggested retail of $69.00, it's probably on the expensive side for a chest pack of this size. Similar, but less expensive alternatives are certainly available - the Fishpond San Juan Pack at $49.00 or the Bass Pro White River Spring Creek Pack at $29.99 both come to mind.

Conclusion: I really like and recommend this bag. Switching from wearing a fishing vest, I don't think I'm losing any storage capability by wearing this, and find it very comfortable (and much less obtrusive). The unique No Zip closure makes opening and closing a snap, and the smartly laid out internal compartments keep everything well organized. While I loaded it up for fly fishing on this trip, I can just as easily envision the spin fisherman enjoying this pack as well. I dropped one of my Plano Stowaway boxes filled with spinners inside with plenty of room to spare.

No, this pack isn't for everyone. It's intentionally on the small side, so if you like to bring multiple fly boxes and all sorts of widgets out on the water, you probably won't be able to cram it all inside. At $69.00, it could also be considered a little pricey in relation to the competition. However, if you like to keep it mean, lean, and are willing to pay the modest premium (and don't wear a pacemaker!) - this is an excellent option for you.

Final Rating:
4 stars out 5, the only functional shortcoming being the lack of an integrated drybag, the only practical shortcoming being price.

This independent gear review is not associated with manufacturer or retailer-supplied free goods. The pack used in this review was purchased at full retail of $69.00.

October 23, 2009

Fly Fishing in the Daily News

Nice little article in the Philadelphia Daily News about fall fly fishing.

No fancy fishing here; the natives are restless


Philadelphia Daily News

I'm fly fishing the first weekend in October at one of my favorite Pocono spots, and I'm going to pack it in early because my arm is tired.

Not from casting, which usually wears me out and sends me home, but from catching. I've just spent five minutes wrestling with an ornery smallmouth bass that keeps running back into the deep water every time he gets close enough to see me.

When I finally bring him to shore and release him, he gives me an angry look and goes back to the business of eating as much as he can in advance of the approaching winter.

I caught and released maybe a dozen fish that day, mostly rainbow trout, and this had nothing to do with expertise or preparation. I'd brought the wrong fly box and fished with out-sized streamers designed for saltwater quarry.

No matter. No cast was too bad, no fly too inappropriate, no retrieval too suspicious for these ravenous fish. To paraphrase Will Ferrell's character in "The Wedding Crashers," the fish are so hungry, it's not even fair.

These are the same fish that ignored everything I threw at them during the summer, when you have to coax them to the surface with tiny dry flies on the end of delicate lines that kink and knot and snap off when you DO hook up.

Fall in the Poconos is my favorite time to fish, because I'm lazy and it's so much easier. The weather's often ideal (not so much this year), and the trout perk up when water temperatures begin to drop in popular Pocono waters. The fish will stay active nearly until the end of the year.

To read the rest of this article on Philly.com:

October 21, 2009

Back Again!

Phillies 10, Dodgers 4 - National League Champions!
World Series, here we come (again)!

October 20, 2009

Back from Bermuda

K.C., Lilly, & I spent last week in Bermuda. It was our first real family vacation, so we were really excited. We took a cruise on the Norwegian Majesty, which docked for about 3.5 days in St. George's.

The weather wasn't the most cooperative - only one day of rain, but lots of clouds. Despite having my light tackle fishing trip canceled due to high winds, we did do a lot of activities, including a day at the beach.

Day 1 - Arrival & aforementioned beach day at Tobacco Bay

Day 2 - Lots of running around ~ Royal Naval Dockyard, a stop in Hamilton, and RAIN!

Day 3 - Tour of the Crystal Caves and Bermuda National Aquarium & Zoo. Dusk hike out to Fort St. Catherine

Day 4 - Carriage ride around St. George's & Departure

Although not the biggest and grandest of boats, the Majesty served it purpose of restaurant & hotel. Lilly was especially enthusiastic about the onboard "Kid's Camp" and also picked up a neat new trick at dinner.

Giveaway over at Ben G.'s

Free is good. And over at Ben G. Outdoors, there's currently a giveway with some nice prizes, especially for those of you who enjoy hunting. Some of the items up for grabs are listed below.
The giveaway runs from Monday, October 19th to Saturday, October 31st at 5:00pm
(Winners will be posted Monday, November 2nd).
1st Prize Muck Boots Arctic Sport Mid in your size from Hank’s Clothing
2nd Prize is a Hoodie from Warrior Outdoors
3rd Prize is a Magnet Gun Caddy from Spec Tech.
4th Prize through 8th Prize is a copy of Warrior Outdoors Rack Attack
Oh yeah, Ben also writes a pretty mean blog post as well. I especially liked his 5 part posting on a recent trout fishing outing. Go check it out!

October 9, 2009

Different Types of Fish Porn

Read any fishing website (especially fly-fishing websites) and you'll see folks offering up "fish porn" - basically pictures of obscenely large or beautiful fish.

Exhibit A: "Fish Porn" courtesy Catch Magazine

As I've mentioned in other posts, I've been toying with Tenkara, which is a Japanese method of fly fishing. As with anything new (to me) I try to absorb information on the subject like a sponge. This led to a recent Google search on the phrase "Japanese Fishing" which yielded the following link and disturbing picture:

Exhibit B: Fish Porn? courtesy Village Voice
'Strange Snacks of the World: Japanese Fish Sausage':
Pull a tightly wrapped specimen out of the pack, an
d try as you might, it is hard to overlook the resemblance to a very small, very skinny, condom-wrapped penis. "This sausage may contain tiny black pieces," notes the package helpfully. "These are fragments of fish skin."

Uhh...ummhhhh....uhhh...I think this one fish better left not tasted.
I'd be practicing catch & release.

October 7, 2009

Senator Rafferty Drilling Response

In a prior post Troutrageous! urged folks to contact local and state legislators regarding the negative impact that opening up hundreds of thousands of acres of state forest lands to Marcellus Shale drilling operations.

While I'm certain this is a form reply, but at the very least I am comforted to see that Senator Rafferty holds similar environmental concerns over natural gas drilling on state forest lands.

The good parts:
"As you know from my environmental record, I want those responsible for damaging our environment to pay the price for reclamation and work to ensure that checks are in place to prevent same.

I am not in favor of gas drilling on state forest land. If a severance tax is imposed on this drilling, I have requested that a portion of these funds be given to the local host communities and an environmental stewardship fund be set aside for clean water safeguards. Additionally, the dollars form the same cannon be assigned to the General Fund where the Governor and the General Assembly could use the money to fund programs that are not environmental in nature."

Senator John C. Rafferty, Jr.
44th District
Alas, the latest version of the new (& long overdue) Pennsylvania budget appears to still include the opening of the state forest lands and no taxation on the natural gas extracted. Booooo!

October 5, 2009

Valley Creek Tenkara

With the Eagles bye week this past weekend, I decided to hit up Valley Creek in Valley Forge National Park last Sunday. I also used this as my maiden voyage into Tenkara...a style of Japanese fly-fishing I previously posted about, which utilizes a rod, a line, and no reel.

It's very simplistic fishing and since you can't cast great distances, requires some stealth to get close to the fish without spooking them. The rod I used is a telescoping 11' model called the Iwana that folds down to about 20". It's very compact and easy to transport from area to area. You also don't use standard fly line, you use a 10' 6" furled line to which I attached about a 4' 6x leader. All of that leads to a very soft presentation on the water surface. It excels with dry flies, but you can fish subsurface as well.

As I mentioned, this was my first time trying Tenkara and to be honest, I didn't catch a lot of fish. I blame myself as I probably spooked more holes than I should of (I don't fish Valley often), which shut down more fish than I would have wanted. The only one that fell to my Tenkara fly was this little guy. I plucked him from the hole pictured below.

In the end, I do think this style is going to make me a better fly angler (not giving up my 3wt yet), just because it requires some extra discipline and thought before you approach a "fishy" area and make your first cast. For those reasons, I think I'm hooked on this method of fishing small creeks and streams.

October 4, 2009

Trout Stockers Needed

Taken from the KYW Newsradio 1060 website:

Attention Anglers: Volunteers Needed to Stock Area Creeks
by KYW's John McDevitt

Saturday, 03 October 2009

Volunteers are needed to help stock trout in two Philadelphia area creeks this coming Wednesday.

Anglers are anxious for the release of nearly 6,000 rainbow and brown trout being trucked in from the state hatcheries in Huntsdale, Pa.

They'll be released into Wissahickon and Penny Pack Creeks. Water Ways conservation officer John Pedrick, with the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, says the creeks have been stocked with fish since 1933:

"Normally the trout season is in spring. What we found out is that the water in the Wissahickon and the Penny Pack is exceptional and has really really sustained winter fishing and would love for it to be native but we do stock the fish."

Pedrick says if you would like to help in the release, volunteers are needed:

"We take them out of the truck in buckets and put the buckets of fish into the creek."

You can go to either to Penny Pack Creek at Pine Road in Northeast Philadelphia or at Forbidden Drive and Northwestern in Chestnut Hill at 12:30pm this Wednesday to help in the release


October 3, 2009

Watch Where You Touch that Ghostshark!

I really can't say anymore than the article does below. If it wasn't National Geographic, I'd question it:

Weird New Ghostshark Found
Male Has Sex Organ on Head

September 22, 2009

California has a new star, the Eastern Pacific black ghostshark.

But the newly identified species prefers to stay out of the sun—and the spotlight. And with a club-like sex organ on its forehead, the male ghostshark isn't likely to get any leading man roles.

Pictured alive underwater (top) and preserved in a museum collection (bottom), the new ghostshark uses winglike fins to "fly" through its dark habitat, thousands of feet deep off the coasts of California and Mexico's Baja California peninsula, a new study says.

The ghostshark seems to have flown under the scientific radar too. Since the 1960s experts have been finding specimens of the strange, 3-foot-long (0.9-meter-long) fish, which ended up nameless in museum collections around the world.

It wasn't until after a team recently searched through shelves of "dead pickled fish" that the Eastern Pacific black ghostshark was recognized as its own new species, said study co-author Douglas Long, chief curator in natural sciences at the Oakland Museum of California. The specimens' unique proportions, precisely measured, gave the fish away as a separate species of ghostshark.

Read the rest of this article at National Geographic.com:

Just in Case You Were Thirsty...

Courtesy of Allstate Sign & Plaque:

October 2, 2009

Albright is at it again...

Albright fly fishing is having their big Oktoberfest sale - advertising up to 80% off. They aren't joking, I checked out the site, and there's a lot of good stuff at rock bottom prices.

This is not an ad, they are not paying me to write this. I'm just a fan of their product. My 5-wt rod is an Albright, and I think it's been a pretty good buy for the money. I do wish I waited, with this sale you can get one for $59.99! I also have one of their Bugati reels, but I'll be honest, I still go with the Lamson Konic before the Bugati. But for $34.99...well, you getting my point now?

Normally, I'd be buying something, but I just picked up a Tenkara outfit two weeks ago, so I'm in a self-imposed spending freeze (for the time being). Seriously, if you're looking to pick up some nice gear at a fair price and you're also not someone that needs it to read "Orvis", might not be a bad idea to check it out.

October 1, 2009

Kype Fishing Magazine: Volume 1 / Issue 4

Issue Four Highlights:

New York's Salmon River
Spey Presentation
Fishing Jigs for Steelhead
How To Catch Trout Consistenly
October Dreaming - Coho