June 30, 2010

Home From Chicago

...and had a great time. After getting some work out of the way on Tuesday, we were off to a Cubs game last night, which was my first at Wrigley Field. The weather was an absolutely beautiful sunny 70 degrees, which was extremely welcome following weeks and weeks of 90+ degree heat & humidity between Philadelphia & Florida.


After a few beers & wings at Yak-Zies prior, we headed over to the game and were treated to some really good seats. Excellent actually. Second row behind the Cubs dugout.


I'm neither a fan of the Cubs or Pirates, so it was fun to not have a rooting interest and just enjoy the atmosphere. Being an old park, it was really neat to soak in Wrigley. I haven't been to many older ballparks (that were actually built pre-WWII), so Wrigley was a treat, even better than old Yankee Stadium.


In the end, everything worked out perfect. For two bad teams there was a fair amount of action, Alfonso Soriano hit 2 home runs, Mike & Mike from ESPN sang "Take Me Out To The Ball Game" during the 7th inning stretch, and the Cubs won, with (Ted) Lilly picking up the win.


After the game we hit the GingerMan for a nightcap, where tried my first Old Style for which I will reserve comment on out of respect, and then headed back to the hotel.

This morning was a flight home to Philly on United and well I guess it's back to work (& reality) tomorrow, at least until the long 4th of July weekend!

Last Call - Troutrageous / Hobie Polarized Sunglasses Giveaway!

Okay all...LAST CALL!!!

Today is your last chance to belly up to the bar and enter the Hobie Polarized Sunglasses Giveaway.  Why not take advantage of a chance to win a FREE pair of sunglasses?  I'll be drawing the winner on July 1st (tomorrow) via random.org.

Visit the giveaway post HERE for details on how to enter.  It's easy...and free, just how you like 'em.
(Please don't enter on this post).


June 29, 2010

Headed To Chicago

If you're reading this today, I'm likely either on a plane headed to the midwest or sitting in a conference room reviewing sporting goods.  I'll be in the Windy City on Tuesday (today) & Wednesday for work, and looking forward to seeing my first ball game at Wrigley Field tonight. I think the Cubs are playing the Pirates, and with both teams well under .500 it should make for some mediocre baseball.  But who cares, it's still Wrigley.

In honor of mediocre baseball, and of course fishing, I present to you the career statistics of one Steve "Rainbow" Trout.
Sweet Sunglasses...Better Hair!

12 Seasons in the Major Leagues
White Sox, Cubs, Yankees, & Mariners
88 Wins - 92 Losses - 4 Saves
4.18 ERA
32 Complete Games / 9 Shutouts
1501.1 Innings Pitched


June 27, 2010

Balancing Foliage & Fishing

Yesterday was not going to be a big fishing day.  I had an afternoon's worth of yard work calling to me.  I started hearing the quiet whispers when we got home from vacation, but they seemingly amplified each day since.  Every time I opened my front door, the same chorus greeted me.  "Mike - Trim us back you lazy S.O.B.," Yours Truly, The Bushes in Front of Your House.

Knowing I had a date with the garden, I took a small window in the AM to sneak out and do some tenkara fishing.  Hadn't broken out the tenkara rod in a few weeks.  In throwing my fishing gear into my car, I made sure to reassure the impatient foliage that I would in fact be back this afternoon.  They seemed okay with it.

When I arrived at the stream, the conditions couldn't have been better for being outdoors.  The skies were blue, the sun was shining, and the water was running clear - extremely clear.


To be honest, despite the great weather the morning's fishing was pretty quiet and uneventful. Nothing "epic," other than the deer that came bounding through the woods like a rocket. She buzzed by my fishing location, scaring the cr@p out of me.

I only brought a few natives to hand, with this guy {pictured} being by far the most fun.  When he hit the Copper John I was fishing, my tenkara rod bent violently compensating for his initial run.

He Lives Here
With the sun getting higher in the sky, and the temperatures approaching 90, I packed it in for the day and headed back to the car.  I had a date with some temperamental shrubbery, and I didn't want to be late.


June 26, 2010

Gear Review - Upriver & Downstream

I don't read much. That's actually a lie, I guess I read quite a bit if you count blogs, magazines, and the morning newspaper. What I really mean is that I don't read books very often. The only books I read on a regular basis are about princesses, fairies, or farm animals...to my daughter each night before she goes to bed.

It's not that I don't enjoy reading, it's just that I suppose I'm a by-product of the MTV generation.  A victim of a short attention span, I prefer to consume printed words in short, quick, bite-sized morsels. So when I received a somewhat thick hardback book for my birthday called Upriver & Downstream, I politely smiled and thanked my wife for the thoughtful gift, but at the same time seriously wondered if I'd have the time (or patience) to read it.


Admittedly, I'm only about halfway through, but if you enjoy any kind of fishing and are attention-span challenged when it comes to reading like myself, this book is for you. Plus it will look cool on your otherwise barren bookshelf.  

Upriver & Downstream isn't really a single story. It's actually a collection of fishing stories that were originally written as outdoors columns in the New York Times. Because of this, no "chapter" is more than 3 or 4 pages long. It's the perfect book to read for a brisk 10 minutes, and not feel guilty about putting down when something more pressing pops up. Subsequently, you can then crack it open a week later and immediately pick up where you left off without needing to wrack your brain trying to remember the minutiae of what you've already read.  It's the polar opposite of an episode of LOST.

Although the overriding theme is fly-fishing, there's a little bit for everyone in the book. It's divided into 5 sections - Coldwaters, Warmwaters, Salt Waters, Odd Waters, & Far Waters. Each has a unified theme - i.e. Coldwaters is predominantly about trout & salmon fishing; Warmwaters, bass & panfish - but each chapter within is a standalone tale written by a different author with their own unique styles.

So to conclude this review, I guess it's pretty clear I like this book. Its unusual layout & "small bites" makes me think pretty much everyone that enjoys reading fishing blogs would find something to like about it too.

DISCLAIMER:
The copy of Upriver & Downstream featured in this product review was not purchased by me.  It was given to me as a birthday gift by my wonderful wife who purchased it somewhere.  I really don't know where she bought it - probably Target or maybe Costco - I think she buys everything at those two stores...or at the Gap, but last time I checked the Gap didn't sell books with their denim & khakis.  Despite that fact, my most recent Target credit  card bill did not influence my review of this book.

June 25, 2010

Time For A Change

No, this isn't a fishing post.  It's a post about my ever expanding gut.  If you're not interested in reading further, I understand.  Click HERE to read a really great fishing website instead.

I'm 33 years old, actually my birthday was earlier this month.  I came to the opinion tonight that I'm tired of being overweight.  Now let me set the table (no pun intended), I'm not gigantically obese.  There will be no Discovery Channel documentaries on me anytime soon.   It's also not a vanity thing.  I'm 6-feet tall and weigh about 210 pounds, and despite my flexing & posing in the bathroom mirror, it's not all muscle.  I should probably weigh around 175-180.  At least that's what I did in my slimmer days, and it wasn't like I had a six-pack then.

I've recently noticed I now get winded when I hike up and down hilly trails while fishing.  I don't have the endurance to play a full court game of basketball (my other passion) anymore.  I declared for this week's NBA Draft, but for some reason haven't been picked yet.  My doctor gave me blood-pressure medication for hypertension earlier this year.  Did I mention I'm 33?  I have a 4-year old daughter I want to see grow up.  I want to teach my grandkid(s) how to fish.

I don't think it's a matter of willpower, I can do anything if I put my mind to it.  Heck, BP should hire me - I'll grab a roll of duct tape & a scuba mask and get 'er dun.  It's been more an issue of convenience.  Ever since my wife came down with cancer almost 3 years ago, we've become a bit of a fast food family.  I am not blaming her one bit, that would be ridiculous and totally out of line.  

The point is that I've developed a lot of bad eating habits. It's simply easier to visit McDonald's on a Friday night - especially when your kid insists on only eating chicken nuggets - then make a healthy meal.  I also don't like the fact that Lilly can't read, yet knows (& announces with great excitement) when we drive by Wendy's or Burger King.  I'm Italian; so I like my carbs.  Mangia!  Compound that with a desk job, & (admittedly) too much time on the computer at night, and well...

Thankfully, despite this post, this is not going to become a weight loss blog.  Fishing, Lilly, and other silly pursuits will resume as the topics du jour here again tomorrow.  There's probably more weight loss blogs floating around in cyberspace than there are fly fishing blogs...so who wants to read another one of those?  (I actually just Googled both terms...78 million weight loss vs. 3.6 million fly fishing!!!)  

Don't fear, I will not be posting "before and after" pictures.  I realize the fact that nobody enjoys looking at an overweight (or any weight) furry body these days.  Seriously, I should have been born about 20 years earlier -  I'd be a chubbier version of Burt Reynolds or Tom Selleck.

I also don't need any suggestions for miracle workouts - P90X is not for me.  Exotic diets probably aren't my thing either - although that Hollywood Cookie Diet is extremely tempting.  I know eating better and exercise is the cure.  I'm old school that way.

I just figured if I typed it out, I'd have some additional motivation to get at it.  If you made it this far, thanks for being a patient audience.  So it's now in writing - I'm legally bound or something, right?  Plus I've got a bunch of readers expecting it.

June 24, 2010

Reminder: One Week Left in the Hobie Giveaway!

C'mon people, who doesn't want a FREE pair of shades?

Just throwing out a "one week warning," the Troutrageous/Hobie Polarized Sunglasses Giveaway ends next Wednesday, June 30th.  I will be selecting the winner at random on July 1st.  Visit the giveaway post HERE for details on how to enter.  (Please don't enter on this post).

As of right now there are 18 people entered a total of 53 times, so your odds are still pretty good...at least better than winning Powerball.  Remember to read the rules carefully to find out how to multiply your entries and increase your chances to become 100% cooler than you already are.

Good luck to everyone!

June 23, 2010

No Browns, Rainbows, or Brookies in Florida...

...so bluegill had to do.  Found this photo digging through vacation pics.

Used my 3-weight and tossed out some topwater poppers, foam hoppers, and small jigs to haul in some gills to get my fishing fix last week.  K.C. got in the action too with a spincast and bit o' bagel.

This guy was pretty typical of the haul.  We caught (& released) a bunch.  They were really eager "eaters."  Had a largemouth bass engulf a bluegill I had on the line and put up a good fight for about 5 minutes.  Unfortunately, he spit out the gill before I could get him out of the weeds.

Gills are fun, but hope to get back to my coldwater pursuits this weekend.

June 22, 2010

Home Again / Day at the Dry Tortugas

I'm finally home from Florida.  Vacation was about 10 days, but feels like I've been away forever.  As fun as it was in South Florida, it's comforting to be home.  It's good to see my dog Caesar, sort through the mountain of mail, catch up on all of the missed blog posts from my friends, and mentally prepare myself to go back to work once again tomorrow.  However - before I do, here's one last post I actually started in Florida, but never got around to posting...

Last Thursday (the 17th), K.C. & I took the Sunny Days Fast Cat (great crew, highly recommend) from Key West to the Dry Tortugas National Park.  The Dry Tortugas are a series of islands about 70 miles from Key West.  They are also home to Fort Jefferson, a fort established by the US in the mid 1800s, and which served as a prison following the Civil War.  The Lincoln assination conspirators were actually the most famous "residents."

The Dry Tortugas are pretty remote in the scheme of things...while there's a National Park office located there, there's really no running water, rest rooms, cell phone service, etc...a lot of the stuff we all take for granted.  It's simply an old abandoned military fort and some small beaches with great snorkeling.  You can camp on the beaches overnight (and many people were), it just wasn't for me - although I'd imagine would be an incredible experience being all alone in the middle of nowhere under the stars at night.

Since we were there to go snorkeling, we took the quick tour of Fort Jefferson, then donned the fins and hopped in the water.  The guides told us the best snorkeling was along the base of the wall, but there was also some good snorkeling near some old pylons.  Evidently, it was nurse shark mating season near the pylons, something we skipped because K.C. didn't want to bother them.

Here's some pics of the islands, Fort Jefferson, and some snorkeling video.  By the way, all of the pics and video was shot with my Kodak Playsport Waterproof video camera...this little gadget performed like a champ - would recommend to anyone looking into an HD capable pocket-sized videocamera.





June 16, 2010

Key West Day 2 & 3 in Pictures

Yesterday (Tuesday) was our first full day in Key West.  It was a full day in every sense of the word, complete with sun, sand, food, drink, music, and...well, you'll see what we K.C. talked me into doing that night.

Today on the other hand, was much more relaxing, as we're prepping for our outing to the Dry Tortugas tomorrow.

Reach Resort, Key West
Blue Skies, 100 Degrees
Snorkeling - Here fishy, fishy


Cuban Lunch at Ana's
Sloppy Joe's Dinner
Sunset Fesitval - Will Soto on tightrope
K.C tipping "Lady" Gaga at Aqua
Liquid Lunch at Hog's Breath


June 14, 2010

Down in the Florida Keys

Blogging has been a bit slow - no new posts from me lately, plus, haven't really been able to keep up on all of my BlogBuddies' posts.  Why?  I'm down in Florida with K.C. & Lilly enjoying some fun & sun.

At the moment, I'm writing this in my hotel room in Key West thanks to the magic of free hotel Wi-fi..  Lilly is back up in Boca Raton at "Camp Mom-Mom &  G-Daddy," and K.C....well...is in bed, passed out from a few too many strawberry margaritas at Salsa Loca tonight.

I'm certain I'll have tons of pictures and some better reports later in the week.  That said, here's a few posts of K.C. & I at a lunch stop at Keys Fisheries in Marathon on the drive down to Key West.



June 10, 2010

FlyLife Magazine Casting Library

Even if you think you know how to cast your line with a fly rod, this casting library called "Casts that Catch Fish" from FlyLife Magazine (Australia & New Zealand) and Carl McNeil is extremely cool to look & play around with.  Borderline addicting even...

CLICK LINK BELOW:
http://www.flylife.com.au/library/casting/default.html
Photo Credit: Brad Harris

Make sure to roll your mouse over the numbers beneath each picture; if you pause on a particular number there will be a small pop up with commentary.


June 9, 2010

Gasland on HBO June 21st

Like fishing for trout in PA?  Value clean drinking water?  Watch the documentary "Gasland" on HBO on June 21st at 9PM.  Gasland tells the story of the natural-gas drilling operations taking place across the United States (& the world) right now and the potential perils that accompany them.


With the Marcellus Shale region which incorporates large swatches of Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and New York, now being dubbed the "Saudi Arabia of Natural Gas," this is more than topical.  Think I'm joking...there was a recent mishap just last week in Clearfield County, PA (article here).

Concidentally, what do you think American Rivers named the most endangered river of 2010?  Try the Upper Delaware River in NY & PA.  Why?  Natural gas drilling.


Why point all of this out now?  Well, all of the national news agencies have begun to do a lot of reporting this week from the Gulf of Mexico now that BP's never-ending oil slick has hit the mainland.  Horrific pictures that highlight the terrible toll on the coastlines and all of the wildlife that inhabit them are now on every evening news and cable news channel.

I'm certain you'll also start to see & hear many cries to shut down off-shore drilling and to find cleaner, alternative energy solutions.  Just today, I read T. Boone Pickens & the Pickens Plan cite natural gas drilling as one of these better, cleaner alternatives.  After reading & viewing the above, I'm not so sure that's the case...

June 6, 2010

Met Up With "Flyguy"

Have been trying to meet up with "Flyguy" from the PAanglers.com forum for a while now.  We had originally tried to fish together last fall, and for whatever the reason (primarily lack of cell phone reception), it just didn't work out.  Was able to finally meet up with Flyguy today, for an enjoyable morning of fishing.

The Valley brownies decided to populate shallow riffles & runs today.  We probably caught all of our fish (both of us fishing nymphs) in quicker moving, ankle to calf-high water.  Although you could see the trout holding in the deeper pools as well, they just didn't seem to want to be very active.
Flyguy Gettin' His Nymph On...

Unfortunately, I really wasn't quick on the draw with the camera today.  We fished about 25 yards apart (to give each other ample space) most of the time, so I never really got any pictures of his trout - which he probably caught about 9 or 10.

To compound that error, I didn't get any pics of my own trout either, since 3 of my 4 decided to "self release" at my feet as I was trying to coax them into my net.  At least Flyguy did witness a tenkara fight on a nice sized brown.  He said it had to be about 25 inches (with a wink), but it was more likely 10 at the most.

I did take a couple other pictures of some of the water we fished and some scenery in general.
Today's Arsenal
Water Was Pretty Clear, A Bit Off-Colored
Pulled One Out Of Here
Below Covered Bridge
A Little Bit Further Downstream

In all, it was good couple of hours fishing.  I hope to fish with Flyguy again soon - now that introductions are done, would love to pick his brain some more.  I think I can learn a lot from him.


June 5, 2010

It's Been Just About 3 Years...

Thanks to a fishing forum I belong to, I was recently involved in a discussion regarding fishing blogs. Some members recently started blogs of their own and wanted some feedback on their creations, as well as blogging in general.

It made me realize that I've been doing this (blogging) for almost 3 years. While that's not that long in real time, it seems like an eternity in today's ever changing digital age.

When I started, my daughter Lilly was one and a half, just months removed from conquering walking and had an extremely basic vocabulary.  My wife K.C. was teaching herself how to sew and had an idea for a diaper bag that she was tinkering around with. Today Lilly is a (very) active & opinionated 4 year old, and K.C...well, she happens to run her own business, teach sewing classes, and most importantly met breast cancer head on and kicked its butt.  Like I said, a lot changes in 3 years.

It also prodded me to look at some of my original posts from June 2007 and wince in pain, just a little bit...
The Original Header for this Blog

When I started, I think the goal of my blog - if there truly was one - was to document my fishing outings and provide a spot where I could give out-of-town family members regular Lilly updates en masse.  Looking back, it appears I've held true to that goal, however also went off on several divergent paths at the same time.

In 2007 I wrote a total of 7 posts.  In 2008 it grew to 38.  In 2009 that number swelled to 160.  So far this year I'm at just about the same pace with 80 to date.  I know, there's probably something to be said about quality vs. quantity, but I thought the numbers were interesting to share none the less.  Hopefully there is some quality mixed in there.

I also remember how excited I was when I got my first Google "Followers."  Somebody actually wants to read what I'm writing?!?  Without that early support from JB, Len, & John, I probably would have lost interest in blogging and just moved on to something else.  I'd also be remiss if I didn't mention Mel, who came on a little bit later, and through his writings introduced me to many, many "Blog Budddies" (as he likes to call them) and expanded my community of online friends exponentially.  For that, I need thank all of you guys immensely.  

What does all this mean?  In the grand scheme, I don't know - probably very little.  I didn't expect to have any important revelations.  I just found it interesting to take a time out and look back for a little bit.  For anyone that's been blogging for more than a year or so, it might be an interesting journey back in time for yourself as well.

June 3, 2010

Panfisharific!

Lilly wanted to go fishing tonight and catch "100 fish," so K.C. & I took her to kid-friendly Sanatoga Park again.

We all caught fish...a mix of sunfish & bluegill.  Lilly caught probably the largest fish of all of them, this guy below.
Put a bend in the Barbie rod

She didn't catch her 100 fish (maybe more like 3) as her attention quickly wandered from casting & reeling to playing in the dirt and throwing rocks.

K.C. also gave her new rod & reel it's maiden voyage.


She did really good - probably caught 5 or 6 after she figured out what they were biting on.  If I'm "Troutrageous," she's definitely "Panfisharific!"