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  • August 29, 2008

    Old Bull, Young Bull

    By John Merwin & Joe Cermele

    Here’s one of my favorite stories, for the most part true. Maybe young Joe Cermele will take this one to heart!

    I happened to be fishing with Jason Brunner last fall on Arizona’s Lake Powell. Jason is a very talented—and somewhat young—rod designer for St. Croix Rods.

    Before we set out in the morning I am drinking coffee, squinting at the rising sun, and feeling just the touch of an ache in my arthritic knees. “So, Jason,” I say, as he appears, ready to go in full fishing garb. “You need to know something. I am The Old Guy, and you are The Young Guy. Do you understand about this?”

    Brunner doesn’t miss a beat. “Yeah, I do,” he says. “It’s like the Old Bull and the Young Bull.” I’m immediately laughing and ask him to explain.

    “Well,” he says, “the Young Bull and the Old Bull are standing on a hillside overlooking a pasture full of cows. The Young Bull is prancing around, all excited, and says to the Old Bull, ‘Let’s run down there and [bleep] some of those cows!’

    “The Old Bull just shakes his head. ‘Nah,’ he says. ‘Let’s walk down there and [bleep] all of them.’"

    I choked on my coffee, for once managing not to slop my shirt. Then I got a second cup with which to toast his wisdom, unusual for a young angler. We killed some more time warming ourselves like rock-bound cormorants in the growing sunlight. Finally I felt like fishing, so we hopped on a bass boat and ran off to catch small stripers with fast-sinking fly lines and chartreuse Clouser minnows.

  • August 28, 2008

    Cermele: Bet You Can't Name These Ten Fish

    By Joe Cermele

    I'll be away next week playing catch-up on the killer bluefin bite happening in my home waters, so I may or may not post...we'll see how tired I am from reeling. So in the meantime, here's a challenge for you:

    Identify all 10 species of fish shown in the photos below. The only things I'll tell you is that they are all gamefish and there are both salt- and freshwater denizens in the mix. But that's not to say a few of these weren't strategically cropped to make things a little more tricky.

    If I were a bettin' man, which I am on the occasion, I say three people max get the list 100% correct on their first post...if that many. Let's see what you got.

    I'll announce a winner of this and the Stench Contest on Tuesday, September 9th. Here's to hoping you're all fishing over the long weekend.






















  • August 27, 2008

    Cold Remedies?

    By John Merwin & Joe Cermele

    So I had F&S Senior Editor Colin Kearns in the boat yesterday during a massive cold front that locked down the bass bite tighter than a bank vault. A stiff north wind with falling temperatures under clear blue skies made conditions really difficult. Despite this, he did manage a couple of adolescent largemouths on  deeply fished soft plastics, which was two more than I caught.


    Note in the photo that even this young editor has already learned to hold a small bass at arm’s length so the wide-angle lens I was using would make the fish look much bigger!

    Kidding aside, I was happy to see even small fish under those conditions. Can anyone out there tell me why bass fishing so often shuts down during a cold front? I’ve asked many people over many 
    years and still haven’t heard what I think is a good explanation.

  • August 26, 2008

    Cermele: Stench Contest

    By Joe Cermele

    As I've finally got something to talk about, now is as good a time as any for me to jump in on Mr. Merwin's blog. I used to blog under the moniker "Little Tuna" many moons ago while working at Salt Water Sportsman magazine. It's good to be back.

    Now I'm with F&S, and have been given Merwin's permission to type at you on the occasion. I guess you could say he's the owner of the prestigious lodge and I am the annoying guy no one wants to join, but who is constantly banging at the back door. Oh, and Merwin says I'm only aloud to refer to him as a "geezer" once a month. Guess I just burned that for August, but it'll be September soon.


    So I just returned from traversing Alaska with a good friend and five fly rods between us. We made an RV our home for seven days, and it got me thinking about fish perfume. On this particular trip, the fragrance by day four was an equal mix of Oscar Meyer boloney, wet socks, pots of dried Ramen Noodles, wader must, stale Alaskan Amber, and salmon slime. With the doors open, no problem. Shut the RV and the stench could gag a maggot.

    It was a new combo for me, as this was my first trip to Alaska and first salmon experience. The normal fish perfume on my clothes by day's end is a concoction of New Jersey striped bass or bluefish slime, chum, cigarette smoke, boat soap, and the orange barbecue powder from a bag of Lays.

    Let's hear your regular fish perfume recipe. I'll send the most rank entry a few spools of Spider Wire Braid. But be honest...I want the odors from your actual fishing outings, whether it be on your person, in your truck, ice shanty, etc.

    Joe Cermele...JC from here on.

  • August 25, 2008

    The Heat is On

    By John Merwin & Joe Cermele

    One of the editors from our New York office has come up to spend a couple of days fishing and article planning. As usual, the fishing comes first.

    So today I have to put up or shut up. We’ll be hauling my boat in about an hour off to a nearby lake where I plan to put him on some local largemouths. That won’t be easy in these August doldrums.

    So can Senior Editor Colin Kearns hack it with a baitcasting  rod? Can he put just the right twitch on a 5-inch, Green Weenie Zipper worm? Or even more important, can this old-timer get the young guy 
    into a good one no matter what?

    Stay tuned, folks. I’ll be reporting in the next installment. This is more drama than we usually get around here, and right now it’s making me a little nervous.

  • August 22, 2008

    Barbie Strikes Again!

    By John Merwin & Joe Cermele

    Longtime readers of our print edition may recall that I’m an occasional fan of Barbie rods. These shocking pink, incredibly cheap spincast outfits for kiddies can actually be fun to fish with.

    According to an article published a couple of days ago in the Raleigh (North Carolina) News & Observer, no one knows this better than David Hayes, who managed to catch a state-record, 21-pound, 1-ounce channel catfish with his granddaughter’s Barbie rod. Hayes had taken 3-year-old Alyssa fishing at his private pond. The young girl caught some bluegills, than handed the rod to her grandfather while she went back to the house to use the bathroom.

    That’s when the monster struck. A half hour later, Hayes netted the big cat, which a state biologist eventually certified as a new North Carolina record.

    This might have been dumb luck. Then again, maybe there really is something to this Barbie rod business.

  • August 20, 2008

    Catch & Release: Like Eating Your Tennis Partner?

    By John Merwin & Joe Cermele

    Marabou Ranch is a luxury real-estate development near Steamboat Springs in northern Colorado. Homesite prices start at $2.8 million. Part of the appeal is flyfishing on the ranch’s 2.5 manicured miles of the Elk River. The stream-restoration work and the actual fishing are managed by my old fishing pal Pat Stefanek. Nice work if you can get it.

    So far, so good. It turns out that Ray Sasser from the Dallas Morning News was up there fishing as a guest, about which he wrote in last Saturday’s paper.

    Sasser described catching some big, dumb trout and also included the following anecdote: “When retired NFL quarterback Bubby Brister asked Marabou sales manager John Hillenbrand if they ever kept trout to eat, Hillenbrand's response was classic of the catch-and-release mentality.

    "Oh, heavens no," Hillenbrand said. "Eating one of these trout would be like eating your tennis partner."

    I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry when I read that. What on earth have we become?

  • August 18, 2008

    On Poisonous Plastics

    By John Merwin & Joe Cermele

    In our March 2008 issue, I wrote a
    column about the environmental hazards of soft-plastic baits. Because
    most such baits aren’t biodegradable, some fish, for example, may find
    and eat discarded soft-plastic worms and suffer stomach blockage as a
    result. There are chemical issues, too, especially with compounds
    called phthalates, which are what make soft-plastic baits flexible and
    soft in the first place. Some phthalates are thought to cause
    developmental problems in small children.

    Just last week, President Bush signed a new Consumer Product
    Safety Bill, which newly restricts the use of some phthalates in
    flexible plastic items designed for children under age 12. Inevitably,
    soft-plastic baits are going to become items of increasing concern.

    So I’m left wondering: Is this just typical major government
    meddling over a very minor issue? Or should I quit using plastic worms
    entirely and go back to using nothing but real worms?

  • August 15, 2008

    A Short Course on Ultralight Gear for Trout

    By John Merwin & Joe Cermele

    A reader of this blog asked for coverage of ultralight (UL) spinning for trout. That’s a huge topic, but here’s a thumbnail version.

    LINE: One- to 6-pound-test monofilament. Smaller diameters cast farther with any given lure. One-, 2-, or 4-pound-test FireLine (superline) also casts extremely well.

    ROD: From 4.5 on up to 6 feet or more. Cheap UL fiberglass rods tend to be mushy feeling. Graphite will both cast and fight fish better. Above all, the rod should feel light in the hand. A rod that feels clunky isn’t as much fun.

    REEL: Should weigh less than 8 ounces. Many options, ranging from the 6.4-ounce Shimano Stella STL1000FD at $500 (wow!) to the $18 Bass Pro Shops TinyLite at 5.4 ounces. Larger-diameter spools cast farther than narrow ones.

    LURES: My own favorites for trout: Black/silver Original Floating Rapala (sizes F5 and F7); Mepps Aglia, Panther Martin, and Roostertail spinners; Phoebe, Little Cleo, and Kastmaster spoons; plus assorted marabou or soft-plastic crappie-style jigs. Most UL lures range from 1/32-ounce to 1/8-ounce, but go bigger when fishing bigger rivers.

    TACTIC: Allowing a lure to swing across the current is typical, but try fishing upstream. Cast beyond a likely trout lie, then bring your lure back downstream next to it and just a little faster than the current.

    So there’s a start. Anybody else want to add some good advice?

  • August 13, 2008

    What's Wrong With Expensive?

    By John Merwin & Joe Cermele

    Cheap. Cheap. Cheap. The editorial zeal shown by most media—including this one—for the best deals on gear or the least expensive, so-called great trips is beginning to sound like the noontime chorus at a chicken ranch. Maybe we’re overdoing it. I mean, what’s wrong with expensive?

    Years ago, I paid my dues many times over sleeping in car seats or under polyethylene sheeting next to trout streams or striper beaches, which I fished with cheap tackle while having an absolutely wonderful time. In later years, I was able to fish from higher-end lodges, either by hook (my own money) or by crook (the kinds of freebies writers sometimes get). I have to say that a hot shower after fishing, followed by a Cuban cigar (where legal) and martini enjoyed while somebody else does the cooking is not a bad thing.

    Obviously, not all can afford the high end. Neither can I, at least not often. My wife and I still camp out on many of our fishing trips, partly because we just enjoy the camping and partly to save money. And once in a great while we splurge on a higher-end trip. Expensive is not so much bad, I think, as it is an aspiration. If it weren’t for expensive, what would we aspire to?

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