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  • September 30, 2008

    Cermele: Soggy Communications

    By Joe Cermele

    First, know this: I hate cell phones. I HATE them. But like the rest of the drones walking and talking, dining and talking, shopping and talking, it breaks my heart to admit that I am now lost without the stupid thing.

    The only time I refuse to use a cell phone is while fishing--with the exception of getting or giving hot tips on the ocean without broadcasting on VHF. Any other scenario, it is off and tucked away for emergency purposes, but as an angler I'm sure many of you have found out the hard way cell phones are in grave danger when they accompany us to our favorite outdoor recreational activity.


    I have dunked no less than seven of them since the cell phone craze started. First there's denial: "It'll dry out and come back on," you convince yourself. Then there's pleading: "Come on, you're almost there," as you watch the screen flash on, then melt into a digital tie-dyed print of uselessness. Then once the man at customer service says, "sorry, there's nothing we can do to recover all your stored numbers," there is dread, sorrow, and defeat.

    Maybe not anymore. As much as I despise cell phones, Casio has just released the G'zone, and guess's water-resistant! Of course, only up to a meter, but they recommend clipping a float to it while fishing. This is absolutely the phone for me. How about you? And while we're on the subject, any tips on recovering wet phones would be interesting. Tell me how many you've dunked, too.


  • September 29, 2008

    Merwin: And the Reel Winner Is...

    By John Merwin & Joe Cermele

    We’ve been running a reel giveaway contest here for a couple of weeks, asking readers to post why they need a brand-new Abu Garcia 6500C3 baitcaster. The entries have been fun to read—from funny to pathetic to a few that even seemed genuine.

    A tip of the hat to “Douglas,” who wanted to give the reel to his wife for Christmas (yeah, right…), and to “Scott in Ohio” for his very clever adaptation of Dr. Seuss. Read these and the other great entries here.

    The winner, though, is “Hanson,” who wrote:

    “To make it short, like you asked, I'll make a list:
    1. I am 14 yrs old.
    2. I fish for catfish, walleye, and northern pike.
    3. My wallet is very empty.
    4. I've read F&S since I was 9.”

    I was reading F&S at age 9, too, and that was very long time ago. I guess it was the flashback that got me on this one.

    Hanson, drop me an e-mail at with your mailing/shipping address, and we’ll get your new reel on its way to you.

    Meanwhile, and to all of you, thanks again for responding. We’ll start another great giveaway in the near future. Stay tuned!

  • September 26, 2008

    Merwin: Red is a Gimmick

    By John Merwin & Joe Cermele

    The color red has become the hottest thing in fishing tackle over the past few years. From red line to red-splashed lures, it seems as if every angler is somehow buying the trend. But I happen to think the whole red thing is the biggest bunch of BS in all of fishing.

    Cajun Line helped start things a few years ago by marketing a translucent-red monofilament they still claim to be “virtually invisible” underwater. That’s allegedly because colors are filtered out by water as depth increases. The color red is the first to disappear. But even though the color disappears, the line does not; it turns gray.

    If you’ve ever watched one of the many films of a shark feeding frenzy, you’ll have noticed how red blood appears to be black in the blue-green depths. By Cajun’s account of red’s “virtual invisibility,” that red blood should be invisible, but it’s not. While the color itself is gone, its tone or value remains.

    Red splotches on lures and red hooks, meanwhile, are more ways in which we as anglers are being played for suckers. Supposedly, these simulate a blood trail or wounded baitfish. But do you really think a bass looks at red dots on a Rat-L-Trap lure and thinks to itself, “Ah-ha! That must be an injured shad. Better eat that one right now!” I don’t believe it.

    Speaking as a fisherman, I do happen to like the way red looks on certain lures. But to paraphrase Clark Gable’s classic line in Gone With The Wind: Frankly, my dear, the fish don’t give a damn. 

  • September 25, 2008

    Cermele: Well-Done Worms

    By Joe Cermele

    Thought this was kinda funny and interesting:

    A couple in California was eating at a fast-food seafood restaurant and found a worm in their fillet-O-fish combo meal. Naturally, they went ballistic and called the county health department and guess what...because the worm was dead and cooked, it didn't qualify as a health code violation. The department told the couple this was more of a customer service issue. To quote Jessie Pritchett, husband of the worm-eater, "It should be a crime for someone to sell fish with worms in it...That's ridiculous gross." Here's the full story if you want to check it out.

    First of all, I make it a point not to eat at fast-food seafood establishments for the simple reason that while beef is beef and chicken is chicken (even if the quality is questionable...what part of a chicken is the McNugget?), you can batter almost any fish and pass it off as whatever you want. I guarantee restaurants like Long John Silvers are not serving up fresh Icelandic cod.

    Stories like this are all the more reason to catch your own dinner, however, if you have company over and they find a worm in their fish, they can't sue you if it's dead and thoroughly cooked through. This, I think, is useful information.


  • September 24, 2008

    Merwin: "It's the Ladies' Room, Stupid"

    By John Merwin & Joe Cermele

    While camping and fishing on Cape Cod this week, my wife looked at me over her glasses and told me with great definition that it was time for me to grab a shower.

    So I gathered towel and shaving kit, and stumbled off through the dark toward the state park shower building. A door was propped open at the end of the structure, shower stalls evident within. I walked in and stood looking around for a vacant stall.

    Just then, some guy runs in and grabs my arm and mumbles something in my ear. Or maybe he mumbled. I’m pretty deaf and couldn’t tell.

    “Huh? What?” I looked at him and pulled my arm away.

    “It’s the ladies’ room, you idiot!” He started pulling me toward the door.

    So I went back outside and checked for a sign on the outside. Sure enough: “Women.” Ooooops. And I started laughing. I mean what if I’d been taking a shower and started hearing female voices? This still strikes me as very funny.

    How about you. Any similar misadventures?

  • September 23, 2008

    Cermele: Clean My Shorts

    By Joe Cermele

    Over the course of my years spent fishing, I've been splattered with blood from a myriad of species. In the beginning, soaking my clothes in water mixed with detergent seemed to kinda, sorta work. Then I found OxyClean...the miracle cleanser. No matter how dried the blood, no matter the species, a spritz of OxyClean fizzed away at the stains and made them disappear into the ether. That is until I caught the bluefin tuna pictured below this Sunday.

    My friend OxyClean bubbled on the blood spots like it usually does, but much to my surprise after rinsing, the stains remained. They remained after five attempts. Mad at OxyClean, I resorted to desperate measures, first scrubbing away with Shout, then straight-up hydrogen peroxide.

    The blood survived all attacks.

    I know there are lots of little recipes for cleaning fishy messes, some concocted of your own accord and some handed down through the generations. While it's too late to save my shorts from the designated pile of "fishing only" clothes, you can help me and others in the future. I'm curious to hear what you use to get blood out of clothes or scales, guts, and grime off your hands. Maybe it's a bottled cleaner you swear by, or maybe it's Smucker's grape jelly mixed with transmission fluid. Let's hear it.


  • September 22, 2008

    Merwin: Farewell to Felt

    By John Merwin & Joe Cermele

    Simms, the market-leading maker of high-end waders and related gear, has announced they will stop offering felt-soled waders and wading boots in 2010. Felt soles have been implicated in transporting and spreading various microscopic invasive species and fish-disease agents. The footwear has already been banned in New Zealand, and a ban in Iceland may be happening very soon. Trout Unlimited has called for all wader-makers to stop using felt entirely.

    Simms has worked with Vibram in developing a new sticky-rubber sole for 2009 with a special tread said to work well on slimy rocks. Metal studs are also an option. I talked with both Simms and Vibram at a recent flyfishing trade show in Denver and checked out the new footwear, which looks good but there are as yet no samples available for testing. Stay tuned.

    L.L. Bean, meanwhile, which already has a sticky-rubber “AquaStealth” wading-boot sole, has developed a new wading boot with smooth exterior surfaces designed to be more easily cleaned, thereby trapping and transporting less river gunk.

    Those companies represent only the high end of the wader market, which extends far beyond just flyfishing. I think that as long as there’s a demand for felt-soled waders, that at least some market- driven companies will continue to offer them. How about you—ready to give up your felts?

  • September 19, 2008

    Merwin: A Trout Violation?

    By John Merwin & Joe Cermele

    While fishing in northern Colorado last week, I took trout by flyfishing, ultralight spinning, and even with baitcasting gear—the very same rod and reel I use in bass fishing. During the 1930s and ‘40s, before spinning gear became widely available, guys chucking hardware with baitcast reels were a common sight on major trout rivers.

    So I tried it just for the heck of things, and it worked great. This 4-inch Rebel minnow plug was hammered  time after time by chunky rainbows that apparently thought it looked a lot more appealing than the tiny olive mayflies they were feeding on.


    Then I switched rods and started throwing a soft-plastic crappie jig on a 1/8-ounce leadhead with 4-pound monofilament. This brightly colored brown trout couldn’t resist it.


    Okay, then I went back to flyfishing as the more “accepted” method of fishing in this case. That was fun, too. But was I wrong to use my baitcaster in the first place?

    By the way, my Reel Giveaway Contest is still ongoing. Don't forget to drop an entry.

  • September 17, 2008

    Cermele: Just Admit It, You're a Trespasser

    By Joe Cermele

    Not long ago, my uncle invited me to do a bit of largemouth fishing on a golf course that shall remain nameless. I've joined him there before, and he legitimately has permission to fish all the ponds. It probably wouldn't surprise many of you if I said it is some of the best bass fishing I have ever experienced.


    Fishing this course is one of those fantastic, and often rare, opportunities to wet a line in your own bass Eden with almost no pressure. My uncle will actually skip certain ponds every other season to keep the pressure off even more. We all know of places like this, but of course, most of them are off limits.

    I'll admit I've hopped a few fences back in my dumber days, fished under the cover of darkness, and showed little regard for "No Fishing" signs at frilly neighborhood ponds with fountains for the sake of laying a Jitterbug in front of a fatty bass that has never seen such a thing. So let's hear your tales of stealth, guile, and sneakiness in the name of largemouth...or any other fish. You know you salivate over the pond at the office park or behind the Home Depot that "the man" just doesn't want you to fish. There's got to be some juicy stories out there.


  • September 17, 2008

    Merwin: What's On Your Dome?

    By John Merwin & Joe Cermele

    Headwear among anglers seems not only to be a matter of very personal choice, but also incredibly varied. I see assorted ball caps, usually “gimme” versions displaying assorted advertising, and I see bucket styles, Irish tweeds, occasional Filson Packers, and more. I also think the worst possible fishing hat is a flossy new Stetson or other cowboy-style hat. A well-worn, beat-up western style hat brings a lot of class to the fishing game, but not a new one. No way.

    I am thus reminded of a short joke, too often painfully true:

    Why are cowboy hats like hemorrhoids? Because sooner or later, every a**hole gets one.

    So what’s on your head?

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