Friday, April 30, 2010


Video of the Week:

I don't know what to make of this demonic Singing Trout.

Things I Would Buy If Only I Could Afford Them

This is a really cool #2 Mann fly rod spinner.

An Ed. K. Tryon Kingfisherminnow in the box? A world-class find.

Wow. A super, super rare original 1890 Abbey & Imbrie catalog.

Huh? A bottle of O.C. Tuttle Devil Bug purple dye?

This is a nifty South Bend Zane Grey teaser.

A Helin Tackle Co. gaff in the box is a rare find.

This is a very cool bottle of Barracuda brand spar varnish.

This Walden Brass Airplane Jig is a very attractive bait.

The Seamaster is a superb spinning reel.

A Fin-Nor Tycoon #3 Gar Wood in the box is an equally impressive spinning reel.

Holy Schnikeys! This Pflueger 4 Bros metalized minnow is a super bait.

I'm always somewhat in awe of these Heddon Magnum Torpedos and their rabid, rabid fans.

A Vince Cummings glass rod is a superb casting instrument.

I've always felt Gene Edwards fly rods are very underrated.

Instant Collection Alert: Talbots.

This is just a beautiful Heddon Coast Minnow.

This is a pristine South Bend Bass-Oreno in Dace.

A Creek Chub Wiggler in the intro box is a great find.

These Paw Paw Indian Sign fly rod lures in boxes have become blazing hot of late.

The Bentley of fly rod lures: the Charles Kellman minnow.

As always, have a great weekend, and be good to each other and yourself.

-- Dr. Todd

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Thursday Review: Christopher Camuto's A Fly Fisherman's Blue Ridge

Thursday Review: Christopher Camuto's A Fly Fisherman's Blue Ridge

Sometimes you read a book and never think about it again. It's not that you didn't enjoy it, or that it had no value, but for whatever reason it did not speak to you. I have shelves of books I have read and about the only thing I can recall about them is yes, I remember reading this book. Very little or nothing stuck with me. By the way, many of these unremarkable books, for lack of a better name, were academic history works. Sadly, it's one of the burdens of the trade.

Then there are those books that stay with you in tangible ways. Such was the impact of Chris Camuto's elegant A Fly Fisherman's Blue Ridge (University of Georgia Press, 1990--Reprint edition 2001), a wonderful love letter to those out-of-the-way backwoods creeks and streams that seem to never be far away. The book celebrates its twentieth anniversary this year.

I distinctly recall the exact moment I purchased this book in 1994 (it was a lucky day, as I bought it at the same time as Clive Gammons' wonderful I Know A Good Place--I should always be so lucky). Gammons transported me to places I'd never been, such as the Falkland Islands, and made them seem like home. Camuto, on the other hand, seemed to be writing about my own back yard. Both of these writers share the trait of being fine travel writers as well as angling scribes. As someone who wrote a 1326 page dissertation on the Victorian travel writer, I can say without hesitation I can differentiate good travel writing from bad, and Gammons and Camuto both are accomplished in the art of crafting a travel narrative.

Camuto's book sang to me as a budding young graduate student (as was Camuto when he wrote it). For those unfamiliar with it, it is part environmental study, part crackling good fishing yarn, and part literary excursion. It was in every sense of the term "pleasurable instruction," as it has something to say and to teach on nearly every page.

Part of why I loved this book--and recently fell in love again with the paperback reprint from the classy University of Georgia press--is because of the chapter titles. I know, it is a weird reason to love any book, but I've always spent an inordinate amount of time crafting titles to articles, chapters, and books, and recognize a great title when I see one. For Camuto, we are given "The Trout in the Mountains" and "Autumn Brown on the Rose." Who wouldn't want to dive into such literary waters?

Of course there is much else to love about the book. The vignettes of history, for example, interspersed as they are between wild trout rarely weigh down the discourse, as they are very capable of doing. But like an expensive restaurant with wonderful decor, ambiance, and a killer wine list, if the food is unpalatable it is nothing more than dreck--beautiful dreck, perhaps, served on oblong china, but pablum nonetheless. Fortunately for us Camuto is a fine writer. Take for example this descriptive passage:

Those brooks, in which wild trout still rise to mayflies in the spring, remain. If eastern buffalo and elk and cougar are gone along with the big trees, Salvelinus fontinalis still holds in cold currents near the crest of the Blue Ridge, an Ice Age relic, the shy shadow of one hundred million years. Like the spruce and fir that spread south during the long Pleistocene winter when the great ice advanced, the brook trout is a vivid boreal presence in the Blue Ridge, a gift of deep time.

I almost feel guilty excerpting passages like this as it robs you of the warm feeling you get when you discover it on your own. But trust me when I say there are enough pretty passages akin to this to keep you turning the pages, hungry for more.

A Fly Fisherman's Blue Ridge is the kind of book that isn't published nearly enough. It's the type of book where an author is not beholden to an assigned theme, but is given the freedom (and support) to follow the fish wherever it may lead. You'll join Camuto as he meets a bear, watches the wildness fade from a big brown as he carries it from the stream to the car, and greets and bids farewell to the year. You'll find him meandering through the Shenandoah Valley, on the North Fork of the Moormans, and on the campus of the University of Virginia. But wherever Camuto goes, both figuratively and literally, you'll want to join him for the whole journey.

For those who've read A Fly Fisherman's Blue Ridge, crack it open again and re-familiarize yourself with a modern classic. For those who haven't, I envy you as you get to experience it for the first time.

It's a book that will stay with you long after you've turned the final, satisfying page.

-- Dr. Todd

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Pike Fishing with the Fly Rod by Jeff Hatton

My friend Jeff Hatton sent me this pic of a massive northern he caught in Colorado on one of his own hand-made bamboo fly rods -- a two weight. The dimensions of this she beast were 38.5," and 20 pounds. Here's the Gnome's commentary:

Pike Fishing with the Fly Rod

by Jeff Hatton

4 hours of casting practice with the SCOTT 802 2wt 8pound test leader with a 20# hard mono shock tippet and a hackle tailed whistlers bugger in chartreuse and red and purple. First time I have had to pump a fish up off the bottom in 20' plus of water after hooking it in only about 2' of depth righ up on the bank.

Just entering post spawn and the pike fishing will get better. I am after a 48" + on the 2 wt!!!! have many at 36" to 40" and 4 in the 41" to 44" range. Have not got one yet that is over half the length of the rod but she is in there!!!
I saw Her yesterday and she dwarfed this fish. At least a foot longer if not more and an incredibly deep fish as well. Not sure how I would handle one that big? I do not like gaffs or priest but I might wop one if it was over 4'!!!!!
This fish was very heavy and deep and wide and was hard to handle. Only three small cuts on the left thumb and I did not bleed too much.
Needed the break!!! And dinner last night was the classic Sasketchewan Lobster, Awesome!!!!!! Tempura batter and deep fried and she did taste like a really fine prawn!!!!

For those who'd like some video tutorial, here's a nifty video of Gnome landing a (slightly) smaller one on the same fly rod:

Very cool fish, Jeff! Many thanks for sharing...

-- Dr. Todd

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Voices from the Past: Ray Bergman (1927)

Voices from the Past: Ray Bergman (1927)

One of my all-time favorite fishing writers was Ray Bergman, author of numerous best-selling fishing books including Trout and Just Fishing and for many years the fishing editor of Outdoor Life magazine, back when the journal was a leading light in the outdoor world. Born in 1891, he spent much of his life in Nyack, New York--home to the artists Edward Hopper and Mel Graff (a friend of Ray's) as well as Hollywood silver screen legend Helen Hayes. Bergman ran a sporting goods store there in the 1910s and sold flies, snells, hooks, and line grease under the Bergman name. When his store went under in 1921 he went to work for the famed tackle house of William Mills & Son in New York City, where for the first time he had the freedom to concentrate on writing, first for Forest & Stream and later for just about every fishing and hunting journal in America.

In 1921 Bergman was advertising in the want ad section of Hunter-Trader-Trapper magazine.

What is often lost is that Ray penned a number of smaller newspaper articles for local papers. Take for example the following short piece from Pennsylvania's Huntingdon Daily News of October 29th, 1927. In just three paragraphs, Bergman prepares the reader for fly fishing for bass. It's a neat early example from a great writer.

A nifty photo of Ray at the vise circa 1940.

Suggestions for Bass Baits

by Ray Bergman

For feather minnows I would suggest the White and Red Brown, Silver and Yellow, Red and Yellow and Orange and Black. As these lures are floaters it is well to grease the line when using them. I have given the colors in a general way, but they may be combined with other shades.

Bass bugs may be bought with the same general color combinations, with the addition of the Cahill pattern which I have often found exceptionally good. It is also a good plan to buy both bugs and minnows in trout size as many times the bass will refuse the larger ones and take the smaller size.

I have always had good luck with very small spinners in connection with a No. 6 bucktail fly. It is amazing what large bass I have taken with this lure, especially when fishing for small mouth in running water. For this reason I would include in my spinning assortmenbt some gold and nickel spinners with a half inch blade. For the next size spinner, use the No. 4 fly and so graduate the assortment until an inch and three-quarter blade is reached which will balance nicely with a large, heavy tied 1-0 fly. While it is not necessary to have the tandem spinner (two connected) still it is always good to have one or two in the tackle box, as there are times when they are most effective.

-- Dr. Todd

Monday, April 26, 2010

News of the Week: 26 April 2010

Hey! Follow all of the posts, breaking news, and assorted fun links on our Whitefishpress Twitter account!

An Oklahoma City hatchery threatens to close its doors...Shorty Gunther gets profiled...talkin' fishing rods...what's better than fishing with friends?...a new book Blood Knots gets reviewed...Etowah is an angler's is about being ready...Wisconsin is considering banning lead tackle...ESPN's ombudsman takes on the Interocean Task Force debate...sturgeon make a comeback...stripers on the brain...Sky Sports to air more angling more secret fishing spots...the art of making your own must be THE NEWS OF THE WEEK!

The Big Lead: Oklahoma City Fishing hatchery may close its door.

Newport Beach legend Shorty Gunther gets profiled.

Your big catch photo of the week.

Just talking 'bout fishin' rods.

Is there anything better than fishing with friends?

A review of the new book Blood Knots: On Fathers, Friendship & Fishing.

Why Etowah is becoming an angler's paradise.

Local writer catches 10 pound bass.

Fishing is about being ready.

Wisconsin is considering a ban on lead tackle (video news).

ESPN Ombudsman Don Ohlmeyer lucidly discusses ESPN's fishing controversy over coverage of the Interocean Task Force.

Sturgeon are making a stirring comeback...

One man has stripers on the brain.

Britain's Sky Sports to televise more fishing in the coming year.

Why there is no such thing as a secret spot for fishing anymore.

One outdoor writer gets sentimental...

Illinois angler lands monster 92-pound blue catfish.

A fishing rod addiction.

Why you should go camo for better trout.

Finishing With a Flourish: The art and craft of making your own lures.

-- Dr. Todd

Sunday, April 25, 2010

1000 Words

1000 Words

Jim Schottenham has opened up his vault and graciously allowed us to view some of his unbelievable early fishing tin type photos over the next couple of months. We begin with this wonderful tintype:

-- Dr. Todd

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Deconstructing Old Ads with Bill Sonnett

The 1903 Harkauf Minnow

The first time I saw this ad was looking through a April 1903 copy of Outdoor Life magazine while at Warren Platt's house. I was struck immediately with the fact that Heddon was still laboring with the ungainly Dowagiac Underwater in the spring of 1903 and here was this beautiful, small wooden minnow being offered by Harry Kauffman & Co in Philadelphia ( not exactly in the middle of "plug alley"). It has a unique three-bladed spinner on the front and the earlier versions have painted eyes. When I see a minnow from this early date that is this small (most are under 3 inches in length) I ask myself what kind of tackle was available to cast such a light bait. I'm sure most were used as trolling baits. It is also the only early minnow I can recall being touted as good for perch!

-- Bill Sonnett

Friday, April 23, 2010

Friday Funhouse

The Friday Funhouse

Hey! Follow all of the posts, breaking news, and assorted fun links on our Whitefishpress Twitter account!

Video of the Week

John Milner reels.

Things I Would Buy If Only I Could Afford Them

I've never seen this Champlin Heddon three-pack before.

Not a valuable bucket like a tow-behind, but this Gamble's Floating Type minnow bucket is neat nonetheless.

This is my favorite of all the Ari T Hart fly reels.

This is a nifty and often overlooked spinning reel.

A Zwarg Model 300 is a terrific reel.

This Mills salmon reel is really a pretty thing.

A Pfeffer Sailfish shiner has attracted at least one really interested FLorida collector.

A Detroit Minnow Tube is always a popular lure.

This is certainly a bizarre color on a Heddon Punkinseed!

A Musky Expert from Keeling is a whale of a find.

Heddon fly rods are good casting wands, especially when found in their original cases like this Thorobred .

Bingenheimer was known for his hooks, but he also made this rare lure.

This is a really rare color on a Heddon River Runt.

I've always thought this was one of the most distinctive and interesting British lures.

Creek Chub Weedies in Frog in the box with papers -- don't come much nicer than this!

These Castaics are really hot collectables.

Bet you didn't think Rebels were collectable!

A Wright & McGill fly rod crab is certainly a super bait.

Wow! This Vamp is just gorgeous.

The South Bend Musky Surf-Oreno was a good fish catcher and a nice find for the collector.

As always, have a great weekend, and be good to each other and yourself.

-- Dr. Todd