Social Media and The Loss of Serendipity

Recently I read a post on the Chrome Chasers‘ blog that got me thinking about social media and the way in which it threatens the unexpected in the things we do and encounter in our lives.

In his post, Keith Allison – owner of Chrome Chasers – observes that social media is one of the biggest threats to steelhead. Where fly fishers used to drive for hours in the hope of finding steelhead – with some incredible trips while others wound up as busts, now people consult social media for up to the minute status, guaranteeing that once quiet lightly peopled rivers are flooded with crowds and boats all wanting to hit the “epic” conditions.

He went on to say that he’s seen out of area guides posting about their success – thus bringing in more people, and in one instance he helped out a guide in trouble who was taking clients down a river the guide had never run before. I guess you can’t blame the guide; after all he was after the epic conditions for his paying clients and didn’t have time to do his homework. I wonder if his clients knew how poorly he served them.

Social media is now omnipresent and here to stay. Some estimates suggest that by 2018, 2.4 billion people will be using social media (up from less than one million in 2010). That expected increase is in spite of the revelations that every communication online eventually winds up in some government big-data store.

And it’s not to say that social media doesn’t have its uses from enabling societal change as happened in Tunisia and Egypt, or being used as a focal point for communication between family or friends during disasters. And it’s handy for being reminded to pick up something from the grocery on the way home.

The problem I see is that social media eliminates the separation between the private and the public. Everything we see, do, think or feel winds up posted, texted or tweeted. There is no pause to reflect on whether what is being done should be closely held or broadcast (literally) to the world.

As individuals, I think we have to own the responsibility for deciding what to post, text, or tweet. And I think we also have to be responsible for deciding what we read in social media.

In fly-fishing or any other activity in nature, it’s often better not to know and just show up and be open to what happens.

There have been mornings spent on Puget Sound where no sea run cutthroat trout were to be found. But then again, on many of those mornings there were eagles overhead and seals just off the beach. One morning, I looked behind me to see a deer looking at me.

I would have lost those opportunities if I had read a post saying there was nothing to catch in the Narrows and then decided not to go or go somewhere else. And I would have deprived someone else of the same random chance if I had been the one doing the posting.

We all need to be responsible for protecting the natural world and what it offers in terms of privacy and solitude. And maybe take a moment to think about what and when before posting or tweeting after landing that steelhead or trout.

You can read the post here.

Mother’s Day Fishing

This year was a slow start to fishing for me. Poor weather, cold, other priorities kept me out until today. I was able to get up for an early Mother’s Day visit to my local beach. As it turned out, it was an outstanding start to 2014 fishing.

I used my Scott Radian (9’6″ 6 weight) with an Airflo 40+ floating/intermediate line. As a side note, in earlier posts I had expressed some reservations about the Radian, but a bit more testing caused me to take the plunge and get one at the Gig Harbor Fly Shop.

On arrival, my favorite spot below a point was occupied by a spin caster. So I started farther down the beach in a very soft back eddy. As he moved up the beach, I followed along until I got to may spot where the current is much stronger. Not sure what he was doing as he hadn’t caught anything that I could see. But I had gotten 3-4 hits as I moved up the beach on a chum baby. I switched to a Clouser-type (size 6) and then it was like magic. I was catching searuns almost as quickly as the fly hit the water. In a very short period of time I caught and released 9 fish (smallest was five inches, most were in the six to eight in range).

I continued up the beach to the edge of the seawall, getting at least one more hit until I called it a day. But not a bad day – most fish I caught in one day.

In terms of equipment, I was using a stripping basket but still had a good deal of problems with the Airflo line, the running line tangled frequently. I should probably On the other hand, the Sage performed wonderfully. When I was in the groove the casting was easy and I could put the fly where I wanted.

Bob Triggs’ The Secret Season

Bob Triggs, Olympic Peninsula Guide and flycasting instructor, reprised an article he first shared on the late Doug Rose’s blog several years ago. Bob’s take on fishing for sea run cutthroat trout is timely as ever. Excellent insights and tips. Read his article “The Secret Season” here.

Fly Box Simplication – A Status Update

 

I had a previous post about using Plano boxes as fly warehouses – from which individual flies are pulled for the day’s fishing (see post here)

I wanted to report on what I’ve found.

I started with my saltwater flies, as I have a smaller assortment for sea-run cutthroat trout fishing than I do freshwater fishing.

I decided to put everything into the same box and organize by the same fly type, e.g., all baby chum salmon patterns in the same slot; all euphasilids (shrimp-like crustaceans), and so on. I did put my clouser minnows in different slots as I had a number of each color; if I got more flies I would probably combine them in a couple of slots.

I think the Plano boxes for saltwater flies – at least mine – is a terrific organizing tool. Admittedly, I keep a group of the flies I most use in a small box in my sling pack. But it’s good to know I can keep everything else in one place and if needed could just bring the Plano box to the beach.

I’ve not been as satisfied with my organization of freshwater flies. I’ve not yet figured out an approach that works with the array of flies. I think part of the problem is that I’ve accumulated those flies over a number of years without much of plan. So, for example, I‘ve got bunches of Parachute Adams but only a few Stimulators. Then I’ve got weird numbers of sizes – sometimes too many sizes; other times not having enough.

The more I think about it, a better approach for my freshwater flies would be to go through and toss out the old ones; then determine what I want to keep. As it is, freshwater fishing will be less of a priority given the nearness of the Puget Sound beaches. And when I do make the drive over to the Yakima, I can stop by one of the local shops and pick up a bunch for what’s working.

So maybe this is just an intellectually empty exercise – at least for my freshwater flies. But then again, it’s still thinking about fly fishing.

Beach Fishing 101

Fishing the Ebb on Puget Sound
Fishing the Ebb on Puget Sound

When starting something new, one of the first questions to be considered is how to begin? The choice at the extremes comes down to plunging in or taking a class.

In my case, I’ve always believed one can never know too much or learn too much, so I opted for a class; assuming I’d pick up the needed technical information, local knowledge about where to go, and get some instruction on casting (for which too much instruction doesn’t exist).

Given I’d been fishing fresh-water rivers, I already had most of the gear I needed. I did pick up a Winston BIII-SX (more on that in a later post); and bought a few flies for the species of choice: sea-run cutthroat trout (bought a few more the day of the beach session).

There are a number of outstanding fly shops in the Puget Sound. But I chose Gig Harbor Fly Shop’s class. I like the area a lot and there are tentative plans to move there when I can cast off the harness of corporate America. The shop’s location overlooking the harbor borders on the sublime. And I was impressed with the shop staff in both past online orders and talking to them in the store.

Their Puget Sound Beach Course (Fly Fishing 1.5) was held in two sessions: the first was three hours on a Wednesday night followed by a four-hour session on the water.

Taught by Blake Merwin, the owner of Gig Harbor Fly Shop, the course was a great introduction to fishing in the salt water of Puget Sound.

The three-hour classroom session, taught with slides and a lecture that was interspersed with tales of trips local and afar, was like drinking from the proverbial fire hose. I scribbled notes furiously as the course covered equipment, target species, food sources, tides and winds, and where to find good fishing. When I reread my notes I was surprised how much ground we covered. One tip: if you take the course please bring beer – none of the five students in our class did and it’s a shop practice!

The Saturday session was held on a sunny Saturday morning on a local beach near Gig Harbor. The tide tables called for a -1.3 foot low in the afternoon so we were in prime time to fish the ebb.

Driving over the Narrows Bridge earlier, the winds were calm and the water smooth. By the time we met at the shop, bought a few last remaining items, got down to the parking lot and got into our waders, the wind was up. A very visible back eddy in front of the beach matched the strong ebb.

Blake took some time to explain the beach and where good fishing should be found as well as tips for fishing different types of flies.

We five students separated along the beach and sought to catch a sea-run. Unfortunately, the back eddy never dissipated allowing a rip to form close to the beach. The bottom line is that no one caught anything.

And it wasn’t just the five of us. Water birds on the water weren’t diving for anything; a seal that poked his head up out of the water disappeared; likely finding better fishing elsewhere.

But I wasn’t disappointed. One doesn’t go fishing to only to catch fish. As Haig-Brown consistently alluded: fishing is more about context than practice. Standing on Puget Sound watching the sea birds and a bald eagle circling overhead, and feeling the chill of the wind and the warmth of the sun more than made up for getting skunked.

The course gave me the tools and information to head out on my own. And we did get some good information on where to go on our own. But you’ll have to the class to find out where.

6 Weight Rods for Beach Fishing

Gig Harbor Fly Shop just reported the results of their recent shootout on beach rods used for sea-run cutthroat trout. Similar to river fishing when the wind and water are bigger or when sinking lines are used, the rod weight of choice for our salty fly fishers is 6 weight.

The number of rods used was relatively small – based on the preferences and use by their staff and customers. But the results were interesting with the winner being the Winston BIII-SX. While i’ve not yet cast the BIII=SX, I do own the second place finisher the Winston BIIIX. The Scott S4 came in third, followed by the Sage One.

Complete results can be found at the following link:

6 Wt Shootout Results