Saturday, August 01, 2009

Travel - Martha's Vineyard, MA

Bobama – the New Black Dog

Forget Menemsha. Whatever you read, whatever you are told, this is not the place to fish. Like Caye Caulker, Bal Harbour, even Rio, it is an awkward walk to a jetty with heavy boat traffic, strong currents, and plenty to snag on with nothing to show for it. If you absolutely have to fish there, remember it is at the counter-clockwise end of Menemsha Pond.

The best bet is the dock in Edgartown right next to the ferry to Chappaquidick.. Not Bergall/conner - bait burglaronly did I catch fish, but the couple next to me were running a clinic on how to fish squid. Just remember: a porgie is a scup, a bergall a conner.

I am not quite sure how I missed fishing Oak Bluffs or Vineyard Haven …

My lesson: just because it says “pond” doesn’t mean it is fresh water. So you can save yourself $35+ for freshwater license. Salt water is free!

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Sunday, February 15, 2009

Travel - Reykjavik, Iceland

The Best Fish … I Have Ever Tasted

Iceland: Land of the Midnight Run – on the banks. The first country to have the dubious distinction of having its assets seized by the British Government under a newly enacted law – against terrorism.

I had wanted to visit Iceland since college and with the currency now worth half of its Euro-inflated levels, I felt I could not pass up the chance now; so for $500 had flight and hotel packaged.

Fishing was perversely a non-starter. First, there is an actual season for specific fish; second, if you take your own gear, it has to be fumigated to prevent foreign diseases creeping into its pristine waters. February was not a month with fish in it.

Like Vinha del Mar (Chile), the closest we came to fish was with a fork. If Seattle is the capital of coffee, Reykjavik is the capital of food. There seemed to be a 200 Iron Chef-like cook-off recently, with the result that some stayed and opened restaurants.

If you are trying to save money and drop the pounds, eat in Reykjavik. The food is so phenomenal you will never go out again; it would only be a huge disappointment.




Siggi HaReykjavik

O Restaurant



Fish Market


Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Travel - Miami Beach, FL

Chicken or Jack?

Joe’s Stone Crabs is South Beach: every sort of person – passing $100 bills to the maitre d’ (who declines them, saying, “only if you enjoyed your meal.”) to your trailer park night out. What I had to invent a word for: ana-demographic; there was just no “group”.

Fishing, however, is nowhere near as varied. I have now visited three times this year. A cold month (January), a windy month (March) and a rainy month (April). Using artificial lures (including FishBites squid, crab, clam, and bloodworms) I caught the trash of the sea: lizard fish, blue grunts – the bluegills of salt water – and puffer fish.

While most recommend frozen shrimp, I caught nothing on anything shrimp-like. Squid did well, but one family ran a clinic on catching snapper with cut-up herring. One lady just leaned over the railing at Bill Baggs (see below) and caught 4-5 right under her feet.

Fishing Miami Beach is exasperating. Calling the tourist office, one is told all fishing is prohibited. Walking the causeways one almost believes it. Even the pier at the newly refurbished South Pointe Park is locked.

Two little pocket parks worth fishing:

Island View Park, just east of the Venetian Causeway on Purdy Avenue. Take the South Local (Circulator) Bus to the second Publix and you are a block and a half away. Do not fish the wooden dock as you will lose 1/3 to ½ your lures to obstructions; move down to the Police dock.

At the west end of 14th St at Bay Road, there is a park with a 100 yard wall; it’s 2 blocks south from the Flamingo on the right.

So here is the list. Includes only sites that allow fishing; never really got down to Key Biscayne.

Bal Harbour Beach

Long concrete pier on a jetty with lots of boat traffic, strong currents, and guaranteed snags. Seems most people are there to catch grunts or ballyhoos for night fishing. Saw a Sabiki rig fill a bucket with ballyhoos.

Better bet is to continue on Collins toward Haulover and turn left at kite market and fish the Bay. At least we saw fish so close we could smack them with our rod tips, but just not bite.

Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park

About a half-mile walk from parking lot to pier. Snappers were the poisson du jour last time we were there – on herring bits.

Haulover Beach Park

See Bal Harbour above.

Miami Beach – North

Says fishing, but did not see any place to fish.

South Pointe Park

Cannot fish from pier! Must fish from jetty that is so close to the pier you are guaranteed snags. Again, mostly grunts, some snappers.

We took a head boat out one day, which, again, was a bit of a disappointment, except for learning so much from the other fishermen on board. A jack rig (for ballyhoo) is a hook with 2-3 trailer hooks daisy-chained through the bait; a chicken rig is like a Sabiki for big fish. Still can’t figure out how he linked three sets of hooks together – almost like a three-bait drop-shot rig. Still I did catch the biggest fish of the day: a remora … I am such a sucker spending money on fishing …

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Travel - Egypt

Ya-Habibi, sadiquiy!

Oh, No, Not ANOTHER overwhelming experience …

It may seem odd that the 30 Second Fisherman would ever not want to catch a fish, but that was the fearsome reality on Lake Nasser, where the world’s largest perch can be found. Not a little 2-pound variety, but the 300-400lb kind. My travel rod and kit could handle a 10, possibly 20, pound fish, but anything that size would tear me out of the boat. As I was on an antiquities tour, I also could not afford the time. If one applies “tarpon rules” – allow one pound per minute – where a 90lb tarpon could take an hour and a half to land, these babies would take over 5 hours. Oh, and eat tarpon for lunch.

Donkey Fish?

As it was, we were lucky to catch our first ever puffer fish – or donkey fish as locally known – at Amada. Had no luck in Aswan, but next time would fish the west bank, or the west side of Kitchener Island. In fact, the best looking structure was about a half-hour further south at the First Cataract. There are small perch-like fish along the docks at most cruise boat tie-ups. Our success was due to a #8 snelled circle hook with FishBites bloodworm.

Not since China, have I seen so many sites that overwhelm a video camera. In two weeks one can be exposed to a history spanning 3000BC to 1500AD – to the present.

Hard to believe a more perfect, idyllic place: the Nile is not so wide one could not swim across it. Desert to the west, palm trees on the east, lush to the banks.

Experiences not to be missed

  • Cruise from Aswan to Abu Simbel
  • Cruise from Luxor to Aswan
  • Temples at Karnak and Luxor (at night! Shakespearean in its theatric lighting)
  • Sail on a felucca
  • Have a cocktail in the Winter Palace in Luxor
  • Hot air balloon ride over Valley of the Kings

Experiences I wish I had

  • A photo of holding up a fish with Abu Simbel behind me
  • Trolling from the hot air balloon
  • Fly fishing the First Cataract
  • Losing a Nile perch – gratefully

An answer Google doesn’t have:

Q: What is the music the cruise ships play as they turn the corner into port at Abu Simbel?

A: 1492: Conquest Of Paradise (original soundtrack)

Composed by Van Gelis

Atlantic (US), Warner (UK)

(I tried putting iTunes URL in here, but had to use real thing)

Conquest of Paradise

A Word on the Balloon Ride

  • It is not really a fear of heights you will remember; don’t look down, look away, at the sunrise, hills, houses.

  • Take a hat. If you are standing in the corner of the balloon basket, the heat from the flame will feel like it is burning your hair.

  • If you are taking video, and recording the lecture, be aware that firing up, to maintain altitude, is very noisy.


If you insist on smoking a [fruit flavored!] shisha in Khan el-Khalili, be prepared for a lot of work. Think blowing out birthday candles, but in reverse.

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Monday, August 18, 2008

Travel - Crawford Lake, ME

It Ain’t What’s Below, It’s What’s Above

This is a bit of a cheat as this was the second trip to Crawford Lake, just miles from Camden/Rockland/Rockport in Union, Washington County. The first trip provided sight fishing and at least 2-3 bass a day. This year the fishing was almost miserable. If I had not found an article on white perch manhandling blood worms, it would have been a year of catching a bass every other day (I think I tagged 3, maybe 4 during the week.)

While I caught one on my go-to wacky worm senko, I invariably caught the rest on a Strike King fluke. Why so difficult? I knew the grasses, the structure from the year before, even brought my fish finder. It seems every time I turned my back I heard a noise, a plop. A chestnut or acorn from the overhanging trees. Now why did it take over a week for homo pescatoris to figure out that no fish in his right mind, in 6-9” of water is going to sit around to get bopped on the head? Yet that is exactly what must have been happening. Sure, the grass was great, but not worth a headache. So the fishing was close to ruined by what was above my rod, not by the snags below.

Since I failed to report on Crawford last year, I am going to add a bonus: Winding Trails in Farmington, CT. I had an awful time trying to manage a kayak in Maine with the winds that would pick up, so I was delighted to find one could fish from a paddle boat at Winding Trails. My first mate had her fly rod and I had two spinning rods. Even with the fish finder, nothing was happening. It was late in the day and the boathouse was about to close. In sheer exasperation, I let my line troll behind – in fact we had two lines: one pearl fluke and one june bug lizard. Best twenty minutes of bass fishing ever had. Twice had 12”+ bass hit the fluke. Again so slow to figure it out: the fluke was white, the lizard dark, but this – like Maine – was clear water. Here in DC Metro, just not used to anything but green, brown, black water. What a concept: fish light in clear, dark in dark water – just like the books say. Twice. Just so embarrassed …

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Sunday, August 03, 2008

Travel - New York, NY (Hudson Pier 42)

Hot town, summer in the city ...
No Rod, No Bait, No problem!

Apparently there are two places to fish in Manhattan that are free of licenses and fees and include tackle. So just get off the subway and go fish!

The summer program details for Hudson River Park can be found at:

and scrolling down to Big City Fishing on the left. I visited Pier 42 at West and Charles St in Greenwich Village. The closest subway was Christopher St/Sheridan Square on the Broadway Local (train 1), which is approximately 14 blocks east of the pier. There is another pier just a block north of the Circle Line pier and more easily accessible by the M50 bus (going west on 49th St and get off at the end at 43rd St; yes, it hooks down 6 blocks!), but I did the Circle Line a month before and felt that there were too many ships -- three cruise ships alone that one day -- for any good fishing.

It was a hot sunny afternoon,

with so few people that I was able to abuse the hospitality of the park for two hours, with the four attendants willing to bait my #4 hook with clams.

I had very few bites, but next time I would bring my own lures and bait. Essentially I had bait stolen a half-dozen times, caught one fish and absolutely nothing else but snags for the last hour. Once again I forgot my sunscreen.

Alongside the tent, was a filter for the day’s catch: a 12” striper, two 6” sea bass, and my porgie.

I have enclosed the Big City Fishing details below, in their entirety, as they are so in keeping with my philosophy of metro-fishing. Note that this event closes Labor Day.

Next time I will try Central Park, which allows fishing through October …

Big City Fishing

Pier 46 in Greenwich Village
Cross at Charles St.

Pier 84
Cross at W.44th St. or W.43rd St.

July 4th - Labor Day:
Tuesday - Sunday, 10:30 am - 5:30 pm

Cost: free

Yes you can fish in the Hudson River and it's better than ever at Hudson River Park!

Big City Fishing gives anyone and everyone the chance to fish. It's an appropriate and fun activity for those as young as five. Big City Fishing is available to visiting schools throughout the year.

Because we practice catch-and-release fishing in Hudson River Park, all fish are returned to the river at the end of the program.

All of the necessary supplies including rods, reels and bait, as well as formal instruction. Fishing poles are provided on a first come, first served basis, with a half-hour limit when others are waiting.

Beyond fishing
Big City Fishing also provides participants with a first hand opportunity to learn about the Hudson River Estuarine Sanctuary. View plankton through microscopes, examine live specimens – caught that morning, either in traps or on someone’s line – and identify species using the Hudson River Park’s signature Fish Poster.

Recently caught
American eel, striped bass, black sea bass, bluefish, oyster toadfish, cunner, white perch, flounder, porgy, blue crabs.

Pier 46

Accessible to people with disabilities:

Food Available: seasonal concession

Water Available: Yes

Restrooms: Pier 45 Comfort Station

1 at Christopher St.


Christopher Street Fountain
Educational programs
Water Taxi stop

Pier 84

Restrooms: Pier 84 Comfort Station

Accessible to people with disabilities: Yes

Food Available: yes

Water Available: yes

A,C,E at 42nd St.

M42, M50

• Dynamic fountain
• Lawn with trees
• Fishing
• Sunbathing
• Summer events
• Dog Run
• Bike rental
• Water Taxi stop
• Restaurant
• Shopping

More about Pier 46
More about Pier 84

© 2008 Hudson River Park Trust
All rights reserved

Hudson River Park Trust
phone: 212-627-2020
fax: 212-627-2021

353 West St.

Pier 40, 2nd floor
New York, New York 10014

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Saturday, June 07, 2008

Travel - Hilton Head, SC

Everywhere a fish, fish …

HH Shark 1

Of all the outright fishing forays – Belize, Key West, Tampa – none set the record like Hilton Head. No matter what water I was fishing, I caught something. That is, every fishing day, I had to dig a hook out of something unhappy.

The first trip was with Outside Hilton Head in a kayak – a first in itself. Not only did I catch the first redfish (of three) I caught the biggest fish– a three-foot bonnethead shark (Think hammerhead that has had its hammer cut off badly with dull shears.)
HH Shark 2

The simplest trips of all, casting into the sea from the beach, resulted in at minimum foot-long dogfish, and once, a very small cobia.

Oddly the least successful was a party boat, which was way over-crowded with 40-50 people. Have had more sitting room in a bus. The other discouraging part is, sure, the captain knows where the fish are, the wreck/artificial reef/structure is, but so does everyone else. It got quite crowded at the marker, to the extent that my boat was the worst positioned of the lot. We seemed to catch the typical table scraps [panfish if it were fresh water, but most species had to be a minimum of 12” for keepers.] I caught one spade fish, and three very small sea bass. As for fight, imagine 8-oz of lead weight sinkers and catching a 6-oz fish. Not a lot of play.

HH RedfishThe most interesting part of the party boat was my experiment. I rigged a circle hook and a piece of artificial stinkbait to my rig. Besides it costing me way too many tangles, the artificial was out-catching the cut squid and shrimp by 2:1.[See Thoughts – It Works!] I also learned that a Palomar knot will not hold on 50lb test monofilament. The crew seemed to prefer the clinch – without improvement.

And that is what I used on the beach: the artificial squid. Absolutely fascinating. Technology rules!

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Monday, April 28, 2008

Travel - India

The Golden Triangle

India is anarchy veiled in democracy. In its constitution of 1950, it guaranteed freedom – which our guide emphasized as “free-dumb”. With an inchoate highway system, one will see overloaded trucks, buses, tuk-tuks, sharing divided highways with water buffalo, camels, and donkeys; odder still, on a dual carriageway, one would be seeing all these vehicles coming down the same lane in the opposite direction [video]. While the design of a multi-lane might be assumed as an invention to permit increased speed and shorter travel times, Indians have discovered some other advantage. Or it may be Darwin at work … I am sure that seven people on a moped would not make it into the Guinness Book of records but the frequency might. Even though the licensing seems strict, any 8-year-old could drive a truck, as he would only need to reach the horn – not the brake.

Besides the lack of infrastructure (roads, electricity, waste management, water – both sewage and drinking), there is the added surprise that English is a foreign language; the guess is that perhaps 5% speak English, and that would include those who might only be able to give directions.

Be prepared to be nickel-and-dimed. India may be cheap as an out-sourcer, but at nearly every tourist stop, use of a video camera alone would cost anywhere from 25 – 250 rupees ($.50-$5) Oh, and don’t wait for change; it is not coming.

What would pass as the milk of human kindness – showing directions, even walking you to your destination, would be of the instant variety in India – just add baksheesh.

Someone went to a McDonalds in Delhi. Apparently, the hamburgers aren’t beef, but water buffalo. Well, that’s gnu …

Tiger watching is like whale watching: no guarantees – even in the bigger reserves (e.g., Rhanthambhore)

If you should find yourself in Udaipur, you must go to the Amrit Mahal bar of the Trident Hotel, where you will find India’s most talented bartender, Depunkar. Be sure to ask for the Raj-ito, made with India’s own rum.

The Wily Sand Fish of Thar

I had done some research on fishing in India, and while bureaucracy may be India’s largest industry, that is not to say there are not loopholes Virtually all licensing was done on the basis of water source – not fish species and I certainly did not have a half day to stand in line trying to obtain the appropriate license. As I was to spend a few days in the state of Rajasthan (India’s largest, geographically) I would hunt the wily sand fish of the Thar Desert. Being a desert, no license would be required! Normally a fly-fishing trip, but it would take too long to rig a nine-piece 5-weight, so stuck to my 3-piece spinning rod. Much like a bonefish in appearance, but more translucent, I had packed Zoom lizards (for “field fishing” – anything else on which there was a 30-1 chance against catching), Mepps spinners, midget Gitzits. The good news was that I could probably land one as there had been no fishing pressure; it is not considered a game fish. The bad news, while I did not need a license, the fish is considered endangered and I could have found myself in a lot of trouble if it died in my hands. Using circle hooks and EWG hooks, I felt I could take the chance.

I was uncharacteristically using two-ounce sinkers; no crank baits, as I would never be able to get them down deep enough.

Naturally, I would be fishing without a guide this trip, unable to find one on such short notice. I heard tales of some tribes hunting them, rather like noodling catfish, but with those sharp teeth, maybe once or twice a hand.

I would check the land for some likely hangouts, like the back of small sand dunes, just off the edge of the wind.

Imagine my disappointment when we ventured no further than the scrub plain to visit some hippy Hindis drinking opium tea … I had to content myself with fishing for langurs, an illegal sport tolerated on private property …[video? Nah …]

Yes, there may be four Indians in the Forbes 10, but that is not the rising tide that lifts boats the way Microsoft made millionaires of thousands, both directly and indirectly. Despite the breast-beating, the caste system is alive and well and the OBC [Other Backward Class/Castes - India’s affirmative action statement] requirement of 27% in all Public positions and government has angered and bred resentment, particularly in Delhi and the major cities/states.

Infrastructure is appallingly backward for a nation supposedly on the rise, and this is to be all better by the Asian Games in 2010? To be investing in a subway system in Delhi when power is so problematic? Don’t think so …

In short, if you only have six months to live or only so many dollars for travel, go to China/Hong Kong/Japan. India is a country of 500 years of conquest by more advanced cultures (Moghuls, Brits, Portuguese) and has surprisingly little to show for it. You may love/hate China, but you will find India only irritating..

[The terrorist bombing in Jaipur took place less than three weeks after my tour – May 14]

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Sunday, July 08, 2007

Travel - Bruges (Brugge)

Picture Perfect

It seems there is one in every family. At Christmas one relative would firmly believe that presents should be educational, historical It might well be a coloring book on the outside, but inside were pages to be cut out and assembled into a medieval town with bell tower. It might possibly even be Bruges/Brugge – a medieval town complete with a moat around the walled city.

For a city warning the traveler of 400 years of slow degeneration, it is in remarkably good shape. It is currently its own Epcot caricature, with lace shops, chocolates, carbonade, moules et frites, and Belgian beers. Since les Belges figure anything can be fermented, beer should really be called alcoholic beverage, as it might have only one or two of the “original” ingredients in the millennia old recipe. The Belgians were probably the most vocal about having the German Reinheitsgebot law of purity of 1516 declared unlawful in the EU.

Well, I did all this – the chocolate museum, the brewery tour with complimentary doppel, the canal boat – but I did not fish. According to the tourist office (notorious for young ladies who would not know a rod from a scrod) I was told that fishing is done northeast of the town beyond the moat. One is supposed to see people fishing (see arrow in NE corner of map).

I feel utterly helpless: in a city and I have no idea if one needs a license (probably), what lures to use, what fish I might be expected to catch. Bummer. At least it was educational, historical … drinking my way through five to seven classes of beer. Hmmm. Researching the beers would have been a good backup plan …

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Saturday, June 23, 2007

Travel - Santiago / Vinha del Mar

Pisco Sours

June 23 2007

I am so glad every country has a national drink. Brazil has Caipirinhas, Argentina has mate (OK, non-alcoholic), and Chile has the pisco sour. It keeps ordering in bars so simple; everyone is having one – or a beer. Like checking out all the top Mai Tais in Honolulu, we kept hopping from one place to another, rating them as we went.

We were staying in the Providencia district of Santiago, which was the closest one of the cities one could call charming.

While a river flows right through Santiago, it is apparently so polluted nothing can survive in it, but they are working on it as part of a three/four year plan.

The weather (again, it is now officially winter) was diabolical. Had one lovely morning, after aGrim Day in Vinha del Mar heavy rain, so the pollution cloud was almost gone, giving a majestic view of the mountains. The one day I was looking forward to fishing, was a cold, windy day, all day. Had hoped to take the cable cars/trams in Valparaiso, but it was just too cold and damp. Vinha del Mar had beach, surf, sea lions, but not enough clear weather to try for sea bass. Closest I came to one was with a fork. Lunch was superb, as the rain pelted down on the windows. It is June and I am trying to warm up by a fire in this castle-like restaurant. On the way back to Santiago, it started to snow – an event our guide could not remember ever happening. So much for global warming in South America. He said it was probably El Nina.

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Friday, June 15, 2007

Travel - Buenos Aires

Paris of the Americas

June 15, 2007

Los Portenos: A city settled by Italians, speaks Spanish, wishes it were French, trades in English. As I learned from my Belize trip, always have a backup plan. This time it was to learn to tango. Booked the tour trip to the Tigre Delta with the idea of having a chance to fish, only to be told that the water had such a high mineral content – not polluted, just not … livable. The delta itself is a mass of islands, with 1-3 houses on each, approximately 3500, so it could pass as Venice of South America.

Just to keep it simple, stayed at the Mansion Dandi Royal in San Telmo district, because it had a tango studio downstairs. While Argentina is said to be cheap, with three pesos to the dollar, it adds up. Tango shoes were $100; street shoes won’t work. Passed on the hat, vest, pants … If a waiter volunteers wine, be aware that a bottle of Rutini will hit you for $50. Cabs and subway are best ways to get around. While there are lakes/ponds in the city, one is not, apparently, allowed to fish. Of course, every time I came across water, I had left my tackle at the hotel (well, it gets heavy.)

After one of our tango classes, we were invited to one of the dozens of melongas that may be open any given night – at 11pm. It is a dance hall at which the men sit to one side and the women on another (unless, of course, you are in a group as we were). A man invites a woman to dance and if she accepts, the implicit promise is that he will love her passionately – for three minutes. When the music stops they might just separate as if nothing happened. The tango is extremely macho: the man leads, and if his partner trips or cannot follow, it is his fault; so not a good idea to try a melonga unless you are very, very good. And if you think the double haul in a stiff wind is difficult, try doing it with your feet. The man has basically two controls. To go forward, he virtually falls on his partner, who is pushing or holding him up as she falls backwards. He has a hand behind her back with which he pulls her toward him or pushes her to the left, so she does a quarter turn. The left hand is held below the shoulder and does not serve any leading purpose (as it might, say, in the foxtrot.)

While you can buy DVDs there (at the hotel), you might want to get some practice in beforehand. Met two women from New York, who had been taking lessons for five years and this was their pilgrimage. Oh, they also spoke fluent Spanish, so it was much later in the week that we discovered they were, in fact, American.

So drink the beer, the awesome coffee, eat the empanadas, and pronounce BBQ as “paRISH-a” – even if it is spelled parilla. Despite what you may have heard, stick to filet when ordering beef at restaurants. All the other beef we had was tasty, but tough, gristly, and fatty.

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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Travel - Rio de Janeiro / Niteroi

And I probably won't fly down to Rio,
But then again, I just might.
-- Michael Nesmith

June 13 2007

When we discussed going to South America, I was hesitant about Rio. Everything I had read from Travel magazines, books, articles, websites/tripadvisor, said Rio was a very dangerous city. I could cover myself for theft as best I could, but anything more serious was a real problem. Even tourists being mugged on the climb up Corcovado. I really did not want to travel alone, with no one to watch my back.

The weather was clear, in the low 80’s, too chilly for the cariocas to be on the beach, but in June, it was really only a week away from the winter solstice. So no lovely Ipanema girls in dental floss, but also muggers were out of season. Stayed on the edge of Ipanema and Leblon (right on the canal separating the two), away from the more touristy Copacabana. Discovered this is a residential neighborhood, that goes back at least seven blocks from the beach, with no sign of favelas, the Rio slums – which turn out to be high on hillsides in the near jungle, because that is the topography from which the immigrants came. Tijuca is the largest city “park” in the world. Sort of Disney does the Amazon rainforest.

I did not look forward to fishing on my own, but thought of Anderson Cooper, and said, hey, I’m a reporter, this goes with the territory. I took a cab to the far/eastern end of Copacabana, and with my knapsack of tackle and rod, hiked up to the park where there is a rocky outlook. Seemed most people there were couples watching the sunset. There were perhaps three other groups fishing on some devilishly smooth and slippery rocks. I watched for awhile to see how they fished and with what. One guy was running a clinic in how to catch sardines, or baitfish for night out in a boat. The surf was heavy and I snagged virtually every weighted lure I had. I finally gave up when it became so dark I could not thread the line through a lure. Dark and shadowy, I made my way back, almost lost in the maze of trails and boulders. Just walked very fast and straight ahead, back to a cab stand.

The next day we were off to the old capital of Niteroi, which is almost Hampton-y. Gated here,Fishing Niteroi with our Rio guide gated there … Found one beach, again with a high, slippery outcrop of rock and a good ten meters above the crashing waves. Unfortunately, was not prepared, as I rarely carry more than 50 yards of line; so no casts beyond the surf. Showed our guide all the stuff I carry; he was very impressed with braid, some of the lures and variety of hooks. But not a nibble. Wrong time of day, bad surf, wrong moon phase … supposedly can catch small fish here …

Somewhere I had read that in seeing Sugarloaf and Corcovado,Needing a surf casting rod in Niteroi one should do one in the morning and the other at sunset. We had visited Sugarloaf the day before and now rushed back to Corcovado to catch the cable up to the top before sunset. Made a believer of our guide, who had never done this before. As the sun sinks over Sugarloaf (and some ugly radio towers), the lights from Copacabana (on one side) and the Bay (and its 17km bridge) come up. Curiously the almost Christmas-y lighting effect came from the favelas in the hills …

Must do:

Caipirinhas at the Copacabana Palace Hotel, outside by the pool, with a plate of canapés

Marius Seafood Restaurant

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Monday, April 30, 2007

Travel - Washington, DC (Fletchers Boathouse)

The shad are running!

In Washington, no fishing report is complete without mentioning Fletcher’s Boathouse, a mile east from Chain Bridge. Going towards Georgetown on Canal Road, it is almost impossible to drive into; some people even back down the seemingly one-way entrance, that faces Georgetown. Do not (in fact, cannot) try this during rush hour. It is the place for shad season, and even stripers and catfish.

Every year I feel more and more like Charlie Brown kicking the ball as Lucy holds it and pulls it away at the last second. I go shad fishing and the shad jump and laugh at me. The first year, we rented a boat and I was lucky enough to catch one American Shad (very rare) and a couple of Hickory Shad. Both species are protected within the DC boundary and must be released unharmed. Every year since, I have been bank fishing and skunked – no shad, no catfish, not even a perch.

So this is going to be my last year, of seeing people walk to shore with 20lb catfish and hear people talk of catching the [mythical] 40” striper – which is out of season now. Of course I have never seen anyone with a striper of any size. Maybe it’s a mix of Monty Python and metric: when he says he caught a 42” fish, he really means he caught a 42 centimetre fish …

I was loaded for sturgeon: 3-4 artificial Fishbites, cut herring, and at least 20 shad darts and spoons. To increase the odds, we rented a rowboat, but so late in the day we could only fish two hours.

We had a fly rod, a heavy spinning rod for the herring, in case there might be any catfish or stripers, a light spinning rod for shad – all of them out at once. We could see shad jumping all over in the cove, but nothing happening in the main current. It was maddening. First cast to one rising, then the next. Absolutely nothing. We had been warned at the dock that the storm the night before had made the river turbid and muddy. Since shad are not in an eating frenzy, but in a territorial protection frenzy, I guess they could not see the bright yellow/green darts we were casting. We just were not threatening enough.

So this was our final annual commemorative tour at Fletchers. Not just skunked but not even a nibble, not even a lost rig. The only positive spin I could think of was that least we had spent only two hours getting skunked. It could have been worse: it could have been four …

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Sunday, January 07, 2007

Travels - Key West, FL

Hot Toddy-ville?

My birthday is January 3 and this particular birthday was also the coldest in Key West history. There is so much planning one can do: check for monsoon season, height of summer/winter, epidemics, terrorism, crime, but the southernmost part of the continental US suffering 9 foot seas, the flats now suitable for deep sea fishing – if you could find a boat going out?!

Since it was the second visit to Key West, it was an adventure in restaurants. Even all the nude bars had been closed.

The closest we came to fish was feeding the eight-foot tarpon (if bass are bucket mouths then these are trash can mouths) at the docks and fish and chip lunches.

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Friday, January 05, 2007

Travel - Pasco County, FL

Fish Naked

Pasco is probably the nudist capital of Florida, with (at least!) three landed resorts within 10-20 minutes of each other. A good time to fish weedless, that is with the hook not, um, exposed. Leave the crankbaits with their 6-9 hooks behind. Rely on plastics.


Resort is private so no fishing license is required to fish their five lakes. I don’t think a day went by without catching at least one 11” bass or larger. In fact, our last day there, an hour before we were to leave, I caught an 18” bass on one of the more bizarre rigs I have ever fished: a worm torn in two parts.

The most excitement was with a fish I was never able to land. Twice I locked up with what one bystander thought was a bowfin. The most fight I had, but not surprising as this was not your typical two pound bass. I have NEVER had a hook bent 90 degrees to the side before. When the fish that got away was close to the most fun …

Lake Como:

Perhaps 10-15 minutes down from Caliente. Take a tour. Pay the introductory day fee. Take a paddle boat out (private lake, no license required), but first while loading it up with tackle, just try one cast. 18” bass on the first cast, the largest up to that point for the trip. A wriggling bass that size sure feels more than a kilogram …

Paddling about was a non-event but coming back in at dusk, there were bass jumping all over the lake, but particularly around a filter. I tried all my topwater lures (popper, spook) until I decided to go back to the go-to lizard and just rip it across the surface. That was all I needed for a 12” bass. It was now so dark I could barely see the hook, which he/she/it had taken in a big gulp.

So this was Land O’ Lakes, but not your Florida bass of 7-12 pounds. Still to be fishing “unhampered”, catching 2-4 fish a day was still hard to beat. Would definitely take this trip again.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Travel - San Antonio, TX

A River Runs Through It

For a state with a rig named after it – the Texas rig – I expected fishing information to be readily available. Never in the US have I had to work so hard in website searches and phone calls to find out the basics.

First, in State and city parks, no fishing license is required. Nevertheless, check. Some of the sites I found useful:

(Call the phone numbers)

Because there is a Tourist bus that leaves right behind the Alamo (Route 7 – Sightseer Special), I decided to try Brackenridge Park, which is the Zoo stop and only 15-20 minutes away. When I arrived, all I saw was a small, almost, decorous, canal – not a river. I asked at the zoo, visitors in the park, but no one seemed to know anything about where to fish. I wandered all over for the better part of an hour and a half, before I found a lady who said I was going in completely the wrong direction. For the record, the area is Oak Street or look for directions to the golf course.. Get off the bus, and almost immediately follow a path that leads to the right You might need to cross over the concrete Japanese bridge first.) There you will begin to see what looks like a creek. Keep on going, as the brush along the bank makes fishing almost impossible – even if tantalizing. I found a few spots, rigged up (Texas-style, of course) and found some sunfish. Just to make sure I wouldn’t be skunked for the day, I switched on a sunfish jig and caught a couple of 6” sunnies. After nibbles but no bites, I switched back to my bass rig and was finally able to catch a 12” bass.

But that was it. I had a half hour left to get the bus (which leave/arrive hourly)

If I had to do it over again, I would go to Millers Pond, south of the city, but it would be over an hour by bus 76.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Travel - Paris

Pêcheurs sans Frontières

September 23, 2006

One probably doesn’t think of going to fish in the Seine, while in Paris, anymore than one would think of attending ballet in Saudi Arabia, but this is my job: to fish the capitals of the world and report on them. Somebody has to do it, for all the non-Green, Red establishment demagogue ignorance that lays waste to the fragile ecosystem we call Earth …

Besides asking a policewoman, if one was permitted to fish the Seine and her reply that it was non permis/interdit/defendu, I saw only one person fishing along the banks. Everyone else was either reading, smooching, on cell phones, on iPods, snoozing ... I could not believe the photo op that was totally ignored: hauling a fish from the Seine late afternoon with the Eiffel tower in the distance. Tous ces gens la sont fous!

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Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Travel - Gdansk (Danzig)

Real Fish

The city was 90% destroyed by the Germans and Russians during WWII, and has decided to rebuild in the Hanseatic style that made it famous in the 14th century. They could have left the city as a memorial (now one small park along the river of a bombed out building. Think Warsaw.) Or modernized it, like Japan, but instead they went probably the most expensive route by redeveloping as a 14th century city.

The only place I saw anyone fishing, in the Motlawa River between the Crane/Maritime Museum and the Green Gate; [Proof]. He was cranking a fairly large jig head (1/2 oz?) with a chartreuse grub. What else. Did not see him catch anything, but he was carrying a plastic bag with a couple of fish. No wonder he was having problems: sprat on a #2 hook?

Monday, September 18, 2006

Travel - Tallinn

The only port at which we were actually able to dock and therefore the only place we could walk into town. It was also the oldest city we visited in Scandanavia, without major reconstruction, going back to the 13th century.

I saw signs for fishing – at the dock – but the bus would take an hour each way. Not on a three hour stay. Problem with the “just one more cast” phenomenon …

Apparently does or does not require a license. I tried fishing at the pier but found absolutely nothing. In fact, it was the only place I actually wet a line. Will pass on posting the pictures.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Travel - Helsinki

Water Everywhere, But Not A Spot To Fish

With a cruise, one measures ones time in hours – or minutes. Helsinki was a five hour stop (against the three hours in Stockholm). Great city, very modern, trolley loop to get around.

But we are here for fishing, and Helsinki might as well be Scotland or British Columbia for “ease of use”. There are 3 lakes/ponds in the city, but no one fishes there, as the salmon fishing in the sea is (apparently) so much better.

After a couple of hours trying to orient ourselves, read Rick Steves walking tour and a discovered a recommended fishing store: Schroder Sports Shop on Union Inkatu – basically straight up from the leftmost road of the market by the pier. The coffee house and park is opposite on the left.

Very interesting shop, but enormously expensive. Rapala plugs were at least twice as expensive as in US – and, of course, they are made/invented there! Average prices were 12-15€. Never seen such a display of spoons (apparently for pike). Asked about licenses, and was told one needs two; one for Finland and one for the city/province. Have to buy the first at a bank(?!)

Oh, and forget about Stockmans, the űber-department store. Lovely store, but fishing tackle was minimal; think LL Bean, not Bass Pro Shops.

I really detest anything other than first-hand experience, but just in case you are thinking of fishing there, there are walls, piers, where one can fish for salmon – or perch. Supposedly. Saw no one fishing.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Travel - Oahu

Sharpen your hooks!

Of all the useless things to do for fishing, sharpening hooks hits the top of the list. I must lose one hook an hour, sometimes every thirty minutes, so I am using new hooks almost daily. What have I got to sharpen?

The proof came on a visit to the Polynesian Cultural Center on the North side of Oahu. First, going through the exhibits, one of the most awe-inspiring sights was the use of fishhooks from a pre-Iron Age society, made from wood, but also bone. The most surprising was that the latter were in fact carved as circle hooks, which we today are only again beginning to use with any frequency – some 5000 years later! I am a big fan of circle hooks and was transfixed by the cleverness of these “primitive” hooks.

Secondly, I try to fish any and everywhere I go – even the Polynesian Center – and sure enough, there was a little alcove in which one could try fishing like a native. Again, a simple stick with modern filament and, basically, an open paperclip, cut and shaped in the familiar J-shape hook. Sharpened? It would take effort to poke it through paper!

The idea was to form a small pea from a handful of bread dough available and press it on the hook. One could certainly see fish (minnows) which is a good sign, but I expected a fair amount of fishing pressure, making catching difficult. Apparently there are catfish in the pond/lagoon. I am not good at baiting hooks with dough or bread or cheese and today was no exception. Almost every “cast” resulted in lost bait.

But I stuck with it! Finally, after perhaps 10-15 minutes, I pulled in a 4-5 inch something. A something is a fish that no one within earshot can tell what it is with any authority – particularly if it is a young fish.

Again one of the highlights of the trip; not only was the 30-Second Fisherman not skunked, but also proved that sharp hooks are the last thing one needs to waste ones time on.