The Blitz: Fly Fishing the Atlantic Migration

What makes a good coffee table book? Is it the diversity of content? The beautiful photographs? The witty quips? To answer this question, I always defer to Kramer.

That being said, I personally am a sucker for big photographs of wildlife, musicians, or fishing. For example, I love a candid black and white of Lennon and McCartney backstage or a grazing moose in Denali.

While fishing last week with Brad, a buddy of mine from Virginia, he lazily spoke in between backcasts about a new book he got from his cousin.  Not only was it a coffee table book, but it was also about fishing. He had my attention.

The book is a photo journal of sorts from two guys who spent an entire year fly fishing the coast from Maine down through the Carolinas.

Since flipping through the first few pages, I can’t get The Blitz out of my mind.

Author Pete McDonald and Photographer Tosh Brown spent a year writing, photographing, filming and fly fishing the great Atlantic migration of several saltwater species. Along their way, the met up with guides, local clubs, and fly fanatics who showed them the ins and outs of their passion for saltwater fly fishing.

The book is just over 200 pages and probably 4/5ths of that is photography. The rest is a casual narrative reflecting on the people, places, and amazing resources dispersed along the Eastern Seaboard. The discussions cover a wide range of topics including local food hot spots, difficult barriers to meaningful conservation, history, ecology, and of course, fly fishing. There are Bonito, Bluefish, False Albies, Striped Bass, Red Drum and Tuna. Additionally, in the ever expanding online community, even a newbie to the coast and saltwater fly fishing discovers that several of the key players in The Blitz are familiar.

When McDonald and Tosh make their way down to NYC and connect with the Salty Flyrodders, one of the locals they meet up with is Mister Nick Murray.  Wait a minute… Mister Murray? The Man in the Striped Pajamas? Well, now the dots are connecting. Brad, the guy I was fishing with (who gave me this book), is the cousin of Nick Murray. So that’s how he got his hands on a The Blitz after it had only been in print for less than a month.

Later on, the two head to the Tidewater area of the Chesapeake and run into fly fishing guide Capt. Chris Newsome. Do you remember him? He was the guide who taught Sara and I how to make Stripers fall like Dominos.

If you have been fishing the coast for any substantial amount of time, I’m sure the names of people highlighted will be familiar to you. And that just makes this book all the more enjoyable.

As they state in the beginning, this isn’t a where-to-go, how-to-catch fishing book. In fact, this book reminded me a lot more of Blue Highways by William Least Heat Moon. In that book, Heat Moon traveled the US Highway system capturing in time the small towns and interesting people he met along the way. (This was when the Interstate system was being put into place).

The Blitz captures in time the locals who live for the months when the stripers flood or the bluefish start busting the surface. I think this book will too last as a snapshot of what costal fly fishing was like in 2010 as they name drop contemporary trends and topics like “The Situation” from Jersey Shore, President Obama and family vacationing in Martha’s Vineyard and snapshots of weather maps on iPhones. These details make the book specific to the now.

For a video chronicling the trip, watch below, but rest assured, it doesn’t even come close to comparing to the awesomeness of the hardback. The book is a wonderfully put together photographic editorial that deserves to be in any saltwater (or freshwater) fly fisherman’s book case.  Or, maybe more appropriately, it deserves a spot on their coffee table serving as a reminder to why we fish.

Red Tuna and OBN Writing Challenge

As long as we are being hypothetical, let’s go back. Maybe a couple hundred years. Yeah, far enough that the only people we’d come across would be Objibwe or Menominee peoples.

Of course we’d bring a drift boat. That way we’ll be able to cover more of the tanned rivers of Northern Wisconsin.

I’ll steer from the beginning. Robert, Bob as her prefers to be called, will be at the bow. We will drift down the river casting at the shoreline. Stripping magenta and chartreuse streamers across the surface of the water.

Because we are so far back in time, all we’ll hear is the song of the North Woods. And maybe Bob humming a tune.

“How about Standing in the Doorway? Sing that one Bob.” I’d say.

The rhythm of our casts are in sync with his rusted, whisky-soaked voice.  All day long…

Then, with the fading day, something changes. Drop the acoustic tunes. “People call and say beware doll…Do you want to make a deal?”


The powerful olive-backed body of a muskie DESTROYS my fly.  The beast fights and pulls our boat off course. I don’t even need to bring her into the boat. Subdued and exhausted, I revive her. Back and forth, back and forth… Then with a massive sweep she splashes me in the face as if to say, “Thanks, *sshole.”

Then Bob Zimmerman (Dylan, to the people back in our time) asks with a smirk, “So, how does it feel? Tell me, how does it feel?”

What do I say?  Nothing. I’m a complete unknown.

If you need a better visual of my entry for the Red Tuna OBN Writing Challenge, watch this video from Third Year Fly Fisher, Robert Thompson. It was my inspiration. Go HERE if the embed below isn’t working.

*** Update: These are the guys!

Sooner or Later…

It is going to happen. You will hear about this at some point. I figure, it might as well be sooner than later.

With the ever expanding blogrolls and lists of sites you scroll through each morning with breakfast, during your lunch break, or just before you go to bed, here is another hot-off-the-press site that give you links to a hodgepodge of quality (or at least entertaining) recent stories/posts…

So far, what I like about it most is that, just like Forrest Gump’s Mamma says… You never know what you’re gonna get. But it is all chocolate baby. All good.

On another note, my review of the book “The Blitz” should be up in the next day or so; maybe even tonight. I know I said “you need to see this,” but really, I just need to write it. I’ve enjoyed it so much. It is more for me than you 🙂 But that’s okay, right? Talk soon.

Raise Your Voice!

Regardless of your stance on supporting public radio, this is an easy way to get some cool fresh music.

Minnesota Public Radio has a separate music station called The Current. It is probably one of the best music stations I’ve ever listened to for it’s wide variety of music that never fails to be anything less than impressive.

They are giving away 16 tracks of music if you give them your email, and thereby support public radio. If you are interested, click here.

I don’t care if you do it, I just wanted you to know about it 🙂

Oh yeah, I caught a Croaker today. Croak Croak! I like these little guys.

Lastly, thank you to Appalachia and Beyond for giving me a new set of Winchester pocket knives. They are great! I won them in one of their giveaways. Check them out!

Up and Down

The waves are sliding
Like sheets on a bed.
Tuck on in,
Get on out.
Wake up. Drink your coffee.
Wake up. Play guitar.
Wake up. Eat your breakfast.
Wake up. Cast long and far.
I get 4 days off a month. Today is one of them. It can be a day of activity or nothing. Both have their benefits. I decided to wake up without an alarm, only rise when fully rested. I had coffee and breakfast at a leisurely pace. Then played guitar for a bit. An activity long overdue.  
Now that I’ve got a surf rod, I figured I would walk 2 miles down the beach to the rock breakers where some bigger fish might lie. Gear rigged up and fanny pack tight on my waist, I set out.
If I were in Minnesota,
I’d call this a walleye chop. 
On the Chesapeake,
These are Croaker curls,
Striper waves,
or Flounder tides.
I was off on a brisk pace. It was a gorgeous morning. The heat cooled off a bit. There was a little cloud cover. As I approached the area I was looking to fish, I came across a crab cage that had been dropped by a boat. The heavy waves brought it in and, by the look, it had been there for some time. There were close to twenty, exhausted blue crabs inside, over 2/3 of which were females carrying their eggs beneath their tails. No one else was around. The crabs were dying. A wasted catch. 
Emotions mixed,
I clipped the wires.
Guiltily apologizing to the fisherman.
Why couldn’t you just anchor your cage?
Why did I have to find this?
With satisfaction, I let the crabs go,
Trading their release for guilt
That shadowed me the rest of my day.
Upon reaching the spot….
I hooked up my bait, and made a few casts. Three in, I felt the shudder of a bite. Set the hook. And began to reel. This was a better fish. I was right, there are bigger ones here. With out warning, I felt the tension of the line release. Did my line break? I looked. No. No it is still there, weighed down in the water by my rig. I looked at my reel. What the heck? My bail was gone. 
I buy a brand,
Though the cheapest deal,
Looking for reliability,
in my rod and reel.
But on it’s third use,
A major malfunction.
Is this karma returning
On behalf of the crab fisherman?
*sigh* It is what it is. My fishing ended early. After reeling in by hand, my largest croaker yet, I started back.  I walked past the empty crab cage wondering if I was too rash in my actions. Should I have left them there? They would have died. The boat would not drive up to shore to fetch an errant cage. At least, I hope not. For if they would, I feel even worse. My clipping isn’t anything they can’t fix, but still, maybe I should have left it alone. 
I walked back, feeling sour. I wasn’t sure how to receive this morning. Would I have been better off at work today? I suppose not. 
Walking and reflecting,
Singing to myself,
I spotted a pod of dolphins
playing in the waves.
Jumping, playing,
Diving, and chuffing. 
Laughing in turbulent waters,
They put on a show.
Up and down.
I sat and watched. 
Some days are fulfilling,
And some are not.
If you look close, you can see a fin.
All in all, the reel ended up being an easy fix. I had another broken reel, that willingly donated a few parts. It has been a busy morning. Full of activities. Some brought me up, some brought me down. Tides move the same way. There is no up, without a down. And I must remind myself, a bad day on the water, is still better than most days off.
Lunch and a nap sounds like a good activity for the afternoon. Yeah. I think that will be good. Up with the tides. Up with the sheets. Up with the corners of my mouth.


And things go up… Peanut Butter, Honey and Cinnamon on Vanilla Ice Cream.
Heck yes I did.

Surf’s up!

All it took was a quick trip to walmart and I’m now equipped for surf fishing. I was able to pick up a setup for around $50 (thanks mom and dad). Not too shabby. I got out twice this weekend for a few casts. Using cut up shrimp on a 2 ounce down rigger (it is a bit like a lindy rig), I was able to catch one whiting and a bunch of small croaker. And those croakers really do croak. It is pretty funny to hear/feel them burping in the palm of your hand.

I have to thank JM at Something’s Fishy for giving me the confidence to get this started. It is going to be another fun way to catch some fish, even if I’m not throwing that 2 ounce weight with a fly rod 🙂