The overwhelming push on environmental issues that are far from clear like anthropologic climate change on social media sometimes results in easily understood and non controversial ones to be overlooked. For instance, water quality in our communities’ waterways has declined over the past decades, yet not a lot of people are aware of the issue and how easily they can change their behavior to improve it.
Whether inland or along the coast in Florida, decades of fertilization of yards has resulted in lush landscapes around most neighborhoods. The unintended consequence is run-off of excess fertilizer into adjacent streams, ponds, lakes and rivers. The resulting nutrient load in the water results in algae blooms and uncontrolled growth of various submerged and emergent grasses and plants. In the worst of cases, oxygen levels plummet and living creatures throughout the water column die.
Even cutting grass and allowing it to get washed into storm water sewers has the same effect, as the clippings contain high amounts of nutrients that are easily released into the water, upsetting the natural balance.
In order to combat these problems, many communities have asked their residents to suspend fertilizer application through the rainy season, June – December. Doing so will help to prevent the run-off from thunderstorms being so easily loaded with excess nutrients.
In addition, several counties and municipalities are using placards and public information campaigns to educate the population on how to avoid sending clippings downstream into bodies of water by simply being mindful of where your mower sheds clippings. Don’t blow them into the street, send them back across the yard where they can degrade and release the nutrients into the lawn, where you want them anyway.
Simple problems and simple solutions are easy to understand. They don’t contain hidden agendas or the creation of “credits” made out of a nebulous idea that go to an equally mysterious bank.
If your neighborhood lacks a similar program, get involved and get one started. The cost is low and the benefit to the environment is real.
Check out how its being done along the Indian River Lagoon in Brevard County, Florida. Its a great example of how little ideas can have a big impact.
I searched for months for the skiff I have now owned for the past 9 years. After missing a couple of similar models, I finally got the jump on everyone and got the first look at my 1998 Hells Bay Whipray – “Mosquito Lagoon” Edition, (the 33rd hull built) when my son was less than a day old. I left the hospital a day later to see it for the first time. I wrote a check that afternoon, knowing I had found my saltwater soulmate.
The near decade we’ve spent together has been epic. She’s taken me on lots of adventures across the Sunshine State.
There is something special about that old skiff. Today, I watched Flip Pallot opine, in the way only he can, the History of Hells Bay Boatworks. It was fantastic.
In addition to hearing his thoughts on the journey that lead to the revolutionary skiffs we love, I’ve talked a lot with Chris Morejohn, the architect behind the design. Having him remember my skiff and sharing details of its history was fulfilling and deepened my bond with it further.
A lot of people say there is no “perfect” skiff. They’ve never been on mine.
When I hear people talk of fly fishing as a sport, I silently disagree and hope that they might someday evolve and recognize it in its purest form, a lifestyle.
While it may seem off-putting or elitist to say, its truly how I feel. To me, its more than reaching for a different piece of equipment when I’m fishing. Fly fishing is what bends my perception of this planet. You know, the one that sports a surface made up primarily of water. I see through that lens when I view my day, week or future years. When I talk with friends, it is always there, even if just below the surface.
Fly fishing wasn’t always that for me, but it has been now for so long, I have a hard time remembering it any other way.
As a kid, I travelled a lot on summer breaks from school. Camping our way from Memorial Day to Labor Day, my family and I have explored all over the United States and Canada. My memories from those adventures are cherished, yet more recent travels spurred by fly fishing have meant more to me.
The reason for the enhanced quality of the fly fishing travel is certainly due to the bonds that were made and kept with fellow anglers that accompanied me.
There have been many fish caught and released along the way, yet its the camaraderie that my memory keeps vivid.
Sports have seasons, competition and champions. The fly fishing lifestyle I’ve grown to love has none.
When I see companies that recognize that lifestyle matters more than SPF factor and how waterproof a bag might be, I’m more inclined to spend my money with them.
Howler Brothers is one such company. If you don’t get the sense that these guys are living a lifestyle, you may not have a pulse or have given up on life.
One of my partners in crime recently found out that we have been granted access to a condo in the Bahamas when we want to take advantage of it. The news sent my mind reeling with thoughts of morning tides that overtake mangrove propagules that have taken root in soft marl in the far reaches of a coastal creek.
The image of sunlight flashing from an upturned tail breaking the surface draws me like a moth to flame.
I have things that could be more productive that need to be down, yet I pour over aerial maps on Bing and Google looking for areas of promise that will soon be within reach.
To me there is nothing more rewarding than plotting a course that takes me to a new area where I think bonefish will await my unfurling loop of fly line.
The hunt is still a ways away, so for now I’ll continue to plan.
When I step into the warm salty waters somewhere within the archipelago of The Bahamas, I’ll be ready.
At the end of 2014 the family and I packed up and headed west in order to give my son his first experience seeing snow. By all measures the trip was a wild success. Truly a spur of the moment idea, we threw together an itinerary on the fly and let the adventure unfold on its own terms.
Despite being billed as a family trip I found enough time to sneak off and stepped out for an afternoon session that quickly had me longing for a saltier environment. Say what you will about trout guys having trouble with the double haul, fishing with gloves is harder!
The greatest part of the journey was the discovery of the National Park Service’s Junior Ranger Program. It has sparked an insatiable appetite in my child for spending time outdoors learning about history, wildlife and conservation.
Since our return we’ve dedicated time to visiting a few National Memorial sites that we likely wouldn’t have in order to complete the Junior Ranger programs there. As an unintended consequence, our family is now more actively engaged in finding new places to visit and learn about.
If you have little ones, check out the program and get out there, you’ll spend amazing quality time with them and they’ll soak up knowledge at an alarming rate. Their program’s motto sums it up nicely; Explore – Learn – Protect
I recently completed a wonderful multi-day trip in Florida Bay, staying a few nights under the clouds and stars atop a Chickee in Everglades National Park.
The weather was a bit chilly and the wind was blowing near a gale for a good portion of the trip, but the fish didn’t seem to mind too much.
I’m no trailblazer in this regard. Lots of folks have been there & done that, as will many more to follow.
If you haven’t, drop it in the proverbial bucket and make sure you reach in and fish it out before you die.
Sitting in the dark over the clear briny water watching the bioluminescent algae flash in pulses reminiscent of lightning bugs on a cool August evening in Appalachia will enlighten you and draw you closer to nature in a way that is hard to explain. Its no wonder ancient tribes had such respect and viewed their environment in such reverent awe.
Below is a great example of an Over Night from Livit Films.
As you can see the opportunities in the Everglades are vast and friendships simply grow stronger there.
Now for the Public Service Announcement portion of this entry:
I run a tiller skiff. Its my preference when it comes to how to operate a vessel. I feel in touch with the water in a way that is hard to reduce to words. I respect it too.
Years ago, I was running a tiller skiff across a deep basin in an estuary in Central Florida when the lower unit collided with a marine mammal of greater mass. In the blink of an eye, I was sent headlong into the water as the skiff turned a sharp 45-90 degrees and was suddenly no longer beneath me.
When I emerged from below the surface, I was met with silence, but for the rhythmic splashing of my wake lapping the waterline of the skiff where she sat a few dozen yards away.
A great friend had always demanded the kill switch be worn when we duck hunted and the habit had stuck.
If it had not been for that switch and lanyard, I may have been in for a long swim or worse.
In a nut shell; if you’re operating a vessel, especially a tiller steering equipped skiff. ALWAYS WEAR YOUR KILL SWITCH LANYARD.
That concludes this PSA, brought to you by the wet guy dragging himself across the gunnel to fish another day.
As jolly St. Nick prepares his sleigh and team of tiny reindeer, my thoughts move to the weather. Just like Santa, I too plan to be active on Christmas Eve. Now going on nine years, my tradition of spending the day outdoors on the water looks to be a tough one.
The forecast is filled with a stiff breeze and showers, but my hopes are not dashed. I’ll be out there despite the weather. Its going to be my last salty outing of the year, and I’m not about to pass just because its a little less than ideal in the weather department.
My Christmas Eve tradition is a day of reflection on the year past, its successes and failures (plenty of those), as well as a time to look forward to the coming year and what it might bring.
The cleansing I receive at the hands of the great outdoors and its beauty is why I fly fish, it is who I’ve become. Just like the gifts brought by three wise men, the water delivers me a bounty that is hard to measure.
Less than a week ago, I spent the afternoon with my young son, chasing redfish in small creeks and ponds hoping to sow the same seed in him that my father nurtured in me.
On Christmas Eve I’ll be thankful for all that I’ve been able to do in the year past and look forward to more good times that will surely come.
“Then we got into a labyrinth, and, when we thought we were at the end, came out again at the beginning, having still to see as much as ever.”
I try to take something away from every outing on the water. A little moment or big, it doesn’t matter; just a piece of the puzzle that fits into the ever sprawling mosaic of experience that builds my bigger picture of fly fishing.
As the sun sank to my west, I stood in the cockpit of my skiff and chased it towards the horizon. Lying before me was the gear I had needed to be self reliant for a couple of nights in Everglades National Park.
The feeling I had was one of achievement. I had arrived with a few goals in mind and I had checked them off the list along with a couple more that were simply icing on the cake.
The trip was made in the company of a great friend and fellow fly angler.
The great feelings aside, we learned a lot and more importantly, nourished the desire to return and build upon it.