Monday, December 27, 2010

More Florida (revised)

I love stories of children overcoming inherited hardship. Those stories that pit the vulnerable purity of a child against the harsh corrupt adult establishment effect me deeply. Charles Dickens exploited this genre to great effect in “David Copperfield” and “Oliver Twist”. Their have been many since. Recently, I have read a few, “The Glass Castle”, “The Golden Mountain”, “The Color of Love” and the work of Tobias Wolf and Frank McCourt come to mind as good examples. If we understand “karma” to mean the circumstantial environment into which we are born, these are essentially tales of great spiritual triumph. Politicians know the value of this narrative and tell it ad nauseum . It is not my story.
In 1958, to a kid from the New York City area, Florida was another universe. Actually anywhere south of Pennsylvania seemed a different country. The Mason Dixon Line still existed as a cultural boundary and you knew it when you crossed it. But Florida was special, not so much a "Southern" state as a land of myth and wonder where air was thick with sulfur, trees shrouded in Spanish Moss and spiky grass filled with poisonous insects. Instead of Santa Claus, there was Ponce de Leon who promised his own brand of magic - something of tremendous value though of little interest to us at that time. And the alligators - no where in New Jersey could you find an animal that promised such death and destruction in one encounter; a living nightmare and a dream come true for a 8 year old boy.
Before his back went bad, my dad liked to drive, so he concocted a family vacation that involved a lot of driving. The preparations were as elaborate as an amphibious invasion. They involved the transport of wife, nanny, three kids and luggage enough for a two week stay. Some years, I think, there may have been a nanny for the nanny as well. My dad was not one to travel light. For this trip all had to fit into and on top of a station wagon - the very model Judy Garland was driving at the time. The starting point was our home in northern New Jersey and the destination was half way down the Florida coast.
The country was flush with optimism. The depression and the war were behind us and especially in the north the economy was booming. Cars were then, as now, emblems of identity, evidence of worthiness and testaments to vanity. Form scoffed at function for our Chrysler wagon. Great fins, faux luggage racks and an enormous motor was all you needed to cruise Eisenhower's Autobahn. It had three rows of seats. My parents sat up front, the nannies plus sister in the middle and my brother and I were in the back. For what seemed like such a great place to experience the wonder of a long road trip, the back seat had its drawbacks. With its rear facing view, whip-lash ride and a hot sun filled window, that when opened, sucked in leaded exhaust fumes, the back seat was custom made to cook and nauseate its occupants.
As we traveled, the pure discomfort of the ride was overcome only by the anticipation of the next stop in this increasingly exotic country. The burgeoning art of the roadside attraction was in its infancy and characterised by experimentation and opportunism. As well as the more well funded pits such as “South of the Boarder”, one most memorable to me was a house that had slipped off its foundation and was being marketed grandly as “The Mystery House” where marbles rolled, on there own, all the way across the room. The further south we got the stronger the feeling - “We’re not in (New Jersey ) anymore”. I would not have been surprised to see flying monkeys perched in the trees along the highway. Nothing was more thrilling than the marginal motels and their questionable bed sheets that induced such horror in my mother and the nannies. People talked so gently and slowly it seemed there was a bowl of free candy on every table. However, even from my perch, I could see sharply drawn contrasts. There were mansions and shacks - lots of shacks. Blacks were blacker, Whites whiter and dust rose from gangs of men chained at work along the side of the road. The food was uniformly light brown and there were pecan rolls that came out looking just like they went in.
It took three or four days to complete the journey. At last we arrived at a dubiously maintained wooden bridge that crossed the Indian River. There is nothing like a near dear death experience to unify the inhabitants of a car. The Lord’s Prayer was uttered in German by the nannies continuously as the tires from our heavily loaded wagon made loose planks of the bridge click and groan as we passed impossibly high above the inland waterway and into Melbourne. There we stayed at the edge of the ocean in Neptune Hall - a motel right on the beach complete with its own cast of mythical characters. There was the King, the owner, a morbidly obese man my dad called Slim, the kindly Doctor Sweet and his Little Mermaid daughter Kitty. Dickens would have approved - Kitty Sweet lived up to her name bestowing on my brother a first glimpse at the awesome power of romantic love. .
When we did finally arrive, it was all sand and sun and more marginal bedding. This time the shacks were ours and they were right on the beach. We were warned to check our shoes for scorpions in the morning as the screen doors were so flimsy there was no way to keep the outside from in. It was such fun, we couldn’t get enough and as a result got too much. Too much sun for our little northern bodies - by the second week my siblings and I were busy peeling off burned layers of skin. The first year found me badly burned, paralyzed with pain. Ministered to by the good doctor and the nannies, I was confined to the shade for days.
Florida is difficult to find now. It is hidden beneath vast carpets of well irrigated spongy crab grass and strategically placed palm trees. Even sidewalks and enormous air conditioned interiors give us just what we want and push aside what we were seeking. But sometimes, early in the morning, “off season” and before there is enough light to dispel the dream, a silhouette of huge low hanging spider or the sudden splash at the edge of the path can bring back that Florida I once knew.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Sutton Hoo on the Trinity

Peter S. had this to say about fishing the Trinity last Saturday :

"The river was dropping, not many fish in the system, I cought (sic) this 30" female swinging a small black leech on a 6 wt rod fishing a type 3 -18' sink tip on a run between "Bucktail" put-in and Old Steel Bridge takeout about noon on Sat."

Old Steel Bridge - great place on beautiful river

Thursday, October 14, 2010

8 Days in Florida

Sept 11
It was off season in the land of retirement. The land where tendency and desire roam free and obligation and duty take a back seat. The three hour difference from California to Florida helped me get down to the beach early this morning. There I saw a small commotion taking place at the mouth of Clam Pass. On a spit of sand in the current that was rapidly emptying the water of Clam Lagoon were three figures - a older woman in a beach chair, an older man (apparently her husband) and very large pile of brownish green flesh.
"Your going to hurt your back!" the woman yelled at the man who was toiling at the flesh pile. Harry continued to toil, I decided to investigate.
"Harrrry, leave that alone - the beach people will take care of it." she yelled again as I approached Harry and what I now recognized as a manatee the size off a compact car. It was stuck in the sand just about four feet from the edge of the bar where Clam Pass empties into the Gulf of Mexico.
" I think if I can make a trench in front of her she will slide into the deeper water" Harry said to me as I began to dig.
"Is it dead " I asked.
"Oh no. She just got stuck about thirty minutes ago." said Harry going around and lifting the beast's enormous head out of the water. As it cleared the surface I could see two slits flare open into oval shaped nostrils as the manatee sucked in a huge gulp of air before Harry gently lowered it's head back into the rushing water. We both dug around the edges of the animal and then tried to lift it. No go.
"Harrrrry, Stop that! you're going to hurt yourself." called the woman from the beach chair.
We dug some more and then tried again to lift the animal. I could not believe how passive this thing was. We were busily digging all around it, occasionally trying to budge it toward the open water. Now and then we splashed water on its back and lifted its head out of the water so it could grab some air. And, it just lay there; this enormous "wild", animal, just lay there like huge pile of very dense jello.
"Harrrry. Come back here. I'm calling the police.!" screamed the woman as she tucked a cell phone to her ear under a monstrous beach hat.
The sun climbed in the morning sky and we were getting nowhere. There is something about digging that evaporates my enthusiasm for a project no matter how important it seems to be. This was turning out to be very hard work. I began to think about the delicate state of my own back. The Florida sun was getting hotter and the edge of the bar further away as the tide continued out. I was feeling jet lagged and was hoping the "beach people" or the police might show up soon.
"Harrrrrry. Leave that thing alone. The police will take care of it", the beach chair screeched yet again.
That was it! I shouted over my shoulder, "Give the guy a break - It's the most meaningful thing he'll do all day!" We kept digging. You'll notice I did not include myself in that statement because my "To Do List" for the day read like this:

1. Go to beach.
2. Save manatee.
3. Buy decent coffee.
4. Take nap.
5. Buy decent beer.

We dug and lifted and dug and lifted and got nowhere. But then the " beach people" did show up. They were a couple of under-employed man children in bright red shorts who ordinarily put out the umbrellas and beach chairs. Like union workers who carefully avoid extending the limits of their jobs they stood a safe distance and filled us in on the pithy details of what was happening.
"Yup, it's a manatee. Those things are heavy, and, This has happened before."
Oh, thanks a bunch.
I tried wedging myself under tail end and pushing with my feet so that the current would run under the animal instead of pressing it down. It's what I do when confronted with an impossible task - I theorize. It never works and makes me look ineffective, but at least it keeps me there. Of course, what Harry was doing wasn't working either but, he was still there too and in the end that was what worked.
Eventually a couple came over and the wife took on the job of splashing water on the manatees back and the husband helped us dig. Then there were four of us buzzing around this inert shape. It was still way too heavy but our cause was attracting people from all over the beach. Suddenly, it became "Yes We Can" and four more people joined in and with one mighty lift the beast tipped over the edge of the bar, flipped its tail and cruised out to the gulf.


Thursday, September 9, 2010

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Sea Run Cutts

I hit a tiny coastal river with one of my interns I have working for me in the boat. He grew up on the coast and told me of this little known fishery. Having never targeted sea run cutts, I brought the arsenal (5wt, 8wt, spin rods, bait)...after trying all fly methods I resorted to the local method: Trolling with spinners (salmon colored wedding ring was the ticket) with a small worm on the hook. Just 10 min after High Tide, the bite was on! These fish are hot. On a 5wt would be a real hoot.

I brought home my limit, (2fish) the meat is pink like salmon and folks say it is better than salmon and steelhead, planning on eating wed night. This type of fishing is ideal for little kids, so I am excited to have learned it. I thing trolling leaches on sink tips might work.

I caught some on a river that drained into the Puget Sound by letting the fly lay on the bottom a couple of beats then jigging it up.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Florida Report

Flamingo in Everglades National Park

Finally a week of calm conditions and a weekend of predicted calm conditions are in store for us in South Florida. Where to go first, that is the problem. Redfish, tarpon, a few snook and seatrout have been feeding on the flats of Florida Bay and the areas around Snake Bight, Palm Key, Frank Key, and Garfield Bight. All are good places to start in the morning. Lots of big sharks have been feeding on mullet schools on the shallow grass flats. Snappers can be found in almost every channel and on the deeper grass flats.

Snook, seatrout, redfish, snappers, jacks and ladyfish can be found along the beaches and shorelines that have downed trees. Offshore Spanish mackerel can be found along with jacks, and sharks plus a few tarpon. Look for the frigate birds and diving terns. Over the rock piles and wrecks permits, large jacks, a few cobia, giant goliath groupers and huge sharks will be available. High tide at Flamingo in Florida Bay on Saturday will be at 7:06 AM and in Whitewater Bay high tide is at 8 AM.

Great fishing in July should continue into August Go Catch Them!
Capt. Roan zumFelde
July 25, 2010
Naples - Saltwater Fishing Report

Great fishing for most of the month of July and it looks like it is continuing directly into August. Bonnie was a bust fishing resumes as normal in the Naples and Marco waters.

July fishing was very good inshore, offshore, Bait, Fly and pretty much whatever you wanted to do. Lets hope August stays the same it looks good so far. Snook fishing was very good on both bait and fly most of the month. The fish were pretty much everywhere, from the passes all the way to the back country. Great numbers of fish along with some big one's were in or around all the passes from Cax to Wiggins. They were hitting most everything including small baitfish flies, White Bait, and Jigs. The fly fishing was better in the late afternoon and into the night for both Snook and Tarpon. Morning fishing was good but you needed to be there early, which is typical summer fishing. The nice thing about morning though, less bugs and we fished to more large floaters and Tarpon in the Back Country. One morning especially, we landed two 32 and 35 inch Snook and jumped 7 Tarpon up to 40 pounds landing one all on Rz's Tarpon Muddler in Yellow and Grey. Bait fishing has been excellent also, fishing a Hamilton Harbor BCS Charity Tourney last week my anglers D.J. and Tom from North Ft. Myers were able to Card out with Two Snook and Two Redfish and win by a very slim margin over 2nd place finisher Todd Geroy and third Place Mike Rucker. The Tourney was a lot of fun and a great group of guys and gals fished it. We were lucky to win, the second Redfish was the deciding factor. Red fishing in the Naples and Marco waters has been very difficult. We caught ours under the Docks along the Gordon River. The offshore fishing has been hard to beat the last month. Great Snapper fishing both inshore and offshore has been awesome. Large mangroves and if you get out far enough they are catching some Muttons and Red Snapper. Also out there are scattered Kingfish, Sailfish, Black fin Tuna, and Cobia. Oh yeah and the Spanish Macks are everywhere off the beaches. I think this has been one of the best July's I have ever seen.
Naples Fishing Forecast:

What will happen in August? It looks pretty good. I do not see anything on the horizon to change things. Bait is still plentiful and the fish do not seem to be acting in a strange manner. I would expect a little increase in temps and hopefully a slow tropical season will keep us in business. It will depend on the Rain if it is heavier than usual then it will be slower fishing if it is steady then the fishing will be good. If it is less than normal the fishing will be difficult. Low rainfall and high temps will make thing a little tough, so lets hope for nice steady afternoon rains that keep the temps down in our waters. Our fish this time of the year need that influx of freshwater it is very important to them and there young one's. Offshore fishing should continue strong although I would expect the snapper fishing to slow a bit but other things should pick up. Small Tarpon fishing in the creeks should be good especially if we are getting steady rain. Big Tarpon will be non factor this month but should be back strong in the middle of next month. The most important thing is to get out and fish. Have Fun and please catch and release the Snook carefully. Thanks Roan z.

Important websites:


Thursday, July 29, 2010

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Count down for our McCloud

News from the front.

" Hey Jim
There's a meeting on august 18th which appears to be our last chance to stop the kyakers from owning the first two months of trout season. If you can make it it would lend weight to our rather light resistance. I've been really busy working on the boat for salmon season so I've just been monitoring the situation with the Mc. Cloud and it doesn't look good. We need a really good lawyer to state our case(no help from cal trout or TU) or we will lose our precious spot as we always do in reliscencings . Doesn't seem like it should be legal to turn over our traditional fishing place and time to boating interest. Where does it end? In November the deal is done so we don't have much time. If you know anyone who might be able to help let me know.
Check out this fish from Hore Pond." Tom

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Art Is A Lie

Cool site I was fortunate to win a place in Showcase Winners "Mixed Media" section:

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Vanny Fishes the City 3

Went in to see my friend Dave Young's exhibit in 2 venues in the Tenderloin. Visited some other galleries : Ever Gold, Heist and Kokoro to name a few.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Friday, April 2, 2010

Vanny fishes the City

Will and I met D Young V for Open Thursday in San Francisco:

1. Fecal Face (dot) Com Derek Albeck and Marco Zamora

2. The Lounge with Helen

3.KOKORO with Kristin Farr

4. Ever Gold Gallery American Cinema

5.The Last Gasp "Doggy Diner" heads and other " Lowbrow Art"

Monday, March 15, 2010

R.R. Chrons.

Jan 11
Rode the few miles to Snag, mostly for the view. Hey, I live in a beautiful part of the world and its Spring!
This season could be a bust. Water levels are still high and visibility is back down to 2.5'. Good for the fish bad for the fly fisherman. I bet things are better on the coast where rivers clear/drop faster. I did get one nice picture from Tom a few months back. The fact I have not heard another peep leads me to believe, things must be pretty hot. One thing gives me hope for the Russian is, there were so few fish early on, maybe the run is late.
I'll try again in a week.
March 19
Wet year. Sometimes all a river wants to talk about is water.
March 28
Finally, the water has cleared up. There is actually about 5' visibility. Its still high but I had a chance. One grab at Snag, it could have been a trout or, maybe not. More rain on the way.