Angling the Globe|
[Most Recent Entries]
Below are the 19 most recent journal entries recorded in
|Wednesday, May 31st, 2006|
It was almost 4 months since I had step foot in my home state. It felt great flying over the snow capped peaks of the Rocky Mountains. The first thing I had planned after finally making my way to my parents home in Colorado Springs was to head down to Salida Colorado in hopes of hitting an early mother’s day caddis hatch with local fly-fishing legends:
and Phil Marzolf.
We traveled to what was formerly is known as “Browner’s.”
Former fly-fishing guide and fly shop owner Matt Brown’s propertyis conveniently placed aside the infamous Arkansas River. What used to be Browner’s Fly Shop is now a house where an older lady resides. Behind, a top a hill overlooking the river is a small one-room cabin. With blankets, cots, sleeping bags, and fly-fishing gear sprawled through out the floor we had a couple drinks and hit the sack in anticipation for a long day of fishing and hopefully a caddis hatch.
We woke up early, had breakfast at a local country café. After a home cooked breakfast at the Broken Arrow, Phil decided it was necessary to buy an entire blueberry pie along with sandwiches the nice lady packed for our lunch. Blueberry pie? Sounds pretty good, why wouldn’t we buy one?
We then headed out and put in. We had plenty of room to cast with two boats, four guys and two pups.
Ron insisted on rowing first. He was more excited than I was for me to catch a fish back in my home state.
The Hatch was heavily anticipated.
We didn’t have any action at all in the morning, fishing a caddis on top and dropping a midge behind. So I started to strip a wooly bugger off the banks. It wasn’t too long before I nailed one. Our plan was to film any fish we caught for a potential ending to my film. But as the camera was in the dry box on the boat it was quite a task to open up the box turn on the camera all while one man is trying to land a fish and the other is manning the oars. The first fish I caught Ron handed me the net while I managed to turn the camera on and get a shot of the release out of the net.
The next one I caught we decided to do away with the video camera idea and just take a couple snap shots. It was a lot less stressful allowing me to fully appreciate the thrill of catching a fish back home.
Next, Ron and I decided it was his turn to fish. With his 6 weight orvis specially rigged for stripping boogers overloaded with a 7 wt sink tip line he hammered some nice fish off the banks.
Ron’s angling skills are real sweet.
From a distant we saw Phil and Browner nailing some fish
Half way through the 15 mile float we stopped for lunch. After some damn good sandwiches made by the broken arrow, we broke out what Phil’s pup hatch had been waiting for all day
It was awesome.
After lunch we caught a couple more fish but didn’t see the swarming hatch that we had hoped for.
We all agreed that if we were going to film we needed to do it right. We decided to dedicate one boat to filming the other fishing. It was going to be the only way to film a take, catch and release all together. So that’s what we did.
Ron was the man and manned the oars on the filming boat all day. He did a real sweet job, especially after some work at it. He came to the conclusion that oaring for a camera is exactly opposite of oaring for fisherman. He was constantly rowing backwards trying to face the front of the boat back towards the other boat. I think he got a pretty good workout.
Phil caught a couple, and then browner did too. We stopped and waded for a while when Ron hooked one, I got some nice footage. We didn’t see the Caddis Hatch like we wanted too. If you’re lucky the Caddis swarm is so intense that you can barely see across the river, not to mention them crawling in and around your bodily orifices.
We did get to see a couple nice hatches with some opportunities for pictures.
At then end of the float I got put under some major pressure. We had only a small stretch of river left and it was my turn to catch a fish. Well I had my chance and pretty much blew it. Its amazing how much your demeanor changes when a camera is pointed at you. Who cares, At least I caught one later wading. It was a real sweet weekend and tons of fun.
After being around the whole world I’ve come to the conclusion that Colorado is the most beautiful place on this planet.
|Tuesday, May 9th, 2006|
Back in the United States!
I had a major case of mixed emotions when porting in San Diego. It was sad to leave all the great friends I had made but at the same time I was real excited to see everyone I hadn’t seen in over 3 months, my girlfriend Sara, my friends, and my family. Not to mention how excited I was to make it back to Colorado at the height of the Caddis Hatch! As we pulled into port a large crowd of parents were there to greet us.
PJ (Profesor Seel’s son. Seen in Vietnam entry) He needed a little boost so he could get a better view of the large mass of parents.
I didn’t think anything of it because my parents weren’t coming and Sara wasn’t supposed to arrive until later that morning. So I went back to my cabin after we were docked when I found that I had missed calls from my Mom and my Dad. The first thought that came to mind was, How’d they time that up so well? There’s no way that they are here. Then I thought about it, they never said anything about coming to meet me in San Diego, and it never occurred to me that they were even considering coming. I dialed my Dad as I walked back up to the 7th deck, after a couple rings he picked up “Welcome Home! Where are you?” I replied, “San Diego” He said, “No, where on the ship are you? In your room?” I said “NO WAY, YOU’RE NOT HERE!? He replied, “YOU BET YOUR ASS WE’RE HERE!” I couldn’t believe it! I yelled out, “NO WAY!” and started screaming to people on the packed 7th deck “MY PARENTS SURPRISED ME!” It was awesome and I was real excited.
Waving in the middle is my Mom in the Pink and my Dad in the Black
After a wonderful weekend in La Jolla with my brother Joey, we went up to Laguna beach to have dinner with Todd and Joselyn Miller (previously seen in Vietnam entry) At dinner reminisced about the rest of the voyage and discussed the fly-fishing possibilities at his private beach, Emerald Bay. So we set up for Joey to take me down there early the next morning.
The second we arrived at the beach that morning…
We saw a big group of dolphins no more than 50 yards out.
Todd and Joselyn showed me around their house. They had vintage surfboards and huge fish they’ve caught covering their walls, as well as semester at sea memorabilia everywhere. It was great to see that they continue to be so involved with Semester at Sea over 20 years after they originally met each other on their voyage.
The view from their front porch
After the grand tour Todd took me down to the beach. As soon as we pulled up I saw something enormous in the water…
4 huge gray Whales!
They were no more than 50 yards out swimming with the dolphins. I immediately felt nervous, these huge creatures were right where I was planning on fishing. After I calmed down a little Todd and I joked about what would happen if you hooked a whale. It’d probably demolish your life. He then explained that the whales migrate up and down the coast but he had never seen them this close. So I was lucky to see them. Todd explained where he thought I should fish. The bay was about a half a mile wide and surrounded by rocky cliffs.
It was a cool cloudy day but still warm enough to wade in the surf.
I fished the surf, then out from the rocks and didn’t have any action.
Todd told me that the fish feed on sand crabs in the surf. So I figured why not give it a shot. I tied a sand crab to my sink line and stripped it along the surf dragging it across the bottom. Honestly I wasn’t expecting anything, I was just happy to be out there. Then all of the sudden I felt a small tug on the end of my line. I was late to set the hook when I saw a small little perch flop out of the water as my fly came out of it’s mouth. My heart pounded as I screamed out “Damn it!” But I knew I was going to get some more action. A couple casts later, I landed one! By this time my camera battery was dead so I wasn’t able to get any shots of the tiny perch. The second one I caught actually had some size on it. It was about 10 inches maybe 2 pounds and totally engulfed the crab pattern. I had to run up to the beach to get my forceps because the hook was completely in its mouth. It was a fat fish compared to the tiny little first one.
Later, I looked up and something startled me, it was a sea lion, no more than 30 feet from me. He looked right at me, curiously tilting his head to the side. He then splashed around in the water playfully. It was so funny I laughed out loud.
I ended up landing 4 fish that morning. Between all the wildlife I got to see and the fish I caught it was for sure an awesome time!
|Friday, April 28th, 2006|
The day before we arrived in Japan the seas were horrendous. It was raining and the swells were huge. They closed off all decks on the ship because it was a safety hazard. I was praying for better weather because we were planning on fishing the next day.
We woke up to find that the weather hadn’t improved at all it actually got worse. It was still pouring rain and the winds were still high. As usual it took forever to get off the ship and the line for the train going into town was out the door. So Blake and I decided to walk. In full rain gear we walked 30 min into town and got soaked. We got a chance to check out Kobe (pronounced coe-bay) under a downpour.
Back in the Fall Jim Klug the owner of Yellow Dog Fly Fishing Adventures hooked me up with a number of contacts around the world. Most being fly-fishing guides and some were just guys that worked in the fly-fishing business and simply lovefly-fishing, like Takashi Nakajima. I had scheduled to meet Takashi at 6PM in the train station near the ship. He was right on time, wearing the same Yellow Dog hat as me but in Red, carrying G-Loomis rods, rolling a G-Loomis bag he greeted Blake and I with a big smile on his face. Takashi had a long day; he came all the way from Tokyo stopping in Kyoto and Osaka to do business. He works for a Japanese company that makes quality fly-fishing accessories C & F Design. Fly-Fishing is big in Japan! We hoped on a train and headed into downtown Kobe then down south to Asaki where we went to his colleague, Mitsuru Masaki’s fly shop, Loop Knot.
It was a small fly shop but had everything.
(left to right) Masaki Me and Takashi
We were like little kids in a candy store in this awesome little shop. He had so much stuff in the little room it was unbelievable. Takashi, explained how he works for C & F Design and showed us some of their products, he also does with design for a company that does work for companies like G-Loomis. After they showed us around the shop, Takashi said “I have presents for you.” Blake and I weren’t expecting anything because the fact that they were showing us around and taking us fishing was outstanding. He brought out two bags and handed them to Blake and I. We opened them. We were both very surprised to find two brand new fly boxes made by his company. We thanked him so much because this was such an awesome gift!
We continued to walk around the shop when we saw…
Masaki’s World Record! A 15 pound Japanese Sea bass; they call them Suzuki, caught on a 12 lb tippet.
It was obvious that Masaki was an experienced fly fisherman
He had endless pictures of him and fish.
This is a Japanese Trout, native to Japan. These exotic looking fish have distinct grey oval shaped markings with red dots on their sides.
Because of the bad weather we got stuffed on our original plan to go sea bass fishing. So Takashi and Masaki took us to eat, we were starving so this was a great idea. We went to a traditional Japanese restaurant. We took off our shoes and sat down at a table constructed a couple feet off a raised flat seating area. We had to sit on the ground Indian style which for Blake and I got real uncomfortable real fast.
We were constantly switching our legs around when they’d fall asleep. After a while I just sat sideways so my legs could rest of the ground off the raised seating area, it was tough eating sideways but my legs weren’t falling asleep anymore. This was no big deal because the food was so good. Masaki ordered a number of different things. I couldn’t even imagine trying to order our selves. The menu was all in Japanese characters and there weren’t any pictures.
The first thing they placed on the big hot flat skillet built into our table was this patty with all sorts of goodies in it. It was noodles cooked together with big chunks of squid in it. God, it was SOOO GOOD.
Masaki kept ordering while the waiter kept bringing out these amazing conglomerations of noodles, meats, and vegetables. This one he smothered in a sweet teriyaki type sauce that was awesome.
Then we had some great chicken, it was almost the same as teriyaki chicken but different, same same but different.
After dinner we ordered some sake. Takashi had beers with us during dinner and he explained that he liked sake but Masaki didn’t. So we figured we’d show them how we drink sake in the States…
Sake Bombs! (For those of you that don’t know, which is real lame if you don’t, sake bombs are where you place your chopsticks on top of the beer then a shot of sake on top of that, then you bang on the table on either side of the beer which makes the shot fall into the beer, then you chug it) Blake went first then I went while Blake filmed. Takashi and Masaki thought we were insane. I didn’t think they really understood why we’d mix the sake and the beer together and why we drank it so fast. While the camera was rolling I asked Takashi what he thought of the sake bomb. He was hesitant at first but then I told him to give me an honest answer. He said “I think it Stupid.” It was hilarious. Masaki thought the same.
“Sake bombs are stupid don’t you think Masaki?” “Yes, they very stupid.” “
It was pretty funny joking around with our new Japanese fishing buddies, even though we hadn’t been fishing together yet we were already having a blast.
Masaki was nice enough to drive us back to the ship that night. We had planned on meeting at 8AM the next morning to go fishing
DAY 2 (easily the sweetest day of the trip)
The weather was still a little crummy and the river we were supposed to fish in was high so after Masaki and Takashi picked us we headed to a trout lake. The blossoming cherry trees made it a beautiful drive.
It was about a 2-hour drive up into the mountains to the lake. When we got there we had to pay a couple bucks for 3 hours of fishing. It wasn’t exactly the type of fishing we hoped for but due to the circumstances we were fortunate just to be fishing. It was a small stocked lake with a large casting dock.
Masaki Casting from the dock. Both Masaki and Takashi had impressive casts.
Within minutes we were catching fish. Masaki caught the most. He kept changing his flies, trying new things and they were all working. Every time he’d change he would tell me to change as well after he caught a fish. But I was catching fish as well so it was fun.
We were using techniques I’ve never used before. The most unorthodox technique was dropping a salty bugger about 6 feet below and letting it sit with an indicator. I’d never seen a fish hit a fly that’s meant to have action on it, while its just sitting still. It was a very interesting yet effective technique.
After about 3 solid hours of fishing we headed to Kyoto, which was described to us as the perfect place to get a feel for “Old Japan.”
Our tour guide/fishing buddies took us to the “place where all the tourists go” as Takashi described it. He was right it was a very touristy area. A small street that led up to the temples was packed with foreign and Japanese tourists coming and going.
But when we got up to the temples it was a great view. The cherry blossoms covered the hills.
We walked through the gorgeous area surrounding these beautiful Buddhist temples. Masaki, Takashi, and Blake were constantly waiting for me because everything was so pretty I couldn’t stop filming.
We came up to one of the temples where Takashi explained that if you made an offering, or donation to the Temple you could make a wish receive as he described “good fortune.”
So we threw a couple coins in a wooden bin, and made a little wish. I’d tell you what I wished for but then it wouldn’t come true.
We followed the scattered crowds down through a path covered with cherry trees. We were so lucky to come to Japan in the springtime.
We came across a natural spring that was directed through 3 drains coming off the top of a building. Takashi explained to us that it was good luck to drink the water. We were a little skeptical at first but then said what the hell. So we purchased these cups for a buck or so and waited in line to make another wish.
The water tasted great, it was cool and refreshing. I made another wish in hopes to receive good fortune.
We hurried to leave Kyoto because a big night planned: fishing in the ocean for Japanese Sea Bass, “Suzuki.” We drove 2 hours back to “Loop Knot.” We got ready, had a quick bit to eat, and then headed to the harbor to load up Masaki’s boat. We got lucky with the weather, the seas were calm and the wind had died down, completely opposite of the night before. After about a 30-minute boat ride we arrived at their “special spot.” It was right in the middle of the big industrial area; big cargo liners and industrial machinery surrounded us. As soon as the boat stopped we heard sea bass rising all over! We couldn’t see them very well, but the light from the nearby industrial area reflected a faint glow on the water, which made it possible to locate some of the rises. It was awesome. With immense excitement we made our firsts casts. Takashi and Masaki showed us how to keep a constant moving strip. Using both hands, I used a technique Misty taught me in India pinching the line between your thumb and index finger and switching to your pinky. This is used to keep a constant movement on the fly, so it doesn’t stop and go like a conventional strip would do. After about 10 minutes of casting and no action we moved to another spot. About 100 yards away there was a huge ship with a bright light shining directly on the water below. Takashi explained to us that baitfish are attracted to the light and the sea bass come up and feed on the baitfish. Masaki pointed at the light directing us to cast and strip though the light, or just on the edge. So we did, after a couple casts I was watching Blake’s fly as he was stripping it slowly through the light when a seabass came out of nowhere and demolished it! It was awesome to see the take. Blake set the hook and we had our fist fish in the boat!
Within minutes, a sea bass annihilated my fly and I had one hooked!
These were both average size, no more than 18-20 inches.
The highlight of the night was when Takashi was fishing while I was filming. He hooked a nice one when seconds later Blake hooked one while the camera was rolling. Double Trouble!
Takashi’s fish was way huger. I think it made Blake feel like a total wuss.
Over the next couple hours, we were landing fish left and right. It was awesome fishing at night. There’s something mysterious about it. You can’t really see exactly where you’re casting but when a fish hits you’re fly it’s the best feeling in the world.
After about 3 hours of fishing it was almost 1AM. Takashi explained that we should head in. He told me to take one more cast about 5 times. I was glad he kept telling me to cast again because just one more fish was all I was asking for. On about the 5th time he told me to take one more cast, I was stripping my line slowly when BOOM! Another Suzuki!
It was one of the biggest ones of the night.
What a great end to an awesome the night of fishing. Remember the wishes or prayers we made in Kyoto? Well I prayed for fish. My prayers was answered!
Masaki and Takashi drove us home while I conducted an interview in the car. Takashi translated while I asked Masaki questions. I got some interesting stuff.
They dropped us off at the ship when we said our good byes. It was sad saying bye to our new fishing buddies. They went so much out of their way to show us a good time we couldn’t thank them enough.
After a full day and night of fishing we were exhausted so we slept like all day long. Well not all day but compared to how much we usually sleep in port (which is very little) we slept a lot. After waking up for lunch we checked out the town of Kobe a little. Went to an Internet café then got ready to go out that night.
That night wasn’t anything great either. I’d tell you all about it but it wouldn’t be worth it. Anything I talk about isn’t going to be nearly as sweet as catching all those Suzuki.
We were signed up to join a Semester at Sea sponsored trip to Hiroshima. After a 5-hour drive on a very comfortable tour bus we arrived at memorial park, the exact location where the atomic bomb was dropped at 8:15 am on August 6th, 1945.
This is the one building that is still standing from the A-bomb. I guess you never really realize the reality of things until you see them for your own eyes. This building was completely obliterated except for its foundation. This was nothing compared to what we were about to witness.
After a tour of memorial park we went to Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. They gave us each a one-ear head set and a key pad that plays an narration that coincides with the exhibits through out the museum. It was a very intense experience. The exhibits started out just explaining the history of the A-Bomb, and the war. Then towards the end they had numerous personal accounts and random artifacts that survived the bombing. For example they had a number of little children’s lunch pails that were burnt and clothes that were ripped to shreds.
A mobilized students uniform
Honestly the museum made me sick to my stomach. At the same time I felt I was shouldn’t be filming some of these exhibits. They were just to horrifying to look at I couldn’t even think about pointing a camera at some of them.
On a lighter note, Hiroshima has flourished into a beautiful city today. We got to visit a beautiful garden.
It was a nice peaceful way to end an intense day.
After another 5 hours in the bus we got back to the just in time to go out. It was our last chance to party in a port so we decided to go big. We went to a bar called Sally’s, but didn’t actually go inside the bar for a long while. Everything in Japan is real expensive, probably a little more expensive than home. No one liked this because the majority of the countries we have visited drinks are dirt-cheap. Japan they were at least 5 USD a drink. So we would buy beers at these tiny liquor stores for cheap and drink them on the street. It was actually tons of fun; we met all sorts of random people by doing this.
This dude’s name was Jose. He was a law student from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He was cool as hell and loved meeting all the American women we were with.
We finally actually went into Sally’s and had a great time. After there were these Japanese kids skating. I told them I love skateboarding so I tried a couple old school tricks.
Then they did some sweet rail slides and grinds while I took pictures of them. They were loving it.
As we were walking home Ian, Chris and I ran into two Japanese girls with a black lab puppy. It was so damn cute we had to pet it.
A couple pets, turned into a couple hugs, before I knew it we were on the ground fighting over who got to play with it. It reminded me of Hawkins. Our family’s dog we had growing up.
After we were completely covered in dog hair we went to a street side Japanese café. I never knew food tasted so good at 5 in the morning, ahh wait a minute, yea I did. Once again we walked outside to find out that the sun had already risen. Oops.
When you go to bed at 7am you tend to wake up late in the day. Not me, I woke up in time for lunch and ready to rock for my last day in Japan. The goal of the day was to eat the famous Kobe Beef that we’ve heard nothing but amazing things about.
We went to the mall first, I had to get prints and mounts made for photography class. Which REMINDS ME-we had our photography show the other night and I presented about 30 mounted prints from my voyage. I had a lot of interest and positive feedback about my photos and sold about 10 of them. So if anyone reading this is interested in purchasing an 8X10 mounted print, signed with a title, I’m selling them for $25 each, (which is half of what our professor sells his prints for) This includes any photos on my blog and many more. Let me know in you are interested email@example.com (719) 499-6918
It was our last day and we still hadn’t had Sushi nor Kobe Beef! So why not have both? We stopped at a Sushi place in the hotel near the “best Kobe beef place in town.” We had a couple rolls and sashimi that we ordered al la carte. My favorite was…
Sea Bass! The sushi chef was pretty impressed when we said we wanted some “Suzuki.” I don’t think he expected us to know what a Suzuki was. We tried to explain to him that we caught some 2 nights before but he didn’t have a clue.
After a great appetizer it was time for the famous KOBE BEEF! We went to Wakkoou, which was recommended to us by our Hiroshima tour guide. There were a bunch of other SAS kids there because I guess this place was in lonely planet guidebook.
We sat around a flat grill like you’d see at a Japanese steakhouse in the States. We decided to go all out and get the whole 4-course meal. Appetizer, salad, main course, and dessert, including coffee and wine, for only 130 USD.
As you can see the beef was very fatty. Supposedly they massage the cows daily as well as feed them beer. When I first tasted the beef the meat literally melted in my mouth. It separated it self as I chewed its luscious moistness. I was amazed how good it really did taste. They must massage those cows good. It must be nice to be a Kobe cow. Nothing better than being massaged everyday and fed beer. Except for traveling the world and fly-fishing. Right?
It was the last night we were in port so it was a little sad getting on the ship but who can be sad when you are having the time of your life.
Today is April 27th 2006 and we arrive in San Diego in the morning. I graduated today, and tomorrow I’ll be back in the states. Within a week I’ll be back in Colorado just in time for the caddis hatch to complete the worldwide voyage. It’s unbelievable to think about how much I’ve seen, learned and experienced over the last 3 months. One thing I know is that I will never be the same. After seeing so many different cultures and experiencing so many different things, I will never look at anything the same.
|Wednesday, April 19th, 2006|
DAY 1-Hong Kong
We woke up to huge skyscrapers outside our window. Our first site of this incredible city was breath taking. Massive towers of various heights crammed in between the surrounding mountains that soared over the bay. We cleared customs and set off in search of a travel company that could assist us in booking some flights. I had yet to decide what I was doing or where I was going, the only thing I knew is that I was going to find some fish in a country that not one person, website, or lonely planet even mentions the fact that fishing as a sport is even a possibility. I searched the web for days, and contacted a number of people and companies while they all had the same response, “there really isn’t any fishing in China.” I wasn’t convinced. Take a look at the map of China. There are mountains, rivers, and lakes everywhere, and the country is humongous. There has to be fish somewhere! Well I was in for a rude awakening.
At the travel company I asked the lady who spoke okay English if she knew anything about fly-fishing. After she gave me an expression of much confusion she said, “I know nothing what you talk about, I think there no fishing in China.” While I was starting to get discouraged I proceeded to attempt to try to book a flight to Dali. A small town on the edge of the Himalayas that sounded awesome in the lonely planet and one internet site said they fish for green fish at night on some lake. It sounded pretty sweet, but didn’t have a clue what the hell a green fish was, but it said they get up to 40 KG which is pretty huge. So I spent about an hour trying to plan out a flight, going to a neighboring town Kumming, and then taking a tiny plane into Dali. I was torn, I didn’t know whether I wanted to take a chance and go to some random place, oh yea, it was about 100 KM from the Mekong River, which I’ve heard a lot about from the guys in India. I left the travel company’s office with out booking a flight; I needed some time to weigh my options. So many options, so little evidence supporting one or the other. It was either go to this random place, or head to Beijing to check out the great wall and pray that there is a river nearby because I did hear back home that there are nice rivers and steams near the wall, but the wall is so long and there are so many different parts who knows where they were referring to. After a meal and a beer I went back to the travel company yet to make a decision. I asked the lady if I could check out a map. I looked at a Map of Beijing and the surrounding area. There were a ton of rivers, all in and around Beijing and the great wall. Literally hundreds. That did it for me. It was half the price and probably less than half the hassle. So I booked it. For once I was doing what every other kid on this ship was doing I was going to Beijing.
I spent much of the afternoon pondering if I had made the right decision. I thought, dang, who knows what this Dali place could have been like, but sometimes you just can’t trust a guidebook especially when they mention fishing, because they rarely do and when they do the company they mention, so you never know, probably paid them. In the course of one afternoon I felt like I got to see a lot of Hong Kong.
The city was cluttered with these large billboards and signs covered in Chinese Characters.
We visited an electronics market which we heard was going to have really cheap prices but apparently we were at the wrong one because the prices weren’t anything special. After we headed for the tram to the top of a mountain. We paid a couple bucks and got in what looked like an old school trolley car.
It traveled up tracks set on a very steep angle. (this is crazy Dan Rand, he’s the man) At the top there were a couple look out spots then one on the top of big mall. I climbed up over this wall and set up my camera on the edge of about a 50 foot drop, yea it was a little sketchy but it was worth the footage I got.
I set up the camera and let it roll through one tape, from 30 min before the sunset to 30 min after, it should make an awesome time elapse shot.
That night Ian, Chris, and I headed to Lan Kwai Fong street. It’s the main party street in Hong Kong.
We checked out a couple bars along the street. It was a great scene, people sat outside the bars lined up the street and everyone could walk back and forth, across the narrow one-way street that was packed with cabs. We ended up going to a Russian bar that had an a little room titled “The Ice Bar.” The small room was covered in ice, the walls ceiling and floor all resembled ice, and it was real cold. So cold you could see your breath. They give out fur coats before you go in.
God we’re tough. We thought we were in the Russian mob.
After, we went downstairs to another bar that had a live band playing, there were a ton of semester at sea kids there and the band was awesome.
As you can see the band rocked. They were playing all sorts of great songs, Green Day, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Beastie Boys, and Nirvana, just to name a few. We liked it so much we started a mosh pit. The Asian people there didn’t have a clue and were probably real scared, but we were having a blast so hopefully no one got demolished.
This is how the night ended from right to left: Chris was puking (what a wuss) Ian was cheering him on still drinking (he needs AA in his life) then Adam (another buddy of mine from CU) either fell on the ground or was just taking a rest.
I woke up early and caught my flight my flight to Beijing. Chinese customs took forever.
I headed to a hotel and called one of the many “adventure” travel companies I had found in Beijing. The lady spoke good English but once again didn’t have a clue about any fishing. I tried to explain to her that I wanted to hire a guide that could take me hiking, maybe camping in the backcountry near the great wall. She said the water was really low at this time of the year. Great, just what I wanted to hear. She kept bringing up these fishponds. Where fish are raised and you can fish for them and pay for what you catch. I told her I definitely didn’t want to do that. She called a couple guides, then got back to me. Finally we set something up. I got a guide, a driver, for two days and one night leaving early the next morning. I was happy to have set something up with such short notice.
You can’t visit Beijing with out eating the infamous Beijing Roast Duck. So I teamed up with another independent traveler, and we took a cab across town to what was supposedly the best one in town The Hepingmen Quanjude Roast Duck Restaurant.
We decided we wanted to order one roast duck, and some appetizers. We flipped through the laminated pages of the menu and looked at the pictures and descriptions. Everything looked real weird and different, so we figured why not order something weird and different.
So we ordered Jelly fish
and mustard webbed duck feet.
The pictures on the menu looked a lot better than what we got. I always brag that I love everything. I tried the webbed duck feet first, while filming I pinched one with my chopsticks and stuck the whole thing in my mouth. I was expecting it to be hot but it was cold. I crunched my teeth down on a bunch of bones and slimy skin. Nearly gagging I struggled to finish chewing and swallow. They’re very few if any things that I haven’t liked or tolerated to eat in my entire life. Honestly, I love to eat, and I love to eat almost everything. Well I now have officially found two things that I do not like. Mustard webbed duck feet and jellyfish. I hoped the jellyfish would have been better. Nope, again they were cold and served in a vinegary sauce. They too were very crunchy and slimy. Again I wanted to gag and couldn’t bare the taste and texture in my mouth. I always feel obligated to finish any food left on the table, so I continued to eat both, but after a couple more bites I just couldn’t do it. It was too disgusting. I used to think I would do real well on those fear factor eating challenges, but now, I think I’m going to go ahead and wuss out. I’ll stick to chicken wing eating contests.
On the other hand the fried springs rolls were very good and the roast duck was incredible. A chef rolled out a cart with a full golden brown roasted duck displayed on a cutting board. (It reminded me of the Christmas Story) The tall Chinese chef carefully and diligently sliced up the duck while I filmed. I think they thought it was rude that I was filming, the chef seemed a little mad, while the waiters and waitresses stared at me. Maybe they hadn’t seen a camera as big as mine, or a man as large as I am. I don’t know, but I didn’t care because I had to get this great footage, plus we couldn’t communicate with any of them because there are very few people in China that speak English.
I woke up early and my guide Lee arrived right on time. On the contrary he did not only speak English, but pretty good English. We loaded up the driver’s luxury sedan (not quite what I had expected to drive to the mountains in) and set off. We stopped at a grocery store for food and drinks for the day. I tried to get as much info about fishing out of Lee as possible but he had the same things to say. The rivers are real low, so we can fish in the fishponds or in some mountain reservoirs. The reservoirs were the only hint to some potential fishing.
After a couple hour drive we reached our first destination. Our plan was to hike up this canyon and check out the river.
This was the entry gate to the canyon.
Surrounded by high rocky walls the arid canyon was filled with rocks. I was a bit disappointed when I saw the river.
If you even want to call it a creek.
We hiked up about a mile or so. The creek was a big disappointment but the surrounding canyon was awesome.
Lee and I
Lee explained that he had a couple other places in mind so we left after about an hour hike.
Next he took me to the reservoir. We drove through rural China where Lee had to constantly stop to ask local farmers for help in navigated to our destination. We finally made it through some villages up to the base of the mountains. He hiked up about 200 yards to a great looking reservoir. Lee said it was called Yanqihu ( which means: yan-wild goose, qi- habitat, hu-lake sounds pretty sweet, wild goose lake habitat), It was small, but Lee explained to me that the locals had told him there are decent size fish in there. So I was excited to get a line in the water. I threw on my sink line and began to cast from the damn where there was a wall with a gap in the middle so it was perfect to cast from. I worked the salty bugger pattern for a long while. I worked everywhere from about 5 feet depth to letting my fly sink all the way to the bottom. Lee had never fished in his life and was amazed by what I was doing. I showed him my flies and he goes “whoooooa” in his Chinese accent. When I started to cast he kept applauding me when I’d make a long one. “Ohhhhhhhhh! Nice one!” It was nice to have him cheer me on. After about an hour of fishing from the damn we decided to have lunch and then check out the other side. We hiked along the high rocky cliffs surrounding the reservoir to find the other side was very shallow and not suitable to cast from with the brush and high cliffs. Lee then explained to me that he knew of a great hike we could do that went up into the mountains where we could explore parts of the original great wall. I asked “Any rivers up there?” I think he had heard this question a few to many times. He replied “No I do not think so.” I said, Oh well, lets do it.
The hillsides looked like they were covered in snow, but really it was hundreds of apricot trees in full bloom.
It was a beautiful site.
We set off. Lee pointed at the mountain where you could see many watch towers and the Great Wall rubble winding up through the mountain. He explained that we would be hiking up, through and over the huge mountain in front of us. No fishing but hiking through to the Great Wall got me real excited.
When we reached the top I got my first close look at a watchtower.
I understood why they chose this spot for a watchtower. You could see for miles.
Up close the apricot blossoms looked great.
We hiked 8 miles from Hefangkou to Shentangyu, which is a small mountain farming village. We arrived at the “farm house.” Which really was a small restaurant, store, motel, and farm all in one. I met the hosts, which spoke no English. They already had started to prepare dinner for us.
Counter clockwise from the bottom: green beans, fresh vegetables (cucumbers, lettuce, and green onions) I forgot what the white stuff was, above was corn meal cakes and rice, then eggs with chopped green onions in it, pork with green peas, then in the middle is pork with mushrooms. The meal was served with green tea that was very hot. They pour tea a lot different than we do. They pour the hot water into an empty cup, and then just put the bare leaves into the water. When ever you want more you just add more water and it still tastes good.
The food all had distinct tastes but at the same time it all was somewhat bland. I don’t think they use many spices and seasonings, but one thing I did like is that they served a ton of it. So much that us 3 (Lee, the driver, and I) couldn’t finish, sorry no clean plate club this time. This meal could of easily fed 10 people. I was completely stuffed and very tired after dinner so I hit the sack. They had nice little rooms with furniture and bedding straight out of the 80’s. To my surprise the bed was very stiff. So I gathered all the pillows and cushions from the furniture and piled them up. It was a probably the sweetest idea ever.
I set up a very early wake up with Lee. We were in the car heading to another reservoir by 5 AM. We drove down through a small valley on a road that was set next to a river, but not really a river. Every 100 feet or so was a man made damn forming pools or as Lee called them, fishponds. They were built next to buildings where the fishpond businesses were run. Lee explained that the locals damn up the river then raise fish to sell. People come and fish and pay for what they catch. As we drove by, there was damn after damn with no natural river flow. It really got to me, the fact that some day a long time ago this was probably a beautiful free flowing river. The surrounding area was gorgeous but this river was completely depleted of its natural existence. This was a crappy way to start the day. We drove across a bridge and I asked to stop so I could look down into the “river.” The first thing I saw was a nice fat carp right below. I told Lee to grab the camera and keep an eye on that fish while I rigged up. After I was ready the fish had disappeared. So we got some footage of me fishing anyway. I got no action but everyone who passed by look at me like I was and idiot while some stopped and watched, I am used to people staring at me waving my stick at this point. So it was no big deal, but I asked Lee to get some shots of the peoples reactions. It was good fun besides the fact that it was freezing.
We got in the car to warm up and headed to a large reservoir down stream. It didn’t look promising, there weren’t any good spots to cast and it was very very cold. The warmest clothes I brought on this trip were a long sleeve shirt and a rain jacket. So you can imagine how freezing I was. So we made a collective decision to head back warm up, have breakfast then do another hike up to the wall.
So we did, we hiked up a mountain near the farmhouse where the wall ran along the mountain’s horizon. We reached a point where the trail disappeared into the brush. We were already halfway up the mountain and Lee wanted to go back down and try to find the trail (he hadn’t been this route before, the owner of the farm house recommended it) Lee and I disagreed for a while, I really didn’t want to hike back down when the wall was 100 yard ahead. A little brush can’t be too bad. So Lee ended up wussing out while I made it to the top having no problem. It was nice because I got to spend about 15 minutes sitting on top of the Great Wall of China by myself. Remember this is the original great wall, most sections tourists visit are re-stored, and that’s why they look so perfect. Well this section hadn’t been touched for about 500 years.
Finally Lee made it to the top when…..
It started snowing!
Lee was way more excited than I was, and I was real excited. He explained that it never snow’s in April. He kept saying “we lucky.”
Then it started to snow really hard.
So then I started a snowball fight with Lee. It was pretty fun. I was in China on the Great Wall having a snowball fight with my new hiking buddy. Pretty sweet.
After we were soaked so our hosts had some dry clothes waiting for us.
They taught me how to make dumplings. It was obvious which ones were mine because all of them were perfectly put together then mine were all mangled and deformed. This jacket they gave me was probably the biggest they had. It was 9 XL, yea that’s XXXXXXXXXL, and it still was to small.
Once again they served us tons of food. It was great after a long wet hike.
This time we all were members of the clean plate club.
After the great lunch we said our goodbyes and headed back to Beijing. I checked into a very cheap but nice hotel that Lee recommended. We then found a place to eat dinner and after I said my goodbyes to Lee.
I flew to Qindao to meet the boat. It was the last night in China so we made some big plans to go big. So out of all the bars we could have gone to we decided to go to the New York Club. We came all the way to China to go to the New York Club. Personally I didn’t want to go but it was a group decision (I’m a team player)
I was a good choice, as soon as we walked in we saw that they had a live band and within minutes of sitting down we found out that they had a bottle deal, if you buy one you get one free. And the bottles were only 60 bucks. (Most bars they are like 200)
Devin (Lenny’s lost twin) with our 3 bottles. We found out that it was buy one get two free. Probably the sweetest deal in the world.
Ian told this dude that I played American Football. He said “you very big man” and took of his shirt and tried to compare muscles with me. It was hilarious; he had one to many buy one get two free bottles.
Once again a Chinese band that totally rocked. So much that these guys Jon and Dan (Jon and Dan were previously seen in Brazil, South Africa entry and Dan earlier in the tram) Moments later they did some stage diving.
And the usual crowd surfing and moshing. When this group of guys gets together we always end up in a mosh pit, and its always the most fun ever. We introduced it to the kids in Brazil and now to 2 sweet rock bands in China. They think we are crazy but we’re just having fun right?
After a long night of dancing and bar hoping we ended up at a little restaurant.
We had these awesome BBQ skewers that were real spicy.
We met some Korean dudes that taught English in China.
They were really cool and spoke good English. They ended up buying some beers and Ian claims they paid for our food, but I don’t remember.
To our surprise it was daylight when we came out of the restaurant. After comparing my taekwondo skills with the Koreans we headed back to the ship.
We were docked in an industrial area where Chinese men were shoveling rocks out of a train into these crates. At the end there was an empty crate and shovel. A China man must have taken the day off, so Ian and I filled in. They appreciated the help from us hard working Americans.
We spent the day walking around Qindao shopping and whatnot. It was freezing and I was wearing shorts and a t-shirt so I was on a search for something warm to buy, not to mention the endless stares and glares we got from everyone.
The Highlight of the day was a visit to the Tsingtao brewery. Blake and Vinny were wusses and didn’t want to do the tour so we just sat there and drank some beers. Germans settled in Qindao back in the day made a bunch of breweries then left. At least they left something good.
China is one of the most economically stable countries in the world, but at the same time they are depleting their resources rapidly. I found this out with the fishing. I think they need more regulations on development as well environmental programs to conserve and protect their natural resources. For such a big country to have only one natural river that isn’t damned in the whole country is a frightening thought. Hopefully something will be done soon.
|Monday, April 10th, 2006|
Over 30 after years after the Vietnam War we were lucky enough to visit this fantastic country. We woke up early in the morning to see that our ship was traveling up the muddy water of the Saigon River. With the Ho Chi Mahn City’s (formerly known as Saigon) skyline in the distance our huge ship traveled up this river that is hardly wider than the width of our ship. There was a large group of people standing around at our port. I looked closely to see if I could find the prettiest lady in the crowd. Being 4 stories up it was tough to see, so I yelled real loud “MOTHER!” Sure enough there she was with “Aunt Sheila.” My Mom’s good friend (she had to sign up as “Aunt” because only family members were allowed on the SAS trip) An SAS alumni couple Todd and Joslynn who had joined us in Myanmar and traveled on the ship to Vietnam played a pretty funny joke on the parents. They both look pretty young and could easily pass for a couple college students so in front of the crowd of parents Todd yelled “MOM! SHE’S PREGNANT!” while pointing to Joslynn (his wife). Hah!
My Mom, Sheila and I conversed for a while from the 4th floor, then about an hour later they were finally allowed on the ship. I introduced them to about 30 or so students as I gave them the grand tour of the ship. I think they were a little overwhelmed with the large amount of people they just met in the span of about 20 minutes.
We headed into Saigon to get some lunch and to search for a tailor to get a cheap suit made. Everyone had been talking about how you can get nice suits made real cheap. We didn’t have any luck finding a tailor so we ended up eating at a Vietnamese Style restaurant in the Hilton hotel. It was called “Square One” and was awesome, an upscale elegant restaurant with great food and great service. I ended up filming everything: the fresh sugar cane juice they made, fried and fresh spring rolls, salad, and the BBQ seafood plater. Sorry no pictures, only video, they let me back into their open kitchen where I could get some close ups, so you’ll have to wait and see my final film.
A couple good looking ladies: my Mom Tana (left) and Sheila (right) It was a treat to have them there.
After we visited the War remnants museum. It was intense. A big open building with graphic pictures from the war covering the walls. I got the privilege of spending a couple minutes with my Professor Pete Seel who was a photographer for the Air Force in the war. He knew just about everything about a bunch of different photos; I think it was tough for him. I’m sure the photos recalled a lot of vivid memories for him.
After, we took it easy and relaxed, it was a nice change from the usual stressful fast pace traveling I’ve been doing at the other ports. We hung around their hotel and then had dinner back on the ship. My Mom and Sheila headed back while we headed out on the town.
Saigon is a fast pace busy town. Everyone drives motto-scooters or small motor cycles. When I say everyone I mean everyone. There are probably 5 motorbikes for every car, at least.
This picture doesn’t do it justice; these things infiltrate the streets like a swarm of crazy pissed off bees.
At night the city really lights up, neon lit billboards were everywhere.
For a buck a motorcycle taxi will take you anywhere.
It was quite the rush zooming through the streets on the bikes. They don’t really have stoplights on the side streets but they do have horns. So whenever they’d come up to an intersection they’d just sound the horn and slow down a little. It was quite the rush.
We met this dude, Galen, he was the man, when I met him I knew right away he was an American. He was born in Oregon but moved to Cairo Egypt where he spent most of his life. He’s been tons of places in the world and was in Vietnam with his parents because they were checking out property on an Island near Saigon. I told him to scope out the fishing (he’s a fly fisherman, that’s probably why we got along so well) and that I’d come back to do some fishing with him.
We bar hopped to an assortment of bars. The first was a somewhat Americanized bar that had a tropical feel and played all sorts of American music, another was a total trendy Vietnamese techno dance club, we didn’t spend much time there, although I did dance with a Canadian girl, or at least tried to dance, or whatever you call dancing to trance or techno music. It was overwhelming, extremely loud music, insane flashy neon lights and Vietnamese metro-sexuals everywhere. Then a bar called Apocalypse now (just like the movie) where just about every Semester at Sea student was. Galen loved the fact that there are 2 girls to every guy. He couldn’t keep them off of him. We ended the night at a street side café eating some great Vietnamese noodles and other goodies.
Staying out pretty late Blake and I met my Mom and Sheila at their hotel where we had another awesome lunch. My favorite kind of lunch: A BUFFET!
Just a few examples of how awesome this buffet was. Sushi at the top, fresh oysters and some meats in the middle, then fruit, tiramisu and some ice cream for desert. Now that’s not it; I was a member of about 10 clean plate clubs at this sitting.
After our bellies were full and some convincing from Sheila and I my mother finally agreed to go to the market. (She didn’t want to get hassled by all the merchants, but I told her if anyone touched her I’d kick their ass)
I’ll admit the market was a little overwhelming, imagine hundreds of small venders packed into small area with gobs of clothes, shoes, linen, trinkets, and virtually any imitation of anything you can think of stacked on top of one another. Once again I was so mesmerized by the claustrophobic feel of the market that I only got video footage. My Mom helped me pick out some nice fabric for a suit and a sport coat and pants. We tried some negotiating but it got us nowhere. The lady would say in her Vietnamese English “You very big man, lots of mate-wial” (Their “r’s” usually sound like “w’s”) I tried to tell her that it’s not fair to discriminate against me because I’m large but she just laughed. I ended up getting 2 suits for 250 USD, not bad.
I think Sheila liked the market the most, after filling so many shopping bags she could barely carry in her 2 hands we called it quits. My mom and I got some polo shirts for like 4 bucks each, everything was so cheap, but only because it was all fake. The polo shirts seemed pretty decent, except I tried one on the other day and one sleeve fit my arm well and the other was about 2 inches bigger in circumference. I guess you get what you pay for.
After the Markets Blake and I headed to the Cu Chi tunnels. (My camera battery died so I wasn’t able to take any digital pictures, Blake bought a disposable that we still need to get developed) After about an hour and 45 minute cab ride outside of Saigon we arrived at 30 year old tunnels that the Vietnamese built during the war as hideouts and escape routes. It was almost 5pm, when they close so we had to hurry. A small little Vietnamese guy quickly showed us around. We had heard that you could shoot guns at the end of the tunnels. So we went and did that first. They had a bunch to choose from, an AK-47, M-16, a M-60 and a bunch others. We decided to go with the M-60 since neither of us had shot one before. It’s the big gun that Rambo uses and that you always see hanging out the side of helicopters in war movies. The Vietnamese guy quickly grabbed the gun after they rushed us to pay; he said “Rambo” and posed with the humungous gun while we took pictures and video. We quickly walked out to the shooting range where he attached the gun to a base stand. I was up first. I positioned my self around the gun and put my hand on the handle and the other under the extremely large barrel. I fired one shot at the target positioned about 75 yards away. To my surprise it didn’t kick at all. It was because it was attached to the stand. Then I fired about 10 rounds all at once. God it felt good! The make shift ear protectors that were really just old headphones didn’t protect my ears from the piercing loud series of bangs. I felt like I was in movie, maybe Rambo, or Scarface. It was awesome. Blake filmed while I finished off the rounds. Then Blake went. He was a wuss and fired each round individually. The guy rushed us to get out of there, then our small guy showed us the tunnels, we got the abbreviated tour, he rushed through the exhibits placed in the middle of the woods. Our guide lifted a piece of wood up off the ground where there was a tiny hole in the ground, I asked, “people actually fit in there? Now Way!?” He proved me wrong when he squeezed his tiny little body down into the hole. Then we went down into one of the large tunnels, they said the tunnel was bigger so tourists could climb in and crawl through. Yea, well I didn’t fit very well. I started walking crouched over but that didn’t work because I was dragging against the top of the dirt wall, so I switched to my knees, after a couple minutes we were sweating profusely and had an overwhelming feeling of claustrophobia. Our guide asked us if we wanted to travel 100 meters farther after crawling about 30 meters to an exit, Blake and I both said “No way,” we wanted out of there as soon as possible. We headed back to meet my Mom and Sheila for dinner then went to bed early in anticipation for an early morning flight to Nha Trang.
We arrived in Nha Trang early in the morning after about a 45 minute flight. Thanks to my Mom’s wonderful travel arranging we had reservations at the best hotel in Nha Trang. The Ana Mandara resort. It was beautiful; So beautiful that my Mom and Sheila didn’t leave the premises but once (just to go to dinner) for all 3 days.
The spa was one of a few “sixth sense” spa’s in the world. You can imagine how much the girls enjoyed that.
Blake and I hopped on a couple mountain bikes provided to hotel guests for free and headed around town to try to find some someone that knew something about fishing.
Every time I’d ask if they knew what fly-fishing was they’d look at me like I was crazy. Nha Trang is a very touristy place with beautiful white sandy beaches and clear blue water. I figured there had to be some fly-fishing there. As we asked around at different travel companies little shops we got nowhere. So we decided to get some lunch. We stopped at what looked like a place where they might speak English. After walking through the restaurant while everyone in the whole place stared at us we sat down and tried to order lunch and a beer, but everything we’d point to and agreed on they’d come back a couple minutes later shaking their heads pointing to another item. We didn’t know what anything on the entire menu was except for pizza. Blake ordered a pizza, they came back and said “no” so the waiter pointed at something else, and I pointed at something. We were so hungry we just wanted to eat. The waiter came back with what he had recommended to Blake, it was a roll with a mystery meat inside.
I told Blake it was dog meat, he thought it was Cat meat. Either way it was salty and different. I’m not kidding either, it very well could have been cat or dog which is a common thing to eat in Vietnam.
Then my food came out, it was eggs! I got lucky. It was a plain omelet garnished with fresh tomatoes and cucumbers and served with a roll. I asked for a knife. After receiving a funny look from the waiter I cut the roll in half when he gave another confused look. All the waiter and waitresses watched me construct an awesome breakfast sandwich with the contents of my plate.
People sitting around us stared at me like I was an idiot while I demolished the sandwich.
After lunch we set out to find someone to take us fishing. We found a small shop that offered fishing, hiking and scenic tours. We tried to explain the fact that we wanted to go fly-fishing, ocean, river, whatever. Like everyone else told us they said there are no big fish in Nha Trang, only small. The lady spoke good English and showed us a picture book. We flipped through and saw some great looking rivers. We said “we want to go there!” So we did.
We hired Vy, the lady from the shop, a tiny little Vietnamese girl, We made her into our fishing guide. We took motor scooters 1 hour up into the mountains to a river.
It was a small rocky river with a lot of waterfalls creating some good pools for some potential fishing.
We worked the river for a couple hours not getting any action. Blake thinks he got one hit. Then we decided to take a swim, why wouldn’t we? We jumped off some small rocks, then I body slammed Blake.
No fish but beautiful scenery. While driving back we saw a number of people fishing with huge nets in lower parts of the river. We realized that the river was probably over fished, especially if they used nets.
That night we had dinner with Profesor Seel and his family
Pete and my Mom
PJ, Nanci and I
We ate at the restaurant at our Hotel and the food was awesome.
That night Blake and I went out on our mountain bikes, we rode from bar to bar. It was a lot of fun.
Check out this Lyndsay Ressler look alike, she reminds me soooo much of Lyndsay, she acts like her, talks like her and even has a big smile just like Lyndsay. Her name is Jorry. She’s pretty sweet.
After the bars closed we found an awesome place on the street to eat.
They call her Mama, probably because she takes good care of everyone. A local kid from Chicago told me he lost a digital camera in another city and Mama ended up having it a few days later. I guess she serves food every night to the drunk kids and takes care of them as well. She told me that I reminded her of her son whom she hasn’t seen for a long time. His father was an American solder in the war and they went back to the states after she had him, pretty sad. She was a very nice lady.
Mama and her helper helped me make another awesome breakfast sandwich with the fried eggs, veggies, and some mystery meat. Hopefully it wasn’t dog.
I got up in the morning to interview Dr. Tuang the Director of the Nha Trang University of Fisheries. My professor Pete, had set up to meet with Dr. Tuang because one of his students at Colorado State was friends with him. The interview was very informative. I learned all about how Nha Trang and how the surrounding area’s natural fish environment is depleted from being over fished. To maintain fish as a resource there are fisheries everywhere. Which are basically just fish farms. I picked his brain on the subject and it should make for a great story for my film.
I spent the rest of the day relaxing with my Mom and Sheila, I ended up falling asleep by the pool for a couple hours. What a waste, I should have been fishing. That evening I set up our fishing trip for the following morning.
After we fully utilized a free cocktail hour at our hotel Sheila, my Mom, Blake, and our buddy Steve and I went to a Vietnamese seafood restaurant. Outside the restaurant there was a display of all the seafood.
The tiger prawns were huge. Sheila ended up ordering them. She must like them a lot, because every meal she’d order either prawns, or Calamari.
I had some Vietnamese Chicken dish; it had all sorts of veggies, some mushrooms and was served over rice.
I told you they were huge
Clean Plate Club: With my help Sheila was also a member of the Clean Plate Club: a prestigious club that only the few, the proud, and the non-wuss can be apart of.
We woke up at 4:30 to meet our fishing boat at 5. It wasn’t a fishing boat, it was a huge barge; a 40-passenger barge made for snorkeling or maybe a booze cruise.
The hotel packed us an awesome breakfast; one of our boat drivers showed us how to cut open the dragon fruit. Its similar to a kiwi, it had a white inside with black seeds and tastes much like a kiwi.
Waking up early has its benefits. An awesome sunrise over the South China Sea.
We convinced our drivers to take us to Moon Island, where Dr. Tuang recommended. It’s a protected island so we figured we’d have the best luck there. You’re not supposed to fish there but we explained that we were going to release any fish caught.
After about an hour slow boat ride we stopped. I was going to jump in the water with snorkel gear to check out the area. While I was putting the snorkel gear on Blake took a trip to the restroom. I guess his breakfast didn’t sit well. Before we knew it there was a cloud of little white pieces of food in the water. I yelled out “AWWW MAN! You just puked right where I was about to jump in!” It was hilarious. Blake puked in the toilet and we found out that the toilet just drains right in the water. Yuck! So we ordered our drivers to get out of there. Now in some clean water I jumped in with some snorkel gear. The water was real deep; I couldn’t see the bottom, even after diving down 10 or 15 feet. So we asked if they could take us where we could see the bottom, so they did. This time Steve, Blake and I all jumped in and snorkeled around a reef. The reef was lush and random small colorful fish were everywhere, we all agreed to fish here.
I tried casting on the front of the boat, but it just wasn’t working, there was a slight wind so I could only cast in one direction because of the large roof over the boat. So I decided that I needed to get on top of the roof. It was a great decision. I had endless amount of casting space, as well as a bird’s eye view of the reef. I casted in and around the large reef rocks for about an hour or so not getting any action. Mean while Blake and our drivers where catching a couple fish off the bottom with bait, so I figured I needed to get my line deeper. I started to let my Charlie pattern sink all the way to the bottom. It was a good decision, after a couple attempts I felt a small tug on the end of the line, “HELL-O, Steve I got one, get the camera!” I tried to keep the fish out so he’d have time to roll the camera, but it was such a small fish that I had him in before I knew it. Steve was rolling by the time I pulled him up over the barge and on to the roof. We asked our driver what find of fish it was and in his broken English he said “Flat fish.” (I think)
Whatever it was called, I was just extremely happy that I wasn’t skunked in Vietnam. It’s amazing how much of a stress reliever catching your first fish is. Any day not getting skunked is a good day, actually a great day!
Blake caught a bunch of random fish off the bottom with chunks of squid as bait. He reeled this one in when our driver said “NO NO NO, POISON!” with his thick Vietnamese accent. So Blake had to grab a towel to touch it, its dorsal fin had some sharp spikes on it; we assumed that’s where the poison was.
A nice variety of fish, this last one was gnarly looking.
At one point when were fishing a boat came up to us with about 5 Vietnamese guys on it, they started yelling at us saying “No, No, No!” we were confused at first, then they said, “No Fish!” I yelled back “What, you don’t like to fish? What are you, Communist?” I should of thought about it before I said it, because, yes they are communist, but apparently they don’t like to fish. I tried to explain to them that we were throwing all our fish back but they didn’t seem to care, so we respected their wishes and left.
It was a great day, yea we didn’t catch any big fish, but I’m pretty sure there aren’t any big fish near Nha Trang.
We flew back to Saigon that afternoon and ran into some major traffic getting back to the ship. Supposedly there are scooter hookers; prostitutes that ride around on scooters looking for business.
This one was a ninja scooter hooker.
We had a nice Italian dinner with my Mom and Sheila, finally, the last night, they agreed come out to a bar with us. It was about time because every night prior we’d invite them but they never agreed to come.
I think they were happy with the decision; we danced to a live band at Apocalypse Now. The band rocked, they were playing all sorts of great American songs. My Mom and Sheila got to meet a bunch of our friends, and my Mom even kept up with me on the drinks. Well until about the 4th or 5th she had to slow it down.
By this time Todd and Joselyn were the most popular people around. They were like celebrities; every student was dieing to take a picture with them.
Including me. They were buying everyone shots, and car bombs, except with tiger beer instead of Guinness. They were dancing and partying just like they were on Semester at Sea again. It was awesome.
What a great time that last night was, everyone had so much fun our dean sent the entire ship letters stating how disappointed he was in everyone’s behavior prior to getting on the ship. I guess people were urinating in front of custom officials, throwing things at the resident directors, and I saw a couple students rolling huge tires down the street, it was hilarious but yes, it was out of control. Don’t worry Dad, Blake and I behaved our selves. A lot of people received dock time, not us.
All in all Vietnam was a great place, I don’t know if I’d go back there to fish, but I’d go back again if my Mom and Sheila wanted too. Why wouldn’t I?
|Saturday, April 1st, 2006|
I really don’t know where to start. This country has so much history and turmoil within itself it is hard to put it in a nutshell. But I’ll do my best. The country is run by a military regime. They regulate everything. Supposedly they don’t allow journalists into the country. Because of this I decided to sign up for a Semester at Sea sponsored trip to Inle lake. I was under the impression that I’d get hassled with my big camera and wouldn’t be able to shoot my documentary. I was wrong; I didn’t run into one single problem. They told us we shouldn’t take pictures or video of any military brigade, bridge, or even an actual police officer or military guard. This is because the Myanmar government is afraid you might expose their militant government potentially creating a threat to their rule. Crazy huh?
With all these preconceived notions my camera and I hoped on the hour-long shuttle ride into Yangon. I ended up tagging along with my Documentary Film, and Digital Photography (two real sweet classes) professor Pete Seel and another professor Dr. Kramer. (Who teaches music and religion) The shuttle dropped us off at a hotel in downtown Yangon where we walked across the street in search of a travel agent for Pete. While he was doing that I decided to see what was on the top floor of this building. 20 stories up was the “Sky Lounge” that had a beautiful panoramic view of the city and the Shwedagon Pagoda (Buddist Temple)
You can see the pagoda in the upper right hand corner. It was St. Patrick’s Day, so even though it was 9 in the morning I had to try the Myanmar beer. Ironically the beer is called “Myanmar.” (the militant government at work)
Me with a couple studs: Dr. Pete Seel (CSU) on the left and Dr. Kramer (NCSTATE) on the right
From there we went to a hotel on a lake that reflected the pagoda. It was immaculate. We then caught the shuttle home in time for me to make my Inle lake trip. We set off for the airport in a large group of about 30 people and flew to Nyaungshwe which is a town set just outside of Inle lake. After a bus ride to the lake we loaded in these 5 passenger long boats.
My buddies and I: Steve (a Film major from Quinnipiac) and Ian (Penn State)
Our first look at Inle Lake was incredibly beautiful, the setting sun reflected and orangish pink tint on the glassy lake surface.
At this point we all were real excited. Here we were in Burma on a lake community where the people who inhabit the lake live off the lake as a resource.
They have a unique way of fishing using big cone shaped nets that they push down into the shallow lake. Then they stab a large stick down into the water forcing the fish to come up into the net where they’ll be trapped.
After a very scenic hour-long boat ride we arrived at our hotel, the Paramount Inle Resort.
The entire hotel was built on the water; a very impressive structure and a gorgeous hotel.
We ate a traditional Burmese dinner; it was so good I forgot to take pictures of it. Then posted up at the bar and mingled with the natives that worked there. Burmese people are incredibly nice.
This is Pying Pying (left) and Zar Zar Wynn (right). They were awesome. These two along with the manager Kim Po loved us, I’d give them all high fives and I taught them to do it with some force, not just a wuss high five. Before I knew it Kim Po was loving it. Whenever I’d walk by the front desk she’d smile in anticipation for a sweet high five, then she put up her hand and give mine a nice hard slap. I taught her how to clinch her fist after to show excitement, she took this to another lever. After each high five she’d clinche her fist and thrust her arm bending at the elbow straight down quickly while saying real loud “YES” in her Burmese accent. It was awesome. That night they all stayed up late and kept the bar open as long as we wanted to. Little did they know that we’d stay up till 3 in the morning. Ian my roommate for the trip who goes to Penn State decided that since it was St. Patrick’s day we’d better drink double Jonny Walker Black labels and beers for each round. The Black label was like 2 USD a shot, so him and I closed the bar and ended the night with some goulash plops.
I woke up in a broken bed and a mosquito net that was on the floor. It was supposed to be hung from the ceiling protecting me from the insects. Oops, we kindly told the Kim Po that my bed broke and she responded in her Burmese accent “OH, YOU VERY BIG MAN,” with a big smile on her face. It was hilarious, the rest of the trip Ian would say to me, “Nick, you very big man.” Which was ironic because Ian’s a big boy himself. I don’t know why they decided to put the two hugest dudes signed up on the trip together, but it worked out well.
We ate breakfast on the patio over looking the lake then set out to the “floating market.”
Merchants mauled us immediately after we got out of the boat. I ended up buying a Longyi (long-gi), they typical attire for men, basically a skirt for a dude. You’ll see me in my sweet skirt later.
I traded hats with this lady, but she didn’t want to trade back.
After, we headed to the other side of the lake where we visited an orphanage. The kids were lined up to welcome us. They all were adorable. We had a cup of tea while they introduced us to the master, he explained the program and our guide Winston gave them a 300 dollar present from us and SAS. The kids sang us some Burmese songs, then Jingle bells. It was awesome, then we sang row row row your boat. After, we got to hang out with the kids a little.
This guy was my favorite. I kept telling him his shirt was sweet.
We walked farther up the hill to a Pagoda and Monestary where we served the Monks lunch. Every meal monks eat has to be served to them by someone who donates the food. I never really found out exactly why this is, I’m assuming because like most churches they don’t have a source of income except for donations, offerings and fundraisers. To serve them we all got on our knees between the monks (the girls had to make sure they didn’t touch them) then we all lifted the table in the air then put it down. This is the ceremonial way of serving them. We then ate lunch on our knees in another room. After lunch we were able to hang out with the kids.
We taught them how to pound. You know, when you shake someone’s hand then bump fists. They loved it; each one of them pounded my fist real hard.
Next stop was the famous jumping cat monastery. Inle Lake is known for this. Believe it or not, its known for cats jumping through a hoop. Personally I found this to be ridiculous, so guess what I decided to do instead. Fish. I had arranged a boat to pick me up, Steve the dude from Quinnipiac came along with to do some shooting.
Tenge (Tang-gay) was our “guide.”
He didn’t speak much English at all, but we were able to communicate somewhat through a combination of hand signals and the little English he did know.
He drove us out into the middle of the lake and tied us to a large randomly placed pole. Steve shot while I threw what was potentially the first fly on Inle lake. We had a little wind so I could only cast one direction. The lake was no more that 8 feet deep so I let my salty bugger (given to me by Sudesh, who recommended to use it in any lake) sink, then stripped it in. After about an action less hour or so we asked Tenge to unhook us so we could drift. We drifted until the sun started to set. It was pleasant hanging out with Steve and fishing, but I didn’t have any action. I constantly stripped up weeds from the lake.
The lake floor was covered with weeds. They were everywhere; the locals even collected the weeds to sell. I’m assuming they were going to sell the weeds because there were boats everywhere that had large piles weeds.
The boat men would stick these large poles under the water lifting out large amounts of the weeds. So many that their boats looked like they were real close to sinking.
Steve and I didn’t have any action, but we did have an awesome sunset. That night we had another great Burmese dinner.
I woke up early when a “Chinese” breakfast was waiting for me.
Typical lo mein style noodles, with all sorts of vegetables and fried eggs. It was really good, but as you can see a little greasy.
After Tenge, who I had hired for the entire day, greeted me. I tried to communicate with him that I wanted to go to the south side of the lake where it flows into a river. He took me south, but not very far. I think there was some sort of government regulation on where the tourists can go. Winston our group tour guide keep telling me that you can only go so far because “the government, they not let you,”
The glassy water reflected the sunrise while I got a ton of great footage. I had a hard time putting my camera down. Everything looked amazingly serene. We traveled through a more developed area where there were rows of houses built on top of the water.
Just outside of the town Tenge stopped the boat and pointed to the water, I guess this is where he wanted me to fish. So I did. After working the area for about an hour I asked Tenge to take me to another spot. No action there either. I was starting to get frustrated and was worried that I just wasn’t going to catch any fish. But I keep telling myself, there’s no way I’m not going to catch a fish. I’ll I need to do is put a fly in front of a fish’s face and he’ll take it. The only problem was finding the fish. I had Tenge take me back to the hotel about noon for lunch and a power nap. We had agreed for him to come back at 3pm. This period gave me some time to think about how I was going to catch some fish. I sat on the balcony of the hotel and did some contemplating as I examined the water. Growing up bass fishing with my family I knew lake fish love structure and shade. So I wanted to confirm this. I searched for fish under the dock and balcony of the hotel. The clear water was only a couple feet deep. I finally saw a couple fish, sure enough right in the middle of the shade, just sitting there, not feeding or anything. They were no bigger than 6 or 7 inches.
So now at least I had a game plan. I need to get my fly in some shade. So I told Tenge to take me to the floating gardens thinking I could cast in between the rows of the gardens hoping there’d be some fish hiding in the shade of the gardens. This was easier said than done. It was nearly impossible casting because of the long bamboo stakes sticking out. After a couple worthless casts I pointed at the cat monastery. I tried to tell Tenge to steer us along the side of the building so I could cast under the structure, but he went right up next to it bumping into the silts. Now it was getting to be very annoying. The language barrier was restricting me from communicating the small details to him. Moments later I tried to tell him I wanted to cast into this shaded area in-between cat monastery building the dock. Well he must have thought I meant to pull in there, because he parked the boat right where I wanted to cast. Now I was really irritated. Tenge got out of the boat and walked up the stairs. I sat in the boat wondering what the hell he was doing. He was looking down into the water from above when all of sudden he started yelling stuff at me, he was saying “fish, fish!” and motioned his hands at me to come up there. I grabbed my rod and didn’t see any fish, he was pointing right where I was looking, I said “I don’t see any fish.” He kept pointing and saying “fish.” Honestly I didn’t see anything except for very shallow water with weeds. So I said what the hell and dropped my fly right were he was pointing. Sure enough three small fish swarmed at me fly, but none of them took it, they just nippled on it. So I dropped it back in just above them and stripped it, one actually took the fly, when I gently set the hook. Fish on! Haha, I pulled the fish up right when a group of Australian tourists were getting out of their boat. They were all looking and one dude tried asking me something, I completely ignored him because I was trying to get out my camera and at least get a picture. Then the fish somehow managed to free itself from the fly. It feel down into the tourists boat. Great, Tenge wasn’t there to help because he had to go move our boat for these tourists. The fish fell down in between the floorboards. The boat driver came over, moved some of the seats and suitcases so he could lift up the floorboard and grab the fish. I told him to hold it up for me but he didn’t have a clue what I was saying. So he just sat there and held the fish. It was a feather fish, one commonly found in Inle lake.
Potentially the ugliest fish I’ve ever caught. I wish I had a close up of its head. It was scary looking.
After we went back to the Hotel to pick Blake up, we had planned to meet this evening to do some fishing, why wouldn’t we? Kim Po the manager lined up a “fisherman” to go with us to. So Tenge, the fisherman, Blake and I all went out to fish. It was interesting to see how the fisherman (who didn’t speak one word of English) fished. He had a big net connected to two sticks; he stuck it down into the water scooping out a large bushel of the weeds. Then he picked out the weeds leaving only the small remnants. There were all sorts of minnows, shrimp and what looked like some sort of underwater grasshoppers. He stuck all of these on a hook on the end of really thin line, it was almost just a piece of thread, or silk wrapped on a long piece of bamboo. While they bait fished Blake and I fly fished.
It was fun just hanging out and catching fish with these two Burmese dudes. They didn’t have a clue what we were saying, but we managed to make them laugh while we cracked jokes. The sun began to set when Tenge made some noises that sounded like he was excited. “oooohhhhh….ohhh…ohhhhhh!” He had a fish on, he pulled it up out of the water, when we asked him what kind of fish it was. After asking him to say it again and again we figured out he was saying “snakehead.” The fish looked like a snake, once again it was not real attractive.
I call this the “WHATHUP! Camera” (its an inside joke)
I turned our fisherman into my cameraman
Tenge ended up catching one more snake head.
I later found out from Ian that snakeheads have made it to parts of North American, including Michigan and Minnesota where they are a nuisance and can be detrimental to the fish that naturally inhabit the area. So if you ever catch one, kill it.
We fished until it was dark, then headed back. A three fish day…one on a fly…not bad.
That night there was dance performance at our hotel while we had dinner. It was pretty unique. They had some very different musical instruments. A drum that was like 10 feet long that 3 or 4 men held and banged on, then a row of 8 or so gongs that hung from a horizontally aligned pole from small to big while a man swung a lever that controlled a mallet for each. They performed traditional martial arts, dances and songs to the music. One was a sweet fire dance. A Burmese dancer had a bunch of sticks that he held together then lit each side, he separated the one bunch of sticks into two while he spun them around, then into 4 different sections, then again when he had a all the sticks separated and he was spinning them around while he danced, he was sweating profusely. Then they performed a dance that told a story.
They compared it to Romeo and Juliet. An ancient Burmese love story.
After the whole performance we were allowed to dance with the performers. I’m no great dancer but love to try so I was the first one up there. The girls spun their hands around over their heads, so I did that to. People stood in circles and spun around dancing, the Americans and the Burmese girls intermixed. I was dancing with a one Burmese girl when I decided to try to show how we dance. I held both of her hands and pulled them back and forth while we danced. I directed her to do a few spins then I asked her if she wanted to do a dip. I don’t think she understood a thing I said so I tried to show her. I grabbed her right hand with my left, then I put her left arm on my right shoulder, I gently placed my hand above her hip when all of the sudden she ran away making a loud high pitched squealing sound, she was totally freaked out at the fact that I just touched her! I didn’t know what to do. I felt so bad as she ran towards her friends in the corner shaking her hands and hiding her head. I kept saying I was sorry when Terry an American girl of Vietnamese decent in our group saved the day, she came up to me immediately with her hands out saying, lets show her. We showed her how we dance, and the Burmese girl was a little less freaked out. I guess you’re not supposed to touch the women. I wasn’t aware of that. Oops.
Ian and I and a couple other dudes stayed up again and hung out with the Burmese men and women that worked at the bar. We established that Pying Pying was our age so we wanted to hear some of their popular music. Ian is the epitome of how an American gets when he is talking to a foreigner. He raises his voice real loudly and breaks up the words. He was trying to ask Pying Pying if he coule listen to his music and he said real loud, “MUSIC…PUT…IN…STEREO…YOU HAVE?” his extremely loud voice was accompanied by hilarious hand movements. For some reason a little Spanish comes out sometimes, probably because we are all used to being in Mexico. “MUSICA?” he said. We finally got to hear some of Pying Pying’s music when he brought out a tape player walkman that looked like it was from the 80’s. He had a rock tape and a rap tape, each song on the rock tape sounded like a song straight out of the early 90’s. Alice and chains, sound garden, even stone temple pilots. Then we brought out an I-pod and played him some of our tunes. We played him “enter sandman” by Metallica and immeditaly Pying Pying goes “SAME! SAME!” pointing towards his walkman. We leaned our heads in so we could here and starting singing some of the words, while he sang the same melody of lyrics with different words. He was singing the Burmese version of enter sandman, another example of the government at work. Then Ian and I began to notice this throughout the rest of the trip. We’d hear music in restaurants or at the market and it would sound just like a popular American song. Crazy.
We set off early in to morning to head back to Yangon.
Up late the night before Ian felt the need for a power nap on the boat ride.
Immediately after arriving back in Yangon we visited the Reclining Buddha.
Supposedly its one of the 7 Modern Wonders of the World, but don’t quote me on that.
Next we visited the Shwedagon Pagoda-the same one in the very first picture in the distance. Ian and I wore our Longyi’s to show respect, you’re not supposed to wear shorts.
God we’re sweet.
I got some amazingly beautiful footage of the Pagoda. The evening sun reflected off the shiny gold finish. It looked incredibly bright in my video camera. It will look awesome in high definition.
Myanmar as a whole was a beautiful country. I honestly couldn’t put down the video camera. I think I shot over 6 hours of footage there, from all the Pagoda’s to Inle lake. I would definitely highly recommend it as a place to visit. You can’t get a flight from the U.S. there because our government doesn’t want to support their military regime, somewhat like Cuba. So you have the make the call and decide if you want to support it. Personally I think your doing more good than bad by visiting Burma; Especially if you try to support private and not government owned businesses. Of course this is difficult to do. Either way, if you get the chance to go, DO IT!
On Deck: VIETNAM
In the hole: CHINA
|Thursday, March 16th, 2006|
|The Majestic Mahseer
INDIA= REAL SWEET
Our Global Studies professor described India in one word INTENSE, but I think explaining India in a nutshell is a challenge. If one thing was said about the country the opposite can be true as well. For instance, people say that parts of India are unclean, poverty-stricken, underdeveloped, and overly industrialized exposing a potent stench. This is contrasted with the beauty of the people themselves, their hospitality, the manner in which they hold their religion sacred, the beauty of the jungle in the south, and the Himalayas in the north. I was fortunate enough to experience both extremes. Giving me a diverse view of India as a whole. After departing, a lot of students on the ship talked about how ready they were to leave India because of the smell, poverty, the trash everywhere, and the general dirtiness of the country. I had to disagree. I was not ready to leave this beautiful place. I was surprised at all the litter everywhere (the people through all litter out where ever whenever), and the smell in the cities did give me a slight headache, but to experience the hospitality of a group of genuine locals that truly care about revealing their country to you was quite an experience that definitely was short lived. While trying to locate a fly fishing guide the week before we arrived in India. I emailed a company in Chennai that exports fly fishing flies. Sundar, (the owner of Fish N Fly exporter.( www.fishnfly.net) exports flies wholesale all around the world) replied immediately and began to help me find a guide. There was only one problem. Sundar had never fly fished before in his life. I thought that was very interesting, the owner of a fly exporter that has never even casted a fly rod. I was able to set up a trip on my own with Himalayan outback (www.himalayanoutback.com ). So instead of finding a guide through Sundar, I found a friend, actually about 3 friends.
We arrived in India right on schedule and Sundar was waiting for me.
It took a while to clear the strict Indian customs. Around noon I finally got the off the ship to find Sundar and 2 of his friends waiting for me.
(From left to right) Ema, Sundar and Salva
At this point the only thing I had set up was a fishing trip for Mahseer (Ma-sear) the majestic fish that can only be found in this region of the world. The trip was 3 days of fishing in the Himalayas with the Himalayan Outback Company. I was supposed to be in Delhi by evening time to meet my fly fishing guide Misty Dillon, but I hadn’t booked a flight yet. Sundar and company were nice enough to take me directly to the airport. On the way I interviewed Sundar about his company and they gave me a welcoming gift.
It was a very sweet flakey candy.
Some kids from the ship that I ran into at the airport helped me eat it after Sundar and company helped me book my flight. I was worried I wouldn’t be able to make it to Dehli in time to catch the 8:40 train to Kathgodon which is 150 miles Northwest of Dehli. I was right, the earliest flight I could get was at 6PM but it worked out well because I got on the same flight as some other SAS kids that were heading to Delhi. We all got our tickets together and had dinner at the airport together.
From left to Right Ian from Penn State, Nick originally from Boulder but goes to CSU and is the adopted grandson of Coreta King, Anee from northern California and Chris from Penn State.
They were all headed to separate places. Because of the bombings in Varanasi their plans had changed a little. SAS banned anyone from going to Varanasi. Nick and Anee were planning on going there anyway, while Ian and Chris headed to Bombay. Nick was also planning on trying to meet the Dali Lama, Nick just told me today that the only day the Dali Lama isn’t available to visit is Fridays because he goes to Tibet or something like that. So Nick is planning on meeting him on his next visit to the states. I thought it was pretty bold of him to visit the Dali Lama
The Dinner was good and the flight went very smoothly. When I arrived in the Dehli international airport I was greeted by the only Indian fly fishing guide in North India: Misty Dillion.
We stood in the middle of the intersection where two busy streets merged outside the airport. We were waiting for the cab that replaced the train I missed. I was so excited to talk to Misty about fly fishing but was disappointed to find out that he would not be joining me on the river till the day after the next. So I got as much information out of him as possible. He then handed me a fly box of Mahseer flies he had tied himself. It was quite fascinating, standing in the middle of a busy street in India, trying to get a lesson on fly fishing for mahseer.
He pointed out which flies to throw and told me to use an intermediate sink line, about a 400 grain line with a long cast and a very slow strip. So just like that, in the midst of a busy, noisy, smelly, city I learned how to fish for Mahseer.
I got in the cab and headed for Kathgodon. I passed out in the back seat, randomly waking up to the sounds of rural India. Loud sporadic honks of big trucks, compact cars and motorbikes all packed with people on the half dirt road packed with holes, rocks and gravel.
After about 13 hours of traveling the morning sun mellowed through the heavy fog when I finally got my first look at the Himalaya Mountains.
DAY 2 (The days were somewhat merged together since I was traveling through the night)
Leaving at 11PM we finally arrived in the small mountain village at 7AM which made it about an 8 hour trip. 8 hours to go 250 KM or 150 miles! Tells you how bad the roads were.
We tracked down the Himalayan Outback guys, Ramesh and Dinesh. They let me crash in their room at the hostel for about an hour. Then we were joined by two other Americans for breakfast. Lenny Kauba and George Pollock, two older conventional fishermen from Chicago. 5 of us packed in an SUV and headed for the river and I thought the roads to Kathgodan were bad.
From left to right: Lenny a world traveler/fishermen who is a retired geography professor from Northern Illinois currently on his 118th international fishing trip! Ramesh the manager for Himalayan Outback later turned into my Cameraman, then me.
This leg of the trip we traveled about 60 miles Leaving at about 9AM we arrived at the river at about 5PM making it another 8-hour trip. 60 Miles in 8 hours! From 0 to 6,000 feet, straight up, the rocky switch backs snaked through the majestic highlands forcing us to go about an average of 10 or 15 miles an hour. After a couple long naps and hearing some great world wide fishing stories from Lenny and George we arrived at the confluence of the Soulu (Sall-u) and Mahakali (Ma-Ha-Kali) rivers. (not positive about the spelling of these rivers)
Coming in on the left is the Soulu river that flows into the Mahakali river.
We were greeted by the Himalayan Outback staff and shown to our tents, I immediately changed and rigged up. We walked up the tributary. There were all these Indian clothes dispersed about the rocky banks of the river.
They were surrounded by what looked like remnants of a camp fire, the ashes of burnt wood. I asked Ramesh what this was. He explained to me the Hindu tradition. When a Hindu family member dies, they are taken to the river, cremated, then the ashes are thrown into the river and clothes are left as offerings. So there we were, navigating through the funeral grounds of several deceased Hindus. Honestly I didn’t have much time to process this because I was about to make my first casts into an Indian river.
Right into the confluence of the rivers I threw my #12 500 grain sink line with the fly Misty had recommended directly across the tributary’s current then let the current take my line right down into the bigger river. The line sunk quickly. I was worried I would get snagged on the bottom, but after the first cast I found out it was well over 15 feet deep. I made a second cast in the same place. I was stripping real slowly like Misty had directed me to when Bam! I felt a large tug on the end of my line! I was so surprised and was not expecting a hit on my second cast! I set the hook a little late but that didn’t matter, the mahseer hit the fly so hard I didn’t even need to set it. It felt like a big fish that fought very hard. I reeled in my excess line and the let the drag do the work. I had my drag set considerably tight and the fish was still pulling line. It was bulldogging deep into the merging rapids.
After a short while I finally got a look at the fish, to my surprise is looked only about 18-20 inches. It felt a lot bigger than that! I now understood why they call the Mahseer one of the fiercest fighting fresh water fish.
I landed the fish as Ramesh filmed.
I estimated it to be about 18-20 inch 4-5 lbs. Lenny was convinced it was only about 3-4 lbs and no more than 18 inches. I didn’t really care; I was just extremely excited to have caught the royal fish of India: The Mahseer! I was fascinated by the bright orange colors, especially on the bottom of its tail fin.
By this time it was almost dark. So we called it a day, had a wonderful Indian dinner beside the camp fire and retired pretty early because we were all exhausted from the long journey.
We were all woken up to heavy rain over night and welcomed by it in the morning. I over heard Lenny and George yelling at each other from tent to tent in the morning. “George are you gonna fish in this crap?” Lenny yelled from his tent. George replied in his deep coarse voice “Hell no, I don’t want to slip on a rock and have a heart attack!” It was pretty funny hearing these old timers wuss out on fishing in the rain. But I understood their reasoning, they had 18 days of fishing in front of them. I had one and 1/2. I yelled at Lenny after checking the weather on my GPS “Hey Lenny, what does a rising barometer mean?” He replied. “Well, its better than one that’s decreasing.” I was like ahhhh ok. either way I was going to fish. So I put on my rain gear and headed out. I fished in the same exact spot. I used the same exact cast, same fly, same strip when I caught another Mahseer! It was awesome.
Same everything, the fish was even similar size, but a little smaller than the first.
The rain stopped just before lunch time. Ramesh and I went down stream and then up the Soulu later having no action, but it ended up being a beautiful day and I was finally able to see the Himalayas under the sun.
There were a number of young Indian children from near by villages that curiously came to check out our camp.
Around 2 PM Misty showed up. He brought the other American who actually set up the trip. Steve Yatomi. Ever heard of Larry Dolhberg? He has a fishing show on OLN. He fishes all around the world. Well Steve is the man behind Larry’s show. He shoots all of his shows. How awesome is that? Here I am shooting my own documentary about fly fishing and I run into someone who shoots a popular fishing show on the other side of the world. Steve is a great guy that was very interested in what I was doing and very willing to teach me a few things. He actually ended up shooting a bunch of footage for me.
Misty was pleased to hear that I had caught 2 fish already on my own. We were confident we would catch more. He explained that we have a better chance to catch fish on a fly in this area because it receives heavy fishing pressure from conventional fishermen. We worked the confluence again as well as some other holes and had no action. Misty was confident that we’d catch something at night. So we set off.
Me, Ramesh (one of the fishing guides, from Myanmar (Burma)) and Misty
He was right; he was about 200 yards from me up river casting a spin rod when he landed a 12 pounder. He stringed it on a small rope in the river keeping him around to show off. Misty was exhausted so he hit the sack while I stayed up till about 1AM with both Ramesh’s (My cameraman and the guide) and had no action. It was interesting fishing under the moon light. You really can’t see where you’re casting; it forces you to rely on your other senses.
Getting up to see the sunrise we had a big agenda to complete by noon. On top of fishing I needed to interview Misty, film him tying flies, and film me swimming across the river to Nepal, (I’ve always wanted to go to Nepal) We got 3 out the 4 done. We fished, I did the interview with misty setting up a great shot with the confluence right behind him, I swam to Nepal but didn’t get a chance to film him tie. Instead we tried some dry fly fishing. Misty had never tried dry fly fishing before, not even for trout; he said he only fishes below water for trout. I thought that was interesting. Over the last couple days I had seen a number of mahseer rise, they were obviously feeding on top water insects. So I rigged up my 7 wt. rod and reel, we took some pictures and video of the mahseer Misty had caught from the day before.
It was a beautiful fish. Steve took a bunch of shots with his still camera and was barking orders at us like a true professional, he told me to take Misty’s hat off because he couldn’t see his head, in case you were wondering why my hands on his head.
So we gave the dry fly a shot, we tried a couple different patterns. A stimulator, a mayfly, and an adam’s pattern. We didn’t have any action but it was fun trying. With only about an hour left before we had to leave I was dieing to swim across the river to Nepal.
Misty and they guys made me wear a helmet and life vest in case I got taken into the rough rapids, they also had Bhupi, a kayaker, escort me on my swim across the river. So don’t worry Dad I was fine, except I did jump off a cliff on the other side, well I wouldn’t really call it a cliff, it was maybe 15 feet off the water. I spent no more than a minute or so in Nepal, it was a pretty sweet country.
After I changed, packed my stuff and said my good byes to my new fishing buddies
From left to right Lenny, Steve, George and I. I was very jealous of them, they were about to leave on a 14 day float trip, two 5-day trips. I definitely want to come back to India to do a trip like that. Misty explained that the fishing is incredible because the area’s they float through are so remote that no one can get there by car. So there is virtually no fishing pressure. So I’ll be back to do a float trip down a river in the Himalayas! Sounds freaking awesome, whose coming with me?
I prepared myself for another 24 hour trip home. The first leg of the trip was the best. I got to see the beautiful Himalayas under the after noon sun.
There were a number of Hindu Temples placed high on a large cliff overlooking the mountains.
We had to occasionally swerve around cows grazing in the roads. Hindu’s hold the cows to be sacred. They are everywhere, sometime dressed up or painted and you’ll never see beef on a menu.
We passed these decorated trucks labeled “public carrier” every couple minutes.
Most of the hillsides had levels cut into them for farming.
8 or 9 hours later we met the other taxi and exchanged cars. I thought this picture said a lot about the pollution in the urban areas of India. You can actually see the dust/smog in the picture, I wish I could portray the smell because it was a potent stench that saturated your nostrils with filth. At this point the smell gave me pretty bad head-ache. Mom, I’m glad you didn’t come, I’m sure the smell would give you a migraine.
We arrived in Delhi at about 4:30AM my flight was scheduled to leave at 6:40AM. Because of the heavy fog I sat on the plane for about 3 hours and didn’t leave until about 10PM. I arrived in Chennai around 1PM where Sundar, Ema, Salva, and Parama greeted me. They were nice enough to take me back to the ship so I could get my battery charger because I had no juice left for my camera. When leaving the port you have to go through 2 different sets of customs and police. It was a hassle each time, and this time they decided to give me some crap because I didn’t have my fly rods declared on my customs form where they only ask to declare for digital and video cameras.
I took this picture of the senile Indian policeman hassling us. It probably wasn’t the best idea. He got real upset and tried to take my camera, I quickly grabbed it back from him and went back and sat in the car. There continued to be all sorts of commotion. Basically the guy was hassling us so he could get a bribe. Sundar explained to me that’s all they want is money. So Sundar ended up giving him like 100 rupees, which isn’t even 2 bucks.
They then took me to a nice Indian restaurant.
We had (from left to right) A fish Masala (the yellowish dish), it was fish in a sweet sauce, a crab curry, and a prawn curry. It was served with rice, Zapata (an Indian torilla) (bottom), and onions in a yogurt sauce (top)
It was real good
Clean plate club
My new Indian Friends, a couple of great guys:
From left to right Parama, Ema, Sundar, me and Salva.
After lunch we ventured down into the city. This is what I was most curious about and anticipated the most this day, visiting Sundar’s fly manufacturer. We parked on a claustrophobic busy street and Sundar leaded us down a dark hallway. We went up a couple stories into one of those old school elevators that have the gated doors. We walked into an open office area where Sundar introduced me to his secretary. An older Hindu women dressed in a traditional Hindu dress and a red dot placed in between her eye brows. She led us into an office that Sundar explained was his uncles. There were a couple awards and trophy’s in a cabinet including a picture of his Uncle receiving an award for best manufacturer. They then lead me around the corner into a large room filled with about 15 Hindu women sitting diligently tying flies.
It was quite interesting. To see a group of Hindu women who probably didn’t have what they were tying was all about. Streamers, dry flies, nymphs, and even a frog pattern that I’d never seen before. In case you were wondering how the hell Sundar owns this fly company and has never fly fished, well his Uncle is the fly fisherman and he started the company 30 years ago. His uncle taught the women how to tie all these flies. So basically his Uncle is the man. I told Sundar I really wanted to meet him and go fishing with him, but he explained to me how his Uncle is very old now and I guess doesn’t fish much anymore.
The ladies worked very quickly and attentively. I think I made them a little nervous when I came in and started to film, but when I left I thanked them all and they all turned and smiled and thanked me as well. All of the sudden they turned from a quite reserved group to a lively bunch. I think the fact that I was taking interest in what they were doing, and filming them, empowered them.
Next Sundar took me to his home. It was too in the city in close residential quarters. We walked up a flight of stairs into an open windowed main living area that was built around an open courtyard. I met Sundar’s mother and his wife. Their 30 day old baby boy was sleeping in a crib that hung from ropes tied to the ceiling. He was so cute. Sundar and I took off our shoes and entered a room decorated with pictures and statues of the Hindu god Shiva. It was a very colorful room that looked like a rainbow of colors through the lens of my video camera. Sundar offered me a drink and then surprised me with a gift.
It was an assortment of flies! A bunch of salmon eggs, a couple adams, a streamer, a popper, and the frog fly that I had never seen before. I was really surprised and I told Sundar that I couldn’t have thanked him enough!
From there we set off to give Sundar and the boys a lesson in fly-fishing. I tried to explain to Sundar that you can’t just go out and start fly-fishing. You need to spend a fair amount of time learning to cast. He didn’t really understand this at first but then when he actually tried to cast I think it made more sense to him.
We traveled about 45 minutes north of Chennai and met a guy named Raja that was friends with Parama. He led us down a narrow alley to the shore of a large river. All 6 of us were joined with 3 others on a rather large traditional fishing boat. They took out all of the fishing nets to make room for all of us. It was almost like a large canoe, but actually was well suited for casting; it had an open area in the front with a large flat area on the floor to strip your line. Like I anticipated it was tough teaching Sundar how to cast in a boat at sea, but I think he enjoyed it and the others enjoyed watching.
I ended up just giving them some what of a demonstration casting my 12 wt. sink line, which is a shooting line. So it was easy to make long casts. The highlight of the trip was when one of the Indian guys manning the motor spotted a school of fish. He called them silverfish. They were a big school that you could see making small dashes in the water. I made about 10 casts on them with the hope maybe something big would make a chase but didn’t have any luck. I tried to explain to the guys that it was awesome to see some fish because sometimes you spend entire days on the water and don’t even see a fish.
After the sun set we headed back to the car and the fella’s took me back to the ship. We joked some more and had a couple laughs. The guys were incredibly hospitable. They wouldn’t let me pay for anything, gave me gifts, and were just simply really nice to me. They loved the fact that I was interested in their culture and they were very interested in my culture.
Overall it was an unbelievable trip, the beautiful Himalayas, the majestic mahseer, the great hospitality, and just being able to witness a culture so beautifully different from ours. Awesome! I couldn’t have asked for a better experience.
Right now we are actually already docked in Yangon Myanmar. We are clearing customs right now and are allowed to get off the ship at 4AM. Blake and I are planning on getting off then and finding a boat to take us up the river. We are actually docked on a river. Its pretty cool, the water is very muddy but all day we’ve been seeing these really small fish run across the surface of the muddy waters. They rise to the surface then run on their sides. I’ve never seen a fish do that before. They must be feeding on something top water. I have a feeling its going to be an interesting and productive trip. This country is run by a military regime and there are virtually no human rights for the citizens here. We aren’t allowed to discuss the political situation with the people here because of the potential of putting them in great harm. There are no ATMS, no banks because everything is run by the government which has forced a lot of the western commodities that we are used to out of the country. I interviewed the inter port lecturer today and got some great stuff. She talked all about the situation here and how we as U.S. citizens can help. She even had a lot to say about the fishing here! Its one of their main resources and a lot of their traditional dishes are fish based, including a traditional breakfast dish; a fish soup! I’m yet to get off the ship and I’ve already learned a lot about the fishing and even seen some fish. Wish me luck!
|Sunday, March 5th, 2006|
We arrived in Port Louis Mauritius right on schedule. For the first time we were let off the boat early. But for the first time I wasn’t in a hurry to disembark. The guide I had set up, Dominique Thevenau told me to call him when I got off and we would fish in the afternoon. It was about 11AM when he arrived. When I met the Mauritian born fly fisherman from French decent he greeted me with a big smile and was astonished by the size of our ship so he took a bunch of pictures. We got in his truck decked out in his fishing and hunting logos and headed south down the west coast of the island.
Dominique and I in front of his truck and the MV Explorer
He had another client scheduled to pick up at 1 so he showed me around for the 2 hours we had to burn. First he took me to Flic en Flac beach where we got these awesome chicken kabob sandwiches from a stand that had a kitchen set up in the back of a large truck. They slow roasted a huge chunk of chicken on a vertical rotisserie and sliced freshly cooked pieces of the chicken off. I couldn’t figure out exactly how the chicken was formed into a huge piece of meat. But as they sliced pieces of you could see layers of chicken on top of each other. So I’m guessing this is why the rotisserie is vertical. So the chicken layers on top of on another and smashed down into one big piece.
It was served on a hoagie roll with lettuce, tomatoes, fresh onions and chile sauce which was actually pretty spicy.
After we ate Dominique took me to some of the luxurious hotels along the coast. I got some amazing scenic shots at each. Then we headed to pick up Russell Piccup. Dominique thought it was funny that we were going to pick up a guy named “pick up.” Russell was an older guy from England who’s an avid fly fisherman. He has even been to Colorado numerous times to fish and Ski, so we had a lot to talk about. He was pretty funny and was great to have come along. We headed to the most southern point of the island where the east and west currents collide. Domnique showed us that just passed where we were the wind was very strong, then when we went back about 300 yards around the corner to where the boat was and the wind was gone. It was crazy, he explained how the tip of the coast shields the wind. We rigged up and headed out.
From back to front: The dude who owned the boat Dominique Russell and me.
It was tough to cast into the wind. We had to strategically place the boat around the reef in order to place us in a position so we could cast with the wind at our back and still have a shot at some fish. In addition to this Russell and I had to time our casts so one was stripping while the other was casting. We hit a couple spots then Dominique asked if we wanted to get out and wade into the surf. Russell laughed and said “If you say its safe then lets do it!”
The Surf was pretty intense, about 4-6 foot waves, you can see how windy it was by the spray coming off the break.
We were going to be walking along a reef so Dominique rigged us up with some of these sweet boots to walk on the reef with. I felt like a total dork wearing them with my shorts but they protected my feet from the reef well.
We walked about 100 yards out into the surf where we split up and started to cast. Thanks to Sudesh I already knew exactly what I was doing. I casted into the heavy surf stripping my fly as fast as I could between the powerful waves. It was tough balancing on the jagged reef. I thought I was having a tough time when I looked about 50 yards to my right to see Russell get demolished by a wave. He fell over backward as the wave hit him. He was totally submersed under the white water while Dominique hurried to help him up as his hat slowly floated away. I felt bad for him but couldn’t help to smirk at the situation. The fact that this 65 year old man was fighting these huge waves just to get a shot at some fish was commendable. He ended up falling over again a couple times. Dominique looked over now and then to see if I was OK. I’d give him a thumbs up signaling I was fine. After about 10 minutes or so of casting and getting completely soaked I got a strike! A Giant Trevally hit my fly hard but only hit the tail. Dominique yelled out “OH” as I couldn’t believe it didn’t hit the hook. He later explained to me that the fly I was using had to long of a tail. I wish I had known that. GT’s tend to only nip the end of your fly, this is why flies with tails that go past the hook are not good to use for GT’s. We headed back to the boat after Russell took a bad spill from a big wave.
As you can see I got soaked, luckily my digital camera is waterproof.
We fished some more along side the outside of the reef with no luck. The sun was setting and I got some great magic hour footage. Then we called it a day when it started to rain.
Leaving an awesome rainbow along top this plateau.
That night I went out with some friends for some Indian food. There is a large population of Indian’s in Mauritius.
We had from top left to right, onions in a cottage cheese yogurt sauce (the white stuff), lamb in a spicy sauce (the brown stuff), cheese cubes, and chicken sausage. It was very different but tasty.
Due to a combination of traffic and tide Dominique decided to pick us up around 10AM. It was a crummy day out. Heavy winds and scattered rain showers, not ideal for casting. We headed to the north side of the Island in hopes of getting some better weather. We headed to small town called Grand Baie. A town built around a large bay filled with bright turquoise water. Dominique took us to the Mauritius Yacht Club where we grabbed a bite to eat then decided to give it a shot despite the crap weather. We casted for no longer than 10 minutes in a spot off of some rocks when Dominique directed us to head to another spot up shore. After trying 2 or 3 spots Dominique said that basically we weren’t going to catch any fish, plus it was tough casting with a strong wind. Blake and I were pretty disappointed with this. Not only at the fact that there was inclement weather but also because we were told that we were not going to catch fish. I don’t ever like hearing that kind of attitude. No matter what, there is always a chance at a fish. Which was proved to be correct moments later when Dominique was casting along some deep sea rigs that had called it a day early. He had his fly and leader bitten off by a barracuda. Should of had had a steal leader! Blake and I had enough, we were tired of pussy footing around wasting time. So I did my interview with Dominique in the Yacht Club and we called it a day. To our surprise when I went to pay, Dominique said we owed him nothing. Blake and I looked at each other in shock. Because I was promoting Mauritius in my film he didn’t want anything, But we had to give him something. So I gave him enough to easily cover gas and food.
Blake and I spent the rest of the day exploring the town or Port Louis.
The streets were packed densely with a lot of people with dark complexions. Mainly Indians, while many being from African decent as well. Not many white people in the streets. The social structure is similar to that of South Africa. Where the minority white population live in the upscale suburbs while you’ll find the black, coloured or Indians in the inner city and townships.
That night Blake and I went back to Grand Baie with some friends to eat and party in a beach house some kids on the ship had rented. Our Taxi driver Fawzi recommended this place to use called Café de La Plage which was an upscale seafood restaurant. Guess what I had? The seafood platter!
As you can see, it was totally awesome! It had (from top left to right) Lobster, salad, a huge prawn, mussels, grilled vegetables and potatoes, shrimp, calamari, rice and a nice size Dorado filet. It may take the trophy for the best dish of the trip. Except it was pretty rich with lots of butter and garlic. Dad you would of loved it.
Clean Plate Club
I had a tough time deciding what to do on my last day. Dominique had set up for me to join a deep sea fishing team that was competing in the Marlin tournament. He told them I was a journalist doing a film on fishing in Mauritius, which was true except I wasn’t going to be able to touch a rod, definitely not a fly rod. It was either this or explore some of the islands rivers on my own with Blake. (Dominique had scheduled someone else this day) What would you have done? Sat on a boat for 8 hours watching other people fish on conventional tackle for Marlin? Or explore some rivers that potentially receive little to no fishing pressure and have potentially never been fished with a fly? I still hadn’t caught a fish in Mauritius so I decided it not only be more fun but also might be better footage to go with plan B.
Blake and I called up Fawzi who told us the night before that he knew where some reservoirs and rivers were. We hired him to drive us where ever we wanted for 1500 Rupees which is about 45 USD. He first took us to a waterfall near the presidents house.
The river was small but looked promising.
Next we headed for a reservoir that supposedly had some black bass and tilapia in it. It seemed like a nice calm day out until we pulled up to the top of a hill to see hundreds of small white caps covering the murky water of the reservoir. It was very windy and the water was real muddy. So we told Fawzi to take us to the nearest river. On the way we stopped by a look out point.
Fawzi and I
He then took us to another look out point that over looked the black river gorge. Where we were headed to fish. He drove down a steep windy road to the Black River National Park. We pulled up and parked right next to the river and the park headquarters. I set up my camera and shot Blake and I rigging up when an older gentlemen came up to us and told us we had to have permission from the government to film. Blake made us some BS saying that the diplomat gave everyone on our ship permission. I asked him if he likes to fish. He said he does but no one is allowed to fish on the river. I told him how I was doing a documentary film on fly fishing, then explained to him what fly fishing was, I showed him my flies and gave him a demonstration on casting. After about 10 minutes of trying to convince him to let us fish he finally caved. He told us he would show us the good spots to fish. Within in minutes he turned from someone who told us that we couldn’t fish to our guide all while on film. He took us on about a 1KM hike up the Black River.
The Black River is one of the largest rivers the 28 square mile island
Blake immediately hurried in front to fish the first hole while I asked Fawzi to film while I checked under some rocks. Similar to the river and Puerto Rico there were some big snails stuck to the rock. When I looked closer I saw some worms crawling around. So I threw on a San Juan worm. After working a couple holes and not having any action I tried some other patterns. The whole time Blake was up ahead of me getting a fresh shot at all the holes. He screamed “I’ve got one when I was about 75 yards below him. I ran up and grabbed the camera from Fawzi and filmed him landing the fish. Our makeshift guide (who didn’t want to reveal his name to us because he was allowing us to fish illegally ) explained to us that it was “cide” (pronounce sid) which was bright silver with big brown eyes like a bass, a small mouth with a long spiky fin on its back. Another tropical river fish on the fly! Pretty sweet! I got some great shots of Blake landing and releasing the fish. After our guide told us to hit a hole that we drove by. We saw a bunch of kids jumping off a huge cliff into a deep hole when we drove by it earlier in the day. We had to hurry so we could fish the hole before the park gates closed. As soon as we pulled up I saw a bunch of fish trolling in the hole, it was awesome. I was so excited to catch one. Blake took the camera, as soon as I was about to cast Fawzi walked up from parking the car. He had bought some sweet bread off the street earlier and for some reason he decided to through a piece right in the middle of the hole! About 20 fish quickly came and devoured the bread. Blake and I couldn’t believe our eyes!! We looked at each other and I yelled “FAWZI WHAT THE F^%!” I was real pissed and so was Blake. He officially ruined my shot at a fish in Mauritius. At least we got it all on camera, it may make for good cinema. The fish wouldn’t even give a dry fly a look, nor chase a wooley bugger. So Blake and I made Fawzi film us jumping off the cliff. I wanted to throw Fawzi off the Cliff, then let him swim with the fishes like Luca Brazi. Oh well, at least between the two of us we’ve caught a fish in every port.
The hole where Fawzi ruined my shot at a fish. Dad, the Cliff wasn’t that big.
On the way home we gave Fawzi a chance to redeem himself. We asked him to take us to his favorite restaurant. First he took us out in the middle of no where. It was real random, Blake and I were like “ahhhh where the hell are you taking us Fawzi?” I don’t think he even knew. He took us to this open area where there was a Casino like 100 yards away from a bunch of really nice upper scale restaurants. He had no clue which one to go to, he kept asking us which one we wanted to go to and we were like “we have no clue, you tell us. We told you to take us to your favorite restaurant.” All of them hadn’t even opened yet. Once again Fawzi had let us down. I guess you can’t expect much out of a taxi driver. So he drove us back into Port Louis where we gave him one more chance to redeem himself. He took us to a restaurant that he had actually been too. He knew the owners and they ordered food for us. We just told them we wanted Mauritian food. They explained to us that it was a mix of all different kinds of food. Mainly Indian. “Kolopizo Fusion Cuisine” was a some what of a hole in the wall down a dark alley. I don’t think we were in a great neighborhood because they had the door locked but hey were open. If any customers came the owners had to go up and let them in. I snuck into the tiny kitchen and filmed the cook making our dishes, he show me some of the ingredients he was using, which included spices such as saffron, curry, and hot brown mustard with sesame seeds.
From left to right, Salad, grilled vegetables, rolled up chicken served with a great creamy sauce, chicken with tomatoes, onions, zucchini, and olives, then my favorite which was the curry seafood made with the saffron and hot brown mustard with sesame seeds, it had shrimp, calamari, and fish. One the bottom left of the plate is this awesome green chile hot sauce they had. It was real fresh and real spicy. They said it was just ground up green chilies.
All in all Mauritius was pretty sweet, besides the fact that it’s the only country I didn’t catch a fish in. Oh well, I had a blast trying.
Off to India! Hopefully heading to the Himalayas to catch come Mahseer!
|Friday, February 24th, 2006|
I must say, South Africa is potentially the best place to fly fish in the world. I say this because of its great diversity. The places you can fly fish here are endless. Both salt and freshwater have a wide variety. If you look at a map of the country it will help you to understand why this is true. For salt water you have the Atlantic Ocean on the west coast and the Indian Ocean on the east. Giving the west coast a colder climate and the east a warmer tropical climate; providing various species of fish in each. As the two ocean currents collide at the most southern point of the country there is supposed to be awesome saltwater fishing. Providing a more tropical climate as you head north the east coast fishing gets better as you get closer up towards the border. If you think that sounds impressive wait till you hear about the freshwater. There are plenty of Mountain Rivers that have an abundant trout population throughout the country. The Drakensburg mountains are supposedly the most spectacular mountain ranges. From seeing pictures I would compare them to the Rockies. Trout are not indigenous to South Africa, Europeans brought them in the late 1800’s wiping out some of the indigenous fish in certain rivers. These fish are what makes South Africa unique: The white and yellow fish. With the trout being more prominent in the southern mountains the Yellow fish are very abundant as you get farther north while the white fish is nearly extinct. Yellow fish are supposedly amazing to catch on the fly. They look like a dark golden carp, but much more attractive than a carp. You can only find these fish here is South Africa and supposedly they put up a very hard fight. Then there’s the tiger fish that is found in rivers farther north. Now this is an impressive fish. Imagine the teeth of a piranha on a large mouth bass. I’ve never seen one in person but I’ve heard they are insane to catch and they look like a ferocious fish.
With all these options I had a very tough time trying to figure out what to do. I really wanted to get a shot at a yellow or a tiger fish but after many attempts at trying to figure something out I came to the conclusion that with only 5 days it wasn’t going to be plausible. The rivers where you find the tiger fish are very far while the best river for yellow fishing was recently flooded. With the help of a bunch of great contacts I networked to figure something else out. After many attempts at trying to find a guide, an avid fly fisherman and CU student, Brian Ross who used to live in South Africa recommended me to Sudesh Pursad; A well known all around fly fishing guide. With the help of many other contacts and my roommate Blake we found James Warne to guide us in a freestone river near Cape Town while Sudesh had planned a great trip to take me to Kosi Bay, which is the most northern, you can go on the east coast before entering Mozambique.
Before I start let me just say that South Africa is like Sudesh would say with his distinct South African Accent “MAGNIFICIENT!”
Cape Town greeted us with a large blanket of fog hiding the beautiful mountains as we arrived. We woke up before the sun rose in anticipation for this gorgeous scenery we had been hearing about. The only scene we saw was about 50 feet of ocean then dense clouds. It was disappointing especially after we were delayed 5 hours because the ship couldn’t dock in the dense fog. The sun barely peaked through as we were finally allowed to get off the ship. The first thing we had planned to do was visit our guide James’ fly shop to get Blake outfitted. But it was too late, so we decided to head up Table Mountain: Cape Town’s renowned plateau that sits in the backdrop of the cityscape.
Blake and our buddy Vinny Hiked the mountain in a couple hours while I check out the city and got some shots. I planned on meeting them at the top taking the cable car. Walking around Cape Town was pretty sweet. The people talk in a unique accent that we decided sounds like a cross between and English and Australian accent. I came across a film shoot while walking around down town. I was walking on the side walk when I saw a grip truck and then the executive producer stopped me saying “nice camera.” He told me I need to be careful walking around with such a nice camera and that I might get another black eye getting mugged (I took an elbow hard in the eye while playing basketball). I told him that I was going to give him a Black eye and take his job. No, just kidding, he was real cool, and let me observe the shoot for a minute. They were just getting set up. I was a dutch commercial they were shooting on 35mm. I chatted with one of the PA’s, a recent film school graduate. I told her and the Executive producer about my film. They were intrigued. The girl shot her thesis on the same camera I shot mine on. The Arri SRII. It was great to chat with someone who was in my same position in another country. There is quite an extensive film industry in Cape Town. I might have to move back and get a job there. Why wouldn’t I?
I took a cab up to the base of Table Mountain and waited to go up in the cable car because there was poor visibility. The mountain was covered in a blanket of fog. I saw Blake get off the cable car and he said you couldn’t really see much so after waiting around and having some beers with some other Semester at Sea kids the sun came out of now where and the fog was gone! So we hoped on the cable car. It was a stunning ride to the top. See if you can see our ship in the back round, if you look close you can see a white area in the harbor. That’s our ship.
I hung out with a some CU kids at the top who hiked up and this kid Devin who looks like Lenny. Lenny he’s your long lost identical twin he’s pretty sweet too.
The top of Table Mountain was majestic. It felt like we traveled up into heaven and were overlooking the world. It was quite spectacular.
That night we ate at a fish and chips place. It was very good. I had the variety basket which came with full prawns, head and all, calamari, snoek and chips. I should of took a picture of the basket full of grease, it was so greasy they even had a hand washing station on their patio. Hadn’t seen one of those at a restaurant before.
Blake and I met our guide James at 6AM. We hopped in his little Volkswagen (everyone drives these type of compact cars here) and headed north to the Eland’s Spot river, which means the Eland’s road, an Eland is a huge African Antelope that used to used this river as a path. James asked us if we wanted to travel under a tunnel or up over the mountain. This was a no brainer, we wanted to take the scenic route up over the mountain to get some good views of the extensive wine lands. James also pointed out some lakes that had some good Bass fishing. You can see a couple in this picture.
We arrived at a parking lot just outside the tunnel. We rigged up James’ 2 wt rods. I was going to rig my 5 wt, but James suggested not to because it would be to much for these small trout we were going after. We hiked up a half mile or so overlooking the amazing looking freestone river.
Blake and I said to each other, we are actually in South Africa, Fishing! It was amazing, almost surreal. We hiked high above the river then the trail gradually sloped down into some thick brush then out on to the river. It was a large hole. The river was running a little low so it was very calm and slow moving. We immediately saw a couple trout rise. Now this was something we weren’t used to. It was incredible, these trout where rising completely out of the water flying a maybe a foot up into air and landing a couple feet away. I’ve never seen a trout rise so far out of the water, it was freaking awesome. James rigged what he called a “New Zealand Rig” which was just a dry dropper. (a dry fly on top water then dropping a nymph beneath the water) He had his own special pattern that his friend came up with called a R.A.B. which stands for Red Ass Bastard. It’s a mayfly variation that has some red in it. It’s a local fly designed specially fro the cape rivers. He dropped a variation of a bead headed pheasant tail. I got the honors of taking the first stab at it. We slowly waded up river to get closer. I casted the 2 wt. which felt like nothing after casting all these larger salt-water rods. It took a couple casts to get in a rhythm. The trout were still rising all over the place sporadically. One hit my fly, it flew completely immersing itself out of the water aggressively feeding on my fly. I was in such a state of aww and so excited I set it way to hard most likely pulling the fly right out of his mouth. I looked at James, he smiled and I shook my head in disappointment and disbelief. Then another hit the dropper while I didn’t have a visual on my fly. Damn it, I missed another one! I made sure I didn’t miss the next, and I sure as hell didn’t. A trout popped up on my fly, I set the hook quickly and gently and yelled “fish on!” Blake got it all on camera. James helped me land the nice size rainbow. It was about a 12 inch fish with pretty colors, the silver under belly seemed a lot brighter than what we get in Colorado, It was pretty exciting to catch my first fish in South Africa!! So we moved up to the next hole where Blake to a shot at it.
Blake ended up catching a small mouth bass. We were quite surprised when he reeled him in. The bass are not good for the trout population. They are such aggressive feeders that they are killing off a lot of the trout. So James quickly killed it and tossed him in the bushes. Blake was glad to catch a black eagle’s dinner. We moved to the next hole. It was a shaded area where there was a healthy mayfly hatch. Once again we couldn’t believe our eyes. The fish were emerging entirely out of the water feeding on these mayflies. James explained how trout are opportunists when they see an opportunity to feed they capitalize and utilized that opportunity. I like that concept, I’m pretty much just like a trout. We should all be like trout, if you have an opportunity take full advantage of it. Why wouldn’t you? We got some great footage of the trout rising. I casted on them for a long time while they wouldn’t hit on our R.A.B. So we tried throwing a mayfly at them. Nothing! They were feeding everywhere all around my fly. But just wouldn’t hit it. It was crazy, something I’ve never seen before….ever. Oh well, we tried our best and gave it our best shot but I’ll admit the fact that these fish were flying around everywhere was mesmerizing.
So we hiked back down to the first hole where I caught the only trout of the day. There were some good size cliffs surrounding the river so we decided we needed to take a dip. We jumped off about a 20-foot rock into a deep pool a couple times when we decided to scale the other side of the river, which was a huge rock face. James had no problem scaling the cliff, I followed as quickly as I could, but it was tough rock climbing in fishing sandals. We got as high as we could when James jumped off first so he could go film us. Blake almost got stuck on a difficult part. I waited for him then finally we got to jump the 40 foot cliff.
It was quite a thrill jumping forty feet into a small pool then immediately hitting the rocky bottom of the river. Sorry Mom and Dad, but I’m fine. James took us to his fly shop where Blake got a rod/reel and some gear. James drove us around Hout Bay and Camp Bay which are small towns placed right on the coast surrounded by Table Mountain. Imagine the mountains of Boulder CO and the coast of La Jolla CA put together. That was what Camp Bay felt like.
That night Blake and I went to Ferryman’s, a Scottish pub and restaurant on the waterfront (near where our ship was docked) I had an awesome pork dish, I asked our waitress Arista what the hell it was because I no clue to pronounce the word, she put her hand on her butt explaining it was the rump “mmm, that sounds good, I’ll have that.” Blake got a full rack of ribs and chicken wings. It was awesome. The rump tasted like a Cage Ranch pig roasted by my brother Tony and his pig roasting friends Ron, Phil, and Darren. The skin peeled right off just like the pigs you guys roast. It was awesome and cheap.
After I met up with some kids from CU and we headed down to Longs Street where the hot bars are. We first went to a Hookah bar. Where everyone sits around smoking flavored tobacco out of these huge pipes called hookahs. It was pretty interesting. Something I’ve never seen before. Here’s my buddy and I Jon who goes to Chapman University in Orange Country, he’s a film student there. Joey, remember visiting Chapman? I considered going there until I found out their football program was pretty sorry. Jon played there for like a week until he figured out it was garbage.
These girls liked the Hookah smoke so much they felt the need to share it.
I tasted a couple different flavors of the tobacco, it actually tasted pretty good and the place smelled surprisingly pleasant, and it wasn’t smoky at all. It was well ventilated. We bar hopped to various South African Bars that were pretty unique. One was had a Rastafarian theme called “Cool Runnings.” It was pretty sweet.
This day I dedicated to getting shots of the city. My first mission was to make it to Robben Island to visit where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for over 20 years. I ended up not making it all the way to the island because it was going to be a full day affair and I wanted to do so much else. I got plenty of good shots portraying the Aparthied at the Robben Island Museum on the waterfront. After, I headed towards the Aquarium that James had recommended me to visit. Along the way I ran into the former South African President, Nelson Mandela, he was pretty sweet to meet.
The Aquarium was just as impressive as James described. Like I mentioned earlier South Africa has such a great diversity of marine and fresh water life. This aquarium seemed to have all of this diversity. The aquarium itself has over 300,000 different species of fresh and saltwater fish, crustaceans and organisms. They even had penquins.
Next I took a double decker tourist bus around town to get shots of the city. A Dutch Psychologist named Anna and I hung out, she was real cool and real interested in what I was doing. That night I joined a Semester at Sea sponsored trip Township Music. About 60 people boarded a bus that took us out to the Township. A township is town outside the big city where mostly blacks live. They say they are poverty-stricken places or at least that’s the perception they get, but upon arriving the township didn’t seem bad at all. First we got a lesson on various African instruments. These were real interesting, my favorite was a horn from an African Buffalo that had a hole cut in it. It makes a deep horn sound when you blow correctly through it. After all the instruments they gave a native tribal dance, it was pretty really different. These guys jumped around crazily dressed in white paint and animal skins. What struck me was the expressions they had on their faces, as I zoomed in on one of the dancers face I thought someone had let out some gas because he had a horrible expression on his face as if he smelled something sickening. Then I saw that most of them were making a similar expression. The dance was almost like a play, they stomped around, jumped up and down, and make all sort of crazy sounds. It was pretty sweet.
Our next stop was at an African ladies house. We walked down a couple blocks of the township. It seemed pretty nice. The houses and streets were well kept. This lady had converted her house that had been there for over 50 years to a restaurant. She gave a talk about the township and the history of her restaurant then served a wonderful buffet style meal. Honestly the food didn’t seem to different from a home cooked meal we’d have in the states. She served everything from various salads: carrots with raisins, potato, pasta, pumpkin, chi-chi bean, and squash salad. Then some mashed potatoes, BBQ pork, breaded chicken breast, and my favorite: meatballs. They were way different from any meatballs I had ever had. They were very soft, almost mushy with a distinct flavor, almost sweet. I was so engulfed in filming the meal I forgot to take digital stills of the food. Sorry. They had a band playing while we ate and drank African wine. The band played what they called African Infusion. An infusion of various types of music: indigenous African music including big bongo drums, xylophones made from wood then a horn section including a trombone and trumpet, then what was a very interesting addition: an opera singer. He had a very impressive voice. All of these genres mixed together made for a very unusual sound that worked well together. It was pretty interesting.
After we headed to a local tavern. A band started playing immediately when we arrived. They had a bar and everyone drank and danced. Again, It was tons of fun.
I got up early to catch a flight to Johannesburg where my guide Sudesh Pursad greeted me. We jumped in his compact Subaru with his companies decals all over it.
We headed to a mall to exchange money, pick up some things I needed for my camera, and a stripping basket (a basket to strip your line into so the waves don’t tangle your line) We then headed to Kosi Bay which is located barely south of the Mozambique border and was 7 ½ hours away. I must say the long trip was a very pleasurable drive. Sudesh is an amazing person that has a deep love for fly fishing. We shared fishing stories and talked the entire way. We talked about everything from our families to his business, he explained that I was only his second customer from the U.S! At one point we had to stop on the side of the road so Sudesh could give his weekly fishing report over national radio! Fly fisherman throughout all of South Africa were going to hear his report. I filmed him giving the extensive report over the phone while large trucks were zipping by. The 7 ½ hour trip ended up being 8 ½. Honestly the trip went by so fast because I was in such good company. We arrived at the Amangwane Camp at Kosi Bay Mouth at about 11 pm. Rick Stadler, one of the local guides, showed me around the camp and to my tent. It was a very rustic yet comfortable camp.
We slept in dome shaped tents with comfortable sleeping stretchers while bed linen and towels were provided.
The camp had a bathroom area that had a flushing toilet, piped water and a bucket shower system. On a pulley a bucket full of water hung above you slowly letting out water. It was something to experience.
We went to bed quickly anticipating to wake up in 3 hours. Which we did, we woke up promptly at 3:30 and hiked down into Kosi Bay in the night. (the gates don’t open till 6 so we had to hike in) From right to left: Sudesh, Andre Steenkamp who is a lawyer in Joburg and competes with Sudesh on a fly fishing team.
Information about Kosi Bay
The Kosi Bay system of lakes and entire area is part of the Kosi Bay Coastal
Reserve Forest, and has been proclaimed a World Heritage Site. This status has been bestowed on the area due to its vast biodiversity, bird life, turtle nesting, fishing, high sand dunes, vegetation and a host of other attractions. The area between Kosi mouth and Bhanga Nek (17.5kms south) boasts the highest concentration of turtle nests in the world.
The Kosi Bay area is also home to the Kwamvutshane Tribe who have lived and fished there for centuries with their unique reeded fish traps. Being a World Heritage site, it is unspoilt and unpolluted, and an absolute wonder that must be experienced in South Africa. The Kosi mouth also offers another unique opportunity to snorkel over the only Coral Reef in the world, which is located inside an estuary.
We passed these unique fish traps along the way. From the top of a hill I could barely see them down in on the water. At first I thought they were docks that stretched out into the lake, but as we got closer and saw the traps from up close I could see them. They looked like stick fences that wind around leading the fish into a trap.
We arrived at the estuary just when the sky was beginning to illuminate. We packed everything in canoes and headed for the beach. We rigged our rods and Sudesh asked me what I wanted to do. I really wanted to fish, obviously, but I wanted to film him and Andre catching some fish first. As Sudesh says, if there is fish there he will catch them. Which he did, Andre as well. Andre hooked one in the estuary immediately, Sudesh and I ran over I filmed while Sudesh helped land the fish. It was a green back king fish, similar to a Giant Travelly but the head is not as pronounced with small green specs throughout. Andre kneeled in front of the camera proudly holding the fish. He looked omnipotent through the lens of the camera as I shot him from a low angle tracking in to a close up on the fish. It was a great start to a great day. Andre landed another moments later. This one was a Stumpy. Andre explained how it was rare for a Stumpy to hit a fly while I filmed. It wasn’t even 6AM and I already had some great footage! Sudesh was up next, I filmed him as he casted into the surf. It was something I had never seen before. With a large grocery basket attached at his hip with a bungee cord he quickly ran down into the surf casting up over the waves in-between the breaks. Then while holding the rod high near his shoulder he stripped incredibly fast as he back peddled up the beach.
This was quite an impressive site, and Sudesh did everything with great coordination and grace. Sudesh landed a bunch of fish, allowing me to get some great footage. They were all smaller fish mostly Wave Gerrick; which he actually caught in the shallow breakwater up on the beach. They are a bright silver fish with dark silver oval spots and long wavy fins. Beautiful fish. About mid day Sudesh hooked a larger fish. I looked over after he yelled and saw that his rod was had a heavy bend in it. After a quick adrenaline rush I ran over and filmed him, he commentated as I filmed him constantly flipping his rod back and forth. He held his rod far over to the right side parallel with the ground then rotated it quickly to the left. He explained that he was trying to throw the fish off balance to wear him down. After fighting him for no more than 5 or 10 minutes the fish got washed up onto the beach. It was another Green Spotted King Fish. A decent size one, about 40 cm. Unfortunately I didn’t get any still pictures of the Wave Gerrick nor the King Fish. My digital camera ran out of battery power and our plugs are different from the South African outlets. But Sudesh was nice enough to burn me a CD of pictures of fish he caught 2 weeks before at Kosi Bay. Here is a Green Spotted Kingy he caught, about the same size as the one he caught with me.
Check out this GT he also caught; The biggest one to his name, 83cm! Notice how the GT is different from the green spotted, the shape of its head is more pronounced.
After getting all this great footage I tried surfcasting. I grabbed my Orvis Trident 12 wt with an Orivs Mach VI loaded with 12 wt full sinking line. Sudesh explained that you want an intermediate sink line and all I had was a float and full sink. I’ve learned that everywhere but the U.S. uses a right hand wind rather than left. They even cast with the right and switch hands when they get the fish on the reel. Notice the pictures above. This is how James did it too. So this is why I didn’t just use Sudesh’s reel. Sudesh grabbed the camera and I went for it. Andre warned me about how much of a work out surfcasting is. I didn’t think anything of it but let me know tell you, I should of listened. It was a work out! Running down into the water as far as you can get casting the 12 wt over the waves then back peddling while stripping as fast as you can. It got tiring, quickly, but was fun as hell. Before I knew it I had a cramp in my hand from stripping so fast and hard. Sudesh helped me out insisting that I needed to strip faster, but I was stripping as fast as I could! We fished until it was completely dark making it a full 15 hours of fishing. We canoed our gear back to the car and headed back to camp.
That night Anton and Emma, the camp owners cooked an amazing meal. It consisted of salad, bread, rice, and wonderful prawns. Anton cooked the full-bodied shrimp slowly but quickly seasoned with some hot sauce. He explained this to me after I curiously asked how the prawns were so tender. They slipped right off the shell. The best part was sucking the spicy juice out of the body. They were served in a traditional South African manner: in a big black cast iron kettle that stood on four legs. It was an incredible meal. Once again, unfortunately I couldn’t take any pictures with no power in my digital. Oh well.
The next morning we had planned on getting up at 3:30AM again. I woke up to Sudesh’s voice asking me to get up; but something was wrong, the sun was already up! Opps. Someone’s alarm didn’t work; no biggie, we got ready and had the privilege of driving down to the bay. I will admit that I was not looking forward to the hike down because both of my sandal soles had fallen off the day before and I had bad blisters on my feet, not to mention the bad case of chaffage I acquired the day before, but don’t get me wrong, if we had woken up early I would of toughed it out for sure. By the time we got to the beach it was about 8am, so we weren’t to far behind schedule. Sudesh filmed me while I casted into the surf. I honestly wasn’t expecting to catch much, because I wasn’t take confident that I was surf casting sufficiently, but with the help of Sudesh I got into a rhythm. Finally I hooked a fish! It hit the fly so hard that I didn’t even need to set it. It didn’t feel like a huge fish but felt someone hefty on such a big rod. I stripped him in to find out it was a Wave Gerrick, to my surprise a smaller one. About 12 inches or so. It was pretty exciting! Now I was officially not skunked. I easily landed the fish while Sudesh filmed. It felt fantastic to hold him in my hand, such a great feeling to be in such and astonishing place holding an exotic fish. As Sudesh would say “ABSOLUUUTLEY MAGNIFICENT!” I released him into the surf and gave Sudesh a high five. It was awesome. We headed over to the other side of the estuary to go after some more Wave Gerricks. Sudesh explained the ocean currents to me and how at this our best shot at some fish would be north of the mouth. He was right. I casted for a while when I hooked another Wave Gerrick, this one was slightly bigger. I landed the fish and showed him off to the camera. This one was fighting pretty hard and ended up slipping out of my hand while I was displaying him. Then moments later I hooked something else. Honestly I didn’t know if I snagged something or if there was actually a fish on, because it felt like nothing. But sure enough I had hooked a tiny Kingy. It was about 6 inches long. But hey, I officially caught a king fish! It was a yellow tail, which was different from the species we had caught previously, so that was cool. I didn’t have any luck the rest of the day but had a great time casting at some fish we spotted in the surf. By the end of the day my stripping hand had a large knot in it and it hurt to close it into a fist, my shoulder was sore as hell and my right hand was very fatigued from gripping the rod. I felt like I just played a game of football. Ok, maybe not that sore, but I was sore. After interviewing Sudesh we drove back to camp where Anton cooked us up some brawts.
Emma, his wife had prepared a great meal for us before we headed back to Joburg.
I managed to get pictures with two amazing fly fisherman on Sudesh’s camera
Sudesh and I
Andre and I
We grabbed a bucket shower, packed up our stuff and headed out by 2:30. This put us in Joburg around 11:30. Once again Sudesh and I had a great drive, sharing fishing stories and whatnot. Sudesh told me all about his College days and how he was involved in student government around the time of the transition to democracy. He had some pretty crazy stories about protests and riots. He explained that he counted the votes for Nelson Mandela’s election and used the money he earned to buy his first fly rod. How cool is that? He told me about how he is practices Hindu and doesn’t eat beef. Its pretty interesting why. He told a story similar to that of Baby Jesus. The Hindu god as a baby was abandoned and taken care of by a cow. This is why Hindus hold cows to be sacred. He also told me about the competitive fly fishing teams they have in South Africa. Now this was something I had never heard about before. Sudesh told me stories that displayed how competitive they really are. They even play mental games with their opponents to try to bring down their fishing. Sudesh explained that him and his teammates use some sort of code so that they know what fly each other are using in case one is catching fish during competition and the other isn’t so the other team can’t hear what fly is working. I never thought fly fishing could be that competitive. I think it would be interesting to do a documentary on it.
That night Sudesh was nice enough to let me stay at his house. We stayed up nearly all night trying to dump my footage onto his computer. It was a pleasure spending more time with this amazing person. Sudesh is one of the most charismatic people I’ve ever met in my life. Just spending time with him was a treat. Unlike some guides he cared about me as a person not just a fisherman. He was interested in my film and what it meant. He helped me find a guide in India and even called him and let me talk with him on the phone. I thought I was obsessed with fishing. Sudesh is not only obsessed, he’s fully committed. He told me we would want to learn to play golf, but he won’t because he knows it would take time away from being a better fisherman! Now that’s dedication. He has only bought two flies in his whole life. I wish I could say that. He even gave me a selection of about 10 or so flies out his personal collection that he tied. They were his favorite and most effective patterns that he thought would work well in other countries. Just being around him for the weekend was a wonderful experience.
Sudesh got me to the airport by 6:30AM. It was tough saying goodbye but I was confident that I’d see that man again someday. I was passed out the entire flight. Speaking of great guides, James picked me up from the airport and brought me to the ship. We were hoping to schedule a half day fishing trip down the cape in the saltwater, but it was raining and nasty out. Of course it cleared up by mid day but Blake and I had other things we wanted to do. We bought some gear we needed at a place on the waterfront that was pretty much just like an REI. I got the same sandals that Andre wore fishing, he recommended them to me after mine busted. They are made by “Rocky” a South African brand and are real sweet. We went to the Green Market square where all the local vendors are and walked about Cape Town. That night we went to the Bayside Café in Camps Bay. James recommended it to us because of the great ribs they have. He was right, they were awesome! The Slabs were cut into 4 big sections and stacked on top of each other.
See what I mean, Camps Bay looks like Boulder CO on the beach. Real sweet. I might have to move there one day.
No but seriously, South Africa was so amazing I honestly might have to move there some day. Anton does work for documentary films. Like National Geographic and other outdoor programs. He already said he’d hook me up with the right people. Just like the trout, when an opportunity arises you need to take full advantage of it! So who knows, maybe I’ll be back here before I know it. Now the only question is, whose coming with me?
|Wednesday, February 8th, 2006|
We arrived in Salvador Brazil on Wednesday February 1st. Once again we got the privilege of disembarkment in the early morning sun. After peaking out our port hole and seeing the spectacular glare reflected off the tall slender buildings of Salvador I immediately got out the camera and got some great shots of the city’s skyline. The immigration process went real smoothly unlike what we expected. (They told us they were going to be real hard on us to reciprocate what we do to Brazilians who try to get into the U.S., fingerprints, mug shots etc.) The first thing Blake and I did was search for a fly rod for him. We took a taxi to a near by marina and visited a couple stores and guide services but we had absolutely no luck. Brazilians only speak Portuguese. Which is somewhat similar to Spanish, but not really depending on your accent, so it was virtually impossible to communicate with anyone, and no one had a clue what a “fly rod” was. We kept trying to figure out how to say it in Portuguese and all we could get was Pesh-a-ria de es-port-tiva (or something like that). Which we figured just meant sport fishing. We should be able to get him a fly rod easily in South Africa.
We got back in a taxi and went to a Churrascaria (Chew-Ha-Ska-Ria) named “Boi Preto.” This was probably the sweetest place ever. Normally referred to as a “Brazillian Barbeque” in the states. This place was amazing! Blake and I were smothered with exotic cuts of meat that are slowly cooked on a skewer. If you haven’t been to one of these places and you like meat you are missing out! There’s a marker on the table that says in green “MEAT” and in red “NO MEAT” as long as the marker is green the meat doesn’t stop coming. I filmed every cut they brought out, they had everything from lamb (roast, chop and leg) Beef (top sirloin, filet mignon, rump roast, veal and ribs) chicken livers, chicken and pork sausage, shrimp, salmon, pork (loin, chops, ribs) and quail.
Then they had rice, beans, about 5 different types of bread, I only tried the pan de queso (cheese bread) which was pretty good. Then they had this yellowish flower like stuff on the table that is called Manioc powder. It comes from an indigenous root crop that is like a potatoe. They cut off the steam of the root and grind it up making “Farofa” a flavorful flour with large grains from the manioc. The anthropologist on the ship teaches a anthropology of food class and Blake and I went to the community college seminar she put on before we arrived in Brazil, we learned all about the native dishes and this manioc crop. It is a very successful crop throughout all of latin America and is used to make all sorts of products: “Casaba” (bread), “Farinha” (toasted flour), boiled sweet manioc and this awesome powder “Farofa” that we sprinkled all over our endless meat. Blake and I stuffed ourselves eating everything in sight, we had some exotic Brazilian drinks:
Mine was a mix of all different types of fruit juices: pineapple, kiwi, and strawberry, his was basically just a strawberry Daquiri.
We also had some Brazilian beer: “Nova Schiln” (sp?) We finished our meal with a Banana Flambe (I think that’s what it was called) The Brazilian dude fried up some bananas, strawberries, and rum which sparked a flame high into the air just before he served it over some vanilla ice cream. Then a guy pushing a cart around with about 50 bottles of booze on it swindled us into getting an after dinner drink, I tried to explain to him that we wanted to most authentic Brazilian after dinner drink, he pointed to the one bottle that was turned upside down for easy access, it was obviously the most popular. Blake and I toasted to a sweet trip in Brazil and sipped the shot, a bitter beer face immediately surfaced on Blake’s face while he gagged nearly upchucking all the meat he stuffed himself with! It was not a taste we were used to, made from sugar cane it had a distinct smell that brought the hairs in your nose erect. I caught it all on film, I even asked the host who spoke some English if I could go into the kitchen to film the meat skewers being cooked. On the way back there I stopped and filmed the salad bar that we didn’t even touch. Lets just say we missed out on probably the hugest most elaborate “salad bar” I’ve ever seen in my life. It was incredible. But there was no way we could have fit any more food into our stuffed bellies. Circled around a huge island there was every fruit and vegetable imaginable, some pickled, some fresh, some in sauces and salads. There were some hot dishes, about 20 different types of cheeses, cold cuts, and they even had a sushi chef serving rolls and fresh sushi! Simply unbelievable! After communicating that I was doing a documentary film to the owner through his daughter who spoke a little English he lead me back into the kitchen then farther back into the BBQ area, it was hotter than hell back there. The skewers were all manually turned which really sets apart the true Brazilian BBQ places. Most in the U.S. have electronic systems. After instantly emerging into a hot sweat I paid and we got out of there and headed back to the ship where I packed my stuff then headed for the airport. After a short flight I arrived in Ilheus just as the sun was about to set.
My driver Chough (pronounced Jew) was an older Brazilian who wore large thick-framed glasses. He constantly smiled at me while we tried to communicate as he drove like a maniac, passing cars at 90 KM on a small two-lane road, around turns and through no-pass zones. Each town we drove through was marked with a large speed bump, he’d slam on the breaks at the last second, carefully roll over the bump then floor it. After an hour and half drive we arrived in the small town of Canaveiras where we pulled in to the Artmarina house where I was greeted by a lovely Brazilian women named “Lou.” She spoke good English, showed me the house and let me choose a room because I was the only guest for the next couple of days. The house was very nice, it had satellite TV, pictures of marlin everywhere, and even marlin embroidered on the beds.
Not long after my arrival Captain Sawn Wallace showed up. I shook hands with him while he said “good day mate.” I asked where he was from because his accent was similar to that of the crocodile hunter. He replied “Australia,” I said, “wow, that’s awesome.” He brought me out to Dinner with his lovely Brazilian wife Laya (Lay-a) He sat outside at a local restaurant where I ordered a seafood dish that was based in a dende oil. We learned all about the dende oil as well. It is used in a lot of Brazilian natve dishes. It’s an orangish oil that comes from a red palm nut and has a high vitamin A content. Supposedly, African’s and Brazilian women or chefs often have orange hands because they have been cooking with the dende oil, it is such a rich substance it stains your hands. The dish was very tasty, in an orange yellowish sauce, it was filled with large filets of very tender snook accompanied with peppers, onions, potatoes, and some other goodies.
Shawn told me his story of what brought him to Brazil and how he met his wife. His dad was one of the first black marlin fishing guides in Australia and Shawn grew up fishing with him. He came to Brazil because he was looking for a new job after the Marlin fishing became over regulated in Australia due to the reef and its conservation. He’s been in Brazil for 5 years now and I don’t think he’s leaving. Shawn’s Dad is still in the fishing guide industry doing Heli-fishing in Australia. They fly helicopters to remote fishing spots, now that sounds awesome!
I woke up to find a freshly cooked breakfast waiting for me. Shawn arrived right on time and we jumped in his truck and drove across the small town stone roads to the Marina. We boarded Coyote III a 37 foot in board closed bow deep-sea fishing special. Coyote I, their 40 footer was out of commission. Shawn is usually the captain of Coyote one. I introduced myself to Evan (ee-vaan) and Theo (thee-o) the two crew men.
Evan is usually the captain of Coyote III so he drove us out while Shawn and I took a siesta.
When we arrived, Shawn went up top to navigate while the two-crew men rigged the huge deep-sea rods. They hadn’t had much experience catching Marlin on the fly but Shawn knew the basic strategy on how to get a marlin on the fly. We trolled these large teasers with no hooks in them. The plan was to “tease” the marlin with them, hoping that they would keep hitting them while we reeled them in, when close enough cast a fly on them hoping the marlin would hit. With this game plan in mind we trolled for an hour or two until we finally got a hit on the smaller rod they had rigged. It was a decent size tuna, Evan stuck a thread through the hole above its eye and connected a hook to it in order to throw the live tuna out if we got some action on a Dorado, Marlin, Sail or Bill fish. But we didn’t get any action. A while later, we got another bigger Tuna again on the small teaser. Evan immediately switched this one with the smaller one.
They kept the tuna alive by sticking it in a tall round tub filled with salt water, we were constantly reminded of the tuna’s presence because every now and then it would flap around vigorously making a loud slapping sound. We trolled around the waters about 23 KM off the coast along a large drop off about 1,000 to 2,000 feet below. Shawn explained to me that the current comes down and hits this large underwater cliff, which brings sources of food and nutrients up towards the surface. This is where they catch most of their Marlin, but not that day. We got one big hit on a large teaser late in the day but the Marlin disappeared immediately. This was the only hint at a big fish all day. We arrived back a Marina surrounded by a beautiful sunset.
Artmarina had a bar with drinks and snacks waiting for us. They even cut up the tuna for some fresh sashimi served with soy sauce and wasabi, keeping it alive until we docked I don’t know if I’ve ever ate tuna that fresh before.
That night Shawn, Laya, and her friend Iran (I-rron) took me out again for another authentic Brazilian dinner at the same restaurant. Once again it was a great meal and great company. Shawn and his wife speak in a combination of Portuguese and English while he would translate anything they laughed at or a story they told. It was an interesting experience because a lot of the time words in Portuguese don’t translate directly to English.
I woke up real excited to hopefully catch a fish I have read so many amazing things about. Peacock bass are abundant in the area that holds 1/5 of the worlds freshwater: the Amazon. I didn’t want to sacrifice 2 of my 5 days just to travel to the second largest river system in the world. Instead I got the privilege to fish with a Canavieras native, “Boguetch.”
The language barrier was again in effect. Shawn gave me a Portuguese/English dictionary to help me communicate with Boguetch, who didn’t speak any English, but honestly it didn’t even help, the language is so dependent on the accent. We left from the same dock as coyote III except today we went the opposite direction; we went west, up the river for about two hours. I tracked the trip on my GPS. The route resulted in a very squiggly line that traveled for a couple miles up stream. On the way up it rained on and off, where at one point the rain was pretty heavy.
Finally we stopped in an area where there was lots of structure and Boguetch smiled and looked at the river, he said “good fishing” as he pointed towards the murky water. I rigged up, set up my camera while Boguetch already had a fish on! He reeled him in on his spin rod while I scrambled to get a shot, he said what kind of fish it was, I forget what it was in Portuguese but it was a snook. He reeled in another a while later. I casted a minnow imitator for a while, then switched my fly up a couple times throughout the day. It was tough not having a “fly fishing” guide and not really knowing what the fish the fish might hit, so I did some experimenting when finally I felt a couple small tugs on my line, then bamn! He took it and I set the hook. I tried to stall, as I held the small fish on the end of my line while I situated the camera and hit record, I landed the fish, it wasn’t a snook but something similar, I was unable to figure out the English name for it, so I’ll just call it a tropical river fish. I got a close up of it, then released it. This was interesting because I think Boguetch was alittle confused as to why I put the fish I caught back into the water because he immediately kept each fish he caught. He gave me an odd look then smiled when I gave him a high five. I was pretty excited. This ended up being the only fish I caught on the fly, It wasn’t nearly as exotic as a peacock bass but at least I didn’t get skunked. We ended up drifting the entire length of the river until the sun started to set. Even though Boguetch wasn’t a fly fisherman he was still a great guide, he rushed to unhook any snags I got and he did put us on some fish. He ended up with about 5 fish at the end of the day; one was about a 4-pound snook. He was very efficient getting us to each spot quickly, and anchoring us near the good eddies and pools always directing me where to cast. As we drifted down the river there were plenty of sights to see. There were a lot of families that had small houses and boats. A lot seemed to use the river as a resource as well, washing clothes or filling up water containers. The area was also vast in cattle herding. Back in the day it was a big time Chocolate plantation area that was wiped out by disease. The chocolate areas were replaced with cattle. We passed one cattle ranch while they ranch hands were herding the cattle across the river. It was pretty remarkable to watch. Right as we passed one of the rancher’s horses got stuck in the mud. He had to jump off of it into about 3 feet of mud. I kind of felt bad for the Brazilian rancher, but they still got the cattle to cross the river successfully just in time after we passed.
After we finished fishing I helped my self to a beer and enjoyed the ride back to the marina.
I decided I wanted another shot at a Marlin for the last day. So we changed the plans from another day in the river to another at sea. I’ll be honest. I wish I had just stuck with the river fishing because the last day was pretty uneventful. We caught a bunch more tuna’s on the spin rod. I ended up trolling my fly for a couple hours hoping something would hit it, but had no luck. It was a very slow 9 hours of fishing. But I did get some good footage of Shawn explaining the operation, and did a good interview with him when we got back to the Marina. It should turn out well, the sun was setting in the back round with the magic hour sun illuminating his Australian skin.
I said my good byes and headed back to Ilheus with Chough. When I got back to the ship I met up with some kids that were going to a “Music Festival” I didn’t know what to expect but let me tell you….it was one of most amazing experiences of my life. 8 of us ended up taking 2 Taxi’s at midnight about 30 minutes outside of Salvador. We pulled up to the Brazilian version of Woodstock or Lalapoluza. We drove through a maze of vendors selling shishkabobs with sausage and chicken slow roasting on open fires. As the smell of BBQ’ed meat was potent people packed the street and parking lots densely. We were mobbed with people trying to sell us tickets to get in, we were glad we didn’t buy them because we ended up getting them for half the price at the ticket counter. When we walked in, in the front there was an African group playing some primitive music with drums and various indigenous instruments, it was pretty neat but we immediately went to check out the rest of the festival. We walked up a small hill towards the sounds of a female Brazilian pop singer. When we reached the top of the hill it over looked an enormous concert stage with thousands of people packed in cheering and dancing. We all looked at each other in amazement. This was a real concert!
She looked like Shakira but sang in Portuguese. The second song her band played was “D’Yer Mak’er” by Led Zepplin! It was awesome! We all knew the song while a lot of the Brazilians didn’t have a clue. It was great to hear a song we were familiar with. We all broke out dancing. When the song was over we got beers and decided to head to the front for a better view. As soon as we got there she finished her set. So we refilled the beers again and waited for the next group. The concert was scheduled to end at 5AM so we had plenty of time. A typical looking rock band was being interviewed on the large jumbotron screens surrounding the stage, it look like a Brazilian MTV. This concert was a pretty big deal. The band came out and went crazy, triggering the crowd to go wild. They immediately rocked out while the crowd jumped up and down to the side in congruency. So we joined, by the time the next song came on all of us guys were all doing what we are used to at a rock concert. Moshing. Jumping up and down, and around, running into people, pretty much just going crazy. At first the Brazilian kids seemed to be hesitant to join in. But after shoving them a little and smiling they realized it was all in good fun so they joined. Before we knew it we were swarmed with Brazilian kids having the time of their lives. We had just introduced them to a Mosh Pit. I might add that it was definitely a lighter version of the moshing in the States, where kids get bloody noses, broken bones, and sometimes even deaths occur. The other guys I was with were pretty decent size, all at least 6 feet tall. So we were all way bigger than all of these kids. So after a while we tried to get them to crowd surf. The first attempt was a disaster. In the states you just throw someone up on top of the crowd and the crowd does the rest, passing the person over top of the crowd with everyone’s combined hands. In Brazil the people in the crowd outside the mosh pits just moved out of the way. A couple kids were immediately dropped on the ground, but were fine. So us guys had to create our own “wave” for the kids the crowd surf on. It was great. Then they introduced us to a sort of human slingshot. The kids lined up in two lines facing each other crossing their arms making an area for a kid to run and jump on top of. When the kids landed on your arm you throw them up catapulting them into the air, it was pretty sweet, these kids were real small so we could toss them way up into the air, one kid did a full flip. Then the rock band played some songs not only we were familiar with but the Brazilian kids loved as well: “Walk Alone” by Green Day, “Otherside” by The Red Hot Chili Peppers and “We Will Rock You” by Queen. All the Brazilian kids even knew the words. We moshed during this bands entire set taking small breaks when the Brazilian police came in and broke it up. See if you can find me in this pic:
I don’t think the Policia understood that we weren’t fighting and just having fun.
We danced and moshed throughout the Brazilian bands entire set. Making friends with all the Brazilian kids.
It was an incredible experience that I will never forget.
After getting get home at 6 in the morning and only getting one hour of sleep I was still motivated to get my butt up and see Salvador. I went with a couple kids from the night before to the market place to get some shots of the town.
I bought some things as well, including a couple Brazilian soccer jersey’s to wear for the nights game we were planning on going to. After getting shots of the native martial art/dance to music called Capoiera. I made it back to the ship in time to put on my Soccer jersey and head to the game. Besides the extremely large line to get beer, the soccer game was awesome.
The home team Bahia (Bye-I-a) was playing Vitoria. It was for a position in the playoffs. Bahia was the underdogs by a long shot but gave Vitoria a great game ending in a tie. I bravely took my video camera and ended up getting some great footage. Brazilians are very passionate about soccer.
All in all it was an amazing trip. Brazil is definitely a place I would love to visit again. I feel like I saw so much in 5 short days yet so little in comparison to how big the country is and how rich the history and culture is.
|Monday, January 30th, 2006|
Last night at 3:30AM we crossed the equator. Therefore, today was Neptune Day. No classes were held today because it was quite a day full of events. We were woken up this morning by loud banging drums and whistles running through the hallways. The crew was dressed up in white robe like costumes with gold trimming. Their faces were painted in various colors and they all were carrying some sort of fake weapon such as a spear, sword or shield. They were making ruckus and dancing in a line up and down the hallways. It was pretty amusing. The entire student body was present on the top deck near the pool, where they presented the Dean and his assistants as Neptune the God of the sea and various other Greek mythological gods. They came out in a ceremonial style while all 600 or so students reached above one another to get a good picture. They explained the story of Neptune and how it is a right of passage that when you cross the equator for the first time you must be soiled in fish guts, kiss a fish, and have your head shaved. I’ve never seen so many people so eager to get drenched in fish guts. I waited my turn patiently and then:
After people got soaked in the “Fish Guts” (it was really just some sort of fish oil and/or colored liquid) people jumped in the pool to rinse off. Or at least try to…the salt water pool and “Fish Guts” didn’t taste very good:
After I set up my camera and tri-pod and got my head shaved! It was alittle weird since I hadn’t had a baldhead since senior year of high school. This is me Eagon, a CU kid who was a walk on receiver for a year a while back.
Believe it or not all sorts of girls got their heads shaved too. I thought they all looked like Shinad O’Conor:
One girl even let me shave her head. That was fun:
After getting used to the shaved head for a while, I decided to head to the salon where they were offering a clean up job for 5 bucks. I decided to get rid of the beard as well. So now I’m completely hairless! I still haven’t gotten used to it. But hopefully it will grow back soon!
At first I was totally against shaving my head, but how many times in your life are you going to get the opportunity to partake in an even like this? Not many. Plus it will be great to include in my film. I might look like a Mexican, but I’m glad I got to experience Neptune Day.
|Friday, January 27th, 2006|
|Jacks, Tarpon and Dajoas!
Our ship arrived in San Juan Puerto Rico on lets see….the 23rd I think. You tend to forget what day it is while at sea. While we were docking the sun was rising, I got plenty of beautiful shots of Old San Juan with the sunrise in the back round. They said we wouldn’t be able to get off the ship for a long while. So some friends and I snuck into the line for immigration (welcome to the U.S.A. right?) early because they were only letting the people signed up for the SAS trips that were at 9. This was a great decision. I wasn’t planning on going on a Semester at Sea sponsored trip but I ended up going on the Tour of Old and New San Juan, (the two main parts of the city) It was pretty nice because a bus took us around to the capital building..
and a fort overlooking the ocean…
I got some great coverage and was back in time to eat lunch and meet up with Captain Rafa. I walked across the harbor with all my gear to meet Rafa. He’s a great guy. A Puerto Rican Native that spent his High School and College days in Illinois. Who would have known we had so much in common? A walk-on defensive tackle at Illinois State in Bloomington who earned a scholarship, Rafa is probably the biggest guide I’ll be encounter while circling the globe. I did a quick interview with him and we set out to catch some fish. The weather was great which was nice change from the high winds and rain they’ve had in the last week.
After about a 10 minute boat ride around the Harbor then up into a channel surrounded by mangroves we started to troll and look for Tarpon. We spotted a bunch but Rafa wanted to go up into the river and then drift down. So we did, it was very interesting, the channel lead right up to a decent sized slow moving river that was right next to a loud busy highway that was pretty well covered by the trees and brush. Rafa said it was a good thing because he’s convinced that the extra noise from the cars helps the Tarpon to not be so spooky. We fished these brackish waters for a while trying to cast on the Tarpon surfacing. There were mullet’s, not sweet 80’s haircuts but fish, and snooks around too. You could tell which ones were the Tarpon because of their distinct dorsal and back fins. They would “roll” up just barely out of the water exposing these two fins. Rafa taught me to cast right on top of them because their eyes sit on the top of their heads making it easy for them to feed on food in front and above them. After casting on them for a while I finally got a hit, by habit I set the hook like a trout. Raising the rod tip up. I pulled the fly right out of the Tarpon’s mouth! Darn! I was a little disappointed because that ended up being my only shot at a Tarpon that day. But I made sure that didn’t happed again. So as we casted on them some more I hooked a couple small Jacks (setting the hook properly) to be honest, it wasn’t even worth filming but the second one I caught was a bit smaller I figured a fish is a fish, so I should at least take a picture.
Captain Rafa and I decided that it would be best if we hit up the Tarpon first thing in the morning. So after a crazy night of dancing and winning a beer chugging contest in Old San Juan Blake and I woke up at 5:30, and were on the water by 6:15. It was nice having Blake come with, he just wanted to come along for the ride and ended up filming the whole day which was nice.
As soon as we pulled into the channel we saw all sorts of Tarpon surfacing. Rafa was right, he predicted that the low tide would be the best fishing. 9:45 was when the tide was at its lowest so we had a window of about 4 or 5 hours. It was tough getting into these schools of Tarpon because we would see them ahead and as soon as we would troll up to them they would disappear, they were getting spooked by the boat. After sitting in the spots for a while they would get used to the boat and hangout but it was still a challenge. So as Blake filmed and Rafa directed me to the fish I cast my SAGE Fli 4 pc 7 weight. It felt great, after sometime, with little reminders here and there from Rafa, I was making 50-60 foot casts. Finally a Tarpon nailed my fly! I immediately strip set it pulling my rod to the side keeping the line taut. The tarpon flew into the air thrusting its back fin back and forth. I had a lot of slack out so I held the fish on tight with my index finger and reeled in the excess line all while Blake had the camera rolling. I fought him for a couple minutes trying to keep him out from under the boat. It was awesome! It wasn’t a huge Tarpon but it was still amazing! He put up a big fight for his size. Before I knew it Rafa had him in the boat. We checked him out, showed him off to the camera and I asked Rafa all about the fish. He had a crazy looking tongue that protruded out of his mouth and some distinct looking shiny scales. We released him and I gave Rafa a huge high five and we did some yelling and screaming. It was real fun. After casting at some Tarpon again I hooked another! This one was big! I stripped set it quickly but was so excited I forgot to stop setting. I pulled the leader in two giving the tarpon and knew streamer pattern piercing in his lip. The big one that got away!! Oh well, I drowned my sorrows and knew I was going to get another. Which I did, he was about the same size as the first guy, about 4-5 pounds 18-20 inches, decent size fish. I was too concerned about the filming to take pictures so this is the only one I got.
After a halft day of fishing Blake and I still had time to go explore alittle. We had heard about this cemetery that is supposed to be one of the most unique in the world. So we set out to find it. It was near magic hour so one the way I got some great shots of Old San Juan.
After running up this hill in hopes of not losing the sunset we finally got to the cemetery.
As we were told it was amazing! After getting plenty of coverage we set our to find some dinner. We found this great Puero Rican diner in Old San Juan. I ordered the most authentic Puerto Rican dish I could find on the menu. What better than “Higaldo” (not sure on the spelling) A liver steak!
It was muy sabrosoa and reminded me of the liver mush I love to get at Sunny Slope Farms in South Carolina. To give it a little spice they had this bottle of hot sauce. This ones for my brothers, I know you guys would’ve loved this stuff.
I attempted to eat some of the peppers in the oil based sauce. They were so dang hot I couldn’t keep them in my mouth! This was a bit surprising because usually when you have hot sauce or peppers the spiciness hits you after you swallow it, but this burnt my tongue immediately!
All in all it was an awesome day, we caught some fish, got some great footage and most importantly had tons of fun!
Now this is where it gets interesting. I got my tarpon; yea, I wanted a bigger one but what about the rest of this 100 X 35 mile island? A lot of kids on the ship were going to this rain forest national park called El Junque. So the first couple of days I picked at Rafa’s brain to get info on it, where it was, and if there was fishing there. He had never fished the mountain streams on the Island but had a friend who used to work for the National Forest and had fished it with a spin rod a bunch. His name was Orlando and he was our special guest guide for the day. Blake and I got up at 4:30AM, Rafa was here at 5AM to pick us up. We drove through the early morning darkness to a small bakery. It was awesome, we all ordered the eggs and ham, while I filmed it all. We arrived at a river near the city of Sielles (Sea-al-les) at about 6:15. The Sun was just rising while it was the perfect time to fish. The pages were turned, now I was the guide since I had the gear, so I rigged Rafa and Blake up with Rods (Rafa had his own 6 and Blake used my 7) reels and leaders. After we rigged up we walked down through a grassy field and some mud. We didn't have a sane, (a screen to catch any food fish would eat in the water) so I brought a hand towel from the ship. Orlando was eager to film after I showed him the basics of my camera. Rafa and Blake held the towel under water a couple feet below where I kicked up some rocks. I was fairly surprised because there wasn't much dirt nor lush life under the smooth rocks. It was mainly sand. Nothing really got caught in the towel except for a couple mollusks that I saw stuck to the bottom of the rocks as well. They were dark brown and had tiny swirled shells. Rafa said he had seen them in the bellies of some talapia before. But we didn't have any flies to match these little crustaceans so we just did our best with what he had. Blake tied one his favorite fly, a parachute adams. I rigged Rafa up with a Rio Grande pattern dropping a bead headed nymph. As I was rigging Rafa up I hear Blake yell “fish on!” Orlando got it all on tape while Blake was yelling, "I was just practicing my cast, and he hit it, I wasn't even really fishing!" He was really pumped up as so was Rafa and I. We landed the fish while getting it all on film and checked out this exotic fish we kept hearing about and finally got to see in person: The Mountain mullet or commonly known in as the "Dajoa" in Puerto Rico.
After landing this fish so quickly I thought for sure it was going to be a productive day, but to be honest this was probably the highlight of the day. We didn't have much more luck at this spot. I worked the river thoroughly using a wide variety of patterns, both dries and nymphs. But no luck for me. Rafa had a couple hits on his dry but missed them. He came to learn that river fishing was a lot different than Tarpon fishing! We went down stream next. On the way we passed a small run down bar that Orlando pointed out. He said that a scene in the movie "Contact" was filmed there. We then trekked down quite a ways near this bridge. It was a beautiful scene in a large valley surrounded by cliffs.
Once again we worked a wide variety of patterns both dry and nymphs. I tied on a bloodworm pattern while Blake stripped a Wooley booger. The water was pretty murky and we had absoluteley no action. Come to find out they were doing some dredging about a mile up stream from where we were. No wonder the water was so muddy! Oh well, it was a beautiful canyon and we had tons of fun hiking in and fishing. So next we decided to head to the Rain forest: "El Junque" national forest!
On the way we stopped and had lunch on the northeastern part of the island. Rafa explained this was where a large population of Africans ended up. Back when Puerto Rico was still under Spanish rule they had slaves. When the slaves escaped they'd go into the mangroves that grow near the coast. The Spaniards couldn't go there because of Malaria, allowing the Slaves to create their own community. Still today as we drove through the area, almost everyone was Black. It was pretty interesting. "La Parilla" was the place we ate at, and it was amazing! I ended up filming it all so I didn't get a snap shot of the food but here is we are from left to right: Blake, Orlando, Me and Rafa.
They all ordered the land crab, which was an actual crab, stuffed with what was like BBQ crab. It looked like BBQ Beef, but tasted like crab. I had a tropical seafood dish that I ordered in honor of my Dad (he loves the Fruita de Mare because it has a wide variety of seafood) This dish had large pieces of lobster, octopus, shrimp, and land crab. It was awesome. They served it with a light oil based sauce and fresh onions. I ended up mixing it up with the salad, sweet plaintains, and fried plaintains then douched it in a sauce they had which was I think just mayonaise and ketchup, then of course a bunch of hot sauce. Dad you would of loved it! Sorry I didn't take any pictures of the food, but I got it all on film.
Next stop was one of the clearest streams I've ever seen. We pulled up along side of the road, where you could see right down into the water, we saw a couple fish and got real excited. The only problem was that I think it was to clear and the fish were easily spooked. We worked the area for a while. Blake hooked one on the parachute adams that broke off. I caught one tiny little Dajoa on a small black bead headed nymph, it was about 4 inches long, Tiny! Orlando was right there to film it, but the little thing was so small and slippery it slipped right out of my hand. Yea it was miniscule but I was officially not skunked! Check out how clear the river was.
We traveled up into the rain forest next. It was like a lush dense jungle. We drove up to the same small stream that reminded me a lot of a Colorado mountain stream. It was cover with trees and large smooth rocks were everywhere. We immediately saw some fish and casted on them. They didn’t like the nymphs or the dries. Blake moved down stream, about 10 minutes later I heard him yell “Got one” he hooked it landed it but as soon as Orlando ran to the other side of the bridge it slithered its way out of his hands. Blake said it had yellowish fins unlike the first one he landed. Orlando explained that it was because we were higher up into the mountains and the water was clearer. Interesting. Blake and I worked up steam a little while I think Rafa got bored of fishing in the river:
I woke him up because I still hadn’t shot a sit down interview with him. So I figured why not do it right there on the river...
then I got an interview with Orlando who by this time was speaking good English (Rafa was giving him a hard time because he needed to brush up on his English, It had been 4 years since he had to really speak it because he retired of the forest service) Orlando’s interview was very interesting, he explained how he loves the outdoors and is an avid Splunker (cave explorer) That was really interesting. Puerto Rico has thousands of caves. He’s even done splunking where they’ve had to scuba dive 100 feet down in a cave to get to another cave! Sounds incredible!
So all in all it was an amazing day. I didn’t catch a bigger fish like I wanted to, but you know what? Its not all about catching fish, its about enjoying your experience and having a lot of fun while doing it. I don’t know what’s more fun than exploring an islands rivers and fish that have potentially never seen an artificial fly before. Who knows if anyone has ever fly-fished these rivers? One thing I do know is that we got some strange looks from the locals while doing it. They were probably thinking what in the world are those strangers doing with those long poles in the middle of the river and why are they having so much fun?
Next stop: BRAZIL!
|Friday, January 20th, 2006|
|Aboard the Explorer!
We boarded the ship yesterday after waiting in line for two hours. The captain almost didn’t let me on the boat with my film lights, I had to agree to not use them on the ship because it’d take to much power, but that’s what I figured and wasn’t planning on using them on the ship anyway. So after boarding the ship, unpacking my stuff and setting up my laptop I had realized that I left my laptop charger at the hotel! With out that I’d be screwed, so I had 45 minutes before students were required to be on board, so I hurried my butt off the ship ran to get a taxi and hurried to the hotel. My cab driver was an awesome guy. He was a big fan of Simon and his fishing the flats TV show. We talked about how he fishes or more so hunts for bonefish and barracuda with a machete knife by just standing in the flats and chumming up the fish then when they get close WACK! He stabs them. Pretty crazy, but he was hilarious and we had a really fun cab ride. I told him how our cab driver in the morning that took us to the ship had a bad attitude didn’t want to talk to us and was barking orders at us to put our many bags in the cab, he didn’t get a tip. Clarington agreed that a select few people don’t enjoy themselves like the majority of Bahamians….like Clarington, I told him how Simon taught me to just let loose when you want to, just scream out when you feel like it, sing a song as loud as you can, who cares, your having fun and enjoying life! So I had just found my laptop charger and what a relief that was, so I yelled out the taxi window WAHHOO! While Clarington laughed out loud and followed with a YEAAA! It was hilarious. What a great way to spend my last couple minutes on that awesome island.
Now its gets better…. are you ready for this? So I get back on the ship just in the nick of time. I head right to my room. I finally get to meet my roommate, his name is Blake and he is from ASU. He looked at all my crap, film equipment cases and asks what in the world I’m doing with all this stuff. So I tell him…. well…are you ready for this? Brace yourself. He’s an avid FLY FISHERMAN AND HUNTER!!! Can you freaking believe that!! His family owns a place and a bunch of land on the Klamath River in Northern California, and a couple boats. He took a trip to Argentina and Peru to go dove hunting! He showed me tons of pictures. I mean I couldn’t have asked for a better roommate. He’s cool, nice and considerate. He likes to workout, party and he’s a firefighter too.
So get this, it gets even better….our room…..is one room from the fourth floor deck! It’s a large deck that is open to the back of the ship, its freaking awesome, I just got done jumping rope out there and doing some pull ups on the overhang. The main thing is that it’d be perfect to practice your cast out there, and mainly drop a line in and troll it! Blake and I are going to set up my 14 weight 3 piece two handed TFO with a sink line one of these mornings real early. Set up the tri-pod, who know what we’ll reel in! It would be awesome to catch something in the middle of the ocean.
First stop…Puerto Rico…I’m going to get into some big Tarpon with Captain Rafa!
|Tuesday, January 17th, 2006|
Today was totally sweet, Simon took me back out to the flats on Rose Island. We had to troll through some rough waters to get there, but as Simon says…you have to work for what you get. As soon as we arrived we spotted 2 large schools of bonefish! I immediately rigged my rod while Simon grabbed the video camera. I’ll be the first to admit, I was very anxious and excited which honestly killed my cast, I was forcing it to much, Simon kept stressing me to “relax’ which helped immensely. I finally got in a good rhythm; the wind was blowing from northeast so I had to work the left handed cast again. We worked the schools for a while and didn’t have any action, then we changed flies and I got one hit but missed it. I was upset, but once again Simon told me to relax.
We chased after the large school again after Simon tied on a specialty fly he had modified on the boat. The bonefish didn’t like the small flies I was throwing at them so Simon took a larger Tarpon fly and wrapped some tippet tightly around it making it thinner. So after a couple of casts right on the school of bonefish about 50 feet out I finally hooked one! It was amazing, the bonefish hit it and ran, I quickly set the hook and tried to reel in my excess line, but the fish ran towards me so it was tough keeping the line tight, so I had to strip the line fast with my hand. He aggressively ran right at our boat! But then finally headed the other direction, which gave me a chance to get situated. Simon turned on the camera right as I couldn’t keep the line tight, hopefully it will be good footage.
So after landing that one about 30 min later I hooked another! Now this was about twice the size of the first, a real bonefish! For some reason the SOB ran towards me again! I couldn’t get the line tight and then all of the sudden he took off in the other direction! So snap, my brand new TFO’s tip broke right off. I was pissed. Simon said, don’t worry about it. Land the fish! So I did my best but just couldn’t get the line tight b/c there was so much slack. Honestly it was just a poor job on my part. So then I was real disappointed, a broken rod in one hand and a huger bonefish that got off! But being with Simon for the third day now has helped me to get over the sorrows quickly and just have fun. B/c like Simon always says, Fishing is supposed to be fun! Simon tried fixing the tip, but we couldn’t get it to work. So I fished with a tip-less rod for the rest of the day…no biggie, I’m used to it.
On the way back to Nassau I trolled my fly line behind hoping to get into some jacks or something. Well, just as we were approaching the heart of the Harbor I felt a couple tugs on my line, then it took it and WHAM, I set the hook. It felt big at first but then it was like nothing. But it was still fun landing this small macroal. It had some tough looking teeth.
After that we unloaded the boat, got in the fishing buggy and drove across the bridge of the harbor to the other side where there are some flats where there are bonefish in and around the boats. We spotted a school out about 75 yards out, I filmed Simon working his magic while casted out to them, but he couldn’t quite reach them, so I dropped down a 6 foot wall into the water and waded out to cast at them. Didn’t have any action, but Simon filmed me so it’ll be cool to have some interesting footage of fishing in an urban setting.
Tomorrow is the last day fishing here in the Bahamas! Gotta make it a good one.
|Monday, January 16th, 2006|
I did fish today so I'm obligated to make an entry. Today was fully utilized. Worked out, ate a buffet, fished for a couple hours, then went to the Archives Building to investigate some of the Bahamian history and culture. Visited a couple of the forts at the higest point on the island. For some reason the ghetto'est part of the town is in and around this area. Dion hurried us to get out of there because it was right during magic hour and was about to be dark.
The fishing I did was more of a practice session casting and as Simon has taught me to do, shooting the line, not casting. I figurds why not tie on this cool pattern called a Crazy Bahamian.
|Sunday, January 15th, 2006|
Well, today was simply awesome…Simon picked me up right at 7:30 as planned, he was rolling solo as his first mate/aprentice Dion selected to take the day off. So I had him all to myself. We immediately went out to hunt for the big school of bone fish he has been talking about. Simon claims there are 8,752 bone fish in the school. First we set off to check out the waters right near the harbor, nothing. Then we drove a couple minutes to the eastern most point of Nassau, nothing. We checked out another place we had been the day before, nothing. The winds were still pretty heavy, and the bonefish hate the wind b/c it makes the water cold by not letting the sun penetrate the water. So he said he wasn’t going to do this yet, but he took me to his secret big fish spot! I was real excited, when we got there he said we needed to wait about an hour for the tide to fall, but we didn’t waste any time. Simon gave me a clinic on my cast again. This time he taught me how to cast with my left hand. It was tough at first but now believe it or not, I can cast with my left hand! I still need a little practice but after about 15 min or so I felt somewhat comfortable. Simon really stresses the importance of having the ability to cast ambidextrously. It solves all problems the wind gives you. If the wind is coming across your body from right to left, and you need to cast across wind to reach a fish, instead of wasted time and energy turning your whole body to cast backwards you can just switch hands. Simon has an amazing cast, its what he is famous for. He can cast while switching hands, turning around, and jogging in place. It is quite remarkable and will probably look fantastic in High Def video. So after my clinic there was still time to kill, so we decided why not do my interview with Simon then and there over looking these huge beautiful flats? So we did that and it was great. After we finally got after some fish. We started walking the secret big fish flats. We walked these flats for about an hour, some sharks were trolling around us but we didn’t see one bonefish. After wading slowly through out the flats for another hour or so Simon spotted one bonefish trolling by himself near us, Simon immediately casted on him (he taught me to always walk with your line out ready to shoot) Simon kept his eye on the fish while he quickly walked towards the fish while casted. I quickly got the camera rolling. Before I knew it BOOM! He had the bone fish hooked! I heard the reel ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ….and Simon bursted out WAHOOOOO! I replied behind the camera which a big YEAAA! Or something like that I don’t really remember exactly. But one thing I do remember is that Simon landed that fish with ease. I know now another reason why he is a 2 time bonefishing champion. He talked to the camera and me while he was fighting the fish. He let him run and take the line, then he would crank at the reel fast, then when he felt the fish fight again he would let him run and crank the drag a little all while telling me all about the fish and what he was doing. It was great. So finally he got the fish near us, I got some great shots. Instead of landing the fish with the rod, he got the fish about 10-20 feet from us, put the butt towards the fish and grabbed the line out of the rod. This way the rod tip doesn’t break. He pulled in the fish the rest of the way with the line in one hand and rod in the other. I got some great shots, on video and my digital:
It was simply awesome. He gave me the rod after that and filmed me. We didn’t see any more bonefish but he filmed me talking a little and casting. So we were 1 for 1 for the day. He saw one fish and caught it. We are going back to the Secret Big Fish flats Tuesday or Wednesday on his boat, which should be exciting!
So then we went back to the land locked Tarpon spot. We immediately saw some tarpon trolling around. We casted on them for about an hour, trying all different types of patterns and they just didn’t want anything. We figured it was because the tide was low so they were stuck in there and weren’t feeding. We would cast 2 feet in front of them, it was awesome you could see them go up to the fly and check it out, but the just didn’t want it. So after a trying a couple times on different schools trolling around Simon wanted to leave and not put any more pressure on them
So next Simon took me to the local Sunday Fish Fry to get a taste of the Bahamian food and culture. It was awesome, we walked up this street with that’s right on the ocean and has a ton of places to eat all serving fish. We went in this little place at the end that is supposedly the “King of the conch salad.” Which is a popular Bahamian cuisine. So Simon asked if we could film the guy preparing the Salad. So we did, I got some great shots of this big Bahamian guy cutting up tomatoes, onions, peppers, and conch meat. Then mixing it all together and squeezing oranges and limes on it with some hot sauce. It was awesome! We also had some conch fritters (just like the ones at Woody’s in st. John) I wish I had took some pictures up I was too involved with the video. I can’t wait to start editing, its going to be awesome! Next entry I post I'm going to be holding the bonefish!
|Saturday, January 14th, 2006|
|1st day of Fishing!
So I never got ahold of my guide Simon Bain last night, his wife kept saying he'd be back, I took a little siesta around 8pm thinking his call would wake me up, nope, woke up at 11:30 called again, and he still wasn't back. So I asked her what time he'd be here in the am and she said 7:30. That sounded good to me b/c the breakfast buffet was open at 7. So I woke up to the sound of my three alarms I had set, and to the loud sound of heavy rain outside my door. Welp, sure enough it was raining heavily. I got in the shower and thought while I was in the shower, instead of filming the sunrise like I had planned, I could just film the myself talking then open the curtains to the heavy rain, it would be an interesting start to my first day of fishing. So I got out of the shower, got ready, got the tri-pod out, opened the door, NO RAIN! It had stopped completely, so I thought dang, so much for that idea, but I guess it means we might not get soked while fishing. Well you'll find out later that I was wrong, it was nice and sunny all morning, Simon was here 15 min early with a huge smile and plenty of jokes, it turned out he was at what he called the "grammy's" for tourism, and he won the big award for the best fly fishing guide in all of Bahamas! Yea, all 500 islands in the Bahamas! Can you believe that? I got hooked up with the best guide out of probably thousands of guides throughout the islands. He's only good buddies with guys like Lefty Krey (famous fly fisherman, writer, owner of TFO (temple fork outfitters) who Simon is sponsored by) He named of a list of people that he calls friends. The guitarist for pink floyd, Wade Boggs, numerours CEO's and excecutives, the list goes on. So after taking a trip in what Simon calls the "fishing buggy" we set out to Rose island where there are some nice flats. The wind was strong but supposedly Simon can cast in 40 mph wind while the boat is going 15 mph, well come to find out, this was completely true. We trolled around these flats for a while, saw a bunch of stingrays, a couple sharks, and we even saw a stingray feeding on some fish, it flew 5 feet in the air right in front of us. It was awesome I wish I had the camera rolling. Simon is amazing, he's hilarious and has a great personality. He has his own fishing show here on local TV. (he wants to interview me about my trip and film to be on his show!) Its going to be on TV here wed night, but don't get to excited, he hasn't interviewed me yet, but thats what he said so we'll see. After we figured out that there were no bone fish around rose island (it was too windy and the boner's don't like wind b/c the water gets colder when its windy so they dive down into the sand) we set off to head back to Nassau, well in the distance we could see a storm system developing, so we stopped and prepared for it. Luckily I had just purchased a a rain jacket because that rain came like a bat out of hell! Within 10 seconds it was a monsoon out. The wind was 40-50 mph, and it was raining like you'd see in a movie. So Simon gunned it in between the large 6-7 foot swell's for the most of the way back to Nassau when finally the rain stopped abrubtly but the wind continued. We got in the fishing buggy and set off to check out some flats, the flats we visited were very windy and we didn't see any bonefish. So we headed to a secret mangrove spot where supposedly there are some land locked tarpon. Well there were! It was awesome, as soon as we pulled up to what looked like an average sized river, that stretched from the ocean all the up into the island a quater of a mile or so we saw a school of tarpon hanging out near the other side. So Simon immediately started casted as I filmed. He hooked a big one, then a smaller one, which both got off, when he handed the rod to me, he gave me a clinic on my cast all while the camera was rolling. It helped a ton, Simon claims he can teach anyone how to cast 50 feet of line in 15 min, and I believe him. So I got one big hit by a pretty decent size tarpon, I set the hook, I think a little to early b/c I could see the fish hit my fly. Then Simon took over again when we spotted a school of large tarpon up the mangrove. He hooked a large one that jumped completely out of the water spitting the fly out right at us, but man it was awesome, I got a great shot of it. So Simon says....that we are going back there again over the next couple of days, and as long as the wind doesn't act up on us. We'll I just got off the phone with Simon, he informed me that his "grammy" is going to be on the 11 o'clock news, so I'm going to have the camera running on my small 18 inch ghetto Nassau beach hotel TV. Hopefully it will come out so I can use it for my film. Check back soon to see if I catch any fish this week. check out this pic of Simon in the mangorve area where we jumped those tarpon
|Friday, January 13th, 2006|
|Finally in the Bahamas!
After a long week of traveling across the country from Ramsey NJ to Colorado Springs, Sara took me to the DIA at 5:30 this morning, I had a layover in Miami and finally I arrived at the Nassau Beach hotel. The nice native lady at the desk gave me an upgrade, it turned out to be a pretty good one, I've got a huge room that over looks the ocean. Check out the posted pictures. The only downside is that I have to come to the main area of the hotel to use the internet because the wi-fi doesn't reach my room. So....first day of bone fishing tomorrow stay posted for updates on fish caught!
|Tuesday, January 3rd, 2006|
Last full day in Boulder! I'm getting very excited yea, but I am very very stressed out. On top of cleaning out my room I have been squaring away all my fishing and film equipment. I've got an appointment with 42 productions here in Boulder to look over some sample footage I shot on my new HDV Z1U sony comcorder up on the Blue river this weekend. Billy and I fished for a couple hours with Rayl (TJ) sat around in the freezing snow in his sneakers and watched. Besides the fact that we got skunked it was a Blast! The day ended with a great sunset that reflected nicely of the river and of course a night of parting for new years eve, lets just say it was a memorable new years! My next appointment is with Wally at Ligas flies here in Boulder, his store is closed so I have to take a visit to his house where him and his son run their business' out of. Going to pack up the car ready to head to the springs first thing in the morning. It will be sad leaving Boulder but God I can't wait to be done worrying and on that boat catching some fish!