May 24, 2011

Backpacking + Flyfishing

After being forced to watch what seemed like hours of cutthroat trout absolutely devouring an evening rise while we were backpacking in Yosemite, I've decided not to let another opportunity such as that pass me by so I've been looking for good backpacking FF setups. My conditions are the following:

1. Has to be a 9'ft rod but would settle for 8'6" if necessary.

2. Has to be at least a #4WT. Nothing against the wet-noodle guys and fingerling brook trout fishermen out there, but I just don't like to fish with a cocktail straw.

3. Must pack down into at least maximum carryon length (~35", I think)

4. Can't cost an arm and a leg, less than $300 total.

5. Isn't Tenkara. Again, not my steez, but nothing against those guys. However, naming all your flies something weird and Japanese-y is exactly as weird as those kids who watched a lot of Anime in college and only ate ramen -- REAL RAMEN -- from the only Japanese grocery store in town.

6. Ideally, weighs less than 16 oz, total.

Here's what I'm looking at so far:

Rods (I'm assuming these are all in the 4-6 oz. range)

Cabela's Stowaway -- $139.00

Orvis Frequent Flyer --$225.00

L.L. Bean Double L Travel Rod -- $250.00


Now, this was the hard part because reels aren't necessarily light and the ones that are are basically made out of unicorn bones and are priced accordingly. Given that I don't have a ton to spend, the tradeoff between price and weight is a fine balance here. 

The obvious choice here to begin with is the Orvis Battenkill bar stock, both on price and weight (it's $90.00 for a 4.2 oz). The only downside is it's a super "clicky" reel which I don't particularly like. 

Okuma SLV -- On price alone ($59.00) it seems like a worthwhile choice. 4.8 oz. 

Tibor Spring Creek -- Supposedly the best reels out there and it shows. Nearly $400 bucks. Included just for reference. 


The image of the fly fisherman with a billion doodads hanging from an overstuffed vest is common, however, the more I fish, the less I feel like I need. Here are some possibilities.

Taking a cue from MAWOI I'm considering trying a big chalk bag as a stand-in for my chest pack when weight and size are serious considerations. 

I like this one from Metolious. It has a clear pocket on the back for things like a license, maybe a some tippet spools or spare leaders...who knows. 

The site called BackpackFlyfishing has a custom solution that looks pretty handy. At $35.00 however, I'm not sure it's worth more or functions better than anything else. It does have a foam drying patch and what looks to be a specific place for flotant. 

Cabela's has a little chest pack that's currently on sale for less than $7.00 that looks like it could be worthwhile. It's also ugly as sin, but that, I think, is because it's also probably leftover stock from 1990. 

May 23, 2011

Yosemite, Finally

So, I know. It's been weeks now, but I've been really busy with travel and all that. So here's Yosemite in pictures along with a few snaps of our time in Sonoma/Russian River Valley.

A little backstory: we had planned the trip to hike up to Lake Vernon in Hetch-Hetchy, but the problem we discovered upon our arrival was that the trails were still snowed over above 8000' so we had to recalibrate. In the national parks you have to make a reservation for a particular trailhead on a particular date so the trails don't get too crowded and overused, so we had to leave from O'Shaugnnessy Dam no matter what.

Much to Annie's relief, we did not decide to snowshoe the original 26 mile loop, we'd do a 14 mile out and back to Rancheria Falls, with a day hike in between, hopefully up to the Tiltill valley. We made it to Rancheria just fine, but the trail up to the Tiltill was in bad shape and it was very clear that we were probably only the 3rd or 4th set of feet on the trail this season. Tired of scrambling over rocks and what seemed like 100 downed trees, we crept back down the trail and just settled for watching the water cascade down Rancheria falls from the top. Overall, a wonderful outcome. Have a look.

Like I said. 

Some double-doubles, animal-style, to start things off right. 

Then brats, grilled peppers, and some mashed potatoes for dinner, for car-camping night number one. 

Someday they'll figure out how to sell firewood in national parks that actually burns. 

On the way to the Valley. There was still easily 5-7 ft of snow. 

More and more and more and more after the jump. 

May 17, 2011


It looks like something from high-school science class, but in reality it is an insanely easy, effective way to make great coffee fast. I have a bodum French press at home that I've had for probably 10 years, but at the office where such things are bureaucratically disallowed, I use the AeroPress to make my daily brew. 4 bucks for a crappy, burnt urn of "Starbucks" from the cafeteria just doesn't cut it sometimes.

I've been meaning to put up a best of Yosemite post soon, and I will. All 7 of our readers will just have to be patient.

May 15, 2011

Gym Rats

Generally, as a rule I kind of hate climbing gyms but since I haven't been out in ages and I'd like to get up on something decent by the end of the summer, it's kind of a necessary evil at this point. Checked out Sport Rock in Alexandria and though it was full-ish of shirtless bouldering bros, it's certainly not the worst place to spend an afternoon. Hopefully I'll be able to send harder stuff in a few weeks and get out into the real thing before too long. Gyms always get on my nerves if it's the only climbing I'm doing. Below, see my shredded, cityboy hands.

May 13, 2011


I happen to be from the greatest state in this country, Maine. One of the thousands of reasons Maine is perfect (the coast, lobster, amazing, intelligent people.... current governor not included, but I digress) is whoopie pies.

And I like when people not from New England look at you with that puzzled look, "what pies?" They're delicious, messy and cute, all things I look for in a dessert. My mother recently gave us a mini whoopie pie maker, knowing that while my small NYC apartment doesn't have room for too many excess kitchen appliances I would be thrilled to have anything which I could associate with my home state.
So today I broke it out for the first time and debated over which kind to make. My personal favorite it pumpkin with cream cheese filling but I wouldn't dare to compete with my friend's mom who makes them the best. So I went traditional.

There was a bit too much shortening in the filling (whoopie pies are one dessert where you really can't substitute the crisco and maintain the true whoopie integrity), so I shall have to continue to experiment. But I was super pleased with the cuteness factor. Enjoy!

May 10, 2011

Best of Sonoma

Oakless chardonnay is the truth, but not sure if Dom Foppoli's schtick on the exclusivity of this wine was for real. Anyone know?

May 9, 2011

The Monterey/Clearing the Backlog

I just returned from a nearly three week road-stint both for work (San Diego/San Antonio) and pleasure (Yosemite/Sonoma) and have a few revelations to share with you before I dump the Yosemite mother-lode. First, since I've been spending so much time in San Antonio for work, we wound up taking yet another Amatourist suggestion and hit up The Monterey in Southtown. I rarely use superlatives when it comes to food since my stint in NYC has made me obnoxiously snobby about it, but I can honestly say that what they're doing there at The Monterey is magical. QED:

Pig Head Tornichon with favas and chilis

Bombshell Blonde, outta Conroe Texas

Grilled Hanger Steak with CHICKEN FRIED GRAVY (no, I know)

Shaved Squash, Country Ham, Farm Egg 

 Phoenix Double ESB, outta Blanco, TX

Sorry for the shitty pics. I didn't want to ruin the vibe by snapping away at my food with a flash camera. Big shoutout to Caitlin (Katelyn? K8lin?) for the food and beer recommendation. Will definitely be back in next time.

We also hit up Taco Haven, but I ate my food so damn fast that I didn't have time to snap any pictures. I will say that the Reggie's Weekend Special was damn good and kept me full all the way through 'til drinks that night. Strongly considering a recreational trip to SA just to eat.