Welcome to the Blue Plate Special the running conversation between Moldy Chum’s Brian Bennett and the Middle River Group’s Tom Sadler where we talk politics, fly-fishing, conservation, and other various and sundry topics that strike our fancy.
This edition: Charlie Watts, Patagucci, “hero shots,” Salmon in distress and ….
I gotta say, the news of Charlie Watts’ passing hit me pretty hard. As a die-hard Stones fan Charlie was always the one who held my attention. Mick and Keith were the show but Charlie was always a steady, solid presence. His self-effacing, duck the limelight attitude was always intriguing. The other thing I really enjoyed about Charlie was his jazz work. He was so different from the others, out there raising Arabian horses while the others were out raising hell, he made for a delightful contrast.
Reading the tributes has been a bitter-sweet diversion this week. In all the sadness my friend Nate Schweber commenting on the loss said it best,
”Big time. But, also, the man was 80, the man was 80, died in his sleep surrounded by family, and played six decades in the greatest rock ‘n’ roll band of all time. And until this morning the entirety of our lives overlapped with his. We’ll always have the records. What blessings!”
If there was ever a rock-n-roll “gentleman” I think it would have to be Charlie Watts.
The Charlie news was certainly a bit jarring but having never been a huge Stones fan it didn’t hit me as hard as it did others. Some of that was me just not knowing that he was actually one of the world’s most interesting men and he certainly was a master at ducking the limelight both in public and on stage. As he once said, “Usually I can hear the pianos, the saxophone, and usually I can hear Ronnie. But I really need to listen to Keith and Mick. The rest of the band is sort of an embellishment to that.”
How true, RIP Charlie.
Patagonia garnered some welcome accolades from an interesting quarter recently. Their decision to no longer sell products to Jackson Hole Mountain Resort made quite a splash in the conservative Twittersphere. They made the play after Jay Kemmerer, one of the resort’s owners co-hosted a fundraiser headlined by U.S. Rep Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Georgia), former Trump White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, and U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio). When I say conservative, I refer to the Lincoln Project and Bulwark types, not the Trumpist lemmings and not these right-wing nut jobs that populate what passes for GOP these days.
You and I have talked about corporate America as the next best hope for impacting public policy This was another strong move by Patagonia which has been in the vanguard of businesses using their voice to raise awareness of the shitty public policy. While they have been solid on environmental and conservation issues, this action got the attention of folks who put country before party. It was very good to see, and I hope more companies take this kind of action.
Good on Patagucci, did I just write that? I meant good on Pradagonia, oops sorry. Does this mean no more skiing at the resort too? All kidding aside, what’s disappointing is all the other brands that will be more than happy to fill the sales void. I can see it now. A one-piece Bogner wearing Texan comes into the shop and asks, “do y’all carry Patagonia?” I’m sorry mam we don’t because our owner likes to pal around with right-wing seditionists. In the scheme of things, it doesn’t change anything but it’s great PR for the brand from Ventucky and Patagonia puts their money where their mouth is on other important issues. I have a hunch that most of the outdoor industry does not make political contributions to politicians that are complicit in subverting our democracy. What those brands could do is be damn sure their business expenditures are not going to the companies who do exactly that.
I’m sure you saw that going forward, TROUT Magazine online will only publish photos of fish in the water. There is a growing line of discussion about fish photos. Louis Cahill at Gink and Gasoline had this to say recently:
“You want to prove you’re a better angler than everyone else? Just talk louder. That’s what every other beer-swilling asshole at the local bar does! Just go down to the fly shop and blubber for an hour or two about how you only catch grass carp on 7X with dry flies and how everything else is bullshit. The end result will be the same. Everyone will know you’re an asshole and you don’t have to kill a fish and take out a Facebook ad to prove it!”
Maybe I’m getting increasingly more curmudgeonly but I really related to what Cahill wrote. Todd and I wrote about it for MoJo in Fishing’s ‘Hero Pose’: How Do The Fish Feel? I also saw a suggestion from TU’s Josh Duplechian, Take photos of the scenery, not the fish while on the boat.
Duplechian’s suggestion was a practical alternative that resonated with me, especially in light of what Cahill wrote. Here’s why. Think about those fish photos you have. If you are like me, you may have a hard time remembering where you caught it. Sure, you may remember the river but what about the place where the fish ate the fly? For me that landscape shot, like the one below gets me thinking “yeah I remember that brookie eating right there…” Yup, I’m reliving the moment all over again. The fish picture just won’t do that for me. Let’s ditch the hero shot for the scenery shot.
Initially, I was taken aback when I read, Are We Taking the Safety of Trout Too Far?
The author, Domenick Swentosky starts with this,
“It seems that this is the summer of telling people how they should fish when they should fish and maybe that they shouldn’t fish for trout at all. It’s also now common to tell people when they can take pictures, how they can take pictures, or that they just shouldn’t take pictures of their catch.
It’s all getting a little out of hand. And much of the advice offered up is a step too far. This path leads to disaster. And we will lose what we love best if we keep going in this direction. My friends, we jam a hook into a creature’s lip and drag it through the water for fun. That’s fishing, and it’s what we do. Admit it. And if we continue the incessant worrying about trout safety, logic will lead to the end of our fishing altogether.
Does that sound extreme? Well, so do some of the current recommendations out there. And before you judge my views too harshly, please read on, and let me flesh out a few points.”
To his credit, Swentosky goes on to make some solid points about proper fish handling. His maxim is Fish cold water. Fight ’em fast. Handle gently. Release quickly.
He then goes on to assert that we could lose the sport if we don’t take pictures.
If we lose trout photos, we lose anglers. And if we lose anglers, we will lose the waters and the vital protections necessary for the trout we so enjoy chasing.
Maybe you say you’re “tired of the grip-n-grins.” Okay, so don’t look at them. But I bet you have your own share of grip-n-grin style photos somewhere from years ago. Maybe you feel like you’re past that phase now. Fair enough. But let others go through it. And don’t condemn other anglers for sharing their achievements.
“Fish pictures are the grand compromise of catch and release. An Instagram feed with a full gallery of trout is replacing the stringer of dead fish for bragging rights. And that’s a good thing. They look better alive anyway.” — Troutbitten, Holding a Trout: Their Heart in Your Hands, September 2016
“The hero shots won’t end. This is the compromise of catch and release. When C&R took over as the expected normal, that didn’t change the angler’s propensity to brag a little about his catch.” — Troutbitten, How to Hold a Trout, May 2019
Do you think that’s true? Are grip and grin hero shots the tariff we pay for catch and release?
I had not heard about Trout’s new policy but then again I don’t read Trout and what exactly constitutes a “fish in the water?” You do know that Slab of the Month was my idea? I’ve been trolled every which way since yesterday when I point out poor fish handling and people politely remind me that we made a living on anglers holding big fish out of water… and half naked women holding fish, but that’s another topic of discussion. Yes, the grip and grin is/was a part of becoming an angler and the culture of the sport. It was the advent of social media that put this front and center. My fly fishing mentor has walls of framed photos of the fish he’s caught over the decades. I have albums full of images of the fish I’ve caught over the years.
The Keep Fish Wet movement, is a really good thing, especially with all the hordes of people graduating from all the Fly Fishing 101 classes. But keeping fish wet, or debarbing your hooks is like recycling, you just do it regardless of whether it really makes a difference. Holding a trout out of the water on a river where there are 2,000 fish per mile is way different than lifting a wild steelhead out of a run that’s barely on life support. In the latter case, you probably shouldn’t even be fishing for them. You can capture a grip and grin in a responsible manner. It’s the folks that don’t have a clue that needs to be educated. Have you seen the Fonz’s Twitter feed lately?
To our readers, if you want to dive down the rabbit hole on the subject, the comment sections of both Cahill’s and Swentosky’s articles will take you there. You’ve been warned….
Summer steelhead fishing will close on Sept. 1 on the lower Deschutes River and major segments of three other Columbia River tributaries, the John Day, Umatilla, and Walla Walla rivers. What’s that all about?
You said one time, steelhead are the red-headed stepchild when it comes to fish coverage. What does that mean?
Oh shit, that’s a single topic Blue Plate Special.