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About the Author:
John Merwin lives in Vermont, where, when he's not tying flies, building lures, or digging up worms with his backhoe, he writes the monthly Fishing Column for Field & Stream magazine.

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December 10, 2008
Merwin: The Value of Fishing

Over the past 15 years, various studies on the economic effects of fishing have shown that spending by recreational anglers creates massive numbers of jobs and related tax revenues in various locations both here and around the world. To blow our own horn just a bit, an extensive series published by Field&Stream in 1994 (and written by me) on the power of "The Sportsman's Dollar" turned out to be very influential in establishing that recognition.          

The latest version comes from Mexico, where studies commissioned by the non-profit Billfish Foundation have shown that sportfishing in the Los Cabos region of Baja California created more than 24,000 area jobs based on anglers (mostly international tourists) spending some $633 million there in 2007.

As a result of those valuations, the Mexican senate now has legislation pending to make marlin, sailfish, swordfish, roosterfish, and dorado exclusively gamefish and not to be sold. So far, area commercial fisheries have taken a heavy toll on those species.          

Hopefully, the gamefish designation will succeed. The value of fishing extends far beyond simple recreation.

December 09, 2008
Cermele: These Boots Are Made For Clubbing

This Saturday, I reluctantly went Christmas shopping. I find no enjoyment in this, but 'tis the season. The only mildly comical part of hanging out in the mall this time of year is watching little tykes crying on Santa's lap as mom forks over $20 for the photo, or the chance to see a young child drop a cherry slushie off an escalator into the mob of shoppers below (this is a rare gem. I saw it last year. cherish it). But this year I found something funnier. As I happened by the Kenneth Cole store, some boots caught my eye and out came the cell phone camera.
I instantly recognized this footwear as the same PVC deck boots I have worn fishing for the last ten years.This is no exaggeration. These are exactly the same boots with the same tread and cut lines, albeit they are sexy silver and have the Kenneth Cole logo stamped upon them while mine are classic white and made by Servus. I'd bet anything they came from the same factory, the white ones ending up in tackle shops across the country, the silver in the world of high fashion. Aside from keeping slime, scales, blood, and saltwater off your feet, the appeal of white rubber deck boots is that they're dirt cheap ($20) and last forever. Kenneth Cole's take on this reliable footwear sold for $65 and will probably be out of style by New Year's Eve.

If designers are going to rip off the fishing culture, what's next? Maybe girls will be strapping into Juicy Couture oil skins, popping a glow stick in their mouth and hitting the club. Or how about unisex Gucci hip waders? Spilling a caramel apple-tini on your legs or barfing on your shoes after a long night out wouldn't be a problem anymore. Do you have any ideas for crossover fishing fashions?


December 08, 2008
Merwin: Dreaming of Warmth

Five inches of new snow here last night started me  daydreaming about far-off and warm fishing places...Florida, the  Bahamas, Mexico, Argentina, Chile, and more. Once in a while, I  actually get to go. But no where near often enough, and it took a lot  of years of fishing before I could make the first such trip a reality.          
At this time of year I think about it a lot, though,  reminded by photos such as this one of a fly-caught dorado that I took  a few years ago at the southern tip of Baja California. On  that day it was about 80 degrees under an intense tropical sun. On  this day, where I am, the thermometer is stuck at zero.          

I think every fisherman has a someday place, an exotic  fishing hole that might never be actually attained but that brings at  least a sigh or a wish or a dream. So assume for the moment that price  is no object. In that case, I'm curious to know where would you go  fishing this winter?

December 05, 2008
Merwin: Upscale Trout

I ran across this Internet ad for Fairmont Residences, a  luxury real-estate development planned along Colorado's Blue River near Breckenridge. There will  be some 60 units starting at $900,000 each where one of the main  attractions will be flyfishing for trout. Here's an artist's  rendering, taken from their ad.          
This brought to mind a couple of things. First, maybe I  should sign up for a couple of units as a clubhouse for The Honest  Angler. Then you guys could come out and play.

More seriously, I was struck by the absurdity of the whole  thing. Luxury real-estate development is a big deal these days, and  there are those who can still afford it. It just seems as if putting  something like this along a river turns trout fishing into a kind of  golf. Personally, I'd rather fish the backcountry out of a $200 tent.

December 04, 2008
Cermele: Bass Coughs Up Bling

I already posted today, but I just came across a news story that I thought needed sharing. An angler in Texas caught an 8-pound largemouth, and when he opened it up (I presume, or at least hope, for dinner purposes) found a class ring in the stomach with the name "Joe Richardson" etched upon it.

The lucky angler did a bit of Internet sleuthing and found Mr. Richardson, to whom he returned the ring. Richardson, of Buna, TX, says he lost the ring in Lake Sam Rayburn during a fishing trip in 1987. Here's the full story if you want to check it out.

This story got me thinking: is it worth starting a website listing the where and when of items lost while fishing in case they're later found in the gullets of gamefish? Clearly this story proves fishing will eat anything. I'll start.

If you find:

- A navy-blue Adidas hat with pewter striper pin in the stomach of a wahoo/grouper off Aruba, it's mine and it was my luckiest hat ever. Lost 2005.

- A Verizon Razor cell phone in a striper/bluefish/fluke stomach off Seaside, NJ, it's mine. Lost 2007.

- A  6-inch folding Buck Knife with redwood handle in a striper/bluefish/fluke stomach around Atlantic City, NJ, it's mine. Lost ca. 1996.

- A pair of American Aviator "Top Gun" style aviator shades in a bass stomach from Spruce Run Reservoir, they're mine. Lost 2006.

- A B.U.M Equipment watch in a bass from Rosedale Lake, keep it. B.U.M. Equipment is so 1988, dude. Lost ca. 1991.

So what have you lost?

Cermele: A Stock Argument

Okay, let's see if I can create a good, old fashioned ruckus. Take a look at the photo below.

I caught this trout a while back swinging a leech fly in one of my favorite rivers. I'll tell you three other things about it.

1. I hooked the fish in New Jersey, but won't disclose any further info as to where.

2. The trout, as is classic with larger browns, was holed up tight to a log jam in slower water and refused the offering on my first two bad casts.

3. This is a stocked trout, although how long ago it went in, I'm not sure.

What I'm driving at is the age old question of do stocked fish count? Here was a specimen that exhibited behavior typical of wild browns elsewhere, but it was born in a hatchery. I worked hard for it, as it was late in the season and the trout had slowed down. So maybe the real question is, when do stockers become legitimate targets? As soon as they hit the water? After they acclimate and have been holding over for a while? Never? How about this: Would you pay to have this fish mounted? Let's talk about it. I'm curious to hear some opinions.


December 03, 2008
Merwin: Yet Another Crankbait Winner

So neither Michael Nix nor Jesse Cornell have responded to  being named winners in our free-crankbait contest. Never have I  worked so hard to give away good stuff!          

To get this closed out, the winner now is someone who not  only posted a very credible answer to the crankbait question, but who  is also a frequent poster here and an all-around good guy: Dr. Ralph!          

Ralph, please send me your snail-mail address at [email protected]   and I'll get your lures in the mail. And thanks again for being such  a great participant on this blog.

December 02, 2008
Cermele: Canadians Need Computers, Too.

This blog is part shameless plug and partially derived from how awestruck I am every time I get in touch with buddy Mike Bromelow. Mike is the Canadian wonder-craftsman behind Musky Snax lures. I hadn't heard from him in a while and when I emailed the other day I found out why. Turns out he's launched a new line of jointed baits and has been busy testing them on frozen rivers in ridiculously low temperatures in God-knows-where, Ontario.

Mike originally hand-carved every bait style he made from cedar and has now advanced to molding jointed lures from his original carvings. But they are all still airbrushed by the man himself, and as you can see in the photo, they are about the most realistic musky lures out there. There's a waiting list to get your hands on one. Add in the insane action of the lures and I can't help but be blown away considering these are homemade jobs, not something pumped out of a sweat mill in China.


If the photo isn't enough, check out the video of Mike testing his trout pattern. I love this clip because a) it's set to Rammstein music (which has come up in past blogs), b) the lure looks so real, the boys from the Fly Talk blog might cast a caddis to it if they were there, and c) at least Mike is honest about why he wants you to buy one. Watch it to the end. Hey, I guess Canadian lure makers need new computers sometimes, too. But in all seriousness, take a look at the gallery on his site and you'll quickly see that he also wants you to buy one because there is a good chance you'll catch the musky of a lifetime on it.

December 01, 2008
Merwin: A Lake Trout Surprise

This monster lake trout, estimated at about 38 pounds, looks  like something you'd see from northern Canada. Most surprisingly,  though, it came from a small lake in New Hampshire where it was netted  and released by state biologists doing a late Fall survey a few weeks  ago.
The lake itself is one of a dozen small lakes that I fish  fairly often. And no, I'm not going to tell you which one or where.  More to the point, I had no idea this kind of thing was lurking in the  depths where I sometimes fish. It's almost scary.          

Chances are that no matter where you fish there's one or  more trophies living, elusive and undetected--so far, at least. It  might be a 3-pound perch instead of the 8-inchers you most often  catch, or a pot-bellied 30-pound pike hidden deep in a lake best-known  for 6- or 7-pounders. Such fish are indeed out there, and they give us  something to think about all winter long.

November 26, 2008
Merwin: I'm Thankful For Fishing

There's just a bit of snow on the ground and the trees are  bare. It's that gray time of year between the colors of Fall and the  deep white of Winter here in northern New England.          

Inside the house, meanwhile, the pies are baked, potatoes  set out to peel, and a big turkey is ready for the oven. Various  family members and friends will start arriving tonight and more in the  morning, ages ranging from 90 down to 12. It is that, I think, for  which I am most thankful, for a close and extended family that often  serves as a stabilizing anchor in a turbulent world.           

Fishing is that sort of anchor, too; not quite as  important, perhaps, but close. In good times and bad, fishing--any  fishing--is a refuge from a world of care. We can escape with rod and  reel in hand, chasing hope for an hour or a day, and come back somehow  refreshed, better able to deal with whatever cares a particular day  might bring. So I am thankful for fishing.           And a Happy Thanksgiving to all of you.