Friday, April 29, 2011

Road Music | Virginia Coalition aka VACO

Q: What do you get when  you mix southern rock and D.C. Gogo?
A: Virginia Coalition

A local band in the D.C. Metro area and local to me ( they grew up down the street from here). They mix southern rock with local percussion and their live show can't be beat. Sure you can get any of their various albums of VACO v. 1.0 (including Steve) and VACO v.2.0 without Steve. Their live shows are full of amazing energy and character.

Paul pounds on his percussion instruments and plays the piano and Andy Thunder plays electric with a side of bongo (as Pub24 would say bongobongobongo). Throw in some classic songs from the 80's known as '80's for the ladies' and you get a well rounded show. Buy some albums off Amazon or download some live shows from VACO's archive.

We are such huge fans THW and I celebrated our engagement on 3.29.02 by going to their show at the 9:30 club.

You don't have to take a listen but think of what you will be missing by not taking a chance and purchasing an album or downloading their live shows. You will have that much less entertaining music to listen to on our next road trip to your favorite stream.

The above pictures were taken at one of our favorite weddings, Mike and Carrie Sarnofsky. VACO played a private show and it was phenomenal!


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Snakehead Encounters of the Strange Kind

***Warning: graphic dead fish images attached ***

Wow, where to start. Fished the eddies around Chain Bridge today. Immediately getting to the water there was a huge snakehead just lazily hanging out in the shallow water. I was able to touch it with my net and it swam off. For the next several hours the snakeheads rose and gulped or sipped air in front of us. They came up from the murky depths and took in some air like an alligator and then slowly sank bakd. Some came up literally under our feet, inches from the rocks we were standing on. They showed no fear of humans or rocks.

I threw a rock at one to see what would happen and all of the herring around it darted off and the snakehead just sat there. I threw another rock near it and nothing. The third rock made the fish lazily turn to the right and glide into deeper water.

We threw everything at them from Closuers to poppers and nymphs and streamers. I had one come up next to a popper which looked like it wanted to eat but now think it was just breathing. I foul hooked one in the tail as I was stripping in my line (used both sink tip and float). They showed no interest.

Not long after a guy showed up with one of those cast nets and tossed it in / sight cast the thing. Sure enough he pulled out 2 snakeheads in the first try. The smallest was well over 24" and is pictured next to my bat. The next toss out he pulled one in that was the biggest I have ever seen. It was longer than my arm and made the one at the casting call look minute. He used my aluminum bat to kill the thing. It took half a dozen hits before the skull caved in. The sound would be similar to someone hitting a line drive with an aluminum bat, it was loud or imagine taking a baseball bat to a stop sign. Call it cruel but we put the thing out of misery reasonably fast compared to where most food comes from. Unreal. The fish was then gutted to make it lighter for him to haul out of the river. Everyone took turns posing with the fish.

The fish was a female and full of eggs. Tiny, smaller than a poppy seed, and bright yellow. The stomach was completely empty except for one tiny little bone. I don't eat fish and have not cut one open since bio lab in college so I"m not too familiar with their insides. This one was strange indeed. I didn't recognize any of its internal organ system.

The big snakehead was secreting so much mucous that the sand on its body was being washed off. That is nasty. 

So do females do not eat this time of year while spawning? That would answer why they would not take a fly after 3 hours of casting (I caught plenty of herring, A. shad, and gizzards-one of the biggest I have ever caught, and the white perch were thick).

So it was a great learning experience for me to be out and seeing all of those fish coming up for air, rather gingerly and sipping rather than gulping, and then going back down. Lets hope these fish start taking flies and stop being such a mystery to the fly angler.

Schooling herring. Max with Shad.
White perch are in.

Max with the BIGGEST gizzard shad I have ever seen.

Holt with the small snakehead. Thats right, this is the small one.
Max with the small one.
Snakehead bashing time.
Beautiful color patterns on them.
Holt with his dinner.

Check out the chompers on this one.

Egg sacks from the (gravid) female.

Egg sacs next to dollar bill for measurement.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Essential Gear | Danville Flat Waxed Nylon

I'm going to say that 99% of all flies I tie are with Danville flat wax nylon. Specifically in black. I just ordered 22 roles of the stuff from ebay and can't wait to start tying with it. Go to to get some yourself.

The reason(s) I like this stuff is that its strong. I can put some pressure on my hook and wrap material and not have to worry about it breaking. It holds dubbing onto the wax easily and the flat portion does not cut into foam (something I tie with a lot). It makes a great learning thread as it wraps easily and again, does not break.

Take a look at my flies and tell me I don't use this stuff

I ordered black so I can make thread midges, tie my Snowhite Hellgrammite, damsel nymphs, pheasant tails, popsicle flies and what ever else. The green will be used on my green scorpion bugs and the chartreuse on the chartreuse scorpion bugs. I don't really care what color I use on the patterns but some people like the color of the thread to match the body material.

The thread comes in 100 yard spools and each can last me quite a while.
Pick up a spool at your local fly shop or online and tell me what you think. Unless you are tying non thread midges I think you'll do quite well.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Snakehead Interview with Department of Fish & Wildlife

Playing With A Captured Snakehead

Torrential Rainfall @ Virginia Fly Fishing & Wine Festival

Waynesboro Fly Fishing & Wine Festival 2011 | Rainsboro

Trent and I arrived down at the festival grounds around 4pm on Friday and started to unpack my car. We got my area set up in no time and it was a bit windy and cold. The tent was big enough for a few circus elephants to play in. My booth area was on the back wall / perimeter of the show. We cracked some cold beers and walked around. We met up with fellow member John Bilotta and headed down to the South River. 
Caddis and mayflies were coming off. An angler worked the man-made structure down stream and we watched several tiny fish (fall fish or juvenile trout?) jump out of the water to eat the bugs. I strung up my rod with a streamer and worked the holes under the bridge on Main Street. I had one bite and that was it before my fly fell apart. Trent and I headed to the local chain T.G.I AppleMcFridayigans to watch the 2nd game of the Caps vs. rangers playoff game. The caps one and we called it a night. 

I woke up to a downpour on Saturday morning. I ran from my car to the tent with my computer, backpack, and THW's computer. I was soaked by the time I go to the tent. Its days like these that I am glad I own a really nice pair of wellies. Upon arriving to my booth I noticed it was about 2" deep of pooled up water. I began dragging my heels through the mud to channel the water away from my booth. Power lines were under water, my cardboard boxes were soaked, and water had filled in around my chairs. It was not going to be a pleasant day. 

My booth neighbor arrived and immediately went back home to get a garden ho. We used the tool to dig trenches in the mud to channel the water. Lucky for us we were on the top end of a slant. All the rain that was coming off the tent roof was filling in the Fly Fishing Benefactors booth and then coming our way. We took advantage of this and further channeled their water behind us and soon we had drained all of our water away. My standing area was dry! We had a flowing creek behind us the entire day.

The wind was howling and shaking the sides of the tent. Huge gusts would come through and lift the tent stakes off the ground and water would rush in. It was too dark inside to tie flies. I was jealous of those walking around in their waders. They were dry. There was a mass run of people to Walmart to get rubber boots.

I applaud the brave visitors to the tent. It was cold and dark and raining (an understatement). Everyone was cold and soaked. I didn't really have any idea of how bad it was raining until later. The power had to be shut down due to the standing water. I had to show my slides on the computer battery. People couldn't run credit cards. It was slow going as most bailed on the idea of going to a fly fishing show in that weather. I took a hit on sales. I was able to sell a few dozen flies and some beer lanyards.  I was cold and didn't have enough layers. Nonetheless I had fun. We made the best of the situation.

 Sometime after noon we were told the weather was going to take a turn for the worse. The water by now had started to fill in the center of the tent. Wooden pallets had been brought in for people to stand on to elevate them off the water. I'm not sure what time it was but we were all told to evacuate the tent as a tornado warning had been issued. I grabbed my money and computer and ran to the car. Everyone waited out the storm in their cars. We sat in the parking lot, cracked a beer, and watched the Doppler (capital D since its named after the dude that invented it) radar. I don't think I have ever seen purple, magenta, pink, and crimson colors on a radar like I did on Saturday. 

Half an hour or so later we were given the ok to head back in. Most vendors bailed and headed to their hotels. Without vendors the show could not go on. I took my video camera inside the tent to check out the carnage. The media tents along the river had collapsed. This was my first glimpse as to how bad the weather had been all day. 

The tent was empty. Most The pallets in the walk way were either bobbing or submerged. Pools of water filled the entire floor. Some vendors were breaking down their entire set up and heading home. The show was over for the day. There was a kayak that had earlier been on the grass and was now floating around.
There are 3 times I have seen rain like this. Once was at the Bonnarro in 2004 during the My Morning Jacket set. There was a week long storm when I was in the Amazon in 1993 that flooded the Rio Aguarico and there were entire islands of trees and land washing down the river. The other was during a freak tropical downpour in Puerto Rico's El Junque in 1998. That was by far the worst storm I had been in. We got 19 inches of rain in 3 hours while driving through the rain forest. There were cows belly deep in water flowing down hill! Sofas were floating out of open windows. Entire mountain sides had collapsed.

Here are some more pictures from Saturday.

 Dalton playing with a breast implant, the most unique paper weight and conversation piece of the show.

 Scenes from after the tent evacuation. Ghost town.
 Photo cutesy of Mollie Simpkins
 People securing their goods.

 Not a fan of the smell of wet grass and mud.

 Packing up for the day. I packed up and headed to the hotel to watch some hockey and dry out.
 The South River. Two people drowned nearby while playing in the flood water. This was spotted on the way to the dinner on Saturday Night.
 People gathering to watch the flood waters.

 Police shutting down the roads. The roads in and out of the country club were blocked. We managed to find a back street that let us out.

 A house across the river from the country club. The water is several feet up the front and sand bags are piled up to keep the river out.
 Beau wearing his waders to dinner.
 Mollie receiving an award.

 Beau receiving an inflatable zebra.

Sunday morning brought a cold front and sunshine. I drove tot he tent around 0830 to see the carnage. To my surprise the water had drained out of the tent! Things were muddy and straw was being thrown about to soak up any remaining water. The show went on.
 Here is my booth. I had all sorts of visitors. As my first ever vendor at a fly fishing show I would have to say it was a success. I had crowds watching me tie my flies (hellgrammite, mouse, damsel) and sold about 3 dozen Snowhite Hellgramites
The other big hits were the dragonfly visors, half lanyards (sold out) and dragonfly beer can lanyards. With the lack of people on Saturday and the sales on Sunday I was able to make a small profit. I sold a few yards of my hellgrammite chenille. I had hoped to clean out my bin of surplus dry flies that I picked up years ago (coachmen, humpies, wulffs, comparaduns, BWOS, hendricksons, gnats, etc etc etc) No luck. Same with my tying foam. I thought there would be more fly tiers there that would want to get a great deal on my foam. Oh well, more for me to tie with.

 Trent was glad he bought wellies a few days before.
 Hardcore fish tats.
 This dog had an festival entrance stamp on its forehead.

 Captain Paul and  his paper weights.

I'll update more later as ideas come back to me.