The previous weekend was an extended one as it was a US holiday. And, as has become a ritual for me over the last few years, as such, I stayed off the water. Between the traffic on the roads and on the waters I have become rather agoraphobic in my latter years. Dealing with the public, even in the outdoors with folks similarly afflicted, has become less and less appealing.
Besides, the weather was absolutely gorgeous: cool, cloudless, and calm… “chamber of commerce weather” is a term that has commonly been used. People are flocking to South Florida now more than ever to enjoy these conditions (and favorable tax breaks for the wealthy) while the majority of the US scrapes ice off their cars. But the joke is on them, as the more come, the less enjoyable it is being here. As a pessimistic old fishing buddy likes to say, “We have seen the best of it.” And he is right, although I keep trying to find exceptions.
My house within a hardwood hammock is an oasis within the bedlam.
So tonight, here I sit, feeding cut firewood into a city legal fire that looks much like the mouth of a firebox on an old steam locomotive, while sipping neat bourbon. My first pour finished off a bottle of Michters. It was emotional like saying goodbye to an old friend. But not like goodbye forever, just until I get back to the liquor store. Well, hopefully anyway… Michters is no longer a secret and finding the shelves empty is getting to become the norm. Not to worry though, it was a good reason to open a new bottle of my daily pour: Elijha Craig. The problem is I have to go to work tomorrow.
The weather today was fraught with expectation. It was sunny, but breezy and the air temperature reached the low 80s. Tonight we might drop 40 degrees, although probably not in my back yard as I live too close to the coast and the tempering Gulf Stream. The night started quite breezy but the winds are falling as I sit here, and the temperature will surely follow. In all honesty, it is not really quite cool enough yet to truly enjoy the bourbon, but I have been waiting about nine months to do this.
I will need to research it, but I think it was Rober Traver who wrote an essay on why he liked to flyfish for trout. Much of what he wrote is still valid today, maybe even more so, but he would be disappointed with cellphone technology as he gushed along the lines that “happily there were no telephones on trout streams.”
Anyway, he made a statement that I had to confirm. He said something like, “Besides, bourbon from an old tin cup always tastes better out there.” This was long before I ever acquired a taste for it and I don’t think I’ve owned a tin cup! But I can attest that he was absolutely correct. If you want to really appreciate a fine bourbon, pour some into a stainless steel camping cup when the air temperatures are hovering around the 40s, and whilst sitting outside next to a fire. Just try to remember that you likely want to get up and fish early the next morning. Yeah… go ahead and try.
To bring something ever so slightly related to fishing into this groggy ramble I did do some interesting research this weekend. I simply could not stand to not get on the water somehow, so I launched the solo canoe into the local waters and got in a mornings paddle. While on the water I further explored a new to me technology that looks to have some possibilities.
Available are now WiFi connected depth finders apparently targeted toward shore-bound anglers. The idea is that they can be attached to, then cast on, conventional tackle, after which they are reeled in to the shore to record water depth and fish location. They also seem to be targeted to ice fishing.
The detection unit is about the size of a tennis ball, and is completely free standing. It is this unit that is cast. The unit communicates via WiFi to your GPS enabled cellphone or tablet. The technology is impressive, and the whole concept seems to work rather well. With it you can map the bathymetry of lakes or rivers, and store the data for future reference.
The big deal for me is that the unit adds very little drag to the progress of a paddled canoe. I have tried other portable depth finders in the past and their attachment requirements and added drag were disappointing.
The unit has what I think is a glaring downside in that the floating ball is flat black in color. As I tether it to the canoe with light cordage, which could under extreme conditions break, I think the unit should be very visible in case it needs to be found. It is not a problem that cannot be resolved with some added reflective tape though.
Additionally, I am somewhat suspicious of the available cloud storage option. It seems like a great idea to upload your maps, but the amount of personal data that was requested for use of that option deterred me from it.
I hesitate to recommend this particular product yet as I have the above concerns and I have not given it a good field testing, but if you Google portable “sonar” units you will likely find it or others.
Damn… the fire is down to just embers and my cup is empty. Crap! I have to get up for work in a few hours…
The night and the winds probably did actually teach me something… my hair, always rather fine is apparently getting too thin for a ponytail anymore. Another under-appreciated aspect of youth down, many more to go…