Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Season in Pictures

This year's client list featured many talented anglers, including Australia's Philip Clement, Maine's Fred Clough, North American rep of the Lax-A Angling Club, and London's Matt Harris. The photos below are mine, but Matt's album from the river includes some truly spectacular images.

Monday, December 5, 2011

What's the Knock on Lenok?

None, in my opinion. Although some Russian scientists carp about the "damage" they inflict on salmon fry in the lower Amur basin, lenok rise enthusiastically to the dry fly and fight well. Our endemic species is the blunt-nosed lenok, Brachymystax savinovi, better known as the Amur trout. They are less common than the sharp-nosed variety—and grow bigger—so we naturally value them more. In other publications, I've described them as closer to browns than rainbows, but they are really their own fish, with their own habits and personality. Here's a brief video of one during the release. Take a good look at the predatory jaw and the coppery-colored background for those beautiful spots.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

"We could not calculate directions between Noord, Aruba and Dadal, Mongolia"

Headed for Mongolia tomorrow so that must mean the earth has traveled completely around the sun again. We've moved since last August, of course, but only a few miles, toward the northern tip of the island.

A few publications on the horizon: a story about marlin and Cabo San Lucas in the September Gray's Sporting Journal, another selected for an anthology from Fly Fisherman magazine, and a brand-new work, set in Shanghai, forthcoming in American Fiction, volume 12.

The anthologized piece is one of my contributions to "The Seasonable Angler," originally published in 2002. It's called "On the Flats," and is about the joys of not catching bonefish.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Snail's Pace

While trying to find a name for these Aruban land snails (possibly Diplopoma crenulatum), I stumbled across a 1971 article by the late Stephen J. Gould, "The Paleontology and Evolution of Cerion II: Age and Fauna of Indian Shell Middens on Curacao and Aruba." Gould makes a number of interesting observations, including the odd fact that snail shells found in the 4000-year-old middens are larger than any alive today. He guesses, logically enough, that past conditions might have been much wetter (and hence more favorable for land snails) on these now dry islands, but also notes that there was no other evidence for this change in climate.

Three decades later, biologist Kees van Nooren has found support for Gould's conjecture. By analyzing pollen and spores from deep sediments, he discovered that desert Aruba was once a lush garden with at least seven different species of ferns, and that the departure of fertile soil coincided with the arrival of European colonists.

I used to imagine that, like most humans, I learned quickly but now recognize that illusion. In those days I would have overlooked these snails and the beauty they are capable of, thanks to persistent (slow) motion and a hard shell.