Monthly Archives: November 2016

Fly-rod Frustration for an Afternoon

I thought I was so smart.  For the past few years, I have not kept my fly rods broken down in cases. Instead, I broke down each section in half — two pieces secured with a hair pin at the top and a rubber band at the base. It made for easy access for early-morning trips. No fussing with stringing the rod up and attaching a fly. I was good to go in seconds — as soon as I could detach the hair pin and rubber band.

All was well until I wanted to take a bike ride with my rod. To do that, I had to put the rod back in a case and attach the case to my Patagonia backpack. Easy peasy, right? Wrong.

Because both my primary rods were rarely completely broken down, the ferrules became stuck and they were an absolute beast to loosen. I tried pushing, pulling and cursing for hours while I searched the internet for solutions. The best thing I read I was to apply ice to the male ferrule. That helped with one sticky section, a TFO I have for traveling.

But the base of my Orvis Helios was particularly fussy. No amount of ice and brute strength was going to break that seal. So I called Orvis and the tech rep recommended a slight twist and pull. My bare hands didn’t get the job done, so I grabbed my rubber kitchen mat and each ferrule for a better, and more secure, grip. A better grip yielded more control and, finally, I wrestled the two sections apart with a quick twist and pull. So, the next time you need to loosen your ferrules, grab a bag of ice and a rubber mat. Those tools of the trade should help you get back on the water faster when your stored fly rod won’t cooperate.

A bag of ice helps loosen sticky ferrules.

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Back In the Saddle With a Boat

I know it’s been a while since I’ve written. I’ve gone through a number of changes during the past year or so — a separation, a divorce, a move and a new job. I live in St. Augustine now.

After years of fishing on foot and out of a kayak/canoe, I finally have a boat — a 13-foot Riverhawk. This little skiff will fish two and runs on a 5HP Tohatsu. At first, I was elated about the concept of going farther and skinnier.

Then the learning curve set in.

With boats and new owners, the learning curve is super steep. First, I had to get a hitch on my jeep. That took several trips to the mechanic and the dealership. Memo to all Jeep owners: If you get a non-Jeep hitch installed, you need to get the electronics calibrated — at the Jeep dealership, which means more money for the local Jeep dealer. Then there was the adapter for the hitch, to ensure a proper hookup with the trailer’s wiring. Needless to say, neither of these two nuggets of info are in the manual.

As long as we’re on wiring, I had to get the tail lights to fixed. Neither worked. Fortunately a fairly handy friend helped me with this. Still, this took several weeks of trial and error, mostly error.

So, the boat was ready to go. But there was one problem. I didn’t know how to trailer the damn thing. My first couple attempts at backing up were absolutely brutal. It was a like a kid learning how to parallel park when he can barely turn the ignition key.

It took a half dozen or so lessons, but eventually I got better. The key moment came when I took a solo trip to the local police station to practice backing up and parking. I thought I had it all figured out because I had been earlier in the summer and the place was vacant. I went in early November and the parking lot was packed on a weekday and weekend due to early election voting.

I turned down a side street to find relief, but that option reached an abrupt dead end when I realized there was no place to turn around. With a car, turning around is no biggie. With a trailer, even a small one, it’s a big, big deal. You better plan it out. Stop at a gas station? You better stop at a place with enough room. But I digress…. I was forced to back down a long stretch of pavement and back the trailer in to a yard to right myself and get back home. I did it twice, on separate trips.

But I was not done with obstacles. I live on the beach, which means I have a great view of the ocean, but a lousy dirt driveway. It’s not just any dirt driveway. It’s a soft, sandy dirt driveway, courtesy of the dunes. Hell, I live in the dunes.

After backing down the long straightaway near the police station, I was feeling confident when I returned home. That optimism was short lived, however, when I tried to back up over soft sand and got stuck — twice. This was not the first time. It’s been a ongoing problem all summer. Backing up my driveway is an invitation to call your local Triple AAA.

I figured I had the problem licked with two loads of gravel and rock. That helped, but under that layer of stone is soft ground. The rock buys time, but not much. I can power the Jeep up the narrow curves that lead to my cottage, but going slow ensures bogging down. But go too fast and you can’t get the trailer where you want. My driveway, shall we say, is tight. I’m learning — the hard way. Below is a pic of the boat — before I made a few fixes.

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