Images of Arctic Light

The winter months are a slow fishing period for me. One measure of relief is the vicarious enjoyment of other people’s fishing activity – often set in warmer climes than eastern Ontario. That makes sense I think.

But other distractions present themselves. Recently I came across a video created by Terje Sorgjerd. It is a spectacular display of light shot in the Norwegian Arctic. He describes an annual phenomenon.

This was filmed between 29th April and 10th May 2011 in the Arctic, on the archipelago Lofoten in Norway.

My favorite natural phenomenon is one I do not even know the name of, even after talking to meteorologists and astrophysicists I am none the wiser.What I am talking about I have decided to call The Arctic Light and it is a natural phenomenon occurring 2-4 weeks before you can see the Midnight Sun.

The Sunset and Sunrise are connected in one magnificent show of color and light lasting from 8 to 12 hours. The sun is barely going below the horizon before coming up again. This is the most colorful light that I know, and the main reason I have been going up there for the last 4 years, at the exact
same time of year, to photograph.

Take the time to enjoy this amazing video.

Goodbye to A Friend

Last week a good friend succumbed to cancer. Though there was nothing formal Brian was an important fly fishing mentor to me. I met him a number of years ago not long after we had moved to Ottawa. I was relatively new to fly fishing and knew even less about local fishing spots.


I think we first met at a Trout Unlimited meeting. I listened as the guys there – none of whom I knew talked about fly fishing in the area. I tried to make as many mental notess as possible hoping to capture names of a few hot spots, techniques and whatever other bits of information they shared.


I don’t remember how Brian and I connected as a result of that meeting but the upshot was he invited me to fish with him and also introduced me to the local fly fishing club.


Those were the true beginnings of my entry into the world of fly fishing.


Last year while working in Japan Brian began to have some serious health issues and was eventually diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. The prognosis was not good.


After what I am sure were difficult deliberations Brian and Ryoko decided to return to Canada for treatment and his final days.


Brian arrived in spring and although the cancer was taking a toll in his physical well being his fishing buddies were glad he felt up to joining us for our spring trip to Kenauk. On this trip most of us fish from float tubes so none of us, including Brian were sure how much fishing he would manage.  As it turned out he did pretty well.  The two of us drove up together and headed to a lake where we thought everyone was gathering before we checked into our cabin at Lac Sugarbush.  For what ever reason the plan had changed unbeknownst to us so Brian and I fished alone.  We had a great afternoon catching plenty of feisty rainbows.


Following a great start on Sunday, we had a couple days of pretty tough fishing conditions, too much good food and lots of talks and laughs. As usual Brian was full of opinions especially as we anticipated the results of the federal election.


Check out was Wednesday morning and different options were discussed as to how people wanted to fish the last few hours. Brian and I decided to try our luck at a brook trout lake that was on the way out of the preserve where we were fishing.


We got there to cold and light rain but decided to go for it anyway. From the put in Brian worked one side of the lake while I worked the other. It wasn’t long before I heard his firm “Fish on!”. And it continued for both of us for a couple hours before the cold and rain began to take its toll. I don’t have any photos of Brian catching his favourite square tails but he mentioned several times it was a highlight of the trip.


Through the summer it was clear from his weight loss that Brian’s condition was deteriorating. We managed to get out fishing a few more times but when I asked him about another trip in mid October to a local trout-stocked quarry it just wasn’t possible. Shortly after he landed in intensive care and then a hospice.


This week the battle came to an end. So I say goodbye to a fine fisherman and a good friend. Tight lines Brian.


Google Knows!

He may have had strange symptoms but I had a good laugh over this one from my friend Eric. Thanks man.

Had a strange issue a few minutes ago. Looked up the symtpoms and Google tells me its menopause. Who am I to argue with Google?
Eric D. Brown

Winter Reading – A Growing Choice of Fly Fishing E-Zines

The sad reality in this neck of the woods is that local fly fishing is severely compromised at this time of year.   In some cases the season for legal fishing has closed or is close to being so. Even where it remains open, cold and ice are a major deterrent.  While steelhead are a possibility treks to the closest rivers are not insignificant so don’t happen as often as they might.

The net result is that we have moved into a season where dreaming/planning and fly tying have become the most significant  aspects of my fly fishing activity.

Blogs provide a great source of vicarious fishing sustenance but the other growing digital media that interests me is electronic magazines. Depending on your perspective you might not share my enthusiasm but from where I sit, they are definitely welcome – particularly during the hard water season.

I thought I would list some of the fishing e-zines that I have come across. The list seems to be growing every day so I am sure there are some great ones that I haven’t come across.

Catch Magazine – Because I like both fly fishing and photography, this is a favorite e-zine of mine.  Superior quality pictures and embedded video are the focus.

This Is Fly – One of the pioneers in the fly fishing e-zine world, this one probably caters first to a younger crowd but don’t hesitate to check it out even if you don’t think you fit that category.

Ten and Two – The Angler’s Journey – This magazine focuses on both fishing and the local culture.  The issue on fishing in Argentina had me hooked.

Streamside Canada – Local bias here but if you are looking for stories about Canadian fly fishing destinations, check this one out.

Rise Forms – A new arrival, this online magazine focuses on the literature surrounding fly fishing.  Poetry, fiction, artwork its all there.

Flyfishers Inc. – This one focuses primarily but not exclusively on New Zealand fly fishing – not a bad focus at all in my opinion!

Contemporary Sportsman – This one covers fly fishing as well as hunting sports.  The publisher is launching a new e-zine soon.  Called Backcast, it will focus on salt water fly fishing.

Several print magazines are introducing digital versions of their magazines to better serve their subscribers.  Among these are the following:

Fly Tyer Magazine – You can now subscribe to a digital version of this must have magazine for fly tyers.

Northwest Fly Fishing, Southeast Fly Fishing and Eastern Fly Fishing – This family of fly fishing magazines provides digital copies of back issues of the news stand magazines.

The Flyfish Journal – This is a relatively new print magazine.  The first two issues have had some great articles.  If your preference is digital, you can subscribe and have access to an electronic version.

I am pretty sure I have just scratched the surface of what is currently out there as far as digital fly fishing magazines are concerned.  And, no doubt more will emerge.

This collection will keep me going for a while but if you have others that you enjoy, share them.

Project Noble Fish

For most fly fishers catch and release is a at least a common practice and for many it is done almost exclusively.  So some of the questions that arise are how to best handle fish so that upon release they have the best chance to recover quickly and ultimately what are their chances for survival?

Chicago Trout Bum had a post earlier this week that referred to a New York Times Room for Debate article discussing various perspectives on catch and release.  The post generated a whole lot of responses as one would expect.

Aside from what some might suggest are the ethical issues around catch and release, what is the evidence pertaining to physical harm and fish survival?

Some interesting work is being done here in Ottawa at Carleton University.  Dr. Steven Cooke, Associate Professor of Fish Ecology and Conservation Physiology leads the Fish Ecology and Conservation Physiology Laboratory that is engaged in a variety of research projects pertaining to freshwater and marine fish ecology.  One of his Master’s candidates is Sean Landsman who is looking at the effects of catch and release recreational angling on muskellunge.  I have been following his research through his blog – Project Noble Beast.  What could be better than doing science and fishing?  To me at least, its a fascinating project. Reminds me of the days when I was completing my undergraduate degree in geomorphology (look it up) and fantasized about a masters program studying beach morphology in Hawaii.  But I digress…..

As part of his research Sean actively fishes for muskies on the Ottawa River. An he has some pretty good success.

49 Inch Muskie

Ottawa River MuskieAmong other aspects of his research, Sean monitors the activity of caught muskie by surgically implanting small acoustic transmitters into the fish.  The transmitters can be monitored to provide depth and acceleration (i.e., activity) data as the released fish moves about the river. The goal is to obtain insight into the behavioral ecology of muskies.

TransmittersImplanting Transmitter

The following chart shows the type of data the transmitters provide.  This particular chart is for a shark implanted with a similar transmitter to the ones Sean is using.  For someone who knows what to look for, the chart shows  “activity” patterns that can be interpreted as “resting” and “active” periods.

Transmitter LogAll in all it is a fascinating project and hopefully will provide some valuable insight into fish behaviour following release.

MapSherpa – Custom Mapping at Your Fingertips

You want to check out MapSherpa an interesting web application that allows you to create custom maps that can be printed and taken with you on your fishing trip.

Ok, if this seems like a commercial, I guess it is – and in the interest of full disclosure, I have been working as a consultant with this company as they first rolled MapSherpa out for Canada last summer and recently launched a major upgrade that includes full US coverage as well.  These guys have been in the web mapping business for over 10 years and have done a great job creating a service that is easy to use and gives you great quality maps.

MapSherpa allows you to create topographic, shade relief or road maps for any place in North America.  You can set the scale to fit your needs, annotate the map with your personal information.  And if you have someone you trust with your secret fishing locations, you can share the map with them.  You can also choose to publish your maps for the whole world to see but you know how that goes over with some of your fishing buddies so don’t say I told you to do it.

Here is an excerpt from a map I created to give you an idea of the look of the data.

Its free to sign up for a MapSherpa account.  You can create and save maps and only pay when you decide to download a map for printing.

Check it out.  I’d be happy to hear what you think.

And Now for the Weather ……

That most significant annual tradition – Groundhog Day is almost upon us.   From Wiarton Willie (and Wee Willie his successor) up here in Canada to the famous Punxsutawney Phil all eyes will be upon a wide assortment of  furry creatures who will make their wintery predictions next Tuesday. With all due respect to those furry prognosticators and anyone putting their stock in today’s Groundfrog prediction by Snohomish Slew, my support falls behind Octorara Orphie of Quuarryville, Pennsylvania.  After all any groundhog with its own Lodge and respected lodge members must be credible.

The Slumbering Groundhog Lodge of Quarryville, Pennsylvania was founded on Groundhog Day, February 2, 1908 by George W. Hensel, Jr.   Honorary members of the lodge include Sir Winston Churchill, Harry S. Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and J. Edgar Hoover.  The purpose of the club is for members to throw away worries, cares, and woes and have a good laugh at themselves.

Here’s to less winter and early fishing!