alcatraz prison bars
Kitchen knives were outlined on the prison wall so staff knew if one was missing (photo: Kris Millgate).

Prison fishing

Life without privilege

I’m going to prison. With flies in my pocket. The prison is in California’s coastal waters. The flies are for Idaho rivers. The pairing is unintentional, but there it is all the same.

I coach youth hockey in Idaho Falls. One of the kids had his big brother tie eight flies for me. I received them at practice the night before I left town. The rink is cold so I had my coat on. I slipped the fly box into my coat pocket and that coat ended up on a plane with me on my way to prison. An old prison. Alcatraz.

coastal louisiana dock
Photo: Johnny Carrol Sain

Vanishing Paradise I: Pure life

Coastal Louisiana is disappearing right before our eyes

“Pura vida,” said Erin Brown as the boat hummed across brackish waters. Erin is the sportsmen outreach coordinator for the National Wildlife Federation’s Vanishing Paradise program. More importantly, Erin is a coastal Louisiana native in love with her home. “Pura vida means pure life,” she said. “They say it everywhere in Costa Rica.

goliath grouper
Ryan Kane, Southern Instinct owner and guide, releases a goliath grouper that ate a cobia, which was on the line for eating herring bait (photo: Kris Millgate).

For large grouper, a precarious rebound

The debate over the Ocean's Goliath

I grew up far from the ocean so the only goliath I knew was the one David dropped with a slingshot. I don’t know how much that giant weighed on land, but the ocean beast with the same name tips nearly half a ton. Goliath grouper can live 40 years and can weigh 800 pounds. The one I’m looking at is less than half that size, but it’s still a lot of fish. Or a lot of fish to eat if that’s the side of the table you’re sitting on.

big pike - reindeer lake - saskatchewan
Photo: Steve Zakur

Pike thumb

An honest trade

On a early spring evening, just as the tide goes slack low, you can see bobbing headlamps on the sandbar at the mouth of a certain New England river. Packed into tight groups the anglers will be sharing stories of the outgoing. If all went well, headlamps will be focused on the roughened pads of thumbs. Lipping stripers during a good evening eventually scours the thumb to the texture of well used sand paper. The same happens on a good day of largemouth or smallmouth fishing. Bass thumb isn’t a problem, it’s a badge of honor.