Chad Shmukler's blog

Canvas wrapped prints from FlyFishPrints.com.

Late last week, we announced the launch of an entirely new and improved viewing system for the photography collections featured here on hatchmag.com that not only greatly improves the quality of your viewing experience, but offers you the ability turn virtually every photograph we showcase into a piece of artwork for your home. Whether you're looking an affordable small, magazine-quality print you can frame yourself, a wall-sized fine art print or a canvas print wrapped on a ready-to-hang frame, it's all just a few clicks away.

We debuted the new system with an amazing collection from photographer Matt Jones, which documents his travels to Bolivia to chase after golden dorado. If you haven't yet seen Matt's collection, In Search of the Golden Dorado, you should rectify that immediately. Once you've seen it, it will most certainly please you to know that there's more of Matt's work available and awaiting a home on one of your walls.

A sloppily grabbed still from the film.

This isn't the first time I've written in order to gush over Eastern Rises. It was only a couple of years ago, in a post titled Can't. Stop. Watching. Eastern. Rises. that I noted my inability to stop watching the film. Quite embarrassingly, I'm taking the time to do it again. Several years out, there's still no film on the sport I'd rather watch. More importantly, and as I've noted before, I've still found nothing that even comes close to explaining to the uninitiated why someone one would develop an obsession with fly fishing.

I think it is fair to say that fly fishing film making is currently at its pinnacle. More filmmakers are hitting the water and/or the water is turning more people into filmmakers. Whatever the case, more and more of those who fish -- and most specifically fly fish -- are being driven to record their experiences on film. Festivals like IF4 and F3T are chock full of wonderful, contemplative films that share with the viewer what a deeply moving and important role fly fishing plays in our lives.

Patagonia Worn Wear

Even if you're like me and are heavily critical of the role consumerism plays in modern, especially American, society, it's hard not to get caught up in the holiday shopping frenzy that kicks off each year with Black Friday. Beginning in early November, we're absolutely bombarded with advertisements which detail supposedly too-good-to-be-true deals on everything from clothing to toys to electronics. There's only one problem: we hardly need any of it. Sure, if you're in the market for a large ticket item or are hoping to save on your holiday gift giving, taking advantage of Black Friday sales can be prudent. But retailers that beat the Black Friday drum aren't hoping to ease the hit to your wallet this season, they're hoping you'll buy, and do so excessively.

As a fly fishing publication, we deal with both the consumer and advertiser end of the industry. And thankfully, from our perspective, the fly fishing industry largely ignores the Black Friday fiasco. One retailer, Patagonia, is taking things a step further and is urging customers to do the opposite of what most retailers are doing this time of year. Patagonia is urging customers to exercise restraint, to not buy. In a film released today titled Worn Wear, Patagonia highlights the enjoyment we get from the things we already own. Patagonia is hoping that it will serve as an "antidote to the Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping frenzy."

A shot from the film.

Every spring, I tell myself that I'm going to spend more time chasing carp. Carp are readily available to target in virtually every state in the lower 48 and are, perhaps inarguably, one the most electrifying fish to hook up in fresh water. Yet, each year another season rolls by and I fail to explore local waters, some of which teem with carp. This reality is entirely perplexing, given that the last carp I connected with was a 40-plus pound specimen in Vermont's Lake Champlain which nearly pulled the rod from my hand, had me into my backing in seconds, and was gone forever when I panicked and tried to up the drag, quickly popping the tippet. The entire encounter lasted only seconds, but left my heart racing for much, much longer. Anglers who -- unlike me -- give themselves the chance to develop an obsession with these fish seem, almost invariably, to do so. In a new short film from The Fly Collective, well known Colorado anglers Erin Block and Jay Zimmerman share their passion and pursuit for front range carp.

The film starts off with a series of stirring readings by Erin Block -- snippets from her own writings on her blog Mysteries Internal -- which not only set the stage for the film, but illustrate very clearly why Erin is one of the best, perhaps the best fishing writer working today. The fact that carp are an elusive quarry isn't hidden by Zimmerman and Block, it is celebrated as a badge of courage. Though, after hearing about how frustrating the pursuit is and about how things almost always fail to go as planned, we're treated to the angler couple hooking up carp after carp.

A spotted sea trout from Florida's San Carlos Bay. The bay is influenced by excess water discharges from Lake Okeechobee, which turn the water brown and add pollutants to the estuary (photo: Chris Hunt).

There is no shortage of conservation issues that are important or should be important to anglers. Human development affects virtually every corner of the globe, and whether large or small, its impacts are felt by our water bodies, watersheds and the flora and fauna that call them home. With so many issues out there, it is hard to be apprised of it all. Add in the fact that conservation issues often become "celebrities", rising to the top and shadowing other, often equally important, issues and staying informed is even more complicated. Following are just a few of the many issues that need more attention and involvement from anglers, be sure to give them a read.

Florida's Dirty Little Secret

"You've heard of Big Oil. The Big Three from Detroit. And, of course, the Big Lebowski. But have you heard of Big Sugar?," writes Eat More Brook Trout's Chris Hunt. Chances are, you haven't, but it is time you had. Big Sugar is the reason countless gallons of fresh water are annually diverted from its natural course by the Army Corps of Engineers in an effort to satisfy the needs of the mass agricultural development of the sugar industry.

The effects of this unnatural diversion of fresh water into Florida's estuaries, Hunt explains, are significant. "The Corps, through a system of diversions and locks, sends the excess water--and all the nitrates, phosphorus and fertilizer in it--into the estuaries on either Florida coast. The normally emerald green waters of these coastal oases turn dark and foreboding. Stained. Brown. Dirty. As this tainted water finds its way down the rivers and into the estuaries, the victims are the ecosystems these coastal bays and lagoons nurture ... and everybody who treasures them." Read about what's going on in three part series.

Right?

In the late twentieth and early twenty-first century, women's professional golf went through a transformation. All of the sudden, women golfers were hot. The days of Nancy Lopez and Laura Davies were over, and the sport saw an influx of healthy, fit young women that focused on their femininity. While these new, attractive young golfers may have had nothing on the golf game of their earlier counterparts, they were a boon for the sport. Golf no longer meant dressing up like a man and playing a man's sport. You could hit the links and still be feminine, still be pretty. And why not? The number of women golfers skyrocketed.

Fly fishing has seen a similar transformation in the last five or so years. While there have always been women in the sport, fly fishing has never been seen as a feminine endeavor. It has been, and remains largely, a male sport. Within the last few years, though, a crop of similarly young, fit, vibrant young women have taken to the water. They've not only been noticed by the sport at large, they've been celebrated. And they've had a similar effect as the new crop of women golfers: women are far and away the fastest growing demographic in fly fishing and have become a major part of the sport and the business of fly fishing.

Unbroken Film Trailer

As a father of two young girls, I can't imagine a greater sense of accomplishment than knowing that as I have raised my children, I have led them through a life worth living, as best I am able. Perhaps the only thing that could add to that sense is lacking any doubt that my children see it that way too. Camille Egdorf, who -- since she was a toddler -- has spent her summers on the banks of Alaska's famed Nushagak River, must leave few such doubts in the minds of her parents as she continues to celebrate and share the traditions and experiences she and her family have built throughout several decades in Alaska's wilderness.

Following the 2011 season, Camille released a short, immensely entertaining 22-minute video entitled Forget Me Knot, which provided some breathtaking footage and a glimpse into the life of the Egdorf's and their staff as they made their way from opening camp in June to the last days of Summer in September. In 2012, Camille gathered more footage and has compiled the lot into a film that, according its description "captures the wildlife, fishing and a way of life that has been carried on in Alaska for over thirty years. [It is] a story about a fly fishing family who's summers are spent in remote Alaska, sharing and experiencing the wilds of the North."

Clean me.

It has been a while since I've suffered the displeasure of stinky waders. This is most likely because I don't get on the water as much as I'd like to these days, or that I've been finding a way to destroy my waders before I've owned them long enough to build up an odor. The reality for most of us, however, is that after a while waders begin to turn rank.

Earlier this year, upon boarding a Dehavilland Beaver -- cozy quarters for a five man float plane ride to a preposterously fishy salmon stream in the Tongass National Forest -- myself and the rest of the group I was fishing with received a rank waders warning from our guide for the day. As the doors closed and the cabin air immediately began to feel stagnant, we were warned of the impending doom. "Imagine that a wet sheep fell out of the sky and landed on an unsuspecting cat, who was was happily snacking on dead pink salmon. As a result, the cat pissed itself to death. The pair lay in a pile. Now imagine all this happened several weeks ago. Right here," as he motioned to his mid and lower torso area. The reality didn't turn out to be quite that bad, but at least we were prepared.

The culprit behind the malodorous stench that well-worn waders emit is bacteria. Even the best breathable waders eventually start to stink. And the reality is that the types of bacteria that can thrive in the warm, often moist environment inside your waders can do more damage than simply stinking up the place, they can cause some nasty infections. I've spoken with and read about many anglers that ended up with serious infections as a result of having worn bacteria-filled waders. The typical circumstances involve anglers donning their waders while having small, pre-existing cuts or abrasions on their legs or -- more commonly -- having fallen while wearing their waders and, despite the fact that the waders didn't puncture or tear, have broken the skin inside the waders. In these scenarios, bacteria living inside the waders are given an opportunity to enter the bloodstream.

I struggle to contain my sadness over the fact that I will never own this.

If you haven't stumbled across and had a chance to check out Flood Tide Co.'s apparel, you should remedy that. For a couple of years now, Flood Tide's Paul Puckett has been creating some of the most alluring fishing shwag out there. The gear all features Puckett's art, much of which is an odd-sounding but giddily-pleasing blend of famous celebrity movie characters and fish. And, while I'll likely never forgive Paul for failing to get me one of his now discontinued "Walter" shirts -- which featured John Goodman's character Walter Sobchak from the Cohen Brother's ridiculously well done The Big Lebowski -- that doesn't mean I'm not keen on laying my hands on lots of Puckett's other art.

Flood Tide offers stickers, shirts and hats, including the newly available Gadsden Crab Hat with a "Don't Tread on Me" patch, seen below. Hopefully, some day soon we'll see some of Puckett's art available as prints, because I have walls waiting for much of it.

A dink, by autumn brown trout standards.

Autumn, to many, conjures up images of heading to the stream on a brisk, sunny day in search of big brown trout. Whether you're a seasoned fly fisherman or a beginner, the often low, gin clear waters of autumn present numerous challenges for the angler. Being prepared and having a game plan in place before you hit the water increases your chances of success. Following are 3 good reads to help you get ready for stalking big browns this fall.

Late Summer and Early Autumn Browns

The always insightful Kent Klewein of Gink & Gasoline offers up some advice on how to make the most of late summer and early autumn terrestrial fishing, including information on how holding patterns change for trout as the season progresses. Be sure to check out Kent's thoughts to make sure you're not overlooking water that you should be fishing.

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