Practice

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After years of gear fishing in the boat and some spinning-rod action for trout, it’s finally time for the kids to start flinging feathers. We had several backyard-lawn sessions, then decided to try some real water. The local park pond seemed to work pretty well, although we were distracted by a few jumping fish (adding a hook to the line made things a bit more…shall we say, challenging) and had to watch out for joggers on the backcast.

Both kids found more success with a two-handed approach, even on a 9-foot single hander, so we’re going with that. This is Skyla working to tighten her loop and feel the timing. Weston is coming along as well, although he brings a lot more energy and a little less patience to the process. On the lawn, he mostly wants me to pull on the line so he can “practice fighting big fish.”

The main lesson for me is that this isn’t easy. While the kids work on casting, I’m getting plenty of lessons in patience and calmness in the face of tangles, casting knots and hangups. Verdict? I still have a ways to go. But the kids are coming along nicely, and we have visions of a future when we can use the fly rods to actually catch fish.

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Big Shrimpin’

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Our two-day, local spot prawn “season” is now in the books, but we enjoyed it while we could. Saturday, Weston had a baseball game right in the middle of the 7:00am-3:00pm opener, but we zoomed home, picked up Skyla, threw on some rain gear and joined Smarty, Neal and John for a two-boat, last-haul-of-the-day expedition in windy, choppy, rainy conditions. Rough going, but the shrimp were thick and it was good to get out on the water with friends. Weston fell asleep as soon as we left the dock and didn’t really wake up until 7:00am the next morning. Some things haven’t changed.

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Today, completely different story. Sunny, bluebird sky, no wind. I was sad the kids were in school and missed out, but felt happy to restock the shrimp supply, since we’ve already gorged ourselves on Saturday’s haul. I was in meetings until noon, so I jumped in with Smarty (thanks, bud!) and we had a gorgeous afternoon on the water. Even pulled up a little by-catch, pictured above.

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This is what it’s all about–sweet, firm, delicious spot prawns on the table. We like ’em skewered and grilled, or sauteed in olive oil, or wok-seared with black bean sauce, or poached in garlic butter over linguine…pretty much however you cook spot prawns, they’re the best shrimp you ever ate. Tonight we went simple and just boiled them in saltwater. Add a little garlic-lemon-butter dip, or horseradish cocktail sauce and I can’t stop. So good!


Dam Nation Seattle Premiere: SIFF

 

DamnationPoster…INAL-LowResAttention Puget Sound Fish Heads, River Rats and really, anyone who loves free-flowing water: Mark your calendars! Dam Nation makes its Seattle premiere Sunday, May 18th, as part of the Seattle International Film Festival. But you’ll need to get tickets early, as I’m guessing it’s going to sell out. Tickets (and a cool trailer) are available on the movie website HERE. Click on “Screenings” and choose the appropriate date/venue. Alternately, you can purchase tickets through SIFF HERE.

Despite the fact that I’m in it (thankfully briefly) this is a fantastic film–entertaining, enlightening and energizing. I don’t know how they did it, but Ben Knight, Travis Rummel (Felt Soul Media…the guys behind Red Gold, the excellent Bristol Bay Pebble Mine film) and Matt Stoecker somehow make the subject of dam removal fascinating, and more than that, inspiring. Really well done, and well worth your time and money to see. But don’t just take my word for it: Dam Nation just won the Audience Award at SXSW, the Jury Award and Audience Choice Award at the Yale Environmental Film Festival, Best of Festival at 5 Point Film Festival and too many other awards to list.

I’ve already seen it, but I’m stoked to go again. We’ll be at the 4:00pm screening, May 18th at the Egyptian Theater in Seattle. The film makers will answer questions following the show. It’ll be great to see you there.


Duck Prosciutto Update

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In all the hustle and bustle of the season, I almost forgot to post the results of my duck charcuterie project. After a total of 14 days hanging (five in the garage, nine in the fridge) the duck breasts had lost 30% of their weight and felt firm and solid to the touch. This is how it looked when I sliced it–chewy and dense but still not jerky dry, about the texture you’d want in a good pig prosciutto.

The flavor was, and still is, fantastic: The true essence of wild duck, with a very concentrated, clean gaminess and none of the liver flavor sometimes associated with wild duck. Of course, it’s lacking the buttery fat-cap you get from domestic duck, or pork, for that matter, but the intense flavor helps make up for it.

I did, however, make a mistake. When my buddy gave me the recipe and explained the process, he was referring to domestic duck breasts, which are about three times bigger than wild duck breasts. So his 24-hour salting time was too long, and my version turned out on the salty side. Next round, I’m going for a 12-hour salting, which I think would make these just right. In the mean time, this batch goes great with sweet, chilled fruit (cold, ripe pears seem the best, but melon would work) and lots of water. Or cider. Trial and error. Live and learn. But I’m close.