Happy Birthday, L.L. Bean

Maine's iconic bootmaker turns 100 this year, and it's planning quite a big party. I've been privileged to be among the planners, as I write this month over at the day job. Down East Books helped produce an anniversary edition of Leon Leonwood Bean's classic guide to the outdoors, Hunting, Fishing and Camping in collaboration with L.L.'s great-grandson, Bill Gorman. The book is really a hoot, containing as it does bits of Bean's wood wisdom like, "If you get lost, come straight back to camp." I've owned an old edition of this guide for years, so working to update it for the twenty-first century was a dream come true. It's one of those classic titles that really does belong on the shelf of every outdoorsperson.

Fly Fishing Extravaganza

One of my regrets of the past year is how little time I got to enjoy on the water. Fly fishing is how I meditate. My mind grows quiet when I approach a trout stream, and I find myself living fully in the moment in a way that's otherwise extremely difficult for me. That sensation—or being present in the present—makes me understand the Buddhist concept of the Middle Way.

I might not have done enough fishing this year, but on Sunday, November 6, I plan on enjoying the fellowship of fly anglers at the first Maine Fly Fishing Show. I'll be signing copies of my books at 10 a.m. and 12 p.m. Other events include casting contests, a silent auction, instructional workshops, a fly tyer's theater, and booths hosted by some of Maine's premier outfitters and guides. Admission is only $5 for adults ($3 for kids), and all proceeds benefit the Maine Council of Trout Unlimited's fantastic Trout Camp—which has done so much to teach nature-starved childrens about the wonders of the outdoors.

The show takes place at the Maine Military Museum in South Portland. If you plan on being in Greater Portland that day, I hope you'll stop by. 

And I Shouldn't Lack for (Maine) Readers

In these dark days of the Great Couch Potato Blight, I've often wondered about the wisdom of beginning a series of crime novels about a Maine game warden. 

Fortunately, from the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife comes this news:

License sale records from the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife show that fishing license sales rose by 11 percent from 2003-2009. Despite a slight drop in hunting license sales over the same time period, sporting license sales in the state rose by 4.5 percent across the board.

What makes the numbers so noteworthy, of course, is the fact that all but one other New England state saw precipitous drops in hunting and fishing license sales during the same time period.

Cabela's, also, is doing its part to blur the division between virtual and wild. I'm not sure Monster Bass will reverse any downward trends, though:

Beware of Carp

In the current issue of The New Yorker, Ian Frazier—who can make plastic grocery bags interesting—doesn't have to work so hard to tell the terrifying story of the Asian white carp, two invasive species that have infested the major rivers of the Midwest. The article isn't available online, but it's worth picking up a copy of the magazine for Frazier's article alone. This video gives a sense of the danger these fish (literally) now pose:

Responsible fishermen have tried for years to explain to the general public that invasive species are destroying our ecosystems. It's probably going to take something like a jumping Asian carp killing some kid in a boat to get people's attention.

Speed Clinch

This one's for my fellow fly fishers.

The clinch knot isn't the strongest out there for tying your tippet to your fly (my default these days for most flies is actually the Orvis knot), but I have to confess that I use the unimproved clinch occasionally out of sheer laziness. (Sometimes I have cause to regret this decision later when a fish breaks off the fly.) But most of the time it suffices. I think my continued use of the clinch is also a result of having seen this video showing a super fast way to tie the knot. Caveat pescator!