Tuesday, January 30, 2007

A Little Fishing 101

After Sunday and Monday’s blow with the cold front today was a great day to be on the water. The bite left a little to be desired, but such is life sometimes after a good front. Jill and Jim Robbins staying at Captain Pips Marine and Hideaways was my crew. I was hired for a little fishing 101.

The Robbins are staying at Pips for a couple of weeks and wanted a little local knowledge about the fishing and the boating. When you are unfamiliar with an area and in a rental boat local knowledge is a good thing.

The Robbins were looking for snapper for dinner. We started the morning on the reef in 30 foot of water searching for Yellowtails. The ‘tail bite was just about dead on the incoming tide with clean water. A couple of nice Hogfish volunteered for dinner and a few short grouper volunteered for photo ops. Several fish of size and one nice flag yellowtail managed to escape on the 10-pound test spinning outfits.

The bridge was slow as well but there were a few more photo ops and a couple of volunteers for dinner. Not every day is front-page news but when you catch dinner and learn to catch plenty more it’s not bad.

Tight Lines,
Capt. Dallas

Thursday, January 25, 2007

DIY Boating Tips: The Joy of 5200.

DIY Tips for Boat Owners: The Joy of 5200

Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing (3M) manufacturers a lot of great products but for the average boat owner none is better that 5200. This is the boat owner’s version of duct tape. Know it, love it and you won’t get enough of it.

Any properly fitted through hull fitting will be bedded in 5200. Silicon chalk and boats just don’t mix. So give that silicon crude non-boating neighbor. After you have spent a few dozen years working on boats you will learn that or you can just take it from a pro. This is a proven product for many marine applications.

Bedding through-hull fittings is the most common use for 5200. A through-hull fitting or a fitting that passes through the boat’s outside to its inside for you lubbers has to be watertight. 5200 applied to both the outside and the inside of the fitting makes that happen. A ¼ inch bead on both sides does the job if you drilled the hole right. And if you are drilling a hole in your hull you should have measured thrice and drilled once.

This magic chalk is great for bedding every thing but your wife. Screws in fiberglass tend to back out. A dap of 5200 helps stop that from happening. Take the offending screw out and put a dab in the hole and a dab on the screw and reinsert.

Does your topside stainless hardware tend to bleed rust? Get the 5200! Pull the hardware and put a thin coat of the magical 5200 on it where the hardware meets the fiberglass. Put a touch on the bolts near the base of the cleat or whatever is bleeding, then reinstall. Don’t worry about the 5200 that’s all over everything! I’ll tell you how to fix that in a sec.

Here’s another great 5200 tip. That bilge pump you have to replace and you don’t have all the fancy heat shrink tubing. Guess what? Put a dab of 5200 in a wire nut and wire it up! The connection will last longer than the bilge pump. Marine surveyors don’t like it, but I had one 5200 modified wire nut last three years in the bilge. Heck it was still fine the dang pump bit the bullet.

Now that you have tried 5200 you know the one draw back. All you have to do is look at it and it’s all over you and everything else. Ha! I laugh at that problem. Get the WD 40 out and spray it on the errant 5200 and wipe it away. Not only will WD 40 clean it up, its good for your sensitive sun burnt complexion.

One last tip, spray a little WD 40 in the end of the 5200 tube before replacing the cap. The tube will stay fresh much longer. When you find another 5200 project, just trash the first little bit out of the tube and go to it!

Until next tip, tight lines and good boating.



Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Bananas and Karma: The Truth Behind the Myth

Bananas are considered bad luck on a fishing boat by many captains. There is a basis for this belief. It may be a myth, but it can influence your catch.

The bad luck theory of bananas is derived from the misfortune of stevedores unloading banana boats from Central America. The cargo most often contained biting spiders that not only were painful, but occasionally deadly. Stevedores considered it bad luck to be assigned to unloading a banana boat. This is the truth behind the myth.

The effect that this superstition has on anglers is real. As you know from reading the first installment in this fishing clinic, Karma is very important. The thought of bad luck causes an imbalance in the captain and/or crew’s Ying and Yang. The imbalance results in a poor catch. Bananas are bad luck only for those who believe they are bad luck. However, one superstitious crewmember can affect the entire boat’s Karma.

Many boats product fine catches with bananas onboard. Typically these boats are yellow and have names like Chiquita. By over playing the banana myth, Karma on these boats is maintained even with superstitious crewmembers onboard.

The belief that the smell or oil in bananas causes the bad luck is totally false. This theory has been proven incorrect. Captains have used banana skins for lures and caught fish on them.

The impact that the banana myth has had on fishermen highlights the important lesson in The Zen Of Fishing. Maintaining proper balance while fishing requires an uncluttered mind. Superstition clutters the mind, creating imbalance. Clear your mental slate before fishing.

Counter to the bad luck superstition, good luck thoughts can also create imbalance. A favorite lure can often become a good luck charm. Losing that lure creates bad luck. An angler knowing the Zen of fishing will avoid good or bad luck superstitions.

Too many thoughts make being one with the fish more difficult. Remember the primitive brain is the key to harmony. Simplify your thoughts to simplify oneness.

In this respect fishing is much like golf. If you look off the tee towards the out of bounds markers, the chance of hitting the ball out of bounds increases. A good golfer knows to focus on the target, address the ball, clear your mind and hit the ball. Never over think while you are fishing or playing golf.

If you are having difficulty obtaining oneness due to a cluttered mind, remember that a cold beer can provide temporary balance. Do not over use beer! The goal is becoming in touch your inner fish without artificial means.

Now that we have examined the impact of superstition on Zen of fishing, we will turn our attention to the art of fishing. The simple elegance of merging art and Zen is one of the finest lessons any fisherman can experience.

Friday, January 19, 2007

The Zen of Fishing

Part one

While there may be an art and even science to fishing Karma is the most important element.

Great fishermen get shutout at times and rookies sometimes catch the biggest fish. All the science and art of fishing cannot over come luck. Get your luck back by adjusting your personal Zen.

Fish are not the sharpest tacks in the box. They have little more than a brain stem that takes them through life. Breading, feeding and survival for fish is all based on primitive instincts. While some fish may learn basic things, that behavior is due to primitive conditioned behavior. Just like Pavlov’s dog. To increase your odds, use your primitive brain. Be one with the fish. Use art and science to prepare for fishing, but use Zen when fishing.

Ying and Yang: Proper balance is important. If Ying out weighs Yang the fish sense the imbalance. Most fishermen have noticed that fish tend to bite after they opened a fresh beer. At the moment you open the beer, your focus has changed placing balance in your thoughts. The thought of that ice cold refreshing elixir wipes your mental slant clean of impurity. This oneness with your inner self is triggers universal harmony. You are one with your inner fish.

The same is true with other basic instincts. Open a sandwich, doze off or even take a leak, fish will feel the oneness with basic nature. Think of the purity of thought at these times and train yourself to become one. While drinking plenty of beer and frequent urination go hand in hand to produce a fine catch. Strive for the satisfaction of catching without the use of alcoholic trickery.

This is not to say that you should not have beer. Just limit your consumption to improve your ability maintain balance. Depending on your drinking prowess, less than a twelve pack per person is recommended for a day’s fishing. Over that and you may lose your oneness, that critical balance.

Remember these key points:

Purely their primitive brain drives fish feeding activity. While they are always in schools, they take the short bus. Fish should never outsmart you, or at least you should never admit to it.

True balance comes from the primitive brain. Here is where all life shares commonality. Find your primitive self and you will find fish.

Basic instinctive activity on your part produces temporary oneness. The use of alcohol to obtain oneness may lead to the loss of balance. It is best to train your mind to obtain oneness.

A good training aid is Kung Fu re-runs. Just as Kane had to find his inner oneness, so do you Grasshopper. The goal is to snatch dinner from the sea, not a pebble from the hand. Branding your forearms is optional.

This is but the first in a series of online fishing clinics. Next we will explore, Bananas and Karma: The Truth behind the Myth.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Practical Jokes in the Keys

Sorry I have neglected the blog. Not much going on, just fixing boats. So maybe a little funny story.

Several years ago I had the privilege of working with a young Canadian man. John John had just return to the US after searching for gold in the Peruvian jungles for five years. This was in 2002 after the market crash. JJ’s nest egg was cracked in the falling market so he had to go back to work.

JJ was a nice guy with a bit of an offbeat personality. He mentioned that he was a lot more laid back than he once was due to a variety of jungle medications that he had used in Peru. Jeff, a good friend of mine, and I enjoyed JJ’s tales of the jungle.

Jeff and I were having a cold one afternoon when JJ sat down and started talking. JJ was concerned about premature hair loss. While he was rambling on about losing his hair, Jeff and I just kept drinking. We kind of enjoyed the fact that JJ was taking over the conversation giving us a bit of a break.

Then JJ mentioned that a Peruvian Shaman he had met in the jungles told him there was a cure for baldness. Per the Shaman, if you take the urine of a child under 6 months of age and sprinkle it on your head, hair loss stops. The only bad thing JJ said was you have to keep doing it all the time.

I had been fishing that day and brought a nice Sea Trout for dinner. For some reason, I told JJ that there was something in Sea Trout slime that stopped hair loss. Jeff, not missing a thing, mentioned that he had heard that as well.

I went into great detail of how the fresh skins had to be placed on the hair over night. That the use of a shower cap to hold the skins in place was required. And while I wasn’t positive, washing your hair prior to application and not after was recommended.

Jeff agreed adding that combing the wet hair away from the balding area before application improved performance. It was the scalp after all that needed the treatment.

JJ was very thankful for our invaluable advice and inquired as were to obtain the fish skins. I mentioned that he was in luck, though a rare catch in the Keys, I had caught one that morning. I dug out the skins and JJ went off to his house.

Jeff and I sat there nursing a beer not saying anything. After ordering another round, Jeff asked if I thought JJ would do it. I said I was sure he would and we left it at that.

The next morning, JJ caught up to us and said that the fish skin treatments seemed to be working. I told JJ that it was a little early, but I did think there might be a little improvement. This went on for several days. Each day JJ was more convinced there was new hair.

After five days, JJ caught up to us and was beaming! He was positive we had discovered a new hair loss prevention formula. He speculated for hours over which ingredient in the fish slime might be the active one. He felt that there was a potential business there and that he may be able to obtain venture capital for the start-up investment. JJ wanted to isolate the active ingredient because after five days the skins were really starting to stink.

Another friend of ours happened upon the conversation. He looked at JJ and told him we were just playing a trick on him. As JJ defended his research on fish slim hair re-growth to our other friend, Jeff finally lost it and with beer blasting from nose started laughing.

It was over. JJ finally trashed the smelly fish skins his hopes dashed. Like I said, I rarely play practical jokes. That is probably a good thing. It was nice to know that at least one Peruvian Shaman has a humorous side too.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

A Backcountry Half-day with Photos!

Sunday was a beautiful day to be on the water. The fish we were looking for didn’t show, but we got our lines stretched some anyway. For bigger fish all I could come up with was one nice size Black tip shark that was fun on 12-pound test. We had one more shot on the half-day but didn’t get a hook-up.

There was plenty of mangrove snapper to play with while we waited for a big girl to bite. The mangs only weighed in the one to two pound range, but they were hungry. We released around 30 keepers in two hours. The good news is that I now have the loan of a camera.

The photos are of one of my favorite Key West backcountry areas. Even with a slow bite like we had Sunday, it’s hard not to have a good time.

Tight lines,

Monday, January 01, 2007

Blogging the Florida Keys With Captain Dallas

This blog started as a way to get my name out to my old fishing buddies. Since I move around a bit, job wise, they have had a tough time finding me, but now the blog is really helping out. Getting a blog or Website to work its way to the top of the Google search page requires a lot of content.

Since the wind has been blowing like crazy for almost a week, I thought I would write a little article on how to get to the top of the search engine listings.

Key phrases are the ticket with tons of content listing alternate related terms. My main goal was for people to find me. Luckily Dallas is a pretty unique name. That makes life simpler. However, there is a big city that has that name. Captain Dallas, helps get more to the point. That’s great, but there was a pretty good movie called Alien that had a character called Captain Dallas. Boy was getting past Capt. Dallas from Alien tough.

Capt. Dallas of the movie didn’t fish much, so fishing with Capt. Dallas makes it easy for googlers to find me. So people can search Capt. Dallas fishing, fishing Capt. Dallas, captain dallas fishing or any of those combinations and get my stuff first on the search engines.

Back to Alien, I pretty much figured there was no way I could get past the fictional captain dallas. Wrong, it was possible. While the movie Dallas is much more popular than I am, he doesn’t get written about as much as I do. Because I sign my blog posts with Capt. Dallas or captain dallas or even captdallas, I get listed pretty high in the search engines. This explains why some of you don’t think I know how to sign my own name. It is an evil plan to rank higher in the cyber-verse.

So in case any of you guys want to see anything I have written recently you can find it pretty quick with a search. Since I write for Associated Content, I use the penname captdallas2. If you search that penname you will find everything I have written anywhere on the Internet. Not that anything I wrote is particularly good, some of it is OK.

Now if any of you guys are into blogging, you might want to use this key word stuff to optimize your search engine performance. While you probably won’t make any big bucks, you can actually make a little pocket change with your blog. The neat thing is you can make money online without selling anything.

If you have a hobby you are passionate about, you can write your views on anything related to that topic and people will read it. If you write a lot of content on the subject. The better you write and the more you write, then the more people will read. Those little ads on the page are AdSense advertisements that people may click on and that is were the money comes into play. The more they click, the more you get paid.

AdSense aligns the ads on your page to the topics you write about in your blog. If you are into paintball for example, that is what the ads will be about. So write about differ paintball equipment and parks and you will get related ads. The more information you provide, the better shape your blog will be in.

None of this happens overnight. It takes time to build the content and for the search engines to find your content. This isn’t a bad thing for most bloggers. It gives you plenty of time to build content. It also gives you plenty of time to improve your writing skills.

This article has absolutely nothing to do with fishing in the Florida Keys, but if you are one of my regular readers it is something you should think about. Blogging can be a lot of fun. If you get into, you can even make a little cash. It is a great way to promote anything you want to promote.

So give blogging a shot sometime and see how you like it.

Tight lines,
Capt. Dallas, the one that fishes.