“I would say the best moment of all was when I caught a 7.5-pound largemouth bass in my lake.”
-President Bush, responding to a German newspaper reporter who asked him to describe his best moment in his more than five years in office.
Yellow BELLY UP. A river in England caused alarm when it suddenly turned bright yellow. Apparently, eight thousand liters of colored juice leaked from a Sunny Delight manufacturing plant and caused the mess, which was classified as a Category One pollution incident, the most serious kind. Dozens of fish were found floating on the surface, poisoned by the mixture of juice and concentrate. ****
Just Say Fish. Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish…and you stop drug dealers? That’s the hope behind a $4.8 million project by Afghanistan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Livestock. It’s launching fisheries to provide alternative income for poppy growers who sell to drug traffickers.
Hooked on You. Forbes.com ranked the fishhook as the 19th most important tool of all time. Why? According to the Web site, fishing has given us food without the labor of farming and the danger of hunting…unless you hook yourself, that is. Forbes.com also says that the earliest fishhooks, carved out of wood, are 30,000 years old, and on Easter Island fishhooks were made from the thigh bones of dead fishermen.
Boater Blunders. In an online survey by the Progressive Group of Insurance Companies, boaters admitted to doofus-like slip-ups. Twelve percent have slid into the water when launching their boat because they didn’t know the ramp was slick. Seven percent of those who jumped from the boat to the dock fell in the water. Twelve percent left on the kill switch and couldn’t restart their boats. Two percent have dropped an anchor on their foot, and one percent have squashed someone’s foot when driving their trailer out of the water. Doh!
A Swell Review. A rogue wave is actor Bruce Willis’ worst critic. During an interview with a German television station to promote his new movie, a passing boat’s wake drenched the action hero, putting an end to the interview. Apparently, Willis was good-natured about it, but there’s no word about whether the wave was getting even for Look Who’s Talking Too. ****
Not So Magical. Divers pulled magician David Blaine from an 8′ aquarium in New York after a weeklong underwater challenge.His attempt to free himself from chains and handcuffs while trying to break the record for holding one’s breath underwater went awry. Blaine was nearly 2 minutes short of his goal of 8 minutes, 58 seconds. By the second day, Blaine reportedly was suffering liver failure. What did he prove? That he’s certainly not much of a magician and an even worse stuntman. ****
Blockhead Rocker. The Rolling Stones postponed the first 15 dates of their European tour so guitarist Keith Richards could recover from a head injury. Apparently, Richards knocked his noggin while falling from a palm tree, though it has also been reported that he may have fallen from a waterbike instead-which sounds like a publicity ploy to cover up the stupidity of climbing a palm tree while drunk. Okay, we made up that drunk part, but with this guy it seems likely, right?
The Wild One. Cindy Garrison goes beyond the bounds of fishing. In the warm shallow waters of an island near the equator, on the bow of a beat-up panga, a tall blonde angler stands with her fly rod at the ready. She loads the rod with a double-haul and unfurls the yellow line, delivering a baitfish-pattern fly to her target. She strips it in and the fish reacts, charging the fly and inhaling it in a split second. “Yeah! Yeah! Hah, hah!” she screams, whooping and hollering as she brings her quarry boatside. Her name is Cindy Garrison, and she has just landed a puffer fish. This from the one-time Alaska guide who pioneered fly-fishing for tigerfish in Botswana and who once wrestled a crocodile in Panama? “I don’t care if it’s a 150-pound tarpon or a puffer fish,” she says. “When I feel a tug on the end of that line, I freak out.” Since she hosts her own show, Get Wild, on ESPN, one would expect her to be more jaded. But the mere prospect of being on an adventure, or on the bow of a boat, brings forth an enthusiasm in Garrison that cannot be contained. It’s with this energy that she plows ahead, hoping her attitude will push people to look at the sport beyond the mere act of catching fish.
Past Forward August 1973. A 22′ Hi-Liner enters Long Island Sound off Saybrook Breakwater Light, Connecticut, on the cover. Hi-Liner went out of business, but the molds for this fine-running hull are still around; every few years a small yard markets a new model based on this hullform. It’s called splashing. We tested a Slickcraft (now Tiara/Pursuit) 25 Raised Bridge Cruiser fitted with twin 165-hp MerCruiser stern drives-both right-handed. Today, the prevalence of counter-rotating stern drives would’ve probably dissuaded our writer from criticizing the boat’s poor close-quarters maneuverability. The 5,400-pound boat topped out at a hair less than 40 mph. It cost $17,725 as tested. Today, you might drop $100,000 on a similar performance cruiser.
Strike it rich. $1,638,915. That’s the prize money the crew of Desperado bagged in the 2005 White Marlin Open – for one 78.5-pound white marlin. Said to be the world’s largest billfish tourney, the event drew 449 boats to test luck and skill plying the deep for a fat paycheck. The WMO isn’t your only shot at striking it rich – other tournaments with similar payouts are popping up on both coasts. Think you have what it takes? You better have some big cajones and deep pockets. Anteing up for the White Marlin Open requires serious cash.
The basic entry fee is $950, but that limits the payout to $50,000. For a chance at the million-dollar prize, anglers must enter “calcuttas,” or pools that tournament contestants pay into. Like gambling, the more you wager in calcuttas, the more money you can win – or lose (the big winner of the 2005 WMO spent nearly $30,000 in calcuttas). Here are three contenders and what it cost them to compete.
Joe Weekender owns a 26′ sportfish with twin 200-hp outboards. Entry Cost $950 Fuel $1,350 Bait $75/day for ballyhoo and trolling mackerel Ice and Provisions $100/day Hired Help $0 for do-it-yourself Hooks, Line, and Misc. Tackle $200 Transient Slip Fees $130/day with 7-day minimum Total $3,935 for three days of fishing, plus boat payment and insurance.
Charter Charlie hires an experienced local captain with a 46′ boat. Entry Cost $5,050 (entry fee plus dues for the five most-entered calcuttas) Provisions $140 per day Mates’ Tips 15 to 20 percent/day; captain and mate expect 25 to 50 percent of winnings Boat Rate $6,000 for all bait, fuel, and tackle Other Expenses $1,200 for week-long hotel stay Total $12,670 for three days of fishing
Bobby Pro owns a 54-footer with twin 1,500-hp diesels and a crew. Entry Cost $14,400 ($950 fee plus all calcuttas) Fuel $2,800/week Bait $1,250 Provisions $150/day Captain’s Pay $1,200; 20 to 30 percent of winnings Mate’s Pay $1,000; 20 to 30 percent of winnings Hooks, Line, and Misc. Tackle $600 Slip Fees $270/day with 7-day minimum Total $23,590, plus boat payment and insurance
Flex Flyer. A snowboard-inspired wakeboard, the Roam goes against the grain by offering a flat bottom with no protruding fins, rails, or channels. It’s designed for hardcore obstacle riders, but the board’s simple learning curve wowed us. Riders rely more on the board’s rails and profile rather than fins. The board’s flex also gives advanced riders a new feeling on sliders and other obstacles. The Roam opens up a new bag of surface tricks, making things fun again for those of us who can no longer withstand the pounding of big air maneuvers. It can slide and spin with abandon. It’s also confidence-boosting for beginners. Within the first five minutes, my 14-year-old nephew was doing powerslides and spinning 360s, tricks he has yet to accomplish on a conventional wakeboard. And yet it’s fun for the experienced aerialist. Thanks to the board’s flexible core, advanced riders will notice a definite pop off the wake. Price $260. Contact Hyperlite at 800/938-4040, www.hyperlite.com.
Joy Ride. They SAY kiddie rides are a blast from the past that bring back fond, childhood memories. The Twin Engine outboard boat is safe, entertaining, and enjoyable. One quarter buys sixty seconds of pure, youthful bliss. We SAY Hey, where the hell do we install the test gear? The ergonomics aren’t quite right for a 6’2″ 230-pounder. Not only is the wheel touching my inner thighs, but the reach to the coin slot is awkward from the helm. Luckily. I figured out a way to rig the coin mechanism for free play. That way you’re guaran-damn-teed never to have to share with anyone ever again. Although the boat and base are marine-quality fiberglass, steel framing and a machine-grade electric motor are used for reliability and durability, which may result in buoyancy issues (read: it won’t float). Our test boat sported standard airbrushing, but according to Damon Carson, president of Kiddie Rides USA, a custom paint job is no problem. In fact, if you yearn for a one-of-a-kind mini-replica of your boat, Kiddie Rides will try to build it. The 2″ to 4″ inches of travel motion on this thrill ride isn’t much like bay chop, but oh, sweet mama this thing is fun. Who’d Want One? Anyone trying to legally pilfer lunch money from schoolchildren. The rides used to be just for kids, but Carson says he’s sold ’em as home decor, personal gifts, and collector’s items. Another Chocie: Guidecraft Retro Rocker Boat ($219: www.dynadirect.com) is a retro wooden boat rocker made from maple and birch with a nontoxic finish. But you, lazy rider, will have to exert your own energy to get the thing to rock. The Numbers: $2,995. Contact Kiddie Rides USA, 800/448-6888, www.kiddieridesusa.com