Toys, Tackle and Fish Stories

Another story thread I may have seemed to have dropped is that of my slowly simmering plans to do a little fishing this summer.

Back in my previous Gone Fishin’ post back in March I was revelling in the notion of the snow melting soon so that my brand new fishing permit and soon-to-be-mended rod would see some open water action.

Alas, things didn’t exactly work out as well as I’d hoped.

Of Old Equipment

The last time I’d used my fishing rod was a couple years ago and when I’d pulled it out of storage to evaluate it’s condition I had been quckly reminded that the tip had shattered and snapped off. Back in my last post I’d said that I’d ordered some replacement tips and was planning to fix it.

Not so quick.

The tips arrived and were fine, but the problem wasn’t so much the quality of new parts rather that the old rod was just generally brittle.

That particular rod had been equipment my folks had bought me back when I was just barely a teenager. Best case scenario, I was trying to repair a thirty-year-old fishing rod that was showing it’s age. And it turns out I was right. My attempt to replace the end was all but futile and the rod wasn’t up for even the stress of the repair, let alone some casting and (hopefully) catching.

Of New Equipment

Plan B turned into a research effort and eventually a shopping trip.

I won’t put too many details here because what I finally ended up buying (just this afternoon, in fact) was a compromise between quality and price, in that somewhere around the one hundred and fifty dollar mark I got myself a reasonably middle of the road setup that will let me toss a line out into the water a few times per year but not invest too much into a new rig.

It seems as though fishing equipment follows a similar rule as my rule for other sporting gear: for every hundred bucks you spend on something, you should spend roughly one hour per week using it. In other words, as I once told my university roomate, if you’re gonna spend two thousand dollars on a new bike, I would hope you spend about twenty hours per week with your feet on the pedals. (He didn’t.) Likewise, now that I’ve spent a hundred and fifty bucks on a new fishing rod, I should try and put it out into the water for an hour or two every week. (I’ll try.)

Have strung my new rod, I also had a long, hard look at my tackle box. That was deeply lacking as well. The remains of a distant-past spent along the river bank resulted in barely a half-dozen servicable lures and spoons, and at some point before I do any serious casting I’m going to need to refresh my collection of fishing hooks.

So, I’ll write it one more time before I actually work up the motivation to drive down towards the river and find a bit of sandbar to fish from: get ready summer, I’m going fishing… soon.

Gear: Collapsible Cookware by Sea to Summit

This week in my Thursday Tuck & Tech post (where I’m making an inventory of the gear I use or would like to add to my collection) I’m looking at some of my essentially un-cast iron cookware.

…because apparently cast iron is too heavy to haul up onto a mountain on a four day backpacking trip.

Yet, we still gots-to-cook.

When I was in the Scouts in my youth our troop spent many weekends in the woods. Looking back we ate incredibly simply: oatmeal, sandwiches, hot dogs, and other things that could be boiled or suspended from a stick over a fire.

We had some go-to cookware that was worn and battered by years of use. It was a nesting-doll set of thin steel pots and pans that all wrapped up neatly into a pack a little smaller than a football, tucked into a mesh bag, and rattled around from the backs our packs as we hiked in and out. They were light(ish) and a simple way to get things cooked outdoors.

So, naturally, when I moved out and started buying my own camping gear, decades ago now, one of the first things added to my collection was that identical set of steel pots and pans. You go with what you know. And they followed me up more than one mountain in my twenties.

But they were pretty simple and underwhelming as far as modern backpacking technology.

We’ve since ramped up our adventure gear game and invested in a collection of much lighter, much more compact cooking pot… and matching cups, bowls, plates, and a pretty slick collapsible coffee strainer (which I’ll likely be writing about at a later date!)

This set has followed us up on a couple of long multi-day hikes. The pandemic put a cramp on our plans for 2020, but in the couple years since we built this collection I’ve had enough practice with it to give an honest evaluation.

The silicon design has a weight that is competitive with any metal pan, and while they’re not cheap, they’re not titanium-expensive either.

Our firefly stove was able to boil up a pot of cold filtered stream water in less than ten minutes (good heat retention!) though with the silicon sides not being flame friendly, I couldn’t run the stove at full blast else risk some side flames creeping up past the metal bottom plate.

One of the negatives is that it would have been nice to pick these up as a complete set instead of piece-by-piecing our set together (from three different camping shops.) Now that our set is relatively complete that was really a small thing that I won’t need to do again. I write that only because we opted not to buy the frying pan (which I assume would likely have been part of said set) as our go-to meals on multi-day hikes tend to be rehydrated food. A pot of boiled water and some bowls serve for nearly all our adventure meals. Yet, a reliable frying pan could probably inspire some backpacking-friendly ideas in those meal plans… especially for the cast iron guy.

Overall, this set can’t compare to camping with a cast iron dutch oven, but my back routinely thanks me for the lighter approach to our adventure cooking.

Gear: Tilley H5 Hemp Hat

This week in my Thursday Tuck & Tech post (where I’m making an inventory of the gear I use or would like to add to my collection) I thought I’d write about one of my favourite hats.

Way back in 1993 I was a boy scout. I was one of twelve thousand kids who attended the 8th Canadian Scout Jamboree in nearby Kananaskis, Alberta. If you are wondering what this has to do with a hat, then just know that with some spending money in our pockets and a day trip into the town of Banff, a small group of us spent our treasure on Tilley hats as a souvenir of the week-long campout.

While I still have that Jamboree souvenir hat over a quarter century later, sadly my teenage sense of style and taste didn’t end up fitting with my adult groove. The “natural” hued cotton duck was also a little sweat-stained and grungy, and generally I really just wanted a fresh look.

That’s the logic behind why, in 2014, I upgraded and bought myself a model H5 Hemp Hat in mocha brown.

The history of the Tilley Endurables company reaches back into the eighties, and while the company has since been sold and resold, it started off as a true Canadian tale of success. For about twenty years there, if you wanted a high quality Canadian lid for your outdoor adventures, a Tilley hat was a no-brainer for your brain.

In the nearly seven years since owning this particular hat it has toured Canada, the US, Mexico, Iceland, Scotland and Ireland. It has climbed to the tops of mountains, wandered along the ocean-side beach, and explored countless forests. It has been driving, flying, cruising, boating, camping, backpacking, fishing, and represented Canada at an authentic Highland Games. In fact, I’ve worn it in no less than eight countries, and that’s all of the ones I’ve visited since acquiring it.

It’s starting to get a little sweat-stained and grungy, too.

Note: this is a piece of gear I’ve owned for a while, and this post is not an endorsement (at least, it’s not a paid one.)