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Boston, MA: Northern Reds & the Curse of the Bambino

Fly Fishing Boston Harbor | Ben Duchesney Mark Vlaskamp | Canoe Vibes

On October 27, 2004, the confetti fell, the pennants raised, and the people of Boston let out a long-overdue sign of relief. Their streak had ended.

On June 10, 2016, my clouser minnow disappeared, my excess line went tight to the reel, and I let out a long-overdue sigh of relief. My streak too ended in Boston.

While it wasn’t eighty-five championship-free years of paranormal haunting from the drunken ghost of Babe Ruth like my Major League Baseball counterparts with the ruby hosiery, my fishless streak among target species had worked its way up the east coast from the mountain streams of North Carolina to the big bass lakes of Virginia. It was only two weeks without catching a fish, but when you’re traveling for the sole purpose of adventuring, paddling, and knocking new target species off of the ol’ aquatic bucket list, two weeks feels like eighty-five years.

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Washington, DC: Finding Intrigue and Irony in Invasives

Canoe Vibes | Kayak Fishing for Snakehead | Washington DC | Mark Vlaskamp

Jon Leavitt loves snakehead; the general Mid-Atlantic population does not.

Some attitudes among Potomac anglers are changing, but since the early 2000’s, the population of the Potomac estuary has been up in arms in a battle against these far east invaders – a non-native species legally imported from Asia for seafood trade, aquarium exhibits, and as pawns to overthrow the US government due to lingering animosity from past World War II tensions.

It’s a joke. They’re fish. They’re not government spies, ground soldiers in an oriental scheme to destroy Major League Bass Fishing, or presentedly-violent Bernie Sanders supporters.

Everyone take a deep breath. They’re fish.

Here’s the skinny: Over ten years ago, officials found some folks were releasing what they called ‘prayer fish’ into Maryland ponds as a way to kick some good karma back to Mother Nature for hooking them up with everyday blessings. The fish multiplied, Uncle Sam found out and – in classic ‘merican fashion – poisoned the ponds and made keeping, trading, and importing the live fish illegal. The media coverage of this event sent shivers down the spines of people who had released snakehead into other waterways in the past, current owners of the now vilified fish looking to – literally – ditch the evidence, and fishery activists looking to protect native species and further disparage the new kid on the block.

The major concerns are 1) another top-of-the-food-chain predator will compete with largemouth bass – ironically, a once non-native and now idolized species introduced to the Potomac waterways in the mid-nineteenth century – or blue catfish – yet another non-native species with no bounties on it’s head – for dominance, 2) the snakehead population will spread exponentially faster than other species due to the parent’s unusual protection of their young through their bi-annual spawns, and 3) they’re just not pretty enough. All of this even though recent data collected by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries shows their impact on the Potomac is almost non-existent.

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Farmville, VA: Sips of Reality, Served Over IPA Cider

Canoe Vibes | Appomattox River Company | Kayak Fishing Briery Creek

I looked at the menu, looked down at the date on my phone, and looked back at the menu – this time slightly more focused on the price column, then the appetizers section in the left corner, finally ending my gaze down at the small print surrounding the $3.99 side dishes.


Road Trip Reality – The Monthly Budget is King

It’s not that I’m broke; it’s that responsible monthly budgeting is the single most important part of my road tripping reality. It’s where my bills get paid, my expenses get covered, and – unlike most road trippers – my IRA gets funded. Wasted money today results in fewer days on the road come August, or September, or even October. Money comes in, choices get made, money goes out, and practicing the art of delayed gratification is mastered. It’s a reality that gets swept under the rug with most #VanLifers and kayak fishing road warriors, instead choosing to focus solely on mind-blowing Instagram photos piling up likes, hashtags, and debt.

You know what I can’t eat? Instagram likes. You want to know what can’t buy me a house? Pro deals. Guess what employers don’t care about on resumes? Fish.

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Roanoke, VA: Pushing the Limits of Hybrid Acceptability

Canoe Outriggers | Wingman Canoe Stabilizers | Canoe Outriggers for Fishing

“Do we need to scout this one?” I asked as we quickly approached the meaty part of a comfortable class II on a section of Roanoke’s James River. “Where I come from, we scout these things.”

We didn’t scout it.

From the bow, I flew in blind and limited in my ability to steer while my sternman, Wingman Outfitter co-founder Drew Arney, laughed. “Don’t worry” he comforted me – a confident paddler unused to running rapids blind and thus coming off as an uncomfortable noob – as he effortlessly shot us down the hay barrels with a couple wet, halfway committed, halfway not-so-much hero sidekick-ish draw strokes.

Shooting comfortably out of the rapid, I sat there impressed at the stability and handling of their design.

But I wasn’t surprised.

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Road Trip Apps: Tripping Apps for Aspiring Road Warriors

Apps for Road Trips | Good Apps for Traveling | Road Trip iPhone Apps

It’s official. I’m not a big tech guy, and I didn’t need my recent fifteen-minute struggle with the hotel TV HDMI cord last night to prove it. However, like the rest of the gear in my now overflowing road trip gear bag, I gravitate toward the latest high-quality products that provide the proper fit for my now unique needs.

This includes travel apps.

On the road, my cell phone has only two modes: 1) packed away for days at a time on an adventure or 2) constantly in use navigating unfamiliar highways, communicating perpetually variable travel plans, and getting content sent to different companies and posted online all while sucking battery from any outlet I can shamelessly and temporarily plug into.

While I recommend getting finances, organization, web-development, and a general plan all worked out well before you retrofit your smartphone for #VanLife, a quick retrofit session may be the kick in the butt that you need to get out of your 9-5 rut and start embracing everyday adventures.

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