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FEBRUARY 24, 2011

Sy Rosenthal

Filed under Miscellaneous @ 11:10 am

In our second issue of TEN & TWO, the Portraits section profiled several Catskills fly fishermen. One of the guys was named Sy Rosenthal. He was 92 years old and still fly fishing the West Branch of the Delaware. He was a powerhouse who had lived an incredible life fly fishing on rivers around the world. He had countless bigger-than-life adventures and more stories than time to tell them all. A lifelong dedicated angler and a good guy.

Sy Rosenthal Image

I recently learned that since our story Sy turned 93 and has had three heart attacks. Today, it’s just about impossible for him to get around, and his friends are driving him to the river, just so he can sit and watch the water and the fishermen. After all the adventures, he sits, watches and remembers. Apparently, he reminisces a lot. Maybe he tells some of the same stories more than once, but there are so many stories, it never gets old, and he’s always young again. He’s always off on another fly fishing journey.

This morning I was eating my breakfast oatmeal and the phone rang. A call from New Jersey. It was Sy’s friend, Bill Panella. Bill said Sy wanted to talk to me and he was sitting right there. We said “Hello.” Sy’s voice was strong, but a little brittle and tired. Sy told me he was very proud of the story we had done, and he wanted to be sure to tell us how happy he was to have been included in the Portrait story. He was showing it to all his friends. He said the story reminded him of his life on the river, and it brought back many great memories of fish and friends from around the world. He said “I don’t get around so good any more, and my heart’s not so good, but I sure remember those days. It was wonderful. The West Branch is still the best river I’ve ever fished. Thanks so much for doing that story.” Such an incredible life. We talked a bit more and he closed by saying “My heart’s not so good, and they tell me I can’t fish any more Walter, but you know, I don’t care. I have aspirations! I mean, what’s life if you can’t aspire to do more? You can’t just sit there dreaming about doing something. You have to try. You just simply have to try.”

We said goodbye with a promise to try to go fishing together in the Catskills in the spring. I put my elbow on the table and before I took another single breath, with tears in my eyes, I put my hand over my mouth, and I sat silently in front of a bowl of cold oatmeal for another fifteen minutes. I started thinking about all my problems with business and life in general. No more or less than the problems everyone has in living as long as we live. Then I laughed out loud. I went downstairs to my home office, and scratched a note on a piece of paper. About eye level on my computer monitor there is now one of those little yellow sticky notepapers that says “I have aspirations! You can’t just sit there dreaming. You simply have to try. Sy Rosenthal February 17, 2011.” Every time I look at that monitor, I look at that note. Sy Rosenthal is my reason for believing that anything is possible, and we will all live forever.

Delaware River Image

My friend, I will see you on the river in the spring. If by chance you find yourself delayed a bit, I will wait for you.

~ Walter

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JANUARY 27, 2011

Commander's Palace

Filed under The Table @ 12:30 pm

Chef Tory McPhail grew up in the northwestern part of the United States, but he bleeds Creole.  He became the youngest chef to head the world-famous Commander’s Palace Restaurant in New Orleans, following the likes of Paul Prudhomme and Emeril Lagasse who worked in the kitchen before him. As luck would have it, he also fly fishes for redfish. For us at TEN & TWO, that pretty well closed the circle on writing a story about redfish in the Gulf.

Chef Tory McPhail

Nash Bridges is one of the icons of fly-fishing guides in southern Louisiana. Nash knows the marsh; and, in a sense, he is the marsh. It’s where his heart beats. He took us out for a day of fly fishing with chef Tory.  Reds were cruising the marsh and holding tight to the grassland islands south of New Orleans near Port Sulphur. Nash and Tory agreed that when these fish are turned on, the fishing can be spectacular.

Tory McPail Fishing

After a great day on the water, we ate dinner at Commander’s which is to say, we had the kind of dinner that isn’t forgotten anytime soon.  This is a restaurant that truly manages to make every diner feel as though he is the only customer in the room, while turning out hundreds of world-class dishes. Chef Tory uses a soft touch to manage the crew, the customers and the ingredients with elegance and grace.

Commander's Palace

Stay tuned for Tory’s Creole Spiced Redfish recipe in the February issue of TEN & TWO.

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JANUARY 24, 2011

Redfish in New Orleans

Filed under Features @ 2:20 pm

Redfish are hitting flies like crazy in the marsh south of New Orleans.  Even after the oil spill, some say that it’s better than ever.  The big bulls still come into the offshore islands in the winter and the juvenile fish are gorging themselves on bait inshore on the edges of the marsh grass.  This kind of fishing has the potential to be the best you’ve ever seen, but you need to know how to target cast, because these are moving fish, and a fly fisherman needs to be able to hit a moving object.  At certain times of the year and in certain circumstances, these guys will just destroy a popper on the surface, but most often the fish are looking down for food with their tails coming out of the water, so sinking flies like crab patterns stripped along the bottom can be the name of the game.  The fish are extremely aggressive.

Redfish in Louisiana

The real hero in all this is the marsh itself.  It’s totally unique.  It’s not a wilderness like a national park, because it has to accommodate a lot of other agendas like commercial oystermen, shipping, and natural gas production.  Balancing all these separate interests is a huge undertaking and through it all, the fly fishing remains incredible.

Louisiana Marsh

At this writing, The Uptown Angler is the only fly shop in New Orleans.  Dayne is the guy to call at 504-529-3597.  Further south on highway 23, Woodland Plantation is a temporary home away from home for traveling fly fishermen looking for guides and hoping to run into a school or more of reds cruising the marsh.


Look for our detailed exploration of the redfish journey in the February issue of TEN & TWO.  We’re excited about it.

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JANUARY 1, 2011

Tarpon Fishing Trip Giveaway

Filed under Miscellaneous @ 12:42 pm

Congratulations to Jeff Minderlein from Catonsville, Maryland for winning the TEN & TWO Magazine Florida Tarpon Fishing Trip Giveaway!

Jeff Minderlein

Jeff is a full-time real estate investor in Catonsville. He is also a USCG Licensed Master and FFF Certified Casting Instructor. From 1998-2004, Jeff guided in South Biscayne Bay, Upper Keys, Flamingo/Whitewater Bay before he married and returned home to Maryland to raise a family. Jeff's angling passion is without a doubt tarpon, with bonefish a close second. He says he is content as long as he's on the water with family and friends.

Jeff and Megan

"I've chased tarpon through south Florida, the Keys, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, Trinidad, and west coast Andros while working on a private mother ship in the south and middle bights," exclaimed Mindlerlein. He also says he has a long list of other places on the planet he intends to catch tarpon. His wife Megan has slowly come to accept the tarpon sculptures and artwork Jeff owns and refuses to take down. "It keeps me working," proclaims Minderlein.

Jeff wins a free two-day, two person tarpon fly-fishing charter in beautiful southwest Florida. He'll fish the waters of Sanibel/Captiva Islands, Boca Grande and Pine Island Sound with FFF Certified Casting Instructor, Captain Mike Rehr. For many years, Captain Rehr has been recognized as one of Florida's finest tarpon guides, and is a feature contributor in "Ultimate Tarpon Book" by Randy Wayne White and Carlene Fredericka Brennen.

Congratulations Jeff!

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NOVEMBER 1, 2010

Muskie Universe

Filed under Trips @ 5:14 pm

Hayward, Wisconsin is the Muskie center of the universe. It is one of the few places on earth where you can catch a muskie on a fly. The Chippewa Flowage runs through the Hayward area creating a series of lakes and river flows that ultimately join the Flambeau River and meet the Mississippi. The total length of the Chippewa is just short of 200 miles. The Chippewa Flowage is where Louie Spray caught the nearly 70 lb world record muskie in 1949.

Chippewa River

Hayward has the Freshwater Hall of Fame and Museum, which is really terrific.

Freshwater Hall of Fame and Museum

Robert Tomes and I spent most of our time on the Flambeau and Chippewa Rivers fishing with Joe Flater and Don Larson. These guys know the water and without their expertise, I question if we would have been so lucky. Joe Flater (Musky Joe) is one friendly, tough son of a bitch, and he’s been fishing muskies since he was a kid. As owner of Flater's Resort, he hunts, traps, shoots, fishes, and is the land. He genuinely smiles a lot and I swear the guy could eat a live ferret. Go fish with him and you will find muskies.

Tomes and Musky Joe

Don Larson, (The Pond Monster) has been fly fishing for muskies and chasing women just about forever. He’s sixty-something and can kick your ass. The man works out nearly every day for an hour and a half starting at 4:30 in the morning. He has 40 acres and lives alone in a huge log house on the Chippewa in the North Woods about 30 minutes out of town. In my estimation, he has one of the greatest back yards on earth, with the river, elk, bears and huge muskies as neighbors. He knows the river and has a personal relationship with the fish. They know the Pond Monster. He catches them all the time. And then he lets them go. I asked Don why he works out so hard in the morning. He said he needs to in order to row his drift boat and then he added. “I know older folks who are afraid to go outside because they might slip and hurt themselves. What’s the use in being alive at this age if you’re afraid to live?” Don Larson lives.

The Pond Monster

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OCTOBER 29, 2010

River Wolves

Filed under Trips @ 1:37 pm

Muskies are more reptile than fish. One guide we ran into called them "River Wolves." They appear instantaneously and violently from tannic or muddied water. If given the opportunity, they will eat you, because they want to and, if you to let them they would not hesitate to do so. They have no natural predators, except us, and we need specialized tools with sharp hooks in order to defeat them. If it gets a chance, in an instant, a muskie will take those same hooks and tools and drive them right through your bloody, fleshy hands. Without those tools and a solid understanding of where these guys live, you don’t stand a chance in hell of catching one.


Muskies own the rivers, lakes and streams near Hayward, Wisconsin. When artists depict these beasts they paint them leaping out of a placid water landscape with gaping mouths, razor teeth, and a sneer that’s half demented smile and half spitting snarl. If muskies could, they would eat you when you got out of your car in the Hayward Wal-Mart parking lot. Missing children? There’s a chance a muskie ate it. These are triumphant fish at the top of their game and if you present it right, they will take a properly presented fly and jam both that fly and you right where the sun don’t shine. Muskie fishing with a fly rod. Now that’s entertainment!

Tomes Catching Muskie

Before you go fly fishing for muskies, I have a couple of suggestions. First of all, get in shape. You’re gonna be throwing a sink-tip with a fly about the size of a Buick station wagon on a 12-weight single-handed rod with at least 60 feet of line all day long—and all day long for a couple more days after that. It will beat the hell out of you and then some. There are days when you’ll see a lot of fish and then there are more days when you’ll see one or none. Often it’s pouring rain and somewhere in the 40 degree range. Muskie weather – it will pound you flat.

Tomes Catching Muskie 2

One of the keys to all this is to hire guides like Don Larson (AKA the Pond Monster), Joe Flater at Flater's Resort, or Larry and Wendy at the Hayward Fly Shop. The water is huge up here and often it’s non-descript. Without their expertise on where these fish hang out, you might as well be fishing in a bathtub—a huge bathtub. The technique for fishing for them is relatively simple. Know where the fish hang out, find the slack water or eddies, and cast tight to the shore or to structure. Strip the line back in a straight line to the rod tip giving as much action to the fly as possible. Do that and the bathtub will fill up with muskie.

Muskie Fishing

Walter and Muskie

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OCTOBER 26, 2010

Muskie-Palooza In The North Woods

Filed under Trips @ 1:03 pm

The Flambeau River is a liquid anaconda that drapes and coils itself across the woods of north central Wisconsin. Woods as in the Great North Woods. In the stomach of this river-beast, live giant sturgeon, the best tasting walleye on earth, armies of smallmouth bass, bluegills, northern pike and at the top of the food chain are muskies. These are the reptilian giants that own the river and are prey for nothing, save us. They exist almost as a mythical, historical presence in giant rivers like Wisconsin’s Flambeau and Chippewa, as well as countless lakes and smaller rivers and creeks.

Flambeau River

The muskie expert, Robert Tomes, and I are wandering around the Great North Woods in search of muskie on the fly. Some people say it can’t be done. Some say no one really does it. Some say a muskie won’t take a fly. Some say it takes a huge effort. Some people don’t know crap.

Getting Ready to Fish

“Musky” Joe Flater is a Wisconsin version of a Louisiana coonass. He traps beaver, shoots bear, hunts with a bow, guts out elk, fishes for anything that swims, and if he needed to, could probably eat a live ferret. For most of 30 years he’s been the master of ceremonies at Flater’s Resort – a bar and few cabins cut from heavy woolen cloth made in the 40’s. The resort hugs the banks of the Flambeau River, and has the feel that anytime now it will become Earth.

Musky Joe

Joe has offered to take Robert and me on a search for muskies. We’re gonna chase those beasts using flies about the size of a 1940 Buick station wagon. This will be a “fish tale” you won’t want to miss in an upcoming issue of TEN & TWO.

Muskie Flies

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OCTOBER 23, 2010

Boggan's Oasis

Filed under Trips @ 4:16 pm

For those people who know the Grande Ronde, they know about Bill and Farrell at Boggan’s Oasis. TEN & TWO always explores the journey that surrounds the fishing, so you can count on a story about the Oasis. And there’s no doubt that Bill will be showing us the proper way to make a chocolate malt. For those of you who have been to the Oasis, you know what I mean. The baseline definition of proper malts and shakes was born and raised at Boggan’s Oasis. TEN & TWO will publish the recipe and expose the truth to the glories of an Oasis chocolate malt. Andy Anderson is shooting it now, while I’m headed to meet Robert Tomes in Minnesota, who will be searching out muskies on the fly. Those beasts will eat a small car, so stay tuned, there’s more news from the TEN & TWO road just around the corner.

Boggan's Sign

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