by Greg Thomas
Where isn’t camo cool these days? You see it everywhere, ranging
from shirts to pants to shoes and even sunglasses. Smith got into the
act by collaborating with Howler Brothers, the apparel company that is
known for long beards, board shorts, and monkey patches pasted to the front of its flat-brimmed hats.
Specifically, Smith borrowed Howler’s Tortoise camo pattern to spice up two new sunglass frames, the Barra and the Outback. If you like style, these are your shades, both being great choices on the water and on the street. Each comes with catchy orange temples and a micro-etched howler monkey face on the actual lens (albeit so small you have to search to see it). It doesn’t get in the way of your vision, nor does reflection on the water while wearing these—the ChromaPop polarized brown mirror lenses allow you spot fish in all conditions and provide 100 percent UV protection. They also have a backside antireflective coating and an oil- and water-resistant lens coating that staves off the elements. They are RX compatible and have nose pads for a no-slip fit. smithoptics.com
Danner and Patagonia
These boots are built to last a lifetime, but that doesn’t mean they won’t fail. The key info here is that these River Tractor boots are built with stitch-down construction, which means they can be repaired at any point in their existence. That’s because Danner runs a killer repair facility in Portland, Oregon, manned by an army of high-skilled individuals whose lives revolve around keeping your favorite boots in the water and on the trail. You can get these boots in two sole styles, “grippy rubber” and aluminum bar, and the Foot Tractors are made with a military-grade leather that is durable and doesn’t shrink when drying.
We wanted to review these boots when we first saw them last summer at the ICAST show in Orlando, Florida, but we refrained and waited until now so we could put them through a thorough summer, fall, and winter beating
. . . before penning our opinion of them.
Here’s what we learned: These are pretty bomber boots, meaning they are built well and can take a beating in the most challenging elements. We fished these boots on rocky freestones and broad, brooding mainstream steelhead rivers, and they never flinched. They offered excellent support, although those who’ve tweaked their ankles in the glory days might shy away from the soft upper portion of the boot. The sticky rubber, combined with aluminum bars, offered great traction on some of the slickest rivers in the Pacific Northwest. The high-grade leather performed as promised—it didn’t shrink over time, from repeated wetting and drying, which means we can still get our feet in these things without having to soak them in the stream beforehand.
Our only complaint was trying to keep the laces secure—after initial lacing, the laces loosened when they got wet. Not the end of the world, of course, just something to know before spending $550 on a pair of these boots (if you select the aluminum bars as part of the sole). Overall, we recommend these boots because they can last a lifetime,with the assistance of Danner’s repair facility. That keeps materials out of a landfill and allows you to be on the water with great traction and boots you can trust. patagonia.com
Style isn’t just worn—it can be who you are. And these newish shades from Costa give you the edge on that front. Just by wearing these polarized shades, you can make a statement that you care and that commercial nets ought to be cleaned from our oceans.
Discarded or lost nets kill a variety of marine life, including sharks, whales, turtles, and seabirds, among many others. Costa is doing its part to clean up the oceans by fashioning its Untangled collection, including the Baffin frame, from recycled nets. The lenses are polarized glass and RX compatible and are offered in these colors: gray, blue mirror, copper, and green mirror. costadelmar.com
Winter may be the best time to smoke fish, but spring ain’t bad either; shad are running East and West, lakes are still cold enough to provide quality trout, walleyes are headed upstream to spawn, and there are spring kings and steelhead navigating Northwest rivers, although on the eating front I’ve decided to leave kings and wild steelhead alone, unless there’s some major shift in management that takes them back to former abundance. Probably wishful thinking.
But . . . all those wild Alaska sockeyes and silvers in my freezer that I scored from the Inland Fishmonger—#1 brights, pinbones removed, flash-frozen and vacuum sealed—they are prime for smoking and, in fact, that’s what I spent part of winter doing. If you think that sounds intimidating, it’s not. I used a dry brine consisting of equal parts brown sugar and kosher salt, enough to cover all the salmon strips on the top, bottom, and sides. I left them in the mixture for a few hours and then rinsed them very well in cold water. Then I patted them dry, set them on cooking sheets (skin side down) and placed them in front of a fan, in the cold garage, overnight. That formed a pellicle, which is a thin layer that keeps the juices, including heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, from escaping during the smoking process. After that, the fish went on the Traeger, with alder smoke, for six to eight hours on its lowest heat setting, which is about 120 degrees on my Pro Series 34. Every couple hours I basted the salmon with maple syrup, which formed a nice coating on the top of the salmon and provided great flavor. After removing the salmon, I let it cool, then stored it in vacuum-sealed FoodSaver bags. Then it went into the freezer for future use.
The Traeger Pro 34 is a tank. Its grilling/smoking area is 27 inches wide, which means you can load multiple fillets on it at once. And it offers two racks, which provides additional smoking area. It has a digital temperature setting, can accommodate 18 pounds of pellets (so you don’t have to worry about running out of fuel), and you can smoke with a variety of wood, including alder, cherry, mesquite, and apple. When grilling, the dual racks can accommodate 8 chickens, 7 racks of ribs, and up to 40 burgers, meaning this thing will get a workout during summer, too. And this: Don’t like the smell of bacon overwhelming your home? Do it on the Traeger. Want to smoke cheese? Try it out and embrace the results. Overall, for an outdoorsman/woman, owning a wood pellet grill opens up all sorts of interesting options, and the results are usually good. Think moose, elk, grouse, geese, and deer. traegergrills.com