We have teamed up with our friends at The Inertia to bring you the "Call of the Wild"- a monthly series of editorial features that will cover every aspect of heeding the call. Although Howler Ambassador Ryan McInnis might find these spearfishing tips trivial, there is some great advice in here for novices (like us) to get out there and catch some dinner.
There are certain things in life that one must do. Fall in love. Sleep in the sand. Sit in silence. Create things. There are many more, but one prominently perched near the very top of this list is spearfishing. It seems trite in comparison to falling love, but I’m not kidding. It’s one of the most immensely satisfying activities in existence: kicking hard towards a sun-dappled surface, muscles aching and joints popping, gasping for an essential breath of air with a fish wriggling on the end of a stick with a poker on one side of it – this is exciting stuff!
Before I get started here, let me clarify something: I am the most amateur of amateurs when it comes to spearfishing. A few years ago, my older brother got me a Hawaiian sling as a gift for being the best man at his wedding. He had never tried it, and neither had I, but we both agreed that it seemed like something I would like. And so, the day after the wedding, with head still foggy from the evening before, we waded together in the warm ocean just off of Haleiwa. We swam around together for an hour or two, marveling as one does at the vast array of strangely, hideously beautiful creatures that make their home there. I came up to clear my leaking mask of water, and I heard a garbled, “ISSSH!” coming from my brother’s snorkel. Assuming he meant “FISSSH!”, I snuck back down again and looked where he was pointing. It was, indeed, a fish. I had no idea what kind it was, but it looked edible. After a brief chase, it lodged itself beneath a rocky outcrop and allowed me to shoot it. And oh, the feeling!
We emerged triumphant to his new bride and my then-girlfriend, as happy proud hunters. We had produced food! We were men! Men with a sharp stick and a fish and snot coming from our noses and those odd mask marks that make snorkelers and scuba divers look as though they’ve been beaten around the face with a wet rag. The fish, of course, was much smaller on land. Much smaller. Too small, in fact, to eat. The girls laughed at us. Imagine the outrage. Us, the hunters, the providers, the slayers of those denizens of the deep, being laughed at by our women. Luckily, we were too hung over to care, so we handed the fish off to some fishermen as bait. At least they were grateful.
This, of course, was years ago. I’ve now graduated into only shooting fish that I know are fish I can eat. I also wear a fanny pack full of rocks as a weight belt, but I imagine a real one will come with time. And so, in typical Howler Brother’s fashion, I’ve compiled a list to would-be spearfisher-people. And, as always, please add your suggestions in the comments section. I need suggestions, because I’m really not very good at it. As per usual, the best suggestion wins $200 worth of Howler Gear. Heck yeah!
1. Look into the regulations. As it turns out, you can’t just jump in with your pointed stick and shoot whatever you want. There are some legalities around it. And God forbid you end up shooting some poor swimmer in the butt, thinking he’s a North American Trunk-Wearing Bubble Fish. I’ve heard those are terrible eating, anyways.
2. Test your equipment. Before you jump off a pier with your flippers and mask and spear in hand, maybe try wading in first. The first time I ingeniously tested my (patent pending) fanny pack full of rocks, I put far too many rocks in. As you probably know, rocks tend to affect one’s buoyancy pretty severely. I sank like the stones in my fanny pack. Thinking this was great, I kicked for the bottom, only to run out of breath much deeper than I intended. Nothing kills the satisfaction of killing something like killing yourself in the attempt.
3. Start with the hardest method first. This may seem a little silly, but it worked for me. There are an array of different spears you can use, some with triggers and some without. The trigger-less ones are propelled by an elastic that’s wrapped around your elbow, and much more difficult to hit anything with. They’re also much more difficult to retrieve when you shoot at something 60 feet down that turns out to a large piece of bull kelp, waving at you from the bottom, as if to say “you idiot, you thought I was a fish. Good luck getting your pointy stick back!” But once you have that mastered (and I use that term very loosely), graduating to something with a trigger and a string attached to your spear seems so much easier. And as I’ve stated before, I am an inherently lazy person. Easier is better.
4. Cold water sucks. Seriously, it does. I live in Canada, where the water does not get warm. That means I’m pulling on a 5-mm wetsuit, which means I’m probably putting on an extra fanny pack full of rocks to get more than five feet down. Also, it’s murder on your head. Even with a hood, a full minute underwater with an exposed face – save for your bulging eyes behind your mask – creates a pretty murderous ice-cream headache. I don’t know how the fish do it.
5. Use natural surroundings. We are not meant to be underwater. Unless you’re a die-hard and go to those classes where they make you hold your breath and roll you around like a bowling ball under the water while punching you in the kidneys, you probably aren’t that well equipped for life beneath the sea. Unless you’re a die-hard. Or Aqua-man. But you’re not Aqua-man. Don’t try and fool me. Where I live, bull-kelp anchors itself firmly to rocks sitting on the ocean floor. They extend up towards the sun before reaching the surface in a bulbous, salty, leafy lump. And they make the perfect tow-rope. Using muscles uses oxygen, so anything you can do (fanny pack full of rocks!) to aid in your descent towards dinner is a good thing. Look around, enjoy the beauty, and see what there is down there to help you out.
And seriously, be careful. Air is pretty necessary. Don’t get stuck somewhere. Unless you really know what you’re doing, stay somewhere that you know. Don’t go underwater spelunking or shark chasing. Don’t shoot yourself or anyone else. Just go and shoot a fish that is delicious. Oh, the feeling!
Oh man.We are now less than one month away from Howler Pilgrimage No. 1; a week-long adventure to the Palometa Club in Punta Allen, Mexico.Orientation packets just went out to the 20 or so participants and we can’t read it without getting fired up.We have folks from Texas, Virginia, Colorado, Alaska, California, Florida, Louisiana, Argentina and Canada joining us for week of permit chasing, margarita drinking and friendly competition.Our co-presenting sponsors for the week are travel gurus Tailwaters Flyfishing Co. from Dallas, Texas and the Palometa Club.Others lending a hand are our friends at Yeti, TFO, Umpqua, The Drake, Costa, Hatch, Fishpond and Smartshield.We even have Jamie Howard from Howard Films and Matt Jones from Fly Photo along to document the madness. Blend all of these ingredients together and the recipe can’t miss.
Stay tuned for more.For those that aren’t pilgrims this year, we’ll be sending regular dispatches leading up to the trip and from the Palometa Club May 17-24 so you can be jealous.
Here at Howler HQ, we’re putting the finishing touches on a few goodies for our fellow pilgrims.Here’s a sneak peek at some hat patches and t’s in the works.
Howler founder Andy Stepanian spent a little time recently in the Everglades with Howler ambassador Flip Pallot.The weather didn’t really cooperate so the only fish to be found were in the tienda at Flamingo.Regardless, it was amazing spending time with Flip in his environment learning about what is left of the Everglades and drinking some good rum.Here are a few photos from the trip.
We have teamed up with our friends at The Inertia to bring you the "Call of the Wild"- a monthly series of editorial features that will cover every aspect of heeding the call. Although we take some offense to the Conway Twitty bashing below, these tips are sure to make your next trip a winner.
Road trips are a pretty integral part of anybody’s surfing career. I think that surfing attracts a certain type of person – usually one that likes the idea of packing up and taking off with their face towards the sun and a roof full of surfboards. But that same mindset – the one that loves packing up and taking off – is also pretty good at forgetting to plan things. Like gas money. Or where laundry’s going to get done (I have a friend that will tell you that underwear can be worn four times and be clean each time: right side out, inside out, backwards, and inside out and backwards). Or breakdowns, robberies, broken boards, Montezuma’s revenge, accidental pregnancy, hangovers, and anything else that can possibly go wrong when two or three or four ill-prepared, Spiccoli-types hop in a beaten up old vehicle and point it south. And while I don’t have all the answers, I may have few. And while I may have a few, they may be wrong. And while I may be wrong, if used properly, they might be entertaining (for bystanders).
1. Take your time.
One of the worst things you can do on a road trip is rush through the whole thing. Having a destination in mind and a date you think you HAVE to be there means bypassing places that must not be bypassed. I think a better way to look at it is to plan it according to old adage: it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey. Adventure! It might sound cheesy, but it’s true. Sure, have a destination, but have a bunch of other mini-destinations along the way. Otherwise you’ll drive by some of the most beautiful places without even knowing it. If you can swing it (which most people can’t) don’t even put an end date on it. Just drive. Just stop. Stay in places until you’re sick of them.
2. Stop for road pirates.
Seriously. Depending on what country you’re in, stopping for that guy on the side of the road wearing one shoe, no pants, and holding the cardboard sign reading “ANYWHERE BUT HERE” could be the best thing to happen the whole trip. Of course, there’s also potential for it to be the worst thing, but you’ll never know until you pick him up and find out. Often times, hitchhikers will either tell you the best stories you’ve ever heard and give you a couple of tips on where to go to do something great that’s not in your outdated Lonely Planet book. Then again, they might murder you and steal your car, but it’s a beater anyways, right? Hey, you’re on an adventure!
3. Stray from the beaten path.
The beaten path sucks a lot of the time. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot of cool stuff on it that you should probably see, but I’ve found that, for the most part, it’s only worth a very small amount of time. The really interesting things are under the logs of life. Roll that shit over and get your hands dirty. Get yourself in situations you’re not sure about. See that turnoff with no sign telling you where it goes? Take it. Take it and find out what the sign would say. Look at a map as little as possible. Getting lost sucks, but half the time it turns out you’ll find something better than where you were going in the first place. I got lost in the dark on a motorcycle in Nowhereville, Nicaragua with no shirt, no shoes, and no headlight. You know what I found? Some weird old man in a tiny shack surrounded by chickens and dust who gave me directions in broken English, a cold glass bottle Pepsi, and the best laugh I’ve ever heard. I got home late, but late for what? Bed? That weird old man made my night.
4. Push yourself.
If you get to a wave somewhere and you think it might be a little too much for you, go out anyways. If you die, don’t come back to haunt me, though. Regret is the worst thing ever. It’ll ruin the next hundred miles, especially if your friends went out and rub it in your face the whole way. Paddle out, paddle on, and if you don’t make it, at least you know you tried. And you know what? Chances are, you WILL make it. You’ll make it and get spit out and scream and grab your hair and thank God (or me!) that you went out. Exciting! Email me your success story (or hate mail) at email@example.com.
5. Don’t go with jerks.
That’s obvious, you say? You might be right. But how well do you really know that guy sitting four inches away from you for a month in the back seat of a metal sweat box? Does he love Conway Twitty and get gassy when he eats burritos? Does he have a never-ending obsession with the oh-so-entertaining game of Punch-buggy? Will he cry and mope and make puppy dog eyes at you when he misses his girl or dog or parents and ruin everything? How bad do his feet smell? You really need to know these things before you sit in a car with someone for seemingly endless stretches of highway. Because really, there aren’t many things that are worse than a guy with smelly feet singing Conway Twitty and punching you in the arm every time a Volkswagen drives by. Go with people you know you can handle. Go with people who you know well enough to know what annoys you about them. Because at some point, they will annoy you. At least this way, you’ll know what to expect. And it won’t be Conway Twitty and blue cheese feet.
Head over to the Howler Facebook page to add your tips to the list to be entered to win a Howler prize pack!
We have teamed up with our friends at The Inertia to bring you the "Call of the Wild"- a monthly series of editorial features that will cover every aspect of heeding the call. From surf camping to spearfishing for dinner, these articles will give you all the info you need to do it up right.
I’ve always liked camping. Most people do. You get to go outside, live under the trees, wake up with sand in your hair, and generally thumb your nose at showers and cleanliness and all the trappings that come with being civilized. And honestly, there aren’t a lot of places left in the world where all you have to do when you need to pee is turn around. It’s good to get dirty. Dirt isn’t dirty. You know what’s dirty? Subways. Public bathrooms. Back alleys. Not dirt. Not the forest – it just happens to have dirt in it. It’s unfortunate that the word dirty has the word dirt in it, because when you really think about it, what would you rather lick? The dirt-filled forest floor, or the dirt-less concrete in the alley behind the 7/11? If you chose the latter, watch out for needles and old urine.
I’ve done a few surf camping trips that have been pretty darn good. We’ve blown up a van with gasoline and fireworks. There have been backroad breakdowns. We’ve spent weeks on end sitting in the rain with only hotdogs, pickles, stinking wetsuits, and bottles of warm whiskey. I spent four months truck-camping in a rest stop on the side of the I-5. I watched my best friend get sucked out to sea in a sleeping bag in the middle of the night. Have you ever tried to swim when you’re in a sleeping bag?
From these camping trips, I’ve compiled a list of five things that are absolute – and I do mean absolute – must haves on any camping trip. Never mind the marshmallows, folding chairs, propane stoves, and RVs. And if there are plug ins, bathrooms, and a place to do your laundry, you’re not camping, you’re just telling your friends you are.
1. Bring a Towel
Listen to Douglas Adams. Don’t forget your towel. It’s one of those things that always seems to get left behind, crumpled up on the bathroom floor. Sometimes I’ll see it sitting there, pick it up, realize it smells like a wet werewolf, and throw it back on the floor. But trust me, a moldy towel is better than your underwear when it comes to drying your face when you get out of the water.
2. Don’t Forget the Gasoline
Lots of it. Not only is it good for your truck when you’re stuck on some back road without the foresight to fill up, it’s great for making wood burn even better than it already does. I know what you’re thinking: Any man worth his salt can start a fire without it. And you’re right. But in the spirit of all great debates, here is my counter argument: I can start a fire without gasoline. Any man worth his salt can. But any man worth his salt also knows that working smarter instead of harder is just good sense. Also, any man worth his salt knows that explosions are more fun than no explosions. Just be careful. Any man worth his salt knows that eyebrows actually serve a purpose and burning hair smells terrible.
3. Find a Tarp
Who needs a tent when you have a big plastic square and some rope? It also doubles as a raincoat, a slip and slide, and if you fill it with your stuff and tie it to a stick, a hobobag. Plus, if you get drunk (like many campers do) you can wear it as a cape and leap out of trees, impressing your friends to no end. Hopefully the next day, they’ll remember how much entertainment value you have and reward you by not dropping in on you so much.
4. Break out the Hatchet
This one’s pretty obvious. What else are you going to throw at trees? Rocks? Not likely. They just bounce off and hit you in the teeth. Hatchets stick in, saving your teeth undue wear and shattering. Oh yeah, and they’re handy for cutting firewood and hammering things, too.
5. Break out the Fishing Rod
Even if you don’t fish, you should bring one. You know why? Because you should fish. It’s good for you. Serenity now! It’s also the cheapest way to consistently eat – as long as you’re fishing in a place with actual fish in it. That’s important when it comes to fishing. If you’re just planning a weekend trip, try and do it close to a river. This is especially good for surf camping. You know that little right hander you surf in front of the river mouth? After you get out and dry your face with your underwear (YOU FORGOT YOUR TOWEL!?), go for a hike up the river. Find a little hole, put a line in, and see what you come up with. If all else fails, you can always eat the boot you pull up. Leather is surprisingly nutritious.
And finally, an Honorable Mention
Listen, everyone knows that a bottle of something strong is pretty much a necessity on any camping trip. I was actually going to put it at the top of the list, but then I thought it might be better to have an actual list of useful things. But it’s going to get an honorable mention. Just don’t go blaming me when you end up lying in the dirt wrapped in a tarp that’s soapy and wet because you used it as a slip and slide. Or when you wake up without eyebrows because of the gasoline you poured on the fire, and your dentist is out buying a new Mercedes in anticipation of your next trip to see him with your hatchet mouth. So I’m not saying you have to drink it. Maybe you could trade someone for a tent and a sleeping bag, like any normal person brings camping. Why didn’t you bring a tent and a sleeping bag?
And there you have it. All you need to have enjoy the great outdoors. Of course, you probably have some of your own ideas of what else to bring. Feel free to post ‘em on The Intertia's Facebook Page and mention The Inertia and Howler Brothers. Best addition to the list wins a $200 grab bag of Howler Gear!
The paparazzi were out in force at Art Basel in Miami Beach 2012. Will Ferrell showed up in his Howler best and an Anchorman 'stache for some art shopping. No doubt he will make the best dressed list if he keeps this up...
We are honored to work with Danny Hess to bring you these limited edition Howler Handplanes. Danny is a master woodworker, sustainable surfboard shaping pioneer, and an ambassador for the bodysurfing revival currently underway. Over years of experimentation and field testing he has honed his handplane shapes into these highly functional works of art. They are fully hand shaped out of locally sourced, salvaged and certified woods with rocker, rails, and bottom contours to give you the full surfing experience in a portable handplane. We have been fans of Danny's work for years and we are super stoked to collaborate with him to bring his hand shaped goodness to the Howler lineup.
Danny on his handplane design:
I started building Handplanes for myself and friends when I was 17 and working as a lifeguard at a really good bodysurfing beach. The originals were made from shaped kickboards and found materials. I build each plane using a press method that creates a very strong, light and precise Handplane. I focus on using locally sourced, salvaged and certified woods in each of my planes and they are sealed thoroughly with a very durable natural oil sealer.
The length and width of these Handplanes are specifically designed to give a bodysurfer just the right amount of lift to get their upper body out of the water, creating much less drag and allowing them to really control their positioning and speed on the wave. It really does feel like an entirely new, pure way of riding a wave when doing it for the first time. I’ve been hooked for many years.
As my good friend says “I’ve often had a bad time surfing, but I’ve never had a bad time bodysurfing”.
We are honored to feature Duke Riley in our latest Artist Series T-shirt: Fiji Mermaid. A self-described “Artist and Patriot,” Duke digs up obscure historical incidents and explores them with more than a little humor and derring-do. The boldness of his projects is matched by the thoughtful and skillful creation of the drawings and artifacts that document them. Here are a few of our favorite projects:
After the Battle of Brooklyn:
Duke recreated a primitive submarine used during the Revolutionary War- called the Turtle- to reenact a 1776 attack on a British flagship. He launched his one-man wooden vessel into New York Harbor and came within yards of the cruise ship Queen Mary 2 before being arrested by the Coast Guard.
Those About To Die Salute You:
In this live reenactment of Roman Naval Battle in Queens, NY, battleships were constructed from recycled materials, and hundreds of costumed participants went to battle with tomatoes and watermelon cannonballs. Zero casualties.
Reclaiming the Lost Kingdom of Laird:
Duke kayaked out to an island in the Delaware River in the dead of the night and climbed on top of a Citgo fuel storage tank to paint the Mural of the self-proclaimed “King” Ralston Laird- whose family once occupied the island.
If you are interested in checking out more of his work, grab a beer and dig around his website: dukeriley.info
We at Howler are proud to be associated with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and their work to preserve and steward one of the nation's most important water resources. Our friend and Howler Ambassador John Rodenhausen contributed this account of how CBF is educating the next generation by "Learning Outside". No better way. Thanks guys!
The sun was just cresting the horizon on what would be a steamy summer day on Tangier Sound. A pelican strikes the water as a seventh generation waterman is scraping the grass beds in search of blue crabs while Guns n Roses blares from a small speaker a few feet from his head. Just a couple hundred yards away are 18 middle school students plying the same waters with the same fishing gear. The harvest comes aboard the boat with a dull thud but is greeted with a shrill cry of excitement from the kids. Crabs of all sizes scurry about the deck as youthful eyes scan the large clump of wet grass is emptied onto the engine box. Katy reaches her hand into the slippery pile of life and pulls out a small puffer, a Striped Burrfish. The crowd goes wild! The hunt continues. As young hands work through the catch, they produce a small flounder, 3 dozen blue crabs and 2 seahorses. For these kids from the big city this will be a memory they will not soon forget. How many of them could have known there are seahorses living just 90 miles from the nation’s capital?
This is how a day can start on just one of 15 education centers operated by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. Scattered across Chesapeake Bay watershed these hands on experiences are how more than 30,000 kids each year are learning about the impacts our lives have on critters living in the 100,000+ rivers, creeks and streams that feed the fertile fishing grounds of the Chesapeake. In spite of being nearly 200 miles long, the average depth of the bay is a shallow 21 feet. It really is just a puddle at the bottom of a big hill that is 64,000 square miles. This fact alone makes the choices of its 17 million residents even more critical.
Each day, from March to December, students and teachers are in the field with CBF educators throughout the watershed. They are catching grabs, testing water quality, investigating the inhabitants of an oyster reef and exploring fresh water streams. This is how they learn what is going on and it is how they see their impact on local waterways. We have been doing this for over 40 years and have provided these experiences for over 1.5 million people. Our motto is “Learn Outside” and it helps boost student achievement in the classroom. Who says you can’t have fun while learning?
We at CBF heed the call and this is how we are teaching the next generation to do the same.
Revival Cycles was going off last night for A Custom Build for Tribeza Style Week. They opened their doors to a giant crowd for some serious pop-up shopping with many of Austin's finest. Between the custom bikes, men's fashions, and art installations it was a lot to take in. We were stoked to be involved. Big thank you to Revival Cycles, Public School, and Tribeza for having us out- and thanks to everyone who stopped in to the Howler shop!