But I Digress

Blog calendar: Aug. 30 | Aug. 26 | Aug. 25 | Aug. 14 | Aug. 10

posted Aug. 30
Not many really want to dance with wolves

Kevin Costner might have done it, but not many others want to get down with a wolf.

With antis fighting Idaho's planned hunt to thin the state's timber wolves, Sen. Gary Schroeder sponsored a bill to offer other states their surplus wolves.

Any takers?



Schroeder, quoted in Colin Moore's "Wolves or Taters?" on ESPNOutdoors.com, said the state got back 27 no thank yous, while "The rest of the states ignored us."

Connecticut was one of the first states contacted, since it was there that the call to boycott Idaho potatoes began if the spud state went ahead with the hunt. Friends of Animals president Priscilla Feral called for a national boycott, and her group will present its case to stop the hunt today.

U.S. Circuit Court Judge Donald Malloy will also hear from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, which compiled information from a wide range of sources in this brief. It basically says that states should be able to manage animals within their borders. Who better than state game and fish agencies to know the sustainable numbers?

Schroeder added that Idaho didn't have much say when the government re-introduced the wolves, which were taken off the endangered species list last spring, are thriving and now need a slight trimming.

With ranchers complaining of attacks on livestock and managed herds of elk being killed by the canine pack predators, along with some attacks on humans, we asked readers on our Sports Nation poll if they would want wolves in their state.

"No way" was leading with 44 percent of the vote, while "Yes" had 37 percent of the vote. In with 11 percent was "Sure, we already have some." Eight percent picked "Take ours, please," including dominating in Idaho and Montana, states that could have their Sept. 1 wolf hunts shut down.

Check out the results here to see if people in your state want to dance with wolves or not.

You could also comment on the end of the story explaining why you would or wouldn't want wolves in your state, or email me.

posted Aug. 26
Senator, have you ever dueled?

"I challenge you to a duel."

If a prospective public official ever took up that offer, he wouldn't be allowed to take office in Kentucky.

Seems 41 duels, from the late 1700s to the mid 1800s, and 16 resulting deaths had given Kentuckians somewhat of a black eye, so in 1849 they added a provision making all potential General Assembly, officeholders and every member of the bar to take this oath:

    "... I, being a citizen of this state, have not fought a duel with deadly weapons within this State nor out of it, nor have I sent or accepted a challenge to fight a duel with deadly weapons, nor have I acted as second in carrying a challenge, nor aided or assisted any person thus offending, so help me God."

It's a bit outdated today, moving state Rep. Darryl Owens, D-Louisville, to write up a bill to eliminate the passage, which served as comic relief to the solemn occasion. A story in Kentucky.com says upon hearing the passage the audience would usually break into laughter.

"It makes us look foolish and Kentucky deserves better," Owens said.

Ah, but voters get to decide the issue if it makes it to the ballot. With the contentiousness of most legislative bodies, there might be a couple squabbles over that. Might even bring back a duel or two to the Bluegrass State.

posted Aug. 25
Bowling for Bass

Maybe they'll start a Bowling for Bass show.

Bass Pro Shops is branching out at the newest of its 56 locations. In Altoona, Iowa, — pop. 10,345, sal-ute! — the new store, in conjunction with Brunswick, features Uncle Buck's Fish Bowl and Grill. And no, John Candy will not be making an appearance, though he probably would have enjoyed the place.

The nautically-themed alley has 12 lanes, a billiards room and a restaurant with a 750-gallon saltwater aquarium at the bar. Check out the story here.

And it's not true that the state will hold an open bowling ball pheasant season, although bowlers remain free to pursue turkeys at will.

posted Aug. 14
Best and worst of casting
Steve Rajeff is the world's best caster, able to outdrive, er outcast, one of the PGA's best.

The 14-time world champion proved it once again recently with his 36th American Casting Association championship, where he eclipsed his own single-handed fly casting record.

His feat brought to mind possibly the worst caster, Toby Weiss, my brother's lovable loudmouth friend. On a fishing outing some 30 years ago, he set two dubious records.

Toby's a talker. One of those guys not afraid to live large, all the while spreading his infectious laugh, even when he's laughing at himself. What makes this story funny was his cocky attitude toward showing the guys fishing Missouri's Lake of the Ozarks how well he could fish.

He had spent a pretty penny on an array of lures, the largest and most expensive, and boasted loudly. Well, somehow, on a backswing, he landed a huge oak bass. Record one: highest lure in a tree.

Later, with a big crankbait, he announced he was going to cast it halfway across the cove. Remember, always stop when somebody hollers, "Hey, watch this!" You don't want to miss what comes next.

So, with everyone's attention, he rears back and sends this plug flying. It soars out of sight.

Awesome Toby!

Only problem was his knot wasn't so hot. No one could see it land, but everyone chuckled when his line floated down slack to the water.

Record two: Longest cast without the line staying attached.

Back to Rajeff, the world's best, and certainly more modest and low-key. He's held the world record for longest single-handed fly cast the past 20 years. Hazard a guess. Just put a distance in your head.

Home to first base is 90 feet, so maybe twice that, 180 feet?

Nope. Farther.

Take into account competitors use 9-foot, 9-inch fly rods. But there's no added weight, just the 50 feet of fly line, which goes about an ounce and half and is attached to 10-pound monofilament.

Try 200 feet? 210?

It was 236 feet. Was.

Many thought it wouldn't be broken, but at last week's 101st ACA Championships, which weirdly were in Toronto, Rajeff topped it with a 243-foot effort. (He says his personal best is 248 but wasn't verified. He also owns the two-handed record at 290 feet.)

In the single-hand fly casting, competitors false cast about 75 feet of line, working it back and forth in what Rajeff said requires "a perfect stroke, perfect loop, trajectory and control" before the final shooting cast, "a final burst of strong energy."

It takes extreme "concentration, focus and having a solid practice experience," said Rajeff, who works about an hour each day for five or six weeks before an event.

He started competing as a teenager, excelled right from the bat and made a career from it. His prowess helped him land a job a fishing guide in Alaska, which led him to his current occupation as fishing rod designer for G-Loomis out of Woodland, Wash.

Rajeff's rod designs and sick skills have taken him across Europe and to Japan and South Africa for events.

"It's a very competitive sport," he said. "There's countries in Europe that actually have government sponsorships."

Forty countries make up the International Casting Sport Federation, or ICSF. The group wanted ICF, but Rajeff said the canoe folks trumped them on the name.

Who didn't trump Rajeff was PGA golfer Fred Couples. Before a 1987 golf pro-am in Portland, Ore., Couples and Rajeff went mano-a-mano in a long-drive contest. G-Loomis still made golf clubs at the time, and Couples used one to drive a golf ball 334 yards.

Using his G-Loomis rod, Rajeff had a golf ball attached to a section of line wrapped around his reel only several times. His backswing scared the daylights out of the PGA players assembled for the exhibition.

"It was funny because I needed a warm-up swing," he said. "All the touring pros were on folding chairs around the 18th green and the golf ball was winging in front of their noses."

Rajeff knew his line couldn't reach them, but it sent many diving.

"I knew there was no chance to hit them," he said, "but I almost took out the PGA Tour in one backswing."

When he sent the ball flying back down the 18th fairway, it bounded three yards past Couples' drive. Lee Trevino, who said there was no way Rajeff could top Couples, called foul, saying the line wasn't still on his reel. Rajeff pointed out Couples' ball didn't have an eyescrew or any line attached to it either.

While that was for fun, Rajeff is dead serious competitor, which is why he has dominated for so long. There are nine events in the casting tournaments, including distance and accuracy tests with spinning rods, baitcasting and fly. He does all well, which is why he wins the all-around titles.

Accuracy casting has participants hit 10 targets at varying distances, from 25 to 70 feet, 10 times each. Rajeff says perfection is virtually required just to make a cast-off.

"When we goof around, we throw out a tennis ball and see who can hit it first," he said. "We put a school bell out there and hit it multiple times. Ring the bell."

Dale Lenser, another ACA competitor and its secretary, said Rajeff is the Tiger Woods of casting.

"He is the best," said Lenser, who met the Rajeff as a teen at a 1971 competition in St. Louis. "Since 1971, he has only been beaten once and tied once."

It might just be the longest championship run in all sports, and topping his own record last week was special for the casting guru, who also teaches and is on the board of governors of the Federation of Fly Fishermen, which certifies casting instructors.

"The record stood for a long time and last week was broken," Rajeff said, "and that was pretty exciting."

Eat your heart out Toby.

For more on the ACA, click here. Watch Rajeff compete by clicking here. To watch Rajeff explain the ABC's of spey casting, click here.

posted July Aug. 10
A little rain must fall

Maybe next year. Jeff Kolodzinski helped get some more sponsors for a worthwhile kids fishing day, but he didn't top the Guiness world record he had hoped for.

Kolo tried to cleanse himself in the waters of Lake Minnetonka by topping his own record of 1,628 fish caught in a 24-hour span. A rainstorm and cold front put the kibosh on his eyed total of 2,000 fish, or one every 42 seconds or so.

Check out outdoor editor Paul Smith's detailed account in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

About the author: Mike Suchan has been editor at ESPNOutdoors.com the past three years. He's worked in journalism for 25 years, winning state and regional awards. Email him here.