On Mojo, and other interesting topics from the reports of Google Analytics

Google Analytics is one of those things that presents itself in my life as both a blessing and a curse.  I described this dynamic in an article I wrote for Pareidolia a couple of years ago, but the topic has since matured some, and the more farcical face of the subject has since presented itself.

This blog sees a lot of traffic.  An astounding amount, to me, since my intentions in creating and maintaining it have always been and remain simply to keep the people I know in life relatively up to date on what I’m doing down here, a necessary step due to the fact that I live more than five thousand miles away from the majority of them.  But the fact remains – more people visit this website every month than visit the websites of my outfitting business here in Argentina, my marketing company up in the states, and my non-profit organization combined, by a factor of many, many times.  So I continue to wonder; who are these people?

Google Analytics provides some clues.  By looking at the map of where in the world people were when they accessed the site, how long they spent on it, what pages they accessed, and what they were searching for when they landed, I can come up with a sort of vague idea of who they are.  The problem is that the picture this data paints looks weirder than a snake-turd.

So, in an effort to straighten the paths of information flow out a bit, and perhaps provide these folks with what they were in fact looking to receive when they ended up visiting this site in the first place, I will list here are some of the things typed into search engines over the last month or so which ultimately led people to spend time reading content on the blog, and my comments/thoughts on those same, sent from this end of the report:

  • “What is Mojo?”

This one is actually pretty good, although it is hard for me to imagine how my blog was thought by search engines to be an appropriate reference with which a user might answer the question.  Wikipedia defines Mojo as: a magical charm bag used in hoodoo, which has transmuted into a slang word for self-confidence, self-esteem or sex appeal; and Webster’s Dictionary says it means: a magic spell, hex, or charm;  while an online Urban Dictionary describes it as: Self-confidence, Self-assuredness. As in basis for belief in one’s self in a situation.  I’ll take those as a starting point, but true Mojo is so much more.  And when I say true Mojo, I am talking about fly fishing Mojo, which as far as I am concerned is the only Mojo worth discussing or defining here.  Fly fishing Mojo is an energy, or an alignment of energies, that comes and goes based on nothing more than its own clearly animate will.  Some people, like my friends Paulino and Hernan, seem to have it all the time.  You can’t keep huge fish off their lines.  Others of us from the mere mortal castes experience only rare days of it, but through infrequency it remains a memorable event each time it occurs.  The worst though, is reverse-Mojo: those days when you couldn’t buy a fish even if you had the cash, which you don’t, or when every fish that takes the fly somehow manages to escape without being hooked.  I’ve seen my friend Zachariah Tweed literally roar with frustration after too many hours in this space, and my heart went out to him as he did, because I know it.  So that’s my take on Mojo folks, for those of you who were searching.

  • “Barfy hamburger”

I’m not really sure where to begin with this one.  I mean, yes, I did write those words in an earlier post, because I thought it was funny that there is a brand of Hamburger here in Argentina called Barfy (I mean, that’s funny, right?). But what the hell were you searching for?  Up in the states I remember enjoying Bubba Burgers, which are similar, but I sure don’t remember getting up from the picnic table with a full gut one day and searching for their website.  Plus, if I had, and somehow ended up with a page that had “Just Another Day in the Florida Panhandle” as its title in the search results, I can’t imagine a scenario, no matter how many beers I’d downed with the burgers, in which I would have clicked on it.

  • “Big male tube”

 I’m not even gonna touch that one.

  • “Circus poodles 2012”

Ok, it’s true I have a fly I call the Circus Poodle.  So that’s there.  It comes in various year models, all pretty similar, and has worked pretty well on certain brook trout I can remember, especially in the Rio Shaman.  But could that have been what they were looking for? How would they have known about it?  And why the year model?  All I can come up with is that there must actually be some sort of sick poodle slave trade for the traveling circus market; breeding and selling poor little poodle puppies into lives of clown-surround servitude, and I am sorry if I attracted that species of attention even inadvertently.

  • “Deep orange brown petrified wood”

Now that is specific.  We’re not talking about your run of the mill orange or brown petrified wood here, but a sample which is both orange and brown, and deep on the orange side of that scale (or possibly on both sides).  Glad I could be of help there.

  • “Fishing all day long”

Alright…. Well sure, I’m all about it.  But as a Google search?  Why not just go fishing?  All day long?  What are you doing in front of your computer?

  • “Justin Witt, vagrant”

Now this one I love.  I’m actually thinking of having business cards printed with this as my title, or maybe even making T-Shirts and hats.  It will be a simple design, just a solid color, and the words across the front.  Probably in my favorite creative font, Times New Roman.  Then if I’m ever killed in a single Hilux accident out on the Pampa somewhere, or drowned in a river, when the Gendarmes find me they’ll jot the words down in their carbon-paper reports, and in another two hundred years one of my cousin’s great-great grandkids doing genealogy research on the family will find it and think “Huh, I had a vagrant in my family tree?”

  • “Patagonia wife tube”

What the hell?  I can see a couple of possible routes this search might have taken to arrive at the blog: one through my discussions of tube-flies, and the other through the repeated use of the word Patagonia throughout.  The wife part though, much less the connection of the three, Google just pulled out of the posterior regions of their already mysterious algorithm.  But then the guy hung around and read the blog.  Hmmm….

  • “Super cheap shorts”

Well yeah, I mean, who doesn’t like super cheap shorts?

  • “Why trout are so massive in Patagonia?”

Now there’s a relevant question.  Good on you brother!  Why are the trout so massive in Patagonia?  I probably didn’t answer this through what you found in your first search and visit to the blog, but since I’m sure you’ll be back, here it is – Population density, or, rather, lack thereof.  And I’m not talking about the trout.  I’m talking about people.  Thankfully our region of Patagonia down here still has a human population density that is lower than the Sahara Desert’s.  Once you get outside of town there’s just nothing but mountains and pampa as far as the eye can see in all directions.  And that, is what allows the trout in our rivers, lakes, and streams to do exactly what they do best when left alone – which is to prosper.  Sure we’ve got little fish too, it’s important to have little fish if you want to have big fish later on; in fact a healthy system generally has a whole wide range of fish-sizes; North American types near cities have just gotten so used to carbon-copy eight inch stockers with their fins worn off that they’ve forgotten this.  It’s like Walter Wetherell says of New England in Save the Fountain, “Stocking fish has been going on so long now in this part of the country, it’s become part of the natural order of things, so you have to step back a bit to realize how odd, how truly bizarre the whole business is.”  Now granted, the point can be made that our Argentine trout aren’t native, and as such were stocked in these waters at one time or another.  But that was a long, long, time ago.  And now with so much water and so few people to pollute it, steal it for irrigation, over-fish it, dam it, or otherwise screw it up, the trout have exactly what they need to thrive, namely space, and a limited interference from mankind.  That’s all they really want!

  • “Wood wool for cows”

I’m trying to picture what that looks like, but I’m coming up blank.

  • “Yerba bruja plant”

Now that sounds cool!  I don’t know what it is, but it translates to something like “Witch’s Herb”, which would have to be something good.  I don’t have any though.  So I guess you’ll have to look elsewhere.

  • “Where is Jurassic Lake Argentina?”

This one always cracks me up.  And there are lots, and lots of versions of it.  “How to get to Jurassic Lake by car”, “Jurassic Lake GPS coordinates”, “Cheap access to Jurassic Lake”.  The list goes on.  But Jurassic Lake is the made up name another outfitter gave to our very own and very real Lago Strobel, one of the more famous lakes we fish in Santa Cruz province, in an effort to try and reap the benefits of publishing gratuitous fish-porn online without generating an increase in fishing pressure on the lake itself.  This was unnecessary, because due to the lake’s actual physical location, unless you know what you’re doing and have a hell of a four wheel drive vehicle, several gate keys, and a lot of patience, you can’t get there from here.  The first time Tweed and I drove the Toyota in we were in 4-wheel drive low for three hours making the last twelve or so kilometers happen as we crawled over boulder after boulder until my arms got worn out; effectively driving in a form that people in the states pay to watch on cable television.  But the searches continue.  And I imagine the always will.  The fish in there are just that friggin’ huge!

  • “Winnie the pooh compares streams to rivers”

Gotta love that one.

  • “Tyrannosaurus look like?”

Huh?  Kinda big, green, maybe had feathers; I’m not sure!  Never really seen one.  Who are you people again?

  • “The home office fly fishing”

I can relate to that.  I guess you can see this in my last post, describing the battle-station where I oscillate back and forth between the laptop and the tying bench all winter long.  Was it any help bud?  Drop me a line and let me know; I’m glad to be of service any time.

  • “Poet from Patagonia”

I’d best not let this one go to my head.  A couple lines published in obscure literary journals probably doesn’t quite qualify me for the position described.  Feels nice though.  Thanks!

  • “Patabonia technique”

I’m laughing too hard to keep typing…

That’s all folks!  Shoot me the news when you get a chance; I look forward to hearing from everyone soon!  Also, as an alternative option, I have now activated the “Comments” capability here on the blog for each new post.  So, comment away!

~Justin

2012 Season Finale (and worthy of its title)

Wow… to be honest I don’t even know where to begin.  The last three weeks of the season flew by in a classic example of the true relativity of time.  It felt like months’ worth of fishing, wading, and rowing while it happened; yet now that it’s over the whole of it seems like it all got used up in a flash.

So I started out just after my last post exploring some new (to me) lakes with a really special client who had shown up in Esquel just the day before.  This turned out to be hugely successful, both in terms of experiencing some un-known scenery and in terms of the fishing itself, and I think our experience there has cemented these locations into a special place for next year’s plans as well.  (See photos for an answer to the question “why?”)

We then picked up the rest of that week’s group and headed back down to Rio Pico, where the fishing was absolutely on fire.  Every piece of water we hit was lit up like a Christmas tree, and the combination of big bright fish and awesome orange fall light made for some spectacular experiences both from the perspective of the net man (that would be me) and those with the rods in their hands (those would be the sports). These turned out to be a really great bunch of folks too, and we all had about as good a time while they were here as we could have asked for without feeling guilty in the process.  Ok, I guess I do feel a little bit guilty, but that’s only because all of you up at your desks in the states won’t just get your butts in gear and come down here!

Predictably, the weather became a bit more challenging right about the time I dropped the last group of clients off in Esquel and headed back south to, get this, shoot a video.  You see I had been contacted earlier in the year by a fellow named Alex Miller, an associate of Leland Fly Fishing Outfitters in San Francisco, about the possibility of doing a week or so’s worth of “Trout Bumming” around at the end of the season with the objective of putting together a nice little video that would show folks what our April un-wind is like down here, and maybe drum up some interest in trips for next season along the way.

I must say, after having been involved in video production as a sort-of-paying job for the last decade or so in my position at Syzygy Productions, the idea of getting behind a camera (or in front of one, for that matter) during my end of the season wind-down time did not exactly at the onset make me jump and shout with joy.  Alex seemed like a really nice guy though; and basically the plan was mostly just to go fishing; so in the end I picked him up on my way south and we headed straight out to Lago Vintter and the Madrugon II, where Paulino was holding high court over an extremely low-flowing river.  Lack of snowfall last winter and an exceptionally warm summer have the Corcovado running at a level it hasn’t seen since 1985.  It is still fishing well enough, as the photos of what we caught there this last week will attest, but it was a strange experience to stand on rocks that in previous years we’d have been swept off of and carried away downstream without the river’s having to give it a second thought.  I talked with Paulino about this extensively while we were there, and although there’s no direct relationship (last year the river was higher than normal), it led to a larger discussion about the cycles and trends in the weather here around Rio Pico over the decades he has been in the area (going on eight of them now), which touched on some interesting points.   I’m certainly not one to stick my foot too far into the seemingly mostly political debate over climate change or its causes, but sometimes it does seem to me that something sure is happening, and happening fast.  According to Paulino, when he was a child growing up in Rio Pico the snow stayed on the mountains all around town throughout the whole of summer, and that the lakes in the area used to freeze over – even Lago 3!  This probably won’t surprise any of you up in the states (I mean who hangs out on Lago 3 in the winter?), but to a relative newbie like myself who is down here year round just these past few years, that’s big-time news.  Paulino says they used to walk across it!  Oh well, perhaps it’s just a short-cycle of temperature change and about to reverse itself with a vengeance.  Sure seemed like that this last week!  Which brings me back to my story.

 Alex and I pitched our tents and set up shop, still sort of divided down the middle of the group as to what was our main objective.  Mine was to catch fish; his was to make video.  I actually thought that first night to put one of the three-liter bottles of water in my tent so we could still make coffee in case the temperature dropped below freezing, but the next morning it was frozen solid anyway right there at my feet.  That’s cold.  The weather seemed to wake the fish up even more though, and within an hour of our shivering pre-dawn wader-up we were into them.  And that’s how the week flowed on – frost on the tents, steam from the coffee, fish from the rivers, ice in the guides, rocks actually frozen to our boot-soles mid-step, more fish from the lakes, more frost, more coffee, and then finally, Eureka!  I was inspired.  Mid-shower one morning at Nikita’s an idea hit me for how to stitch together all our footage into something that would play, and I was back on my game with the camera in an instant.  But by that time we only had a few days left!

Luckily, my rod-wielding replacement appeared in the form of Hernan, an exceedingly fishy kid from Junin, stuck in a motor-home with four adult cucharero/cuchillero’s and looking for an out.  Hernan had Serious Fish-Mojo, and just sort of appeared in our campsite one night, probably due to some sort of yet to be discovered magnetism that exists between similar fly-fishy types.  This became a symbiotic relationship our first day out with the camera though; you couldn’t keep huge fish off his line if you tried!  I would love to show everyone a preview of what we shot that day, but out of respect for the finished product I shall demur.  It’s going to be even better once it’s scored.

So the shoot raged on, over what seemed like about a million enjoyable miles and a thousand or so gate openings and closings, punctuated by lots of fly line being carried out through the guides and against the drags by running monsters with flies in their big, toothy mouths; and now it’s all been stored on hard-drives in the form of billions of ones and zeros, and carried North in the capable hands of our man Alex (by this time an old friend), who will turn it into a bright little gem of some sort for all the fish-loving world to enjoy.  Stay tuned for that post soon!

When it was all over and we had crunched through enough shore-ice to feel like it might be time to go on home, we first helped Paulino and the gang break down bridge-camp and load it all into the trucks and trailers that would take it back to town, then made a few last casts with the Spey rods at the boca.  Having discovered the magic of Skagit, I proceeded to catch my last boca brook trout of the year on the thirteen foot nine weight, and with that called it a season till November.  A good season, that is.