Monday, November 30, 2009

Day 85 - Work for you?

Tonight I was reading an article in the latest Fly Fisherman magazine (don't worry I'm not going to vent about stupid submissions). The author was talking about how the Humpy was one of his favorite flies and how it normally produces for him. I have to be honest, I've never been able to produce fish with a Humpy pattern. For that matter, I haven't been able to produce with any regularity with an Adams, a Hendrickson, or even a San Juan Worm.

This got me thinking, how can these patterns work for other people but not for me? I have a friend here in North Carolina who favors Wooly Buggers. I haven't been able to produce on that pattern either. Nevertheless, he is able to pull out some decent sized fish. It works for him. Why is that?

Could it be that he is naturally inclined to have the skill set that is required to fish this pattern? Does he have a genetic coding that allows him to twitch, rip, or strip the fly in such a way that it triggers a must eat attitude? Or is it that he prefers the pattern, which in turn gives him confidence to fish the pattern effectively? Did the chicken come before the egg?

I have a few patterns in my fly box that I favor more than other flies. In no particular order they are: Pink Squirrel, Hare's Ear Nymph, Copper John, Gabriel's Golden Trumpet, and an imitation caddis pattern that I've forgotten the name of. Of course there are various other patterns in my box that I've been able to produce fish with. An Elk Hair Caddis will always be a favorite, for no other reason than it was the first fly that I caught a trout with. The Y2K has been producing trout this season for me and my wife, so it will have a place in my heart.

So, back to the point: why do these popular patterns not work for me? Also, as a side note, do they work for you? I've had moderate success with BWO (Blue Winged Olive) patterns. Besides that one trout in the mountain lake, I've never caught a trout on a Scud pattern. And I don't believe I've ever thrown a hopper style pattern before with any success. Am I just missing the seasons for these patterns or am I genetically coded for nymph patterns?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Day 84 - Mmmm... Trout

Ever since the other day when I was talking to a friend of my wife's, I've been thinking about trout. Trout usually are not very far from my brain, but this time it was more animalistic in nature: I want to eat one.

Normally I'm a catch and release kind of guy. I think it's a freaking miracle that the live, and I prefer on most days not to harvest the trout. Lucky for the trout around here, catching and killing isn't the season right now. I would have to purchase my trout at a store or a restraunt if I want to taste trout.

It all started when I was asked the question if I eat the fish that I catch. I replied that I haven't given the last rites to a trout for quite a few years, however I'm not against thumping a head. I went on to say that I have a pretty good recipe for trout. I modified a recipe that is given in The Compleat Angler. Once I've cleaned and gutted a trout, I place copious amounts of sweet butter within the cavity. I then place some fresh herbs (like basil and rosemary) inside as well. Next I wrap the trout in tin foil and place it on the grill. After about 7-10 minutes (flipping once) I remove the packet and trout is served.

It's a pretty good way to eat trout, especially if you happen to be camping out. I'm sure that there are some other ways that are good as well. I haven't fried a trout in a skillet, but I've been told that is pretty good. I have a cookbook that talks about different styles of cooking trout, and I found a recipe in there that calls for cedar planks. I have a couple of cedar planks, but I've put off using them. I even have a fish shaped cast iron serving tray for the wood planks thanks to a free sample from my former employer. Again, this has gone unused.

I did managed to satisfy my urge for trout today. After church, nine of us "young adults" chose to invade the Cracker Barrel for lunch today. Most of the group decided to pursue breakfast foods, I on the other hand opted for the trout. My wife who doesn't like fish even had a nibble, we may have to take a trout or two next year. I promise to keep only small ones and to throw all the big trophy size fish back.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Day 83 - Pissed Off!!

After coming back from my in-laws in Virginia, I opened the mailbox and was greeted with the Jan/Feb issue of Fly Fisherman. Hurrah!!

After unpacking the Trout-mobile, and watching an episode of Fly Rod Chronicles, I found some time to peruse the magazine. One of my favorite sections to read are the reader comments under the heading Tight Lines. Let me tell, they let a doozy come slipping in this issue.

I'm going to be judgemental and sit in the big chair for a few minutes, so please stay with me. Why Ms. Valdez from Dallas, Texas wrote to Fly Fisherman is beyond me. The title for her section is called Sublime in Lime, and it's a pure bitch session of how her husband took her fishing just outside of Aspen, Colorado. It reeks of that crap reality TV show the Real Desperate Housewives, you know the spoiled rich women who are about as shallow as a glass of water.

She states that she was celebrating her 15 year anniversary and decided to let her husband plan the trip. The end up going to a historic inn just outside of Aspen, Colorado. Now here comes the bitch session: the wallpaper is too old, the furnishings weren't up to her taste, fly anglers give violent jerks to otherwise peaceful innocent trout, her husband didn't let her buy the minx coat that she wanted (seriously it's in there).

She then goes on to say that they decide to do a float trip down a river. She was excited that her guide looked like a cross between Kevin Costner and Harrison Ford. She spends the next two hours drooling over him. After that gets old, she decides to make her husband and the guide's life hell because she feels "held hostage by two trout warriors" on a floating prison with no hope for escape. She asks stupid questions and then belittles the men with even more stupid ponderings.

Finally, she drives the dagger home by questioning their fishing ethics and comparing the experience of understanding what kind of fish was on the line (whitefish vs. trout) before it came to the surface with racial profiling. I'm sorry, what??!!! How in the world can identifying a fish on the line be anywhere near racial profiling? I feel offended by the mere mention that she thinks these two things can relate! Incredulous!!

How can this even get into the Letter to the Editor section in the first place? All the other letters talk about fly fishing and how it cured their hangover, or how effective the conservation approach to streams is going, or giving thanks for a solid piece of advice that "netted" a trophy trout. What was her impetus for writing this? Was it to try to say that anglers are horrible and that we should all stop fly fishing? Should we compare this to the PETA comic book that villanized our fathers for taking us fishing? Or was this just an excuse for the editors to play devil's advocate and get readers all riled up.

This may just be the young newlywed talking, but I thought a healthy marriage is built upon love and respect and support. I for one am glad that I have a wife that supports me in my passion of fly fishing. Thank you for letting me vent. I think maybe tomorrow I'll write a letter to the editor, asking why on Earth would they even consider printing that letter.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Day 82 - It Pays To Be Friendly...

Today was a good day. After saying goodbye to some friends that were visiting, we made our way to a ski swap. My wife is a pretty decent skier (or so I'm told) and we kind of wanted to see what the prices were for a new set of skis and a pair of boots for her. FYI, they cost as much as a new fly rod and reel. We didn't make any purchases along those lines, however we did purchase me a Lucky Yellow Hat: Winter Edition. It's a bright yellow beanie style hat made by the Turtle Fur.

As we were checking out, I made conversation with the lady behind the counter. She liked my choice of hat, and I told her that it would be my cold weather fly fishing hat. She perked up. She asked if I fly fish (which I thought I had just explained to her that I do, by anyway...) and said that she loves to fly fish as well. After selling my wife a purse (she needs a new purse like she needs a new hole in her head (which was seconded by my father-in-law)) she proceeded to tell me that she has a friend who has a little private trout stream that has had some recent stream improvement made. She joked how when she visits this friend she is told to grab the fly rod and catch a couple of wild trout so that they can be smoked for dinner that night.

(excuse me while I wipe the drool from my mouth)

It gets even better. She told me that I should come visit in the spring and that she could show me where some big wild trout are at. (CHA-ching!)

It's interesting the places that you meet fellow anglers. I wasn't expecting the middle aged woman behind the counter of a ski swap event to be a fellow member of the fly fishing club. I'm not saying that women can't fly fish, but I assumed that she would be more actively involved with skiing versus fly fishing. I was wrong, and I guess that is what happens when you assume...

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Day 81 - Thanksgiving

Today is Thanksgiving, and all over the United States people are stuffing themselves with turkey and falling asleep on the couch watching football. Around dinner tables children are asked, "What are you thankful for?" Responses range from be thankful for puppies to Nintendo Wii to new baby brothers or sisters. This year I am thankful for my wife and her ongoing support of me.

It isn't easy, I'm sure, to live with me. I get moody and grumpy and tend to bark more than I wag. Nevertheless, my wife has been by my side through this last (and difficult) year. Having lost my job a year ago, she continues to work hard to bring in the money. She stepped it up when I decided to finish my MBA last spring, and she did all she could to make our move to
Greensboro a smooth one.

Recently, she has supported me in my pursuit of all things fly fishing. The last 81 days I've been on a journey to focus on fly fishing at least a little bit each day. My wife asks me each day if I have taken the time to do my daily writing. During this process she has even partaken on an adventure or two with me to the trout stream.

I'm also thankful for all the people who have encouraged me in this process. John and Rebecca you've made my day more than once. I look forward to fishing with you two in the future. Abigail, thank you for being my friend and the encouraging words you've given me on this adventure. Kyle while you're not an angler, I appreciate the fact that you enjoy these daily writings. Mitchell, I'm humbled by your fishing power on the Davidson. And to everyone else who have silently read these posts and appreciated my sense of humor. I wish you all a wonderful and peaceful Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Day 80 - Wallflower

This may just be me speaking from my own experiences and circumstances, but I think that most anglers (when their not in their own element) are wallflowers. We tend to shirk back into the wall during social gatherings (company parties, dinner with the in laws, church functions...). I wonder why that is.

My initial thoughts revolve around the idea that we seek solitude and balance in our lives. Our passion puts us in a place where we can practice solitude and escape the demands of life. In this sense, fly fishing mirrors are desires to seek comfort in solitude. Even when fishing with friends, we tend to choose different parts of the stream, fish that, and occasionally break the silence by checking in with our friends (partly to make sure that they haven't drowned and partly to make sure they haven't caught more fish than us).

Upon review, it could be that we tend to be naturally socially awkward and we seek refuge in fly fishing. That seems to be a better description at least in my own life. To be honest, I am what you would call a late bloomer. Real late. I didn't find a level of social acceptance until I was in my mid-twenties, and then ended up developing that acceptance for even a few more years. This isn't to point a finger and blame my parents, or friends, or schoolmates, or whomever. I just didn't know who I wanted to be, and therefore couldn't fit into a certain mold.

Maybe this is why I seem to be an eclectic person. I enjoy most music genres, all except modern country and gangster rap. I know how to balance a spreadsheet, change the oil in my car, knit, do leather work, tie flies, light a pilot light, fry a turkey, brew my own beer... I've been a soldier, a youth pastor, a printer's assistant, a sign maker, a fry guy, a buyer, a window washer, an advertising intern, a mechanic, a carpenter/mason, a chaplain's assistant...

I'd like to see a case study on the life of the average angler. Maybe not the average angler, maybe the determined angler, not quite professional but definitely more than your weekend warrior type. I'd like to see if they have the same characteristics that I have. If they are brutally honest, don't like to play corporate politics, tend to be a jack of all trades (and master of none), and generally all around good guy (or gal).

The above statements sound like I'm either anti-social or just plain introverted. This isn't true. I do enjoy the company of other people. I enjoy hearing about their lives and I seek to find some kind of common ground in which to hold a conversation. It's just that in group situations I tend to become exhausted with the idea of interacting with a lot of people. Does that make me so different?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Day 79 - Something Different

Today instead of putting all my creative juices into text, I went ahead and made a video. The video (hopefully just the start of more to come) is on my favorite "go to" fly: the Pink Squirrel. Actually, to be fully honest the pattern I use is a variant on the Pink Squirrel. Therefore, it should be technically called the Pink Squirrel Variant.

I've uploaded the video to YouTube and it can be viewed here. However, I've also placed the video below. I'd love to hear what your thoughts are on the video and if I should change anything. Thanks!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Day 78 - H20 (That's Water)

Earlier this summer, I had what I believe to have been an episode of Heat Stroke. One of the after effects of this event is that I seem to be very aware of how little (or much) water I've been taking in. It doesn't make my life any better that I'm addicted to Pepsi (or Cheerwine). Nevertheless, I still try to drink more water than I did before.

Water is an interesting thing. Our bodies are said to be made up mostly of water. Biblically, water wasn't so much created but "hovered over" and that in Heaven there is a River of Life. We "break water" to be born, and if you are an evolutionist we can trace our roots back to water. And it shouldn't surprise anyone that NASA scientists are seeking water on the moon and on Mars.

So is it any wonder that as anglers we have a unique connectedness to it. We find our passion in the midst of streams, lakes, and oceans. The object of our desire lives in and breathes water. The food of trout, panfish (breem), bass, bonefish, tarpon, redfish... comes from the water. Yet, despite all of this, it's probably the last thing we think about when we go fishing.

At least that's the way it is for me. When I go fishing, I don't see a river, I see possible places for fish to be holding. I see a big rock or a down tree and think, "There, there is the residence of a big trout." I overturn rocks in the river and think, "The stream is full of Yellow Sallies, or caddis larvae." I put on my waders without thinking about water, but about staying dry.

Maybe the next time I'm out on the stream, I'll pause for just a moment and reflect on the life giving wonderful properties of water (maybe even while I take a sip of water from my Nalgene). For it is good clean water that allows me to pursue my sport, and it is good clean water that refreshes my soul. Just a small pause in a day of big fish I'm sure.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Day 77 - Stupid Fly Recipes

So are you like me and frustrated about the crazy new materials that are out there for fly tying? We see them advertised in fly magazines or demonstrated on a YouTube video but when we go and try to find them ourselves we're totally without aid. Or you find a really great pattern that you want to try out, but when you read the materials list you suddenly find your supplies absent of rare albino walrus butt hairs. Seriously?! What gives?

If you're like me, you don't get a whole lot say in what you're fly shop carries in the way of materials. Mine has a whole wall full of crap that I already have or are used for a entirely different species of fish that I don't care to catch.

Let's talk hooks for a moment. Having worked in inventory management for a major big box retailer of hunting, fishing, and camping goods I can say without a doubt that it could be cost prohibitive to stock every single hook style out there. I get that. But that doesn't mean that you can't have some newer hooks styles out there. I mean the klinkhammers are starting to become more and more popular, so why can't we get klinkhammer hooks? How about the fact that there is a whole movement going on beneath our noses right now for barbless hooks? I'm tired of pinching down the barbs on my hooks. I forget to do that sometimes and risk getting fined at certain times of the year.

A couple of years ago, the hot new product was Softex from Icon Products. Fly tying magazines were quick to write about this stuff and created soft really amazing patterns (all thanks to generous samples to the magazines from Icon Products I'm sure). I wanted this product. I couldn't find it to save my life. Not Cabela's, Gander Mountain, or even Bass Pro carried the product, let alone a small Ma & Pa shop. To this day, I've only read about the product and have never even seen a jar of this stuff on any shelf. Of course if I had the product now I'm not sure what product I would tie.

Now, I must admit that I am pretty much geographically challenged to fly shops. I have been most of my life. Muscatine isn't known for it's wonderful pristine fly streams, nor St. Paul for that matter. I live in Greensboro now, and can't say that I know of a good fly shop to carry all the fun things for my imagination to play with. The one place that I did live at (Denver) was never flushed out as I didn't pick up fly tying until a month before I left.

I just have one last thing to say: All you imaginative fly tiers do me a favor, keep your new products to yourself. Don't get my hopes up. Unless you know the product is readily available (like hares ear dubbing) I don't want to hear about it anymore. I have no avenues to get the product and I'm feeling like an ugly sexually charged teenager: frustrated. So please stop, I'm begging you. Of course if you have some new product that you'd like to give me, I'm sure I could write about it here in my blog.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Day 76 - Tools of the Trade

We fly anglers are a sight to be seen and often draw curious crowds when we invade "non trout waters". Of course we're pretty easy to spot among the crowd. We're the ones with clanking vests, dragging nets, bulky waders, funny hats, and a curious love affair with bugs. We can't pass a stream without thinking, "That bend beneath the tree looks like a good trout hole." And we often voice these ponderings out loud, making anyone in our company wonder if we're truly engaged with their conversation.

We're anglers and we spend our money on simple things like mitten hemostats or a can of silicone fly line dressing. If we were bass or walleye anglers we'd save up for a new bass boat. But we're fly fishermen (and women) and the places we tend to fish would tear up a bass boat. A drift boat might not be out of the question though.

Still we tend to spend our money on the trinkets and classify them under the guise that they are tools of our trade. A new fly box, a tippet holder, clip-on magnifiers, stomach pumps, thermometers, new net, magnetic attachment for nets, wading staffs, hemostats... somehow we must own them. I think the underlying thought is that either it will allow us to catch more fish or understand fish better so that... we can catch more fish.

To be honest, I like to catch fish and if there is something that will give me a better edge in that pursuit, well sign me up. Maybe that is why I clank when I walk and draw curious stares, because I'm looking for that edge. I'm OK with that... so long as I catch more fish.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Day 75 - Pre-Thanksgiving Party

I know, I know... technically this isn't day 75 as it is 12:16 AM when I writing this. To me it still is day 75 since I haven't gone to bed yet.

Tonight my wife and I hosted a young adult pre-Thanksgiving dinner at our house. We had about 13 people show up, and I think it was a success overall. Through the course of the night I got to speak to a few individuals about this blog (some read it, others were just curious).

I got to hear from them what they like (or would like) to hear about. It was encouraging to hear that people who don't fly fish have been reading the blog and getting something out of it. They mentioned that they like the humor that I put into this. Thank you, but I think all anglers have a wry sense of humor. I mean let's face it, we put limitations on ourselves to prove to a fish (who has a brain the size of a pea) that we have fooled them. Yeah for us!

During one talk this evening, I spoke with a woman who has never fly fished. She admitted that while she was never one to pick up a rod, she also felt a special connection to the Creator when outdoors. She seemed to be interested in the idea of fly fishing and I told a fishing story (for that is what I love to do) that included how a wild turkey scared the bejeezus out of me one time on the Kinni in River Falls, WI.

She asked if there were a lot of bloggers out there talking about fly fishing. I replied that there was a whole lot of us out here typing away into the electronic web. Knowing that she might relate better to a female writer, I told one memorable story by a lady who calls herself The Outdooress on why she wears only hip waders. It's a good story, and I recommend that you read her blog.

We who angle and then write do so because we love what we do. We want to share our passion so much that we want others to experience what we feel in our heart. In some way, you could call us Evangelists for the Church of the Babbling Brook. I like that, because as I said before there is something of the Almighty in the sport of fly fishing.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Day 74 - Micro fun

The other day, my good buddy John "tweeted" a picture of a micro wooly bugger. Those in his circle laughed and had some fun about this fly.

In the spirit of this fly, I attempted my own version of the micro wooly bugger. It's a first attempt, and as an added plus the fly didn't go into the crap jar.

Micro Wooly Bugger, Black
Hook: Daiichi 1260, #16
Thread: Black 8/0
Bead: Brass
Weight: .015 lead free wire, wrapped 4-5 times around hook shank and pushed under brass bead
Tail: Black Marabou, with 4 strands of Black Krystal Flash tied on top
Body: Micro Chenille, Black
Hackle: Black Hackle, tied in by tip and wound forward

As always, I learned a few things at the vise. First, the outcome of this fly is very head heavy since I pushed the weight forward towards the hook eye. It may fish point side up, which might not be a bad thing actually. Second, I may substitute the micro chenille for embroidery thread. This will probably be necessary if I go down in size.

The next time I tie this pattern, I may add some additional marabou by the head. I really love the action that marabou has under water, and I'm convinced that you can't have too much movement on a leech pattern. I tied a leech pattern years ago that required three distinct sections of marabou that ended up being a proven "trout catcher".

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Day 73 - Uncoordinated

Before I begin, I promised that I would show pictures of the fly that I tied to today if I was semi-successful at the pattern that I had in mind. Well, today I added another fly to the crap jar. It was an ugly monstrosity of a thing that I do not want to remember. Seriously, that fly was nothing to look at. In fact it was just plain ugly, and not ugly in a fishable way. So... no pictures (the camera would have broke if I tried to take a picture). On the plus side, I did read about a guy that had to practice daily for almost 2 years to get good at it. Hmmm... that sounds like another blog possibility, but maybe not one that I'm willing to tackle.

Maybe the reason why I'm having so much trouble with this pattern is that I'm uncoordinated. I can't walk and chew gum at the same time. My dance moves are limited to mimicking the gopher on Caddyshack, and I no longer try to clap to the beat of a song. I suck. This could be the reason that team sports was never my forte as I would inevitably try to kick the ball and end up performing a Charlie Brown back flop.

I've grown to accept this quirk, and I think my wife has accepted the idea that I will never really truly honestly be able to dance with her. Yet despite this uncoordination, I do try. And I've managed to be able to cast a fly with some sort of precision. I would like to say that I perform this rudimentary fly fishing skill with grace, however I doubt it sometimes. The rod feels clunky in my hands on occasion and I end up getting wind knots more than I like (but less than I used to).

There are occasions though when fate whispers encouragingly to me. When I can feel the back cast load in the rod, where I can keep that load in the rod until I suddenly snap on the forward cast. And then... perfection. When a cast is done correctly, and the line shoots out like an arrow and the fly lands ever so softly to kiss the water... amazing grace how sweet it is. Mmmm... I can just picture it now in my mind and my heart beats a little slower.

I think this is one of the reason that I pursue fly fishing so much. When I can achieve a cast with such perfection, I suddenly don't feel so inept. I may never be able to dance like Fred Astaire, or throw a baseball well, or even play anything more than Greensleeves on my tin whistle. I'm tone deaf and can't carry a beat. I used to play the trumpet years ago (poorly I might add). But with fly fishing, I think I can truly find my grace.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Day 72 - The Fly Tying Bug

I looked at my fly box the other day and noticed that I have a few holes in my fly box. I'd also like to fill the holes in my wife's fly box. Therefore, I've been wanting to sit down at the vise and crank out a few patterns. Therein lies the problem, I don't know what pattern to tie up.

After reading up the other day on the Polish woven nymph, I thought I might be onto something. Thanks to a bug exhibit a few years ago at the Midwest Fly Expo, I realized that many of the nymph patterns that I tie, are wrong. They don't include that wonderful gill pattern on the underside of the fly. The Polish woven nymph pattern could be improved upon if it included gills that stuck out between the wraps. Hmmm... my mind started to churn some gears.

Hoping to get those gears moving even more, I decided I'd try the woven nymph pattern. Ugh! It was ugly, and I don't understand how people can weave without tying their hands into knots. It could be the fact that I was working with two different materials (wire and embroidery thread), or that my hands are inexperienced with that style. Either way, it's one for the crap jar.

The crap jar, is really no more than a cup full of flies that I've attempted with little or no success. The idea is that someday in the future I'll take a razor blade and cut off all the "stuff" to salvage the hook (and possibly bead). Reality is that I've been adding to this pile pretty regularly for the past few years, and not once thought about salvaging the hook. Instead, it stands as a testament to my crappy tying skills, a history lesson of failures (or one could say experience).

I did learn from my experience at weaving. I won't share because they are super top secret and none of you have clearance. OK, that's not true. I learned that when you do this technique, great care should be given that your top wraps have to touch, or you'll have an ugly fly. Seriously, I was going to take a picture of it and post here, but I was too embarrassed by the outcome.

Since this outcome, I've been thinking more about this pattern and how I want to tie it. I may have to take another trip to the Art & Craft store to pick up some more thread. At a whopping $.97, I don't think I'll have to fight this battle too hard with my wife. I'm sure I could upturn some couch cushions or look in the console of my Trout-mobile to find the money. Also, I'll have to search through my materials chest for the pheasant skin that I think I still have (unless my dad has it in his chest).

Years ago, one of the fly magazines that I read talked about using filo-plumes from a pheasant skin. Filo-plumes are the secondary under feathers hidden below the main feathers. They are webby and under water give a lot of movement. The downside is that they are very fragile and short. However, my mind thinks that these little feathers could be tied to the underside of a hook. When using the Polish woven nymph technique, if these little feathers were left to stick out a little bit between the wraps they could look like gills.

I may have to take a trip to the store tomorrow. I'm liking this idea more and more. If this turns into success I'll post pictures tomorrow. If not, you can just believe that I've added one more pattern to the crap jar.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Day 71 - Sometimes it's best... get out of the house.

Last week my wife went travelling to do speak at a conference in Iowa. While there she was able to see my parents (and my aunt) and then was able to head up into Minnesota to see some friends. Meanwhile, as you know, I remained home to watch after the Wonderpup and the two cats. Also, it rained the entire time she was gone (as if the state was mourning her absence).

She returned Saturday afternoon, and she looked green around the gills (pardon the fishing pun). Evidently she somehow managed to pick up H1N1, AKA the piggy flu. I have to admit that I hate getting sick. I make a horrible patient and tend to whine and make a big deal about little things. So, despite missing my wife, I've kept my distance (I haven't even kissed her yet) in hopes of not becoming a whining little baby.

On top of all this, I've been riding the emotional roller coaster of not having a job and the bills piling up (I know, put me in a skirt and call me Sally). Thanks to my new fishing buddy here in NC, I managed to get a lead on a possible job. I ended leaving a message on the machine, and then followed up a couple times thereafter with no avail.

You can then imagine what state of mind I was in, when my wife questioned us on our finances. I totally admit that I was in the wrong, and that she did not deserve what came next. In order to save my marriage, I decided it was best to get some fresh air (and perspective). I jumped into the Trout-mobile and resisted the temptation to lay down some rubber leaving the driveway.

I ended up at the private lake that our housing development owns. I pulled into the lot and was relieved not to see the teenagers who hang out there. I try to withhold judgement against them, as I was a stupid teen once, but the appearance is that they are always up to no good. I pulled into the parking spot and tried to get some perspective. Nope, not yet.

After a few moments in the car to just be, I decided that since I was here I should at least cast a line. Ever since this blog has started, the Trout-mobile has always had a fly rod in the trunk. I went to load up my old standby, but then decided to go with the 4 weight. I grabbed the graphite rod tube, unscrewed the top, and then proceeded to put the rod together.

I walked to the dock, all the while keeping my eyes open for the tell tale signs of fish. A couple rings a little further out, but nothing too promising. I tied on a Pink Squirrel and then flipped the line over the end of the dock. It was then that I noticed how murky the water actually was. It wasn't just the failing light that made the water look dark, it was the week of rain. Great...

I only had my line in the water for a moment when a guy walks up on the dock. I could tell by his demeanor that he was having the same kind of day that I was. We spoke a few words, and then I was asked if I had caught anything yet. Not yet. Nor had I gained any perspective. I told him that I expected a fish soon.

Some footsteps on the wooden dock alerted me to a new visitor. A kid in red flip flops was watching me and my clanking vest. I said hello. A couple more words exchanged, then I got the same question again. Again I said not yet, but if he waited I would catch one soon enough. I made a few casts and sure enough a little sunfish took the fly.

I'm sitting here trying to make a connection between that fish and the perspective that I gained from this outing. I truly can't make one. In fact, now that I think about it, the perspective didn't come until I was at home having supper. What I did gain was a calming feeling. I was comfortable with the rod in my hand and my mind released the anger that I had, in order to make room for the fishing mentality. As all good anglers understand, nervous energy does not make for good fishing.

Maybe this is one of the reasons I go fishing. Maybe it's to get in the right frame of mind so that we can then accept the perspective that we are looking for. Nervous energy equals bad fishing, therefore we calm ourselves down so that we can catch fish. Which then allows our body to accept new realities. Hmmm... interesting.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Day 70 - Tedium

This past week I have to admit that I didn't venture too far away from the house. Given the fact that I don't have a job and the bills are piling up higher than I'd like to see, I chose to live off of Hot Pockets, Cheerwine, and an occasional baked potato. In case you're not from the Greensboro area, it rained last week... a lot! As such, my practice pond wasn't even much of an option.

These dark days of rain, cold, and boredom drive me crazy. At one point I even scrubbed the shower clean. And by clean, I mean I reverted back to my military days of clean. I don't know how other anglers bear the tedium. Maybe they get a reprieve from the dreary mundane by actually making a living. I think that would help, but every true angler has a piece of wild stream hidden in their hearts beckoning them back into the wild.

How I dealt with the monotony of life was that I (in between filing bills, playing with the Wonderpup, and cleaning the bathroom) read about fly fishing, watched videos on fly fishing, and even tied a few flies. Will this be the answer to the upcoming months ahead? Possibly.

When I lived up north, it may have been a different answer. The beginning of every season, my buddy Mike and I would gather on the frozen waters of Wisconsin and attempt to fish the opener. Sometimes it would just consist of us getting together and talking about fish as the wind chill, the snow, and the sub zero weather would keep us off the water.

But here in North Carolina, I have different expectations. It is the middle of November and today pushed the 70's. It dipped into the 50's a few weeks back and I put on a jacket when I got to church. As I was walking in, I overheard one of the ladies mentioning that this weather wasn't due until Christmas. Really?? When you add to that the streams remain open year round here, monotony may not get too much of a chance to set in.

This upcoming week I have higher hopes. I may not be able to hit a real trout river, but I may get some practice time in at the "casting pond" in my subdivision. The panfish I've got pretty well figured out (thanks to fishing that species growing up). I may try to work the banks and try for a few bass. I've been told by a fellow brother of the angle that there are some decent ones cruising in there. I'll have to find my box with the bigger bugs if I decide to go that route.

The last couple of times I've hit the panfish pretty hard. I mentioned this to my dad and he asked how many I kept. Sheepishly, I replied I threw them all back (despite having some decent fish). I may gather a few this week (if the regulations allow me to) and fry them up with a little cornmeal and some butter.

I guess no matter how you look at it, we all have to do something to keep us from going stir crazy when we can't fish. Some of us tie flies, others tell stories, while others listen/read those stories. In the end, I imagine that we do whatever we can to ease that calling of the wild.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Day 69 - The Internet

So, I have something to say... it's a little embarrassing... OK, here goes... (long pause) I love YouTube. Phew!! Glad I got that off my chest, the guilt was eating me up inside.

Unlike other hockey hosers, who watch stupid stuff like dancing hamsters and David after the dentist, I prefer to watch fly fishing related videos. The web is full of crazy people (like me), who have video cameras (unlike me), and have a passion for fly fishing (like me).

When I'm not busy filling out yet another application on line for a job, playing Fish Wrangler on Facebook, or writing this blog, I'm probably checking out some fly fishing video on YouTube. I do swing towards fly tying also.

As I've mentioned in previous posts, I'm a fly angler from the School of Hard Knocks. As such, without a fly fishing mentor, I am forced to observe other anglers to pick up new tricks, tactics, or fly patterns. Good form and polite manners keep me from observing anglers in the wild, so opt for the less invasive approach by watching on the Internet.

Lately, I've been interested in polish woven nymphs. I first learned about them in a DVD that I received a couple years ago that came in a British fly magazine. The technique is a little more difficult, and I've misplaced the DVD (I've moved twice since I received it). So going to YouTube, I typed in the search engine Polish Woven Nymph. Sure enough, I found what I was looking for.

But, my search doesn't end there. Noooo... afterwards, I follow the rabbit trails. After the video plays, a couple of "related" videos are suggested. Finding one that looks interesting, I click that one. After watching, another suggestion and another click. Kind of like the instructions for shampoo (Lather, Rinse, Repeat).

After 30 minutes of this, I've now gleaned new information. I've learned that some people use super glue to stop their lead from moving on them. I wonder what in the world is Uni-Stretch and where do I find some? And finally, whip finishing fine wire is an option to secure it quickly and easily (I've lately been prone to wrap the wire 2-3 times over itself and then securing it with thread). I tell you, learning new things every time I watch a video.

(Pssst! I have another confession to make. I didn't know how to embed YouTube videos into Blogger. After a quick YouTube search, I learned and wanted to give it a try. Thanks for bearing with.)

Friday, November 13, 2009

Day 68 - The Search for the Lost Fly

Dust off your fedora and grab your whips. Today I'm on an adventure for the lost fly.


Yesterday I mentioned that I'd like to find a forgotten fly pattern. One which history has forgotten and anglers can no longer recognize as a proven trout getter. Since yesterday my mind has been swarming around the idea of a possible "secret forgotten" fly. As always, I'm on the hunt for the Holy Grail of flies.

Now before I begin, I have to admit that the odds are stacked against me in my pursuit. Let's face it, if an old pattern is a proven trout catcher, would it have been forgotten? Patterns like the Adams and the Royal Coachman are a testament to this logic. So, how does one find a forgotten pattern that still produces fish?

Time to blow off the dust off the cover of the "Fish Flies: The Encyclopedia of the Fly Tier's Art" by Terry Hellekson. To me this is the first place I go to search for fly patterns. With just shy of 3,000 patterns, a handful of full color plates, and ranging from wet flies to nymphs to dry flies it is definitely the first place to start looking for a "Lost Fly".

Now before we begin, we have to have an idea of what we are looking for. Are we looking for a dry fly pattern? A nymph? Wet fly? If you don't know, then you are the one that is lost. For me, I tend to be a card carrying member of the wet fly/nymph club. Purists will tell me that I'm on the wrong side of this debate, and I will calmly tell them that the wet fly came before the dry fly (so put that in your hat and sit on it). This doesn't mean I don't like to catch trout on the dry, but when fish feed 90% sub surface... can you blame me?

I think part of the search has to do with the name of the fly. When you're on the stream and hammering fish when no one else is and you get the question, "What are they biting on?" After suppressing the statement, "The end of my line," wouldn't it just be grand to say a #16 Lindgren's Woodduck or #12 Spitfire or even a #8 Dark Assum Dragon? Wouldn't that propel you into fly fishing infamy? "Yes it would," you say with a smile.

Now here comes the hard part. Like any good quest it must require some sort of trial. It has to be searched out, tied, tested, and the retested. It has to produce under typical and non-typical situations. It not only has to work on Joe's farm pond, but it has to produce on the freestone stream, the mountain lake, and any other place that fish are at and you're likely to be at.

"No problem," someone might say. Don't listen to them, they're an idiot. The annals of history have lost more effective fly patterns than a person can tie. This giant book that is sitting next to me is full of patterns that someone, somewhere was able to produce fish on. They say that fish don't learn, and I say that's a load of crap. Anyone who has caught fish behind the stocking truck and then returned two weeks later to fish the same section will tell you this: Fish learn quickly!

And so on with the search. I've narrowed it down to either a wet fly pattern or a nymph pattern. But where to next? Do I start out with the ones that look like the ones that I normally fish, or do I go bold and tie a big hairy abomination of a fly? Do I choose a pattern with a mundane name like the Medium Emerger or go fancy like the Red Sheep Creek Special?

Then comes the hard part of putting the fly to the test. Maybe I'll tie a few and send some out to you all, and get your feedback? What say you?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Day 67 - Bug Nerd

I once knew of a girl who used to live by the headwaters of the Mississippi River. One year for a science fair project she marked out one mile of the river and collected/identified all the major forms of bug life correctly. She even included their Latin names. It must have been good as she went on to the national competition and won either first or second place, netting her a full ride scholarship to Dartmouth. Of course it didn't hurt that her father worked for the MN Board of Water and Soil Resources.

I never had the opportunity to learn Latin in high school. My high school offered Spanish, French, German, and maybe Japanese (not certain though). I struggled through 2 years of Spanish. The outcome? I can comprehend Spanish to a certain level, as the words sometimes sound like English words. Like every good fly angler, I can at least say: Un cerveza por favor. I guess that's all I really need, well: Donde esta el bano? (Let's face it, after one more beer you might need to know where the bathroom is at.

In college, I managed to eek out two semesters of Classical Greek. Its a dead language (like Latin) that nobody speaks. Even the Greek students in my college admitted to having a hard time reading the required texts. My college also had Hebrew, but still no Latin.

So why is a Midwestern boy (who happens to be transplanted to NC) tripping over his tongue attempting to pronounce Latin? As any good angler knows, all bugs are referred to by their scientific names (which happen to be in Latin).

Baetis Fuscatus, Baetis Scambus, Ecdyonurus (Heptagenia), Rhithrogena, Gammarus Pulex, Asellus Aquaticus, Meridianus... you say these names too fast, and somebody will think you've either had one too many cervezas, or that you missed the Hogwarts train.

Still, there seems to me to be a bit of the mysterious in these names. As though if I understood them that I could control them. Biblically speaking, there might be something to that. In Genesis, Adam was given control over every living thing and gave them names. So maybe if I call that Yellow Sally an Isoperla Grammatica, it will give me some supernatural power to tempt a trout's mind (or at least his gullet). I might be reaching for the stars on that one...

To be truly honest, I don't have one iota on what I'm talking about when it comes to identifying bugs by their Latin names (FYI, an iota is a Greek 'i', phew two semesters of Greek right there). I barely know the common names of the bugs, going the next step would require some serious mental gymnastics for me. However, I'd be willing to give it a shot.

The last time I happened to be at the fly shop, my gaze hesitated on a package of specimen bottles. I thought about the possibility of taking my passion to the next level. I debated and hemmed and hawwed over the idea for a little bit (in fact I still am). The debate goes why do I need to do this? What do I expect to get out of this? You're no scientist, you'd need a scientist brain and notebook to get this figured out. You don't even have enough room in your fly vest for you car keys, where are you going to put these bottles at? That specimen collecting will only keep you from catching fish. And on and on went the reasons for why I should not take it to the next level.

However... a piece of me is still drawn to this idea. Maybe I've had one too many sips from the fly fishing kool-aid (I'm pretty positive it's beer flavored), or maybe it's the adventurer in me wanting to know more, to learn more. And of course their is always that hope it will somehow translate me into being a better angler.

I forget whether I read this, or had a friend tell me about a story of how an angler who wanted to know more about the insect life at his house bought an aquarium and setup a mini-river system that he stocked with local river life. He was all excited as he was able to see the insects in action, that was until he realized that he didn't put a cover on his aquarium and came home to a "hatch" in his living room.

I think for the time being, I will pour over my collection of fly entomological pattern books and at least get some of the lingo down. I'm not sure if the baetis comes before or after the other Latin word. Also, I'll review the hatch charts for western North Carolina, and then maybe cross reference them to see which patterns to tie. And if I'm really motivated, I might research some classic patterns that no one uses today (in hopes of discovering an old favorite that still produces).

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Day 66 - Veterans

Happy Veterans Day. I'd like to thank my fellow brothers (and sisters) in arms for their desire to protect what is good and noble.

I signed up in February of 1992. I had just turned 17 and I was a Junior at Muscatine High School. I had just signed the line and given 6 and 2 to the United States Army Reserves. I was a weekend warrior and served in peace time (thank you Jesus!). My time ended early of 2001. I was a track vehicle mechanic, a carpenter/mason, and a chaplain's assistant. I ended my military career as an E-4, Specialist (chicken on a plate).

In 2002, I watched on TV as we invaded Iraq. I thought about some of my friends who were still serving and I wondered where they were. Moving to and from Colorado, and then a move to Minnesota left me out of touch with them. I don't know if any of my military friends are still OK. Hearing about roadside bombings, and other horrible incidents I feared for their lives. I still don't know where they are, but social media has me believing that some of them are alive and well.

But this is a fly fishing blog and not a military blog, however I can take a moment to talk about a charity that I've been seeing a lot of press lately and think every good military angler should take notice. The charity is Project Healing Waters ( Their mission is to aid in the emotional and physical recovery of wounded, injured or disabled veterans by introducing or rebuilding the skills of fly fishing (and fly tying) and allowing them to use these skills on fishing outings (hopefully to instill in them a lifelong pursuit).

I first heard news of this organization during an episode of Fly Rod Chronicles. Have to admit that I was a little moved when I saw a former soldier, missing an arm, catch a trout and stripping line with his mouth. Maybe there is something to this fly fishing is life philosophy after all.

From a weekend warrior, I offer my thanks to those men and women who heard the call and are serving our country. Thank you.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Day 65 - Guiding

It may not be a good idea to be unemployed and reading books about guiding. Somehow it just seems like a bad idea, like when as a kid my brother and I played toad baseball in the parking lot of our church (I know... that is really bad and I'm still repenting of that sin). Maybe this guiding notion doesn't carry with it the ethical and moral undertones as toad baseball, but it still has that sickly sweet feeling that it would be fun on some level.

Last Sunday when I took my wife out fishing, I jokingly told her that I would be her guide for the day. Part of the guide's role is to teach. The other part is to put them on fish. I hope that I accomplished the first, and pretty sure I managed the second. She did tie on a fly at one point, so I think I managed the first as well. I didn't mind standing by her side, coaching her through the process. I netted the fish, unhooked the fish, held the fish up for admiration, and gently released the fish back into the stream. My reward for this? It was the joy of seeing her face when she hooked a big one.

I know that this is different from an actual paying customer. Expectations are different. With my wife, if I didn't put her on fish that would have been OK. Not so much if my client hadn't caught a fish. With my wife I could share the experience of fishing with her, but with a customer it was about providing that experience.

Still, I think I could handle it some days. Customer service is a huge part of being a guide, or at least I imagine it to be. I've worked in the retail and service industry my entire life. I've washed windows in Denver and I have sold shoes in Iowa. They all fall back on the same principles of wanting the customer to feel comfortable.

Yet, customer service is only part of the equation. Results are the other part. I can't imagine a guide being very successful if his/her client didn't catch a big fish now and then (even if they made the client feel exceptionally well). I can't imagine how it would be on a long day on the water, no fish landed, and then telling the customer that will be $300 and then also expect a tip. It happens, I'm sure of it. But I would be willing to bet that a guide might offer a discount the next time around, just to keep a customer.

Yet, while I think I might be a good guide, maybe I just like the idea of being a rogue angler that gets paid to be on the stream. I don't know if I could really hack being a guide if I were truly honest with myself. Besides the inconsistent money thing, you still have this feeling of being a servant (at least that was the way I felt when I washed windows). Plus, I imagine that is pretty much a manual labor job, that not only requires strength but also requires one to be able to navigate a stream, look for fish, maintain a good drift, and net a fish all at the same time. With time I might be able to do that, but I think I'd prefer to be the person casting versus the person netting.

Maybe I'll just stick to writing about fishing. If I do it correctly it might even bring about an opportunity to go fish someplace, write about the experience, and then get paid. Now that would be nice.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Day 64 - Fly Fishing Philosophy

Descartes walks into a bar. He sits down at the barstool and says to the bartender, "I'd like to have a beer." After the bartender hands him the beer, he takes a sip, wrinkles his nose and says, "I think not!" He then disappears.

OK, that joke is a groaner, a head shaker, and I imagine gets told a lot in philosophy classes. Today I'd like to examine the idea of fly fishing as life. To start, I have to give you a little back story so you can see things as I see them.

Last week I purchased Dave Ames's book "A Good Life Wasted or Twenty Years as a Fishing Guide". Without no intention of offending Thomas McGuane Mark Kingwell (authors who I also happen to be reading at the moment) I like Ames's book better. In his opening chapter he describes his frustration of having to punch a clock, doing the mundane, and not appreciating the truly magnificent in our lives. After punching the time clock through the wall he starts his life away from the ordinary (which eventually leads him down the path of fly guide).

Earlier today (instead of working on the non-profit idea I've been developing) I was watching MTV2. I was cruising through the dish lineup looking for something good to watch (the old joke "100 channels and nothing good on" comes to mind). I ended up missing the first 15 minutes of "MTV's Ultimate Parkour Challenge". For those of you not in the know (like I was until after watching this), Parkour is that urban running, jumping, flipping, acrobat, stunt thing that people do (check out this YouTube Video for more details). One of the contestants said that Parkour was his philosophy for life, that it was all about living in the moment and enjoying the concept of freedom.

After reading Ames's opening chapter and listening to the passion that this athlete(?) had for Parkour, I started wondering if fly fishing could be a person's personal philosophy. If so, how does this play out? I mean this sounds like one of those zen things about hearing one handed claps, and trees falling in the forests.

I can see similarities between fly fishing and my faith. For example, when you are fly fishing you are almost hunting in a sense. You don't just throw a line in the water hoping that something is going to bite. A good angler takes the time to explore the environment, they seek the possible feeding lanes, understand how to present the fly the best way possible, and seeks to choose a fly that intrigues the fish. The same techniques can be applied to sharing my faith with someone. I don't preach from a soap box, or graffiti "Jesus Saves" on restroom walls... that's like throwing a line in the water and hoping. Instead, I seek to understand the person, what background they have, I get to know the person, and then choose my words accordingly to present my faith without offending.

So... I can kind of relate fly fishing to my faith, but how does this translate into philosophy? I guess I should define philosophy first (or at least how I see the term). To me a philosophy is the under riding code of values that a person has. Something that they can fall back on in case they have questions. Its also a way a person views or approaches life... an approach to life... I may be onto something here.

Can fly fishing be an example of how we approach life? This provides me with a cause to pause for a moment. No seriously, I'm pausing right... NOW! ... ... ... How do we approach a stream? ... ... How do we interact with problems on the stream? ... Why do we even approach the stream in the first place? Good questions! Those thoughts were in random order, I think I'll answer them in something of a foundational manner.

Why do we even approach the stream in the first place? I've been toying with this thought for some time actually, and I think I hit upon it the other day when watching an episode of Fly Rod Chronicles with Curtis Fleming. In this particular episode, Curtis and his posse were resting by the campfire and reflecting on the day. In an offhand campy sort of way, Curtis says something to the idea that he believes this is what heaven is all about. Could it be that we fly fish because we are pursuing heaven? That each one of us is seeking some kind of divine experience?

Interesting. We approach the stream as seekers. Seekers of truth, seekers of who we are, and seekers of what we hope to be (or at least I do anyway). I've already mentioned or alluded that when on the stream, all of life ceases to exist but that one moment, that one cast, that one live instant of thought in action. Ames says that, "Fishing well requires an utter concentration that somehow slows the hands of the cosmic clock." Maybe this slowing down allows us see things as they are instead of how we hope to see them. And when we see things as they really are, we can then discover purpose... and if we're lucky that purpose will be our own purpose in this world.

The next question should be, "How do we approach a stream?" A good angler will approach the stream observant, respectful, and from downstream (unless of course you're floating down a river, which is a whole other method). In terms of this discussion it could be worded as how do we approach life? Do the above answers for approaching a stream translate to approaching life? Possibly... yes I think they could.

I think the real answer to the question of how do we approach the stream, is that we do it from downstream. Bear with me on this. Downstream says that we are to be patient, observant, and in essence to approach with a plan (not spooking the fish). In my experience (and I can only speak to that experience), these lessons are instrumental in success. So maybe being patient, observant, and having a plan is foundational to my philosophy? Yeah, I think that works.

And finally, how do we interact with problems on the stream? Yesterday I was telling my wife that when your line gets tangled up on itself, it is best to stop immediately and take care of the problem or it will turn into something worse. Problems should be taken care of immediately. If we ignore them (in hopes of things turning out better?) they can grow into something even worse than we dreamed. Of course the real skill is knowing how to avoid the problem, usually experience tells us this.

Like Descartes, who needed a strong foundation to build upon his beliefs, I think I've developed a pretty good foundation here. To recap:
  • We are all seekers of truth, pursuing heaven, and hoping to discover our purpose in life.
  • We should approach life with a "downstream" mentality that requires patience, observance, and a need for a plan.
  • And finally, we should address problems immediately, all the while developing the skills of how to avoid problems in the first place.
I think this is a pretty sound philosophy, but like all things it needs to stand against popular opinion and the test of time. I would really love to hear what other people may think about this idea that I've presented. If you could, please pass this article around. I'd honestly like to hear what other people think and whether or not I need to readdress some points. Please, I don't ask for much and I think this is important enough to beg for your help. Thank you.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Day 63 - The Great Egg Debate

Today my wife and I headed to Stone Mountain State Park and went fly fishing. Understanding that the fish wouldn't "turn on" until the water warmed up, we took our time getting up and getting ready. After a quick trip to Dunkin Donuts, we were on the road by 11:15 AM. We arrived just shy of 1 PM, and I decided that for today was more about helping my wife learn than me fishing hardcore. After driving past a couple of spots that I was hoping to hit, we ended up by the old church (sort of apropos that we started there since we told people that we were attending the Church of the Babbling Brook).

I geared up and got ready. My wife doesn't own any waders yet, so I decided that I should be ready to "jump into" the river to help her land the fish. She put on her chest pack and then I instructed her how to rig up the fly rod. We then headed towards the big pool a little ways upstream. Another angler was fishing where the two streams merged. We decided to give him room, and fish a little lower. The water was crystal clear and with the help of polarized glasses you could see exactly what happening below the surface. We tied on a cheese colored Y2K pattern and worked the bottom end of the pool.

We could see that the fish were showing some interest with that pattern but no real solid takes. I changed the pattern a couple of times trying to zero in on what was the "golden" fly. Having such a clear view of the fish allowed us to really see what they were interested in. After about 30 minutes, we concluded that the original fly had the most trout appeal. We changed over to that fly. Almost immediately, we had a fish on. By this time our angling friend had decided to move on (after catching a fish then losing it when he got his rod tangled up in the branches of an overhanging tree). Kathryn caught a few more fish (and a few missed strikes) before the hole was kind of spooked.

We decided to try elsewhere, but before we left, there was a honey hole in the area that I found the last time I was there. I told Kathryn that I wanted to try that hole again since the last time I pulled an 18" Rainbow from that hole. I waded to the spot, and within a few casts (more like lobs due to the fishing restraints of the location) I had pulled a little rainbow out. Kathryn was on the bank cheering me on. I unhooked, and tried again. Another one came easily to the hook, this time bigger. After a few more fish, I coaxed my wife to ditch her shoes and wade out to me (by the way, water temp was 52 degrees). For the next couple of hours, my wife and I pulled fish after fish after fish from that hole. Rainbows and brookies, big ones and little ones, strong ones and sluggish ones... we caught them all.

As the sun was slinking lower over the horizon, the area we were fishing started to get dark. It was still really sunny, but the angle of the sun and trees started to drop the water temp and inevitably the fishing turned south. At this point we stopped for lunch and talked about where to fish next. We ended up deciding by coin flip, to fish the section where she caught her first four trout. We drove to the spot, and my wife was at it again.

The pool was darker here, with an inky black surface. It was also quite deep (took almost my full 7 1/2' leader). We added on quite a bit of split shot and lobbed it up stream. Within 5 minutes, Kathryn landed a beautiful brook trout. It was about 12" long and gorgeous to look at. She cast a few more times, and missed a couple of subtle strikes. By this time I was anxious to catch fish again. I took the rod from her and managed to catch a couple of fish in quick succession. I could see the dark backs of a couple giants in the water below and started to fish their lanes. I was rewarded with an 18-20" rainbow with the most brilliant cheek markings. As I was pulling the fish out of the water for my wife to take a picture, my line snapped and the giant slid into the blackness of the water. It was my fault for not landing the fish correctly. Instead of using a net, I decided to just lift the beast out of the water with the line, lesson learned. Still a great way to end the day. As best as we can determine, we caught well over 20 fish and that doesn't include all the missed strikes and those that didn't make the net (except for that last one, I'm counting that one).

Without exception, every fish we caught today was on some sort of egg pattern. Now I've read that some anglers feel that egg patterns isn't truly fly fishing. In fact, I've held that opinion in the past (and maybe I still do as I felt a little guilty about all the fish we caught today). I read recently that some fly fishing competitions don't allow the use of egg patterns or leech patterns as they are too effective in catching fish.

In previous posts, I've mentioned that fly anglers set themselves apart from other anglers as they impose certain restrictions on their selves so as to showcase their talent and skill. So, should an angler impose the restriction of egg patterns because of how effective they are?

Maybe. I can definitely see both sides of the argument and feel that both sides have their merits. On the one side, the egg patterns catch fish. They are hand tied, and mimic a form of food that trout feed on. The juxtaposition is that it is too effective, that a person might as well be chucking corn in the water and fishing with a treble covered in cheese.

I think the end choice ultimately rests on the individual angler. Now personally I'm one for tradition and all, but I think the occasional use of an egg pattern is perfectly acceptable (especially when one has trout fever). However, if that is the only fly that a person uses, then I think the person has crossed some sort of proverbial line. What do you think?

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Day 62 - Fly Vests

One of the most often quoted lines in fly fishing literature in terms of starting out and gathering equipment is from John Gierach's book "Trout Bum". Not being above this, I will quote him too.
I began to suffer from voidophobia - the unreasoning fear of empty vest pockets. I didn't know exactly what I needed, but I clearly needed a lot of stuff, enough stuff to make me clank and rattle when I walked, to strain the single-stitched seams of my cheap vest, enough to put me in the same league with the guys who were catching all the fish.

To be honest, I think all of us have succumbed to that phobia at least once in our early stages of angling. We start out not knowing what we need, and if we aren't lucky to have a good friend or mentor to guide in our ways, we soon buy a slough of gadgets just so we have something to dangle from our vests. Given this fact, I think the guy who took the fingernail nippers and transformed them into "line clippers" is living it up large on some beach in Tahiti.

Two weeks ago, I took my wife fishing for the first time. For those of you in the know (and by that I mean having read my blog) you know that she caught her first trout on her first cast. It was quickly followed by her second, third and fourth cast. Having asked her what she thought about fly fishing afterwards, she replied that she'd like to do that again.

Tomorrow we are going to do just that. I've been tying up patterns for the last two weeks in expectation for this venture. I've purchased a fly box for her and filled it with patterns that will most likely catch trout on the stream we are headed to. Earlier this evening I rummaged around in our garage and found a fly vest that I had always intended to use, but never got around to it. It is a William Joseph mini-pack. It has a strap that goes over the neck and has one main compartment for a fly box, two zingers, and a little mesh pocket. I gave that to her, along with a pair of nippers, some strike indicators, some moldable tungsten weight, and when I get around to searching more thoroughly a pair of hemostats.

I like the idea of a new fly fishing vest. Just like going shopping for back to school supplies, it has that essence of magic to it. One of the first things I do when I get a new vest is try it on, followed closely by examining all the pockets. I try to imagine what pockets I will use the most. Since I'm right handed, I tend to hold my fly rod on that side of my body. Therefore, I try to eliminate the bulk on that side of my body so that it won't interfere with my cast. Zingers holding hemostats and nippers tend to interfere with casts also. Therefore I tend to locate those either to my left side, or to the center of my vest (towards my sternum). Those two items should normally be painted black as to not reflect the sun, however my current two aren't for some odd reason. As such, I try to hide them within pockets as well.

Over the last nine years (the start of which was the start of my fly angling lifestyle) I've gone through numerous vests. My first one was a cheap green vest that so many of us start out using. I think I paid less than $20 for it if that helps determines the quality of the vest. After that vest, I decided that I wanted to go with something a little fancier. The big thing at the time were chest packs. They look like backwards school bags that you place on your chest versus your back. They have one big zipper that goes around the sides of the bag which then drops down to form sort of a table. I used that one for a little bit. Then came my time at the big box retailer. Various forms of vests came into my collection. For a long while I used a William Joseph vest, that had room for a Camelbak hydration system.

My current vest is a sample vest from the 3-Forks Ranch. As a sample it has a few non-working components that I would need to modify if I wanted to use it (a sewn shut sleeve for a Camelbak tube comes to mind). The upper left pocket is felt lined and includes a felt bag for sunglasses. It is a little oddly designed but it also includes another inner pocket in there which I keep the camera in. Below that is a big pocket that allows two fly boxes to fit in. On the outside of this pocket is another pocket which I hold some "Green Kool-Aid" that is to supposed to eliminate the human scent on the fly. This 2-pocket system is mirrored on the other side. The front pocket on the other side holds tippet, split shot, and strike indicators. On the upper right pocket, I keep a leather leader organizer that my dad made for me. The inside pockets of the vest include room for various other fly boxes and even a spot for a thermometer (something I've been using more and more in my adventures).

No matter the vest you use (or chest pack, or strap-on fly box arrangement, or lanyard), I think each angler tailors it to their own needs. If I were a student of human behavior, I'm sure I could tell what type a person you were just by looking at your vest. I'm not, nor do I feign to profess to be. I do like to look at other people's systems however. Call it a mild fascination with a bit of wanting to learn something new. I've remarked before that most of my fly fishing knowledge has come about through the school of hard knocks, therefore I'm learning through observation.

So in the light of my learning objective, tell me what you have in your vest. Or some trick that you've decided to incorporate, or whatever... just please leave a comment as I love to read what other people think. Thanks.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Day 61 - Fly Tying Escapism

What I am about to say isn't new or original in any way, shape, or form: I started tying flies as a way to not only save money ($2.00 per snapped off fly can add up when you're just learning to fly fish) but as a way to occupy my time in the cold Midwestern winters. Now older (and definitely stocked up on weird materials) I tie for an entirely different reason.

Take today for instance. After deciding the budget wouldn't allow me to head to Asheville tomorrow for the fly fishing expo, I was in a foul mood. It didn't make matters any better when I came home from making a run to the border (that would be Taco Bell) and found out that Stewart (my wife's Siamese cat, commonly referred to as the "Slut for Affection") peed all over the love seat in our living room. Eerrghhhh! Cats will be cats, but this has been happening off and on for over a month now.

After using the spot steam cleaner on the seat, I ate my lunch furiously (I don't know if that is possible, but I was still fuming over the cat incident and not being able to go to the expo). I managed to watch an episode of Numb3rs, and when that was over I needed to do something else. I was bored with surfing the net, and I didn't want to stay on the couch and watch TV. I found my way to the dining room table (where my wife has graciously let me setup station for the vise) and started out tying some flies.

The pattern I decided to tie was the Pink Squirrel. I still had everything setup from early this week. I poured out a bunch of #16 Mustad wet fly hooks. I placed a gold bead on the hook and started the process. In about a half hour to an hour, I had finished the hooks that were on the table. I counted the finished flies on the table. A total of 20 finished (some of those were left over from earlier this week, but the majority were completed today).

I still had a couple of beads left on the table. I decided to let my creative juices fly. I searched for a scud hook and put on a gold bead. Understanding the success rate with the color red here in North Carolina, I decided to tie in red. Changed bobbins to my 8/0 red thread. I looked on the table and I had a package of goose biots in various colors. I pulled out the strip dyed in scarlet. I tied the biot in by the tip and wrapped it forward (cup side up, to get the cool ridge segment). I followed that with a small diameter silver wire. A couple wraps of peacock herl towards the head and the fly was done.

No clue if this pattern had been done before, or even if it has a formal name. But that wasn't the point of tying it. The point was to be creative and think about something different. I have no idea if it will catch fish, my gut thinks it is fishy enough that it should. As such, I plan on making a few more.

Getting back to the point, today sucked. My time at the vise was a manner of escapism. I escaped from the fact that the cat peed on the love seat, the fact that I'm not going to the fly expo tomorrow, the fact that money is tight and sacrifices have to be made, and the fact that I still have no stable employment. In story books, the angler who sits at the vise and escapes into the moment soon has a revelation and is saved from the heartache from the real world. As for me in the real world... I just had a few moments without having to think about the shit in my life. Reality is, there is no magic flute, or lamp, or whatever that makes our problems disappear... no matter how hard we hope.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Day 60 - School of Hard Knocks

Some of you don't know about my history with fly fishing. I've only been fly fishing for about 9 years. I've been fishing most of my life however. I grew up in a small town in Iowa, where my dad and brother would go fishing whenever the chance became possible. Mostly, it was on long weekends when my dad could get the time off from the chemical plant that he worked at. My dad loves the taste of panfish, and as such the majority of fishing that we did was for panfish (bluegills, sunfish, and the occasional crappie).

It wasn't until one labor day weekend that I was first introduced to fly fishing. My best guess was that I was around 12 years old at the time. We had been fishing the entire day at Lake Geode, and we weren't having any luck. My brother and I wondered away from my dad and we started to fish further back on this inlet. We could see the fish right there in the shallows, and my brother and I cast waxworms and Crappie Killers to them. No luck. It was then that we saw a guy coming down the path, a fly angler. After a brief conversation, he then asked if wanted some fish and if we did we should go get a bucket. After dumping the contents of my dad's 5-gallon bucket onto the ground we headed back. Within a matter of minutes the bucket was full.

Years later, I found myself at college in Colorado. My major was in Youth Ministry, but my real passion was in my minor: Outdoor Leadership. I would never miss a class from Steve Cyphers and enjoyed every minute of it. Urban trekking, rock climbing, backpacking, mountaineering, and even a 24-hour adventure where just some of the amazing classes that I took. One of the last classes that I took was fly fishing.

I had seen the guys in the streams since moving to Colorado. And to be honest, they seemed to be masters of mystery to me. How they could lay out the line in such perfect poetry was beyond me. I took the class out of fascination more than anything else. After the first class (a rundown of all the gear that we would need) I realized that I was grossly under equipped. A phone call to mom & dad soon remedied that.

We learned the fundamentals in that class. I soon managed to do a decent roll cast, false cast, and even a semi-accurate distance cast. I learned about the components of a fly rod, reel, and line. I learned about knots, feeding lanes, and even how to safely land a fish. The class concluded with two stream adventures: O' Fallon Park and Cheeseman Canyon. I caught a small brook trout on my first cast in O' Fallon Park on a #14 Elk Hair Caddis. I was skunked at Cheeseman Canyon.

And that was the end of my formal training in fly fishing. Everything else I learned from trial and error, reading fly fishing magazines and books, watching videos, and keeping my ears open. I never had someone who mentored me in the process of catching fish with a fly rod. All the little tips (like using saliva to help tighten the knot) came elsewhere. This isn't a slap in the face to my dad, he never learned to fly fish (so how could he teach me). I was just a victim of circumstances and no one is to blame.

However, I felt like I've been behind the eight ball on a number of occasions. Since learning to fly fish, I've always had a huge passion for the sport. I've read up everything I could get my hands on, and the result was that I had head knowledge. I could talk the talk, but had difficulty walking the walk. That was made evidently clear the first time I fished the Bois Brule in upper Wisconsin. I ended up having been schooled by a guy that I worked with (who just so happened to be an arrogant jerk). Needless to say, I toned down my enthusiasm.

Maybe this is why I am so moved to meet new anglers and share stories. This could be the reason why I'm compelled to mentor a new angler because no one was there to mentor me. I love the sport so much, and I want other anglers to love it as much as me. Possibly the reason that I love it so much comes from having to learn everything the hard way. But then again, who is to say that I wouldn't love it more with a big fish at the end of my line?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Day 59 - Knots

On the way home from our Bible Study (at the Irish Pub) my wife, a staunch follower of this blog, asked me what I was planning on writing about tonight. I replied that I planned on writing on something a little more technical and little less "heady". So without further ado, here we go into my discussion on knots.

It seems that fly anglers get a reputation for spending time on the water tying intricate knots. To be honest, we get that reputation for good reason. When we break down our system, we have a knot that holds our backing to the reel, a knot that holds our backing to the fly line, a knot that holds our leader to our fly line, a knot that holds our tippet to the leader, and finally a knot that holds our fly to the tippet. So I ask you, is truly any wonder we get questioned about needing good eyesight and dexterity of the phalanges?

The other day I was fishing a nice pool below a little waterfall. The pool was rather shallow on the edges, but had a nice good deep hole in the middle. My partner in crime noticed that there looked to be some nice size natives holding in the pool and that I should try for them. I had recent luck on an egg pattern, and so I tied on a Y2K pattern (cheese colored). My drift was perfect: I cast up into the turbulent waters near the falls and then drifted the egg slowly through the hole, making sure to high stick the line as it passed in front of me. I was rewarded with a solid strike. I set the hook, felt the familiar weight, and then... nothing. I pulled in my line and sure enough I saw the curly-cues at the end of my tippet. My knot had failed. <>

If you've done any length of angling, you can feel my pain at my loss. We've all tied on a fly hastily to meet the demands of our angst (either driven by rising fish or the excitement of just being on the water). We've all felt the sudden loss of weight on our line and only to our horror realized that we had been "broken off". Yet we know that in reality if we see those curly-cues on the end, our knot failed and we are to blame. (If the line had a clean break on the end, we could then boast about how big the fish was.)

When I tie on my fly, I use the Improved Clinch knot. It's a pretty basic knot and relatively easy to tie: through the eye, five twists, through the gap at the eye, and then through the large loop just created, a little saliva to help the process and viola! The downside of this knot is that comparatively speaking it has a low success rate (read: knot failures) and doesn't allow for a free natural drift.

To combat the the low success rate, I used the the Rapala knot for a while. This knot requires the the tippet to pass through the eye of the hook twice before proceeding. This gets to be quite troublesome when using smaller flies (as the tippet barely passes through once). I've quit using this knot despite the fact that it has an extremely high success rate (almost 99%).

The Palomar knot also has an extremely high success rate, plus it is real easy to tie. The downside is the same as the Rapala knot, it requires the tippet to be doubled through the eye hook. So while it is very strong, it doesn't meet the requirements for smaller flies.

Now here is where my wisdom starts to fail. The Turtle knot seems to solve the problem of the easy to tie on small flies, and I can't remember (as I don't use it normally) but I also think that if done correctly you can leave a gap to let the fly swing naturally(?). I think that you lose some of your knot strength this way also, but I think it is on par with the Improved Clinch knot.

So, I ask you the reader, "What is the best knot to use when tying your fly to the tippet?" I'd like to be able to tie a fly on quick (as when the fishing is on, I want to be casting to the fish), but I'd also like to have a very high success rate with the knot. It seems to me that it is a give and take relationship and comes down to personal preference. What do you choose?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Day 58 - Craft Perfection

After last week's fishing trip, I realized that I was getting kind of low on my go to fly: the Pink Squirrel. This is a pretty big deal for me right now. Normally I would head to River Falls, WI and pick up a few flies at the hardware store on Main Street, however I no longer live in MN or even anywhere close to River Falls. As an added hurdle, no one has ever heard of the Pink Squirrel here in Greensboro.

As much as I love fly tying, I don't think I've ever tied a Pink Squirrel. So being a child of the technology age, I Goggled it. Interesting... I ended up with all sorts of results, including the history of the fly. Apparently the originator of the fly, John Bethke, was getting tired of the strikes at his pink BioStrike indicator. The Virtual Flybox gives a little more history and tying instructions for the pattern.

I had the recipe, but was a little put off that that recipe requires actual squirrel hair (should have guessed by the description). In all 7 drawers of my material chest, I do not have a lick of squirrel material. Hmmm... I searched my dubbing drawer and started pulling out all sorts of "belly lint" and discovered that I had a nice little box of dyed rabbit fur. Close enough for right now. The other item that was required was coral pink chenille. I searched the drawers and came pretty close.

I sat down at the dining room table and pulled out a #14 scud hook, added a gold bead to it, and then placed it into the vise. I wrapped on a couple wraps of 6/0 gray thread and then cut three pieces of kyrstal flash and tied them to the hook bend. I found some fine gold wire and tied that in at the tail as well. Using the rotary motion of the Nor-vise, I dubbed on some chocolate colored rabbit fur. I wrapped the thread/dubbing forward to just past the hook point, and then counter wrapped the wire over the top of the dubbing. I took out the coral pink chenille and tied on two wraps of that onto the hook, and then whipped finished and snipped off the thread.

I looked at the end result, and decided I wasn't happy with it. The krystal flash stuck out too far, the chocolate dubbing ended up to far up the shank, the wire was too thin, and the chenille seemed to bulky.

Round 2.

I put a little more emphasis on measuring out the krystal flash this time. Also, I took care to secure the dubbing exactly at the hook point. This time I used a heavier gage wire for the ribbing. Finally, I used some pink dubbing for the front part and eliminated the chenille.

The results were a little better. Still not satisfied though. The krystal flash ended up in the right position and the right length. The heavier wire also worked well. However, the taper of the chocolate dubbing didn't seem correct. In fact, it looked like it had a tootsie roll body with absolutely no taper to it. Dang it. Also, while I like the pink dubbing better than the chenille, it still didn't seem right. It seemed... too sparse? too long?

Round 3.

I tied in the thread and the krystal flash like I did on the last one. I then tied on the gold wire and used the thread to build a slight body taper. Much happier. I dubbed the chocolate rabbit fur on sparse at the beginning and thicker towards the end (insert dirty joke here). I moved the end point of the chocolate dubbing a little further past the hook point. I then dubbed a big clump of pink dubbing onto the thread (after counter wrapping the wire) and made a big hairy mess behind the bead.

Perfect. At least it appeared that way to me. The true test will come on the water, but it seems to have the right proportions to me however. And so I'm happy. I'll be churning out quite a few of these flies over the next couple of days to help restock my fly box (and my wife's).

I'm sure a more eloquent writer could come up with a perfect simile of this process and life. If at first you don't succeed...? Only when we reflect upon our past can we change our future...? Ugh... they both drip with sap, and I don't think anyone needs a "pat" answer for life. Instead, I'll let you draw you own life lesson from above and I'll continue to tie Pink Squirrels for the next couple of days.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Day 57 - Food

I've been reading Mark Kingwell's book titled "Catch and Release". In the opening few chapters he describes everything but fishing. However, at one point he does elaborate on food and fly fishing. He starts off by quoting Arthur Ransome, and then takes up a discourse of fishing and lunches for a paragraph or two.
Arthur Ransome remarks in his memoir Rod and Line that the mark of a bad fishing inn is that it offers overly elaborate dinners and, especially, lunches of any kind, since taking advantage of the offered meals would mean giving up fishing time in order to return and eat them.

First off, I have to admit that I've never been to a "fishing inn" or even had a guide prepare my lunch for me. Sorry to say folks that my fishing experiences come from trips out of my car, not out of a guide's boat. As such, I can't speak too authoritatively on the subject of fishing inn lunches, but I can speak on my past experiences.

Lately, when time allows, I've been packing a cooler (sometimes if I'm really lucky my wife will pack it for me) with a couple of sandwiches, a couple of cans of soda (Pepsi or Cheerwine (the redneck's Dr. Pepper)), and maybe a bag of chips. Sometimes I brew up a pot of coffee and fill a thermos, other times I stop and grab a Gatorade. My lunches are meager and I'd like to think of humble means. My sandwiches are normally Peanut Butter and Jelly, however I've discovered Nutella is pretty awesome as a replacement for peanut butter.

Typically what happens is that the fishing will slow down at some point (or my arm gets tired of casting) and I decide it might not be a bad time for a break. With sloshing wet boots, I'll make my way back to the Trout-mobile. I'll open up the back hatch and sit down on the bumper. I'll have my cooler by my side and will rummage through it drinking and eating as I may. This is when fly fishing really becomes contemplative for me. My mind is no longer trying to figure out how to catch the trout that I know that is there, and I'll let it wander. Sometimes I admire a low circling hawk, other times I think about where to go next. And if I'm really lucky, I'll think about life, the universe, and everything. Of course, this happens when I'm alone.

The other day I went fishing with my new friend John. In my mad crazy morning, I had skipped the packing of the cooler so I wouldn't break the cardinal rule of fly fishing (Thou shalt not be late for a fishing trip). I managed to be only a few minutes late, as my stomach was growling for breakfast and I picked up some McDonald's on the way in. Anyway, when John and I stopped for lunch, we dropped the tailgate on his pickup and had a seat. I ate a granola bar that he had and then later on some of his beef jerky. We ended up talking for about a half hour, joking about life in the Army, the anglers who caught more trees than fish, and where our next trip should take us.

My point is that sometimes that lunch in the middle of the day is what we truly need. While catching fish is definitely a positive, the camaraderie is what is actually needed. It was good to talk to John the other day as I've been looking forward to talking the techno stuff that fellow anglers talk about (the pluses/minuses of overloading a fly rod, how a bamboo fly rod feels in the hand, the ethics of using eggs and woolly buggers to catch trout...). I honestly can't remember what the first fish was, let alone how big it was. But I can tell you where we were at for lunch, and the conversations we had. Maybe this is why they call the kitchen the heart of the home.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Day 56 - Future of Fly Fishing

Life evolves. Coming from a man who has an undergraduate in Biblical Studies and is married to a Presbyterian pastor, that might sound blasphemous. Before you throw stones, please hear me out as this isn't a debate of evolution vs. creationism. Instead, what I'm expressing is that life continues to change in ways that shed off old ways of thinking and acting and accept new ideologies. In philosophy, we see a change from modernity to post-modernity. In business, we seek the peaks and valleys of the S-curves. Even in theology we see a shift with entrance of Christ into this world breaking covenants of old and establishing a new covenant.

In much the same way that everything else in this world continues to change and evolve, so does fly fishing. There is of course the advancement of technology that has eliminated the woven horse tail fly lines and even the silk fly lines to the new plastic lines that have textures of shark skins and viscous coatings. Fly rods have advanced also moving from what I assume were wooden dowels, to tapered ironwood, to Calcutta cane, to Tonkin cane, to fiberglass, to boron, and to graphite. The modes of fishing with a fly has also changed from wet flies, to dry flies, and to terrestials. With all these changes, it occurred to me that the angler has changed as well.

In Izaak Walton's time, the angler of that day was the nobleman (or woman) who sought to seek entertainment in some form. Walton reflects that at the time there were three main categories (of the outdoors sort) that a person could choose from: falconry, hunting w/dogs, or the contemplative sport of angling with a fly. And if a reader chooses to read Walton's book "The Compleate Angler" he/she would soon realize that Walton chooses the sport of angling to be the most noble, the most Christian of endeavors.

My personal observation is that the next stage was that of the highbrows. They were the poets and icons of business power. These men and women who had enough money to allow them to escape into the pampered wilderness to test their skills of line and fly. They sought to seek adventure from the safety of a cabin retreat in the Catskills or the waterways of a New England stream, and they came by train and coach to reach these rugged outdoors. And they were met at these upscale cabins by hardened guides who sought to partake in a little capitalism of their own. This was the hey day of 100 fish days, where a fish that we considered a trophy today was a mere creek chub to them.

The next phase in the evolutionary development of anglers is what I call the Nostalgic Outdoorsmen. These were the men and women who travelled throughout America, with their silver Airstreams and station wagons, in search of escapism. The advent of an American highway system, mass production of automobiles, and a booming economy allowed access to many outdoor destinations. This was the time where the 1950's angler stood in the stream with their corduroy hats, horn rimmed glasses, a Dunhill Root Briar pipe in mouth, rubber hip waders, and a wicker creel over their shoulder. These were the days of our father's or grandfathers. They were ordinary men seeking sanctuary from the everyday trials of life.

Moving forward on the timeline, we see the development of the modern trout bum. These are the anglers who shrug off the demands of ordinary life in pursuit of a life worth lived. They value time alone on the stream (or among a few friends (very few)) to be higher than that of a business deal, or a new car, or sometimes even a family. They eat, sleep, and breathe fly fishing. They know more about hidden mountain lakes, unknown trout producing creeks, or seasonal mayfly hatches than anyone else. Some eventually find notoriety in fly fishing magazines or books, but most of them go unnamed and unknown.

What's really unique about this development is that each stage continues to live on in the next stage. There are still nobles today who seek comfort on the stream. To be honest I don't know of any, but I could venture a guess that it still continues today in those countries that engage in a form of nobility. I also bump into individuals today who are what I would call Weekend Warriors who are the descendants of the Nostalgic Anglers of yester years. They seek to fish only on the weekends and oftentimes bring their families to the stream. But what I think is really interesting is how the trout bum seems to have always been there in the shadows of history. They may have been previously known as guides or frontiersmen, but we know a trout bum when we see one.

So as I sit here typing, with my wife patiently waiting in the living room for me so that we can watch the Amazing Race, I wonder what does the future hold for the fly fishing anglers. Glimpses of the unknown may be found in the Warren Miller-esqe films of the Trout Bum Diaries. Or will there even be a future? Some business analysts see fly fishing as a dying sport. This may be true, however I truly hope not. Maybe the future involves greater conservation. The eco-angler with their non-hook flies and recyclable fly rods may rule the water. I don't know what it holds, but I sure intend to help shape it by teaching new anglers. I hope you do too.