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Let it Begin

April 23, 2012




Flying Solo

March 28, 2012

The guys at Gink and Gasoline are doing great work. They cover the gamut of fly fishing and do it damn well. A recent post by Kent lauded the benefits of fishing in tandem. As I read it, I totally agreed. Until I didn’t.

Whether or not I prefer fishing with friends is a debate I’ve held with myself a few times. The Gink pretty well covered all the benefits to fishing with a partner, both practical and relational. So I’ll present to you the argument for solo.

I’m competitive. 

I mostly fish with some fishy dudes. Fishier than me. They catch more than I do and it I nearly always lose at buck-buck-buck (or beer-beer-beer). When I fish alone, success is graded on a sliding scale with X axis being size and number of fish caught and Y being “the Experience”. When I fish with others, there’s only fish.

I try new water. 

I’ve got spots. When I fish with the fellas, we hit up all the spots. I’m always skeptical to try new water when I’m with friends. Know why? See above. I can’t stand trying a new spot and having it not produce if all I care about is landing fish. When I’m on my own, I make it a point to try new runs. I do more hiking. I cast less and observe more. It makes me a better fisherman and it scores big on “the Experience” axis.

I can fish as long or as short as I like.

Sometimes, I am willing to drive 80 miles one way after work for an hour of fishing. Nobody wants to come with me. Why would they? If a buddy called me and asked if I wanted to spend three hours in the truck for 60 minutes of river time, I’d tell him… well I wouldn’t tell him anything because my friends aren’t idiots. But once or twice a season, I do that very thing. On the flip side of that, it sucks to be forced to pull off the water when you’re working fish so that your partner can make a dinner date. Of course, it sucks for him too, so it’s not like I’d hold it against him.

So, I said all that to say this: Given the choice, I’d usually pick sharing the river with a partner. If it weren’t for my friends who fish, I’d probably have drifted away from the game at some point. I’m grateful for the guys I fish with, and I’m lucky to have a wife who digs it, too. But there is something to say for time spent alone; just a man, alone in an experience.

A Successful Formula

March 24, 2012

I know guys who don’t take their kids fishing. They say their kids end up bored, or that they don’t get to do any fishing, just manage line tangles and emotional outbursts.

For those folks, I have devised a foolproof formula. Alright, scratch foolproof. But it worked today.

3F = Success.

F1: Fish. Well, catch fish, specifically. More is better, but the formula works as long as you catch just one.

Oldest son with the days' bruiser. The thumb grip method was apparently unappealing.

Fooled plenty of these greedy guys with small poppers.

F2: Food. When I fish solo or in a pack of friends, I don’t stop to eat. Most guys I fish with don’t, either. But if you want to hook the knee-highs on fish, you’ve gotta have some eats. Mine like grapes and pretzels.

He caught some of Ma's finger, too.

F3: Funtime. Mix it up and keep the energy level high. It makes for positive connotations (and nearly ensures naps on the ride home).

Anyone else have any go-to moves for making sure fishing with kids is fun?


March 16, 2012
Stole a couple hours in the afternoon this week. River in town is @ 3700, which leaves the local puddles.
Chasing warmwater species in the not-so-warm water? Not really in my wheelhouse. It didn’t help that I brought my rods, but no fly boxes. Bluegill and largemouth apparently don’t care for Kaufmann’s Stone. But Oldest Son loves the water and loves casting the gear rods, so he made bait-and-bobber offerings again and again. As it turns out, my experience is no match for his recent practice; kid was sticking casts less than a foot from the cattails.
Less than ideal conditions + less than ideal skills = less than ideal catch totals. I did, however, manage to hook a five year old on another year of fishing.


February 24, 2012

It seems I struck a nerve. 

I had a few people reach out in response the my anti-trout bum rhetoric. All were blunt and honest. Some put their name to it. Others didn’t. So, I’ll take a step back and try to articulate what I want to say with I Am Not a Trout Bum.
I am sick of the fly fishing industry. For too long, the culture was all graybeards and tweed and Filson hats. So another culture was created in response, and good on ’em. That culture says if you don’t live fly fishing day in and day out, you’re a gaper. You’re a tourist. If fly fishing isn’t priorities #1, #1A, and #1B, then give it up. And the industry has responded. So it’s all Trout Bum, all the time. I’m sick of the sentiment that if you don’t fish 100+ days per year, you don’t love to fish, and I’m nauseated by the attachment of corporate materialism to what is supposedly a minimalist movement. 
This doesn’t mean I have a problem with those who can live to fish. Like I say, Enough is Never Enough, so I understand the compulsion to keep catching more/bigger/faster. My problem is the prevalent attitude making pariahs out of those who have anything prioritized over fly fishing.  
Maybe I’m the only one who cares. Maybe it doesn’t bother other guys who “only” get forty (or thirty, or twenty) days on the water. Maybe I’m about to turn 30 and I’m just a little cranky about everything. 

The F3T 2012 – Boise, Idaho Edition

February 24, 2012

Photo courtesy Andy Nelson, ski/fish nut.

I love fishing films. I’m a nerd for that stuff. If there are fishing films to be seen, I’m watching. Especially if they’re being shown at The Egyptian, the coolest and oldest venue in Boise. Bride and Oldest Son were down for it, too, so off to the 2012 F3T we went. We stopped at the Falcon Tavern ( the eatingest place in all of Boise) for dinner just before, and this was my 5 year old’s wish list for swimmers he hoped would be featured:
I was stoked to see the show was sold out. I want to see more and more events like this rolling through, so it’s great to see our community supporting them.
We got there just before things kicked off. The beer line stretched the entire length of the fully packed lobby. We stopped at the TU table to get Oldest Son a raffle ducat, and the guy there ran us down on a catsing tourney happening in May. Definitely going to be checking that out. The crowd energy level was high, and as we made our way to our seats, I swear I heard at least three different conversations about the Owyhee in hushed tones, as though it were some kind of secret. Okay, dude.
I’ll lay out my top 5 films of the night. It’d probably be funnier for me to pick on those I didn’t like, but I figure until my dumb ass makes a fly fishing film, I should keep those things to myself. Mostly, anyhow. I will say this one negative thing: For the love of Izaak Walton, can we do away with the product placement! 9 of 10 guys wore the same Simms Fishing Products hat, and I swear Orvis made more appearances in “Reverb” and “The Get Lost Project” than fish themselves. Blatant product placement sucks. It sullies whatever you’re feeling up to that moment. Just stop it.
Top 5 Films:

Riding High: In this film, the tarpon is the star. And with bucketmouths, silver-dollar scales, and the explosive athleticism of an NBA forward, the Poon is a born superstar. Set in the Florida Keys, the photography is excellent. Top notch visual factor, maybe best of the show. Fish porn factor is very high. Adrenaline factor is high. The characters are good but keep the focus where it belongs – gagger tarpon. The yellow lab boat dog does steal a few scenes, though (maybe she can look forward to her own feature soon). Overall, a total crowd pleaser.
 Sipping Dry: We’ve all seen plenty of fish porn; this film is more about Bug Porn. It’s bug worship, Montana worship, and Trout Bum worship. I typically could care less, but this film is great. It throws aside the trout bum BS and Montana myths, and plugs you into the very real stoke that these guys have for fly fishing. There’s a montage of dozens of missed strikes; it did my heart well to watch world-class trout guides struggle – as I often struggle – to put steel to flesh and connect to the fish. Sipping Dry is beautifully shot, the Missouri River guides are gregarious and interesting, and the bugs will will haunt your daydreams.
 Doc of the Drakes: Another great Bryan Huskey joint, done in his signature guy-next-door voiceover style. Maybe I’m biased because Huskey is a local guy, but this was the highlight of the show. I purposely avoided the trailer, and I’m glad I did, because it was a fresh take (not unusual for Huskey) and I got to watch it with fresh eyes. Doc of the Drakes follows an octogenarian angler and his young guide/friend fishing the Brown Drake hatch on Idaho’s Silver Creek. Very few fly fishing films are so clearly linear: There’s a huge hatch, and it only last a few days. Can Doc put it together in that short window? Man vs self, Man vs Nature, Man vs Time. It’s all there. This film is honest. It doesn’t hide the advanced nature of Doc’s disease. It doesn’t hide a clear love and admiration between two men of disparate generations. If you’ve ever wanted something badly for someone else’s good, this film will grab and squeeze and twist your heart and stomach. Again, it might be the local connection, but the crowd straight exploded at the film’s climax. Top prize.
 Fly, a Legacy: I like quiet things. I like slow movies and long books, and I like them for the spaces between. There is space in Fly, a Legacy. An aging narrator recalls fishing ventures of his youth while the camera rolls on a young angler swinging flies for Atlantics. The visuals are great, but it’s the narrator’s haunting recital of a fishing life that elevate the film. Even in recollection, he speaks about fishing with a quiet urgency. You can bet the Scottish brogue doesn’t hurt, either. Everything’s better with brogue. There is a quiet and slow power in this film. There is space in Fly, a Legacy, and it would have you look inward upon your fishing history and if you’re lucky, your fishing legacy.
 The Kodiak Chronicles: This was the last short of the night. Brought to you by LDR media, The Kodiak Chronicles had me all sorts of conflicted. I completely hated the first half of the trailer. Typical steelheader rhetoric (after making it the whole show with nary a mention of the chromers), “Hey! Steelhead are hard to catch! Especially if you swing flies for them, which everybody should do! So let’s charter a plane into the middle of freaking nowhere Alaska to make it a bit easier”. I’m so over that stuff. Then, halfway through, we meet Trent Deeter, part-time guide and part-time roofer. Trent’s got the legendary Alaskan honey hole, and he takes us and 3 of his friends with him. What happens in Alaska is all the pretentious steelhead BS is stripped away. That will happen when you actually catch fish. And catch steelies they do, in unheard-of ratios. The guys in the film are all pros, but they can do nothing to hide the sheer bliss they’re experiencing. It’s intoxicating to the viewer. That is how you do a steelhead movie. Also, the film includes the greatest drunken campfire guitar singalong in the the not-so-storied history of fly fishing cinema.
A ton of great gear was given away, the films were diverse and compelling, and the place was packed. What more can I say? Well done, F3T. We look forward to next year!
You can check out trailers for all the films, get links to the filmmakers sites, and buy tix to upcoming events here.
Oh, here’s how Oldest Son’s wish list turned out:

Pickin’ Bones

February 15, 2012

“What are you going to do with it?”

This was a question I’d never been asked, or considered. I’d grown up with my Papa and Uncle Nate showing me different antler sheds they’d found over the years. To me, it was a logical extension of being a deer hunter. I vividly recall the huge non-typical matched pair that Nate had mounted on an old piece of barn wood. But that didn’t help me answer the question, posed by my wife and hiking partner.

I deflect the question. “Well, hopefully we find more than one,” I reply.

“What will you do with more than one?”

Our footsteps are muffled, the high desert soil made soft by a February snow.  The true answer is that it if it is a nice brown shed, it will sit on a shelf in my garage with the other brown antlers, some taken from bucks I’ve shot and some fellow sheds. If it is an old white shed, or “chalk”, it’ll find a home somewhere in the garden or shrub beds in the backyard. Oh, and I’ll probably post some pictures of it on facebook. When you’re three miles from the Jeep with another four to go, those don’t seem like super compelling reasons to be punishing your quads, lungs, and feet.

I choose not to answer the question.

Cub holds the days only bounty, a funky little five point shed.