Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Steelhead mojo

So there are a couple of traditions that the Jenn-o-rator and I have when it comes to steelhead.  The first is that the morning is best started with a snickers and some caffeinated beverage for me.  The Jen likes a mounds or Almond Joy for the drive to the first parking spot.  

The second is having Dave Matthews pumping loudly through the speakers; in particularly to get jazzed up for a day of steelheading we like to hear Grave Digger by Dave Matthews.  Here is a YouTube clip: Grave Digger

Sunday, January 5, 2014

A November Musky (2013)

This past November, Peter talked me into squeezing a last run (for me anyway) at fishing.  As I've mentioned in a couple of my previous posts, I've been a bit busy this year.  After doing a little "figuring," I manged to make a plan to allow me to squeeze in a day with the guys to target Muskies in Northern Wisconsin.

I met part of our crew up at Peters relaxing cozy cabin late Friday night.  We had a shortened "catch-up" session and we headed for bed.  The funny part is that Mike and I shared a room that night and we were chatting and laughing in the dark for at least an hour or more like we were back at a middle school sleep-over.  I half expected a booming voice from the dark telling us to "shut-up and go to sleep."  It was a fun time and it was good to catch up with Mike since I hadn't seen him much this year.

The next morning our two boats and the gang met up at the landing and prepared our rods, gear, clothing, etc.  We had Peter, Mike, Rob, Wendy, Larry and myself together for this little adventure.

Since I don't have crap for musky flies, Peter let me use his "exclusive" Gopher-fly as tied by Mother Feiker. He didn't let any of his clients fish it all summer, but thought it would be ok for me to use. So I tied it on and hopped aboard Wendy and Larry's boat.

It was a bit cold and damp out that morning and throughout the day for that matter and we were all sporting our Simms rain gear and several layers of fleece.  We drifted along about 30 minutes or so and when casted my fly on to a thin layer of ice that covered an eddy on the side of the river.  I pulled it into the water and took a couple of strips when a musky came up to take and miss it like trout would when dry fly fishing.  Keeping my cool, and staying like ice, I didn't flinch, change stripping speed or even mutter a word (all are a miracle if you haven't been big-game fishing with me before).  I just kept doing what I was doing and then just a few feet from the boat, I felt something and set the hook as hard as I could.  Boom!  I hooked it, and the game was on!

I was using a 9wt, and was very glad I didn't grab my 8wt. that I had considered earlier.  He circled the boat several times, and tried to go under.  Larry insisted I keep pulling up harder than what I was doing, but I was reluctant to do so as I could feel the rod bending into the cork handle!  While trying to bring this alpha in, I was also envisioning the rod exploding in my hand and losing it if I put anymore pressure on it.  It probably took me all of 5 minutes to land it, but it felt like 15 or 20 minutes!

Out of nowhere, Larry had pulled out this garbage can sized landing net and was able to boat the musky for me.  It was a very iridescent green 42" Musky!  It was a nice, strong, wide fish with velociraptor teeth in it's face!  It was awesome!!!  Wendy got pictures of Larry holding it up for me, I was shaking pretty bad out of excitement and also suddenly very scared and intimidated by my lack of Kevlar gloves to handle that guy when I saw the teeth as he flared his gills wide open at us!

Larry, Critter, and 42" of Musky happiness.

The secret "Gopher" fly

Lunch Break - "Team Simms"

If I remember correctly, I think almost everyone had a "follow" that day and a couple of pike were landed.  But no other Muskies were landed, so I way lucked out!!!

We stopped for a celebratory beer at one the local pubs and to thaw and dry out a little bit.  I think we did a good job entertaining the two bartenders and the single customer that was our audience there for the two beers we stayed for.  Then back to the cabin we went.

The next morning, I made breakfast for the cabin, packed up my stuff and headed for home to get ready for a project meeting I had with my class group.  Peter, Rob, and Mike went to float a different stretch of water for the day in hopes that they too would be able to land a musky.

I am so glad they talked me into going, and that I hit the lottery landing a nice fish, and that I could have another nice Fall memory being with friends fishing. Oh, and Peter let me keep the fly so that I could hang it in a frame with a picture of us with the fish!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Fall Steelhead Trip #2 (Oct 17-18)

The following weekend we tried to focus on getting Jen a steelhead.  The biggest challenge was a pretty bad cold I was fighting that totally zapped my energy level, making it hard to stay upbeat, focused, or happy.

We got out to a couple of our favorite spots with ease.  Fished most of the day, but with no luck.  

It was a zoo.  There must have been a billion and one fisherman on the river today.  We fished most of the day, but again we had no luck. We went back to the hotel to dry out, and have a strong beverage (maybe more than one was had).

We decided to go home early.  We were frustrated with our lack of any fishing action, and thought it would just be best to put me to bed and work on recovering from my head cold.

So our 2013 Steelhead season was not one our greatest, but hopefully next year will be better.

Three-day Fall Trip #1 (Oct. 10-12)

I headed up to Peters cabin after class finished up, arriving a little after midnight.

The fall colors were beautiful and we were in mostly sunny with 60's and 70's for temperature.  There were a lot of people out fishing every day.  Some were grouse and woodcock hunters who said it was too warm to hunt their dogs, so they decided to go fishing instead.  Looking at the falling temp's in the forecast this week, that shouldn't be a repeat occurrence.

Fished for muskies with Peter and Wendy on the Flambeau
I hooked two but didn't get to fight them very long before losing them.
Headed up to the Brule motel, fished for steelhead.

1st day Jen caught a brookie on an egg fly and I caught a brown on  a nymph.  We ran into Peter who had some luck catching a couple steelhead.  He had to bug out back to his cabin as he was going to guide a couple of people over the next two days.
Met up with several of my St. Paul Fly Tier's at the Kro-bar who were up for our annual Steelhead outing.

2nd day, I caught two steelhead.  
Ed caught his 1st steelhead about midday.

Overall, it seemed that the fishing was not on fire, but it didn't totally suck either.
We headed for home Saturday evening so that I could spend Sunday doing schoolwork and incubating a crappy head cold that I have the pleasure of  dealing with now.  :)

September 2013 - Tenkara in the Smokey Mountains

Went down to visit my brother in Georgetown, Kentucky for a few days.  He took us around to see several sites such as the Buffalo Trace and Wooodford distilleries, a Japanese garden, a horse retirement ranch called "Old Friends," and checked out a couple of local restaurants.  

After that we went camping in the rainy, foggy Smokey Mountain National park at the Elkmont campground which had the very loud Little River that flowed through it.  We played tourist for a couple of days checking out some of the main attractions of old churches, water falls, old mills, and cemeteries. Then I had the treat of fishing some of the rivers on the Tennessee side of the park.

The West Prong of the Little Pigeon River
Open during the day, but the Chimney Tops campground is closed at night due to the high amount of bear activity there.  I caught a few rainbow and brook trout on the Tenkara rod.  They were not big, but they were fun to catch in the scenery was great, the water cold, and very few spots taken up by other fisherman.  This river was totally designed for Tenkara fishing!

Middle Prong of the Little River
Had a little luck on this river too, it had a little less gradient to it, less big boulders, and would have been better if I had used a normal fly rod as it it was much wider than the first river. 

I didn't take any photos of the trout caught, apparently I was having too much fun catching them and forgot to snap any photo's of the little guys.

August 2013 Recap

Greetings my friends!  I know I have been a horrible blogger this year, but my lame excuse is that I really have been a little more busy than normal since going back to school for an MBA.  With that, I plan to do a couple of posts to highlight a couple of fishing outings taken in 2013.

This spring I managed to get out and fish the Rush River a couple of times.  Nothing epic, but it was all I could squeeze in before my August vacation.

Roughing it in Montana...
In August, I had the good fortune of spending a week with Peter and Doug fishing all over Montana.  Typical of August in Montana, it was hot, dry, and lots of natural bugs everywhere.  Fires in Utah and over nearby mountains caused for awesome red sunsets and red moonrise's.  At times it looked overcast and caused mountains to be foggy due to all the smoke in the atmosphere.

Do you see the black bear?
There it is!
He visited us in the back yard and then ran up to this nearby hill.

Evening Moonrise over the Cameron Mountains

Lets get to the fishing, shall we...

Critter with a Rainbow on the Madison
Madison River
We drove straight out to the ranch house we were to stay at for a couple of days in Cameron, Montana.  At the end of our driveway was the famous Madison River.  We prepped Peters new drift boat (the "Annie B") and floated the Madison River two days in a row and caught some rainbows on Trude's and pink nymph droppers.  The fish didn't come very easily, but Doug managed to catch a whitefish.

Doug on the Beaverhead R.
Beaverhead River
We then floated the Beaverhead River, which was a very pretty little thing.  It was barely wide enough for a boat at times.  But we managed, and that included us all getting on the floor of the boat as we went under one bridge.  We caught a few rainbows and browns, and things got better when I cracked the code with the "right" hopper pattern that they would go for.  Doug was able to hook and land a whitefish.  I could spend years fishing that river and be content as it had so much character.  

Stillwater River
Stillwater River
We fished a couple of sections of this river.  One was at a landing, the other was along the property of a lodge.  The owner-operator invited us to fish his property as he didn't have any guests staying there for a few days.  Which was really nice of him, but the fishing was pretty much dead.  Peter did land a couple of trout; Doug was able to land several whitefish!

Doug's first 20" brown!
Bighorn River
We moved on to fish the Bighorn river for our remaining four days.  We stayed at the Cottonwood and hooked up with our buddies from the Fly Angler fishing crew.  Peter, Doug and I caught lots of browns and rainbows. Doug managed to find and hook more whitefish....he sure has a way with finding those things.  On the last day I believe I lost the 2nd largest fish I have ever hooked on that river.  But all was great.  At one point, on the last spot we fished on the last day, all three of us had a fish on at one time.  We had a lot fun at that spot!    

Critter's 20" Brown on the Big Horn

Peter with a beautiful brown on the Big Horn

Close-up of another gorgeous brown!

from Left to Right: Doug, Peter, and Critter

This was a great trip and I very much enjoyed our fishing team as well as the Big Horn gang that we had the privilege of hanging out with at the Cottonwood Camp for a few days.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Planning for Montana - August 2013

The past eight months have been busy, challenging and rewarding.  I must confess, I have put on less than 300 miles on my motorcycle and only one day on the river where I guided a gal fly fishing for trout at the Casting for Recovery retreat.  So now that I have a two month break between classes, I can enjoy summer.  Which means, time to go fishing of course!  Starting off with a trip to the Big Horn River with a group of people through The Fly Angler.

I have met up with my buddies a couple of times in the past two weeks to work out a general plan of attack for our ten day vacation in Montana.  All though I have fished Montana ten years (11 if you count this one) in a row, this will only be my 2nd time fishing it in mid-summer.  

I'm excited to hit some new rivers that I have not fished before and too see Western Montana.  By the looks of it, we will be driving to Ennis.  Why is that significant?  Because it is more west than Livingston, a town that I have visited once before and fell in love with because of the feel of both the town and the beautiful scenery.

Cigars have been ordered from CI, fishing license purchased online, and I have spent the last two nights in my Man-Room and at the fly shop, fiddling with flies, sorting out rods & reels, checking equipment, and making my "List" of what to pack and in general day dreaming about whats to come.  It's been a year since I've taken more than a couple of days off and I am in need of some unwinding time.

My triad will be departing early Friday morning, on the 16th.  I'm so excited for the trip to get started!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

April 18th

Both the flooded streams and my fly boxes are full.

Five more inches of snow!

Both my patience and bourbon are running  low.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Big Horn "Plan B" 2013

After the deception, lies, and fleecing of America by that little rodent who goes by the name of Punxsutawney Phil (I'll call him Punky for short).  It seems that Punky has finally unleashed Spring upon us after all his tom-foolery and media shenanigans.  That rodent really needs a new agent, anyways I am watching the feet of snow melt down to inches and walking around creeks of snow-melt in the street and driveway to get the mail while wondering if I should take my motorcycle out of storage this week.  Spring is here. 
I will not be joining my buddies this Spring for the annual Big Horn river midge trip due to conflicts with school.  However, that does not mean that the Big Horn river or the infamous Cottonwood Camp will elude me.  Nope, it just means that I jump on an alternative opportunity that should be just as fun and adventurous.
This year, over my summer break I'll be heading out on a trip with the guys from The Fly Angler to Montana to fish the Hopper Hatch (or whatever else the trout may be feasting on at the time).  Plans are loose at the moment, but that will remedy itself as we get closer to August.  So far, I know I am going, I have the vacation approved by the bosses, and I'll be floating with Peter and Doug.  Heck, that's a pretty good  "plan b" for me.  :) 
Now, where did I put my cigar lighters, wading boots, turkey calls, motorcycle helmets, homework notes, and........or maybe I'll jus take a quick nap.
Wishing you a genuinely Happy Easter weekend.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Fly Fishing Expo 2013

As many of you know this weekend the Tom Helgeson's Great Waters Fly Fishing Expo is taking place.  And holding true to tradition, the past couple of days has been full of fly fishing vendors, presentations, reunions with old friends, and meeting potential new friends.  

This year a met a couple of budding fly tier's, I should say they are already great even if their feet don't quit make it the floor as they are tying in their chairs.  Also there are three representatives (one from Grand Marie, MN, one from Columbus, OH, an one from Colorado) here talking about the latest buzz in the industry, Tenkara fly fishing.  

I didn't see a casting pond this year, but there were two different areas where you could shake a stick to convince you to just buy it, or you can work on casting with the FFF peeps to get rid of some of those bad habits.

So far I scored on a cool rod rack, a funky fish art coffee mug, and a nice brown furnace dry fly cape.  I also donated a little bit to the Project Healing Waters supporting wounded veterans who fly fish and bought a raffle ticket from Twin Cities Trout Unlimited chapter for a bamboo rod made by the hands of the illustrious Dave Norling.

I'm finishing up breakfast right now and am on my over for the final day of fun and tying flies for people on Fly Tier's Row.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Tenkara Presentation Delayed

Tonight Sensei Eric and myself (Tenkara kid) were scheduled to give a presentation to our fly fishing club on Tenkara style fishing.  We had gadgets, rods, flies, and a power point presentation all set up to go.  But we got bumped out of our meeting room at Schroeder's by some other riffraff group that went by the St. Paul Winter Carnival planners or something.  So our presentation has been rescheduled for next month.

Regardless, it was good to see the guys and finally meet Eric's very nice wife.  In fly tier's fashion, we made due and quickly conducted a business meeting in the bar in preparation of the upcoming Great Waters Fly Fishing Expo in two weeks. Minutes were taken down on a napkin and then we were back to swapping stories and generally enjoying not being trapped our houses.

I'm looking forward to another great fishing season and with Wisconsin C&R open, I wish you all the best for in your fishing adventures and hope to see you at the Expo!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

2012 Species update, Season Recap, & Thank You

Two fish were added to my fish list in 2012, bringing my total up to 45 different species of fish that I have caught over the years.  The first of the two was due to a planned mission on a summer vacation to Estes Park, Colorado.  Jen and I were fortunate to catch a few gorgeous Greenback Cutthroat trout while hanging out with an awesome local guide.  The second species caught was not planned, not pretty, and not wanted.  While I was trying to make a drift to active steelhead through a technically difficult seam, I was rewarded with a big creek chub on the Wisconsin Brule River that had taken my dropper egg fly.  Good governor!  But it adds to my list, and it relieves the magnificent weight on my shoulders of being able to cross a chub off my list of things to get in my life.  Doh!!  Did I just say that? 
The rest of the fish/things caught over the season encompassed my usual fare of rainbows, browns, brookies, smallies, pike, steelhead, trees, rocks, cased caddis, myself, trees, shrubs, logs, many 1st & 2nd cousins of the Snagasaurus family, and sadly not muskies. 
While I did fish subsurface with nymphs and streamers this year for many of the above mentioned quarry, all of the trout were caught on dry flies.  The dry fly challenge this year wasn't planned initially.  It started out with great dry fly fishing this spring on the Big Horn River in Montana.  Mother Feiker and I had a lot of fun with it and even came up with ideas on that vacation for patches and stickers for us such as "HA!" (for Headhunters Anonymous-with a picture of fish skull that has one of those voodoo bones going through its' nostrils) and "HHH" (for the Happy Head Hunters).  There were other ideas we came up with too that week, but those were the ones that stuck with us through the summer.

When I returned to my home waters is when I challenged myself to continue on with the "Dry or Die"campaign.  I enjoyed it this summer, it was good timing for me and gave my ol' game of fly fishing a new twist.  Then I bought a Tenkara rod, which also encouraged me to keep fishing on the surface.  Don't worry, I am pretty sure I won't become a dry fly snob or anything like that.  I have been reading more about the Tenkara fishing, and I have learned that there are subsurface tactics that I need to try out if I am going to learn all it has to offer.  In fact I ordered a couple of things online today specifically for Tenkara fishing including some funky hooks for some Tenkara fly patterns I want to attempt to tie. So we will see how that turns out this winter.

As for you, yes you. Thank you very much.  I would like to say thanks to you and all the people that have provided me with positive and encouraging feedback on my blog over the years.  I sometimes forget that people actually read what I write and every time someone says to me "hey, I read that and..." or replies with an email response it makes me smile and brings me warm fuzzies.  Not that I write for those reasons, but it is nice to know people don't always delete my posts when they get sent out to your email inbox. To date, this will be my 147th post since February 2005.  If you are looking for those 16 posts of my first year, you may not find them as they were on my initial attempt at blogging.  You're not missing much as they were, well, kind of weak as I wasn't yet clear with what my intention(s) was going to be with writing a blog at the time.  So there was a conversion period where they were at the time and where the blog is hosted now on Blogger. 

To everyone:
Happy Thanksgiving, tight-lines, be well, namaste, live long and prosper, hug your loved ones, fire-cracker-fist-bump, and all that jazz.


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Last Steelhead weekend for 2012

My first sign of good luck, the two quarters I got out of the pop machine when I but in my dollars for a soda.  They were shiny 2007 Washington state quarters that had a picture of trout on one side.  So with that, I thought two quarters with fish on them had to mean we were going to catch at least two steelhead this weekend!  Good thing I bought that soda.  I got home at a decent time from work to get ahead on the drive but then I had a 45 minute delay due to a work issue.  Dammit!  I Got the issue resolved, logged out of the laptop, and we were off and headed up to Brule.  After checking into the hotel we had a late fish fry dinner at Roundy's, where Peter met up with us for a bit.
big-ass "creek chub"
There was rain, drizzle, rain, drizzle, and then the river was starting to cloud up.  Now this is what we have been waiting for all season.  We fished the day and I hooked and lost one steelhead, after catching three little skippers and a very LARGE Creek chub. 
After changing out of the trout pants and getting some dry cloths on, we spent the evening with friends at an end-of-the-season party at the motel, where Peter fired up the barbecue and broke out various munchies, and ribs, and beer.  We had few visitors too, including Ollie, Minkster, Bucky and the Honorable Steelhead Senator Struif.  they all had other things going on, but it was nice of them to stop in and say hello and share some laughs.  Thanks again for hosting the party Peter, it was a great night!
We got out to the river and the water was stained,  the air temps were dropping through out the day, and at one point we had sleet coming down.  It was great, and both Jen and I each hooked nice steelhead out of one of Peters favorite spots.  I was able to get mine to the net, and it was a nice 25-incher with a pretty pink stripe along its' side.  Finally, I got a legitimate sized steelhead before the season closed.  I think the river knew it had to spit one up to us for all the effort we put in this season.  Thank you Brule River.  We fished for a little bit more, but then called it a season. 
Critter and Jenorator on the river bank in the sleet.

Now, time to unpack everything from the past two months and hopefully get the living room and kitchen cleared from all the camping and fishing stuff that we kept out for easy access for the weekend adventures.  That would include putting away the rods that I have laying on top of the curtain rack in the dinning room. :)  What can I say, skewed "Priorities" I guess. 

Tonight I drove the motorcycle over to be stored for the winter.  Over the next week, I will set time aside to visit the storage unit and exchange some stuff, and then do a bit of work to the house and yard for the upcoming winter.  Maybe even tackle replacing that annoying leaky toilet that has been
annoying me when we have been home between fishing trips.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Action has slowed down

It was a chilly weekend this past weekend on the Brule.  The good thing was the wind was pretty insignificant.  The river temperature was up to 39 degrees.  Thanks to MN Deer opener, there was significantly less fisherman on the water and that was kind of nice.
We had one steelhead contact on late Saturday on a bend, but it won and shook itself free in under eight seconds.  Other then that, the general steelhead action from the people we talked was not too great.  Just enough for the serious anglers to keep going, but not enough action to get you super excited. 
Jen spotted a bug in the water big enough to  make Godzilla step aside and ask "what the hell is that?!" It was about 4 inches long and and 1.5 inches wide.
What is this thing?
No seriously, what the hell is that?

We saw a LOT of deer this weekend, even had a spike buck escort us down a trail for a bit before stepping off it.  He circled back into the woods but would have been great for any bow hunter or photographer.  He just stood there about 20 yards away and looked and us for several minutes.  My attempt at getting my pocket camera out while he was close failed as I was too slow before he lost interest in us. 
Basket Spiked Buck along the Brule River.
Next weekend is the last weekend of going up as the season is coming to a close just after that.  We are crossing fingers and washing our fleece in hopes we can land something of significance.