Saturday, May 30, 2009

First times

I think it was around 1990 when I purchased my first fly rod at a garage sale for five bucks. Wasn't sure what to do with it at first. I learned to fish with it on lakes chasing sunfish, bass, and pike. Flash forward to 2003, I caught my first trout. Most of the credit for that goes to my friend Ben Hinz. His passion and stories inspired me to try out this trout thing. One day we met on the river and he talked me through every cast until it happened...I caught my first trout, a couple of brookies and a brown trout.

I bring this up because I remember how excited I was to actually catch a trout, and I remember how excited Ben was for me. Today I got the opportunity to be in Ben's shoes. I went fishing with my wife, ans she caught her first trout. She was so giddy, and I was so full of excitement for her that you'd a thought it was me catching my first trout all over again.
The trip started out as an exploratory mission to find some spots to fish that are more accessible and very easy to walk compared to my normal spots. The reasoning being that I have plans to take my dad out fishing next weekend and want things to go well.

We left early this morning and headed to my buddy Josh's house as he had a couple of place in mind for my mission. Josh showed us a few places on a map and then we followed him to a couple of nice picks that I think will do very nicely. We chatted afterwards for a bit and then he headed back home and we "wadered up." Jen has a pair of waders that are on loan from Jackie as she had an extra pair she borrowed when we tried to get her on trout one evening last year.

We rigged our rods up at the truck, I put on my fly vest, had a couple of last minute swigs of Mountain Dew and we headed down to the river. My predictions were that we'd be out there for four hours or so and only catch one fish and Jen would be board. I was wrong, wrong, wrong. We spent about five hours on the river, had lots of fun, and Jen caught her first trout. Six of them actually. Five rainbows and one brown.

She landed the first trout of the day with in a dozen casts using one of my favorite wet fly patterns on my old Redington 2-piece 5-weight rod. It was nice eight inch rainbow, that tolerated our celebratory "grip and grin" photos. That was Awesome! Her next fish, the one and only brown for the day, was caught shortly after around the bend after Jen missed several strikes and takes. The rest of the day just kinda flowed. I gave her some direction and suggestions, she listened and executed perfectly. Her catches were mostly in the six to eight range, with one ten incher in the mix.

There was a point where the wind was just getting too challenging to cast for her, and I wasn't fishing as I had planned this to out to be "Jen's day" on the river so we decided to head back. The walk back was nice, the weather was pretty good for normal people (mid 70's and cloudless skies - YUCK!).

After getting out of our waders we had a late lunch at a typical local WI bar, which I love. Jen was very proud of her accomplishments of the day, and I proud of her too. We followed up lunch with scouting out a few spots on a couple of other rivers and chatting with some locals on the river. It was a good day on the river.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Next weekend...

I know, right. I have only been back a little over 24 hours and I have already worked out my fishing plans for the next two weekends.

I have emailed a buddy for some camping recommendations.

I've arranged a day to take my dad out and hopefully catch his 2nd trout.

I have checked out a few maps of a river I am new to.

And, I've updated the Fly Tier's website, so that should be good for a week or two.

All I have left is to re-stock my thingamabob supply and tie up some more wet flies to replenish what I left in the brush and snags from last weekend.

This work thing is really getting in the way.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Weekend

Saturday morning Jen and I woke up at 5:30am, hopped in the shower and then hit the road at 6am. The morning drive went smoothly, it was scenic, and had intermittent periods of light rain. We arrived in Viroqua, WI and stopped in at the Driftless Angler for some local intel on hatches and fly patterns. We picked up, a few flies, and a great shirt that says "your skills suck and your fly is ugly." I love it!

Five miles later we arrived at the West Fork Sportsmans club campground in Avalanche and found our Troutfest campsite. Attendee’s for the occasion were: Kevin Biegler, Steve Carlton, Michelle Sparrow, Kevin the Intern, Sara and Mike Sanford, Ed T. (with his dogs Sasha & Willow).
We set up our camp before the rain started and I hurried into my waders. Steve was a big help in recommending four different rivers to try out in the area. I hit the river in the campground first since I was kind of in a ‘brookie’ mood. I was not able to land any trout, but I had about a dozen takes. It rained most of the late morning to early afternoon and then it subsided for the remainder of the day. It was a nice overcast day, perfect for chasing trout. After a couple of hours I went back to the truck and checked out the map. We headed out and moved on to try Bishop’s creek.
It was a nice little creek. I lost count of how many browns I caught, but there was no real size to any of them. I fished this creek for a couple of hours and then headed back to camp. We convened around the campfire for brats, beverages, and friendly banter that lasted till a little before midnight.

I awoke at 6am, made some tea over the single burner Coleman camp stove, and grabbed the Delorme along with my Wisconsin fishing guidebook. Jenny and I decided to take off around 7am to check out the South fork of Bad Axe (which turned out to be muddy and UN-fishable). So we moved on to the North Fork of Bad Axe and fished the habitat improvement section for a couple of hours (the water started to clear by the time I left but it was still pretty stained. I resorted to using streamers to entice a couple of strikes, otherwise no action occurred, except for the cinnamon colored white tail deer that I spooked up out of the brush from about 15 yards away. That was a startle as I was pretty fixated on the steam rather than looking for deer.

Jen and I had lunch out of the back of the Tahoe at 11:30am, grabbed the map, and decided to finish out the day on the Timber. I had a few takes and hooked in to a very nice, but educated, brown trout. I drifted an olive soft hackle caddis with an olive sparkle scud through a fast run right up against a lunker structure. I saw shadow move out from the spot, but my indicator did not move. I set the hook anyway because I just had a feeling. The line got tight and the fight got under way. The brown shot back to his hiding spot in the lunker structure and didn’t move. I worked the rod from one side and then the other trying to work him back out into the river. Then he finally did move out and raced down the river a ways turned around and came back up the river ahead of his hiding spot by about ten feet and then he came back down into his spot where he broke my line off. It was a fun fight, and felt like a respectable trout. I really liked the feel and the character of this river, and hopefully I’ll get a chance to fish it again some time. After losing my last sparkle scud and my last Thingamabobber, Jen and I went into town, for a cool Culver’s treat since the day had warmed up so much, and I then returned to camp.

For the remainder of the late afternoon, I fished the river in the campground, and caught a couple of nice browns on a royal streamer out of a little feeder creek that joins the main branch. On the walk back, I picked up some ones large empty McDonalds coffee cup…it was nice to have them walk it in a mile and a half to drink it, and not have the energy to bring it back after its been almost emptied.

Halfway back I had a sparrow chewing me out for some reason and diving at me. Maybe he wanted the last couple sips of the cold McDonalds coffee, but I can’t be sure since I don’t speak ‘bird.’ He was miffed and I kept it away by waving my fly rod at her as she kept circling me to the point I were I started getting dizzy. I must have spun around ten or twelve times. Finally it landed on a shrub and let me continue on my way.

I cooked up some baked beans and kernel corn for supper, while the others cooked up some big steaks and burgers. I was surprised we didn’t have any visitors of the raccoon variety stop in to pay us visit. A glass of Woodford reserve on the rocks in one hand and a Hampton Court cigar in the other, I was set of for a relaxing evening at the campfire. Everyone seemed to be in spirits. Even Steve, who was trying to figure out packing arrangements to get back home as his ride had left camp early due to having pink eye. One by one people headed off to bed and at midnight I decided it was time for a little shuteye as well.

I rolled out of bed around 7:30am and drifted over to sit by the morning campfire that ‘Kevin the intern’ started up. Some morning small talk and with the urge to try to wake up, I fired up my camp stove. The morning menu was hot tea for myself, instant cappuccino for Jen, and oatmeal for the both of us.

After breakfast we packed up camp, jump-started Kevin’s car, and the swung by Viroqua. We filled up with petro, grabbed a couple salty snacks for the road, and paid a quick visit to the Driftless Angler fly shop. We then headed for the border for a scenic drive by the Mississippi up through Lacrosse, WI and headed home from there.

It was a relaxing time and I am glad that we decided on doing this even though it was a last minute decision. But it’s the last minute trips that have almost always turned out very rewarding for Jen and myself. I hope everyone else had a happy Memorial Day as well.


Friday, May 22, 2009

Recycled Waders

Pretty much everyone on the planet is aware of the movement of "Going Green," from the auto maker trying to use it for gimmicky marketing purposes, or the guilt ridden office worker in a cube farm, or true conservationist. Well, for those who are riding the "Green" train and don't know what to do with their old breathable waders there is a new company in town that can help you out. The company is called RECYCLED™ Waders.

They take used breathable waders that are no longer functional and transform them into wallets, backpacks, etc. You can donate your waders or be on the cutting edge of your Green friends and own your own recycled accessory. Check it out for yourself at

(This is an FYI only, and does not constitute an endorsement of any kind as I have not had any interaction with the company as of yet. I just found it interesting and thought I would share.)

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Last minute decision

Starting Tuesday, my wife and I had several indecisive conversations about what to do with our three day Memorial weekend. Tonight we decided that we would go to Troutfest in Avalanche, WI and hang out with some people we know, and some we don't. I have been to the that part of the Wisconsin only once before. It was a rainy but incredibly scenic weekend.

So naturally, we want to leave right after work tomorrow for the three and a half hour drive so that we have a little light to set up our tent by. So I decided to skip tonight's Fly Tier's meeting and we went straight to work by unloading spinning gear and tackle boxes that were still in the Tahoe from the previous crappie fishing trip at the parents.

Jen made her fabulous peanut butter cheerio bars and packed clothes. I rounded up the camping gear, fly fishing gear, cameras, and checked the cat food supply. Baily is so not impressed that this will be our second long weekend in a row with out her. She'll get over it, she is a cat, and that's why we got her instead of a dog.

We made a trip up to the grocery store so that we would have some camping appropriate meals like canned beans, veggies, hash, and sandwich makings. After that, we hit Barnes & Nobel quick where Jen picked up a few books for the weekend.

We have a short list of things that we need to do tomorrow, like buying ice, Wisconsin Fishing License, getting cash, and we are set to head to the campground. The forecast does say that there is possibly rain on Saturday and Monday, but I am gambling that it won't be bad enough to spoil the weekend.

Have a great weekend everybody and tight lines to all!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Turkey Hunting

The cast of characters:
My dad, my father-in-law (Martin), Jen's cousins husband (Steve), and myself.

So Thursday night on the way down to my in-laws, I get a call from Steve. He called to say that he had bagged a turkey with a bow! Dad was with him had got to see it. This was great news and gave me high hopes for the weekend hunt!

Friday morning:
We got up at some early hour, and headed out to the blinds. We saw a hen going along the edge and disappear in to the woods. A little later we saw another hen running across the field attacking a crow. That was odd. We then saw a hen and a tom down in the middle of the field. We tried to call them in, but the hen wanted nothing to do with us, and the tom was pretty much focused on the hen. They meandered to the opposite side of the field for some privacy, and that was the end of our morning hunt.

Friday evening came we were back in the blind but it was disrupted with someone who decided to disc the field that we were hunting over. We didn't see anything after that.

Saturday: Early morning we headed out to the blinds, the winds were heavy, and all life seemed to have vanished. There were no song birds, squirrels, turkeys or even field mice all morning. We saw one lonely hen in the far off distance in the woods and that was it for the whole morning.

After lunch we stopped in to see Grandma Ester at the nursing home and chatted for awhile and teased the other residents. It was a good time and Grandma seemed very happy to have had us drop in.
Saturday evening was even worse for activity, it was absolutely dead and winds were still strong and constant. With predictions of a very cold morning we decided to call it quits and pull the blinds.
Even though there was only one turkey bagged out of three hunters (the father in-law had already hunted earlier in the year), it was a good time. After dinner Steve and I enjoyed Spotted Cows, Naked Squirrels, and nice cigars out on the porch watching the star filled sky.
The family had breakfast together. The family being Dad, Jens parents, Steve & Rita, Jen and myself. Steve, Rita, and dad packed up and headed out after breakfast while Jen and I headed over to visit her grandma Edna. After a short visit we let her go back to sleep and we headed home to so that we could catch the Chicago/Detroit playoff hockey game.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

ready, set, go!

Time off for Friday verified...check
Wisconsin Turkey License purchased...check
Clothes packed for the weekend...check
Hunting clothes and gear packed...check
Boots packed...check
Shotgun and Ammo...check check
New camera packed...check
Bills paid before leaving...check
Celebratory cigars packed...check check check
Wife coming with me...check

What am I forgetting......

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Evening Crappies

Today I had the chance to mess around with new camera. I was able to take pictures of geese, mallards, various finches, flowers etc.

Dad and I headed out in his boat around 6pm-ish for his spot he had for some crappies. We fished for about 20 minutes before we got our first bite, then things heated up. Besides getting our limit on crappies with in the following 1.5 hours, dad forgot we were fishing for crappies and also landed one smallllll bass, a 12" walleye, and something else that he lost before we could see what it was. We were using slip bobber's and minnows in about three to four feet of water.

We headed back to the dock at dusk, and fillet our crappies so that they will be ready to eat tomorrow. That should be tasty!

Evening before MN opener

Friday afternoon we rushed home from work, packed the Tahoe for a weekend of fishing at the parents, stopped at Trails End for fishing licenses and new mono for the spinning reels, hit the liqueur store for some adult beverages (Lakemaid beer, and Dry Fly Vodka), stopped at the gas station to fill up, and swung by Wendy's for a quick supper on the go. Half way through the drive, I realized I forgot the new camera on the kitchen counter.

About three miles from my parents place there were turkeys in a field. On the road there was a truck pulled over to the side of the road watching them, and we pulled over too. There was a hen and two Toms in full strut. It was cool to see, then I noticed a black dot at the far end of the field.

The dot was moving towards the two Toms and there appeared to be blue head. I grabbed my binoculars and saw that it was a very nice mature Tom with a beard that almost hit the ground. He was heading fast towards the two Toms, which were heading towards him at a fast pace too. When they met up to each other the two younger Toms that had respectable beards attacked the older one. The older one fought back and this went on for about ten minutes back and forth. The older one gave up and walked away, the two Toms turned around to look for the hen. When they spotted her, they started off towards her and we decided to leave at that point.

It was really cool and hopefully when I go turkey hunting next weekend in south central Wisconsin, I'll get my chance to see another nice Tom that matched their size and bag one. I told dad about what Jen and I witnessed as we re-spooled new line on three of the four rods to prepare for tomorrow. Prelim reports are that their is little sunfish activity, crappies are hot in the evenings, and not sure about what the pike are doing. I guess we will find out soon enough.

Good luck to all the fisherman going out this weekend!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Kiap-TU-Wish meeting

So I was able to make it to the May meeting of Kiap-TU-Wish chapter of Trout Unlimited tonight to see a presentation on the State of the local trout waters. It has been a while since I've been down to the chapter meeting, but was warmly greeted by several friends and familiar faces. The meeting was held at it's usual place in downtown Hudson, WI at Bob Smith's Sports Club.

Before the presentation began, there were some quick updates as to the chapters budget, up coming stream work projects that will be taking place in the next few weeks through the summer, and a recap of the very successful 2009 river clean up that was coordinated by Sarah Sanford. There were a record number of volunteers that showed up with a steep decline in the amount of junk collected in prior years. I think that is nothing short of excellent news! Also, I was one of the winners of the door prizes they gave out for attending. I won 6 flies (Tellico Nymphs) tied by Perry Palin that were very nicely tied. Thanks to Kiap-TU-Wish and to Perry, I promise I will field test these flies soon, just to make sure they work.

The speaker for this special event was Marty Engel (WI DNR Fisheries Biologist) who put on a wonderful slide show, full of stats, historical references, and a little fish porn. I am glad I was able to attend. The next monthly meeting will be later in the fall, till then I will have to try to make one of the volunteer work days to help out.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Nikon D60

While I was out in Montana on vacation, my buddy who owns Martie Motors in Zimmerman, MN sold my bass boat for me. I've been wanting something different for a while now, so I was happy to send it off to someone who will appreciate it more than I did. Only one hiccup so far, and that is the title I signed over was only for the boat, apparently there was one for the trailer too. So I'll have to straighten that out now for the new owner.

Part of the cash from the sale of the boat went to purchasing a new digital SLR, which I have been wanting to get for over three years now. The rest of the sale proceeds are going towards grown up stuff.

I am excited to start using my new Nikon D60 on my outdoor adventures, especially since I can use most of my lenses that I had bought for my other Nikon's (N80 and FM10). The best thing about the digital SLR for me is seeing the results instantly and making adjustments if needed. It is so nice for when you are taking a few shots in some place you know you will not be able to make it back to, and crossing your fingers that you got the shot. I so should have went to college for photography and writing. Then I could have been paid to travel around the globe, fly fishing, taking great photo's, and then write about the adventures.

It should be a fun summer learning and playing with the new purchase and a good excuse to leave the house for more often.