Saturday, December 10, 2011

Test photos of fly patterns

So I wanted to improve my fly photography by improving the mini-studio I built for taking pictures of flies.  I did a little research online and then picked up two new lights from National Camera Exchange to replace the old convoluted system I was using. 
I am now just using those two lights and a reflector inside a light box.  Before, I was using the light box, a reflector, three lights, an on camera flash hooked up to secondary slave flash via a cable, and the full kitchen table with two leaves in it.  Now I'm down to using a third of the kitchen table without the leaves in it.
Here are some photos of tonight's practice session (click on each to enlarge).
sparkle soft hackle

tungston zebra nymph variant

zebra stable (7 different variants): fresh off the vise last weekend

wet fly on bamboo background

wet fly on oak background

streamer with maple background

streamer with dark stained wood background

double midge fly

double midge fly 2

Sunday, November 20, 2011


After spending several hours in the initial attempt to straighten out the Fly-tying/man-room last night, and waking up to fresh snow this morning I definitely have trout on my mind.  So I just thought I would send out a post with a couple of reminders.

Fly Tying related:
As winter sets in and we restock our fly boxes, keep in mind that the St. Paul Fly Tier's meet every week on Thursday nights at Schroeder's Bar & Grill in St. Paul.  It's great way to get out of the house, socialize, and keep you motivated in your fly tying.
The Fly Angler has a variety of Tying Classes you can sign up for during the winter months to develop those skills of yours.  They also have been hosting an "open tying" night once a month where you can bring your own vice and materials to tie whatever you want in the company of other like minded fisherman.  And if you forget something, they probably can sell ya whatcha need right there. 

Fishing related:
If you are getting twitchy, there's always a trip down to Iowa where the fishing season never closes.  Otherwise the MN Winter catch-and-release season opens to a select number of rivers on January 1st.

For the love of the trout:
I know the past couple of years have had a bumpy road financially for the nation, but don't take it out on the trout.  Personally, my donations this year have been significantly less then in years past however they have been more strategically picked.  So I limited myself to only three or four organizations/causes rather then a dozen that were a little lower on my social responsibility radar.   
1) December 8th, 2011 from 6-10pm is the Annual Holiday Dinner and Fund Raising Banquet for the Kiap-Tu-Wish chapter of Trout unlimited.  Buy tickets in advance and save a few dollars so that you can spend it on the silent auction!  This can be an excellent opportunity to pick up a Christmas gift for that special fly fisherman on your list.  Hope to see you there!
2) February 11th, 2012 is the Annual fund raising event for the Twin Cities chapter of Trout Unlimited.  This has been a a great "Date Night" in years past for my wife and I, loaded with tons of energy, excitement and friends while donating to a good organization.  And who knows, maybe you''ll find a unique Valentines gift for the loved one in your life.
Fall day on the Namekagon
Consider supporting a newer organization that has been in the works since this summer called the Namekagon River Partnership.  Their mission is to celebrate and conserve the cold water fishery of the upper Namekagon River.  This group is made up of citizens, business owners, and government conservation entities, and non-profit organizations.  I wrote a check out this morning to them in hopes it will help the Partnership pave their way in protecting this great Wisconsin resource.  If you've never fished it, you are missing out on one hell of a great north woods experience.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Deer camp

So two weekends ago, I went up to visit deer camp over opener to see old friends and my dad.  It was good to see the usual suspects and that they were all doing pretty well.  It had been a year or more since seeing some of them, and it was nice to hang out and bond with the traditional card games, story telling, and good natured ribbing.  Hunting-wise, the weekend didn't turn out so well, one eight-pointer (shot by Dean) out of six deer hunters in the 20-25mph winds is all we got.  I didn't do to well either, instead of deer hunting I bought a small game license and brought the 20 gauge over & under in hopes of getting a grouse or black squirrel for tying flies.  I find that grouse hunting is more enjoyable to me because I can relax as I put less pressure on myself when I am not competing for a deer in an acreage that isn't exactly overpopulated.  I only flushed one grouse, and it was gone before I could get a bead on it.  I also kicked up deer twice in some thick underbrush.  And both times I could not hear it running off into the woods even though it was within 20 yards of me.  I watched it's white flag bob back in forth out of sight completely stunned that I didn't even hear so much as a twig snap.  The odds were not in our favor this time. 
Even though the hunting wasn't so great, I did get to see a bald eagle circle over me just above the tree tops.  The highlight of the weekend was Carmi's video footage from her deer stand.  She captured a couple minutes of a grouse by her stand and almost ten minutes of footage of a bobcat chilling out.  It appeared to know that Carmi was there, but really didn't care.  It napped, it stalked a bird, and it stared at the camera, before scooting away.  Earlier in the day, the land owner had seen two adult bobcats and a kitten from his stand.  Very exciting stuff! 
As for the increasing stories and evidence of wolf sign in the area, I was not as impressed.  One pack of wolves actually treed an acquaintance of ours a few weeks earlier when he was bow hunting for deer across the lake from where we were hunting. 
As of last night, I heard that Dean got a button buck, making for two deer total for the camp.  Dad is still up there, so hopefully with a little luck he will get one too.  I'll cross my fingers for him anyway.
Steelhead closes tomorrow and we did not go fishing for them since my last post.  So now we wait till next fall to resume that game.  This weekend consisted of prepping the house for winter and freeing up space by bringing a lot of stuff over to our storage unit.  We did a pretty good job with our to-do list, but I am saving the Fly Tying room (a.k.a. the man room) for this coming weekend.  It might only be one room, but it needs a lot of attention.  It is in total disarray with fishing stuff, camping gear, and hunting clothes strung all over.  I think I can see what color the carpet is, sorta, maybe. Okay, I can't.  But, I do have memories of what it should look like once it is back in good order and prepped for fly tying season. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

End of our steelhead season...probably

Photo taken by J. Rawls
We continued fishing Sunday and Monday, but there was no catching.  We did have a great time in the evenings socializing and tying flies while watching YouTube videos of "Cows with Guns" and a clip of Richard Simmons doing a hilariously crazy appearance on "Whose Line is it anyways."  These are the moments to remember with friends!

I had reached out to several of my fishing buddies for reports of happiness, but sadly their fishing stories also lacked any significant catching. 

So unless the river gods "wave" a magic wand to change the "tide" of the "current" conditions, our season has "plunged" to an end for this year.  (bad pun, but I thought it was amusing)

Saturday, October 29, 2011

another steelhead weekend

Photo by Waring, Michael
So we are back up for a three day weekend steelheading.  Friday night was fun.  The Kro had a comedy show, and after that two Tequila models from Eau Claire, WI were there pimping shots of a new tequila (I don't remember the brand but keep reading and you'll see why) on behalf of their distributor.  I met a local gal who was  a retired post office mail-woman from Superior, WI who introduced me to a few people around us and chatted with them for a while and they bought me a beer.  Then the bartender bought me a beer cause we fried the keg.  Then the Tequila models were back and we ended up talking about fishing for awhile (as I "sampled" their shots).  Then Paul and Mother Feiker walked in close to 11pm just in time for the Tequila girls to ask them to take a picture of the three of us before they moved on with their night.  Not sure why they wanted  a picture with me, but who am I to argue with a request like that.  So I did my part, stood in between them and smiled pretty for the camera as they hugged me.  I know, I know, I know what you're thinking and yes, it was a hard job standing up after all those drinks, but I persevered so as to not disappoint the models.  Then Mother Feiker bought me a beer.  Mind you, I still bought plenty of my own Leinie's Oktoberfest and shots of Parton in between all these gracious gifts of barley.  As you may have guessed, we were there till 2am, before they closed and we had to call it a night. 
Saturday's fishing was slowwwww. And by slow I mean that it was slowwwwww.  But, we did watch a muskrat for awhile on the opposite bank of one our fishing spots.  He was cute, but not as much as the otter that visited us a few weeks ago.  The otter was very curious as to what we are or what we were doing.  He was swimming up stream on the opposite bank and would stop every few yards or so, pop up on his back legs and gave us look as if to say "whatcha doing mister?"  It did that all the way up stream until it was out of our site again. 
Maybe fishing will be better tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

This past weekend, low and clear

Jen and I went up again this past weekend even though the river was still low and clear and still no rain.  What can I say, we are addicts to this game. 

We found Peter a couple of doors down from ours at the motel.  He fished that day and lost his fly box, so there was some flies being tied as we chatted with him.  Which still totally sucks to lose a fly box on the river.  But if anyone finds said fly box, please send to me so that I can see what his secret flies are.

Jen and I went over the Kro-bar for supper where we were joined by Mike, Phil, and David who also just pulled into town for the weekend.  Talk about perfect timing!  And the all you can eat fish fry wasn't too bad either with a side of Leinie's Oktoberfest of course.  If only someone could have tripped over the cord of the horrible karaoke that was taking place on the stage, it would have been so much better.
Jen and I had zero luck on Saturday, not even a strike.  We fished till dark with no rewards from the river gods.  Peter had walked by us about mid morning Saturday and reported landing a very nice steelhead just upstream of us.  So we knew they were in river, just not on the end of our lines.  Before going out to dinner as we all gathered at Olie's motel room for a warm-up beer, Jen and found out that we were the only unlucky ones out of our group of eight.  Good for them, but I say Grrrr to our luck.   

The blueberry ribs at Deep Lake Lodge in Iron River, WI is still the best ribs I've ever had and they once again did not disappoint, unlike the Badgers football game that we could hear in the background on TV.  At lease the Packers beat the Vikings the next day.  Poor Bucky Badger.

Sunday, we had a little bit of a late start as we were not in a hurry since there was a 60% chance of rain in the forecast for the day.  But when we opened the door to get going, it was dry and overcast.  Jen and I headed to a spot we knew that fit our latest steelhead theory with a Mountain Dew in one hand, and snickers bar in the other (which by the way is a four-star fisherman's breakfast).  We spent most of our time at one spot insistent that we were right and then we were proved right.  I was lucky enough to catch two steelhead about an hour apart from each other!  WhooHoo!!  Shortly after, we gave up the spot to another gentleman and headed back to the truck just in time for the rain to start.  Lucked out again!  We changed in the parking lot and headed for home happily.

Monday, October 24, 2011

A Good fall so far

So the weekend before last Jen and I got our first steelhead fishing weekend under our belt.  That weekend was the annual St Paul Fly Tier's steelhead outing and to keep things manageable for our group we broke up into smaller groups.  Jen and I fished with Louise over the weekend and had a lot of fun.  The best thing about the weekend is that we get to see so many people that we haven't seen in awhile and is a lot like a fun family reunion.  Jen caught a steelhead on Saturday and was in the minority of successful fisherman we found out as everyone shared their stories of the day over an awesome feast that Tony prepared for the club.

On Sunday, the weather was the same as the day before, which was sunny and windy, with a windchill in the low 30's.  Louise had to leave by a certain time to get back home in her final hour before she had to leave the river she landed a 26" chrome steelhead.  She was very excited!  Congrat's Louise!!!

On Monday, I had the day off and had planned to go fishing with Mike and dad for smallmouth.  Dad and I met up with Mike as he was doing final prep work on the boat at the landing.  Everything went pretty well except someone turned the wind machine on HIGH.  We struggled through some pretty heavy wind and it made for a challenging situation.  But the three of us had a great time joking around and we did have a few bites.  Mike landed a few smallie's and I managed to land one, but dad lost a very nice one.  NO, I didn't cut the line on him.  We did get a glimpse of it, and it would have made for a good picture.  Instead, I have put in a nice photo of dad and I with a bass and the lure we caught it on.  The funny thing was he was convinced the white lures were not on the menu for the bass that day and that chartreuse was the ticket...oops!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Link to Vacation Pictures

Hello all! I know, I know, it's been a while since my last post but here we go.  Jen and I just returned from a week of camping in West Glacier in Glacier National Park in Northwest Montana.  We had a great time taking photos, going on random adventures and hikes.  As our reward, we caught Yellowstone Cutthroats, Brookie's, and even a Bull trout! Saw both black and grizzley bears, columbus ground squirrels, almost got run over by a ram, and enjoyed lots of things made with Huckleberries or bison. 
We took a lot of photos...a LOT of photos!  The place is breath-takingly beautiful, especially if you get off the asphalt and put on the hiking shoes (or waders in some cases). 
So without further delay, here is the link to our photos of the trip, I hope you enjoy them.