Sunday, January 14, 2018

Blog Post Comments, Genuine or Spam? Fly Fishing Update

Hello there!

If you are taking the time to read my blog or look at the pictures, thanks!!!  I appreciate it when anyone takes the time to comment (then I know you are taking an interest vs. just clicking a link to the blog and getting out of it... since it deals with stripping flies and not women stripping!). 

However, if your comment is "anonymous," sometimes it is hard to discern if it is a genuine comment or spam, especially if the comment does not refer to any specific details of my post. One anonymous commenter reported we both had blogs of similar interest and would I email him. There was no email address provided. If I am very certain an anonymous comment is NOT spam, I will post it and likely respond. Otherwise, I am sorry, but I delete any comments that appear more likely to be spam. 

Of course, when there are genuine comments, I am likely to post more on the blog. It does become challenging to write to an invisible audience. 

I am still a fly fishing freak, planning a trip to Canada for big pike and walleye, and I have more time to return to tying musky-pike flies (hopefully to soon simplify my super-complicated post on BB's Forage... but to also create dubbing brushes and hopefully, yak-based brushes!). Sub-zero temps and a broken garage door -trapping my packed Subie- have kept me from winter trouting, but it is on the horizon! Also, when not fishing, tying, or thinking/doing things directly related to fly fishing, I'm still finding more murder mystery books with an outdoorsy and sometimes even a fly fishing tie-in! 

Life is good, with good friends to share it, and then time to venture off alone in search of new discoveries and peace for my soul. I wish the same for you, and I invite you to share some of it here.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Fly Tying at Java Java -- We're Back!!!!!

Yes, we've returned to Davenport's Java Java coffee shop on River Drive to tie flies. It's our 2nd Saturday in a row, and then we likely won't return until after Thanksgiving. It will be time to go fishing and spend time with family. It's a possibility a couple musicians will join us, but we never know for sure!

We are tying, talking, and drinking java from 9-noon. You don't have to tie flies to join us! And, if you want to try to tie, just ask! Someone is always willing to give a lesson. 

Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The Small Smallies-Rocks-Chubs-Forgotten Birthday-Mean Friend, Fun Float Weekend

   We got in the first smb float trip of the year, and it was on my birthday!!  My friend, Dan, and I planned the float, and he didn't learn it was birthday Saturday until we were finishing our supper that evening at the air-conditioned restaurant (sitting there in all of our 91* stinky, exhausted glory). My 3rd partner in fly fishing fun, Jeff, was alerted of this 51st annual day of celebration (and I've spent all of them on the water since 2008 when I first started fly fishing) through Facebook and shared this factoid with Dan, who thought it was later in the month. Dan was disappointed because he didn't have my dirty birthday card with him, but I got a free meal plus tiramisu, so my life was good. Life briefly got bad when Jeff posted a picture of me eating tiramisu. I had just told him I frequently don't take good pictures just as he was taking a picture of me. I saw the picture and told Jeff he was mean. I did all I could to banish the pic from Facebook via my phone: untagging it, deleting notifications for it, and restricting Jeff as my friend on Facebook(temporarily). It wasn't a bad picture. It was just horrendous. I looked older than my 51 years, and it looked like I'd lived some hard years with nasty bad drugs and lots and lots of alcohol.  No one "liked" the picture, so I only hope that means they didn't see it...
*Pictures from our trip are posted at the bottom of the page, but not the one of the tiramisu-eating-incident. Click on picture to enlarge it.

  Musky remain my first love to hunt and hook on the fly. BUT, smb floats on small rivers (some would laugh and say they are streams) in our little pontoons and kickboats are my favorite way to fish. And, smallies will probably rank, someday, as my favorite fish to fight on the fly. Currently, they hold the #2 slot. Why do I love these floats? The rivers (or streams) are usually beautiful, we are targeting the ever-feisty smb, sometimes we end up with trout and other species, solitude --some lil rivers don't have many aluminum hatches, and it is great to fin with the feet OR walk the boat like it's a wheelchair while casting and keeping cooler with legs mostly in the water.

   I debated sharing the river's name. It's in Iowa. Sometimes you can find trout in it. We didn't on Saturday. That's about all you're going to get. Why? Greedy? Maybe a little. BUT, small rivers don't handle much fishing pressure. And, while we caught a respectable amount of fish, the smb were small. I caught 2-13 inchers and 2-11s, and the rest were smaller than that. Of course I missed many fish but landed 18 rock bass, 17 smb, and 16 creek chubs. I think my friends had similar results, but a couple 16" smb might have been slid into the net. I think we want to try other waters or just go downstream and see if that is where the bigger boys and girls hang out.  I only saw a group of 4 kayakers during the entire 830-615pm trip. 

   So, if you get a chance, do some exploring on your local waterways.  Consider practicing catch and release so we can all enjoy catching more or bigger fish (and pinch your barbs too, to lessen fish mortality!). If you take a fish, eat the fish and don't waste it. Take time to pick up a bit of trash you might find along the way and please don't litter.  Yes, dropping your tag ends in the water is littering. Leaving strike indicators at the parking lot is littering.  Smile and give a hello to other anglers.  Be courteous on the waterway and don't crowd others.  Think your dirty thoughts if someone crowds you, but don't push em in, and give them the benefit of the doubt... maybe they weren't taught good fishing manners like you and your friends were. Also, stay hydrated or you will end up like I've ended up... yelling in pain off and on for hours in the suv while tent camping after a day of fishing. Dehydration leads to the nastiest leg muscle cramps!!!! It could also lead to embarrassment if someone takes a walk on a path and finds you hanging out of your suv after passing out (or falling asleep, one might argue!) from pain. Luckily, last year I woke up before I was spotted! I remained well-hydrated this weekend.

I hope you enjoy the pictures. 

Toons and tents

Limestone bluff. Not as many fish here, but it sure is pretty!

Smb bed

Jeff rows out of the bluff.

Leaving the limestone bluff and entering the first large pool

After a lack of sleep due to the partying drunkards tenting next to us, we got up early and drove a while to two trout streams. Dan caught browns and bows at Richmond Springs.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Spring Creeks TU Rendezvous -- Lots of Fun While Fundraising

Rowyn and one of her first flies tied!
The Spring Creeks TU Rendezvous was held Saturday, March 25, 2017, in Monticello, IA. I was told that over 50 people attended, and attendance has been growing each year! 
This year's speaker was Dan Kirby, a Fisheries Biologist from the DNR. During the TU board meeting held at the start of the Rendezvous, as part of the Diversity Initiative, members agreed to donate up to $1000 toward the women's fly fishing groups currently getting started in Iowa. 
Live and silent auctions were held, along with options for members to try their luck at bucket raffles and rod raffles. Among some of the more desired items including Dave Whitlock prints -- one of a brook trout and the other of a smallmouth bass. 
Most attendees tied flies throughout much of the day or visited and learned from other tiers. I met a wonderful young man, Henry, who (with his fiance too) I hope to take out fishing with friend Kate and I. Henry and Heather are new to fly fishing. 
The 3 regional TU branches and HFFA (Hawkeye Fly Fishing Association) are also in the planning stages of forming a coldwater group that will provide strength in numbers to help maintain, protect, and improve our coldwater fisheries. Some discussion was held about this.

Jeff Moore consistently donates his skillfully tied flies to TU and HFFA events. I won these flies at the live auction. Xxxxxxxxxx, left, caddis, and Blue-Winged Olives. Size 20. (complete names coming)

Soft Hackle Wet Fly that I finally got right!
Thanks Damian Wilmot for sharing this on your website.

Spring Creeks TU board meeting is in full swing.

Monday, February 13, 2017

43rd Annual HFFA Fly Fishing Show, Iowa City, IA, Feb 17-19, 2017!!

Please attend the Hawkeye Fly Fishing Association's 43rd Annual Fly Fishing Show! Lots of fun, learning, and networking with other friendly fly anglers. Proceeds benefit restoration and education projects. Great bucket raffles, silent auctions, live auction, guest fly tiers, and more! Excellent speakers with multiple programs and Iowa DNR's Mike Siepker will also present a program.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Wait 2 Beers and Catch a Musky With a 20-Foot Cane Pole

A wintry trout fly fishing trip and a defective windshield washer hose led me to a tale of how to catch musky by throwing your home-made fishing pole in the water and then drinking two beers.  Please note that no beer was drunk during the telling of the tale, and I have a picture to prove it wasn’t one of those “fish that got away” stories!

Late fall through spring is my time to make fly fishing road trips in search of trout, especially since Iowa DNR rules have blessed anglers with the opportunity to cast for trout 365 days a year. The Iowa Driftless region is where I find peace, so when free time coincided with decent December weather, I headed to Northeast Iowa.

On the gravel roads, I learned that I had poor windshield washer fluid pressure. With ice and snow predicted in the recently-updated forecast and a special tool needed to fix my SUV’s problem, I drove up the road to Postville, IA, and over to Reggie's Body Shop. Ten miles earlier, Reggie had seen me at a convenience store poking around under my hood, and he’d offered to lend a hand. The fly fishing road trip for trout in the Driftless would have to wait, but in exchange I heard about a very unusual way to catch musky...and you technically don’t even need a hook!

Outside his shop, with our heads under the hood and Reggie’s two dogs running around, we talked about friends who make custom knives. Then, I mentioned I was heading toward Decorah to fish. That’s when Reggie led me into his shop. In the dimly-lit building he showed me a couple knives and an old photo. I held the picture in dusty window light and saw Reggie's father-in-law posing with a musky in one hand and another beat-up fish in the other hand, while a friend gripped a very long pole.  The picture was taken on the dock of a Wisconsin lake. "What's that?" I asked about the pole.

Beneath the hood of the SUV while he spliced together a broken hose, Reggie began his story. Then, after a successful windshield washer test, we ultimately headed back inside the warm brick building to finish the storytelling.

While telling his tale to this catch and release fly angler, Reggie emphasized what used to be allowed but what is now required of him (to be legal) when he fishes in this manner. I caught on to his “to be legal” emphasis right away, and I still get a little kick out of it. Was he me how he fished legally or what he should be doing to fish legally??! For many reasons, I can't recommend this method of musky fishing. BUT... it is a creative way to fish and makes for a good story.

The fishing is done in a boat that is drifting (Reggie said that trolling is illegal). You need some suckers, and I was told they can be alive, but Reggie has used dead suckers, stinky ones even, and the musky don't seem to mind. The bite guard is run through the sucker's mouth and around the gills. Reggie said that for some reason it is now illegal not to use a hook, but in the past they just used to tie off the bite guard, sans hook. So, you've got an unlucky sucker, a bite guard (and a hook so you are legal!), fishing line with a rubber ball tied in somewhere as a bobber, and the line is connected to your 20-foot cane pole. While drifting (nope, not trolling-- it is illegal!), the cane pole butt section is set in a rod holder. Have fun and watch the rubber ball.

Now, when your ball starts moving oddly, this is when you take the cane pole out of its holder and just chuck that pole in the water in front of you! Next, to ensure success, just relax, drift in sight of the floating pole, and drink two beers. If luck is with you and if you drank slowly enough, your musky is now "hooked" even if you aren't using a hook (but that is illegal!), so you position your boat near the cane pole and pick the pole up. Then, after you get hold of some of the attached fishing line, throw the pole back in the water behind you. Start hand-stripping in the line (Reggie didn't say it, but they gotta have gloves on), net your musky, and bring it into the boat!  If you do it all just right, that musky won't regurgitate the sucker until the musky is in the net... otherwise, bye-bye musky.

Just remember the important part. This method of fishing requires that you bring beer. If you don't drink two beers after the musky takes the sucker, the musky will not have had enough time to adequately turn the sucker around in its mouth and swallow it sufficiently to be "hooked."

So, I drove away from Reggie and the brick body shop. While I fished and caught trout the following day with my 9-foot, graphite fly rod, I thought of his story and the 20-foot cane pole but knew that I would stick with fly fishing and using my own big flies, casting and casting, flaring up my tendonitis, and at some point, hooking and strip-setting for the chance to net a musky... and to safely release it. I agree that drinking two beers is still a good idea, but only two because we always musky fish with hooks. Big, sharp hooks.

So, in warmwater season, when the sun has sunk low after the last cast has been made and the rods and boat are stowed for the night, to my tired, forearm-sore musky fly fishing friends at the campfire I'll tell the tale of how others have caught musky with a 20-foot cane pole, a rubber ball, no hook, and 2 beers. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

3 Friends Brew Up Musky Mojo Despite 48* Northwoods Water Temps

   A springtime broken finger altered many of my fly fishing adventures for the year. The lack of vacation time sorely affected fall fishing fun. However, my good friend John told me months ago that if I could get a little bit of time off of work then we should go fishing for musky in September or October. And, luckily, I got Monday off following the October 22-23 weekend. John called Scott, currently on permanent sabbatical (AKA retirement) from work, and the 3 of us headed to the waterways of the Northwoods in search of musky.

   Driving north Friday after work, fishing the weekend, and heading home Monday, I surprisingly left the Northwoods and my friends feeling just as satisfied as the previous 3-4 Octobers when I could sprinkle out 14 days of vacation time to mostly chase musky, but also smb, salmon, and trout.

   This was really a very special trip, and I just wanted to share it with you.  Due to extenuating circumstances, I've been asked not to share what waters we visited. I'm sorry, but if you use Google Earth, speak with the DNR, etc., there are many musky haunts awaiting your discovery in the Northwoods. (If you click on the individual pictures, they will enlarge so you can see them better)

Scott keeps the line tight to his first musky of the trip while John prepares to net it.

Preparing to give the musky a smooch!

Scott's 2nd musky of the trip. The camera didn't depict the color and beauty of the markings on this fish.

John removes the fly from his big musky.

Careful fly removal by John.

John was beyond happy when his big girl was safely netted!!

On day 2, Twitch (me!) lifts her first musky from the net.

I saw the boil and set the hook. It was an exciting fight, but my main event was yet to come! (Photo by John!)

This was my first ever tiger musky boated!  This critter struck and I set. The line went slack. I slowed and then started stripping... hoping for a return. It struck again!! I set hard. Leaping twice, rolling and rolling, then a couple short rod-bending runs, John had the fighter netted. I whooped it up!! John wanted a pic of the 3 of us. Well, of course! All in the boat were excited by the fish's fight and its beauty. (Thanks Scott for taking the other photos!)

The fish got fired-up in the boat too! John felt the problem first while I was happily clueless for the moment. I won't quote here what John started to say when Scott took our action shot!

John hunts musky in the beautiful Northwoods. Not everyone can access this water so we were even happier to be here.

Off to more promising musky habitat and giving the arms and concentration a break!

Nearing the end of a good day, for the first time EVER on musky water, I was happy to put my rod aside and sit back and watch friends cast and row while enjoying just being where we were and enjoying the end to a mighty fine weekend.

Partners in the hunt: John

Partners in the hunt: Scott

And Twitch, sporting rabbit ears provided by John.

This swan runs on water during take-off to avoid a pursuing musky! Well, the musky part isn't true, but it sounded good. (:

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Fly Fishing and Other Outdoor Adventures Book List

   What avid fly angler who also likes to read has not enjoyed books written by John Gierach?  His humor, including subtle yet catchy bits of wisdom gleaned from a life of chasing fin on the fly and then sparingly woven into his stories, is what hooked me.  Gierach is also good at sliding in low-key fly rodding education disguised as storytelling.  He was my initiation to fly fishing entertainment in print.  What an introduction!

   After this, the book A Different Angle, edited by Holly Morris, was given to me by a male fly angler.  I think he felt I'd relate to it since all of the fly fishing stories in the book were written by women.  While I relate more to my fishing companions by their personalities and how we approach the sport than by their gender, I did enjoy the book and feel both men and women would appreciate it.

   Over the last few years I've become enamored with listening to audiobooks during my 2 to 8 hour one way road trips in search of trout, smallies, musky, etc.  The 20 minute trip to and from work is also more entertaining with a book on cd than listening to the local radio stations.  I've also returned to reading and am nearly finished with the Cork O'Connor series of books.

   I've become a frequent visitor to the library.  But, obviously specific print and audio library materials don't have their own fly fishing section.  I've never seen an outdoorsy person fiction section, let alone the section further subdivided into regions the reader might like to fish or hike.  Since it has often been a fluke that I've found books with fly fishing subject matter (not "how-to" books) or books relating to outdoor adventure in specific regions that hold an attraction for me, I thought I'd list on my blog the books I've discovered and enjoyed.  I tend to enjoy murder mysteries with a strong and honest lead character who is also independent and adventurous.  Perhaps those who have so kindly taken the time to become a Follower on this blog and other visitors to this blog might appreciate the book list and may, perhaps, have suggestions of their own to share.

1) Books authored by John Gierach.  The intrigue created by titles such as Sex, Death, and Fly-Fishing and Even Brook Trout Get the Blues, simply prepares the reader for great content between the covers.  Certainly, you will learn a little something about fly fishing or a particular region of the country, and Gierach will pass on bits of wisdom gleaned from days on the water.  But Gierach's strength is simply that he's an excellent storyteller again and again and again. He knits together a real-life cast of characters, places, and adventures that most fly anglers would like to know, and in a way, we ultimately feel we do know after laughing and smiling our way through his books.

2) Time Is A River, by Mary Alice Monroe.  After my Aunt Nancy, who lives near Asheville, NC, and my fly fishing friend Kate had each struggled through breast cancer treatments, and then Kate and my friend Ruth (also my aunt's friend), and I particpated in Casting for Recovery, I discovered this book on a library shelf.  Talk about timing!

The main character is Mia, a recent breast cancer survivor.  She escapes to a long-shut cabin near Asheville, NC, offered to her by her Casting for Recovery (CFR) leader after Mia suffers family trauma after the CFR retreat.  Mia's escape soon becomes her self-discovery when she finds the diary and fly fishing journal from Kate, the cabin's previous owner who was a feminist and fly fishing guide much ahead of her time.  Self-discovery evolves into a murder mystery, along with Mia's added discovery of bugs, water, and bamboo.

3)  The Sean Stranahan book series by Keith McCafferty.  The Royal Wulff Murders and The Gray Ghost Murders introduce Sean Stranahan, fly fishing guide, artist, and private investigator, to the readers.  The author develops Stranahan's and other characters in a manner that helps the reader to feel a connection with them.  These first two books have a direct tie-in to fly fishing!  McCafferty's next two books in the series, Dead Man's Fancy and Crazy Mountain Kiss, retain a looser tie-in to fly fishing but still feature Montana country and personalities, and grow characters introduced in the first two books.  All books have been very good Montana-based murder mysteries.  Buffalo Jump Blues is the 5th book of the Sean Stranahan series, and I suspect it will be every bit as entertaining as the rest.

4) A Different Angle,
edited by Holly Morris.  This book of fly fishing stories was written by women.  It has likely been two years since I have read it, but I remember how much it was enjoyed.  While looking over a few stories to jog my memory, I decided I wanted to read it again after I finish my book in the Cork O'Connor series. What mostly strikes home with me is that these stories feel intimate, personal.  To me, that is also how fly fishing feels.  Tales about coming to terms, in her own way (I bet you know how), with a parent's death; and about the joy felt when one realizes she will love to fish, about a One-Fly tournament, and more, are found in this book with a fly fishing theme. 

5) The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway.  
It's not fly fishing, but it's fishing and so much more than that.  This classic is a good read on many levels.  I've also enjoyed reading Hemingway's Nick Adams stories.

6)  The Anna Pigeon book series authored by former park ranger Nevada Barr.  Currently, there are 19 books in the series.  I was completely hooked by these murder-mysteries while listening to the audiobooks Blood Lure and The Rope.  Pigeon, a law enforcement ranger with the United States National Park Service, is a fiercely independent woman who is prone to little talk and much action and either finds trouble or is asked to fix known trouble.  The readers tag along with Anna after she takes assignments and job duties at various national park across the United States.  The ranger uses her intelligence and cunning to solve park mysteries while protecting park wildlife and keeping herself from becoming the next murder to solve.  That isn't to say that Anna doesn't suffer her share of hard knocks...

7)  The Cork O'Connor book series by William Kent Krueger.  I read and enjoyed Tamarack County a couple years ago, but then headed on to supernatural mysteries.  Last year my friend Kate recommended and let me borrow Iron Lake, the first in the Cork O'Connor series.  While I have since elected to read, not listen to, each of Krueger's books in the series, tonight I will begin Windigo Island, which is book #14/15.  When I put a reserve on the latest book, Manitou Canyon, at the library, I learned there are 19 people ahead of me waiting to get their hands on this book.

While there are only a few mentions of fishing by Cork and others in the books, the book series does relate heavily to this Midwestern fly angler.  Cork, a sheriff, private investigator, owner of Sam's Place, white and Anishinaabe, and most importantly, a family man, is a native of Aurora, Minnesota.  Cork's life is centered around the Northwoods, its lakes, rivers, wildlife, Native American culture and reservations, the struggle for employment and a way of life.  His travels take me to places and personalities with which I am already familiar due to my fishing travels.  I think many anglers and hunters who visit the Northwoods will enjoy these books.

Cork is part white (Irish) and part Anishinaabe (Ojibwe).  His varying roles as sheriff and later, as private investigator often working with the sheriff's department, put himself and his family in danger as he works to solve the who and why of local murders while managing the delicate balance between white and Native American race relations.  Anishinaabe traditions and the role of Henry, the near-ageless mide, help guide Cork and his family along a path of acceptance, wisdom, and truth.  Strong morals and family values often clash with violence, greed, and murder in a land that is often as harsh as it can be beautiful.  While there has not been a poorly written book in the lot, Boundary Waters, #2/15, remains my favorite.

8)  The Kate Shugak book series by Dana Stabenow.  I have only read a few of the 20 books in this
series featuring yet another much-needed strong and intelligent female role model.  I am happy to write that this book series takes the readers to the region of Niniltna, Alaska, where they are introduced to Kate Shugak, a highly-respected and sometimes feared 5-foot Aleut woman who lives on a homestead in an un-named national park in the Alaskan Bush.  Kate's constant companion is Mutt, a half-wolf/half-husky dog.

Former investigator for the
D.A, in Anchorage and private investigator, who also hunts for morels, and who has worked undercover on fishing boats and the TransAlaska Pipeline, tackles murder-mysteries in the Alaska Bush and generally finds a way to ensure justice is served.  The rough-voiced woman with a neck scar travelling ear to ear demands and receives respect from law enforcement, Alaska natives and others, including the "Park Rats,", and takes the readers on adventures on fishing boats, pipelines, mines, the bush, and elsewhere.  

A fellow member of our Hawkeye Fly Fishing Association club sent me an email today saying he caught back up with my blog and made some suggestions for further outdoorsy-types of reading. I'm copying the bulk of his text below. Thanks Nate!

 "Just got caught up on your blog again.

Here are a few fishing authors you may want to take time to look for.

M.W. Gordon  has 7 books
Royal J. Horton has 3 books
Raymond Kieft has 4 books
Joe Perrone Jr has 4 books
Michael Wallace has 4 books
Ronald Weber has 3 books.
Victoria Houston has 16 books.

The Houston books are addictive.  The setting is a small town on a lake in Wisconsin somewhere near Boulder Junction (if you can imagine that).  The retired town dentist has developed a love interest in the Town Police Chief who is an avid fly fisher.  The author is originally from Rhinelander and a few years ago moved back to her home town.  She release a book a year on average.

After you read 5 of the books you will come to the conclusion that Loon Lake would be a fun place to visit but a dangerous place to live!

Not about fishing but about Minnesota you should look into the three books by Cary J. Griffith.

Also look at the Lucas Davenport and Virgil Flowers cop mysteries by John Sandford.  All based in Minnesota.  Davenport has a cabin on a lake so how can he be bad?  Flowers is a fishing nut trailering his Lund along on cases.  Alas neither seems to fish enough.

An author with  books that  have nothing to do with fishing but everything to do with  addictive reading is Louise Penny.  Great for camping."