Day 85 – Work for you?

30 11 2009

Tonight I was reading an article in the latest Fly Fisherman magazine (don’t worry I’m not going to vent about stupid submissions). The author was talking about how the Humpy was one of his favorite flies and how it normally produces for him. I have to be honest, I’ve never been able to produce fish with a Humpy pattern. For that matter, I haven’t been able to produce with any regularity with an Adams, a Hendrickson, or even a San Juan Worm.

This got me thinking, how can these patterns work for other people but not for me? I have a friend here in North Carolina who favors Wooly Buggers. I haven’t been able to produce on that pattern either. Nevertheless, he is able to pull out some decent sized fish. It works for him. Why is that?

Could it be that he is naturally inclined to have the skill set that is required to fish this pattern? Does he have a genetic coding that allows him to twitch, rip, or strip the fly in such a way that it triggers a must eat attitude? Or is it that he prefers the pattern, which in turn gives him confidence to fish the pattern effectively? Did the chicken come before the egg?

I have a few patterns in my fly box that I favor more than other flies. In no particular order they are: Pink Squirrel, Hare’s Ear Nymph, Copper John, Gabriel’s Golden Trumpet, and an imitation caddis pattern that I’ve forgotten the name of. Of course there are various other patterns in my box that I’ve been able to produce fish with. An Elk Hair Caddis will always be a favorite, for no other reason than it was the first fly that I caught a trout with. The Y2K has been producing trout this season for me and my wife, so it will have a place in my heart.

So, back to the point: why do these popular patterns not work for me? Also, as a side note, do they work for you? I’ve had moderate success with BWO (Blue Winged Olive) patterns. Besides that one trout in the mountain lake, I’ve never caught a trout on a Scud pattern. And I don’t believe I’ve ever thrown a hopper style pattern before with any success. Am I just missing the seasons for these patterns or am I genetically coded for nymph patterns?


Day 84 – Mmmm… Trout

29 11 2009

Ever since the other day when I was talking to a friend of my wife’s, I’ve been thinking about trout. Trout usually are not very far from my brain, but this time it was more animalistic in nature: I want to eat one.

Normally I’m a catch and release kind of guy. I think it’s a freaking miracle that the live, and I prefer on most days not to harvest the trout. Lucky for the trout around here, catching and killing isn’t the season right now. I would have to purchase my trout at a store or a restraunt if I want to taste trout.

It all started when I was asked the question if I eat the fish that I catch. I replied that I haven’t given the last rites to a trout for quite a few years, however I’m not against thumping a head. I went on to say that I have a pretty good recipe for trout. I modified a recipe that is given in The Compleat Angler. Once I’ve cleaned and gutted a trout, I place copious amounts of sweet butter within the cavity. I then place some fresh herbs (like basil and rosemary) inside as well. Next I wrap the trout in tin foil and place it on the grill. After about 7-10 minutes (flipping once) I remove the packet and trout is served.

It’s a pretty good way to eat trout, especially if you happen to be camping out. I’m sure that there are some other ways that are good as well. I haven’t fried a trout in a skillet, but I’ve been told that is pretty good. I have a cookbook that talks about different styles of cooking trout, and I found a recipe in there that calls for cedar planks. I have a couple of cedar planks, but I’ve put off using them. I even have a fish shaped cast iron serving tray for the wood planks thanks to a free sample from my former employer. Again, this has gone unused.

I did managed to satisfy my urge for trout today. After church, nine of us “young adults” chose to invade the Cracker Barrel for lunch today. Most of the group decided to pursue breakfast foods, I on the other hand opted for the trout. My wife who doesn’t like fish even had a nibble, we may have to take a trout or two next year. I promise to keep only small ones and to throw all the big trophy size fish back.

Day 83 – Pissed Off!!

29 11 2009

After coming back from my in-laws in Virginia, I opened the mailbox and was greeted with the Jan/Feb issue of Fly Fisherman. Hurrah!!

After unpacking the Trout-mobile, and watching an episode of Fly Rod Chronicles, I found some time to peruse the magazine. One of my favorite sections to read are the reader comments under the heading Tight Lines. Let me tell, they let a doozy come slipping in this issue.

I’m going to be judgemental and sit in the big chair for a few minutes, so please stay with me. Why Ms. Valdez from Dallas, Texas wrote to Fly Fisherman is beyond me. The title for her section is called Sublime in Lime, and it’s a pure bitch session of how her husband took her fishing just outside of Aspen, Colorado. It reeks of that crap reality TV show the Real Desperate Housewives, you know the spoiled rich women who are about as shallow as a glass of water.

She states that she was celebrating her 15 year anniversary and decided to let her husband plan the trip. The end up going to a historic inn just outside of Aspen, Colorado. Now here comes the bitch session: the wallpaper is too old, the furnishings weren’t up to her taste, fly anglers give violent jerks to otherwise peaceful innocent trout, her husband didn’t let her buy the minx coat that she wanted (seriously it’s in there).

She then goes on to say that they decide to do a float trip down a river. She was excited that her guide looked like a cross between Kevin Costner and Harrison Ford. She spends the next two hours drooling over him. After that gets old, she decides to make her husband and the guide’s life hell because she feels “held hostage by two trout warriors” on a floating prison with no hope for escape. She asks stupid questions and then belittles the men with even more stupid ponderings.

Finally, she drives the dagger home by questioning their fishing ethics and comparing the experience of understanding what kind of fish was on the line (whitefish vs. trout) before it came to the surface with racial profiling. I’m sorry, what??!!! How in the world can identifying a fish on the line be anywhere near racial profiling? I feel offended by the mere mention that she thinks these two things can relate! Incredulous!!

How can this even get into the Letter to the Editor section in the first place? All the other letters talk about fly fishing and how it cured their hangover, or how effective the conservation approach to streams is going, or giving thanks for a solid piece of advice that “netted” a trophy trout. What was her impetus for writing this? Was it to try to say that anglers are horrible and that we should all stop fly fishing? Should we compare this to the PETA comic book that villanized our fathers for taking us fishing? Or was this just an excuse for the editors to play devil’s advocate and get readers all riled up.

This may just be the young newlywed talking, but I thought a healthy marriage is built upon love and respect and support. I for one am glad that I have a wife that supports me in my passion of fly fishing. Thank you for letting me vent. I think maybe tomorrow I’ll write a letter to the editor, asking why on Earth would they even consider printing that letter.

Day 82 – It Pays To Be Friendly…

28 11 2009

Today was a good day. After saying goodbye to some friends that were visiting, we made our way to a ski swap. My wife is a pretty decent skier (or so I’m told) and we kind of wanted to see what the prices were for a new set of skis and a pair of boots for her. FYI, they cost as much as a new fly rod and reel. We didn’t make any purchases along those lines, however we did purchase me a Lucky Yellow Hat: Winter Edition. It’s a bright yellow beanie style hat made by the Turtle Fur.

As we were checking out, I made conversation with the lady behind the counter. She liked my choice of hat, and I told her that it would be my cold weather fly fishing hat. She perked up. She asked if I fly fish (which I thought I had just explained to her that I do, by anyway…) and said that she loves to fly fish as well. After selling my wife a purse (she needs a new purse like she needs a new hole in her head (which was seconded by my father-in-law)) she proceeded to tell me that she has a friend who has a little private trout stream that has had some recent stream improvement made. She joked how when she visits this friend she is told to grab the fly rod and catch a couple of wild trout so that they can be smoked for dinner that night.

(excuse me while I wipe the drool from my mouth)

It gets even better. She told me that I should come visit in the spring and that she could show me where some big wild trout are at. (CHAching!)

It’s interesting the places that you meet fellow anglers. I wasn’t expecting the middle aged woman behind the counter of a ski swap event to be a fellow member of the fly fishing club. I’m not saying that women can’t fly fish, but I assumed that she would be more actively involved with skiing versus fly fishing. I was wrong, and I guess that is what happens when you assume…

Day 81 – Thanksgiving

26 11 2009

Today is Thanksgiving, and all over the United States people are stuffing themselves with turkey and falling asleep on the couch watching football. Around dinner tables children are asked, “What are you thankful for?” Responses range from be thankful for puppies to Nintendo Wii to new baby brothers or sisters. This year I am thankful for my wife and her ongoing support of me.

It isn’t easy, I’m sure, to live with me. I get moody and grumpy and tend to bark more than I wag. Nevertheless, my wife has been by my side through this last (and difficult) year. Having lost my job a year ago, she continues to work hard to bring in the money. She stepped it up when I decided to finish my MBA last spring, and she did all she could to make our move to
Greensboro a smooth one.

Recently, she has supported me in my pursuit of all things fly fishing. The last 81 days I’ve been on a journey to focus on fly fishing at least a little bit each day. My wife asks me each day if I have taken the time to do my daily writing. During this process she has even partaken on an adventure or two with me to the trout stream.

I’m also thankful for all the people who have encouraged me in this process. John and Rebecca you’ve made my day more than once. I look forward to fishing with you two in the future. Abigail, thank you for being my friend and the encouraging words you’ve given me on this adventure. Kyle while you’re not an angler, I appreciate the fact that you enjoy these daily writings. Mitchell, I’m humbled by your fishing power on the Davidson. And to everyone else who have silently read these posts and appreciated my sense of humor. I wish you all a wonderful and peaceful Thanksgiving.

Day 80 – Wallflower

26 11 2009

This may just be me speaking from my own experiences and circumstances, but I think that most anglers (when their not in their own element) are wallflowers. We tend to shirk back into the wall during social gatherings (company parties, dinner with the in laws, church functions…). I wonder why that is.

My initial thoughts revolve around the idea that we seek solitude and balance in our lives. Our passion puts us in a place where we can practice solitude and escape the demands of life. In this sense, fly fishing mirrors are desires to seek comfort in solitude. Even when fishing with friends, we tend to choose different parts of the stream, fish that, and occasionally break the silence by checking in with our friends (partly to make sure that they haven’t drowned and partly to make sure they haven’t caught more fish than us).

Upon review, it could be that we tend to be naturally socially awkward and we seek refuge in fly fishing. That seems to be a better description at least in my own life. To be honest, I am what you would call a late bloomer. Real late. I didn’t find a level of social acceptance until I was in my mid-twenties, and then ended up developing that acceptance for even a few more years. This isn’t to point a finger and blame my parents, or friends, or schoolmates, or whomever. I just didn’t know who I wanted to be, and therefore couldn’t fit into a certain mold.

Maybe this is why I seem to be an eclectic person. I enjoy most music genres, all except modern country and gangster rap. I know how to balance a spreadsheet, change the oil in my car, knit, do leather work, tie flies, light a pilot light, fry a turkey, brew my own beer… I’ve been a soldier, a youth pastor, a printer’s assistant, a sign maker, a fry guy, a buyer, a window washer, an advertising intern, a mechanic, a carpenter/mason, a chaplain’s assistant…

I’d like to see a case study on the life of the average angler. Maybe not the average angler, maybe the determined angler, not quite professional but definitely more than your weekend warrior type. I’d like to see if they have the same characteristics that I have. If they are brutally honest, don’t like to play corporate politics, tend to be a jack of all trades (and master of none), and generally all around good guy (or gal).

The above statements sound like I’m either anti-social or just plain introverted. This isn’t true. I do enjoy the company of other people. I enjoy hearing about their lives and I seek to find some kind of common ground in which to hold a conversation. It’s just that in group situations I tend to become exhausted with the idea of interacting with a lot of people. Does that make me so different?

Day 79 – Something Different

25 11 2009

Today instead of putting all my creative juices into text, I went ahead and made a video. The video (hopefully just the start of more to come) is on my favorite “go to” fly: the Pink Squirrel. Actually, to be fully honest the pattern I use is a variant on the Pink Squirrel. Therefore, it should be technically called the Pink Squirrel Variant.

I’ve uploaded the video to YouTube and it can be viewed here. However, I’ve also placed the video below. I’d love to hear what your thoughts are on the video and if I should change anything. Thanks!