Wednesday, February 13, 2019

A New Side of Beautiful...

New experiences.  New water.  New gear....

Water turns to ice and a whole new world appears for the intrepid outdoors man or woman

Ice shacks.  Tiny Rods.  Staring at the video game screen of the electronics

The tiny taps of jumbo perch.  The new ways to set the hook and all those new lures. 

A whole new side of beautiful out there.  Go check it out.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Maybe Buckner Is Good Luck...

Steelheaders can get in their own head in a second...

It was October and when it should be the best, when in fact...was the worst.

Our crew lazily sat on the beach of the big river, b's'ing away the day and waiting for a dinosaur to pick up the stinky baits that rolled around the bottom.  We had for that day, given up on the fish that had us driving upwards of 400 miles to fish for. 

To pass the time, we resurrected a game from our youth.  The name game, baseball players only.  First guy calls out a name, lets say...Randy Johnson.  The next guy has to start with the first letter of the last name of the previous entry.  In this case, the letter J, so lets go with John Olerud

It's an interesting game because you quickly see what era you and your friends came of age.  To this day I can name the starting lineup of the 1990 Oakland Athletics.  Another friend with midwest ties was heavy on the Cardinals and Cubs.  Still others who grew up around deeper baseball culture reached way back in the vault for names like Stan Musial, Dan Quisenberry and others.

The game can pass hours quickly, and I found myself saddled with a B....

Bill Buckner...

All of a sudden, my buddy Brian about falls over laughing.  Out of a zipper pocket he brings out Mr. ball between his legs and hands it over to me.  It was like it was meant to be.

I thought maybe this could be my lucky charm.  A karma changer if you will....

Fast forward to three months without a grab and I realized that Buckner was still in my front wader pocket. 

Could it be?  Could this be the cause of my horrendous slump?  Cast the rest of the reasons aside as to why I hadn't been graced with a grab trip after trip and obviously this was the bad juju in cardboard form


I sat down on a log on the beach after landing the biggest steelhead of my life.   Hands still shaking, trying to take in the last moments of glory as I reran the entire grab to landing again and again.

Reaching into my front wader zipper pocket for some gum, I grabbed something else instead


Maybe after all, he was good luck....

Or maybe, steelhead fishing is just an unanswerable question where the joy is in  trying to solve the unsolvable

Monday, January 21, 2019


The fly stopped mid swing and everything got heavy.

Heavy for the fish.  Instantly I new that this was a giant, a class of steelhead many spend their lifetimes looking for.  It was having it's way with me and to paraphrase Gierach I felt like I was standing in a river holding a tiny stick.

Heavy for this the state of our region's steelhead populations.  The numbers suck and I would be remiss to say that I am extremely worried for the future.  Would I have a time to interact with a fish like this again?

Heavy in my breathing.  When you havent had a grab in 2 months, you can feel a bit....nervous when you're in the thick of it

Did I mention the fish was....Heavy.  For a solid 5 minutes, it chugged along in the the middle of the run and my 14 ft 9 wt was to the cork.  Bent.   I could barely move it

Heavy like a weighted jacket, the situation hung on me.  The tail came out of the 37 degree water and my father's audible gasp told the story.   This was the biggest fish I've ever had the chance to connect with.

The runs shortened and the end game was at hand. The buck finally turned over signaling defeat and OMR dipped his hand into the water in ready position for the tail grab.

"Oh my god, would you look at that....."

At that point, I couldnt hear anything else.  My Najinsky was at hand.

The weight of everything was right there, staring back at me.  I thanked everything I could think of and released that heaviness back into the river.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Just Waiting...

We arrived at our destination and got everything ready to go.

Rods, reels, bait, chairs, food, drinks and a million other things in tow.

I bombed out a cast and set the rod in the holder, and on cue he grabs his chair.

As he plops down with a big smile, he made me a proud father for the millionth time....

"Just waiting for my bite dad"

Be still my beating heart.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Cant Leave It On The Road...

Gifts, dont question where they come from...

A couple hundred cars probably passed this squirrel taking it's final dirt nap.   When I went by, I knew what I was going to do.

I've come to the portion of my fly tying life that I cannot leave a dead squirrel on the road without making some alterations and adding to my collection.

I've salvaged coyote tails, countless squirrels, hun patridge, pheasant, raccoon, and a bunch of other animals that made it way onto the tying bench.  Too funky, smells a bit weird, na.....we can salt the stench away.

At this point, I may be a hoarder.  A good squirrel tail will last a season, maybe two of intense hairwing tying.  I think i have 7 now.

Why do I keep doing this..... quote a grandmothers or two out there, "Ya never know"

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Swing And A Miss...

There's always a story behind the story.

The bird hit the ground, picked up by a happy dog and returned to an even happier hunter.

From the start, you could tell something was off on this bird. 

It's size said a veteran of the game.  The spurs said years were on this pheasant, not months.

But still, it had very little in the tail feather department. 

What's the story?

A quick inspection told the story.  A coyote took a swing, and missed

The bird got away with it's life.  The coyote got a bunch of fly tying material in it's mouth.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Joining Hunt To Eat...

Hunting has always been a big part of my life.

It's always been there, from bedtime stories delivered by my father and now with roles reversed as I deliver those stories to my boys.  It's woven deep into the fabric of my life

Additionally, putting our success onto the dinner table was always part of the equation....

Pan fried pheasant breast.  Deer Chops.  Smoked Wild Turkey and Steelhead.  Grilled Salmon,  fried perch and walleye.    Year in and year out, you could count on a consistent rotation of what we returned from field and stream with and eventually cooked up.

Recently, there's been an awakening in my consciousness on what I have been missing with my connection to wild game and fish, and how much more is on the table (pun intended) that I have missed in taking my love of the outdoors and delivering it to the plate.

Combine this all with my devotion to protect public lands and the want to push a conservation ethic, I am beyond thrilled to be joining forces with one of the leading brands in this space, Hunt To Eat as a brand ambassador.

In a nutshell, Hunt To Eat is an apparel company started in 2013 that is leading the conversation on the connectivity of our sport, our ethics, public lands and the respect we can show our quarry as we deliver it to friends and family via a shared meal experience.

Their lineup of t-shirts, hoodies, hats and accessories are beautifully designed and collaborations with organizations like Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, Pheasants Forever, Artemis, and The Wild Sheep Foundation along with titans of the hunting world like Remi Warren and Randy Newberg are raising serious dollars for hunting and fishing conservation efforts.

Another cool aspect is that there's a growing list of state specific shirts that take some of the most iconic aspects of a state's outdoor culture and encapsulates it like the Washington shirt above.  currently there are 17 states with their own design

What's really stirred my soul is the community that ambassadors and other's around the brand are providing for me as a I endeavor to become better and more innovative in using what is in my freezer.  Recipes for dishes like these Venison Enchiladas from contributor John Wallace have me drooling and there are many others ready for you to take part in on the Hunt To Eat site.

We owe it the game we take to honor it in a way that showcases our sport for the blessing it is.

Hunt To Eat is providing that forum.  I hope you join us.