Eastern Shore

When plans change and schedules suddenly open, there is potential. A gift of time and opportunity. Maybe you clean, catch up on paperwork or sleep, get outside or meet up with friends. 

I’ve found, when I come across one of these unexpected free days, I simply hope I can look back when the sun has set and feel satisfied with the outcome. 

I enjoy the feeling of surprised satisfaction. It is like knowing the cookie jar is empty, but looking anyway out of habit, and, after tilting the jar, one last chocolate chip cookie slides out of the ceramic bear’s toes. You now have a second chance at enjoying the cookie. Savor or devour it, that is your choice. When all is said and done, you just hope the cookie was as rich and delicious as you anticipated. 

Last weekend, I found an extra cookie. An unexpected day off. As it turned out, that cookie turned out to be one of the best I’ve had in a while. Why? Let me recap the events for you.

Friday Night
I leave work Friday night after a long shift and even longer week expecting to return at 5am the next morning. At 8pm, I get a phone call saying I don’t have to come in on Saturday. “Take the day off,” they say.  Being that I have the night shift on Sunday, I won’t have to return two work for another 45 hours. 

This is looking like one delicious cookie. 

All of a sudden, Sara and I have a weekend together. We can do whatever we want. This was already all I could hope for, and then I remember a conversation with my fishing buddy, Brad, from the previous week. “I’ve got vacation all next week,” Brad said. “Just let me know if you get a day off and maybe we can get some fishing in.”


I make the call. As it turns out, Brad and his wife, Sue, are heading up to their families place on the Eastern Shore. Invitation extended. Invitation accepted. The plan is to kayak, fish, eat, drink, and play cornhole… That’s what we Midwesterners call Bean-Bag Toss. Personally, calling it “cornhole” makes me a little uncomfortable. It just sounds… well, it sounds like butt hole. No thank you, very much. So we will just say the plan was to play some bean-bag toss which is a fun game. But I digress…

This cookie just got some chocholate chips. 

We were there by lunch. Get the tour. Check. Eat the sandwiches. Check. Ready the boats. Check. Rig up the rods. Check. Push off.

And there is it, a big glass of cold milk next to that gooey, chocolaty, puts-Martha-Stewart-to-shame cookie.
Into the boats.
We paddled through the channels of the marsh. 
Fiddler crabs scurrying over muddy banks and oyster beds.  

Brad, Sara, and Sue.
When we paddled far enough, we walked to the fish. 

Sara and Sue.
The march ecosystem can look desolate and teeming with life all at the same time. 

Brad switches to a spinning rod to find a flounder.
The fish were on. Spec after spec. 
They couldn’t resist the slow retrieve of a self-tied clouser.
Brad landing my catch of the day. 19″ Spec.
Even a perfectly placed drop of water on the camera lens won’t taint the memory of that day.

Heading home.

Sunday saw me back at work. Rejuvenated. Refreshed. Revitalized. Thankful and well fed. That was one spectacular cookie.


video: exploration to culmination

I dedicated a 7 hour day to searching my local shores for my first speckled trout. 

It took all 7 hours, but my efforts were rewarded. 

It’s funny, the fish seem so much bigger in my memory. Maybe it would be better to leave the camera at home. The video keeps my stories too honest.

Rod Review: Wild Water Fly Fishing 9/10 wt

Well, I finally did it. I bit whatever bullet people refer to when they bite bullets, and bought a saltwater fly rod. I’ve been saving a little money each month. Researching the best options for my price range. Reading reviews. Asking peers. Doing all the things you are supposed to do before making a significant purchase.

The result? I went with an outfit. The 9/10wt 9′ 4 piece Wild Water Fly Fishing Saltwater Starter Package. 

Some things you should know about me before we go any further. I’ve been fly fishing with a pretty flimsy 5wt for most of my fly fishing career. It is a rod I built myself in high school. I’ve have a pflueger reel on it and it has the same floating line on it now that it did when I first spooled it up. I know. I’m terrible. Secondly, I’ve briefly fished with a TFO, Sage and a Martin fiberglass 7-8 weight rods that give me my comparison for this review.

Who is Wild Water Fly Fishing? It is a relatively new company (founded in 2006) founded by Eric Dodds to fill a spot in the market by providing better quality rods for less money. Besides selling to individual buyers, it seems like the company is hoping to fill fly fishing guides’ rod tubes with a quality rod for the …. unpredictable fisherman 🙂

So how did this baby hold up on it’s first outing? In short, outstanding. The rod blank is listed as “slow,” which left me expecting something comparable to my 5wt or the fiberglass. Maybe that was me being naive, but this rod was much faster than I expected. The weight distribution/balance felt very natural, and, when I was able to pull off a decent double haul, the line shot like butter. Smooth.

The cork handle was durable. The reel is sturdy and easy to control. After getting used to the clicking of a pflueger, it is odd to have something so silent. But I liked it. I even dropped the reel on the cement halfway through the day without any consequences (besides just being frustrated with my own foolishness). The rod even held up to a feisty speckled trout that should make its appearance in the next few days…

When I set out to buy a new rod, I wasn’t necessarily looking for an outfit, but I was looking for a couple things in particular. I wanted a heavier weight rod. I wanted to spend less than $150 for a rod and reel. I wanted a 4 piece to make travel easier. I wanted a good warranty. I got all of those things with the Wild Water Rod. It has a lifetime warranty. No questions asked. The only stipulations are that it isn’t transferrable between buyers. You have to register the rod, and it is $35 to get a new rod when you send it in. Maybe not as good as some warranties but much better than others. $35 for a brand new rod is pretty darn sweet. Of course, I hope to avoid it all together 🙂

Was I hesitant buying a brand that wasn’t as well established as say, Redington, for example? Well, yes, a bit. But from the reviews I read, I felt safe with my decision. So far, I have no regrets, and I don’t anticipate any in the future.

Here are the specs from the website:

Complete 9/10 Fly Fishing Starter Package for Saltwater

  • Blank Action: Slow
  • Blank Color: Dark Gray
  • Blank Flex: Mid
  • Length: 9 Feet
  • Line Size: 9 or 10
  • Material: IM6 Graphite
  • Number of Sections: 4
  • Rod Case Length: 31 inches
  • Rod Weight: 6.7 ounces
  • Winding Color: Black

Lifetime Warranty on the rod – not transferrable between owners. You also have to send $35 with the rod when you want it replaced. 
Center disc drag die cast aluminum large arbor reel
Backing and weight forward floating line
9′ 0X tapered leader
Rod Case
Fly box with 3 flies (Candy Eel, Red and White Deceiver, and Swimming Crab)

I also tied several clousers for the outing. Here they are, in all their fluffy glory.