New Video: The Rapidan BBQ Rendezvous

Spring is now officially here, but I think it arrived in the northern hemisphere sometime in January. The brookies were taking dries on the Rapidan River in Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. It just took me a while to land a fish. I’m still getting used to the tenkara rod and still getting familiar with the Virginia trout waters. I can feel the pieces are starting to come together.

Available in HD. Just click the button or go to vimeo.com.

Enjoy the music. The Tallest Man on Earth: “You’re Going Back.”

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Reset

Sometimes you just need to reset yourself. Your clock, your sleep schedule, your diet. Yesterday, I had to reset my attitude. We had been fishing all morning and I felt like I was getting worse. My casts were getting uglier. I was losing faith in my fly selection. I didn’t understand the water like I have in the past.

The day started off well. We got to the Rapidan river by 10 AM. The weather was beautiful. There was a chance of rain, but optimism won out, and the storms steered clear. The three of us spread out, hop-scotching each other, sharing the pools. The air was filling up with midges, a few duns, butterflies, and gnats. I tried to start slowly, taking in these new surroundings.

I haven’t fished the same water twice for a long time. Moving to Virginia has dumped a host of new species, habitats, and thus, opportunities at my feet. It is exciting, but also slightly hectic. Each fishing trip has brought new challenges.  

After the last outing for trout left me contently skunked, I new I needed to really take the time to study the water on this trip. This river was a buffet line of good pools, but that doesn’t mean I should just dig in and throw myself at everything in sight. Careful study of each entree is needed to ensure optimal satisfaction of each portion.

So I took my time. When I saw a rise, I switched to dries. First a griffiths, then a midge, then the closest thing to the duns I had. I had droppers, emergers, then scuds and soft hackles. I eventually switched to a stimulator and began getting some looks, even a few takes, but the size was too big for the little brook trout mouths. Slowly, the takes and looks went away. No fish in hand yet.

I had heard that the fish were hitting on nymphs, so I tried. I really tried. I am, however, extremely uncomfortable nymphing. Maybe it is because I can’t see the nymph in the water. Even just watching the indicator is hard for me. I like to see the fish take the fly. I don’t know, maybe I just need better glasses.

Regardless, the frustration was mounting. I had taken a slip or two, scratched the waterproof lens on my camera, and was losing fly after fly to the forest. I started walking up a ridge to get to another pool when I came upon a bed of moss. It looked too inviting. I set down my gear, took off my sunglasses, and laid down.

Reset. 

I slowed down my breathing, taking in the fresh mountain air. Listened to the birds and the brooke. Felt the sun on my face. My mind cleared itself of the negativity that was filling up all morning.

I sat back up, feeling the serrated edges of the lichens with the palms of my hands. I looked back at the pool I had planned to fish next. It looked good. Hearty. There were fish in there. I knew it. Not only did I know it, but I knew where I needed to cast. The water made sense again.

On the second cast, my fly slid on the seam of the run. A errant strike splashed next to my fly. I let my drift finish and casted again. The second strike was dead on target. I set my tenkara rod and felt the small body fight with every ounce of power it possessed.

A beautiful fish. I sent it back and continued up the stream to finish off the day. The water made sense to me all the way back to the car.  I even managed another fish and a few more looks. I met up with the guys and we shared beer, stories, and dinner.

The day started and ended great, but it was funny how things added up to really pull me down and shake my confidence on the water. When I commit an entire day and eight hours of driving to fish a single stream, I put a lot of pressure on myself to perform. Today, I got to spend a gorgeous day with friends doing something I love. That should be good enough. My ability to catch fish, while important, shouldn’t dictate my happiness. Of course, I fish to catch fish, but I won’t always do so. When I get frustrated, it is helpful to hit the reset button and try again when I feel ready to see the water.

Orvis Sling Packin’: entry for Owl Jones giveaway

Here is my entry for a video contest over at Owl Jones dot com


The Goal: “Make a funny video telling us why you deserve our extra Orvis Sling Pack.”


The result: See below. Instead of telling you, I tried to show you my denial and, therefore, show you my need for the pack.


The second result: I had fun and a good laugh thinking up some bad ideas. Just be happy the “peeing buckets of water” scene didn’t make the cut 🙂


Shad Roe

Do you know? Are you aware of the roe?
I was not. 
I was just minding my own business,
out for a hearty dinner
with my lovely wife
and kind hearted mother.
Near the Lynnhaven Inlet
there are several eateries
some look nice
and some do not.
Some look fancy
and some do not.
I am a fan of the 
quaint, quirky, cozy and delicious.
My wife and mother were looking for
seafood dishes.
Croakers it is.
Shortly after settling in at our table
 I hear of the roe.
What is this nonsense?
Curious I am
and inquisitive I was,
only to find, as I assumed,
the shad is the fish
related to this food.
Roe? “It’s the eggs.”
Okay, that sounds familiar.
Fried, covered in bacon and onions?
Um, yes, 
Let’s be adventurous.
It was good. 
Well,
a good experience.
And when the waitress asked me,
“Did you enjoy the sac?”
I had to ask.
Can I see what it looked like before it was fried?
She grinned
and walked away
only to return carrying
this plate.

The "Day Off" Post: Zubaz and Fly Tying

First things first. Business.  I wanted to share a cool fly I discovered recently. I learned about “the Stimulator” (credit is given to Randall Kaufmann as the creator) in the April-May issue of Fly Fisherman Magazine. They featured and excerpt from the book The Orvis Guide to Essential American Flies by Tom Rosenbauer. I posted a picture of a few I tied here in a recent post. 

The Stimulator is a “match all” fly that can be fished in small mountain brookie streams, big Rocky Mtn rivers, and everywhere in between. The article states the fly, tied in many sizes, with variations in color and body, can effectively mimic stoneflies, caddis, grasshoppers, and even Hex mayflies.

*** If you want the tying recipe and/or instructions, I’m more than happy to send them along.
Now, the recipe calls for elk hair in this fly. I actually don’t have any. What I do have is a wooden pallet with some deer hide glued to it. My now 92 year old grandpa sent me that in the mail…. He cut the hide off of a roadkill deer. The lesson I learned from my grandpa: Don’t let anything go to waste. Awesome. 
The article does show a few variant options for the flies and it also gives a guide on what to look for in quality elk hair.

see the note at the top? don’t worry, I remembered to email my mom. 

I am excited to put this fly to work some time soon.

Now, it is time to talk about something really, really important. As you may have noticed, the wife and I came up with a new logo this weekend. I really like it. I wanted a silhouette of a me (from a video screenshot. can you figure out which one?) with waders colored like water. The picture in my mind seemed so cool. But, since I lack the computer design skills, I was struggling to make the image a reality. I wanted it to be simple, sleek and recognizable, like Sander’s Poudre Bulldog or Yuke’s “YGF” or the T! or Owl’s face (and owl)… So recognizable.

After several frustrating hours, the leaky waders man was born. I added the water ripple marks at his feet. Sara came up with the idea of the design for abstract water on the pants. I added the very very simple fly rod. And just like that, it was completed. My vision had been realized. As Morgan would say, “Boom!”

But that is not where the story ends. It picks up this morning when I was hit unexpectedly with a hilarious realization. My “Leaky Man” is wearing Zubaz
As you can see, there is not much difference here. Now, if I remember my 5th grade hockey tourney days correctly, Zubaz were great for wearing over shin pads, sleeping in, and playing shinny hockey in the hotel hallways. They were not great for keeping you dry…. Now that I think of it, they would be a nice base layer beneath some waders….
Now, I will admit, there was a sudden rush of fear, and even embarrassment. I just slow-pitched myself right over the plate for several wisecracks, not that I hadn’t already by calling the logo  “the leaky man” (let the enlarged prostate jokes commence), but still. I admit, i worried for a second. 
Then I realized something. I’m in pretty good company with these Zubaz. Some pretty awesome people have been caught wearing these bad boys.  How about that Dan Marino, eh?  He’s even bold enough to sport the Zubaz shorts. 

And then, of course, there is John Daly. Any time you can place yourself in the same category as that guy, you can pretty much assume you’ve reached the pinnacle of success….. Well, maybe….

But really, The Dude wears them…. This logo mishap can’t be that bad. Can it?

Well, if you find yourself asking, “Where can I get a pair of these cool, cozy, dare-to-be-different pants? Surely they still don’t sell these.” You know what, they do still sell them, and you can find them here at the Zubaz website
I’m going to go right out there and say it, I support the Leaky Man and his right to sport the Zubaz. I may just have to pick myself up a pair, in blue, of course.