Write Your Fly Off, Tenkara.

And that’s what I did. I wrote my fly off and it paid in full. Karel over at Tenkara on the Fly held a writing contest a while back and I got a nice package in the mail last week for my efforts. No doubt about it, even as a “simplistic tenkara angler,” I’m a gear head. What can I say? I like new toys.

Up until now, I’ve been just winding my line around my hand or arm (like winding up a garden hose) when I walk from spot to spot. The spool will be great for longer-term storage and transport.

11ft horse-hair line, line holders, stickers,
and 6 awesome flies.
Tied by none other than Karel, of course.
A hand or arm works for quick walks, for long storage,
the spool (ie. reel 🙂 is very nice. 
Ohhhh, mama. These look delicious.

This is my entry for the contest:

What is it about those streams and creeks,
Running down mountain valleys
Winding their way through high plains
And Midwestern pastures
That keeps me up late tying, planning
Reading and dreaming?
It is the fish, the hunt,
Stalking the quiet.
Always looking,
Searching for more ways to be closer to water,
To fish painted unlike any other.
At times it takes a slow mind to study the behavior
Of fish and river.
The next day it is a mad rush to conquer the terrain
And unearth the dominant invertebrates
That are the keystone to a heavy creel.
Concentrating, I know what ails me,
I yearn to be closer to the ground.
I want cologne of wet dirt and
Sweet rotting leaves,
Fresh like spring water
And changing-weather breezes.
So I strip down.
Fewer moving parts mean fewer
Distractions from the surroundings.
With this strange, new rod in hand
I feel giddy.
Every headshake and body thrust
Of the fish sends shock waves down my arm.
Connected to the fight like never before,
I giggle.
Now I am silver and ruby,
Rust and olive,
Forest green spotted blue, red and yellow.
I am my nephew on a dock screaming with laughter
At the sunfish bending his Lightening McQueen rod.
Today, I am closer to the water.
Closer to trout.
Closer to char.
Because of tenkara,
I am closer.
That is all I ever want to be.

You can read all of the awesome entries at Karel’s “Your Tenkara Stories” page.

Update on the vacation

Things have been going great. We have had a great time and have been able to see the people we wanted to see and do the things we wanted to do. This weekend we have my sister’s engagement party and then it is back to work. Here are some of the things to share.

– Carr Valley Cheese Factory is the best. As Sara says, “it’s okay to be monogamous with your cheese maker.”

– The House on the Rock was phenomenal.

– the Twins stadium is awesome.

– the nephews and niece love ice cream.

– I still can’t believe the northern my brother caught the other winter. 46.5 inches 31.5lbs.

Enjoy the photos. I’m still looking forward to looking at the video from last weekend. Should be awesome.

Driftless Notes

– tenkara and my dad get along well
– the driftless area is a phenomenal fishery
– Justin from Winona Fly Factory is a class act guy
– the bluebells and morrel mushrooms are in tandem this year
– I can’t wait to explore the driftless as the years go by
– the orvis sling pack is sweet
– the video will come next week
– somewhere in the valleys of southeast Minnesota rests my tenkara handle cap. I have a feeling 50% of tenkara owners can empathize
– I think winonaflyfactory.com will have some type of recap
– no rods were left in the airport 🙂

The Airport Laundry Room

Checking in at the gate, I was handed a pink ticket for my fly rod. It’s a two-piece and 58 inches in the case. That’s 4 inches less than the “oversized” qualifying length as described on my airline’s website. The pink ticket simply means they’ll toss the rod under the plane, and I’ll pick it up right after landing. In theory, that is.

Honestly, it is no big deal. But as I walked onto the Tarmac and approached the plane, I longingly handed my rod to the man in charge of loading the luggage into the rear cargo hold.

I was like a parent dropping off their child at daycare for the first time. “I’ll see you soon!” I thought as I watched the baggage attendant toss the rod into the corner of the luggage cart. It seemed so unassuming compared to the rest of the suitcases clearly not small enough to fit into the overhead bins. It could be so easily left behind. I anxiously kept looking back as the line moved forward and the bags began to get tossed onto the conveyer belt carrying them up to the belly of the plane.

That’s when I saw it. The man tossing the bags skipped my rod. It was now sitting alone as he moved towards the bags at the other end of the cart. Was that intentional? Was he saving it for last? He must be. The line was pushing me forward and up the steps into the plane. Even to attempt to yell over the roaring engines would surely have caused an unwanted commotion.

By the time I reached my seat and looked out the window, the baggage cart and conveyer belt was gone.

So there I sat. Trying not to think of catastrophe. Hoping with all my might that my rod will be sitting next to the plane when I land. After all, I’m going fishing tomorrow. Thankfully, I still had my tenkara rod telescoped at my feet ready to go if my western rod becomes another lost sock in the airport laundry room.

Take Me Home

I’m flying out today to go back to Minnesota/Wisconsin for a week of family time and even a little fly fishing in the driftless area. Tomorrow morning, my Dad and I are meeting Justin of Winona Fly Factory at an undisclosed location in search of some big browns. Now, there has been a decent amount of rain recently, but I’m optimistic. Why? Because I came up with a new streamer pattern (ie, I made a mistake with an existing pattern and rolled with it) and I’ve got a pretty good feeling about this one….

a modified Slump Buster…. the Rooster Buster, maybe?

I’m bringing both the western fly rod and tenkara rod. I’ll only be able to swing those rooster busters with the western, but I’d like to try and get in plenty of time with the tenkara as well. I might even take it panfishing.

Rest Easy, Friday Night: Vol 7. The Tallest Man on Earth

If you like Bob Dylan, I predict you, at the very least, will enjoy “Kristian Matsson (born April 30, 1983) … a singer-songwriter from Dalarna, Sweden” (thanks Wikipedia) who goes by the moniker “The Tallest Man on Earth.” If you don’t like Robert Zimmerman (Bob Dylan), I’d still recommend you give this guy a listen. I’m looking forward to his newest album which is set to come out this June. I’ll have to convince my local public library to get it. 

Anyway, while you are tying flies tonight, reading about fly fishing, enjoying that end-of-the-week desert or drink of your choice, or planing up your next outdoor trip, listen to the words and sounds of The Tallest Man on Earth and be thankful for music and the outdoors. Two very awesome things. 

“The Garden”
“Kids on the Run”

film&edit: Rolf Nylinder
some leftovers shots from a trip to “övre vindelälven/ the upper Vindel River” 
the tune: “Love is all” by “the tallest man on earth”
And if you still want more, here is a Tiny Desk Concert from NPR. 

Preparation for the Driftless

In a couple weeks I’ll be heading back to my homelands fora  week of family time. The first weekend back in Minnesota, I’m meeting up with my brother at his friend’s hunting shack. They’ll be stalking turkeys while I plan on chasing trout for at least one full day.

In preparation for the trip, I have been using the archives and current writings of Justin over at Winona Fly Factory. I love his blog because it is a fly fishing blog in the purest sense. You’ll see what I mean as you explore it.

In anticipation of a glorious day with a big caddis hatch like below, I am tying some of his deer hair caddis pattern.

Can you see the big browns darting 
back and forth in a frenzy?

He is a great instructor.
I’m still deciding between bringing the western fly rod, tenkara, or both. The tenkara is so tempting because of how easy it would be to travel with. My western rod is a two piece which is simply bulkier, but really, not that bad. We’ll see. 
Any suggestions on rod and fly choice as I prepare?

It’s like I’m Harry Potter

The Owl Post (mail) came today. I feel like Harry Potter.
Had I the time or skill,
I would have changed the name and address to my own.
Owl Jones held a video contest for an Orvis Sling Pack. Did I need another pack of any sort? Of course not. My justification was that my current favorite pack is a blaze orange Lowe Alpine fanny pack. I use it like a sling pack. I figured this might be a nice opportunity to acquire something more official and less blaze orange. 
So yesterday, the mail arrived. Stuffing my box was a happy package. I’m not sure how the Owl opened the mailbox with its talons, but I assume it took some tricky foot work. They must do karaoke (the foot work drill, not the drunken bar entertainment… though I suppose a drunk walk could look like the drill, but I digress.)

Here is what I found in the package:

Zazzy Poppers! These are, honestly, quite awesome.

See, it looks pretty snazzy, eh?

OBN Photo Prompt: Spring Has Sprung in SNP

My first spring in Shenandoah did not slake a thirst.
It delivered a desire for more.
Just as the spider descended upon its prey,
I sped into the park looking to feed an appetite.
I nibbled on lichens stretching across rocks,

Searched with the bees for season’s first pollen on Hawksbill summit,

Admired the delicate violets,

And twiddled the pig-tailed ferns.
They’re still unraveling, I presume.

In springtime, water falls.
It falls in torrents.
It falls in trickles.

It burrows pools
Which are safe havens for rising trout.
How did you get up here, little fish?
How in God, and Evolution, and Everyone Else’s name did you get up here?

No matter, I may as well ask the same of the trillium.
From ditches in Wisconsin,
To mother’s backyard,
To the mountains of Virginia,
The Trillium lives on,

And I’m hungry for more.
More growth,
More spring, summer, learning,
More sun, rain, laughing,
Just more.

A great day in SNP.  Here’s to a spring and summer full of them.