key ingredient to a fishy day

Heading out to the eastern shore as we speak. I’m hoping for big things.

It is already a joy just to be sitting in the car waiting to drive across the bridge. It just goes to show, I love the “going” part of going fishing. It has its own place in the list of things I enjoy about fishing.

They key difference between today and the last few outings? I’ve replenished the stores of my fishy snacks. Here’s to tight lines and split fingers.

Hey, Tiger Woods, can I ask you a question?

Tiger Woods likes to fish. You may not know this, but its true. He talked about it in an interview here. He also lives in Jupiter, Fl which is near some pretty fishy water. So when I saw on his website that he was hosting a Google+ hangout and would field some questions from some fans, I just had to give it a shot. Apparently, some of the fans might actually get to “hangout” with him. If they pick my question, (which is really more of a “yes/no” question that could lead into a discussion) I’m going to try and convince him to go fly fishing. He could be the next Brad Pitt of fly fishing, that is if Yukon doesn’t take that role with his dirty mustache. 

Here’s to getting a Tiger to fly fish. 
And now, 
I leave you with this.

An Unanswerable Question: What is Natural?

Question: What is natural? This is something I would much rather discuss around a campfire or on a porch than type out here, but I will try my best.

Without rushing to a dictionary, electronic or otherwise, I think it may mean to exist in an uninhibited state.  But uninhibited by what? By everything and anything? That just sounds silly and impossible. By humans or invasive species? Some might say those can be the same thing. Maybe to see something exist in its natural state is simply to see it evolve and interact with its surroundings as it would have, had the environment in which it exists stayed as stable as possible.  And by “stable,” I suppose I mean without stressors so extreme that would produce an irreversible or unrecoverable change for that environment or species. For example, a forest fire, though devastating, can be healthy for an environment. An expansive suburban development, if not planned properly, can destroy a local ecosystem in exchange for a new one of lawn ornaments and squirrels.

That definition is far from perfect and mostly likely flawed, but let’s roll with it for now.

Being outdoors enthusiasts, we protect forests, streams, animals and ecosystems. At the same time, we try to find that balance which allows us to enjoy these wonderful resources. A balance that seeks responsible usage.  We protect by stabilizing stream beds, lighting controlled burns, establishing size and permit limits for fishing and hunting, and controlling and eliminating invasive species that can decimate local flora and fauna.

Being human, we explore, build, expand, consume, question and experiment. This is our nature. Personally, I think there is value in considering to what extent we do each of these things. We can’t avoid impacting our environment, because we too are an integral piece of the puzzle. However, because I enjoy our outdoor world, I support preservation and protection of it so that it can be enjoyed by all for as long as possible.

It is common knowledge among trout anglers that some of the United States’ trout streams hold species that have been introduced “unnaturally”. In some cases, these species have monopolized the stream and lake populations. On a recent trip to Minnesota’s Driftless Area, I spoke with Justin Carroll of the blog Winona Fly Factory and a fellow Trout Unlimited member about the native brooke trout population in his location that has, in certain areas, been shrinking because of competition with both brown and rainbow trout. He told me about a proposed initiative using genetics to find the local strain of brookie that is closest to the historical species of SE Minnesota and attempt to reintroduce it as the sole trout/char inhabitant of some of the local streams. He anecdotally shared a story of early colonial literature and Native American documentation speaking of 3-5lb brook trout that once lived in the area…. I salivated, hoping it was true.

When I think of America’s greatest outdoor resources, Yellowstone National Park (YNP) is definitely at the top of my list. I’ve been to YNP once in my life, but I have never fished it. One of the things I appreciated most about YNP, a park that is synonymous with the American Wild West, is the combination of accessibility and preservation of some of the parks greatest sights. Even people who are wheelchair bound or don’t have the energy to hike long distances have access to the grand views, buffalo, geysers, waterfalls, and more.

When a park like Yellowstone has so much to share and at the same time, so much traffic, it takes more effort to preserve its “natural” state. (There is irony somewhere in that statement.) Because YNP is an icon of The West, I believe it is worth investigating how to preserve every aspect it. The same is true and equally important with the park’s trout population.

Nature has its own way of establishing a balance between its species, but when one species is disproportionately decreased, the entire ecosystem can be tipped off its axis. Restoring healthy populations of native species in places like YNP, just as was done with the wolf, allows the entire ecosystem to flourish and creates that “stability” which is so important in a place as beautiful and unique as YNP.

Down the road, when I am old and gray and thinking of my natural role as an outdoorsman, I would like to be able to say that the places I have fished, though they may not necessarily be the same, are just as healthy and productive as they were when I enjoyed them. I can only hope that I live up to this level of stewardship and pass it on to my future generations.

So, what is natural? *nervous chuckle*….. All I know is I want to protect the things I love, whether that is my wife, the ornery cat that lives with us, the Chesapeake Bay out my window, or the trout over in Yellowstone and Birstol Bay, and that feels pretty natural to me. So maybe that is it. For me, natural is that feeling as much as it is a thing. Similar to a conscience telling me I am existing in balance with those around me.

_________________
“This is my submission for the Trout Unlimited, Simms, the Yellowstone Park Foundationand the Outdoor Blogger Network – Blogger Tour 2012 contest.”

Replacement Pieces and Contest Reminder

First things first, a couple giveaway/contests are underway right now that you may interest you.

1. Tight Lined Tales of a Fly Fisherman: KOVU giveaway – this is the last day to submit an entry. Tell him a story of “a KAVU Day– the adventure that leaves you exhilarated, exhausted and fully alive.”  Heads up. This one ends today.


2. OBN: Coleman Giveaway: Share a story how Coleman brought you and your family closer together.


3. OBN: Trout Unlimited Blogger Tour




These are some pretty awesome opportunities if you are into that. 




Secondly, I would like to tell you about my experience with the Tenkara USA replacement process. Troutrageous eluded to the process here as well. After a long day of fishing Minnesota’s Driftless area we reached the car and began putting away the gear. It was then, I noticed the missing screw cap on the tenkara rod. The chances of finding it? Nil. It was more important to get back to a hot meal at that point. 

After searching the Tenkara USA site, I found out their replacement policy is pretty spectacular. The prices are low and the shipping time is remarkable. It was just over $7 (that’s including shipping) and the cap got to my door in about 36hrs. Crazy.  

Ol’ Reliable

“I don’t recollect I’ve ever told you about Ol’ Reliable before?”

Quote from “Trusty.” He’s on the right.

Just because you go to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA) in the summer doesn’t mean you will have summer weather. Any day it can be hot and humid, asking for bare skin and cool dips in the lake, or frigid and damp pushing you into a sleeping bag all day long. I’ve been to the BWCA and seen each of these scenarios and everything in between. The one thing I always hoped for, was a breeze. A nice breeze means fewer bugs. Even with perfect weather, biting black flies, horse flies, and mosquitos can challenge what would have otherwise been a perfect trip. All of these things, the bugs, the elements, the hard work paddling to your campsite, drain you. You feel tired in a good way, but tired none-the-less. But for some reason, when you are that exhausted, a warm meal is all it takes to fuel you for another long day.

Every morning and night of those trips we had that green, metal, Coleman 2-burner stove that everyone is so familiar with, wind guards flapped, ready to boil water for anything from hot chocolate to cheese tortellini. The stove was a dependable companion that I never doubted for a second. At the time, I suppose I took it for granted.

That stove we used in the BWCA was a good friend’s. My parents had one as well. They provided us with many a hearty meal. As I have grown and began camping on my own, I started to pick up my own gear. A sleeping bag here, water bottles there, eventually a tent, and finally a cook set. When I was deciding on a stove, I spent a long time trying to figure out which one I wanted. What was most important to me was dependability. I wanted to know, when camping any month of the year, I could count on my stove to heat up some tea, soup, or tuna helper with out any issues.

My “Trusty” – That’s a good boy.

Eating while camping can be a second thought or a show stealer. I don’t want my cook stove to stop me from having an awesome meal. As such, it is no coincidence Coleman stoves have been a mainstay in my campsite cooking. Truth to be told, I can’t imagine that changing any time soon.

“Sponsored by Coleman and hosted by the Outdoor Blogger Network, this is my submission for the Coleman Camping Heritage Essay Contest.”