A quick outing yields my first native Minnesota brookies

A couple weeks ago, I ran out in the middle of the day Saturday during nap time and squeezed in a couple hours of fishing on a small driftless region stream. It is a property stream that has had habitat improvement by the DNR and is located accessible through an easement by the landowners. 
Like many streams in the area, you need to hike for a while to get past the heave cow traffic and water that probably gets more pressure. The water was a bit low, but it still seemed to be running nicely. I brought my Hexagraph and was throwing mini hoppers. Hopper season is probably about done with the fall on our doorstep. I easily could have used the tenkara rod, and probably will in the future for streams this size. It is just so convenient, and easier to manage with tall field grass. 
The one purchase this summer (besides the Hexagraph) that I am very happy with is the pair of Simms wet wading stockings. They have been so great. I haven’t worn waders since moving back, because these have been so comfortable and the water hasn’t been too cold. 
They are well constructed and easy to clean.
A good option for wet wading. I bought mine with a gift card to Bass Pro Shops. 
I was pleasantly surprised to see this small waterfall. I’m not sure if this was habitat improvement by the DNR or natural. Either way, it was gorgeous. 
What was special about this trip was that I was able to land my first Minnesota Brookie. They are the only trout native to Minnesota, and I fell in love with them in Virginia. I caught two in the same pool including this handsome fella below. 
There are lots of spots like this stream, where, after a mile hike, you find yourself in a valley that seems very isolated. You can see an oxbow in the stream on the left hand side. It winds back and forth throughout this small valley. 
I’m hoping to get out and find some spaced like this in the winter. I think they would be gorgeous. 

New Video: The Last Big Run

Virginia has been good to me. Very good. Still, the time has come to move on. A few members of the local Trout Unlimited chapter (Bill Wills Southeast Virginia TU Chapter) and I made one last run to the mountains to find some hearty brookies. 
With some tips from the boys at the South River Fly Shop in Waynesboro, Virginia, we found our way to a great stream holding wonderful fish. Tenkara has been good to me in the Shenadoahs, and that held true one last time.
Filmed on Gopro Hero, iphone 4s
Music: David Nash “The Fisherman”

Rumor Has it there is a New MLW Video: Does It Get Any Better?

I know. I know. I can’t wait until YGF and SchnitzerPHOTO release their next installment for The Fly Collective. (The first installment rocked.) Rumor has it… (Thank you Adele for ruining that saying for me… rumor has it.. dah dah dah… rumor has it….) anyway, rumor has it Erin Block will be involved. By the transitive property, since they all are amazing, it will be amazing.

But until then, to kill some time (about 3 minutes and 6 seconds to be exact) here is the new My Leaky Waders Video.

Does it Get Any Better? from My Leaky Waders on Vimeo.
My last minute trip to the Blue Ridge Mountains turned into a phenomenally successful outing. The weather was wonderful, and the fish were rising. If “Dry or Die” was my mantra, I’ve never lived more fully.

Please enjoy the bounty of Blue Ridge Brookies taken on Tenkara.

Music: Mike Doughty “Take Me Home, Country Roads”
Food: BBQ Exchange, Gordonsville, Va

Filmed on iphone and goproHD

There you go. By the way, rumor has it Adele is taking up fly fishing.

Look at her. She is either A) stunned and the awesomeness of the video, B) ready to toss off that pashmina for a pair of Patagonia Waders (she seems like a patagonia girl) or C) Thinking, “Man, I wish I had some Owl Jones Art for this blank wall.”

What do you think?

Photo of Adele was graciously provided by a google image search. The rumor that Adele is taking up fly fishing was started by me. I do not know Adele personally, and therefore have no idea what type of waders she would buy. I do “know” YGF, SchnitzerPHOTO, Erin Block, and Owl Jones so I am trying to pimp them.

…. And by “know” them, I mean I’ve commented on their blogs and I’m trying to make myself look cooler by that extremely loose association 🙂

When Things Fall in Line

Today was a big day. 
Kevin and I had plans this week to spend Sunday fishing the Eastern Shore for redfish, but the wind and waves had other plans. The local waters were going to be too rough for us, so it was back to the drawing board.

Last night I sat down to decide if I could make a last minute trip to the Mountains. It is a little over three hours drive one way, so, it is a bit of a commitment for a day trip, and there is always that little voice in the back of your head that whispers, “It could be a bust. You could catch nothing. Are you sure the drive is worth it?”
Well, today, it was worth it. 
I happened to have a recent copy of the Blue Ridge Outdoor magazine handy (check out their monthly Trail Mix – Music), and there was an article written by Jack Murray (brother to one of my buddies and cousin to The Man in the Striped Pajamas) that gave a few local suggestions. I found the one that looked accessible and within my 3.5 hour travel range and decided to give it a go. 
I was streamside at 9:45 and water temp was around 50F.  Air temps were in the mid 60s or better and the sun brought out the bugs. We had beatis, midges, beetles, and a couple types of caddis. Needless to say, this put the fish in a feeding frenzy. By early afternoon, water temps had risen about 4 or 5 degrees. 
I tried to count how many 3-5 inch brookies, I caught, but I gave up after I caught 20 in about 30-45 minutes. I was covering a lot of water and the tenkara rod was helping keep things simple. I figure my numbers were around 60-70 fish total, and, honestly, that feels like a modest guess. It was absolutely insane. I missed a couple bigger fish and had a 7 or 8ish inch fish on that I lost due to fumbling with the net. Having not caught many bigger brookies in the Blue Ridge area, I felt pretty good about these close encounters. 
By 2:30pm when I thought things couldn’t get any better, I ran into about an hour block where I landed 5 fish about 7 (+/-)  inches and one that was a solid fish possibly pushing 10. It was phenomenal. 
After the run of big fish, I decided to start heading back and quit while I was ahead. I had another 8 or 9 incher on that I lost, and caught another handful of smaller fish on my way back to the car. 
I capped off the trip with a stop at BBQ Exchange in Gordonsville, Va for some good eats and to pick up some fancy cupcakes for my lady who was waiting for me at home. 

Video: I can’t, won’t and don’t stop.

I lost some of the video from my phone, so this already slim picture got all-the-more shorter. For a nice write up of the outing, see Kevin’s blog. And no, I can’t tell you what stream this is.

Another day trip to the mountains finds a great stream with eager brookies with some TU pals. Fishing a special stream in Washington National Forest, we re-aquainted ourselves with these little fish for the first time in 2013. There’s no doubt about it, when it comes to trout fishing, I can’t won’t and don’t stop. 
Filmed with a GoPro HD
Music: Beastie Boys “Sure Shot”

Video: Fishing The Valleys

In efforts to resurrect a local Trout Unlimited Chapter, we undertook a coordinated effort to gather old and new members and journey to western Virginia. There were trout. There were chubs. There was food. There was beer. There were pretty leaves. There was tenkara and non-tenkara.
Filmed with my GoproHD and iphone 4

Summer Solstice, Mountain Brookies.

This is a summary of my trip yesterday to Shenandoah National Park to find mountain brookies and a preview to the video to come shortly.

In the last 4 years, trout fishing had been pretty elusive for me. Besides the recent spring trip to the Big Horn River in Montana, I really haven’t done much in that time. Yesterday was my last day of legitimate freedom, so I took the opportunity to head to the nearest trout stream I could find. 
In order to bypass any issues with private stream ownership, I decided fishing in one of Virginia’s parks would be best. Shenandoah NP is about 3.5hrs from Norfolk, Va which makes it just close enough to make it a solid day trip. 
I woke up at 4:45am, ate a good breakfast, packed the cooler, coffee and car, and got on the road. I was on the trail sometime around 10. I really had no idea what to expect other than there were native brook trout, feisty invasive browns, and according to Owl Jones, either bears, snakes, or yellow jackets (possibly a combination of all three). Additionally, the hike required to get to the stream was described as “relatively easy” and at least “several miles.” The several miles thing turned out to be true, but, I tell you what, I was EXHAUSTED by the end of the day. I think I walked 5-6 miles, crawled over countless boulders and logs, shimmied across many river beds, and easily finished the 1.5liters of water I brought along. If that is easy, you can keep the difficult ones. 
Coincidentally, the storms that were supposed to hit, dissipated and my last free day turned out to be the summer solstice, the longest day of the year providing me with the most daylight. The summer solstice is also a free day in national parks. Who knew? Not me, I was ready to pay the $15 entry fee when the ranger gave me a map and a smile and waved me by. 
I wore my waders as pants, which I’m glad I did. Between the nettle, gnats, and profuse sweating, I was constantly scratching, swatting, and wiping my arms, forehead, and neck. It sounds like I’m complaining, but I’m not. It was all worth it. 
So how was the fishing? What does Neil Patrick Harris’ character Barney Stinson on “How I Met Your Mother” say? Oh yeah.                    Legend… Wait for it…. DARY!!!

Those trout are so easily spooked, but if you can creep up, they will destroy the fly you present. I was able to catch 7 brookies throughout the day. Gorgeous little fellas. The largest was maybe 7-8 inches, which is a solid fish from what I hear. It really was like hunting and fishing combined. If I even snuck a peak in the wrong way, I was reprimanded with a scatter of trout like kids who just hit a ball through a neighbor’s window. 
I caught most of my fish on size 16-18 Griffith gnats. After a drought of fish, I finally got one to take a Parachute Adams tied by Owl Jones. 
All in all, it was an amazing day. I had so much fun. I only saw 2 other hikers and was surrounded by pristine country. 
Sitting down for lunch on the creek bed, I jotted down a few lines….

Blue Ridges, Cold Water
The clouds are at a tipping point.
The air is thick and sweet like honey.
Lunch on these softened stones of the
Creek bed much older than its name
Shows me the summer solstice is a gift.
An opportunity to get up earlier,
stay out later,
and catch more trout.
The mountain brookie
Is a shy performer, 
Quick to escape at first sign of audience.
I must be calm.
I must be quiet.
Another boulder in the bed.
Another mossy log leaning close by.
I wash my hands, arms, and face
In your coolness.
Refreshed, the hunt begins again.
Sweaty, clouded, and accomplished,
I will return home.