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. 

Good Days

I love good days. They come in all shapes and sizes. Some are lazy. Some are long. Some flyby and they’re gone before you know it.

Saturday was a good day.

We enjoyed a night in on Friday, and Saturday morning we walked to the park after a fresh pot of coffee and a quick breakfast. I had to run into work for about an hour but made it back in time to play befor a midday nap. While Sara and David slept, I went for a long run. Longer then I’ve run in a couple years. 9.75mi. It just felt so good to be out in the hot August sun, so I kept going.  I came home to a well rested house, and we headed straight to the neighborhood swimming pool for a hour of water play under the fountains and bubblers. We walked home in our suits and the little guy in a diaper and towel drinking a bottle of milk. 
The next stop was the Salem Glen Winery just 15 minutes south of Rochester. All the grapes are grown on site. The property rests on a hill where the observatory waits for nightfall. The wines were wonderful. Typically I think most northern wines end up being very sweet, but these were much more of the traditional variety with something for everyone. My favorite was the Marquette. It was dry, cherry flavored and peppery. Sara liked the LaCrescent and the Cygna. 
David paired his milk and matchbox cars with cheese crackers. He is wise beyond his years. 
He quickly moved onto the red wagon and explored the grounds. 
Not in the mood to cook dinner and hankering for smooth custard, we stopped by Culvers on the way home. A satisfying dinner was topped off with a game of Choo-choo while standing in a wok. Sara and I still aren’t quite sure why David enjoyed this so much, but good things don’t always need explaning. We just rolled with it. 

Tempting fate with a day that was already perfect.  I rushed out to the stream after putting David to bed. I haven’t used my new rod yet and I wanted to fish a section of the stream I hadn’t tried. I had a limited window before dark so expectations were low. 

However, this day could do no wrong. The Walton Powell Hexagraph casts beautifully. I was tossing a mini hopper into spots I shouldn’t be able to. It felt like all I had to do was look where I wanted to cast, and I could make it happen. Still, I hadn’t seen a fish in the 30 minutes I was there and darkness was upon me. 
There was a downed cottonwood that was creating some great structure, but it was the type of structure you normally pass up because it is understood you will lose every fly you cast anywhere near the tempting pools. (It brings to mind ships wrecked on the rocks after hearing the sirens call.) Today, however, a last chance at a fish seemed well worth the risk. 
I ended up walking out on to the cotton wood, balancing on the beam, mid stream. I landed the fly in a stretch the size of a 10-gallon bucket and the fish hit immediately. He hid under two trees before I finally got him to the surface. My balance got me so far as to net the fish before I fell backward chest high in the cool water. On a hot August night, with a big brown trout in your net, it is hard to be upset at something like that. I laughed because Sara had just gotten me a new waterproof case for my phone.  I smiled because I couldn’t think of a better way to initiate my Hexagraph. 

Not all days are good, but when one comes along it pays to relish in it. It even felt good to walk back to the car soaking wet. So good I tried to give my very best Breakfast Club fist pump to the sky, fly rod in hand. 
Another one in the books, I guess. Tomorrow, we start all over again. 
Here is to another good day ahead of us. 

Hexa-what?

That slightly bewildered reaction you are experiencing right now, wondering where this blog post is going and what is a Hexa…. what did he say?

That’s how I felt two months ago when I stumbled upon the word Hexagraph during my search for a new fly rod. I recently got a going-away gift form my local TU chapter. They gave me some money for a rod or a guided trip. I wanted to do something special with the money. I wanted whatever I did or got to remind me of my time with Bill Wills TU in Virginia.

I struggled for a while. Of the days I could go on a guided trip, all the shops were booked and I was getting dizzy thinking of all the different rod options. Nothing really seemed special enough in the price point I was working with.

That’s when a member of our chapter mentioned the word Hexagraph.

You see, back in the 80s, this guy, Walton Powell was making fiber glass rods. Good ones. He was also really into bamboo. He and some Brits then came up with a plan to make foam filled graphite rods pieced together the same way you make a bamboo rod. What is the appeal of this? Precision casting. A rod that loads through the entire length. Essentially, bamboo delivery with improved power, durability, and a reduced cost.

Here is where things get interesting. Somehow, Jimmy Carter and Robert Redford start using these rods and redford gets Powell to paint some to look like bamboo. Why? Well it was too expensive to use actual bamboo rods in the movie “A River Runs Through It.” So next time you watch that young Brad Pitt smile as he makes his magic on the big river, remember it isn’t really him, and he isn’t using bamboo.

Well, Powell ran the company for a while and then sold it to a man named Harry Briscoe. I started looking for these rods online only to come to the Hexagaph website to find this….

“Effective December 31, 2014, Hexagraph Fly Rod Co. has ceased operations.”

WHAT?! I’m THREE months too late!?

Mr. Briscoe had his email address on the site, so I thought I would see what he had left in his inventory. He was awesome and informative, and we wrote and forth about his rods for several days. Ultimately, he didn’t have a rod left that would fit my needs. He had some blanks that would have worked, but I’m wasn’t looking to build something.

So I went to ebay. As good fortune would have it, there was a 1980’s original 8’6″ available. In mint condition. How is that possible? I asked the seller. He said he got the rod (and a few others) from the photographer for Walton Powell. The photographer had been given several rods as gifts, but he never used them. Well, long story short, I got the rod. It is gorgeous, and I know it is from the 80s because it came in a corduroy rod sock. It is awesome.

My old medalist fits right in with this new addition.

To some this might be a collector’s item. To me, this rod was made to be used 30 years ago, and now, it finally get’s its chance.