Wild Places

Wild places live few and far between.

You, no doubt, traveling on iron wheels and wings

can find one tomorrow before the sun touches the trees.

Praise accessibility.

Curse it’s ease.

Search the dark spaces for glowing eyes.

Wash your forehead in icy falls and streams.

Get lost in stars not yet silenced by your home street,

And let the trees grow wild.

Let the waters run cool and clean.

Admire the beast that live in wild places,

For beast we too can be.


If I had done an entry for the Outdoor Blogger Network’s Trout Unlimited summer essay contest for a trip to Tongass National Forest, it would have gone something like that.

Pimping the Driftless Area and their fishermen

Remember that line from that Beatles song, “All you need is blog love”? That’s what this post is all about.

I’m biased towards the Driftless Area. Let’s just get that on the table from the start. I grew up there and had my first trout fishing experiences on the Whitewater and Root River in Southeast Minnesota. As such, it is not surprising that I hold a special place in my heart for all things trout from that area. Today I’m bringing you back to a page I’ve shared before. The Winona Fly Factory. Justin was, and still is, the only other blogger I’ve fished with.

After a brief hiatus from blogging, Justin is back in full force with stream reports, awesome flies, pictures, and even video.

Okay, let me back up for a second. Are you reading/watching this and simultaneously googling (“googling” is a verb now, get over it) “Driftless Area?” Justin shared a cool video that does a great job of sharing what it is all about.

Now that you’re caught up, there are new things on the horizon for Winona Fly Factory. I give to you, the W. F. F. Fly Shop. I would particularly like to draw your attention to the Pink Squirrels and the Hair Balls. I’ve fished with each of these and done very well. If you see a Sprinkle Me Baby on there in the future, do yourself a fave …. (I can’t believe I wrote “fave.” I mean FAVOR. “fave” is not a word…) and get some. He has great skill at the vise and these flies catch fish and hold up wonderfully. You can even see the man at work in The Factory in this recent video.

The rumor is, there are other things in the works for The Winona Fly Factory. He wouldn’t key me in on them, but I’m thinking they are pretty sweet. 
So go forth, and check out the page or start planning your trip to the Driftless Area. You won’t be disappointed. 
There are many other notable blogs from the Driftless Area that are worth checking out:
And I’m sure there are much more. As always, you can find these and other blogs at The Outdoor Blogger Network’s Blogger Directory.

Holy Carp.


I’ve put in a decent amount of time working this local bayou in Houston. I’ve learned how and where to spot these fish. I’ve dreamt about catching carp the last three nights. I’ve named a few stretches of water. The Buffalo Hole. Pleco flats. The Falling Rat Bridge (Falling Rat for short. It is exactly what it sounds like). The Trash Curve (also exactly what it sounds like). The names aren’t pretty, but, man, these grass carp are a fun challenge. I’ve got a few more days to recreate some magic and possibly get some more footage.

Stay tuned…

ps. if you haven’t stopped by the OBN in a bit, they are getting at it again, so get over there and see what you can find…

OBN Gear: Avex Autoseal Waterbottles

The Outdoor Blogger Network has always been striving to connect people, share stories, and occasionally provide opportunity to try out new outdoor gear. A few weeks ago, another chance at sampling some new products came by as Avex donated some of their Autoseal Waterbottles and coffee mugs.

The Brazos Autoseal Waterbottle was what I found at my door step.

The bottle is quite awesome. I’ve used it out fishing once and on the treadmill many times. I find the bottle easy to use, easy to clean, and not nearly as clumsy as my other “standard” water bottles. There are no lids or wide mouths or straws to mess with when you want a drink. You just press a button, and go to town. 

Now I figure you can look at this a two ways. 

1. What’s the big deal. A bottle is a bottle. As long as it hold water, I’m good. 

Response: I agree. I don’t need a lot of bells and whistles. I need something that functions reliably and won’t break. That was my view on bottles until I got my hands on this one. The ease of use with this bottle is amazing. Not having to twist off a top, and balance a full bottle so as not to spill on your lap or face is surprisingly a nice feature. Also, My big nose isn’t hitting the rim of a wide mouth bottle that I usually drink form. 

2. I like bottles that don’t spill and are easy to use.

Response: This is one of those bottles. 

(from the Avex site)

One-handed, BPA-free plastic water bottle automatically seals between sips.

  • This BPA-free plastic water bottle has no cap to remove, no spout to open – making it perfect for one-handed use during activities.
  • This water bottle features patented AUTOSEAL® spill-proof & leak-proof technology – simply press the button to sip and release to automatically seal.  The AUTOSEAL® lid automatically seals between drinks to eliminate spills and leaks.
  • Easy transport with a convenient clip-on handle that attaches to gym bags, backpacks and gear.
  • Easily track water intake with volume markings on the bottle.
  • Spout shield covers and protects the spout from dirt and germs.
  • No plastic odors or taste with FDA-approvedBPA-free Tritan™ materials.
  • Water bottle is top-rack dishwasher-safe.
  • 25 oz. capacity.

They even have a handy “how to video.” Enjoy the extreme music and fancy graphics. 

So, in conclusion. If you are happy with your water bottle and it is working fine, I’d say stick with it.  In order to decrease excessive consumption, there is little sense buying something new when what you’ve got is working.  And if a bottle hold water without leaking, it is working. If you are in the market for a new water bottle and want to try something innovative, Avex Autoseal is a great option. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.


My views are my own. I get to keep the bottle, but I don’t know anyone at Avex, so I don’t really feel pressured to give a biased review. I try to be honest. However, since I like the product, I may be biased (but at least I’m being honest about that). Whatever you use, Avex, Nalgene, or old crinkly Avian water bottle, just drink water. It’s good for you.

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.  

I heard somewhere January was fire month….

And what a month it is. The Unlucky Hunter has been going all Carrie on the month of January burning everything in sight.

That really was a pretty dress.
But she went a little overboard on the red makeup.

It is rather fitting as January tends to be chilly.

I, with about 30 other bloggers, was lucky enough to get a pack of Lightload Outdoor Towels from a recent OBN give away.  The free swag we accumulate from being involved in this outdoor online community is pretty amazing (see here, and here, and here), and these towels are really no different.

They look and feel like repurposed operating room towels. Very clever if you ask me as these tend to be extremely cheap since they are often bought in bulk to be used once, saturated in blood, and thrown away. However, you don’t have to saturate yours in blood, but if you do, you don’t have to throw it away. As they say on the package, you can use it as a diaper, towel, pot-holder, and (here’s where we come full circle) a fire starter. And if you don’t burn it, you can wash it and use it again.

Sara and I used ours when we went running the other night. After soaking up the sweat, I kept it in my pocket while doing some night fishing in the rain. I was nice to have to pad down my glasses and even the gopro plastic lens. I don’t know if I’d recommend as a camera lens cloth. I could see how it would be scratchy.

I let the rag dry out overnight, and this evening, tested the fire starting theory.  It worked like a gasoline soaked gem. Sara and I had some fun with the photos 🙂

comes in a nice,  palm size, water resistant package
It seems a bit odd as a disc shaped sponge.
I think it is working. 
Oh, I see, it unfolds.

Wow, that’s a nice towel.

It really gets in there and dries your face. 

It’s okay towel, you’ll be fine. I promise….

It lit without hesitation.
Happy Fire Month!!!!