Still hear, still fishing, just different.

Well, that summer and spring sure turned out differently than we thought, didn’t it? I snuck out to a trout stream this weekend and thought of the blog. I already deleted the photos of the fish. Fall in the Driftless is gorgeous. Its like a return to glory.

Most of my fishing has been spent with my son, so that’s where lots of our photos are leaning these days. Off a pontoon or off a dock, his hook set is on point.

Its been fun to see him really enjoy it. Anna, my daughter just turned 4 so we will see if it sticks for her too. Still, I’m looking forward to a little getaway next week.

Next week I head north to the South Coast of Lake Superior in search of running steelhead. The fly box is filling up and I’m working on my D-loops and snap-Ts. Though only one stream seems to be the most popular, the Bois Brule, we’ll be spending a fair bit of time exploring the other waters in the area.

So, in a couple weeks, I’m hoping to share with you a nice set of images and possibly a few stories.

Speaking of stories, if you area looking for a good fall read and you’ve enjoyed following me over the years, I really think you’d enjoy my first novel, “The Man in the Pines.” Find it on Amazon (click HERE) or ask your local book store to get it for you. And if you enjoy it, be sure to leave a review on Amazon or Goodreads and maybe tell a friend.

Seasons in the Driftless and more hobbies

When the opportunity arises, I continue to work my way up and down streams. When I suddenly found myself at home most days and my son out of Kindergarten, we touched a lot of water not only fishing, but looking for bugs, birds, throwing sticks and rocks, and generally just being outside by trout streams.

Fishing changes within and between seasons here. It changes as I age and as my son ages. He used to ride on my back and now he looks for the most fun and dangerous way to jump across a stream.

I’ve found myself spending more time looking at the rocks in washouts and even exploring painting again with a little travel watercolor kit I put together. (If you are looking for a cool gift idea check this out. Mine is a bit more DIY – see below. This is more high quality )

I’m sharing more music this spring which you can find here ( and hopefully soon on the main streaming sites.

And my book, The Man in the Pines, is quietly making its way around. If you are looking for a nice summer read that transports you to the north woods, check it out here:

Keep on keeping on, and go do some good this weekend.

A long one coming…

I don’t remember the last time I took someone out who had never fished before. At least not including my kids.

Well the day finally came, and man did it feel good. The day had everything you could hope for when taking out a first timer. Beautiful scenery, hungry fish, A few surprises from nature, and a couple laughs.

I have a beloved pair of old hand me down quick drying pants from a recently passed friend that tore open at the crotch displaying my bright red boxer shorts.

It was pretty hilarious. What’s even better? Luke, my friend who landed his first trout, is already looking at gear and can’t wait to get out again.

A perfect day

It seems so long ago. Maybe just a month but this day was awesome. It was like 90 degrees and the kids insisted on winter hats with their new waders.

Maybe they thought they were like snow pants?

We didn’t really fish. Just explored the water.

Besides snacks, it seems the less I plan on outings like this the better. Just seeing them enjoy snooping around on their own is a good sign they are having fun.

And after the river it was time to release some of our monarchs. We had 13 this summer.

Then sweet potato gnocchi, family swim time, and ice cream at a local eatery.

I don’t know if this blog will help me savor days like this. A blog may seem like an archaic stereoscope in 30-40 years. But it can’t hurt to reflect on these days every so often, right?

Maybe some fishing photos soon 🙂

Summer is flying by

It really is amazing. Time just won’t quit. August is racing towards us which means the Great River Folk Fest will be here soon and September to follow. My son will start kindergarten and the leaves will fall quickly followed by the snow. Wow.

This summer has been so fun. With regard to music, I’ve made some big steps in terms of sound management which translates to better performances and a better listening experience.

Last week at turtle Stack Brewery was a great example of how far things have come in the last couple years. People were LISTENING. It sounds crazy right, but really, most times people don’t really listen but more and more I feel I’m getting through to people. Connecting. And it is cool.

I’ve got another open mic event at Grounded coffeehouse in a week and then the folk fest and Weber center events will quickly follow. I’m hoping to write a few more tunes that I feel proud of over the summer but these things just come with time I suppose.

Additionally, I’m expecting some movement on my book in the next month or so. If it doesn’t happen through my submissions, I’m going to make it happen on my own. Time moves too fast to sit and wait for other people to get on the same page. Not their fault. I just want to keep moving forward.

If you see me out playing, say hello and until then, have a great August!

5 Flies: Slimming down the Fly Box

I like tying lots of different patterns of flies so I don’t know if my box would ever really slim down, but I really like the idea of having 4 or 5 patterns that are in my box. I’d tie them all winter, and ride them out through the fall.

This often comes up on the water when I fish with other folks. “What are your ‘go-to’ flies?” Or if you could only fish one fly, what would it be?

There is definitely something to be said about having confidence in your fly and being sure you are fishing it properly (depth, drift, speed of retrieval, etc). After coming across this post on Gear Patrol “The 5 flies you should always have in your fly box…” I thought I’d commit to my 5.

J Sotak picked the classics on the Gear Patrol Post

So what would mine look like?

  1. AZ- Wandering’s Mini Hopper – This is easy to tie and I just can’t seem to give up a hopper. Works as a phenomenal indicator for hopper-dropper combos. Like a Hippie Stomper but without a post.

2. Griffith’s Gnat – Again, one of the most simple ties – but this can save you when your match isn’t on with whatever is floating on the surface.

Hello my little buggy friend

3. Pink Squirrel – The iconic driftless fly. I like tying them a little bigger with rainbow tungsten bead heads. It becomes a prospecting nymph that way.

Image result for pink squirrel fly
this photo is from pintrest

4. Frick’s Fix -this used to be a black leech pattern with some green/emerald flash – but, if I have to have only 5 flies, I’ve been working on this one lately. The only problem with it is the weight. It’s heavy. But that’s why it is effective at finding big fish down deep. Something about this silly fly. It just kills. Here is one tied by Frick himself

Image result for fricks fix
so many variations. another easy tie.

5. Stimulator – No I do like Fran Better’s “The Usual” because it is easy and can imitate a beatis, and if I can start catching fish on it, I think it will surpass the stimulator – but there is just something about this fly. I started loving it in the Virginia mountains looking for brookies. So effective, and when small, it can match the caddis here in the driftless.

Stimulator - Orange Fly Fishing Flies - Size 10
So Pretty

Yeah, I think those would be my 5 for the Driftless – maybe most areas. I know I’ll never be able to stick to just 5 patterns in my box, but it is still fun to imagine it 🙂

Cozad’s One Fly

The other weekend I joined up with some good folks to fish for a good cause. Everybody wins… Well, not our team. I broke off early and was of little help for the rest of the day unless you could holding my teammate’s beer being helpful.

Curt Reese saying a few words at the American Legion before the day began.

The Cozad’s One Fly Tournament raises money or youth-related fishing program

s in the Viroqua, Wisconsin area. This is a central location in the Driftless Area fishery of Wisconsin. The tournament had about 10-12 teams of four fly fishers. Points are scored based on the size of fish. All flies are tied by a teammate and once your fly breaks off, you’re done for the day.

I caught about 12 fish in the first hour and a half and was on track for a nice score for the day until I broke off in a surprisingly simple situation. I presume my line cut on a rock or sharp piece of debris I couldn’t see.

The rest of the team fished well and we met a lot of great people.IMG_1920

I think we had just as much fun planning strategy, scouting streams and talking flies/smack before the day than the actual event.

Will fished well all day. He was an alternate for another teammate who ended up having neck surgery two weeks before tourney.  Eric and Justin fished their top secret water and managed to keep their flies and cat a few fish as well.

Teammates: Eric (@hotdishflyfish) and Justin (@winonaflyfactory)

It probably wasn’t twenty minutes after the tournament was over and we were already scheming for next year.

We found some brookies.

Fishing can be a very solo sport. For most of us on the team, the solitude of fishing is part of the attraction.

We explored new water

But I think it is fair to say we all had an awesome time climbing out of our antisocial shells to spend a day on the water with friends.

Teammate Will and myself

One thing is for sure, I’ll be working on next year’s fly choice for the next year.

The flies of the tournament: mostly buggers, nymphs, and frix fixes.

The last of winter in the Driftless… maybe…

I haven’t fished as much this winter but I managed to get out yesterday. The water is still clear and I’m still learning how things have changed with the massive flooding we’ve had. We have a big tournament coming up called the Driftless One Fly which will be great.

Basic premise: teams of 4. You get one hand tied fly and when it breaks off you are done. The bigger the fish, the more points it is worth. It is a fund raising benefit and should be a great time. It is always a gamble what to throw but I will tell you the Fricks Fix seems to always produce.

Here are some photos from yesterday. The nudge hatch was insane. So cool to see the tiny bugs on the snow. And speaking of snow, we still have lots to melt off before the tourney at the end of the month.

Revisiting Painting

When I lived in Virginia and played my part for the local fly fishing clubs including Trout Unlimited, a group of die hard locals got an awesome film and fishing festival started called Legends of the Fly. They do the film festival stuff, but also highlight a “legend” fly fisher who gives a presentation. There are fishing demonstrations as well as a big party and auction with proceeds going to great causes like project healing waters.

They also have an awesome mid year fishing tourney.

I used to submit fishing videos and generally be a cheerleader. This year I was asked to paint another trout painting for the auction. It’s been about a year since I painted anything so I’ve been procrastinating. Finally, I sat down tonight and began working.

I started with the same design Lonny Kenny Leather put on my guitar strap.

As I painted, I got a little worried about the pike-ish look to the fish but tried to be patient.

Sure enough, by the end, Gillian Welch calmed my fears and I’m happy with the project. If you are ever looking to visit as fly fishing festival, Legends of the Fly is an awesome one. Hopefully in the years to come I’ll make it back to support in person. For now, this will have to do.