Driftless Love by Winona Fly Factory

Man. I’ve been away too long. With my head down I seemed to have missed Justing over at WFF has been back at it. I’ve always enjoyed following his blog as he fishes my home waters. Now, with renewed interest I can read again as I will be heading back that way for at least a year come July. 
He is a strong advocate for the treasure that is the Driftless Area. Last fall he presented this video compilation for the Citizens Watershed Summit. 
Great work, Justin.

Feeling Nostalgic and Reliving My "Rush to the Driftless"

Filmed this a while ago, 
but it seemed like a good time to revisit the old material. 
We all have waters
Tied to our core.
Mine is the Driftless.
What is yours?

I traveled back to the homeland for a week of family and friends. Fly rod and tenkara in tote, my dad and I met up with the Winona Fly Factory (winonaflyfactory.com) fisherman and we explored some of what the Driftless area has to offer for trout fishing. The tenkara rod ended up being a great option for my dad, someone who is pretty new to fly fishing. He took to it well. It was a long time on the water, but we had a great weekend fishing, finding morel mushrooms, and hanging out at the barn. 
Music graciously borrowed from The Rural Alberta Advantage: The Ballad of RAA
Filmed with GoPro, iPhone 4,

RePost: Where Does Your Creek come From?

*** This is a repost from Winona Fly Factory. I’ve copied the entire thing here for those of you who don’t want to simply follow the link. I love the Driftless Area and thought this was another awesome post and video sharing what the Driftless is all about. ***

Via: Winona Fly Factory


“The beauty and awe of the Driftless area is in part due to the numerous springs that are the primary source of our coldwater, without it we would not have the wonderful place I call home and my back yard. I am possibly one of the most fortunate people on the planet and this video will hopefully put you in my boots for a minute. My creek comes from the ground, in the world of trout streams there are very few that originate this way. Driftless Love.
-the w.f.f.
Music by Winona native Mike Munson, I ran sound for his set at the Midwest Music Festival this year and this song really caught my ear, it just felt right for this video.”

Origional Post and Video by Winona Fly Factory, winonaflyfactory.com

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. 
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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.

Reflecting on the Driftless

It has been a few months since we flew back to Minnesota, and I stole a weekend from the Driftless Area in Southeast Minnesota. My dad and I met up with Justin of Winona Fly Factory (he’s coming back to us in January) and had an amazing time (see the video for the proof).

Justin recently sent me a few photos from the trip. Dad did great with the Tenkara rod. I fumbled behind camera in hand and managed a few fish too.

Great way to start the day.

Dad with a great fish on Tenkara.

Beautiful Driftless Brown.

Looking really cool.

Working it.
the river bend.

the “Sprinkle Me Baby”

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.”

New Video: Rush to the Driftless

I traveled back to the homeland for a week of family and friends. Fly rod and tenkara in tote, my dad and I met up with the Winona Fly Factory (winonaflyfactory.com) fisherman and we explored some of what the Driftless area has to offer for trout fishing. The tenkara rod ended up being a great option for my dad, someone who is pretty new to fly fishing. He took to it well. It was a long time on the water, but we had a great weekend fishing, finding morel mushrooms, and hanging out at the barn. 
Enjoy,
David (www.MyLeakyWaders.blogspot.com)
Music graciously borrowed from The Rural Alberta Advantage: The Ballad of RAA
Filmed with GoPro, iPhone 4,