A slow season…

I fished more last year than any year in the past. I got on a trout stream more than 40 times. For me, that is pretty phenomenal.

I fished one so far in the 2019 season. But it feels we’ve been battling extreme runoff or extreme cold, so I’ve kept my distance recently.

We did have a fun family trip to Florida last week and managed to find some shark teeth on the gulf coast and that was pretty amazing. The warmer weather got me day dreaming of casting to more tropical fish.

Maybe it is time to planing an excursion. Where would you go? Float trip in Alaska? Red fishing in Louisiana? Roosterfish? Puerto Rico?

Also, pretty soon I’m going to be sharing with you details about a book I’m writing. It is in the editing stage and working on publishing. It would fall under the category of historical fiction and mystic realism. Love story. Tragedy. Conservation. I can’t wait to share it.

Full circle

So let’s be upfront about something. I blog more about fly fishing when I don’t fly fish that much. I guess it is a way for me to feel like I’m “staying in touch” with my hobby.

Well, I started this blog when I lived in Nebraska which is not really known as a fly fishing Mecca. I then moved to Virginia, and after four years, I moved back to Minnesota and then to Wisconsin. I now live within 45 minutes of probably 10-20 trout streams not to mention plenty of warm water opportunities. As such, I think I spend more time now fishing than blogging. I guess I also have to acknowledge the fact that in that same time Sara and I have had two kids. So maybe that is it.

But, something funny happened last week that I had to share.

You may know that I really enjoy both listening to and writing music. Thanks to an old blogging friend Owl Jones, I started getting into making fly fishing videos.  That led to a long and winding relationship with other bloggers – Troutrageous, yukon goes fishing, the Outdoor blogger network, Erin Block, the river damsel, winona fly factory winona fly factory, and it goes on and on (I’m sorry to those who I didn’t name 🙂

Well, as the fly fishing video thing got big, I fell in love with one video in particular. I found a video by Rolf Nylinder called “Trout Is All.”

The song is “Love is All” by the Tallest Man on Earth. I have listened to Kristian Matsson’s music since then pretty regularly. It is awesome.

Trout is all from Rolf Nylinder on Vimeo.

Well, after many years, the time came when I was able to go and see Tallest Man on Earth in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.


The show was sooooo, soooo, soooo good.

Some time ago, I saw he had a cool guitar strap made by Linny Kenny. I ended up having her make me a custom strap as well. (see her photo from the website below)

Well, I decided to bring the strap to the concert and try to have him autograph it. How could I make this happen? I talked to the stage hand after the show and he said “he’s long gone by now.”

I didn’t believe it, so I asked the person selling the LPs and shirts. She said my best shot was by the bus. It was snowing outside, but not too cold. I decided to sit outside the busm and after 45 minutes, the crew started coming out. I talked to the first crew member who was entering the bus. I asked if he could give my strap to Kristian. He said he would. Hoping I could somehow sway Kristian to ask me in to meet him, which would inevitably lead to us fly fishing together, I said, “tell him Rolf Nylinder says hi.”

Do I know Rolf? No. I think I chatted with him online once during my early video stage when he was with Front Side Fly, but I could be wrong.

Did I meet Kristian? No.

But guess what?

I got my guitar strap! so so cool. It is funny how circular the world can be. And guess what, life continues, so this story may not be over 🙂

How streams change

What is summer it’s been. I fished a lot and posted very little. At some point I’ll try and do a big photo dump to share some of the images taken.

I did get the chance to get out on Monday. There’s a local stream that I fished a lot the last couple years and I thought about going to it again because it’s so close but after talking a little bit more with my friend Will we decided to try a new stream. It’s a section of water we’ve never fished before but I had some Intel that it was worth checking out. As we drove to the stream, we enjoyed the hot August weather. Partial cloud cover with temperatures in the mid to upper 80s. Fortunately the section of water would be fishing would be covered in trees. That should be pretty shady.

We talked a lot about how the streams change over time. Whether it is A stream slowly pinching off an oxbow or a beaver coming in to build the dam. The dam can change the structure and then a subsequent big rain event can blow out the dam moving things around even more.

We had a great day of fishing and found some really nice Brook trout. It’s definitely a stream that I will head again in the fall.

The next day, a round of storms came through the area dropping anywhere from 3 to 10 inches of rain. In our little bunch of valleys filled with streams and towns, it was just too much rain to handle. We have an entire sections of small towns that are covered in water. Cars were washed away. Roads were damage. Railroads have to be fixed. The people in the area are a close knit bunch and therefore resilient. Everybody is supporting eachother and there are already several fundraiser concert events to help local funding. A state of emergency has been called for Wisconsin.

I think people will rebound. The trout are pretty similar. They are used to these big events. They cling behind rocks and close to the shore when something this major happens.

When you live so close to the streams, you really do get to see how they change from year to year. It’s amazing. Most often the fish seem to be able to tolerate very well.

In a way it gives me confidence the people will too.

Tenkara and golf in the Driftless

Let’s get one thing straight from the start. I’m not a good golfer. I get out 2-3 times a year and usually shoot about 35 over par. I don’t know if I’ve ever scored in the 90s… That being said, I do like golf enough to return to the course when the invite arises. Just like aiming for that perfect cast, each shot is an opportunity to connect. Though that doesn’t happen often for me.

We have so many streams here in the area of Minnesota/Wiscsonsin and often times water runs through golf courses. When I got the invite to hit the links on a course with a known trout stream, I new right away what other “club” would be in my bag.

I brought my Tenkara USA Ito along with a small hopper pattern tied on. We were having weather in the mid 90s (a little lower than what my final score would be) and terrestrials were getting active. We were on the course/water by about 8am.

Charlie (@Troutchief) has never used a tenkara rod, but was intrigued by the concept.

The biggest challenge was keeping an eye on the golfing groups behind us 🙂

Depending on when we shot in our group of 4, he and I would take turns running down to a stream section to get in a few drifts.

In spite of my eventual score of 105 strokes, we landed 3 fish making it, by far, the best day of golf I’ve ever had. What is better? Looks like I may have made a tenkara convert. Word has it Charlie bought his first tenkara rod that week 🙂

I’m not going to add that outing onto my “days on the water” tally, but it was a awesome way to spice up a round of potentially frustrating golfing 🙂

Days worth remembering

Live is filled with platitudes.

“Every day fishing is a good day”

“Its just good to be out on the water”

“Good things come to those who wait”

“It was meant to be”

“Early bird gets the worm”

“If you’re lucky enough to be (Insert item here), you’re lucky enough”



Tonight, I find myself thinking of another, equally annoying and overly positive one… “every day on the water is worth remembering.” Ugh. Give me anything and I can romanticize about it.

That being said, I was lucky enough last Monday to do everything right. I hit perfect stream conditions. On a stream that, when fished in the afternoon has you constantly casting more shadows than flies and is also almost ALWAYS running clear, we found a milky stain. And, as a fly fisher who always seems to pick the wrong presentation tactic, I was handed a fly after mine broke off and just decided to dead drift the streamer. Something I almost never do because nymphing is one of my worst skills (in my mind, at least).

I was rewarded right away. I brought several browns to hand. This, in itself, was unique to me as I had thought this upper section of the stream was primarily brookie water. Major flooding at the end of last year had totally transformed this stream, however.


Then things began to get strange. Confidence started pouring into me. I knew I had the right tactic. It was only a matter of putting the fly where I knew there would be fish. I couldn’t see them of course due to the stain, but fish live in predictable places.

Watching my line stall and dip on a drift, I lifted my rod up in case it was a light take and the line began to pull. It began to move harder. My eagle claw featherlight was all of a sudden a Godsend when a 21″ (which I was sure was more like 30″) began jumping out of the water. 5 times she extended her full body.


Rainbows in the driftess are almost alway stockers and when they are this big, presumably brood stock. Either way, this was my first 20+” trout. I had joint the club. After a few photos and a quick release, I thought I should just quit.


The thing is, I knew there were brookies in the stream. We were moving up and my chance and a brown, bow, brookie day was almost a reality.

At a fmailiar hole, my buddy and I took turns, and, again, with the same lazy presentation, a subtle take turned into the biggest brookie of my life. Maybe another brood stock. Who knows. She was hefty and gorgeous. I let her go and for sure called it quits.


Sure, sometimes it is just good to be out on the water. Many days are worth remembering. I think we might be more grateful if we felt like every day was worth remembering.

But last Monday was truly a day to remember. Walking back to the car, we joked, I should probably stop fishing for the year.

That won’t happen of course. So maybe, I will make a conscious effort to be thankful of every time I get on the water for the rest of the year. I’ll think of it as a delayed New Years resolution.

So raise your glasses to day worth remembering. Hopefully at least a few of them on the water.

Out with the family

Mother Nature says its official. Winter is gone. It is funny how, just a week ago things felt apocalyptic and people were really stressing out about the snow. And just like that, it is gone and the temps are in the 70s. Turns out we really weren’t as scarred by it as we thought we’d be.



The gorgeous weekend inspired a short afternoon trip to Beaver Creek Valley State Park outside Caledonia, Mn. It is a gorgeous park with nice trails and great hiking options for kids. Level pathways that meander alongside a trout stream. There is ample opportunity for rock throwing and bug digging.

I brought the tenkara rod and was lucky enough to find an eager trout right off the bat. David netted the fella and we were able to talk about what makes a stream clean and healthy enough to let fish live there. We focused on bugs under the rocks. The fish eat bugs. If the stream is healthy, bug can live there. If bugs can live there, fish might be able to as well.



He seemed to grasp the concept because he brought it up while walking along the Black River last night on our way to the La Crosse Soup outing.


img_8965-1 Spring really does seem like it is here. We found plenty of green peaking up through the forrest floor, birds abound, and even found a bat. This was great as David has a fascination with them currently. Anna even got her hands dirty. It is fun seeing the little ones enjoying an afternoon in the woods. Here’s to many more.







I was just looking at google map’s satellite images and startled myself when I zoomed into a street view…. There are greener days ahead when my wet wading gear will live in the back of my car….. This first image is a well known stream with several miles of good water and easy access from my work. Some good fish in there. Browns down low. Brookies up high.

greener days

another stream

another stream1

Seasons in the Driftless

The Driftless Area is in the North. Sometimes I forget that. But just because Iowa is south of Minnesota and the Minnesota and Wisconsin sections are not in the Iron Range doesn’t mean it doesn’t get cold here. And because we are up north, we get all four seasons without hesitation.

Spring is wet with stained streams and low streamside growth yielding good conditions for hungry trout and rusty anglers.

But it doesn’t take too long for the brush to kick up; by early summer, you can easily wet-wade. And in your approach to the stream, you trudge through dew-covered grasses that drenches your legs. The nettles aren’t too high yet, but give it a couple weeks. In the height of summer, the untended valleys are showing you what they are made of. Like elephants in the grass, you are blindly pushing your way from oxbow to oxbow trying to find a wade-able or cast-able section.

When August/September comes and things begin to dry out, the grasses begin to give way and hoppers kick up into streams. Dare I say, is there anything much better than the 8p, low light, magic hour on a trout stream in August when it is just dark enough for fish to get courageous and terrestrials are tumbling into the water?

As fall rolls in, the banks get more manageable. The grasses are falling down and casting is getting easier again. The browns are getting hungry and the weather is cool and refreshing.

As for winter? It is a true winter in the Driftless. Your guides are freezing. Your hands are cracking. Water is gin-clear. Fish are hungry but spook easily. Though you have less stream pressure and easier casting, winter truly tests the stealthy angler. And you never know when the wind will die down and a brief hatch will emerge.

Each season has its challenges, and each has its joys. And therein lies the beauty. Each season is unique. Fishing is fun because of the challenges. Living in the Driftless is a lucky thing. You don’t have to fly a plane to find a new experience. You just have to walk a little further downstream or wait until the next season arrives.

6 time on the water so far…

When 2017 came to close I saw a lot of people talk about the number of days on the water. You people are lucky enough to get out and hit that hundred day mark.

I’ve never counted my total numbers of days on the water. I definitely follow the thought process that if I’m lucky enough to be on the water im Lucky enough. That being said, it is somewhat enticing to see how many days I might make it out on the water. I suppose it gives you a frame of reference if you’re just trying to document it. And it also is a good reminder When you feel like you haven’t been fishing very much and you look back and see how much you really got out. So far, I’m at 6 days on the water. At this rate that means I could get out maybe 50 times. That sounds pretty amazing.