Monday, December 27, 2010

The Bird of the Bible

 Ex 16:13: "And it came to pass at even, that the quails came up, and covered the camp: and in the morning the dew lay round about the camp."

Its really hard to explain to people who have never experienced wild southwestern quail hunting, the sheer " size" of everything. From the sights of the picturesque landscapes you have the pleasure of viewing while taking a second to catch your breath, to the massive size of the groups of valley quail. Unlike their brethren  they sometimes overlap cover with, the chukar, valley quail coveys are shocking to most who have never hunted west of the continental divide. It's not uncommon to witness groups number in the hundreds, and that happened three times yesterday in out day after Christmas hunt.
We got a late start as one of our group forgot to purchase his upland stamp from the state of California. A quick stop at a local sporting good store cured that problem and we were off, reaching our destination around 11 AM.
It didn't take long. Before we even got to our gate of private property we had permission on, we saw approximately 20 birds running off the road. As is usually the case, the birds you see are only the tip of the iceberg. We quickly threw our gear on and gave chase. These birds knew what they were doing,  one alarm call, and the group quickly took flight. They also gained as much altitude as they could, making our job a lot tougher. We did manage to scratch a few out of the group, but decided to push on to  some other spots that had always produced.
The recent torrential rains had really done a number on the roads. This area has received approx 7 inches of rain in the last two weeks, causing flash floods and washing away roads making it look like a universal studios theme ride. This caused us to make some alterations to our plans as some of our favorite spots were simply impassible.
Ryan and I decided on a spot that took a lot more effort, but has always produced for us in the past. A perfect mixture of grass, water, rocks, and pinion trees. Pictured:
It didn't disappoint.
Within 15 minutes we were covered in quail, so much so, that all three of us completely split up and spent the next two hours not only hearing our own shotgun blasts , but also our friends.  What a special place this is, I'll never forget it.
Do you think it's a coincidence that desert quail are mentioned in the bible? I don't, their that special!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Dancing with the devil partridge

They were imported from Kazakhstan or Afghanistan,  sometime in the early stages of The United States formation. Upon hearing from many returning troops from operation Iraqi Freedom that Afghanistan is pretty much the hardest terrain you could ever imagine, I now know what they are talking about. I went to experience that type of terrain today in the Mojave Desert, although temperatures today were only hovering around 60 degrees. The grade and elevation that we hunted today was simply ridiculous as was my soaking wet shirt and pants.
I have been training with the treadmill on level ten, for an hour, everyday, for the last month. I might as well have not done anything at all. At the end of the first climb today where I estimate we climbed to about 5000 feet, at times with a 85 degree grade, my heart was pounding so loud it was actually audible over the winds among these mountain tops.
It seems to be my theme this fishing and hunting season, I got lucky, very lucky. Jerry (my father in law) and I had decided to split up and take separate ridge lines and meet at the peak of this first breathtaking jaunt, (Pictured)

as I cleared the top of the ridge I saw two chukars approximately 80 yards away feeding on a shrub of some type. I tried to be quiet (and shut my loud heart up) and move in their direction. I then had a very large bird erupt about 30 yards in front of me. I raised the citori superlight and released the charge of copper plated number 6's in its direction. To my surprise, the bird fell immediately.  Also to my surprise an entire covey of 25 birds flushed about 40 yards out and flew down the canyon we had just climbed.
I stayed glued to my trophy and ran to it as fast as I could, straight tunnel vision. At that time one more bird jumped and met second barrel and its contents. I was in shock, two shots/two birds. My day (and trip) was made.
We climbed three more passes today, but to no avail. Sore hips, knees, lungs,and pride were met with a beef brisket bar-b-cue sandwich and a cold sierra Nevada pale ale at the local joint. A great day. Next adventure, quail , coming Sunday, please check in, I'm sure I'll have more stories!

Friday, December 17, 2010

"SERIOUS" Grouse hunting, review

When I read the title, I thought, "yeah", ""whatever", THIS is going to be a fun book"! Insert sarcastic emoticon here. "Serious", is about the last word I would use to associate the way my hunting partners and I feel about our Autumn passion.
I decided to keep an open mind and was pleasantly surprised with this book that took a more 21st century approach to hunting the many times fabled Bonasa Umbellous. It seems these two young men do the vast majority of hunting without dogs, which really gives a new spin on things. I have only hunted grouse without a dog a few times late in the season, but it does have some valuable tips that I myself didn't know.
I wasn't thrilled about them using google earth (my best little dirty secret) on finding new cuts and ideal habitat. Although it's not news to those who are computer savvy, this book makes it elementary, so that even computer illiterate folks can understand the process.
My favorite focus of the book talked about NON aspen type cover, and how well they do in it. I definitely needed this part of the book. I think we have been programmed in our part of the country to think that aspen is IT, for cover. While it will always be a mainstay and VERY important part of the grouse diet, there are certainly many other viable options that can hold birds.
This will make a very nice stocking stuffer, and is extremely well written.
It's hard to get a a failing grade from me when anything is written about Ole Ruff, but this book truly gets a passing grade. Its available on all the usual Amazon type sites.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

California Dreamin

As I awoke to the meteorologist talking about our impending 4 inch storm, and temps next week barely able to reach the double digits for highs, I began to chuckle a bit. Its exactly 12 days, 11 hours, and 7 minutes until I'm boarding a plane for the sunny and upland dream that is California, ESPECIALLY this time of year.
I've been working my tail off on the treadmill with a 10 pound backpack strapped on my shoulders, the incline has been at ten, and my waistline has shrunk. I've packed away my cold weather upland gear and boots, and have packed my mother bird vest complete with hydration bladder, and the absolute lightest shotgun I can find.
In pursuit of valley, mountain quail, and chukar, there is simply no substitute for lightweight gear. When climbing from anywhere form 3 to 6 thousand feet, the depleted oxygen and grade can turn  men into mice.
Its a pursuit that while taxing, is usualy reaped with huge benefits of giant coveys, and one fantastic tasting game bird.
I'll give daily updates from my hunts, until then, Merry Christmas. Lets remember the reason for the season. God bless

Friday, November 19, 2010

All good things, must come to an end

It is true. As this absolutely gorgeous sunset reminds us all. we only have a limited amount of Fall. I can HONESTLY say I got my moneys worth this year. "Camp Aspen" was an absolute delight. While bird numbers weren't exactly what we were hoping for, their was plenty to go around. We had some great shots, and a lot of how did that pattern go right through a bird without knocking it down?
Bob has realized that if its a difficult shot to simply NOT PULL THE TRIGGER, and then his shot versus kill ratio remains high. Ryan has figured out how to shoot both barrels in exactly 1.1 second , even if the gun is fully mounted on his shoulder. I figured out that switching guns every weekend is a certain disaster for consistency. Bill, well,  lets just say he's straying away from the 28 gauge , and that "more pellets" are your friend!
We had the absolute pleasure of adding "Executive Chef Ron" to the cast of characters this season. I usually lose anywhere from 5 to 9 pounds during the two month season. Thanks to the culinary delights of everything from bacon grease pancakes, to lobster and porterhouse's, my waistline remained "unchanged."
While a few more escapades into the bitter cold and snow covered ground are a certainty, the trailer has been packed, the cabin has been cleaned, and the memories of another season have been locked into that special part of our minds that slowly starts to creep back early every August. While our memories and updates will continue on this blog, the "main event' has set, and what a great year it was. Thanks for following along!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The LITTLE birds

I was beginning to wonder if I would stumble across any timberdoodles en MASS this year!
Friday was that day. When the torrential winds of late October finally ceased, the long beaked wonders were Everywhere. We had gotten into huntable numbers earlier this season, including one on opening day, but never got a really good concentration like I was expecting.
I knew they were in  heavy when the newest member of our hunting group screamed out from 100 yards away, Ah, WHAT's a bird that smaller than a grouse, but looks like a grouse?". Feeling pretty smart I yelled, "A YOUNG GROUSE, shoot it!" hahaha
Dottie had so many intense little points that I thought the nerve endings in her tail were going to come right out of her body! It's so much fun to see pointing dogs get into a mess of woodcock, it's great entertainment. We let some pass, harvested a few, and laughed awful hard about the young guy and his rising confidence and prey drive.  All in all a GREAT weekend, he even managed to scrape down a perfectly pointed , shot , and retrieved grouse from miss Dot.
It all ends this weekend, the last hurrah from camp. I'll be sure to put an in depth analysis of this weekends happenings!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

What a Swan Song

As most of you know, my 11 year old lab Kwik has been battling liver failure and was given a very bleak outlook just two short weeks ago. The vet explained that his life would probably last a few more months, but that his quality of life would be pretty good. So for obvious reasons as long as he could hack it, I wanted to get him out a few more times to hunt his favorite bird.
The meteorologist explained that this was going to be a very rainy weekend for us, so I decided to head up to grouse camp early. None of my cohorts could make it up early, so Kwik, Dottie, and myself left early on Friday morning in hopes of getting some dry weather grousing in.
I'm not sure why, but I decided to grab my old 20 ga Citori this trip, a gift given to me from my father as the death of my first hunting dog (Learch) was ridiculously hard on my at the tender years of 14 years. This gun was my pride and joy for my childhood and young adulthood, taking everything from grouse to ducks, but was being used less and less because it meant a lot to me to keep in it good shape.
Much to the dismay of my GSP Dottie, I decided to give Kwik the nod for the afternoon. It wasn't to hot or to cold, and I figured I would try and find some logging trail that both him and I could take an easy stroll down. This type of hunting usually doesn't produce anywhere near what busting brush does, but at his decreased capacity, it's about all he can handle.
One whining German short hair in a Tahoe was the only disturbance in an otherwise beautiful afternoon. We had probably walked about 15 minutes, and the cover on the trail that I had picked was looking suspect. I decided to give it just a little bit more as I wanted to see what was over the next hill. I was pleasantly surprised to see a decent mix of Aspen, Pine, and scrub brush that might hold a bird.
One thunderous flush out of a pine tree offered us no shot, but a little bit of scent left on the ground from that bird really perked up both Kwiks and my attitude of getting a shot at another bird.
We strolled along this swamp bottom and had three more birds rocket out of pine trees offering little or no shot. I gazed ahead on the trail and saw a bird walking in front of us 30 yards or so, and while I really wanted to get the taste of feathers in his mouth one last time, I didn't want it to be on the ground.
So we took a pass, and that bird strolled into the tangled mess never to be seen or heard from again.
We then came upon a very gorgeous, but very eerie beaver pond. I paused for a second because it made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.
I decided we should turn around, as I was expecting a wolf, bear, or ghost to appear. Except it wasn't any of those things, it was a grouse. No more than 5 feet from Kwiks nose on the trail a the bird flew from right to left and then made a sharp angled turn right when I shot. I folded the bird, but its momentum and distance from me took it about 40 feet right into the beaver pond.
Kwiks head was still down at the flush and his hearing has gotten pretty bad , and I'm not sure he could see the direction of the bird and didn't see it fall into the water. I was sitting there for a second wondering weather I could send him on a blind retrieve that far (considering his already exhausted condition), when he slowly raised his nose in the air, closed his eyes and began to scent the bird on the water. I've seen him do this many times on waterfowl, but never on an upland bird.
I watched him back up to the end of the trail, take a quick look at me, and launch himself in the water. I was as happy as I was scared. This was along way for him to swim, but I figured if he went this way, so be it.
He eventually found the bird behind some driftwood and started his way back. I couldn't help but notice the slow manner in which he swam back, almost as if he knew this was probably going to be his last water retrieve and wanted to cherish every moment. Such a strong swimmer in his prime, it was a little hard to watch. The tears welled up in my eyes as this dog never ceases to amaze me. He got to shore, shook all sorts of muddy swamp water on me and my Citori, and licked the salty tears from my face.
I walked the entire way back on the trail with my gun open, and let Kwik carry the bird all the way back to the car (pic on top of post). A truly great way to celebrate a great life. I said thanks to God for blessing me with this last event, and letting him be a part of my life. I now KNOW that he got his last wish this season.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Mission Accomplished, and one happy camper

Its been a year of first birds.  First dove for Wyatt, and now first grouse for Ryan. I can remember my first grouse like it was yesterday. I was near Wabeno, on a friends private property, during a down cycle. We had managed to bag a few woodcock, but sometimes as it is in down years, the wait between Grouse flushes was almost brutal. I heard a distant flush and didn't see the bird until it was probably 30 yards on a left to right crossing shot. I missed cleanly on my first shot as I was looking into the setting sun during the "MAGIC HOUR", we all covet.
My second shot seemed like it was slow motion. i can still see that bird and a small puff of feathers sillouted against the reddish orange hues of the setting sun. It was pure luck, and I knew it. My next fear was not being able to find the bird. One of the guys who was hunting with us (suitably named "Stubby"), said don't worry.
His veteran yellow lab of 9 years had only lost one down grouse in all her years. Right on cue, Kelly had the bird in her mouth and was trotting back with my prize in her mouth. I took a second to admire this grey phase female and spread out the fan, as I had seen my teachers do so many times before me. It's a moment that will stay with me till I die.
Ryan had the same look of wonder after missing some earlier and often opportunities before it finally all came together. Oddly enough he took the fan and did the same exact thing that I did. I guess what our mentors teach us DOES have a way of following us through habit, even if we don't realize it at the moment.
One thing I know for sure. I managed to pluck and groom one from the depths of video gaming systems, malls, and now have a new grouse partner who can battle the covers all day with me, hopefully for a very long time.
Ryan, welcome to the club.

Monday, October 11, 2010

A Small Hunting Report

Well, it was 74 degrees on Saturday.

That alone was ALMOST enough to keep me completely out of the woods this weekend, but then realizing we only get a few weeks every year to chase the bird I think about the other 8 months of the year, I just went.  I tried to get a early start to the morning, that ended up being about a 8:30 start, and it already felt like it was close to 60 degrees, but my buddy Mitch and I pushed on. I went to some of "his" covers which i have to say were much more aged than the what I would call "optimal", but right on cue a covey of three birds went up next to Mitch. He connected with a BEAUTIFUL brown phase male which was one of the largest birds i have ever seen. a true mounter if their ever was one. Dottie retrieved back to hand and we were off to another trail of his.  another 100 steps yielded another wild flush, as it was starting to get windy, and I think the birds were getting a bit jumpy.
It seemed to me that dispersal had taken place this past week, because there were A LOT of single birds in places that they REALLY shouldn't have been. it was a road hunters dream, but I still prefer to drive in back deep, and walk off what is usually a large breakfast.
It really started to heat up fast, reaching the 70 degree point by 10:45. Those of you that know Dottie, she doesn't need nor crave a lot of water while out hunting, that certainly wasn't the case today. she went through 4 liters of water in a bout two hours of hunting.
We only ended up with that one bird, I missed a VERY easy one, but bird numbers seem to be getting a tad bit better. we put up 8 birds with no woodcock in that time frame. starting NEXT wed, I have the rest of October off, so many good reports (albeit delayed), and stories should be in the making.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Feathers of a different kind

Not so long ago, I lived for waterfowl. It was pretty much all I thought about, what I practiced and trained for, and where I spent the majority of my logged hunting hours. Last night I got the rare chance to go out for a quick hunt with two of my best High school friends who "for petty differences" haven't spent much time together over the past 5 years.
We were running traffic ( not a field the geese were actually coming too) and seeing as how two of us are fairly accomplished callers, we felt pretty good about our chances of getting at least one or two to be fooled into range. We also had Matt's young son Jack with us for his first goose hunt. At seven years of age, he obviously cant handle a gun, but was as excited as his father was at his young age.
The temps were near 70, so besides swatting a few mosquito's we figured that the fowl wouldn't be flying until the last minute. We were correct in our assumptions. We saw a  small group of seven heading for a field that was obviously not ours. We called with fury in hopes our racket would at least get them to pass closer for a look. They obliged and we managed to scratch two out of that group. One of which being a Richardsons goose, a subclass of Canada goose that resembles the ross goose of the snow goose world. The small short beak and small body size is a dead give away for this type of bird even in adult form.
I do believe this is where my shooting struggles started. After having a superb day on grouse the Saturday before. I was a candidate for my own award of the "conservationist" that my father received last weekend.  i shot 6 shells before I finally connected on my first goose. GO FIGURE!
Before long we coaxed a few more groups well with range, and finished up out limit of 6 geese just before closing time.
I sat for just a moment, and thought about how the three of us had been in this situation before, about 15 years ago (minus Matts son). It felt good to have the old group together, laughing, bagging a few birds, and making memories we can laugh about in another 15 year, God willing.

Monday, October 4, 2010

The "CONSERVATIONIST", and this weekends report

The "conservationist" is a new grouse camp award created by yours truly for the easiest shot missed, worst excuse for missing made, or just plain general "overall suck" in regards to shooting. I'm pleased to announce the first award ever goes to my father. Keeping in mind he is a "trail walker", he had at least four opportunities to shoot both barrels at grouse down the road, or just barely off of it. He willingly accepted his award, and nominated himself after the mornings hunt. It's all in fun, and a lot of fun we DO have with it.
This weekends report was much better than the previous two. Considering the fact we actually bagged a few birds, and had action from the minute we got into a particular large cover made it better than the previous two outings. "Tick Heaven", as this extremely large cover has become so aptly named, has always held the largest number of birds no matter the cycle.  and while it took us a bit cover this massive mess of aspen, swamp, and hardwoods, it did what it always does, produce.
Although we didn't put up crazy numbers, we had 12 flushes in about 3 hours of hunting. I connected on one of those crazy swooping down from a tree shots (which I always seem to miss), and Dottie has decided that she DOES want to be a retrieving German Shorthair this season (she always hasn't been the best at that).
The temperatures in the high 30's really made for some great walking for the first three hours of the hunt. The fact of the matter is we have been pretty spoiled with temperatures the first three weekends, but that appears to be ending this weekend. I have to admit that with temperatures predicted in the mid seventies, I might find myself on the golf course,  rather than the woods. As we found out last weekend, a week isn't sufficient for any meteorologist to make a reliable prediction. So we STILL have hope for next weekend. My guess is the next time I make it up to camp, the woodcock will have arrived.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Opening day musings, and getting LOST!

Well, it's finally here. The day I'd been waiting for since December of last year.  I double checked all the gear, checked the weather forecast, and gassed up the rig. All signs pointed to a wonderful start to the most joyous bird season imaginable. Joining me was my neighbor Ryan, just 23 years of age, but with the legs and stamina to match the most hearty veteran of the aspen jungles.
My last years opener was something to write home about. I had a limit of 5 birds by 9 am. It was simply crazy. I ran into three family groups of at least 7 birds a piece and it was over before I knew it. I thought it was a perfectly good idea to go to the same spot after having such great success last season. We arrived very early as I knew others would be vying for this trail.
WE strapped up, put the beeper color Dottie, and headed down. I could even sense a different determination in her at this moment, like she knew we weren't hunting "pigeons."
After covering about a a half a mile, Dottie locked up on a old Raspberry bush, and i motioned for Ryan to head, three birds exploded out offering Ryan his first shot at a wild bird. I was just impressed he actually got a shot off. All three kept on their merry way, and Ryan said "WOW, those things are fast!"
We covered that once VERY productive cover for the next hour and only managed to put up one more bird? Frankly I was shocked, especially compared to last year. The thoughts of dread entered my mind , Did the spring hatch not make it? Are we truly going from feast to famine in one year?
I decided to pull up from that entire area, and take a ride 45 minutes east. i was hoping the Spring rains were less effective there, and they were. We put up another 12 or so, in about 15 minutes, Ryan making the SMART decision not to take the shot on an EASY going away bird, because he thought it was to close to Dottie, I was very proud of this first time hunter.
This was a cover that I've hunted no less than 40 times over the past 5 years. no GPS needed (as mine is stuck in Idaho in a buddies hunting gear box).
SOMEHOW we got completely turned around in this cover , crossed a swamp, a different road, and I knew we were in trouble. My first thought was " his mother is going to kill me, NOBODY knows what area we were in, and HOW in the hell did this happen?
I explored another game trail that lead to a highpoint, and left Ryan below the hill within earshot and told him to NOT move, no matter what. I got to the top of the hill and found a lake. A LAKE? I've looked at plenty of topo on this area, and don't remember a lake? WTF?
We kept our wits, sat down for a second and left some landmarks, (including my hat pointed in a certain direction), used the sun, and a few spent shells to mark places we could come back to in exploring our way back. I ran into an old trappers cabin. I was already planning on using as a backup plan for shelter , had we not found our way back. I really thought we were in trouble, and this was the WRONG place to get lost, no roads for miles found our way out to another piece of grouse nirvana. The fact we ended up with zero for the day didn't matter. We had a large cheeseburger, a new cover, and the experience of truly being lost and working our way out of it, a very valuable lesson.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Doves, smiles, and one proud dad.

Its a treat when you get to experience a young hunters first bird. I was part of that rare occurrence today when my good friend and hunting partner Randy and his two boys along with my own father decided this morning was going to be a father/son dove hunt.
Wyatt is participating in the "mentor" program in Wisconsin, which requires a full time guardian remain gunless to watch and observe children under 12 in their first hunt. I had lukewarm feelings regarding this new program as I thought in was just to young to allow a loaded firearm in the hands of a child.  I now believe that their are some people that can do just fine with this program, Wyatt being one of them.
He was extremely careful regarding his own safety, and the safety of others during this exciting time in a young mans life. The exciting part was watching his eyes after seeing the first bird he shot at go down in a puff of feathers. He is an extremely cerebral, even keeled, and regimented child (just like his father), but even I could see the smile inside of this proud young man. It was a just a treat to see his confidence erupt on more birds, and to see him start to swing the gun naturally with each passing shot.
His loyal partner in crime and younger brother Ben got into the action holding up our BIG PRIZE pigeon in which they made no bones about turning into some BBQ wings on the grill.
It was a special day with my father also, seeing him on HIS first dove hunt, and him enjoying "live sporting clays", as he calls this new endeavour. So many smiles, burnt powder, great retrieves, and memories made. Man, life is good.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Rest in Peace Jon

Yesterday i got the word that nobody ever wants to hear. That a close hunting partner and friend was killed in an auto accident. John and I have hunted everything from Grouse to Geese together even attending Packer games from time to time.
I am as much in shock right now as I am saddened. That man would give you the shirt off his back, and do it smiling. We shared some great times together, and made some outstanding memories. He leaves behind a 3 year old daughter, a fantastic wife, and one helluva great Black Lab.
Rest in peace buddy, I will miss you so very much. Not one hunting season will ever go by without me thinking about the times we've had.
The "good" dying young , doesn't even start to explain the person you were. I HOPE THE WIND AND SUN ARE AT YOUR BACK,  the birds are on the deck, and you have plenty of that strong coffee you always loved. youre with God now, a great place to be, but were gonna miss you here

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The "Land of the Giants", Amongst Bears of many colors

Every guide has a story, about a place where fish a bigger than everywhere else, that's their "secret place." Josh Steinmetz is no different. He and his father named this place , and we didn't see another soul all day (no kidding). He blindfolds you when he brings you up here, and swears you to secrecy. I've known josh going on a decade and he always speaks so highly of this place. Early in my flyfishing career i couldn't handle this place, I broke off EVERYTHING I hooked; not the case anymore. We had such UNREAL fishing up here we decided to call it a day by 1 pm, keep in mind we started at about 9 am. This place isn't measured in hookups, or fish landed; it's measured in doubles. We happened to have 15 doubles this day, and the SMALLEST fish (NO exaggeration) was 18 inches. I know it sounds like a fish story, but the only way to see if I'm telling the truth is to book with Josh and see for yourself. Randy is pictured with a 23 incher here, and I lost one right at the boat that Josh said was at LEAST two feet, and I have never had a fight like that fish, into my backing three times. the SCARY part is Josh showed me some pics he had from the last 4 years including a 34 inch brown trout and a 31 inch rainbow. Its truly something you have to see to believe.
After fishing we went up to Josh's property he big game hunts on, seeing a cinnamon, black and chocolate colored black bear all within 100 years of each other, heard a elk bugle, heard a wolf howl, and have never felt so alive in my life. Montana will always bring me back, I just hope she stays exactly same way she is now. The last great place.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A COMEDY of errors

What a comedy of errors, i hooked and landed a great brown trout within the first 5 minutes of putting the boat this morning and Randy landed another 20 inch rainbow, but upon a picture taking opportunity,  i kicked in Josh favorite net in about 12 feet of water, needless to say we rowed back to the launch and I bought Josh a new net, we were giggling from the cluster of you know what that ensued. In a matter of two minutes i threw a brown trout at Randy (as it slipped) from my hands, kicked in a net, and Josh dropped his brand new goose call in the water in a matter of minutes. WE were all laughing so hard, we were afraid to continue on the day, but we did anyway. WE fished hopper patterns in the afternoon, with a little success, but the morning was much better. I have some nice pictures, but blogger seems to have a hard time putting them up today,
We had a great day again, saw about 100 Elk to start off the day, met a a bar tender who grew up in Wisconsin and charged us 20 dollars to drink all evening, and a Giant Saint Bernard who is smart enough to open its own treat container.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Oh What a beautiful morning!

Oh what a beautiful day!
What can I say? 20 inch rainbows, Sunny skies, light breezes. plenty of Trout Slayer and Fat tire ale. It simply doesn't get any better than this. We found one great pod of risers on PMD's right off the bat today, but we blew it on probably 5 GREAT very large fish, three break offs, and two simple misses. These fish on the MO are so ABSOLUTELY strong they are like nothing I've ever fought anywhere. Their basicly like steelhead. I got to see Randy get taken to his backing on his first ever Montana rainbow. A great steak dinner followed by homemade blueberry pie and tips from the local pros on techniques just makes the trip complete. Oh what a beautiful life!  I'll be back tomorrow for an update!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


I FINALLY got that crazy HIGH GLOSS browning finish off the gun that performs for me on live birds year in and year out. This Browning superlight feather 16 ga is a thing of beaty. I have no idea why, but NOW it feels like it has the respect it deserves. I have always been a fan of deep oil finishes, and this was came through with flying colors. After seeing a sample of what the wood work gunsmith at Williams gun sight can do in southwest Michigan, I HAD to send this gun to se what he could "bring out. For 200 dollars I was shocked and amazed at what he did. I easily would have paid TWICE that much. I love the satin type finish he put on this gun, and it really adds a lot of character. I'm hoping she feels as good about her new looks at I do, and hopefully it helps her shoot even better at this seasons grouse. Life is GOOD with a stack barrel of 6 lbs in your hands! I leave SUNDAY for my Montana trout trip and will be giving nightly updates with pictures, so from Tunday to Thursday, TUNE IN, and feel free to comment!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Shaking the rust off

August 1st is a blessing and a curse for me. It means the end of my trout seeason (in Wisconsin at least) and the unofficial start to game bird season. After taking the summer off from smells of powder and a slight kick against the shoulder, it was a fantastic enlighinment to have both feelings rekindled. My father and I brought out to first tiers. One of which will be entering the Marine corp in 8 short weeks, and the other my 22 year old neighbor who has always wanted to shoot a shotgun. After a little coaching they both managed a 19 and a 23. Fantastic scores and both these kids have talent if they wish to pursue the sport of clayshooting. they both asked how soon we were going to go again, so I think I may have brought two new fine young men to our great sport.
I have a disclaimer that my father beat my score yesterday. Yes miracles can happen! haha

Monday, August 2, 2010

Pop, Pop, goes the Smallmouth

"Is there ANY better way to spend a sunday afternoon"?  That phrase must have been repeated at least 10 times during our drift on Sunday. All topwater, no rain, 80 degrees, and an absolute truckload of laughs was just what the doctor ordered. It was a crazy day from the start. While unloading Tim's boat, we met the Purdue university wrestling team (literally), and one of upland journals own (Gonehuntin) (what a pleasure), and saw water levels that were downright scary.
We decided from the onset that "topwater" was the only way to go this day as we finally had a day without Jim Cantore of the Weather Channel speaking about Wisconsins crazy weather. We produced on everything from Boogle bugs (proudly made in *&^%^$#$^)  to Chernobol ants.
The  "Americas funniest home videos" moment of the day belonged to yours truly. I set the hook on a 6 inch Smalllie so hard that it became "federal cartridge like" and whacked me in the beans and franks SO hard that I doubled over in pain on the bottom of the driftboat. It seriously would have won the grand prize of 10,000 dollars if it would have been filmed. A moment that if I wasn't in so much pain, I would have surely been laughing hysterically at my own plight.
What a great time seeing Randy nail a 19 incher, and hearing Tim proclaim me as the "Huck Finn' of his driftboat (the Laziest but most  adamant hook setter he's ever seen). It was a day I wont soon forget, and a day I thank God for his blessings, and the beauty he created.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Review: The Sporting Road

With another Tropical storm falling this week, and more predicted, Trout fishing (or fishing of any kind ) has pretty much been halted. You know it's bad when Al Roker is referring to your storm as a "Midwest hurricane." So what's an outdoors man to do in this "slack time?" Why its time read about and live vicariously through someone else's outdoor experiences. I just finished the little known about second installment of the Jim Fergus's "ROAD" series. Most all know of his first installment "THE HUNTERS ROAD", sharing his 4 month trip across the country with his yellow lab in a airstream trailer. This book is literary gold, and if you haven't read it, you owe it to yourself to pick up a copy. His follow up is just as good, sharing more stories of him and the loyal "Sweetzer" chasing everything from desert quail, to more grouse in Wisconsin and upper Michigan. With only a few months left to go before opening day, reading this book will get you amped up and ready to go.  Jim does a fantastic job of capturing the smells, sights, and moods of every upland hunter. He's an award winning writer, and doesn't disappoint with this follow up. It's a bit tough to find, but after a few days of searching the amazons, and Barnes and Nobles online, I found a great used copy. Good reading and enjoy!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Its been WAY to long since my last update on here, but after the MONSOON of July, trout fishing has been blown out on almost every weekend, grouse broods have been hiding under anything they can find to stay dry, and my golf game is still crappy. SO, its time to do my SECOND favorite thing when it comes to grouse, ASPEN SEARCH 2010.
I become a google earth aficionado this time of year. When its 95 degrees with a a dew point in the 60's, the only place to be is in an air conditioned suv, following up on what my head tells me are suitable grouse covers. I'm happy to say over the past three years, my diligence in computer work and mapping has really paid off. I now feel I have almost every aspen cover on any form of public property in the areas that i hunt . It's really led to a much more relaxed experience, as now I ALWAYS have somewhere else to go if someone is already there. I went to a new cover only about an hour from my house I last night in hopes of connecting the dots between one of my google earth photos. Its didn't disappoint. It's a small cover, but found one nice young mother and 6 of her offspring. the itch is coming, only two months to go! Aspen, and grouse always raise my blood pressure, no matter what season it is.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Going Down, but Not SO BAD!

The much anticipated drumming counts of Wisconsin's GROUSE PEAK were supposed to be reported this week, much to the dismay of hunters statewide, the best was last year. NOT to worry, after speaking with our DNR biologist last week, he left me with confidence that even with an AVERAGE brood survival this season, our hunting will be as good as last year. The brood survival of the past two seasons was terrible, in his words. so while were "going down", its still pretty darn good! LIFE IS GOOD.
Here's their "official release"

Annual survey indicates slight drop in Ruffed Grouse population
Weekly News Article Published: June 15, 2010 by the Central Office

Three out of four regions show decrease
MADISON – Wisconsin’s ruffed grouse population appears to have deviated from its four-year rise, according to data that state wildlife managers collected during the 2010 spring drumming counts.

“Statewide, the ruffed grouse population decreased about 5 percent between 2009 and 2010,” said Sharon Fandel, Acting Upland Wildlife Ecologist with the Department of Natural Resources.

“The southwest showed the greatest decrease in drumming activity over the last year with a 21 percent decrease,” Fandel said. “The central and northern regions showed a slight decrease of 4 percent and 6 percent, respectively, whereas the southeast region experienced a large increase of 60 percent more drums than in 2009. The southeast region contains the least amount of grouse cover in the state and minor increases in grouse drumming numbers can have a large influence on the drumming index.”

For reasons not well understood, grouse populations cycle up and down over an 8- to 10-year period. The previous high was in 1999, and it would appear that Wisconsin has reached the peak of the current grouse cycle. Biologists note that while the 5 percent statewide decrease from last year’s drumming survey results supports the idea that the ruffed grouse population may be on the downswing, the change is not statistically significant and may be due to random chance or smaller samples sizes representing a given area.

Ruffed grouse are one of Wisconsin’s most popular upland game birds. Their characteristic “drumming” noise is readily recognized and is produced by males during the spring breeding season. The male grouse will stand on drumming logs and rapidly beat their wings with the intention of attracting female grouse.

Ruffed grouse drumming surveys are divided into four regions around the state. Each spring since 1964, wildlife biologists, wardens, foresters, members of the Ruffed Grouse Society, and other volunteers have driven survey routes, stopping to listen at predetermined locations for the unmistakable sound of drumming ruffed grouse. These drumming counts and observational data on breeding success are used to estimate grouse population changes.

“Ruffed grouse drumming surveys are helpful in tracking statewide population changes over the long term,” says Krista McGinley, Assistant Upland Wildlife Ecologist. “However, they are not good predictors of local harvest or hunting opportunities. The most successful hunters are usually those who spend the most time in the field and cover the most ground.”

There are two ruffed grouse management zones (pdf) in the state. The hunting dates for Zone A are Sept. 18, 2010 through Jan. 31, 2011. The dates for Zone B are Oct. 16, 2010 through Dec. 8, 2010. Daily bag limits are 5 birds per day in Zone A and 2 birds per day in Zone B. Possession limits are twice the daily bag limit. Additional information can be found on the ruffed grouse page of the DNR website.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT: Krista McGinley, Assistant Upland Wildlife Ecologist (608) 264-8963 or Sharon Fandel, Acting Upland Wildlife Ecologist (6

Monday, June 7, 2010

I'm BLIND, thanks midge

Now I know its been a few years since I tied with any "regularity", but this is ridiculous. I put on my first pair of "cheater glasses" today after struggling to put beads and tie on size 22 midges of  various styles and colors. I have always been a huge fan of the zebra midge ties in black and silver, but after a little bit of experimentation trying the BLOOD MIDGE this Spring, I am also a believer.
So back to grind of whipping out a few of these guys. I have to be pretty proud of myself, I only managed to have 5 small plastic beads shoot across the room  at Remington speed during this tying session, three lost hooks, and three "gorilla breaks" of 8/0 thread. For those of you that don't know, my fingers are the size of small Bratwursts, and combined with my "spunky" attitude, each break of thread  is called a a "gorilla break."
The good news is I've decided to tie NOTHING smaller than a size 22 for the remainder of my life on this planet, the bad news? I KNOW there is some Elk hair that needs to be stacked!

Good fishing!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Heat Is On

Good heavens, 91 degrees? in MAY?
Yep, and with the water temperatures in unison, no trout today.
Back to the smallie grind, except no wading this time. We used Scott's low pride Hyde to 'drift the river in style."
Here's what we learned today.

  • I am the UNDISPUTED rock bass bassmasters grand champion
  • Nate likes Maxima, and doesn't like Scott's boat position from the stern
  • Scott likes to row, and doesn't care about what boat position Nate likes
  • Even Smallmouth think its just TO DANG hot right now
We caught enough fish to give us some nice line burns on our fingers, but the average fish was a little smaller than what we were accustomed to catching. We took fish on everything from Murdichs to Poppers, and even some new minnow patterns (tiny) that some of the fish seemed to prefer.
WE REALLY need some precipitation right now. I heard through the grapevine  from a reliable source that a few trout rivers are at their LOWEST recorded marks in HISTORY, of all time. That could spell disaster for some of the streams that have a harvest as all but a few of the largest fish will be "easy pickings" in the deepest holes in the river.

Don't get me wrong, I'm "ECSTATIC" that we have probably had the absolute BEST dry spring for grouse broods in the past 20 years, but everyone involved in water care or preservation is starting to press the panic button, and rightfully so.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Big flies, Big fish, and Big Remorse

Ah well, shucks, Dangit.
All three of these words along with a few choice others left my lips as I realized it might be a little to late for the bronze backed beauty as it swam away from me and a small pool of blood trailed right behind it. What can you do, it's all part of this "catch and release thing" that sometimes happens. I just wish it didn't have to be on the biggest fish of the afternoon. Sometimes things in life happen, even when we have the best of intentions.
I should be on my way to Canada instead of writing this, but an unfortunate emergency surgery in my immediate family forced us to cancel our father/son trip. Such as life, the lodge was extremely accommodating, and will save our deposit till next year, so all was not lost. So here I sit, with the remainder of the week off with 90 degree weather and a few flies begging to get wet. Figuring the mosquito's on my trout rivers would be a bit to hot, I opted for a SMALLIE run.
I caught a variety of fish on the barteax minneaux, from a tiny rock bass to a long nosed gar which scared the absolute CRAP out of me, thinking i was starring in the next installment of the crocodile movie, "Lake Placid."
I then had a small lunch consisting of two granola bars and a handful of almonds. It was time to head back upstream. I decided to tie on a popper and see if I couldn't pull something off the TOP of the water. After fighting the large current for about twenty minutes, I finally connected. I had lost my hemostats somewhere in the river on the way down, and had tried to pinch my barb with my nippers. I thought I had done a good enough job, but this monster inhaled the popper all the way down to the gullet. I stuck my whole hand down his mouth trying to free that hook and JUST couldn't get it. I felt terrible. So I decided to try and give him the best chance I could. Cut the line as close to the popper as I could and hopefully he could make a go of it.
 Ah well, shucks, Dangit
 Sometimes things in life happen, even when we have the best of intentions.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Blackwater

After getting the "bright idea" to try a new stream this morning, I've come to a basic conclusion regarding what should or should not be my fishing mantra.
I've been hearing about what a GREAT brook trout haven the "E C" is, and how even a blind man could catch a Brook trout in this river . Well consider my vision worse than Ray Charles, because Mr. Jones and me (Counting Crows reference) got our Arses handed to us in a MAJOR way. I don't know if I was fishing a bad stretch, if someone had just gone through before us, or if I'm just a terrible fisherman. What I CAN tell you is that it is an EXTREMELY narrow, weed choked river, that is loaded with chubs, mosquito's, and a 3 inch brook trout.
After about an hour of throwing streamers and wet flies, we had simply had enough. We were somewhat close to a road, so we tucked our tails between our legs and started our trek back to the vehicle that brought us to this Godforsaken stream. Upon arrival to the SUV which singlehandedly sparks a steep upturn in Exxon stock every time a turn over the ignition, we had a realization.
Neither of us had awoken at 5 am to fish for an hour, so we went to the OLD muddy.What it lacks in wade-a-bility,  it makes up for in cast-a-bility, and trout. Being a Saturday, all of the usual put ins were occupied, so we chose a less likely and "off the beaten path" entrance. This stretch of water is usually WAY to deep to wade, but our current drought made it it perfect. We caught many brookies, including this colored gem that resembled a char, from its brilliant white under fins.
While today certainly wasn't "hammertime" which has been described so brilliantly by Mr. Paite, we always had enough action to keep it interesting. We took fish on beetles, adams, stimulators, and streamers, but nothing of substantial size.
Sometimes the best water isn't the furthest from home.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

MONTANA, here we come

well until August, yes were rolling!
Land of the giants, blue ribbon Missouri river? It can't get here soon enough. All of our I 's are dotted and T's Are crossed and its only a matter of summer, till  I get to experience the strongest trout in all of the inland USA!
This is SUCH a special place. Literally, the place I would LOVE to move to if I wasn't married, (there are no nordstroms for my wife). I get to fish with the best guide on the river (in photo), and have my best goose hunting buddy and (state champion caller) at my side for the first time) and hoppers and possibly some streamer action in late August!


I'll let ALL of you wait in jealousy for a moment (OK, it's passed), but I promise to keep you updated EVERY night from the trip), LAST WEEK in August). until then, GOOD FISHING!
And i ask all of you who Haven't signed up as followers to please do so, as its free, anonymous, and we welcome ALL comments!

Sunday, May 16, 2010


My wife and I were celebrating our ten year wedding anniversary on Michigan avenue this weekend amongst the Nordstroms, Bloomingdales, and Neiman Marcus's of the the concrete jungle. I was given a 2 hour pass while she got her hair trimmed at a salon in town, so I started my wandering. One mile and  three street entertainers later, I couldn't believe my eyes. I giant green awning that said FLY FISHING was just off Michigan avenue. I don't even think I waited till the walk sign was green, I practically sprinted to the "haven for men of Michigan ave" as the clerk described it to me.
I then realized the other side of the awning said Orvis, so I wasn't QUITE as excited, but none the less, better than looking at another high heel in a size 9. The store was filled with fedoras, shotgun belt buckles, and yes even a (river runs through it) DVD, I know, "shocking."
The fishing attendant was VERY nice, full of more info and knowledge than I expected, and he even showed me a new net called the phantom from Brodin, which after his demonstration , I bought. This was without question the BEST catch and release trout net I've ever laid hands on. It's light, invisible bag while wet, well built, and even made with attractive wood.
Morale of the story?
Always keep an open mind, good things happen when you least expect it. Treat your significant others well, they deserve it.  If you are EVER in Chicago you MUST try Grahm Elliot,  its simply the coolest upscale restaurant. HIGHLY recommended.

Friday, May 14, 2010

WOLVES aaaarrrrrggggghhhhhh!

 AS a grouse hunter I have had my own run in with wolves, my little GSP just about died from shaking in fear two years ago when one chased her at me down a logging road. It's time to chalk up another one south of highway 64. This needs to stop. If the HSUS would quit filing silly lawsuits the DNR and other government agencies could control this growing and disturbing problem. Here we have two springer spaniels (NOT BEAR DOGS), and their still getting attacked. I understand the DNR's hands are tied, but if they don't get control of this problem, people will continue to take it into their own hands and all will be lost. On another note, good  to see our own WISCONSIN DNR has partnered with the HSUS yes the ANTI HUNTING, trapping, and fishing organization to start a "don't touch baby animals" campaign. I can't say I'm shocked , but I've already heard rumors of VERY high ups in the Wisconsin government on both party lines that have contacted the DNR and asked what in the h e double hockey sticks they are doing, including a letter directly from Senator Kadezie.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

SWING that Soft Hackle

"MAN this is fun", I exclaimed after nabbing a few fish on our way back downstream from our usual day of walking "UPSTREAM", and attempting to get our best dead drifts from either a tandem nymph rig or dry fly. My partner muttered "well it gives you something to do on the way back to the car!"
I'd like to give it a little more credit than that. In the past year I've realized how much slightly agitating a nymph or caddis fly can really "set off" a fish rather than just attempting the perfect dead drift every time. The same holds true with the standard down and across method that most of us are taught when using some of these of these partridge and "whatevers." It's kind of an idiot proof way to enjoy your day on the water and look at the scenery that surrounds you rather than watching a indicator or heavily hackled dry fly.
I told myself this season I was going to fish this style a little more. If nothing else, when fishing a crowded stretch of water, it almost always seems that most fisherman attempt a jaunt upstream, this gives us another option in that same stretch of water. Don't forget about it, just another trick in the bag, and I need all the tricks I can get.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Soaked, Frozen, and Still Smiling

4 to 6 inches?, of SNOW? I asked my wife as she read the bleak forecast for this Friday night into Saturday morning. Upon further checking, I realized I only had one option if I wanted to fish this weekend, Southwest Wisconsin.
Several phone calls were placed to friends seeing if they wanted to join me in a late Friday evening and Saturday morning jaunt to the driftless. Nate jumped at the chance to avoid the Winter Wonderland our part of the state was supposed to become.
Arriving with about two hours left of daylight, we got our gear on as fast as we could and headed to a stretch I haven't fished in many years. The first hour was slow to say the least, then the Baetis exploded.
Little dark sailboats floating by every which way, and our best imitations were added to the tippet immediately. It was a great night in the pouring rain, and Nate managed to catch his largest Brown ever. This fish was the definition of girth and brawn, to this day I don't remember seeing a brown trout with this large of tail, great fight buddy!

Saturday morning brought a starting temp of 32 degrees and flurries to match. We had a leisurely breakfast, in hopes of the day warming in both actual temperature and in our own minds. Like troopers we suited up, and after tying on new leaders, our hands were already numb with a stinging 20 mph wind.
Sometimes we get rewarded for such idiocracy, and today was one of the days. I 'm rarely a "numbers" guy, but anytime I can pull over 20 fish out of one run to me that's a "special" day. It kind of shocked us that fish were feeding SO aggressively with the weather we had encountered. They were attacking olive scuds and juju baetis nymphs like Tony Soprano on a maduro Cohiba Robusto. I guess sometimes it just pays to "get out there".
The most special part of today was I used my fathers old Winston, (or as he calls it, his old Wilson). I only break out this rod a couple of times a year, or special occasions, it was a great gift he gave me. I guess sometimes a dad's helping hand is right there even when he's not, A smirk and smile came to my face after fish number twenty, because all I could hear him saying in my head was "I TOLD you those Wilson's are great rods"!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

My shooting iron is FINALLY back!

After what seemed like an eternity but was actually more like 3 to 4 weeks, my RBL is finally back. I had to get some L.O.P. added, and had my foregrip changed to a a "semi beavertail" versus the sliver grip I bought it with. My paws are just to big not have have a little extra wood to hold on to. Connecticut Shotgun Manufacturing was very easy to deal with, and I feel they do fantastic work. I think their line of R.B.L.'s , will be the next American affordable classic side by side. They are all but done producing them now, which is a darn shame. If I could get one to my specs, I'd look at a 16 to match. I do feel that with today's great loads, a twenty is a great all around gun in the uplands. Although I'm SURE it will take a little getting used to these new dimensions, giving me a built in excuse for this upcoming season.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

The best drumming footage EVER

I found this and have to give credit that this is the finest I have ever seen. Simply amazing. You should pause the music at the bottom of my page first before viewing, and double click on the link for HD version, but "feel free" to enjoy the theme from "running scared" and Michael Mcdonald also! HAHA

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


For at least the last decade of my life , my wife and I attend dinner at a local restaurant that has a picture hanging in it's entryway. I always take an extra second to stop and pay my homage to the best "capture" of the the ole king that I've ever seen. It has a gold dedication plate in the matting of the frame that is dedicated to the life to a former physician in the area. I expect the Ruffed Grouse meant as much to him, as it does to me, and probably the reason it was choosen for his memorial piece.
I've always admired it's captivating hues of color of that "magic hour" that we've all experienced among the Dogwood and Aspen, when the sun begins it's descent and the grouse seem to become more active than any other time during the crisp Autumn days.
I couldn't hide my disappointment when about five years ago I finally decided I wanted a copy for myself, and found out it was sold out many, many years ago. There were only a certain amount produced as it was one of Redlins favorite pieces, and all but a few copies were left at all. Those copies were selling for more than I wanted to spend.
This Christmas my understanding, beautiful, and tolerant wife surprised me with a copy of my own, which now proudly hangs in my office. I look at it everyday, and remind myself how lucky i am , in so many ways.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Streamer Weather and Smiles

After weeks of giving the spring creeks of our fine state the proper attention they deserve, I thought it was time to get back to my home water. This water has no improvements, no lunker structures, or nicely manicured paths in which to walk along the bank. As a matter of fact, it has quite the opposite. Carrying a flyrod through the jungle like atmosphere in which this stream provides is a lesson in patience, and humility. In this water, the roll cast rules. Visions of Brad Pitt or Tom Skerrit double hauling entire flylines across boulder infused mountain streams don't live here, but trout do.
What this little freestone lacks in appearance, it makes up in plentiful Brookies and a few large Brown trout. This being our last weekend in the "catch and release" season, I figured I had to get out even though we have a a 70% chance of rain. After all, Streamers LOVE the rain! We had many nice takes from brookies today, and I broke off a large brown in a hole that always seems to hold one of the larger fish we see every trip. So if you happen to catch a fish with a large yellow bugger in his mouth, I really caught that fish first! :)
Next Saturday the worm dunkers will take their fair share of trout back to the frying pan, where they are excellent table fare, but one less statistic to successfully breed for next season. I certainly have no problem with harvesting a fish every once in a while, but please use restraint with the "gem" of the Northwoods.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

What NOT to do when fishing for salmon!

make sure to pause my music at the bottom of the page before viewing this.
warning; a foul word is used

Monday, April 19, 2010

Paite's Picturesque Cast

I took this shot of charlie from about 600 yards away, and thought is was just plain cool. i fiddled with it for about an hour and think it captured the elusive, "Charliecabra" in his most graceful moment. I felt it had kind of an "old soul" moment to this picture. Click on the picture to the full effect.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Sun has set

All good things must come to an end, and unfortunately my trip is no exception. What an relaxing, rejuvenating,and refreshing couple of days. I learned some new things, tried some new tactics, and got to view my brother in law catch his first fish on a dry fly. What a rush of excitement that was. Wind has been a reoccurring theme this week, and today it remained unchanged. I really started to wonder how many days a row any area can have sustained winds of 20 mph? I can now answer that question without hesitation, I just need to leave. For those of you fishing tomorrow, you can expect winds of 5-10 mph, and 65 degree temperatures, sigh. I believe the hatches will be off the charts.
Today's plan had to be altered into fishing some smaller secluded streams surrounded by woods and cover, in hopes of making our casting strokes a little bit smoother. They were, and the fish also cooperated. Most of a our dry fly offerings were ignored, but the emergers hanging off the back fit the bill. It's amazing in a culture of trying to accomplish PURE deadrifts, how just a tiny lift can trigger an instinct and cause them to react, and I'm certainly thankful for it.
I feel lucky to have had such a great week, thanks to all those who participated in it, Kim, Paul, Charlie, Peter, Steve it was one for the books

Friday, April 16, 2010

Brookies and Browns

For a little change of pace I decided to chuck some streamers on a little brook trout feeder this morning before the infamous "Paul Wall" got down the base camp. I had a dozen or so hand sized brookies on a little yellow crystal flash bugger in a couple of hours. We had good cloud cover, but the wind was absolutely horrid again today, averaging sustained wind about 23 mph.

After lunch and Paul's arrival we went to stretch of river that he and I had fished probably bordering on seven years ago. It looked a little different, but some of those memorable holes that held good numbers of fish years ago, still produced like nothing ever changed.. The largest fish of the day was probably bordering 16 or so inches and had a golden brown color, much like I have seen in the northwestern Wisconsin streams.

It understandably took Paul a second to get his casting rhythm back after the dust had settled on his rod over the last couple of seasons. It didn't take long till the old SLT was easily lofting our imitations into the tightly secluded spots of old Mr. Brown. We always have a so many laughs, and a great time.