Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Bahamas

My Thanksgiving week was spent on Cable Beach, Nassau on New Providence, in the Bahamas.
The trip went well, flights were on time, weather was pretty decent and the Kalik beer was cold.
A fishing trip it was not. With Andros island and the Abacos taunting me from the east and west, I resigned myself to swimming with the kids and hanging out with the family. I did bring an 8 weight and managed a 28" needlefish, a couple of small cuda and some other assorted species, but Nassau (as I knew prior to my departure) is one of the only places in the Bahamas where bonefish are rare.
I actually did quite well coping with the reality that I was 30 miles from the finest bonefishing on the planet...I started drinking at 6 am and passed out by lunch. Ok. Not really. I just plotted and planned for my next escape to the flats.
At the resort I saw a guy who appeared to be a fishy fellow and approached him with a question about fishing around Nassau. Clive was an Englishmen from Kent who spends 3 weeks every spring and fall fishing bonefish with his wife in the Bahamas. We sat down over a few Kaliks and he gave me some pointers gathered from his 20+ years experience plying the flats. On a bar napkin I have names and numbers that he was willing to share. He showed me a picture of a 14 lb bonefish that he caught (his largest) and it was HUGE. He had just spent 3 weeks on an island that shall remain unnamed and stopped off at the resort to ease out while he waited for his flight back to Heathrow. For his time and willingness to share information, I thank him.

This brings us to the latest quandry: when and where and with whom will I fish the flats next? Is anybody ready to cough up $2500-3500 to have the freaking time of your life in the Bahamas this year? I guarantee it will be the wisest and dumbest thing you will ever do. You will get tan, drunk and get hooked on saltwater flats fishing. You will stop dreaming of Montana and Alaska and instead fight visions of good light on a great tide over some flat near some island and never look back. Whose game? Or, am I going to have to email you the pictures...?

My youngest looking for Bonefish...

Close but no cigar...


I shipped my Machs back to Orvis a few months ago and replaced them with a Nautilus NV and a Hatch 7 Plus. For your viewing pleasure I've added a few shots of the Hatch:
Loaded with 250 yards of 50 lb gel spun and a 9 weight forward floating line.
I opted for the mid arbor spool so I could load it with a 10 wt as well.
I think I may add an LA spool to this and carry an 8 wt on it as well.

So far I'm impressed. I'd like to get a 10 lb bonefish on it and put it to the test.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Hastily Assembled Rendezvous 08'

JP, TD, AK and I assembled for the Fall 08' Rendezvous on a river that I would normally mention by name except that I don't think it can stand anymore attention.

Mid-October looked like opener.

The brand of angler that visits this stream (typically) have a top notch standard of etiquette... but, a busy stream is a busy stream. JP and I made the drive to the river on Saturday night. We set up our tents and had a few beers in the rain. Since K wasn't among us and since I'm not bright enough to remember a tarp, the rain fly that has become the trademark meeting point of these affairs was sadly absent. Thus, we got wet.
At 11:00 a Jeep Cherokee pulled into the campsite across from ours. At midnight it was still idling with it's lights on. TD said "He's probably passed out". And he was. Lights were on but nobody was home. The guy was out cold except that the heater was on in his truck and he was sweating like a pig on a spit. After a lengthy session of window tapping and yelling TD and JP finally got this guy out of his Jeep and sent him to bed. I watched all of this from a distance because I thought the guy deserved to run out of gas and overheat in the driver's seat.

An interesting event: At approx 3:30 am on Sunday morning as I lay in my 2 man Eureka Alpenlite XT, I was convinced (through the dimentia that a really good nightmare brings to it's creator) that I was inside of something (a tent, a car an igloo?) that was about to get crushed by another thing (a jumbo jet, an elephant a huge boulder ?) and decide that I needed to get out of the way. The chaos that ensued inside the nylon walls of my tent went unnoticed by the other two tents and their inhabitants. The physical exertion that my escape required was sufficient to bring me briefly out of my rigorous slumber. I looked around for a second and dropped back to sleep...for a while. At 4 am I decided that things weren't right and I turned on my headlamp to investigate. Damn. I didn't like the view from the inside. I unzipped and took stock of my reconfigured shelter from the outside. In an effort to get my igloo (?) out of the path of the oncoming jumbo jet(?), I had kicked the shit out of my tent. Stakes were pulled, poles were bent. The tent was an unusual shape, and not just because I was inspecting it in the 4 am blackness with an LED headlamp, shrouded in the fog of sleep with a side order of light rain. From 4 am to 5 am I straightened poles and restaked the tent. At 5 am I zipped my self back in my bag and slept until 7.

No additional Jumbo Jets presented themselves.

Sunday is a little easier to explain: We woke up, made coffee, strung up the rods and hit the river. I managed a 16"-17" fish out of the first run. Tough to say whether it was a resident or a jack. Either way, it doesn't really count because I caught him on the surface in the middle of trying to convert a roll cast into a forward cast. The indicator, shot and nymph were bubbling through the surface when this fish decided it was time. He ate it about 7' off my right knee. As a footnote, this is the first steelhead outing that I fished primarily using the dead drift nymphing method. Normally I'm a drift/swing kind of guy.

Anyway, later that morning I fished a corner pool that has been kind enough to offer up the steel in days gone by. And, as I had hoped, it fulfilled it's obligation. When I approached this bend in the river, another angler was just leaving. I asked him how he did and he said that he had a grab, but didn't stay connected. Ok. Good. The most confounding variable to this fish besides why won't they eat my fly, is are there any fish present where I am fishing? I need to digress for a moment and say something about steelhead.
I don't understand them.
Smallies crash bait and I can catch them on a deceiver. Trout eat beatis and a reasonably tied BWO on a slack line cast will fool them. Pike are generally eager to murder anything that taunts them. Bonefish think that your gotcha is a fleeing shrimp and chase it down and chomp it. Steelhead on the other hand are like many women in my life: Trained from an emotional or intuitive handbook that I have not read because it's out of print and rumored to be written in a foreign language (in invisible ink).
Back to the story...the fact that this chap actually got a nibble reduced the variables and gave me hope. I knew where at least one fish was at some point this morning.
The hope carried me through an hour of fruitless drifts until TD ambled up. I rested the pool and the bruised part of my brain that generates hope. TD asked me if I ever fished a Prince Nymph. Nope. He told me the story of a guy he met in the parking lot of this very river. The guy, as the story goes, emerged from the woods and approached TD mumbling about Prince Nymphs. TD, not having the specified pattern was left in the contrail of the guy on his way to the closest fly shop. "Hmmm" TD thought. Which is why he had a Prince Nymph in his box and offered it to me.
No, it wasn't the very first cast.
It was the third cast.
(Insert Hot Chrome Explosion Here)

15 minutes after I landed the fish, TD relieved me of my angling superiority by landing one of his own.

A short while later, hope renewed, I managed another. It stayed pinned for exactly 1/20th of a qualifying bull ride....most of that spent in the air.

The rest of the day was spent trying to discern a pattern where none exists. The river, like a talented burlesque dancer, had shown just enough flesh to keep me interested until the falling curtain of darkness called an end to the show.

The Bar. Burgers, beer, and some sports team playing another sports team on the box over my right shoulder. At some point TD and AK decided that a ping pong match was in order and they took to the table. AK, full of beer and down 2 games of table tennis, skipped up the stairs to the mens room and called back over his shoulder "Who needs dry firewood when you can spend the night in a bar?"


JP in perfect alignment

17 inches of "what the hell?"

"Dime Bag Bright"

TD connected

The only photo op this fish would allow

Monday, September 22, 2008


I'm sitting in O'hare this morning on my way to LA for work.

Scanning the crowd I noticed a young couple, (in their 30's) vigorously scrubbing their hands with liquid/gel hand sanitizer before launching into their lunch from McDonalds.

Am I alone in seeing the irony here?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Vineyard

I was on Martha's Vineyard last week.

I was working.

But, I always have an 8 wt. with me while I work.

Actually, I grabbed the wrong tube and I had a 7 wt. with. It got a little doggy with the 300 grain streamer line that I had intended for the 8 weight, but luckily, I also had my 8 wt. floating redfish line along and it made casting off the Big Bridge Jetty a little more tolerable. Punk Blue's were chasing bait and the miniature blood bath was worth the price of admission. I landed one small blue, admired the teeth that everybody tells you to avoid and then spent a little time talking to the locals about the fishing. Later, I witnessed a feeding frenzy beneath the pilings of the Big Bridge. Bass or Blues (I'm not sure which) of about 8-10 pounds were rasing holy hell. A Bonafide Blitz. Too far from the bank to attempt a shot and even if the locals weren't lowering all manner of bait over the railing and into the fray, it would have meant a pathetic dap and probably a damaged, if not lost, flyline.

The Island

Big Bridge, Martha's Vineyard

The fly should match the bait...not catch the bait

Two weekends ago.

I took my 4 ( & 1/2!) year old fishing on the mighty W. She fell in on the first cast. I had her in ankle deep water on the edge of a sand shelf drop and she put her whole body into the cast. Like a kid with a baseball bat that weighs too much, the force swung her around and into the drink she went. Crying. Cold. Damnit. I put a jacket around her, put her back in the boat and anchored at a fishy spot so she could eat lunch and warm up. I caught a walleye and a smallmouth while she eased out.

Sandwiches and chips gone , she decided to fish again. I took a seat and encouraged her with "nice cast!" and "you are gonna catch one this cast for sure!". She actually hooked three bass and a walleye of about 2 lbs. on her lead head jig and Mister Twister. I haven't taught her about setting the hook yet (she just keeps cranking) so they all made it close to the boat before making their escape. She was thrilled nonetheless. Better than the fish were the utterances of a 4 1/2 year old. While eating lunch she informed me that "tortilla" was Spanish for "chips". And on one particularly nice cast I said "That cast was money!" to which she replied " the bank."

Monday, September 1, 2008

Reel Drag and The Greatest Lake of all...

After the last trip out for Stripers and the mishaps I had in the Bahamas with my Orvis Mach reels (The drag had miserable start-up and then surged causing more than a few lost bonefish), I boxed them all up and sent them off to Orvis.

Back to the drawing board on my reel inventory.

I did a fair amount of research and discussed reels with more than a couple reel experts. I narrowed it down to two. The Tibor Everglades and the Nautilus NV 8/9. From what I could gather, the Tibors are bomb proof and proven. The Nautilus reels haven't been around as long but they are lighter, less expensive (by about $125) and the spool sizes seemed to be closer to what I was looking for. I called a shop that stocked the Nautilus NV and pulled the trigger. I also picked up a Scientific Anglers 300 Grain Streamer Express Clear Tip line. As a side note the guys at the shop filled my reel with backing and lined the reel for me prior to shipping it. Kudos to John and Will at Chicago Flyfishing Outfitters for setting me up right.

With a trip planned to the North Shore of Lake Superior for the long weekend I was pleased to see the UPS truck on Thursday afternoon.

I have a thing for fishing Lake Superior. I grew up on the Lake and took it for granted as a kid. Since moving away from it's shores in 1996 I have come to appreciate it like no other aqua-graphical feature on earth. It never fails to surprise me that I can stand on the shore, pitching a 4" fly (at most 100',with a tail wind) and connect with a resident. I've had the pleasure of hooking walleye, northern pike, small mouth bass, whitefish, steelhead, coaster brook trout, lake trout, atlantic salmon and pacific salmon from it's shores. Still, the odds are not good... Keep in mind that Lake Superior is an
ogliotrophic (google it) lake while you read these facts:

"Not only is Lake Superior the largest of the Great Lakes, it also has the largest surface area of any freshwater lake in the world. It contains almost 3,000 cubic miles of water, an amount that could fill all the other Great Lakes plus three additional Lake Eries. With an average depth approaching 500 feet, Superior also is the coldest and deepest (1,332 feet) of the Great Lakes. The lake stretches approximately 350 miles from west to east, and 160 miles north to south, with a shoreline almost 2,800 miles long" Quoted from

What this means is that fishing Lake Superior is to cast your fly into a body of water that is as vast as freshwater lakes get and it doesn't contain many fish...statistically it should result in nothing but a wet line and cold fingertips.

And 7:30 am after casting and retrieving for 2 hours the deceiver stops. The line sizzles through the water and all I can see is a tail fin cutting water for 100 yards. The Nautilus reel sings a smooth, unwavering hymn to the fish gods and I watch the backing unwind twice as fast as the machine at the flyshop put it on. Standing on a rock in Lake Superior absolutely stunned and amazed that despite the odds, it's happened again. Thrilled to have connected and praying to all the gods and saints whose names I regularly use in vain, I put the backing back on the spool followed by 20' of the flyline. The fish is tiring but isn't quite ready for the grill and lemons. It makes a few hard short runs before I'm able to steer it onto a low spot on the rock I'm standing on. (End of fight scene)

Chinook Salmon, or Kings as they are called, can grow to a massive size. Check out the posts on Buster (and Buster and Buster ) if you want to see what a real King looks like. Mine was 27" and weighed a little over 7 lbs. But, it was a hot fish that helped me verify that the reel worked, and that statistically, statistics are no reason not to fish when you get a chance... even if the lake has 3,000 cubic miles of water and almost no fish in it.

Oh, and the little ones are delicious

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Tying desks - 1996 to present

A decade of tying desks...same concept, improved lighting.

1995 - Graduated from college, got an apartment in Duluth, MN and fished as I pleased.
Lake Superior Steelhead and North Shore Brook Trout. Not much $ for tying materials though.

1996 - This was an apartment in New Brighton, MN...a tying season in transition. I didn't spend much time here.

1997 - The pinnacle of my fishing career. A bed, stove, sink, shower and tying desk...I fished my ass off as a bachelor.

2001- Notice the sweet desk that my Bro K made me. This is the dining room in our old apartment...I'm not sure this would be tolerated now.

2003 - checkout the multi-drawered desk top addition that my Bro K added to my set-up (disregard the striped pillow case chair cushion in the Capt's Chair...sooo classy).

2005 - this set-up remains the current state of things only I've had 3 years to fill the concrete seams with fly lint.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

More History from the "archives"...

These are a few shots of yours truly back in the formative years...
(Hell, what am I saying, these are still the formative years)

Circa early 90's

Circa mid 90's

Sketches etc

I was digging through the basement the other day and came across some sketches...
I'm putting them up because I can.

Thursday, August 21, 2008


I made it back out tonight. After a whorl wind tour of Maine, including the town of Machias (where I was told by an employee of one of the local blueberry harvesters that they pick 1,000,000 lbs of WILD blueberries each year!) I fished the mouth of an unnamed (not really unnamed) river on the falling tide and managed 4 stripahs. That makes my lifetime total - 5. The olive and white clouser on an across and down swing got their attention...ever fished for steelhead? Yeah, like that. Fantastic.

Monday, August 18, 2008


I flew into Boston this morning and drove to Maine. I had a tip on a beach so I went.
I bagged my first striper...a "schoolie" technically. I'm pumped. Now I want a bigger one.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Daughter 1

I was talking to somebody the other day who asked me if I was planning to have any more children, and if I wished that I had a son, to "you know take fly fishing and stuff".
Wait until I tell this kid that she can't go fly fishing because she's a girl. She's gonna be pissed.

She's 4...err...I mean 4 1/2

The change....

Anthropologists taught me in college about the process of man's evolution into the high and mighty civilized dickheads we now claim to be, included a change from hunter/gatherer to an agrarian society and from there into the industrial age etc. etc.

For better or for worse I've decided to invent a new society based primarily on fly fishing and gardening. This new societal model requires a fly-rod, an approving wife, some seeds, 10 yards of horse shit and water. (If you ever decide to join me in this societal structure, you will soon realize how important your horse shit and water are.) Although the fly fishing is commonly catch & release and does not provide any nutritional sustenance, the tomato seeds do. AND, with the price of a tomato averaging $43 a pound...I can now afford to drive to my favorite fishing spots (guilt free). I like to think about this and grin while I'm eating a tomato sandwich.

So you've seen the pictures of the fly fishing, here now is the gardening.

Last Weekend...

I took off last Saturday at 5 pm and headed to the big "W". Joining me were Jon Johnson, tent, sleeping bag, 7 & 8 wt + a cooler with a sixer of Sam Adams and viddles that didn't require preparing.
I found smallies on the way down to a nice campsite on a stretch of sand that everybody else decided was too close to the boat landing (1/2 mile). Camp was set and there remained just enough light to make me feel guilty for not being out slinging line. So I did. I found a sand shelf that ran on the backside of "my" island. It ran for 100 yards and flowed from 6 inches deep to the shelf where it promptly dropped off to a whopping 12 inches deep. Nevertheless, 2 smallies and a white bass chose this break as their hunting grounds for the night and couldn't allow the BHD to swim by unmolested.
Herring, summer sausage, string cheese, crackers and a handful of mini chocolate chip cookies was all it took to get me zipped into my tent for 30 minutes of reading before I dozed off on top of the sleeping bag in a temperature range that has been described by others as "perfect sleeping weather". At 1:20 am I slid out of the tent, pissed in the sand and decided that the inside of my sleeping bag deserved further exploration. The temp had dropped to cool. 4:20 am my cell phone rang and JP announced that he was leaving town and would be at the boat launch in 1 hour.
Brewing coffee and dismantling camp followed by a very very shallow water run the 1/2 mile to the boat launch took me a little longer than I suspected it would. JP was waiting on the dock, gear and fresh coffee (for both of us) in hand.
After all was said and done, we landed some decent fish (decent, not big) and learned that 40,000 cfs on a river that usually runs 5,000, changes the locations of your secret spots. I concluded that the SMB's on the "W" like BHD's as much as they do anywhere else. And finally, when you are a 36 year old father of two and you get a night on the river by yourself you could give a shit about things that go bump in the night...because the only things that go bump in the night that have any consequence for you now are at home sleeping in their small beds and Mom's in charge.

I'm going to sell this shot to a religious printing company and bet they make it the cover shot for there next tract, but not before superimposing the words "Jesus is coming" in bold red font over the clouds.


JP with a standard issue SMB

Morel Majority

Uncle T aka String Leech and his wife Auntie K were kind enough to send the fam a big ol' bag o' morels. Luckily my wife knows how to follow instructions (graciously provided by the shroom duo) and can cook. So I topped a t-bone with a pile of them and concluded that the t-bone was a handy platform for reducing the distance between the morels and my mouth...friggin taste-teee. Thank you to all of you who allowed me to do nothing and still get the goodness.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Quite a time

Bacon made a stop in the land of Rum and Cheese and called me to float a northern river for smallies. I drove up and crashed at his folks house (Thank you, Bacon's Mom & Dad, for your hospitality) on Saturday night. 4:30 am Sunday morning the river beckoned and we hit the road with Jon Johnson in tow. We launched and I was introduced to one of the most beautiful rivers I have ever floated. Small mouth, and pike were landed. I managed to blow two of the larger smallmouth I'd ever hooked and lost a pike on a clean cut take. On one occasion Bacon had a smallie shark his fly and miss. A carp started to track the fly and before he could accept or refuse it, a pike cut the leader. Talk about a multi-species adventure. We camped out at DP's place on Sunday night and tied a few flies. Between DP and Bacon I saw a few new patterns that hold future promise in my arsenal. Monday am, after a stop for breakfast we launched DP's boat and spent the morning trying to work up a few bass. The fishing was a bit spotty, but everybody managed a few on poppers. I was able to corral an 18" smallie just prior to my noon departure. It deserves mention that Bacon hooked a fish at the same time and the his fish peeled line off and stayed never intended to be seen and never was. For a few chaotic minutes while we both tried to fight our respective fish, I was happy to be in DP's boat. I think somebody would've gotten wet if we tried that chinese firedrill in Jon Johnson. I left the two of them to fish the rest of the afternoon and made the trek back to the homefront. An excellent fishing trip made all the better by two guys who know the game well.

Jon Johnson - Battle ready

Bacon and quarry

18" before the final buzzer