Friday, September 28, 2018

Introduce Someone to the Adventure You Love

One of the keys and success than any activity is “paying it forward.” It doesn’t matter whether it’s work, family, or recreation, if others aren’t interested in it then your interest is likely to wither and die as well. If you’ve been reading this blog for any amount of time, you will know that I have actively encouraged my grandchildren, particularly my two granddaughters that live here in Minnesota, to experience the outdoors since they were about four years old. (They’re both teenagers now.) Both Sophie and Natasha love camping, bicycling and fishing. And they love spending time with Ellen and myself. These are precious times because in a couple of years, Natasha will be headed off to college and Sophie won’t be that far behind. They serve one other very valuable purpose, and that both girls have and use cell phones as a means of communication. So Saturday of our excursions is always a “Disconnect Day,” often aided by the fact that we tend to camp in the "backcountry," areas with little to no cell service.

Earlier this summer, after enduring a difficult spring of medical issues for both of us, I signed my wife, Ellen, up for an “Introduction to Fly Fishing” class at the National Trout Center in Preston, Minnesota. She loved it! Ellen’s father, Harry, was a big-time sportsman, hunter and angler, who consistently pulled the largest bass each season out of the lake he lived on in east Texas. But that didn’t translate into making his third daughter into a fisherperson. Flyfishing gave her a release from the stress of work and cancer recovery that she has found to be relaxing and enjoyable. By the end of the season, we had taken several trips to both the Driftless Region of southeastern Minnesota and the Arrowhead Region in the northeastern part of the state. We didn’t catch much of anything, but it was relaxing, enjoyable, and fun.

Clay Croft of Expedition Overland did an excellent vlog entry a few years ago about passing on positive outdoor experiences, including flyfishing, to your children. He finishes it with this comment, which I have quoted on numerous occasions: “It’s a good thing when you pass on classic things, and if you do that well, someday you might become…legendary. What you can do, is choose to be inspired, and adventure will find you.” I couldn’t agree more.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Trout Camp 2018!

The first night was rough, but from that point forward it was a great couple of days and I learned a lot, even if I didn't catch any fish.

It was a hot and steamy day on Sunday, when I arrived at Whitewater State Park in Elba, Minnesota for the second annual Twin Cities Trout Unlimited Trout Camp. The predicted break in the heat and humidity had not arrived as early as previously forecast, but we set up in the newly re-opened walk-in group camp. Due to severe flooding a couple of years ago, the entire area on the east side of Highway 42 has been rebuilt with beautiful new shower and restroom facilities, improved roadways, and thoughtfully laid out campsites and group camps. Each group site has its own large pavilion, which would be the center of our activities for the next couple of days. Unfortunately, the weather didn’t break until after two o’clock Monday morning, so sleep was pretty hard to come by. The first fishing excursion was scheduled for 5:30 a.m., and I’m sorry, but I just couldn’t do that.

The first evening we enjoyed a presentation on casting techniques taught by fishing guide, Brennen Churchill from The Driftless Fly Fishing Company in Preston, MN. Those who didn’t know how to correctly fly cast learned how, and those of us who did know how learned to do it better. It’s always interesting to see the look on anglers faces when the instruction and the actions come together to form a perfect cast. If you’re ever in Preston, make sure you stop by their shop on St. Paul Street. Brennen is a great instructor, with a wealth of knowledge and tips to help even the most experienced fisherman or woman.
Monday dawned early, and despite only a few hours of sleep, I was up and ready to go (sort of) by 6:30. All of the meals we ate were prepared by TU volunteers, who also happened to be volunteers with the Salvation Army, staffing the canteens that go out to fire and disaster scenes to provide food and refreshment to emergency workers. Those two guys know how to cook! After a hearty breakfast of pancakes and sausage, it was time to start the day, although I still felt like taking a nap.

Fishing times were interspersed with learning opportunities, the first being a naturalist-led tour of the Whitewater River Valley and its history. I stayed in camp to keep an eye on things, although I have to admit for much of the time the eyes were closed as I did get that nap. After lunch, there was a period of free time where you could go fishing, swimming, geocaching, or take a nap. Having already done that, I went out and checked out some other fishing locations along the river. The afternoon educational program was a fascinating stream entomology class taught on the river by Janine and Benji Kohn and Linda Radimecky. Janine is the current president of the Twin Cities Trout Unlimited chapter.

After dinner, you could, of course, go fishing again, or you could practice fly tying with Vaughn Snook in the Visitors Center. Although I am not a fly tie-er, I do find the process fascinating, so I did a little bit of both. I took my Badger Tenkara rod down to the South Meadow fishing and picnic area and tried several different presentations, but still no luck. So, it was back to the campsite and discussion around the campfire about fishing, politics, the politics of fishing, and organizations like Backcountry Hunters and Anglers working together with Trout Unlimited in programs like this.

The next morning, after a huge, excellent breakfast of (real) scrambled eggs and maple sausage, it was time to wrap up and go home. I may not have caught any fish, but I have hopefully learned a number of new ways to try. I will definitely be at Trout Camp next year, and hopefully, BHA will be one of the organizations supporting the event.

Then, there was the event that I missed because I was at Whitewater. Up on the North Shore of Lake Superior, SpokenGear bike shop was holding a bikefishing workshop called “Gears And Reels.” From their posts on Facebook, it looks like it was a successful event with about fifteen people in attendance. Unfortunately, or fortunately, I found out about it after I had already registered for the TU event, but I, and hopefully BHA, will definitely take part in future Gears and Reels events.

As I mentioned in my previous post, this summer and this fishing season have been seriously hampered by two broken legs and abdominal surgery, but I am thankfully past that now and my granddaughter and I have been able to get out and fish a few times. There is more to these stories, but that is for future posts.

Proceeding on…

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

The Return is Nigh!

It's been a while. I've been sidelined by two broken legs (one on each side) and abdominal surgery ever since the season opened, and we got 19 inches of snow on opening day. Now that I am out of the leg splints. my orthopedist has prescribed going fishing as excellent therapy...and then the past two days we have had 8-14 inches of rain overall my favorite fishing spots. Can you say, "wash-out?" This won't be my most stellar year, but as soon as the monsoon subsides, I will be hitting the streams in NW WI and NE MN.

I have several rods; a Badger Tenkara UNC pack rod for bike-fishing and a Cabela's RLX 5 wt. are my two primaries. An old Eagle Claw, my first fly rod, from back in the late '70s when EC was still a top quality brand not an Amazon discount item. I also use Daiwa Silvercast ultra-light spinning rod, and a telescoping Shakespeare with a small Daiwa reel on it for packing into the interior. My favorite flies are olive caddis flies, black fly flies, hoppers and red worm flies. Lighter colored streamers seem to work best on the Tenkara in the winter, but I have a box that is specifically flies for the UNC, and I hope to try more of them out when my recovery is over. (One more week!)

My go-to vehicle for the frontcountry is still my '05 Dodge Dakota, which has been giving me fits, but it runs. I access the backcountry on my Cogburn CB4 fat-bike. Can't wait to get back on it.

How many of you saw the article in "Fly Fishing Magazine" about the Driftless Area Flyathon? How do you think something like that would go over for Bikefishing? Just wondering.

Stay safe!