Friday, February 17, 2017

A Little Humility

False Dichotomies in Fly Fishing

My good friend Dave has a lot of great tales to tell, taken from a lifetime of fishing his home waters in Northern Michigan, all over the US, and the world. He also dedicated a lot of his life to conservation, in particular through his involvement with Trout Unlimited, having served on state and national councils.

One of my favorite stories Dave told is how TU, at least in Michigan, had started to go off track. A lot of the membership were upset about fly anglers using the Clouser Minnow. This newfangled fly, they argued, was little more than a jig pretending to be a fly. They wanted it literally outlawed, at least from fly water. Dave came in and helped reset the tone and vision for TU- that they weren’t out to define what fly fishing was or wasn’t, but that TU needed to stay focused on protecting and promoting clean, clear water, and wild trout. He saw petty squabbling about which flies were really flies for what it was- a distraction. Something that takes away from, rather than adding to the sport or the conservation mission of Trout Unlimited.

The world of fly fishing is rife with opinions and factions. I’m sure there are some who still dislike Clouser minnows, despite their (and Mr. Clouser) having achieved legendary status among most fly anglers. I’ve heard a variety of statements about different forms of fly fishing such as:

-         Tenkara isn’t really fly fishing. (and proponents insist it is a purer form).
-          If you use egg flies you might as well use bait.
-          Articulated streamers and streamers with multiple hooks are really lures and should be outlawed in fly water.
-          Spey or Skagit style “swinging” for steelhead is the purest way to pursue them. Never mind almost no one had heard of it in the US 30 years ago.
-          Chuck and duck (bottom bouncing) isn’t fly fishing.
-          Nymphing is dirty.
-          Dry flies are the only right way to fly fish.
-          Mousing isn’t fair and should be outlawed.
-          Indicators are bobber fishing and don’t belong in the fly world.

I could probably go on but you get the point.

There is definitely a place for purism in fly fishing. There is nothing more beautiful than having people who are so passionate about the sport, that they take it, improve it, make it even more beautiful than it was before. They focus on one part of the sport that they love and elevate it to an art form.

Consider fly tying. My skills at the vise are rudimentary at best. But there are hundreds of people out there who are passionate tyers, and new and improved versions of flies are coming out all the time. When I see beautiful creations like the shaved deer hair flies of guys like Steven Wascher, or the original work by Northern Michigan tyer John Sheets, I shake my head and marvel. My tying is functional- my flies catch fish. Their flies are an art form.

You can say ditto for all the passionate people out there working at different aspects of this sport. The rod builders, reel designers, artists, gear manufacturers, boat builders, casting instructors, fishing instructors, guides and outfitters. All focused on one aspect of the sport, improving it, making it better because they ARE purists.

There is also nothing uglier than when people are so passionate about what they do and believe in, that they denigrate others who do not do or feel the same way they do. They begin to see their pursuit of the sport as the only “right” way. The others just don’t get it. They snub people who don’t see things their way.

Starting out fly fishing, all of us are excited just to catch a fish, or even to make a decent cast. All of us are in one of these stages of the sport: first we just want to catch a fish, then we want to catch lots of fish, then we want to catch big fish, then we are just happy to be out there.

At some point it becomes easy for us to forget our own arc, our own learning curve, and become critical of how others learn, view, and pursue the sport. No matter how far down the rabbit hole we've gone, we forget all that came in between, the timeline of our own progress. For many of us it didn’t even begin with flies- we were bait fishermen, gear guys or gals. We ate fish. Some of us still do.

What is particularly distressing to see is when we become critical of others engaged in the legal pursuit of fish, whether this means that they still gear or bait fish, take home a legal limit of fish from time to time, or use methods and gear we personally find distasteful. In the age of social media it becomes an occasion to harass or bully people who don’t live up to our personal standard.

I haven’t personally used a worm on a trout stream since I was a kid (I fished spinners for years), but as long as they are legally practicing the sport, I’m not going to criticize bait fishermen. If I want them to respect my pursuit of fish, then I have to respect theirs. There are times when a worm out-fishes everything, but what I’ve come to recognize is that fly fishing is a far more natural way to present an offering, and I believe firmly that on most days I out-fish bait fishermen. But I still respect their legal right and even ethical basis to fish the way they do.

The same goes for eating fish. I have nothing to say to anyone who keeps a fish as long as it is legal to do so. Fish are still good food, and it was the pursuit of food that brought humans to the rivers in the first place. How fishing got so far off-track that some would denigrate others for keeping fish is beyond me. Catch and release fishing can be a powerful conservation tool, but it is no panacea, and not everyone (including the country of Germany) agrees with the ethics of hurting fish for our entertainment and letting them go. We all have to live with ourselves at the end of the day, and if releasing fish makes you feel better, that’s your choice, but it is up to state wildlife agencies to monitor fish populations and set limits. The harassment on social media of anglers who legally keep fish is really ugly, and undermines our sport far more than the fish that angler kept.

Fly fishing has always had a reputation for elitism and purism. For some it is what draws them to the sport, for a lot of other people it is what puts them off. Some come to the sport wanting to challenge themselves, learn new skills, or fish in what they see as a more natural manner, appealing to the natural feeding patterns of the fish rather than just fishing a worm or spawn. Others like the feeling of being in an exclusive club. Whatever your motivations, don’t ever forget your roots, or the roots of the sport. No matter how deep you go into the sport, or how esoteric your pursuit, don’t forget that in the end we’re all just fishing. A little humility can go a long way, especially if we want to promote the sport or draw others to it.

Fly fishing needs that. It needs humility, it needs to continually draw new people. The fish and the rivers need it as well, and in the current climate of political hostility toward clean water, natural resources and public lands, fly fishing needs to link arms with sportsmen and women of all stripes. We certainly won’t prevail if we are taken down internally because of petty squabbles over our personal views of fly fishing, and especially if we think we are too good to show respect to others engaged in their lawful and ethical pursuit of the outdoors.

sometimes what matters are the simple joys of being out there

Thursday, February 9, 2017

In Defense of Chuck n Duck

Fly fishing is the rod, the reel, and the line. If you don’t have those three, you’re doing something else. It may be fishing, but it’s not fly fishing*.- Brandon Robinson

“Are you bringing your chuck n duck rod? Bring it. I’m swinging this entire trip, but we need pictures of fish”- Alex Cerveniak

By the definition quoted above, chuck and duck is not fly fishing. Chuck and duck, or bottom bouncing, uses a running line to cut through the water and get down to the bottom quickly. The set up is typically a running line with a sliding weight, a swivel to stop the weight, and then a length of leader with the fly attached. There are a number of variations to this including the use of slinkies, or other means to try to make the weight snag free. The whole goal is to get your fly down to the bottom as quickly as possible and keep it there, then bounce it along the bottom so that your fly drifts with the current. It can be a very effective method of fishing for steelhead, especially when they are not active or suspended in the current. Because the running line has no weight to cast a fly, the whole contraption has to be pitched unceremoniously into the river, and thus the name chuck n duck.

When I was first interested in fly fishing for steelhead and salmon, a friend of mine showed me his chuck n duck rig. It was back when Amnesia running line was all the rage. I didn’t question it back then, and there was quite a period of time when if you were talking about fly fishing for steelhead in Michigan, you were talking about chuck n duck. Then indicator fishing caught on and that was all the rage. Now Spey and Skagit style casting have taken the steelhead world by storm. All the cool kids are doing it. It has become de rigeur to label chuck n duck as ugly or even unethical. Swinging Spey flies on two-handed rigs is the only way to fish.

But that is not true, and it’s not true for everyone. The first thing to note is that all three techniques work and shine in their own rights. They all work in different ways, and there are times when each out-performs the others.

Take for instance a late winter/ early spring warm up before the main run. Melting snow and a shot of rain have brought in some fish, and they are on the move. This is a great time to fish indicators. The fish are suspended or at least will come up to take a fly drifting under a bobber. Great.

If the water is high and turbid however, the fish will be hugging bottom, and the ripping current will make indicator fishing very difficult. This is when chuck n duck shines. It gets your flies down fast into the fish zone and keeps it there throughout the drift. If you aren’t ticking the bottom, just add weight.

The water you fish makes a huge difference as well. Spey and Skagit style casting are made for fishing large wide rivers. Where indicator and chuck n duck fishing allows you tear apart individual pieces of holding water, Spey casting allows you to fish the whole river, searching for active fish willing to hit a streamer. But the rivers I fish in northern Michigan are quite small and shallow. Belting a hundred foot Skagit cast will land you sixty feet into the brush. You don’t so much swing as dangle the fly and drift it back and forth. I know guys who do this, but it’s a far cry from the beautiful, elegant long distance casting Spey casting is designed for. The technique that shines in my fast, shallow small streams is chuck n duck.

Chuck n duck is a technique, no more and no less than other forms of fishing. If you find it aesthetically distasteful, then that’s your prerogative. When I was introduced to fly fishing for steelhead in Michigan it’s the technique I was taught. Nobody told me it was bad or undesirable. It was just how you did it. Then indicator fishing swept through the state and is still widely practiced. I would say it is a slightly elevated way to fish, as it employs an actual fly line (see quote above; line manufacturers produce fly lines for indicator fishing), and there is a bit more technique to the rigging, casting and mending to get a clean drift.

The latest and greatest technique that everyone has been piling onto in the steelhead world for some time is Spey/Skagit style fishing, and that’s great, but it is a whole system and world unto itself. It employs completely different rods, lines, reels and flies. If you’re going to fish this way it will require laying out yet again a small pile of Benjamins, buying or learning to tie new flies, and learning a completely different set of casting skills that have their own learning curve. It requires fishing different water, and also has its own river etiquette. If you’re fishing crowded water that attracts a variety of anglers you may be SOL. And if, like me, all the water close to hand is small stream fishing that wouldn’t allow you to deploy more than your Skagit head out of the rod, it’s an awful lot of time and money spent on something you’ll rarely use.

not flossed

The biggest accusation I hear against chuck n duck is when I hear it called “flossing”. I’ve heard guides assert that fish aren’t biting a chuck n duck rig but are merely getting the leader caught in their mouths and incidentally hooked. In other words, it is tantamount to snagging. Unfortunately I have witnessed guys fishing to spawning steelhead or salmon on gravel and using it to snag them. If you are this kind of angler there is nothing I can do to help you. You’re not a fisherman anyway, you’re a snagger. There are plenty of other techniques out there that can likewise be used to fish unethically or illegally.

Personally, I fish dark water where I typically can’t see the fish. All of my fish are typically hooked in the corner of the mouth in the same manner as any other method. I’m chucking eggs and nymphs and small bugger variations, the same flies they eat employing the other techniques. The attempts by some to smear the technique as unethical because they see individuals using it to snag fall on my deaf ears. Those same individuals would still try to snag fish off gravel using any means they could. I don’t do it and neither should you.

Why employ the technique? Because it works. There are times and places to go to the river, Spey gear in hand, and not catch fish, and there are times to take your chuck rig and catch some. There are times when you can fish the same terminal rigging with a fly line, and the fact that it keeps your fly a few inches off the bottom will keep you from catching fish. Switch to a running line and it will sink to the bottom and you’ll have a good day.

They say a specialist is someone who knows more and more about less and less until he knows everything about nothing. The same could be true of fly fishing, in which your pursuit becomes so esoteric that you're no longer fishing.

There is of course the issue of aesthetics, which is a whole discussion in itself. After all, the practice of fly fishing is a way of limiting yourself in exchange for a more aesthetically pleasing experience. But it is possible to extend that to the point where you’re no longer fishing. Spey and Skagit techniques are lauded as the most elegant, difficult, satisfying and “pure” method of fishing for steelhead. It is also severely limiting. When you’re surrounded by small waters not conducive to such, your choice can be to make an investment in time and travel any time you want to fish, or stay home and stare out the windows. I’d rather take my chuck rig and go fishing. Sometimes you want to catch fish. Sometimes you want to eat fish, and in the Great Lakes, where steelhead are an introduced species and in no danger (if they are the DNR will stock more), that’s perfectly fine.

The point to all this is to say- don’t hate chuck n duck. It’s just another technique. If you choose not to practice it that’s your prerogative. If you see unethical behavior on the river, call those people out or call law enforcement. If it’s a cold winter day and you just want to beat the drear and go catch a fish, grab your chuck rig and go. Don’t let anyone stop you.

For rigging notes and some other thoughts on the subject check out this post by Third Coast Fly.

Author's note- I lost a hard drive and all these photos are quite old. At least two of these fish went home with me, so keep em' wet wasn't part of the equation.

*Another note: I happen to agree with Brandon Robinson's observation above, at least in the technical sense.
small buck on the chuck

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

"Stones in the River"- New Fiction From FR

The reviews are in and the critics are raving!!!:

"It's a story."-  The Boston Glob

"Jason Tucker weaves tale wonderful mostly informative"- The Washington Moist

". . . ."- The New York Mimes

"Are we getting paid for this?"- The Miami Geraldo

Jamie Simpson is a regular guy, working a job in his hometown in North Carolina, until the day that he wins the lottery. He's determined not to change, but before he even gets the money his whole life is turned upside down. With time and money on his hands there is only one place he thinks he can go to figure it all out- Alaska. There he discovers new friends, an enigmatic lover and newfound adventure, but will the price be too much to pay?

So that's the gist of a short story I wrote. It's meant to be a novella, and I think it's a pretty good story. What matters is whether you think it's a good story. I'm using it to play around with self-publishing. I'm planning on it being a series of novellas, and when they're done I'll combine them into a book and release a paperback, or that's the plan. To keep it simple I'm only releasing it on Amazon Kindle, but if you don't own one you can still download it to your phone, tablet or laptop and read it. After my exclusivity clause runs out, I'll run it on other platforms like Nook too.

I've always wanted to explore the idea of a character who wins the lottery. No one feels sorry for them, but more often than not in real life the money brings winners a world of grief rather than happiness, and I thought I'd explore what it's like to try to deal with such fortune and still hang onto your identity and humanity.

Fly fishing plays a major role without being a central "character" if you will. It serves more as a backdrop. There is some adult content, and if you're sensitive to that don't buy it, or flip forward past it if you must, but we're all adults. My style is adult but not graphic. 

I'm excited about the project and hope you enjoy it too. If you enjoy the story, please leave a review on Amazon and for that matter leave a review if you don't like it. Be specific. Help me learn and grow as a writer. If you do enjoy it and are so inclined, please share it through your social media, and help a poor writer out. Here's the link below.

Stones in the River Vol. 1

Thanks for supporting my writing and this blog. It is very much appreciated.

Jason Tucker
Fontinalis Rising

Monday, February 6, 2017

Monday Morning Coffee- February 6, 2017

WwwuurrrgGGPPPhhhtttTTT! Yawn, stretch, scratch, repeat! It is yet again another Monday, so let's have some coffee.

Well, winter here in Georgia stretches on with no end in sight. It's been in the mid- 60's to low 70's almost everyday, and the natives can't wait for it to be over. Not sure who I'm joshing more here- Georgians huddled up in heavy coats and boots, or you in the northern states who won't see those temps for a few months yet, but I'm an equal opportunity eye poker.

I don't have any new fishing to report, due to the fact that I'm suffering from my fourth virus since November, and I've been feeling ill from antibiotics I'm taking because of a sliver I drove almost all the way through my hand, that forced me to go see a doc and get a tetanus shot too. I haven't taken antibiotics in nearly twenty years, and I don't tolerate them well. That sliver went in the palm and was pushing the skin out on the back side of my hand, and hurt like hell. I guess it goes without saying that I don't hurt myself very much, have never had major surgery or broke a bone or given birth to a child. We all have our cross to bear.

We did get out to the Atlanta Fly Fishing Show on Saturday for a couple of hours and got to put some faces to names, and hopefully not spread our diseases to unwitting victims.

We ran into Jen Ripple of Dun magazine and A Tight Loop. Kurt Kopala from ATL was there too, but we didn't get the chance to meet him. We've talked in the past about me contributing to ATL, but somehow never made it happen. It's a good online mag focused on upper Midwest fly fishing. Dun, an emag focused on women in fly fishing, is about to go paper, so look for that in a shop near you soon.

Jen workin' hard

We then talked to Scott Thompson and legendary permit guide Lincoln Westby of Blue Horizon Belize, and I have to admit to being a little star struck. Mr. Lincoln, if you read this, if I looked like I didn't understand everything you said it's because my hearing is bad, especially in a busy room like that. They have us considering a vacation down there as they said there would be plenty for my girlfriend Marsha to do too- lots of beaches to hang out on, and they could run her to various spots for some tasty bottom fish that could be brought back and eaten. Going there as an option definitely went up in the rankings. Cameron Mortenson of The Fiberglass Manifesto went and fished there last year and you can read about it here, here and here.

I had a nice conversation with Kyle Shea of Deneki. I have been getting the Deneki newsletter every week in my email for several years, and it is one of the best sources of fly fishing info out there. Kyle does a really good job with it. He walks a fine line between selling their fishing and lodges (two in Alaska, and one each in British Columbia and the Bahamas) and sharing information that is useful to  anyone, and I've always felt he does an excellent job. No hard sales, just lots of great information on fly fishing, and if it one day moves you to fish with them, then click on the link. You should be getting this newsletter every week. It's easy to sign up, so go do it.

I ran into Justin Pickett of Gink and Gasoline, who I have fished with a couple times, and Aaron Tyre of River Through Atlanta guide service who keeps threatening to go fish together, but we haven't made it happen yet. These guys have a gold mine in the Chattahoochee flowing right through Atlanta. It's a tailwater that actually has some wild, naturally reproducing brown trout in it, some of which can push the 30 inch mark. It's a big river and tough to access in places, with rapids and shoals in spots that are tough to navigate, and the challenges you would expect of an urban stream in the Deep South, but I think these guys have a good thing going.

It was cool to see the Stealthcraft Boats display, with the Hooligan XL raft on display, which I personally watched my buddy Brett Watson develop from the ground up. We spent a lot of days fishing the prototypes on some tight little Michigan streams and caught some nice fish. I should add that I'm not endorsed by any of these companies or websites, I'm just sharing cool stuff I saw and the people I enjoyed talking to at the show.

Now for some self-promotion. I wrote a short fiction story called "Stones in the River" and used it to play around with self-publishing. If you want to support a starving artist click on the link and give it a read. I think it's a good story, and I'm interested to see if you do too. Yes it involves fly fishing. Unlike a GoFundMe campaign, you actually get something in exchange. I've put it on Amazon Kindle for now. If you don't own a Kindle you can still download the file and read it on any electronic device you have. I hope you enjoy it. I'll probably do a blog post on it tomorrow. 

In addition I actually have two blog posts coming up on issues I don't think will play well on the other outlets I write for. One called "Don't Hate Chuck n Duck" on a useful but much maligned technique, and the other addresses the chumming controversy in Michigan that has gone on for too long.

If that's not enough, I'll have a post on Atlantic salmon farming on Gink and Gasoline soon, and an interview of leather artist Lee Slikkers that should go up on MidCurrent. And I'm working on four different books and hope to finish at least one by spring. Thanks for reading my work, and for understanding why things are so sparse here at FR anymore.

Well, my coffee is done and cold, and I still have an actual paying job to do, so thanks for sharing a cup with me. Mr. Westby- if you succumb to body aches and a mysterious fever that strikes in the evening, I'm sorry.

Let's get after it.

From left: Lincoln Westby and Scott Thompson

Aaron and Justin on the loose

Kyle Shea in the house

the Hooligan XL

Monday, January 9, 2017

Monday Morning Coffee- January 9, 2017

Hhheerrrrgggggppphhhttt!Yawn, stretch, scratch, repeat- it's Monday once again, so let's have some coffee.

Well, I woke up to a leaky faucet this morning that flooded part of the kitchen floor and cabinets. Not a huge deal, just a result of running the tap all night. One of those times you wished things just worked. The connections are tight, and it didn't freeze up. It's just a crappy faucet with leaky seals. Lesson learned.

Other than that we survived the Blizzard of '17. We had a dusting of snow here at Daisy Hill Farm, but they got more at higher elevations in Georgia. Schools are closed today because of the cold and threat of black ice. If you're from further north it's easy to chuckle about this, but they don't get enough snow here to warrant a fleet of plow/salt trucks, kids don't have warm enough coats to stand outside waiting on a bus, and buildings are designed with cooling in mind and not heating, so I guess I'll cut the Southerners some slack for what can seem like an over-reaction to a little weather.

I did get to go fishing Friday with Louis Cahill of Gink and Gasoline. Any time I get out fishing with him is a good time, and Friday did not disappoint. We caught lots of fish and had fun. I really needed the outing. Louis took what I assumed were great pics only to discover halfway through the day that he hadn't put a card in the camera. Rookie.

We may have stumbled on a new pattern for a good day. What you need is cold weather, a recent fish stocking, and a winter storm coming in that evening. The stocking means you'll catch fish at the obvious spots, the cold weather means that resident and wild fish will be out and about, and the incoming storm means that all the locals and would be anglers are at the store buying bread and milk. You will have the river all to yourselves like we did. We both caught our Stocker Slam in short order. Louis caught at least one brown of about 15 inches, and I caught two 12 inch brook trout courtesy of South Carolina Fish and Game. It's a good thing my beat up Stimulators resemble pellets.

Louis laying out a nice cast

I don't mean to sound dismissive of the fishing, as it really was a lot of fun, and we caught a number of fish with clean fins, beautiful colors and no marking, meaning they are either resident or wild fish, which always makes my day. Even if every fish was a stocker, it's such a beautiful stream that you can't hate being there, and with such good company we had a great time. When the snow started falling we decided we had better make good our escape, and so we hiked the thirty minutes back out, and by the time we got back to Clayton the snow was starting to stick. I had a mundane drive home, but Louis had to brave the Atlanta traffic, a far more chilling prospect than a little snow and ice. The cold is only supposed to last another day, and by Friday it's supposed to be 70 degrees again.

Well, my coffee is done, I need some breakfast, and one of my pups has turned into an escape artist, so I have to brave the cold and rebuild a fence. Have a great week, tie some flies or wet a line if you get the chance.

Let's get after it.

buried to the rafters
Gratuitous fish pic
how I started my day

Monday, January 2, 2017

Monday Morning Coffee- Brett Watson Edition

Aaauuuggghhhppppptttt!!! Yawn, stretch, scratch, repeat! It is Monday once again, so let's have some coffee.

As you may have noted, this post is dedicated to my good friend Brett Watson who is stuck in a hospital near Detroit and told me he'd better get some Monday Morning Coffee in lieu of a visit, so here it is. I've only been stuck in a hospital bed overnight once in my life, and it wasn't very restful, so you have my sympathy buddy. Whatever is ailing you (I won't reveal medical info here) I hope you get it licked soon so you can get back out there.

Brett is one of my best friends and fishing buds, and just a great guy to be around. He somehow balances a family, career, business on the side, at one time was prez of his rather large TU chapter, ties awesome flies, and still manages to sneak in what seems to be a disproportionate amount of fishing time.

I met Brett back in 2012. He was part of the 2012 Isle Royale Coaster brook trout trip. We hit it off and have been compadres ever since. I lived Up North, and he lived in Metro Detroit area, but his in-laws have a place about five miles from mine, so he was up to visit a lot.

Brett with a monster

I always liked Brett because it was like fishing with an action figure- Brett Watson, Fly Fisher. Not only does he look good on camera, but he has some chops to go with it. He's a good caster and he out-fishes almost everyone. He is one of those people who is driven to be excellent, and it shows in his flies, his casting, and his catching.

I love it when we get into the boat with our buddy Chris Reister. Chris is always trying to put us on top of the fish, and Brett will always speak up and say "Leave it right here, bud, I think I can make it" and then he'll make some impossible cast and drift and catch the fish. He's also one of those irritating guys who is always posting a pic of a 30" brown trout he caught out of some ditch no one else thought to fish.


Brett is the driving force behind Confluence Boatworks which makes two and three person rafts for fly fishing, and has since become part of the Stealthcraft line of boats. I've fished quite a bit out of them and love them. They are very carefully designed by someone who fishes a lot and it shows. I'm not really trying to write an infomercial here; I can just say that they are good boats, and an example of what happens when a driven, busy person puts his or her mind to something.

the three amigos

Well, I got out yesterday to check out the fire damage on the upper Tallulah, and Coleman rivers. It was nice to get out and hike. Yes, everything burned, and it cleared out most of the understory, but the bigger trees are intact and even a lot of the rhododendrons are still alive. Still, it was sobering to see the moss burned off of the rocks, and the burned out husks of dead standing timber. The rivers don't seem to care and the fish are still there. Fire doesn't bother nature nearly as much as mankind. I feel bad for the people of Gatlinburg and others who lost life and property in the fires, but nature will be just fine.

Well hopefully I'll get out and fish at least once this week and have something to share. Brett- speedy recovery to you my friend. There's a bunch of steelhead out there with your name on them. That time we went out for a Hex hatch that didn't, and I stepped into the river and floated my hat- we'll keep that between us.

I'm out of coffee and it's time to get some things done.

Let's get after it. I'll leave you with some pics from the Coleman fire.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Monday Morning Coffee- 12/26/16

Yyyerrrrgggghpppphhhhttt! Yawn, stretch, scratch, repeat! It's Monday morning of a holiday weekend in which I'm assuming most of you are still in PJ's and slippers, so let's have some coffee.

I've been writing every day for a couple weeks now, so I'm hoping to channel some of that into the occasional post here. I'm working on a couple books, including the novel I started a couple years ago, and two fly fishing books based on content started on this blog. It's my burning desire to finish and publish at least one by spring, whether or not it's any good or gets a publisher. Just the act of completing something like that will be very satisfying. I'll self-publish if I have to just so the couple people who read my stuff can have a copy. Maybe if I include a free fly rod they'll sell like hotcakes.

I hope you've enjoyed whichever Solsticial holiday you celebrated. I hope you got what you wanted, even if that was just to sleep in and then wear pajamas all day for a couple days. That alone can be worth the price of admission. Me, I got a food processor so I can start making artisan bread, some fly lines and a flitch of good bacon. And don't lecture me about kneading the bread by hand; I didn't evolve banking skills so I could do everything manually. I could build a clay oven out of this red Georgia clay too, but that ain't happening either.
one of my fishing spots a month ago

I haven't fished in awhile, so there's not much to share on that front. The continued drought here in the South has made it a dispiriting experience, and the recent tragedy in which Gatlinburg (a two hour drive from my door) burned made the idea of fishing a vulgarity, at least in the short term. We've had enough rain now to end the fires if not the drought.  Hopefully we'll get enough rain to raise the rivers again before the summer heat returns and bakes it all back out.

I've been sick for the past two weeks with this awful chest cold, so I'm really starting to feel restless. Yesterday we went and walked on Hartwell dam as it was 72 degrees out and sunny. I was looking for carp in the shallows and saw some likely looking subjects near an island, but they stayed too deep for a positive ID. We went to look at the Savannah River below the dam after, and instead of fish we had a family of otters feeding below us. I know a lot of fishermen hate otters, thinking they eat all of their fish, but I see them as the sign of a healthy river and ecosystem, and besides, there's nothing more entertaining to watch.

a lot of fun to watch

I'm working on tying up some flies for gifts for friends, so maybe I'll throw up a dozen here to give away. I guess I should get them tied up before making big promises. It's my Michigan Survival Kit, so it will be a mix of streamers, dries, and ugly foam abominations, but I guarantee they'll all catch fish. If your name is Charley Van Husen you're in luck.

Well, my coffee is done, and I have wrapping paper to dispose of. Have a great week and don't get too crazy this weekend.

Let's get after it.

P.S. Here's my latest on Gink and Gasoline if you have any more time and inclination to spare.