Thursday, April 10, 2014

A few rough fish

I went to check out what used to be (and hopefully will be again someday) one of my favorite streams the other day.  It's an often overlooked stream that is gorgeous and great when it's running clear.  Beautiful long runs with deep pools and sexy tail-outs.  Unfortunately this stream seems to have come out a little worse for the wear after the over-warm twenty-twelve season.  Hoping for the best I ventured out, found beautiful conditions, but only caught a few chubs.

Sometimes I do wonder if I'd rather get skunked or catch a chub, and I'm still not sure.  I do know that when the trout re-establish themselves, the big boys are going to have plenty of food to gorge themselves on.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Tyin' Yesterday: A whole bunch of carp flies

Fly montage by McTage

The 2014 Carp Fly Swap is officially a wrap.  A few weeks ago I got the goods in the mail, twenty amazing carp flies and and some loot to boot.  I'm beyond eager to fish these flies, and the water just can't warm up fast enough.  Obviously a huge thank you is in order to McTage at Fly Carpin and Dan Frasier at Carp Pro for organizing the swap and rounding up some fantastic loot for everybody.  I now own a can-koozie, have a much larger carp-fly box, and have some eight-weight line that will be going to my brother so we can chase some Lake MI carp and smallies together this summer.

A very appreciative thanks to Orvis and Scientific Anglers for providing a fly box and line (respectively) to every one who participated.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

A few good fish

Dad and I got out today and played with some trout.  Not quite as many trout as we were hoping for, but some.  And one of them was great, a nice fish for Dad's 5'9" glass three-weight.

I got my first few fish on the Fish Eagle seven-foot five/six weight that I bought this winter.  Great rod, but definitely not a dry fly rod.

We took a great cheese and crackers break while watching some trout rise in the next pool.  Watching was our only interaction with those fish though.  Still, skinny water and streamers aren't the best of friends, so we let them be and headed up to the next spot.

Not too long after that we headed home and got some lunch.  Cars were at just about every bridge or other suitable place to park at on a stream we checked on on the way home.  For that matter, guys were all over on the way to the stream this morning too.  Right after we strung up our rods it was a little disappointing to see a guy strolling right to where my dad and I were about to fish.  I guess that's how it goes when you try to fish Saturdays though.  It reminded me that if you put in just a little extra effort to get out there early it really pays off.

Rupert perked us right up when we got home though.

And then he wanted to go fishing with us.

We fished the Home Stream and got a few more fish to play along before we called it a day.  And really, it was a pretty good day.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014


I enjoy reading poetry on occasion.  I really prefer well-written prose, but sometimes poetry does what prose can't, and I can appreciate that.  The poetry that I enjoy reading above everything else, is alliterative poetry.  It's subtle flow and unifying mechanisms are just unparalleled aesthetically, in my opinion.  So sometimes I try my hand at it, and this is one of those times.  You can go ahead and skip to the bottom and read it if you want, but I think some background might help you appreciate alliterative poetry.

I've studied a lot of language in my day, and my area of specialization was Germanic languages, especially the old ones.  Now I do have a good grasp of modern Dutch, though my speaking skills are a bit rusty right now, and my Norwegian's pretty sharp all-around, so it's not just the old languages that I enjoy.  But one of the things that first attracted me to the area was Old English and it's odd appeal.  At once familiar and foreign it's difficult to know how to approach it at first.  I also either took classes in or studied: Gothic, Old Norse, Old Frisian, Old Saxon, and Old High German.  So I think I'm being fairly matter-of-fact when I say I have a good grasp of Germanic, and one of the hallmarks of older Germanic literature is alliteration.

The structure of these languages favors a poetic style that emphasizes the natural stress of certain words in a sentence, like important nouns or verbs.  Conversely, words like what, when, where, of, in, the, these, those, etc., get a lot less stress.  What this means for poetry is that gross syllable count isn't what is so important, like it is in the rhyming poetry we're familiar with.  What is important is the number of those naturally stressed syllables I mentioned above.  We're all familiar with this, just maybe not consciously.  If I say, "I'm going to the fly shop," we can all hear three main stresses, the natural stress that going and fly shop get.  And if you pay close attention, you can hear how both elements in fly shop are stressed, but shop just ever so slightly less than fly.  Once you are aware of the stress that these words get, it's easy to see just how little I'm, to, and the get (and they're only ever stressed when we need to emphasize something).

The differences in stress here are exactly what underly alliterative poetry.  A classic line of Old English verse had four main stresses, words like going, fly, and shop.  Sometimes too much alliteration is a bad thing, and our old English ancestors knew this.  Only two of the stressed words were supposed to alliterate, three of the four were allowed to, and the fourth stressed word was almost never allowed to alliterate with any of the previous three.  To give an example line (taken from below): "A rod then starts to rattle so I lean to..."  If there's alliteration, the third stress almost always alliterates with one of the previous two (in this case the first), and notice that the fourth stressed word lean doesn't alliterate with anything.  Underlying all of this is the flow of naturally stressed and unstressed words (just like in prose), rather than a boppity-bop flow of iambic or trochaic meter that we adopted from the Romance languages.  On top of that flow is well-placed alliteration that isn't too overpowering.  It's subtle.  So I cringe just a little bit when I read poetry like Christopher Puddy's, where the alliteration is a bit too strong for my tastes.

I did follow the usual convention of splitting each line into half-lines, if for no other reason than that's how I like to see this stuff on a page.  Not all of the lines below are perfect imitations of the Old English form, and anybody reading it that knows specifics of line forms will notice deviations.  But nonetheless it's a poem that fits my preferences for how a poem should flow, and I hope some of you guys enjoy it as well.

The air of a morning      yet early strikes
my face and urges me      to finish packing.
A couple things left,     a cooler, some rods,
then the road for a while,      till the river appears...
but until then, coffee      and the cool grey of
morning keeps me      company while I wind
through the hills and a fog      hovers in the ditches.
Greyness hints at      gold behind me
and I'm eager for water,      for the day ahead. 
A rod then starts to      rattle so I lean to
fix it.  Nearly there I bring it      to the front instead,
considering which fly      will coax the day's
first hungry trout out      of his hiding place.
Heavy matters beg      for heavy flies I
decide, and the matter      is done and settled.
I stop the car      and step out, inpatient,
watching from the bridge as      water races
into the darkness      under me, I hurry.
Lining up my rod      and loading boxes
into my bag, I breach      the barrier of land
and water, working      out line from my reel.
Water washes around me      wheeling bits of
sediment about,      and bugs too, downstream
to tempt the fish that      I feel so drawn to.
I cast to the bank and      wonder why I can't help
but find myself in these      meandering  hallways
where native and newcomer      alike nourish themselves
on what we with feathers and such      seek to copy.
Fly hits water      and I hurry to get rid
of slack line as      I lean forward and watch
my sculpin scurry      over the shelf and dive
down and out of sight,      and so I feel
closely while it swings,      coasting along
in front of the noses      of fish lying in wait;
hungry still, or at least I      hope so, wondering
as it makes its way out      of the main current
and into softer water,      a seam along the edge.
I strip it once,      watching the fly
slow down and      start to fall from lack
of drag when a dark shape      drives itself
out from hiding      underneath a bank
and tightens my line.

Friday, March 21, 2014

It's always a good day when you wear out a fly

I was only able to get out for a few hours today, but when it's two hours and about twenty trout I'll take it.  Even the upper sections of the streams I looked at were off color with maybe just over a foot of visibility, which means exactly one thing: fish a black woolly bugger, and watch it get worn out.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Great Expectations

Sticking to what you know is really tough when you have a rambling soul.  I probably should have gone home, to the Driftless and a trout stream whose banks are just visible as I peer over our woodstove.

Instead I wandered north.  Admittedly, it wasn't just for fish, I wanted to visit my brother.  But when I planned it I also thought there would be a bit more open water up here than there is.  And let me tell you, there ain't.  Even the weekend before, a band gig took me to Milwaukee where I thought, just maybe, I'd find some fishable water.  Hardly.

But there was some open water at least, which meant a bit of casting to loosen the shoulders, and I even spent a bit more time with the switch rod, which is always good.  What my time amounted to though was a bit of exploration, knowledge gained - it's always good when you can talk with a few locals - and plenty of time on the road.

Between work and my course load this semester, to say that I'm eager for summer is an understatement. What I need right now is for my downtown carp spots to warm up for some between class extracurriculars.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

50 degrees with Ronald McDonald

Everyone in the house has officially gotten their first fish of the year now.  Mike and I got out today after work for some nice weather, but unfortunately slow fishing.  Ronald McDonald did get it done though.  I only had a few chases for excitement.

Even trouts love the golden arches