Saturday, April 30, 2011

Rise Contest - Essay Portion: My Greatest Fishing Memory

I've given you the option to listen to me read the essay or read it yourself! The video is a slideshow of photos I've taken (both with a camera and from the internet) and me reading the essay.

Growing up in the Land of 10,000 Lakes with loving grandparents who were avid fisher people has provided me with more fishing stories than I can count. When Owl Jones from asked contestants for the Rise Fly Rod and Allen Reel Giveaway to write about their most treasured fishing memory, I let out a heavy “ugh.” With so many good memories, how is one to choose?

I started riffling through my mental filing cabinet. The monstrous catfish caught on my Snoopy pole. Fishing in Canada and just HAMMERING the walleyes. My recent trip to the Big Horn with family and friends to catch superb browns and rainbows. So many good times.

After some significant thought, I decided on a memory.

Scene: It is mid-summer at Island Lake in the Detroit Lakes area of Minnesota.

Enter Stage Left: Two tanned, shaggy-haired, skinny boys. They are approximately 11 years old each, overflowing with energy and clearly at home in the mosquito infested, woodland lakes of Minnesota.

It was a weeklong summer vacation with my cousin Russell and some of his family. Though we only saw each other once or twice a year, Russell and I were inseparable when we were together. Roughly the same age, we were best friends and family, a perfect combination.

The trip alone is filled with so many great memories. Russ and me, playing and falling in the water. Netting dozens off swarming baby cat or dogfish. Not sure which. Catching loads of small frogs to use as bait while fishing. My cousin, Amanda, caught the most brilliantly colored sunfish with one of those frogs. (photo from a google search...)

But those aren’t the stories I wanted to discuss. The memory I want to share with you is a simple afternoon when Russ and I went fishing.

Russ and I decided to mount a trolling motor on the back of a yellow paddle boat. We fished all over the shoreline and into bays casting and trolling for bass and northern and even catching some now and then. I remember adults in standard sized, properly motored, fishing boats would slowly move past looking at us like we were crazy, but still offering the courtesy, “How’s the fishing?”

“Good. We caught a couple northerns back around the corner.” We’d proudly respond. Heads held high, because that simple question of “How’s the fishing?” meant we had been accepted into the club. We were fishermen.

That day, we ran the trolling motor until it died and then paddled home fishing the entire way. We didn’t catch any trophies, but it was a blast. It is a small memory, but it is, oh, so important.

To me, the fishing, running, playing, swimming and laughing with my cousin was as pure as it gets. Innocent, shiny, happiness. It’s like he movie Stand By Me, or the movie “The Sandlot.” Those are both stories about the adventure of being young, the endless possibilities and freedoms as a child. Just as much as those stories explored the innocence of childhood adventure, they also touched on the inevitability of growing up.

Bittersweet is the taste of nostalgia. My cousin and I are older. We are separated by geography and responsibilities. Though there will not be another trip like that for us, there is still the possibility of future outings that might even include our own children, providing them with the opportunity to explore their own summertime adventures.

So why is this tiny, brief, fishing memory so special? I mean, what is it that makes me long after that small moment in the paddle boat so much compared to my other great fishing times? We didn’t catch any record-breaking fish. We probably didn’t even catch that many. While writing this essay, I actually had to answer this question for myself because it wasn’t very clear at first.

I believe the memory is so strong, because it is the first time I remember being an independent fisherman. Russell and I, exploring the water. Tying on our own lures. Hooking our own bait. Taking off our own fish. Choosing how and where to fish. No adults. Every decision we made, was our own. After spending years, following instructions and learning the ways of those more experienced, we were able to take off the training wheels, and embark on our own fishing adventure, still basking in childlike innocence, unknowingly seeking our independence.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Montana Fly Company Phone Case

So the other day I noticed on Montana Fly Co's Facebook page they were having a contest. The winnings were a fancy new phone cover with their sweet designs. The goal, come up with the best app for a fishing outing. They held the contest on their blog. Well, I submitted my potential app, and it won! So now I get a fancy new styling phone cover! Woo hoo!

For those of you who don't want to follow the link, here is the first and second place entry:

Thanks, MFC! Now, i need to make sure my phone can use the case!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Rise Contest - Bonus Task: Fishing with a Stick and more...

Another crazy task set for by OwlJones for the Rise Fly rod Giveaway. This one was inspired by a "Wednesday Nibbles" post by Troutrageous. The goal was to use a stick, line, and fly and catch a fish over 10 inches long. Spoiler alert: I wasn't able to catch a 10+ fish. I did land a nice 8 inch sunfish.

There was also hidden task I found over here and I fulfilled that duty at the end of the video.

Stay tuned for my entry for the next essay portion of the contest. Bye.

Monday, April 25, 2011

My Easter Contribution

We had friends over for dinner yesterday and had a great time. Along with ham, popovers, and strawberry shortcake, we had a great dish that I learned from another friend. It is very easy and exttremely tasty.

Baby red potatoes
Sweet red onion
Sweet potatoes
Rosemary, salt, pepper, olive oil

After boiling the potatoes to soften them up, cut and combine all
other ingredients to proportions of your own liking. Oil. Season. Mix.

Roast in oven until the goodies are tender. Stirring occasionally.

Mmmmmm. Delicious. The instructions aren't very detailed because
that's the way I got them. Have fun with the flexibility of the
recipe, and make it your own:)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Rise Contest - Essay Portion: My First Fish on the Rise Level Series

Heed my words children. Listen close to my tale,

For we are about to begin a Journey of unprecedented scale.

Now every word I say to you is absolutely true, I swear.

This story is as real as you, sitting in your chair.

In my early days walking the woods,

I would often meet travelers selling different goods.

One such person, was a wizened old woman,

Selling trinkets and keepsakes, jewels and potions.

I told her I was an outdoorsman, a fisher at that.

To me she said, “Let’s see what I’ve got in back.”

Out of her wagon she pulled three fishing rods.

She said I could only buy one, so I’d have to play my odds.

I chose a sturdy Bait Caster, solid and true.

It felt mighty in my grip. A good decision, I knew.

I paid the woman’s fee, and went on my way.

I turned back to wave goodbye, but she disappeared without a trace.

Strange I thought, this particular chance meeting,

But lucky, I felt, I could now go fishing.

Further down the trail, I came upon a lake.

I waded up to my knees and began casting bait.

As soon as my lure touched the glassy water,

A gust of wind came up, followed by lightening and thunder.

Not a single bite came, and the storm intensified.

The rod felt hot, painful and electrified.

I could hear fish laughing. My rod began to shake.

A tree fell beside me. The shore began to quake.

When, at last, I thought, I could hold the rod no longer.

It jumped from my hands and swam away like a serpent in the water.

Terrified, I fled. Not knowing what happened.

What was that rod? Who was that woman? I felt defeated and saddened.

That night, I curled up beneath the knotty pines.

Sheltered from the storm, I tried to rest my eyes.

When I woke, the sun was rising. The birds had come to life.

I found myself in a clearing, lost, but alive.

As my belly grumbled and I tried to get my bearings,

I heard a familiar noise. A wagon’s wooden wheels turning.

I ran fast as I could after the sound.

There was the woman. She said, “I wondered when you’d come around.”

“You sold me a cursed rod!” I spat in her face.

She calmly stated, “It was your choice which rod to take.

Why not try again? After all, only two remain.”

She held out both rods. I examined their length.

One was familiar, a Spin Casting beauty.

The other was different. On it was written: “Rise Level Series.”

I’d never seen a rod quite like this before.

“It is for fly fishing, my dear,” was the old woman’s retort.

I wasn’t quite sure what I should do,

But there was something about that fly rod, somehow, I knew.

I decided at once “I’ll take the fly rod!”

She handed it to me. Gave me a smile and a nod.

When the rod touched my hand, I heard an angelic song.

A warm light surrounded me, then POOF! She was gone.

When I came to a stream, it was like second nature.

This rod knew what to do, so I listened to her.

The first cast came fast. My arm rose quickly.

The rod was my hand. It was a piece of my body.

Smooth, shot the line, unfolding a tight loop in air.

The rod had my eyes. Line flying like a strand of hair.

The rod was the captain, and I was her daughter.

Proudly watching her sail out to deep water.

Then came the take. My arm shot up.

Cinching my line. Feeling the tug.

Heavy was the pull. Deeply, the rod bent.

A wake issued forth. Upstream, the fish went.

After an amazing fight, this fish swam to my feet.

“Your rod is something special,” He said, “To you, I concede.”

I called it a draw, and let the fish swim away.

For I knew it was the rod responsible for this take.

Now listen, children, please, to the words I have said.

For you may find yourselves with this same choice ahead.

When you reach for that rod, think twice which you choose.

It may make a world of difference for the future you pursue.

For a rod isn’t just a rod. No, it can be so much better.

It could be a magical fly rod, or a cursed Bait Caster.

This is for the Rise Fishing and Rise Fishing rod and Allen reel giveaway.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

OBN Writing Prompt: Spicy and Delicious!

Heat the water. Open the packet. Mix and serve. That's how I like my hot chocolate. Almost...

Throw a dash of cheyenne pepper in there +/-cinnamon and salt.

mmmmmmmmmm..... Heats you up and warms your tummy. Soooo good. I had this while camping in Utah last week. It made the cold nights and mornings more than tolerable.

pic from:

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Rise contest: "Funny" video by me and Zeeba

Here we go again. Guess what I've been doing today :)

Here you go OJ and RF.

Ben Harper on the tunes. Great song.

This is Fly Fishing for Cat... Fish. Zeeba catfish to be more specific. His habitat range is exclusive to our apartment. I practiced catch and release for this take.... :)

Rise Contest: Obscure Item Review

Now this is really absurd. Here is my improv random item review for the and Rise Fishing.

by now you get the idea. All posts for the next few weeks will probably be following the same serious tone.... right.

Rise Fishing Rod and Reel contest.

Whew... For those of you who haven't unsubscribed to this blog yet (Mom and Dad), I think it is time we have a recap. That being said, even this recap is an attempt to score some last manure ... I mean minute points for the contest.

Thus far, I feel I've made a pretty good push for points. I've set most of my pride aside and went for the big point items. That is a link to see what you get points for.

I'm feeling pretty good about this. That being said, I also feel like I need to shower to wash the shame off myself as well as the sharpie. Yes, its still there. I didn't run straight to the washcloth and soap. I was fortunate to never wake up in college with "silly" drawings all over my face, but I feel like I can sympathize a bit with those who did. Just knowing the marker is there on my chest makes me want to brush my teeth or change clothes.

Well, Owl Jones and Rise Fishing are giving me a distraction, that's for sure. I'll have to keep you updated when I hear point totals. I think the contests ends in a few weeks. I guess the task for this week is to make people laugh with a video. I'm not sure how I'll do with that, but I'll give it a go.

EDIT: Troutman gave me the heads up that I was supposed to write about my competitors and not my progress in the competition. Oh details. Well, I tell you what. I discovered this whole contest this morning and it basically ruled my day. I did make it out on a few errands. FuncFish and Floggin Water are the other guys I've seen around on the contest threads. We'll see if I notice anybody else, but all I can say is, this contest is about to get dicey. I think Owl has some surprises up his sleeves that will get people points all over the place.

Until then.

Rise contest: Fly Fishing With Me Song

That questionable line at 1:03 is "foggy morn." Unfortunate phonetic misunderstanding.

Again, this is for the and Rise fishing Rise Fly rod and reel giveaway. These posts are only allowed to be done until tonight, hence the absolute flurry. But I can no longer apologize. I'm trying to win!

oh and by the way, if you are here for reasons other than these posts, here is My Big Adventure post of my trip fly fishing in Montana and hiking in Utah.

Rise fishing contest: Poem

Spring comes earl in the Georgia South.
Woods, thick and wet.
Lush and overflowing like a McDonald's Playpen,
Enveloped by the great Smoky Mountain Range.

A River Damsel shifts her footing in cool mountain waters
Hoping for a trophy.
Catching a fry.
Leaving with memories.

This is another entry for OWLJONES and Rise Fishing for the Rise fishing rod and reel contest.

sharpie + chest = new fly rod

completely, utterly, shameless. Oh no. what am I doing :) If I win, it will be worth it.

This is for the owl jones and rise fishing contest to win a rise fishing rod and reel combo.

Zeeba wants to get a new fly rod too.

Poor guy. His papa is shameless.

Rise contest: Fly Rod pic post. Only one rod. reel, handle, tip.

The Circus is in Town

Okay, so Owl Jones at is hosting a rod and reel giveaway in cooperation with Rise Fishing Co.

I would love to get me hands on this so that my wifey could have a cool rod and might want to join me in fishing some afternoon. In order to win this sweet stuff, I've got to do as much silly stuff on the contest point list as possible. Owl tallies the points up on his forum, Fish Head Forums.

So, if you are one of the few who subscribes to this (I don't have a list, but mom and dad I guess that is mostly you), you will be getting a flury of emails as I try to nail a few of these as quickly as possible.

Monday, April 18, 2011

My Big Adventure.

So, are you ready for this? Are you ready for a whirlwind recap of to sweet trips? This is your chance to either 1. turn around and walk away with your chin held high 2. just skim through the photos to get the gist or 3. dive right in and follow detail by detail. Choose your own adventure and lets go.

Last Thursday, I woke at 4am to a meowing kitty. "Okay. Okay." I said. "You're right. I should get on the road." I made the 14ish hour drive (according to google maps) from Omaha to Fort Smith, Mt in a little over 12 hours. After buying my fishing license at the Cottonwood Camp fly shop, I was in the water and fishing by 5:45pm. tips for cutting down driving time: pee in a bottle while driving or while pumping gas. bring along a pizza for food. get an interesting book on cd to stay awake. oder good driving weather.

I basically fumbled around for about 2.5 hours looking foolish and exploring the area. For one brief moment, everything came together. I mended a great cast, laying my orange scud and zeebra midge accross a seam that was practically drawn with a sharpie. My indicator twitched. I set. And the fight ensued. I pulled in a 16-17inch brown. Beautiful and strong.

I missed a couple other takes that night, but was happy I was able to come away with some success.

The next day we hammerd the fish. We saw a bunch of redds while heading down the water indicating the fish were getting their spawn on. Our group of seven guys split up into 3 groups and each had a guide. Expensive but highly reccommended for a first day fishing the water. It sets you up for much greater success the rest of the days. The water was only 37 degrees and flowing at 3600cfs, but it the fish stayed in relatively fast water. It wasn't until late in the afternoon they started sliding back to the slower stretches. They were hitting fire beads, sow bugs, red midges, orange/grey scuds, san juan worms, and zeebra midges. My last fish of the day was a beautiful rainbow with a healthy belly. Great fish.

The next two days, things slowed down quite a bit. We had an inch of rain after our first day, and the fish hunkered down. I caught most of my fish on the red midges (size 18) and orange scuds (size 16) that I had tied. I was told these were much too big, but the fish were just as interested in what I had to offer as anyone else in our group. That felt great to tie something useful.
On one of my walks along the shore I found something that Jay from the Naturalist's Anglemight be interested in. It was peaking at me from inside a thicket. Any thoughts, Jay?

Throughout the weekend, we saw plenty of midge hatches, but the fish were rising inconsistently. Some of us in the group were expectantly waiting a baetis hatch, but none came. The days progressively got warmer, but also sunnier and windier, keeping the hatches at bay.

Our last day was windy as all get out but we still managed to finish it off with a hot pool getting most of the guys in our group 3-4 fish in the last hour or so.

On Monday morning, I was the last one to leave. I got packed up and headed down to Denver to meet some freinds. It was a quick stop. I got their, transfered gear, and jumped in their car as we got on our way to Arches National Park for a few days of climbing and hiking.

We got ourselves a camp sight and made our way to the top of Elephant Butte and through Dragonfly Canyon in the first day. It was gorgeous. The only hitch in the day was when I nailed my upper tibia on a submerged rock as I tried to jump across a pool of water in Dragonfly. There were several of these pools. It is necessary to swim through them, but I thought I could at least jump close to the far side and avoid fully submerging my self. Nothing broke besides a little of my spirit :)

After some rest, antiinflammatories, and compression, we spent the next day hiking a route called Lomatium in the Firey Furnace area of the park. The height of this was the 140ft repell. Spectacular. After that, we had a little time to see the Delicate Arch around a cloudy sunset. Another amazing day.

We capped it off with a morning doing a short hike with three great repells. This was Tier-drop. The 130ft repell in this was amazing because it gave you a far view of the park and another canyon.
If you've stayed with me this long, I'm thankful. It was two awesome trips (I use that word with it's intended meaning "full of awe").

Now back in Omaha and back to "normal" life. I've got lists to get through and work to be done, but hopefully, I've sewn a seed that I can revisit in the years to come.

Friday, April 15, 2011

The night is getting better

One more night in Colorado with this rich and smooth scotch ale by
Oskar Blues Brewery. Good friends and good times.

Stuck in Denver

With the weather closing down some roads, I'm staying in Denver on more night before my final push home. When I get back, I'll be sure to update on all my adventures fly fishing, hiking, and climbing. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Dreaming of the BWCA... or am I?

OBN's at it again with another photo prompt, this time looking at dream destinations. Just like everybody, I have so many places I want to go, making this particularly difficult. I would love to see Alaska, ride the Siberian Railway, travel Chile north to south, dine in Cambodia, hike in New Zealand, etc etc etc.

Okay, as I write this, right now in fact, I'm changing the direction of the post. I was going to tell you, whenever I dream of a place to go, I long after the quiet, summer shores of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA). I have been a few times and I absolutely love it. The smell of warm, musty pines, picking blueberries, moose, bear, great fishing, northern lights, no motorized vehicles allowed.

photo by: Brandenburg, J from

I've dreamed and dreamed of having a small cabin up there, or at least making a yearly trip for the rest of my life. But then I realized, as I was typing the list of places above, there is another dream. One more exciting and adventurous. One that, admittedly, will be difficult to pull off, because of real world commitments. But as long as we are dreaming, maybe I should shoot a little higher, eh?

I've already mentioned it. Chile. For some reason, I've been fascinated with the diversity of landscapes within the country. With national parks like Torres del Paine (pictured below, thanks national geographic), el pacha, Easter Island, Santiago, fishing galore, what is not to desire?
Photograph by Jerry Alexander/Getty Images
So there it is. It has been set. I choose Chile. The BWCA almost had it for a second, but then, like Ohio, or Kansas, or Duke, or whoever else you didn't expect to lose during March Madness, a twist out of nowhere.

I would travel the cities and the parks. Fishing when I can and eating all the street food my bowels would allow.

Monday, April 4, 2011


Charlie Sheen couldn't have said it any better. The spoils from my correct guess of Heterodon platirhinos on The Naturalist's Angle have arrived! Jay, with your help I will hopefully become the local authority (at least among the intern residents) on the amphibians and reptiles of my new corner of the country. I'll have to take this baby on down to the Great Dissmal Swamp and see what I can see. Thanks again Jay!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Week is Upon Us.

I can't believe this week is here. It is a beautiful Sunday morning in Omaha, Ne. I am thankful to be up and enjoying it. We ran a 10 mile run yesterday on the Keystone trail only to follow that up with 18 holes of golf with friends.... Well, Tiger Woods golf on the Wii, but still, long day.

Now my mind drifts to the West. Montana. Colorado. Utah.

On Thursday morning, after seeing Sara off to work, I'll be driving up to Fort Smith, Mt to begin our 3 day trip fishing the Big Horn River. We are staying at my brother's favorite place Cottonwood Camp. I can't wait. I know a lot of bloggers I read are able to get out and fish pretty regularly. Well, for me, it is few and far in between. I have been waiting for this trip for a long time.

On Monday, I'm driving down to Denver to visit my best bud and follow him on a few more adventures. He has planned a few days of hiking in Utah's Canyonlands National Park.

Its a good day for a poem, so let's give it a go.

Looking forward. 4/3/11

I look forward
to each footfall
each rising sun
each splash of cold water
refreshing to touch

to blazing fall leaves
biting winter mornings
sticky summer lemonade
fires on the beach

to all of your laughs
all new foods to taste
all of the smiles
shared with friends

to more responsibility
maturity with age
finding eternal optimism
keeping cynicism out of my veins