May 30, 2021

I Love the Driftless

There's just something about this region of southwest Wisconsin that amazes upon each and every pilgrimage. The rolling green hills, the cold spring creeks, the voracious trout; it's wonderfully unique and intoxicating. 

Now I don't consider myself a very good trout angler. Once upon a time I was on the path to perhaps becoming one, but ever since moving to Florida, I just don't get to fish for trout frequently enough to really advance my skills.

That said, upon entering the Driftless, I always seem to punch above my weight class. The fishing can be just that good. It's the kind of place that satisfies, no matter one's skill level.

Two weeks ago I met up with a half dozen fixed-line friends for five days of camping, fishing, and camaraderie. Our base camp was in the Viroqua, Wisconsin area, ideal to launch off in any direction for a full day of fishing and fun. It was a trip I won't forget soon, and honestly there's no reason to want to.

Here are more than a few photos from that week.

Jonathan stalking

Matt laying low

Jason fishing some pretty water

Greg's rookie tenkara experience

Greg working the pool

I even got to finally meet Len Harris...


Jonathan at the vise

May 6, 2021

B-Side Fishing

Are you watching B-Side Fishing yet?

No... give it a go. Especially if you live in the Northeast. It's a lot of Dirty Jersey...

Plus, Joe & T! go way back... LOL.

Here's the YouTube channel, as well as two of my favorite episodes (so far).

So go grab a hoagie and binge... you're welcome.

May 4, 2021

Ray Troll x Eva's Wild "Save What You Love"

I love Ray Troll's art.

You occasionally see it on fly fishing websites and may not even realize it. 

I first put two and two together when I visited Ketchikan, Alaska a few years ago as a stop on a summer vacation. There's an eclectic little street (Creek Street) with several touristy traps, one of which is an art gallery/gift shop featuring the works of Ray Troll. I spent more than my fair share of time in "Soho Coho" looking at vibrant images of salmon, bears, and other forms of life... from bugs to bison to dinosaurs. It's a very distinct style, one I've come to really appreciate.

Well, fast forward to a month or so ago (this post is a little overdue), and I received an email from Eva's Wild, a wild salmon brand. As in you can buy fish from them. I'm not even sure how I ended up on the mailing list, I think because I supported the "The Wild" movie launch last year. In any event, the Eva's Wild brand touts sustainability and responsibility, and has a lot of multimedia (including a podcast) to support their message.

Anyway, that email announced a partnership with Ray Troll, and introduced not only a podcast episode featuring Ray, but an exclusive t-shirt design featuring his wonderful art. The best part is that $5 from each shirt goes toward the Bristol Bay Heritage Land Trust, a group looking to ensure permanent protection for the land and waters of Bristol Bay.

So I guess that's really the point of this post. First, to introduce you to the art Ray Troll (if you are not already familiar)... and should you find yourself appreciating his art as I do, to perhaps also show a way to support the salmon that inspire both fishermen and artists the world over.

April 23, 2021

The Places We Go For Brook Trout

The hike down doesn't seem so bad. Gravity helps the descent, as does lively conversation with like-minded friends. You're at the water in no time, wanting to hike in even a bit further to prolong the time spent fishing back upstream.

The hike up and out on the other hand is hellish. A precipitous vertical incline. The kind where it's almost impossible to fall down. Rather, one falls forward. Switchbacks are clearly forbidden in this Appalachian holler. Probably best that way, discourages the riff-raff from returning.

And for good reason. The wild, native brook trout fishing can be as stellar as the fish are beautiful. Tiny, technicolored jewels, hiding in plain sight. Fragile in nature, but here, thriving, largely protected from external pressures.

On this day however, it was a bit cool and (as I'm told) a few weeks before things get "really good."

That was okay, sharing the water with a skilled fishing partner, we ended up doing just fine after a bit of experimentation. Leap frogging pocket and plunge, we found wet flies successful, but beadhead nymphs invaluable.

After about six hours of fishing, that hike back out bellowed in a taunting, sadistic tone. It had let us in to sample some of its treasures, now we had to pay the steep price of admission upon exit.

Almost five full days following, my knees and thighs remain in debt.

Oh, the places we go for brook trout.

April 13, 2021

The Native Fish Coalition

Have I talked about the Native Fish Coalition here?

Honestly, I don't recall. The last year or so will do that to you. If I have, well... I'm going to again. And if I haven't, well... shame on me. Either way, let's make up for lost time.

There are a lot of conservation groups out there, both big and small. Most all of them do great work. You probably receive weekly mailings from several of them (ahem, TU), but the one I am really excited about is the Native Fish Coalition (NFC).

I'm a relatively new NFC member myself, joining last July, and just in that short time, they've gone from a few chapters dispersed throughout mostly New England, to now having seven state-based chapters, including as far south as Alabama. (Roll Tide & Redeyes!)

Now what sets the Native Fish Coalition apart from other groups to me is that the work is extremely relatable. Simply put (and to quote), they are "like-minded advocates who are committed to protecting, preserving, and restoring our wild native fish."

I dig wild, native fish.

This is also all grassroots work, being done by people like you and me. It's all in the name of keeping native fish populations where they belong, despite all of the pressures they face on a daily basis. And that doesn't just mean native game fish. Sure, brook trout rightly get a lot of love, they are gorgeous and threatened in much of their native range... but this group gives attention to all wild, native species, large and small, graceful and awkward.

But Why Now?

I bring this up now because in the most recent newsletter, (in addition to highlighting a Schuylkill River Cleanup by the Pennsylvania Chapter), there was a membership plea, which I'd like to pass along to my readers:

Native Fish Coalition Schuylkill River Clean Up
Image Courtesy NFC

"NFC offers memberships that acknowledge one's support for what we do. Membership is also a way for us to raise money for conservation initiatives. Most importantly, in some cases the size of an organization has a direct correlation with how it is viewed by the powers that be. 

Please consider joining NFC if you haven't already. For student, individual, family, and species annual memberships, and lifetime individual and family memberships, click here. For lifetime memberships with a Winston fly rod, click here. For lifetime memberships with a Winston fly rod and Bauer fly reel, click here.  For business memberships click here. And to join by PayPal, click here.       

If you renew a current membership or join NFC as a new member in April, you will be automatically entered into a drawing for a Ranger Backcountry Tenkara Rod Starter Kit, compliments of our friends at Red Brook Tenkara.  A $140 value, the winner will be required to pay shipping only."

So check out what's going on at the Native Fish Coalition. Take a few minutes to click around their website. I think you'll find they're doing a lot of good things.