Hey all, just wanted to wish everyone out there a Happy Thanksgiving! I know this old blog isn't what it used to be, but there's also a few folks out there that still check in from time to time. So if you're reading this, thank you!
I haven't done any fishing since my last post about Tennessee, instead I primarily have been tying and refilling my fly boxes from the carnage of the past season.
Here's a favorite pattern of mine for Fall and Winter, the weighted honryu kebari. When the fish are sitting low, the tungsten bead gets this fly down deep to where they're lurking... and the hackle is there should you want to give it a bit of "life" by giving it a simple twitch or two. The peacock herl body is just sexy. This is my version of a fly I first saw on Discover Tenkara, tied on hooks ranging from #10 down to #16.
I've also been busy over on the Tenkara Angler website. It's picked up quite a bit of steam over the past year and has been a fun project to work on with my partners Matt, Jason, & Anthony. While Troutrageous! may be on the wane, I guess blogs about niche topics still have some relevance in this fast-twitch Instagram & TikTok world.
In any event, here are a few articles/videos we've produced recently should you want to check them out. And yes, that's me in front of the camera in two of them. As a bit of an introvert, it's a bit awkward, but an interesting change of pace from just writing.
I thought it would be appropriate to give what amounts to and end of summer update. The last post written was about an early June trip to the Driftless, and a few things have happened since then.
Nothing huge, and honestly, not much (if any) fishing, but stuff worth chronicling nonetheless, if only for future personal reference. (When you have a blog as old as this one, it's fun to revisit posts of years past from time to time).
We had steel drums at summer work happy hour... that was fun!
New York City
We didn't really have a "big" summer vacation as a family this year. That said, we did spend a long weekend in New York City right before the 4th of July. Now I'm not a big fan of NYC, I'd prefer to retreat to the mountains as opposed to the city any day, but with Broadway re-opening after being largely closed due to the pandemic, we thought it would be a good opportunity to go see some shows.
See, Lilly is really (and I mean really) into theater (theatre?) and wants to pursue theater design in college in a few years. She's obsessed with set & costume design, props, and puppetry, and is an encyclopedia of theater knowledge, just like an avid angler would be with fly patterns.
In all, it was a fun trip, although it was really, really hot outside. Luckily most of our activities were indoors. I didn't go to all the shows that Lilly & K.C. attended (I did see "Into the Woods") but while they were occupied I wandered around Manhattan eating ever tasty thing I encountered. They just don't have food in Jacksonville like the kind you can find in Northeast.
Lilly & I did have a little father/daughter time at the American Museum of Natural History while K.C. was seeing Moulin Rouge solo. So I got to enjoy a little bit of "outdoors" stuff, even though most of it was taxidermy. I love spending time with Lilly, especially now that she's older (she's so intelligent and has a very unique mind). Lilly seemed to enjoy herself too. She loves all animals, although I'm sure she would have preferred ones that were alive.
A Date with Rona
Well the one unexpected souvenir I took back from our trip to NYC was a bout with coronavirus. I had gone the whole two years or so without getting it, but I started feeling symptoms that put me on the shelf for about a week. It wasn't too bad (I've been vaccinated), but nobody likes to deal with aches, fever, and congestion.
K.C. got it too, and it seemed to hit her a little harder than me, but interestingly Lilly seemed to dodge it. She had it during the last school year so perhaps she had some fresher antibodies. Who knows... either way, the virus' visit to our house, and its lingering effects, kind of limited most activities through mid to late July.
Tenkara Angler Stuff
While I haven't really fished much (other than in the neighborhood), we have been busy over at Tenkara Angler. We re-launched our "Level Line Podcast" at the end of June and spent some time talking to Bill, Amanda, & Nate about a recent tenkara event they participated in up in New Hampshire. It was a fun conversation and we're looking forward to doing more of these.
We also published a few articles, the most popular being the "Big Fish Tenkara Rod Guide" which lists many of the tenkara & fixed line rods available to chase fish way bigger than the ones I catch. We also posted a video from 2016 that Jason Sparks dug up of a Tom Sadler tenkara demonstration. That one was fun to watch, it was like going in a time machine! I sure miss those days.
Remember how I mentioned Lilly's love for theater? Well, she got to spend time at Savannah College of Art & Design (SCAD) at the end of July pursuing her passion. It was her first (I guess) unofficial college visit, and one she earned herself by winning a scholarship to attend the week-long seminar. She had two workshops, one in fashion design and the other in production design (costumes & sets).
It was weird dropping her off and helping her set up her dorm room for the week. I'm not sure I'm ready to do that for real in two years. I'm happy to report the little bohemian inside her thrived in the classes, I never heard her quite so talkative, exited, and expressive giving us the debrief after we went to pick her up.
I have two rad little nephews, and they and their equally rad parents (K.C.'s brother and his wife) came to visit us this past week for a few days. The boys can be a handful, but it's fun to have little kids running around the house again... cartoons on TV... and toys scattered all over the place. Especially when those kids are not yours.
Labor Day Weekend Smokies?
Which kind of brings me to present day. Lilly actually goes back to school this week, Junior year of high school! So in effect, our summer is over. (Although somebody needs to tell Mother Nature that, it's been 98 degrees here every day for like ever).
I am going to try to sneak up to the mountains one more time before the NFL season starts and my weekends get consumed by work. I'll most likely make the run up to Cherokee that I've done each of the past two years (2020, 2021)... but who knows, maybe North Georgia will be more manageable. I definitely will need to get away somewhere, a trout streams have been running through my head since I left Wisconsin.
They’ve been on a bit of a hiatus (haven’t we all, my last post here was over two months ago). However, they premiered a new episode last night, which was pretty awesome. Man, those Rio Grande cutties are absolutely gorgeous!
If you enjoy this sort of fly fishing film making, check out their Patreon to support them on their future endeavors.
I mean I just paid 20 bucks this past Saturday night to stream The Northman from home, and I can tell you supporting Tight Loops would be a FAR better investment of capital…
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone out there! If you're like me, you're likely looking forward to turkey (or the sides and desserts) later today, perhaps a parade, dog show, or football. Working in e-commerce, I don't get much of a holiday break (Black Friday & Cyber Monday are afoot) but on Thanksgiving, it's about food, family, friends, and maybe a little fly fishing (perhaps not necessarily in that order).
2020 Cracker Barrel tasted better than it looked... LOL!
If you're like me and you want to scratch a little fishing itch today, even if you can't get outside, I'd highly recommend pulling up YouTube on your favorite streaming device and giving the first 3 episodes of For Wild's Sake, a series of videos on preserving and pursuing native, wild trout species and the environments in which they live.
I've highlighted the Tight Loops crew here before, but in my opinion there are few folks in the fishing space making better videos these days. This isn't fish porn (particularly the 1st and 3rd installment), this is education, enrichment, and environmentalism. I'm a big fan, and I'm sure you'll become one too.
I spent the first 35 years of my life in the suburbs of Philadelphia. No matter where I lay my head at night, the Keystone State will always be home.
Recently, I was able to spend the better part of three consecutive weeks back up in southeastern Pennsylvania. I guess when your employer still has you working remotely, you can technically do that from anywhere. Seeing that window of opportunity, and not knowing how much longer it might last, the family took advantage of this coronavirus-induced loophole in my employment and headed north for a bit of an extended stay.
The trip was a fun (but fast) one. We got to visit with family and friends we hadn't seen in almost two years. We were able to eat all of the wonderful carbohydrates for which Philly-based cuisine is known. I even got to do a little fishing on some of the waters I used write about here, (in what feels like) a very long time ago.
Lilly with Pickles the duck; me with my nephews.
I'll post about some that more familiar fishing over the course of the next few installments, however, today, I wanted to touch on a little side trip. It was actually toward the end of our stay, to water that was new to me, distinguished only by some little blue lines on a map.
The brook trout is the state fish of Pennsylvania. It actually holds that distinction in many states in the northeast. However it's a little hard to come by in its native form near Philadelphia. Stocked brook trout abound in the Spring, but the urbanization of the area makes it fairly inhospitable to brookies (and their successful reproduction) in the wild.
When I lived in Pennsylvania, the closest wild trout water to me was Valley Creek. Other than being smack dab in the middle of Valley Forge Historical Park, Valley Creek is renowned for its thriving population of wild brown trout (despite threats from pollution from busted sewer lines or industrial runoff every few years). As such, I always identified myself as a wild brown trout angler.
Living in the south the past few years, and frequently enjoying what the nether-reaches of the Georgia & North Carolina Appalachians have to offer, I've become quite smitten with wild brookies. They live in areas where the temperatures are cooler, often times requiring a little extra effort in the form of a hike-in to find. However, once located they're quite eager to take your offerings. In short, they like to live where people don't, but are quite hospitable to visitors. Oh, and don't get me started on those colors.
I knew there were some wild brook trout within an hour's drive of where we were staying in King of Prussia, and thanks to a little bit of map study and even more bushwhacking, they were found in a cool, mountain stream, away from people, just as I had hoped. Temperatures had been extremely hot the prior week, but having rained the night before the water levels were almost ideal. There was even a little chill in the morning air that cut the humidity, a welcomed bonus.
It's always a bit nerve-racking when you fish new water for the first time. If you pass features you think might hold fish, but don't get any response to your fly, it can make you second guess what you're doing. Perhaps you begin to wonder if the fish are even there? Especially if your outing might be considered more "prospecting" than a sure thing.
Fortunately, on this trip, the third plunge pool brought the first brookie to hand. It was tiny, but it was a Pennsylvania native, a background we both shared.
From there, I got to meet with several other fish, the largest and prettiest being a fairly skinny specimen found residing beside a downed tree. It took the fly with aggression, followed likely by regret, but swam off quickly once released.
This didn't prove to be a particularly long outing, as the headwater stream eventually got too small and narrow to fish, but it was certainly worth the journey. A refreshing morning in the southeastern Pennsylvania hills, paired with the frequent company of beautifully wild brook trout.
Little blue lines, the stuff of this native Pennsylvanian's dreams.
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.
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.
You may have recently seen me highlight Flyside Chats, a new video interview series by Anthony Naples. It's been great so far, with some really thought-provoking guests. I suppose Anthony either ran out of people to talk to, or just decided to lower the bar, because he asked me if I'd be interested in chatting. Being the vain, egomaniac I am, I took him up on the offer last week.
While I probably wasn't the most interesting guest, I tried to bring some energy (and a fun hat), and had an enjoyable session with Anthony. We talked a little about 2020, hopes for 2021, Florida and North Georgia, favorite flies, and musical preferences.
So if you're bored... and I mean really bored... feel free check it out here.
...and check out Anthony's blog Casting Around for a ton of fly fishiness and other installments of Flyside Chats (with far superior guests).
It was rainy in the Jacksonville area over the weekend. It was the kind of weekend where you generally just stay indoors, although K.C. and I did make a little trip to the new Tractor Supply Co. and Culver's locations on Saturday just to check them out. Bought some cheeseburgers and a bird bath, I'll let you figure out which came from where.
Anyway, on Friday night I tapped into one of my saved movies on YouTube, The Mountain Men, starring Charlton Heston. It's campy, politically incorrect by today's standards, but also a classic. Not even close to being Jeremiah Johnson good, but I hadn't watched it in quite some time so it was worth dusting off.
I suppose based on that recommendation, when I was streaming YouTube later on Saturday I received the suggestion of these Ovens Rocky Mountain Bushcraft videos. This was the first entry I watched. Its got everything... fishing, bears, more fishing, more bears, and even some camp cooking... with liberal quantities of butter and aluminum foil.
And... umm... I couldn't stop. I totally binged these videos of Greg just doing random stuff in the backcountry of the Canadian Rockies. It's probably unfair to say the plots of these videos are random, as he does generally set out with a plan, but things tend to happen and they don't always work out as planned.
Anyway, if you want to follow along, here are a few others about fishing, but most of them are more general outdoors in theme.
Finally, in reading the "About" on his YouTube channel, I also learned he was evidently on the History Channel's "Alone" series, so I'll have to see if I can find that on demand. Guess I'll be chasing the rabbit again next weekend too...
I stumbled upon a few teaser videos for a triangular-shaped fly rod last night. Nope, not made of bamboo, rather graphite or some other modern material. It's going to be sold by D-Flex Fishing Rodssometime this year,with the first model being called the Hyperlite RLX.
If you're not interested in watching the videos, the construction evidently allows for a stiffer casting profile, but a softer fighting profile, all in the same rod. It also lets the rod be stronger and lighter in weight in comparison to similarly rated tubular "round" fly rods. I mean what's not to like?
Appears there will be a Kickstarter shortly, I'll probably post again once it is live just because I'm interested in following this project. However, if you'd like to be notified to be among the first in line, there's a link to sign up for email alerts on their web page.
Thought I'd bring back Wednesday Nibbles. This is the space I use to jot down some random notes. These are more for documenting fun, yet generally dissociated things that may not merit a blog post of their own. So here we go...
I'd like to try and get to three distant spots for fishing this year (if things fall into place). Wisconsin, Colorado, and Pennsylvania. I've also technically got Oni School coming in Utah, but I guess that is more dependent on Oni than me.
In the short term, I'm looking to outfit my CR-V for a bit of car camping. Just want to get a little mattress of some sort to toss down in the back to sleep on. Gonna make a run up to North Georgia or western North Carolina either in the end of February or early March. Maybe upgrade the sleeping bag as well.
Flyside Chats with Anthony Naples
Looks like Anthony has been making use of his time and has cranked out a few 15 minute-ish videos with some of this fly fishing friends. The first four episodes of Flyside Chats featured Rob Worthing, Matt Sment, Jason Klass, and Tom Davis.
I'm excited to see how this series develops, and I'd really love to see some chats with folks from more of the rod and reel side of the spectrum. I know Anthony dabbles in many styles of fishing, so perhaps he's already got some things in the works. Either way, I'll be watching!
Moss Piglets & Water Bears
I love these goofy videos. Not a vulgarly funny as the O.G. crazy nastyass honey badger video, but still very entertaining. I'm sure you'll find this one amusing as well.
Over the last month or two I've become more and more addicted to the Buying Alaska series on Destination America, which resides within the Discovery's network of channels. There's about 60 episodes of re-runs that ran from like 2012-2015, and it's just intoxicating.
You're probably familiar with the premise, although it's usually done in more urban or tropical locations. Here, people want to move to Alaska, get presented with 3 homes, have a budget of like $200K, and are shocked when they don't have running water and have to make use of an outhouse. I love it, and basically binge it on Saturdays or Sundays when episodes seemingly run back to back to back. And when not in Alaska, there are carbon copies of the same show highlight homes in the Yukon or purchasing RVs. All wonderful.
It was a long read, but the gist of it was that tenkara's seen a lot of ups and downs over the past 10+ years. However, thanks to people seeking everything "outdoors" during the pandemic, it would be a great time in this mini upswing for those with the wherewithal to become the sport's latest stewards.
So check it out, and also check out Daniel Galhardo's response over at Tenkara USA. It's nice to see that Tenkara USA is firmly focused on the future of tenkara outside of Japan as well!
Note: This post was originally a longwinded Facebook post from September 7th, 2020, but since I went trout fishing so infrequently in 2020, I figured that I should re-post it here. If nothing more than to be able to find it again in the future, as Facebook isn't so good for things like that.
Labor Day Weekend in Cherokee
Heading into the long weekend I was sort of nudged by KC to head for the hills. To go back to the mountains, enjoy the outdoors, and take advantage of that last moment of summer freedom before everything gets crazy on the work front. Not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, I headed to Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Now it being a holiday weekend, I knew going in the park was going to be crawling with people. I tried to find a last minute campsite to no avail, so instead stayed at a motel. I suppose with COVID, people are less keen to stay in hotels. It was probably the right choice anyway as in passing the KOA, it looked like the infield of a NASCAR race. RVs everywhere and no social distancing going on whatsoever. No shortage of Confederate flags either...
Mountain towns are great. I stayed in Cherokee, which is probably on the medium to larger side of a southeast mountain town, but nowhere near the over the topness of say Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge. For those that live on the coasts, equate them to a kitschy beach town. (For my Philly friends, Wildwood). Same flavor, different location.
You get a lot of tourist trap roadside attractions, (such as Santa's Land Fun Park & Zoo, where you can pet grizzly cubs - did we learn nothing from the Tiger King?). Most of them in Cherokee are Native American themed (for obvious reasons). Let me tell you there were no shortages of places to buy "real Indian moccasins"... The mini golf looked fun though, I was tempted to grab a putter.
Finding food was a bit of a challenge since most of the local eateries are dine-in establishments like pancake houses and "country kitchen" restaurants. As such, for those that wanted to remain distanced, the drive-thrus at the local Wendy's & Burger King were overwhelmed.
I tried the BK drive thru on Saturday night. The poor kid at the window had to explain to everyone that their soda and ice cream machines were both down. You could only order like Coke, Dr. Pepper, and Sprite. Wondering how those flavors worked, I ordered a Dr. Pepper and rolled up to the window only to see another kid coming out of the back clutching 6 2-liter bottles of soda in his arms and cracking into one of them to pour my drink. I felt so bad, but couldn't help but laugh. It was probably funnier in person. The ice machine worked though!
Fishing was pretty fun. While most people crammed the banks of the Onconoluftee & Raven Fork Rivers outside the park to catch recently stocked fish (for real, it was bonkers, it looked like opening day crowds back home in PA), I went more off the grid and pursued a bunch of small, wild rainbow trout in three different streams inside the park.
Fishing in those places is pretty fun, it's a full body workout as you have to hop over rocks and boulders to make your way up the creek. Successfully leaping from rock to rock I kept shouting "PARKOUR" in my head. Although I'm sure from afar I looked nothing like those cool viral YouTube videos... Maybe more like Michael, Dwight, & Andy in The Office...
Oh, and there were elk! All the times I've been to GSMNP I've never seen the elk. They were everywhere this time. That was cool.
After elk viewing I stopped at a picnic area to make a PB&J lunch and a tour bus full of Amish people showed up. Suddenly I was surrounded by bonnets and suspenders. It was very surreal. I would have taken a picture, but I don't think they go for that. But then again, I wouldn't have thought they'd ride around in a tour bus either.
Anyway, after an eight hour drive last night I'm back home now. Hope everyone is enjoying a well deserved Labor Day wherever you're at! Eat an extra burger or dog and drink an extra beer tonight. You deserve it! 🍔🌭🍺