Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Great recipe!

Get the Recipe at Illinois Wisconsin Fishing (Click here)

Sunday, December 25, 2011

I'm no expert

But I'm pretty sure I know what Mr. C is going to do in his "off" season.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve Hike

mmm...fishy water...
Christmas eve day.  30 Degrees.  Bright sunshine.  Snow.  And my two favorite kids.

Really, what could be better?  (Well...I kinda wish Mrs. MacLoosh had joined us, but she chose to have a little quiet time around the house.  Can't blame her for that!)

Got the "Bean" out for her first winter hike today.  At 5, she is really just getting old enough to enjoy it,  On HER terms.  Well, whatever it takes, right?  I want her to grow up with a deep appreciation of the outdoors.  So, we bundled her up in her all pink snow pants, pink coat, rainbow colored hat, purple boots, pink gloves and finally, pink "Barbie" sunglasses, and then took her out into the woods.

Have tree, will climb.

Her cagey, experienced outdoors-man older brother took the lead and taught her to not be afraid, and that is OK to explore, climb trees and generally enjoy the walk.

I was very proud of both of them.

He was also quick to help me point out to her a couple of whitetail deer laying down, a muskrat, 2 Downy woodpeckers, and one very busy fox track.

Of course...a lot of fresh air and exercise is hopefully a recipe for children to get some gooooood solid DEEP sleep tonight.

I hear Santa still has some work to do to get ready.  I also heard that Mrs. Claus picked up a bottle of vino to help him and her get through those duties.  Sure do love me some Mrs. Claus!

Anyway, this was possibly the best way to spend a Christmas Eve day ever! (Still rockin' some warm fuzzies...)

Have a Merry Christmas everyone!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Therapy: MacLoosh style.


It isn't the first snow of the year...but it is the one that counts.  Right before Christmas, and even more poignantly...on the first full day of winter.  It is beautiful and brings a sense of calm to the world.

Even though the winter solstice has already come and gone, and winter's days are now officially numbered...it is good to see the snow.  

Winter can be a little long around the MacLoosh mansion, and we all get a bit cagey, but a good old fashioned fresh layer of the white stuff is refreshing and offers some relief from the drab brown of a cold snow-less landscape.

Of course the very best thing about snow is going outside with my kids, packing the perfect snow ball, waiting for them to realize that I have just packed the perfect snowball...and then firing that perfect snowball directly into the back of a fleeing, screaming child!

Added bonus points are awarded if the child falls down after being hit while trying to escape the barrage.

Holy crap!  Do I ever feel better!

Go ahead, visit your therapist.  Take your Prozac and listen to Delilah on the radio. For me, the therapeutic value of absolutely whooping your kids with snowballs simply cannot be overstated.

As they giggle and skitter about from tree to tree in an effort not to get hit again; I reload and fire as fast as I can.

The release of stress and tension from a long winter that has technically just begun is worth it's weight in gold...

Yeah, yeah...big deal.  I'm nearly 41 and together they don't add up to half my age, so I suppose I have some sort of advantage...but...big deal.  Get over it.  Life is tough.

 And to top of the therapy session, it is only appropriate to warm up with a well deserved glass of red wine.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The creeping darkness of the off-season

It always begins with that one, very vivid fantasy.

You know, they start at about this time of year and become more and more lucid with each passing day.  By March, I won't be able to tell fantasy from reality.

It's a function of not having done any good fishing for over two months now.  Sometimes the visions have fish in them.  Sometimes they are simply about the places where I have fished.

Other times, the theme is mixed up indiscriminately, and my mind intermingles several images that may or may not have anything to do with each other.  (Take a goooood look at the picture)

A minor ankle fracture that is putting a cramp in even the day to day stuff and is certainly keeping me from the outdoors, coupled with a distinct lack of time on the water is ample fodder for someone like me to get too deep inside of my own thoughts.

Compound my lack of fresh air with the visions, and WALA!

MacLoosh done popped his cork.

These are the times where I start to get into trouble...

I've started to have thoughts about tying a size 22 fly.  It would be some sort of tiny little midge pupa that would be an attractive morsel for the fish in my aquarium.  None of which are all that big, but they eat like they are great white sharks and would probably put up a decent fight for their size. They are also, well...tropicals.  You know, a few tetras, a catfish, and a monster algae eater, the usual pet store mix.

I'm not even sure it's legal, and if it is...is there is any kind of legal size limit?

Ye gads, this also smacks of a full on PETA protest if it leaks to the press.  (Please note the author's extreme difficulty in refraining from making fun of the PETA folks)  Although it would be kind of interesting to see this quiet little suburb wrap thier minds around protesters dressed up like a clownfish and flopping in the middle of the street...

Well...it WOULD be fun.  (Insert devilish grin here)

Truthfully, it isn't the PETA contingent that worries me. It would be explaining to the MacLooshkins why daddy was fishing in the fish tank.

I *might* be able to sell it to the 8 year old, but the 5 year old?  Um...yeah...I'm not confident that even I can summon up the needed chutzpah to pull that one off.

So I am left to walk the streets, dazed, confused and not really sure how to handle the things that are happening in my mind.  I am also not quite ready to let the public at large know that my last bit of sanity has just taken the express train to Crazyville.

They'll figure it out soon enough...as soon as I start making regular trips to the aquarium store later this winter.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

D.I.Y. (or...more proof that MacLoosh is cheap...)

I'm either very inventive and creative, or more likely; I'm cheap.

Either way, lately I always seem to be trying to "make my own", rather than buy it.  I'd like to tell you that I am the type of guy who is just so "handy" that I just build the things I need to get the job done.  But the reality is that I am a former bicycle shop employee who understood that the usual markup on accessories was somewhere in the 150-200% range.

Don't misunderstand...I am not against bike shop owners making a living (and believe me, most of those guys are probably just eeking out a modest living..if that).  I get it, but that doesn't really help my distaste for paying more than twice the actual cost for the little things that make a sport even more fun.

Price notwithstanding, I am still kind of a "Gadgety" sort....so I like the little extras.

This has carried over into fishing.  I like gear.  But with all due respect to the fly shops out there who are offering AMAZING services and products...the older I get, the less likely I am to spring for those little extras.

Well, OK.  The fact that my wife has taken a deep cut in pay recently, and we just don't have disposable income that we used to have probably has *something* to do with my sudden frivolity.

Either way, I've been on a terror this year making my own gear.

It kind of started with the beginner's fly tying kit I received for father's day, but has continued on into other aspects of fishing.  For those out there who read regularly, a couple of posts ago I was talking about a broken 5wt rod.  Well, partially at the suggestion of Blake over at Illinois Wisconsin Fishing and the creator of 365 Fish , I turned that rod into either a 8' 5wt instead of a 8'6" 5wt....or....an 8' Tenkara rod.  I haven't completely decided yet, but it is definitely worth a little time and effort to rehab it.

Most recently, I have been interested in the simplicity of carrying a minimal amount of equipment on the stream.  The goal is to occasionally go out with relatively little baggage, yet fish what I did bring along with absolute efficiency.  (Stay tuned... this has all the makings of lots of misadventures and thus; good writing material....)

Anyway, here is my latest creation.  The MacLoosh Lanyard version 1.0

I am certainly no Dick Proenneke ("Alone in the Wilderness"), but then again...I'm not in Alaska, and I don't have to build my own cabin or make my own utensils by whittling either.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Warm fuzzies

I've been on a 'cutback' of sorts.

So the beer in this photo is the first I've had in a long time.  And possibly the best beer I have ever had.  If absence makes the heart grow fonder, then abstinence makes the beer taste better.

Today was a big day in the MacLoosh house.  We went a Christmas tree huntin' (Grizwald style)--complete with problems keeping the tree from falling off of the family truckster, made homemade pizza (also a "treat"), and then decorated the house for the holiday.

It's funny...the way a Christmas tree makes the house cozy and brings on the good feelings.  They are many, and warm indeed.  

But as I think about this little tribe of mine...especially during this season, an ornament that my daughter made last year seems to bring the biggest smile to my face.

In an odd way...I think it is the perfect symbol of the MacLoosh clan during the holidays.

Norman Rockwell...eat your heart out.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A hard fought battle. Lost.

Uh...yeah, so I went to the doctor yesterday for an annual physical.


To kick it off, I  had a lab tech dig around in my elbow and eventually blow the vein she was aiming for.  After that she listened to me and went to my hand (where I had suggested she try in the first place...) she finally hit a vein and got her blood.

Freakin' vampire.

Then, later on in the day I went back for the actual exam.  The doctor sits down, pulls up the chart from the blood draw and lets out a long, painful, and telling sigh.   It was the sigh that could be heard around the world.  Being the realist that I try to be, I finally said "Just spit it.  It's clearly not good...so just hit me with it".  

So he did.  

At some point, all I could hear was blah blah blah overweight.  Blah blah blah poor diet.  Blah blah blah exercise more.  Blah blah blah need to change...  Oh, and by the way, you are due for a tetanus shot, and flu shot.  

Super.  The vampire was coming back with her pink scrubs and matching tote full of needles.  My day had come full circle.  Or so I thought.

So... that made needle sticks number 3 and 4, and I was kinda feeling like I had just lost the last round of a prize fight. I decided to take one more swing.  The knockout swing: 

Me: So Doc, If I understood you correctly, I am stressed out, need to eat a low fat/lean diet, need to lose weight and exercise more...right? 
Doc: Yep.
Me:  Sweet.   You'll be available later for a conference call with my wife to help explain why I need a new fly rod, waders and associated equipment to ensure that I hit the streams in the best possible position to get some aerobic exercise and relieve stress..right? 
You said something about at least 1/2 hour per day of elevated heart rate...right?  
Fish is low fat and lean right?
Doc: Nope.  Not going to bite on that one.  Get the pun?  Sorry.  Perhaps your wife can teach you to bake chicken, steam vegetables and take walks with her...no equipment needed.  
Oh, and first on the list to go is Mt. Dew.  
Me: Ouch.

Before he left, he hit me with one last shot. HIS knockout punch:

He reminded me that even though I am now 40, he had allowed me to escape the dreaded finger up the ole bunghole...but based on family history of colon cancer...had ordered a colonoscopy instead.

And just like that...I folded and crumpled to the floor in a pile of retched defeat.

...and my wife wonders why I don't visit the doctor very often....

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Tis the season...

Pretty sure I've mentioned my weakness for roadside attractions...well, every year around the holiday season, I make at least one, if not multiple trips to western Illinois to visit family.

For at least the last 15 years or so, there is a house in Cross Plains that has, annually, upped the ante on seasonal decorations.  It has become something I expect to see, and am strangely comforted by.  Words don't really do it justice, so here are a couple of pictures:

Pretty sure I have also mentioned the ever patient Mrs. MacLoosh....Well, here is a candid shot of her while I dodged traffic to take the above pictures tonight.  (With one of the little MacLooshkins looking on from the back seat)

Please note the slightly amused, and not quite irritated...but with a hint of "you are an idiot" look written on her face.  God I love this woman!

Thursday, November 24, 2011


Spent some much needed time in the lab today.   

My mind hasn't been quiet enough in the last month or so to really get anything accomplished at my vise, but today, for no real good reason at all--I was able to clear it out.

It's funny, the mind.  In order to do something that relaxes me, first I have to be able to settle down enough to actually do it.  This conundrum leads me to a deep, and somewhat troubling question (that I will not try to answer tonight):

Assuming the brain is the physical vessel, and the "mind" is the spiritual vessel: Which one is actually in control? 

See how it goes with me? Suddenly a quote by Salvador Dali seems quite appropriate:  
"The only difference between me and a madman is that I am not mad"

Anyway...philosophical rumblings and disturbed artists aside, at least I was finally able to tie up some nymphs.  It sure felt good.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Acceptable loss

The end of the Wisconsin Inland Trout Season usually means several things to me.
  1. My fishing season is also done.  Not because I am trout exclusive...but usually because there are several things that have taken a "backseat" to trying to cram in as much time on the water as possible.  Those things still need to be done.
  2. Work gets busy this time of year.  I try hard to not let my job interfere with my fishing jones...but sometimes...it just can't be helped.
  3. This fall I have been, quite purposefully, increasing my online "footprint".  Didn't want to take any time from my already limited time on the water this summer...so now that the season is done...(Many reasons to this...suffice to say that I have a plan--and when my mind is set...I'm a pretty focused sort of fella)
  4. Time to clean up a season's worth of used and usually abused equipment.
Which brings me to point #4.  This year, I spent a great deal of energy teaching a couple of different people to flyfish.  I like to teach...but this is worrisome for two reasons:  (A) I'm probably not the *best* person to teach anyone anything about catching trout.  And (B) the 'normal' amount of abuse exerted on my equipment is increased.

Hard. Core.

My favorite victim (er...I mean "student") this year was my 8 year old son.  By the end of the season, he was casting like a pro, and even outfished me on at least one occasion.

He was out with me on opening day...and fished with me all the way through the end of the season.  A true partner in crime.

While he is my favorite day tripper...he is...well...EXTREMELY hard on equipment.  As evidenced this year as I was cleaning up equipment.

Fish On!

But first...let's give credit where credit is due.  In the picture to the left, he is tight to his first trout.  A healthy little brown where he picked his spot, made the cast, dead drifted  a hares ear (#14) beautifully, and then played and landed the fish as if it were nothing at all.

All while his half mad father went clinically crazy as he jumped up and down and snapped pictures like a fool.
So...what does this have to do with end of season activities, and cleaning up used equipment?  Well...I suppose it was a bit optimistic to expect a 5wt graphite rod to hold up...

No bringin' this one back...
To be fair: I have broken my fair share of expensive equipment in my life.  Believe me.  But I just can't find it in my heart to get mad over this one.

He fished hard, and despite a couple times where he let it drag on the ground for a short time (until I saw him and chewed him out...), I believe this rod was simply a casualty of the game.

It happens when you fish hard.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Kids and Fly Fishing

In the spirit of conservation, and genuinely doing something positive for our future...I have a proposition: 


Don't have kids?  Borrow one.  There are ALWAYS parents out there who would willingly give up a few hours with their kid (s) to let you take them outside.

It's true, I am part and partial to fly fishing...but fishing in general is an amazing way to help open your kids eyes to the environment around them.  (No...I do NOT consider the internet or "virtual" world an appropriate definition of environment.  Sorry)

But it is as simple as going out into your back yard and checking out all of the critters that are there.  Take them for a hike!  For reference, I live in the very definition of "suburbia"...but there are so many opportunities to get outside right here in the Un Forest that it boggles the mind.

Realizing that it is sometimes hard to figure out where to go, or what to do...Here are some resources for you (in the ultimate act of hypo criticism...they are web links)

Olive the Wooley Bugger

Take Kids Fly Fishing

Reel Kids (Madison WI)


US Fish & Wildlife Service-Kids

Take Me Fishing . Org