Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Swinging for the fence ( exercise ego control...)

Despite my angst about the weather lately, I have managed to get out fishing on occasion.

By and large, the fishing has been pretty successful.  I had a day about a week and a half ago where I stumbled onto a whole mess of hungry trout.  20 to hand in around 2 hours on the home water (a stream that has been the source of multiple fishless outings and even more lessons in humility...).   None of the fish were large enough to brag about, but in the same way that I am not afraid to drink cheap beer on occasion...sometimes you opt for quantity over quality.  All were caught on a BH Pheasant Tail under an indicator.

It was also proof that even a dolt like myself can occasionally get it right.

So tonight, after a gorgeous day of sun and milder temps...I headed out.  Truth be told, it is a full moon and going fishing was my wife's idea.  Methinks she wanted me out of the house...  No matter what her motivation, I am never one to pass up an opportunity to go fishing so I blew out of the UnForest without hesitation.

With my recent 20 fish day fresh in mind, I was feeling cocky.  Like I had somehow mastered the game of catching little ones and now needed to catch a BIG fish.  Perhaps I was subconsciously trying yo offset the quantity with a little quality in an effort to find equilibrium?  Maybe.  Or...more likely...I just felt like it would be fun to get on the boards with fishzilla, photographed in the perfect "trophy" pose and the fish released-no worse for wear.

To accomplish this, I chose my fishing location carefully.  Not too far from home (only had about 2 hours of daylight to fish), but in an area where I could work several lunker structures that are a relatively short distance from each other.  Fortunately, I know of just such a place AND I have managed to spook up some good sized fish in the past, so I know they are there.

Targeting big fish (or commonly known as "buck fever") is a dangerous mental place to be.  Once you have decided that only a trophy fish will do, you tend to lose sight of the fact that (A) fishing is fun (B) fishing is relaxing and (C) it is a privilege to catch trout of any size.

Ego takes over and goes to work doing what ego does best: it alters your perception.

Ego simply will not be satisfied with catching fish.  Nope.  Ego wants a wall hanger...and it wants that wall hanger NOW.

So after attempting  (unsuccessfully) every tactic I know of to draw a strike from the giant brown trout that I'm positive is hiding under one of those lunkers, and quickly running out of daylight, I finally switched to a.........wait for it.................Bead Head Pheasant Tail under an indicator.

I drifted it down through the slot...and low and behold: caught a fish on the first cast.

I did not catch troutzilla.  It was a typical sized brown trout (about 8") for the streams that I fish regularly.  This fish fought extremely hard, jumped a couple of times and genuinely made me feel giddy inside as I worked him to the bank to unhook and release.

Somewhere in the action, I realized that I had wasted an entire fishing outing looking for what was right in front of me the whole time:  just having fun fishing and being happy with a trout on the line.

I am immediately reminded of a quote from one of my favorite books, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig:

The truth knocks on the door, and you say "go away, I am looking for the truth".  And it goes away. Puzzling.

And so I chalk this one up to lessons learned the hard way.  (A common theme in my life....)

Til later,


Saturday, April 13, 2013

Signs of spring? Maybe.

Spring is springing.  I think.

We are officially over a month into the early catch and release season here in America's Dairyland, and I have been fishing when possible, but mother nature sure doesn't seem to be in any kind of hurry to fully commit to shedding the winter blues.

All the usual markers are there, but I'm still not feelin' those warm springtime fuzzies yet. As I look at the indicators, and try to trick my rational mind into accepting that consistently pleasant weather will (eventually) come, I just can't help but feel less than confident. The cold temps, rains and current short term weather forecasts for more of the same aren't offering much room for optimism either.

So, as I patiently await warmer weather and bright sunshine to help me shake this winter's case of seasonal effective disorder (eating St. John's Wort like Tic-Tacs just isn't enough these days...), I regularly recount those markers in an exercise of reassurance.  It's all I've got some days.

Since misery loves company, here are my top 5 signs that spring should be on the way:

1.  Cleaning out my truck, and preparing it for fishing season.  Out with the extra shovel, bottle of windshield washer fluid, and bag of sand.  In with my rod case, and tub for waders, boots, nets and all of the other accessories I think I might need at a moments notice.

Emergency preparedness.  Fisherman style.

A clean truck is a sign of a sick mind.
2.  Flies.  Gotta have more flies, so time at the vise working up a good supply of the staples is more urgent than ever.

BH Pheasant Tails.  Don't leave home without em'
3.  At least ONE upgrade in equipment.  My wife calls this "sneak buying" since I rarely "remember" to mention the purchase of said equipment until it is discovered.  But this is not without a back story...  She is heavily into couponing.  Not quite "extreme" couponing, but good enough at it to save considerable money on grocery purchase's.  So when my new Orvis BBS II fly reel arrived in the mail that I picked up for 50% off retail (A $70 savings..thank you very much)...and I tried desperately to explain that I too was into deal finding, she still didn't buy it.  I'm of the mind that this counts as couponing.  She is of the mindset that it was still "sneak buying".

True love is about working through and accepting our differences of opinion, so I will be sure to meditate on that while I am fishing.  :)

Ooh la la...Love, in the form of precision machined aluminum
4.  The amount of yard work that you suddenly realize the winter has done to the joint.  Jeesch.....  (No picture on this one-I am too embarrassed).  Who knew that such a small dog could generate sooooo much waste??

5. And finally, my annual battle with the most stubborn of god's creatures.  The robin.  I am a mixed bag of feelings on these guys...first of all, they just look arrogant.  Having said that, I am always glad to see them arrive because they truly are a sign of spring.  But...with spring comes nest making season and I apparently own some of the best nesting real estate in the area.  Currently up to a minimum of twice per day tearing this nest down before it goes too far along and an egg is laid.  I expect this to go on for another couple of weeks.

(And when he finally gives up on this location for the nest...he will perch on the mirror of my truck, shit down the door constantly and try to fight his own reflection in the window)

Stubborn, arrogant peckerhead
Nest + Halogen Lights= bad for bird and bad for MacLoosh
And finally, a bonus sign that I realized after starting to type this post...spring is the season that New Glarus Brewing Company starts making Totally Naked again.  Hells. Yeah.  If you've never tried it, this is pretty darn close to being the perfect beer.  Just sayin'. is the perfect chaser for St. John's Wort
Til later,


Sunday, April 7, 2013

Lost and found

Every once in a while, something happens that just blows you away.  Big or small, these types of events tend to make me think that god has a weird sense of humor and is messing with me.  No worries, I'm not going to get all religified on you...but...I can't think of too many other reasons why these strange things in life happen.

Just exactly what am I jabbering about?

Well, rewind about 9-10 months.  I went out fishing, and came back missing a gadget from my bag.  This stuff happens.  In fact, I would bet that each and every one of us has lost at least one of those little trinkets that fill our sling packs or vest pockets.  In most cases, I would also bet that our fishing did not actually suffer from the loss of said treasure (assuming everyone else suffers from the same gadget addiction that I do...).

Further, I would continue to lay money on the table that says we have all found something while fishing that had no way of being returned to its rightful owner.  It is just one of those things that happens.  You pick it up, look around and think to yourself "well, I'll just hold on to it, and if I see anyone else~I will ask them if it belongs to them and give it back".  You fish, you might even ask a person or two, but there never seems to be anyone to re-take custody of this lost item.  Eventually, you go home-with an extra gadget.  You may even think to yourself "well, I am sure there are folks out there who have found my ______ so I guess this is just the cosmos way of balancing the score".

Then one Saturday in early April, you go fishing with a friend and your boy.  The three of you hit the stream for a nice leisurely morning of fishing.  Suddenly your son runs up and says "Dad!  I just found this over there".  Cool, you reply. Not really knowing and maybe not even caring what it is...but answering enthusiastically because you are happy he still brings his treasures to you.

You look down, and know immediately that this is something YOU lost.  Last year.

Immediately your mind starts to whir and buzz like an old steam engine.  What the hell?  Are you kidding me?  Your boy hands it to you, you inspect it and are floored.  This is, without mistake, the bottle of Gink and the holder that came off your bag last year.  You are 100% positive.  You excitedly start in on the story to your son, who is now super proud that he has returned something important to you.

The excitement settles down and you stuff it into your bag.  Fix it when you get home...right now there is fishing to be done.

The fishing is slow.  A hatch is can feel it, but you are there too early in the day because the schedules of life don't always fit nicely into the time of day when you really suspect that the bugs will come off.  A couple of half hearted takes and misses, but nothing to hand.  Those long distance releases can be hard on your nerves.

Then, out of the corner of your eye, you see something yellow on the ground and you pick it up.

You are now the proud owner of a little rubber duck from "Susie the Duck" days and rubber duck race--also from last summer.

Again, you look around and think to yourself, "OK...either god is trying to send me a message that I just don't understand", or "I am on candid camera-I just KNOW it".  Either way, you call your boy over.  This duck is going to fulfill its last official duty.  As a thank you for finding your Gink and carrier, you present him with a rubber duck as a way to say thanks for finding the Gink.  There in the middle of a pasture, I don't think a better gift could be given.....

Somehow, I think that Susie the Duck would be proud of this moment.  As for me, I am still left with an overwhelming feeling that a larger, much more important message, lesson, or karma is involved and it is a little bit unsettling.

Of course, had I caught fish today, I wouldn't have written about any of this. Neither would I be pondering bigger issues over a couple of likely coincidences..I would have just written it off as just a damn good day fishing.

Oh...and if this DOES happen to be your lost duck...please please please let me know.  My boy and I would LOVE to complete the circle on this one.

Til later,