Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Sibling Rivalry

I grew up as basically an only child.  My brother's and sister are so much older than me that I never had a chance to fight with them as a child.  At this stage in life, they seem to be quite comfortable with and have accepted the fact that I am better looking, and clearly more talented than them at nearly everything...

As my kids grow, I regularly stand back in awe at their ability to fight in ways that I have never even imagined.  They are also fiercely competitive.  Some days this is just downright annoying.  On other days, it can be a little more on the amusing side.

Today after work, I didn't really have it in me to stay home.  My kids usually bolt for their respective friends houses, but today I convinced them to go fishing with me.  It didn't hurt that I had already committed to buying my daughter a new fishing rod earlier in the season, and I chose today to pay up.  A quick trip to the local sporting goods store, and we were off and running to a local pond for some evening panfishing-new fishing pole in hand.

Once on the water, my son took off to find his "own" water.  A truly seasoned fisherman who needed zero help from me.  I'm quite proud of him, even though I feel an occasional tinge of sadness that he doesn't want or need my assistance.  Luckily, my daughter still wants and needs my help...so I have a couple of years before I truly start that 12 step program...  Anyway, there were two guys flyfishing on the opposite side of the pond so he broke out his fly rod and a popper.  (I think he was showing off a bit...but can't say for sure).  Both stopped and watched in awe for just a minute as the 10 year old was casting and working a popper better than most.

Once we had Beanie set up and a wet line, she hit the boards pretty quickly with a small bluegill. All smiles, and happy with her new (pink) fishing rod, she was all about fishing tonight.  It didn't hurt that she was the first of all of us to catch a fish, and more importantly; her brother hadn't even had a bite yet.  She made sure she showed him her catch.  3 times.

Never one to back away from a challenge issued by a younger and clearly arrogant sister who was experiencing "beginner's luck", he struck back with a smallish largemouth.

Shortly after that, he hooked and lost (after a wonderful jump) a VERY nice largemouth.  Everyone on the pond saw it happen, and he was bummed.  During the action, Bean hooked and landed another bluegill.  It was small, but it was a fish in hand at the same time her brother had lost a nice fish.  She offered him advice on how to land a fish by "not pulling so hard".


That one sent him back to the drawing board, mumbling incoherently and I suspect cursing wildly under his breath.  He was visibly pissed off and was fishing harder than I have ever seen him fish.

This went on for a while, and he started to feel smug because he had more fish to hand than she did.  I told them both we were about to head home, dinner was going to be late and it is a school night.  A few more casts were allowed, and then it happened.

While I was over by her brother, Bean managed to hook and land a nice largemouth.

He barely wanted to look at it, and kept on fishing.  He had gotten into a group of little bluegills and was yanking them out hand over fist~a man on a mission to prove how good of a fisherman he is.

Bean, seemed to know that she had pushed his buttons pretty hard and stopped fishing to go over and cheer him on.  I was glad to see a little camaraderie but was also aware that this may have been a touch passive aggressive on her part.  (It can be hard to tell with her sometimes...)

With that, we called it a good fishing trip for all, and at my insistance--we decided that even if we weren't the one who caught the biggest fish, that it was still good just to be out on the water.

Oh...and if you are in Wisconsin and going to be outside at all...check yourself and pets for ticks.  They seem to be out in record numbers.  Just ask Manny.

Yep.  It's all fun and games until the dog gets a tick on his pecker...

Til later,


Sunday, May 12, 2013

My mom

See that little girl in the picture?  She isn't one of my kids.  She isn't my sister.  She isn't a friend.

She is my mom.

At this point in my life's journey, I'm pretty sure I have established myself as a person who will not be defined by what others think.  I'd also like to think that I can gather the quiet, unbreakable inner strength allows me to take on nearly anything, and persevere through adversity and hard times.

I learned all of that from her.

I am my mother's son.

Happy Mother's Day Mom.  I can't tell you how proud I am to be your son.

I love you.


Sunday, May 5, 2013

Fishing well (and smashing superstitions)

For those who know me, fishing for trout is a passion that I try to squeeze in between the other details of life.

More often than not, those other details simply take precedent.  That's OK.  It seems to me that if I got to fish as often as I want to, then the fishing wouldn't be as good as it is when I have to wait for it.  And every once in a while, a window of opportunity opens up for me to venture a little further out than usual.

Occasionally, when this happens, I find myself paralyzed by the number of choices of places to fish (Yes, I am keenly aware that this is a good problem to have).  I want to go out and fish in different places, yet I have favorites that are too far away to get to on a regular basis.  With rare opportunities to spend an entire day, I am careful not to squander my time.

So last night as I was surfing Google Maps and the Wisconsin trout stream maps: I promptly turned my computer off and went to bed...undecided.  In a departure from my usual grand delusions and inflated sense of urgency, I let this one sort of "come as it may".

At 0500 this morning when my eyes popped open and the birds seemed to be at full volume, I made for the (already packed) truck.  With eyes not quite focused yet, I punched up a little outlaw country on my MP3 and hit the road heading west.  Still undecided.  A quick stop for an Egg McMuffin (with sausage...of course...) and coffee, and the fog began to clear.  By the time I had gotten to the westward point that would require a decision on which creek to fish-it was clear to me how the day would play out.

Big Spring Creek.  Familiar water, but a favorite of mine, and a damn fine trout stream.

Turned out to be a pretty good decision.  I was on the water by 0700 and enjoying the fact that I was quite alone in a gorgeous valley.  Well, except for the bald eagle that managed to find a perch to watch me from several vantage points around the valley.  I didn't mind the audience, Bald Eagles are good company and the fact that I was the best entertainment the eagle had led me to believe that no one else was stirring.  Just the way I like it.

My unusually casual approach to choosing a destination carried over to my fishing.  I was relaxed and confident that even if I fished poorly, at least I was alone on water that may as well be on a different planet than the stresses that have been vexing me lately.

Once I settled in and got my swerve on, the fishing was nothing less than stellar and I have returned a better man than the one who left this morning.

Fishing really is nothing short of therapy.

Here are a few pics from the day.  Enjoy.

As an aside to all of this, I also managed to shed a couple of superstitions.  (1) I carried a net and it wasn't bad luck (2) I fished (and broke another superstition) with my 4 wt St. Croix rod which has also seen enough fishless trips to warrant careful consideration before use... and finally (3) I wore a brand new fishing shirt (also a generally unheard of practice).  Given the day's success, I might never wash the shirt.

Well....we'll see how that plays out....

Til later,