Thursday, September 25, 2008

A Different Type of Fishing

My youngest son and I were fortunate enough to spend most of Monday wading a blue ribbon of the midwest – a river that is in fact a gem of The Driftless Area. The pictures are a clear signature, recognizable by anyone who has put eyes on this landscape.

We started ~1100 – nice and easy. The temperament of this little guy is remarkable. He apparently sees riding in the backpack not as a means of confinement but rather as a perch from which he can see and hear all. He points and exclaims regularly… he grabs leaves and branches, and by all accounts seems to enjoy the ride. Every few minutes I’d reach up and hand off a rock. He would giggle. We’d stop now and again on a cobble bar and he’d teeter-walk around on inspection duty. It makes me happy to see him happy in such a great place… and I’m happy to be in such a place so I guess there is happiness abounding. That’s the best way to say it.

We did fish, but I say here it was a different type of fishing because it was incidental in that it took a back seat to simply being in the river. The turning leaves, the flowing water and the limestone and sandstone were at the forefront on this day. We did fish though. One fly – the Wilted Spinach – all day. Never lost one. Swinging a soft hackle is good for a day like Monday… low water and slow, thoughtful walking… you can fish it from quite a distance and you don’t have to worry about getting a good drift because you’re fishing it downstream. Fewer tangles too. You could argue less skill is required – probably so – you don’t really set the hook even. Also, you don’t typically get into the big fish with this technique, as it is difficult to get it down deep in the slots and dark hideaways. The kid cackles at any size fish though. The most interesting thing regarding the fishing was watching different sizes come from different waters. We fished mostly the shallow riffles, and from those we caught quite a few browns in the 4-8” range – very small indeed. In the couple shallow pools we fished we nicked a couple browns that were slightly larger. And from the one really nice deep water that was slow enough for a swing through, we caught the two big fish of the day: a couple rainbows in the mid-teens. One might have pushed 16” but not sure. On one of them, I felt the headshake before I even realized the fish had eaten the fly… not all that skillful, but it seems that can be the way of it sometimes.

Regarding the place – the pictures speak volumes, but it’s still not enough. You need to go there and look on it. It’s not a vacation, it’s not a family trip… It’s our backyard. A remarkable river and valley. Leaves on fire with color, rock faces whispering on some history, and a stone-clear flow of cold water around your legs. Waders would have been an insult. We climbed to a high point in the park to do our duty and pay some homage. I really felt that on a day like Monday, it’d have been offensive to the place to not be out there.










You'll have to excuse this blatant pose. I only meant to capture what you might see if you were to stumble across these two happy guys standing in the river.

10 Comments:

Blogger Jean-Paul Lipton said...

Great stuff J.

you are fortunate to have the WW in your backyard. Truly a gem.

5:17 PM  
Blogger Our Fun with FIVE said...

What a beautiful setting to spend a day, and for it to be a piece of the place you call home is added bonus.
Sounds like you really paid full appreciation to all the details, as you always seem to do.
"...it’d have been offensive to the place to not be out there."
With those strong words said, I'd like to skip back a couple of days and say thanks for coming over Sat. afternoon. Sorry I wasn't here, but it was a beautiful day and I'm glad the boys were able to come play in the yard a while. It was a nice surprise for Mitch, and given how thoughtful you are of how you spend your time, it's flattering to us & this place that you took the time to stop by while in the neghborhood.

10:20 AM  
Anonymous winonaflyfactory said...

Hey, I like your site as well man! Cool to have the kid with you. Someday I might find myself in the same situation! Do you care if I put a link on my site to yours? Thanks

w.f.f.

1:11 PM  
Blogger Maman qui danse said...

No mention of Maman's parallel disastrous car saga here... :)

1:47 PM  
Blogger Joe Watkins said...

Great that you can be out there with Danny. He will remember all of that, in one way or another.

Leaves are really on fire up this way too.

9:22 PM  
Blogger Wendy Berrell said...

No need to thank me for stopping by the Itasca County Farm. Rather, I thank you for having me. Mitch invited me over and I gave him a line about naps for kids... and then while driving back from the game I realized how ridiculous it was to consider naps a priority on one of only a few occasions of being up there... so I changed plans.

WFF - sure thing on the link - I'll do the same here.

I will mention here that during our fishing on Monday, Maman had to deal with quite a stressful car situation. Wink182 (out Saturn) wouldn't start... and then key stuck in ignition... and then it was left over night in parkig lot... finally had a tow to a shop... but then it started up as normal and they couldn't diagnose anything. Oh well. She handled it well, all the while with big brother along for the ride. So some stress for half of the family while the other half was out dissipating stress into the atmosphere. Hopefully we can get them some remedy and caught up to our level of decompression.

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