Sunday, February 28, 2010


Slayer of the winter, art thou here again?
O welcome, thou that's bring'st the summer nigh!
The bitter wind makes not thy victory vain,
Nor will we mock thee for thy faint blue sky.
Welcome, O March! whose kindly days and dry
Make April ready for the throstle's song,
Thou first redresser of the winter's wrong!

Yea, welcome March! and though I die ere June,
Yet for the hope of life I give thee praise,
Striving to swell the burden of the tune
That even now I hear thy brown birds raise,
Unmindful of the past or coming days;
Who sing: 'Oh joy! a new year is begun:
What happiness to look upon the sun!'

Ah, what begetteth all this storm of bliss
But death himself, who crying solemnly,
E'en from the heart of sweet Forgetfulness,
Bids us 'Rejoice, lest pleasureless ye die,
Within a little time must ye go by.
Stretch forth your open hands, and while ye live
Take all the gifts that Death and Life may give.'

William Morris

Friday, February 26, 2010

Adventure Day

Embarked with gear for both skiing and fishing. Opted for skiing. Thanks to our host for guiding us, and thanks to Danny Boy for being rough and tumble.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Grape Jelly 2010: Notes

2009 fall wild grape harvest:
3.50 quart bags from location1
0.75 quart bags from location2
0.50 quart bags from location3
These reference grapes on stems in bags that went to freezer.

Process over dark winter weeks of January:
8 lbs 15 oz of stemmed grapes total

2/14/10 make first batch:
Yielded 10 cups juice
Used 6 cups juice, 7.5 cups raw cane sugar, 1 packet pectin
Yielded 5 pints with some slop that was almost another pint but I ate a lot of it
Set aside remaining 4 cups juice in fridge

2/24/10 make second batch:
Used 4 cups grape juice with 2 cups fruit juice from bottle
7.5 cups raw cane sugar, 1 packet pectin
Yielded 6 pints

Total: 11 pints of black gold. Made of the dirt and water of Zumbro basin. To become face paint for kids.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

February 21, 2010 Report

Fished 11:00-16:00 today. Went south of Interstate 90 for the first time since trico fishing last year. My goal was to mix it up a bit: fish small streams and bigger water. Here is how it went down:

11:-11:45 nymphed what is essentially a giant hole in a great trout stream. I know there are exceptionally large fish in the hole. I think I heard tell of a 28" holdover rainbow coming out of there one winter. The only thing that worked for me at this location was naked nymphing: I hooked and played two fish - one was the rainbow ~12" pictured below. The other was a small brown trout. The rainbow was on when I tightened my line on one drift. The brown hit the fly as I was slowly raising it up. Nothing too amazing. The best outcome was strategy development on how to fish it in the future - thinking full sinking lake line is in order.

12:00-14:30 nymphed a small tributary that I've fished a couple times prior, but not recently. THe obligatory bridge hole attempt came up empty - no fish in that water. I moved up to the next hole and watched for a while: saw fish pushing water, occasionally rising... In sneaky fashion I perched in amongst the logs and rocks... and was able to conceal myself pretty well, positioned right at the tail of the pool. Pretty much immediately I began catching salmo trutta on most every cast. Chuck rig up near head of pool, let it drift through belly, hook fish. Weave fish through logs. Use ketchum release to free fish untouched. Repeat. I won't lie and say I caught 40 fish. I know I caught 20 fish though. I was half-heartedly counting until I got into the teens, and that was maybe half way through my stop at this hole. The downside: not one fish over 10 inches. Many were very well colored though - deep hues and well defined spots. The twitch was absolutely crushing: some time ago leakywaders said (to me or to someone else - can't remember) that when your nymphs get to be about where you figure the fish are, give them the slightest twitch. I was doing that, and it was clockwork: twitch, count one, two, three seconds, indicator buck, set hook. It was quite interesting. Not really that impressive, I should say: nothing too skillful about it. I had a good spot with willing fish and I was allowing them to eat an orange scud. Big deal. It wasn't that exciting really, but I wanted to see how long I could keep on it... Couldn't do it though. Had to leave. I literally couldn't stand there and catch 8 inch trout anymore, if you can believe that. Needed something else. So I up and left... and on my way out I peered into the belly and saw that it was indeed absolutely full of small trout - just holding there, waiting for orange scud. Also, at this hole on the bank was the odd fork contraption picture below. What the hell is that? Some odd way to hold a line? Hopefully nothing to do with meth. Weird man.

Tactcial notes: Almost every fish ate the scud (#14 on striaght shank hook, with root beer BH)- maybe three ate the lead nymph, which was a generic black beadhead. And on this day the takes were not subtle: indicator was jumping and twitching. The belly was deep enough that the fish were not able to perceive (apparently) the false casts... so things rolled out pretty easy.

Back to the big river - fishing a section of it that has been called in a public forum "the Driftless Area river stretch that most resembles a western river." Indeed I did find some really big riffles that looked like bug machines. Big pools adjacent - pretty cool. Tried to nymph it but was too light. I changed up tactics and got in the water - still a lot of energy even in dead of winter (flows up a little I think, compared to long term averages). I swung a bugger. Polar chenille. I forget that that can be pretty fun. In the first hole - got a pale brown of maybe 12 inches. Cool. Second hole, on the first cast I hooked a fish behind that rock (pictured below) but had it on for only a few seconds. Enough to see its body though... and a nice body it was. Great fish. Uncaught. My favorite of the day.

I wasn't real focused on bug activity today. I did see a couple midges in the air, but I didn't pay any mind. Not sure why. Come March I'll get into some midge action.

Back home in time for dinner and wrestling the boys into bed.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

[special order claret chenille] + [LOD] - [DB eyes] ~ [Swimming Clouser]:

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Big Spring Expedition


We followed up the mountain climb with a trek to The Big Spring - an outpouring of groundwater to a local trout stream. Expectations were high after last week's marked success that left us all three happy guys. In retrospect though, it's clear that this trip was a lot different: instead of climbing something before their eyes, the boys were asked to hike back to a destination unknown/unseen/not-understood. The road was pretty long and plodding, and the snow was rough in places - difficult for little striders. I was being somewhat of an ass first off - urging James to walk along, come along, go a little faster, why do you want to go home?, etc. I really didn't play that one too well. I had it fixed in my mind that James just wanted to go home and sit inside and that was really burning me. Seems though that he didn't mind where we were, he just didn't like what appeared to him to be endless walking over tough terrain. When I finally worked this out, things got better. We stopped and wrote words in snow, messed around, looked in the water, etc. He brightened and then I brightened and I fully realized how I'd messed up... So it was played better from there on and the trip out was slow and good. Found a tree that had been decimated by woodpeckers and fungi. Saw a fair number of deer. Sun shone down. Salvaged what became a fair trip and got a decent lesson in parenting. Did not make it back to the spring. Another day.

Chimney Rock Expedition


We burned nap time in favor of a little adventure: climbing a mountain is what the boys were calling it - some solid anticipation and build-up started by me but carried by them. Five minutes into the trek, I figured we'd not make it because the path was fairly tough - some ice and some crusty snow. Pretty steep. Danny went to the backpack in short order. James though - he became expedition leader in impressive fashion. In fact, as pics suggest, I couldn't keep up with him. He ran up that hill. After a break and some bagel at the top, he led us down the other side. Stopping to investigate limestone mini-caves, ask array of questions, slide down trail segments, etc. Being top heavy with Danny on back, I had to do a little squatting four-point sliding myself - worked pretty well though. Going down was tougher than coming up.

Stopped at the park headquarters to warm up and poke around a bit. Overall we were on the trail for 2.5 hours. Pretty good given ages of these guys right now.

Need adventures like this to break up these winter doldrums. This one was solid. I was really impressed by the endurance of the kids. Toward the end they broke down and that happened in exponential fashion. Expected, and not a big deal. We trudged back to the car and eased on home.

“You cannot stay on the summit forever; you have to come down again….so why bother in the first place? Just this: what is above knows what is below, but what is below does not know what is above. One climbs, one sees. One descends, one sees no longer, but one has seen. There is an art of conducting oneself in the lower regions by the memory of what one saw higher up. When one can no longer see, one can at least still know.”
Rene Daumel, 1959
(from the forward to “55 Ways to the Wilderness of South Central Alaska, 3rd Ed., 1985. H. Nienhueser and N. Simmermon, The Moutaineers and Mountaineering Club of AK).