Tuesday, August 31, 2010

TO A SIBERIAN WOODSMAN (after looking at some pictures in a magazine)

1. You lean at ease in your warm house at night after supper, listening to your daughter play the accordion. You smile with the pleasure of a man confident in his hands, resting after a day of long labor in the forest, the cry of the saw in your head, and the vision of coming home to rest. Your daughter’s face is clear in the joy of hearing her own music. Her fingers live on the keys like people familiar with the land they were born in. You sit at the dinner table late into the night with your son, tying the bright flies that will lead you along the forest streams. Over you, as your hands work, is the dream of still pools. Over you is the dream of your silence while the east brightens, birds waking close by you in the trees.

2. I have thought of you stepping out of your doorway at dawn, your son in your tracks. You go in under the overarching green branches of the forest whose ways, strange to me, are well known to you as the sound of your own voice or the silence that lies around you now that you have ceased to speak, and soon the voice of the stream rises ahead of you, and you take the path beside it. I have thought of the sun breaking pale through the mists over you as you come to the pool where you will fish, and of the mist drifting over the water, and of the cast fly resting light on the face of the pool.

3. And I am here in Kentucky in the place I have made myself in the world. I sit on my porch above the river that flows muddy and slow along the feet of the trees. I hear the voices of the wren and the yellow-throated warbler whose songs pass near the windows and over the roof. In my house my daughter learns the womanhood of her mother. My son is at play, pretending to be the man he believes I am. I am the outbreathing of this ground. My words are its words as the wren’s song is its song.

4. Who has invented our enmity? Who has prescribed us hatred of each other? Who has armed us against each other with the death of the world? Who has appointed me such anger that I should desire the burning of your house or the destruction of your children? Who has appointed such anger to you? Who has set loose the thought that we should oppose each other with the ruin of forests and rivers, and the silence of the birds? Who has said to us that the voices of my land shall be strange to you, and the voices of your land strange to me? Who has imagined that I would destroy myself in order to destroy you, or that I could improve myself by destroying you? Who has imagined that your death could be negligible to me now that I have seen these pictures of your face? Who has imagined that I would not speak familiarly with you, or laugh with you, or visit in your house and go to work with you in the forest? And now one of the ideas of my place will be that you would gladly talk and visit and work with me.

5. I sit in the shade of the trees of the land I was born in. As they are native I am native, and I hold to this place as carefully as they hold to it. I do not see the national flag flying from the staff of the sycamore, or any decree of the government written on the leaves of the walnut, nor has the elm bowed before any monuments or sworn the oath of allegiance. They have not declared to whom they stand in welcome.

6. In the thought of you I imagine myself free of the weapons and the official hates that I have borne on my back like a hump, and in the thought of myself I imagine you free of weapons and official hates, so that if we should meet we would not go by each other looking at the ground like slaves sullen under their burdens, but would stand clear in the gaze of each other.

7. There is no government so worthy as your son who fishes with you in silence besides the forest pool. There is no national glory so comely as your daughter whose hands have learned a music and go their own way on the keys. There is no national glory so comely as my daughter who dances and sings and is the brightness of my house. There is no government so worthy as my son who laughs, as he comes up the path from the river in the evening, for joy.

Wendell Berry, USA
from “Openings,” 1968

Monday, August 30, 2010

Car camping on Zumbro River, August 20-22, 2010

Not everybody has to take their kids camping: some folks get plenty of time experiencing the roofless world and some folks live in a campground (or better) setting. And camping isn't the only way to roll a kid in dirt and water. No one knows what my sons will do when they get older. Maybe they'll hate camping. At this point though I figure they need the experience so they are not afraid of things they should not be afraid of: dirt, water, plants and animals. And then later on, without the influence of any undue fear, they can make their own choices and go on.

Plus, despite the work that goes along with it, it's pretty fun.

Too lazy to put the pics in order. That fourth one down is a new favorite: you can see grasping fingers, various muscle definition, bent knees... a kid intent on pulling big rocks from a river. It's important to him to pick up that rock. You can see it there.

Monday, August 23, 2010

082310 picking 1.5 lb heirlooms and tying dirty flies

Friday, August 20, 2010

Trico Fishing 081810

Shaved a couple hours off the front end of a work day because I hadn’t been fishing in quite a long time and I really very much wanted to find some trico action similar to what was observed last year. Didn’t quite work out that way. The morning was cool, and while the cloud of bugs over the stream materialized, no intense spinner fall ever came to be. I saw the first corpse on the water at 8:29 AM. And the cloud disappeared, so clearly the bugs fell… just not in dramatic fashion, as far as I could tell. The sun never showed for more than a few minutes at a time. Not sure why it played out that way and I like that I don’t know. Come back another time.

All that said, I did manage a few fish: three nymphing, two on Wilted Spinach fished like a dry fly at rising fish, one on BH emerger using slow lift, and three on the trico spinner.

There were fish rising sporadically the entire time I was standing there shin-deep in the water (7-10 AM). There were little bursts during which the rises would intensify, but they didn’t last long. The fish in the tailout would not eat the trico spinner pattern that simply decimated them last August. I put it on them repeatedly and got no takes. After giving up on those fish, I moved up into the riffle a bit, and right away got some takes. Met a few last second refusals. I landed a couple small fish on the spinner, and that felt good. I was about ready to go when I heard a loud bass note that marked the final demise of a natural trico... so I put a couple casts over there and hooked what I'd later confirm to be a beautiful fish - looked like maybe 14 inches - see pic. One of the bigger fish I've landed on a small dry fly (#22 I think – maybe #20). For ~15 seconds I thought maybe I had a really big fish on… because I couldn’t see the trout and it was really thrubbing that 2 wt. Nice way to end. Can’t really bitch about catching nine fish but I’m working on it. I was really wanting that spinner frenzy. Need to try again.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Carp Tying 081910

prototypes for evaluation
need to test sink rates
the hook kicks ass: 2x strong 2x short #2 scud - a nice big gap but can be used for a smaller fly body
roughly modeled after Morlock's Beast Bait

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Came to be the other day that one son was gone for a while, and the other son and I figured we’d leave the homestead in an effort to create a peaceful environment for mama. And so here is the ingredient list for a successful stream fishing day with a three year old boy:

Choose reaches that allow for easy walking
Eliminate expectations of (1) covering a lot of water, (2) catching a lot of fish
Wear a backpack carrier, so the boy always has the option of walking or riding
Let the boy dictate the pace – let him amble and fall and stop and look and grab and hold
Don’t hover over him – just watch barbwire and deep fast corners
Don’t bring a lot of gear – rather bring a lot of water and snack food

More to it than that but that is the basic recipe it seems. I was quite sure that the day would be only marginally good, because my patience usually don’t last too long. But here it all played out really well. Over the entire day (8 AM to 5 PM) Danny only whined once (when we lingered a little too long at a corner hole), and I really did no barking (latter item being more important than the former). And that was my goal: to lay off the kid and let him be. Sounds like it should be easy but it’s not always easy. It got to the point of him telling me that he really liked the day and that got me good.
So I guess the relevance here is that there is wide range of fishing that a guy can undertake and variety of fishing adventures that a family can engage. A few pics posted below can communicate well the quality of day enjoyed by father and son.
Report and notes:
(1) Our morning stream was a popular fishery, packed with brown trout. We saw only two other people though: a guy out fishing with his ~8 year old son. Both were fly casting.
(2) We caught some trout using standard nymph rig.
(3) The afternoon stream was a lesser-fished, more marginal water that requires walking a long easement trail through fields and down into the ravine. I’d never been there before. Heavy pasture area. Some decent holes. Picked up one really pretty, good sized brown with big spots throwing a black streamer.
(4) At the base of the hill sloping down to that stream, Danny took one step into a big, fresh cow pie. Then took another step in so both feet were lost. Then, being that he was standing on a lubricated slope, his feet went out from under him and he fell on his bottom. Then he laid back and put his hands in it. Chuckling as I recall it. True to his character he did not become alarmed and he did not whimper for one second. He made some declarative statements about being in cow poop and then he stood up. Manure was under fingernails and in toes, etc. Not on his head though – good thing there. We removed all clothes at streamside, and scrubbed with sand. Then wrung them out and re-soaked over and over until most all of the manure was gone. Then he donned the wet clothes and without a word of complaint, started downstream.

The eyes have it: characteristic sweat on nose bridge, scar courtesy of brother, chocolate smeared on left eyebrow.

There is no government so worthy as your son who fishes with
you in silence beside the forest pool.

There is no national glory so comely as your daughter whose hands

have learned a music and go their own way on the keys.

There is no national glory so comely as my daughter who

dances and sings and is the brightness of my house.

There is no government so worthy as my son who laughs, as he comes up the path

from the river in the evening, for joy.

- last stanza of To A Siberian Woodsman, by W. Berry

Monday, August 02, 2010


Too-small-of-a-hook-pike-streamer that I tied years ago when I was even more of a jackass than I am now:

Trim zonker strip, remove most of flash, add drab soft hackle, cover head in chenille, mottle the whole deal with black prismacolor:

Serviceable carp fly. My plan here is to pick through my BWCA box and transform all these weak pike/smallie flies into decent carp fare. Then supplement carp flies and tie new BWCA streamers with big ass hook gaps.
Home Economics

find wading boots in dumpster
ponder them
one felt sole falling off upper
other than that
take them home
then to shop
still called cobbler?
my brother owns it he says
and i work here a couple days a week
i have my own shop in decorah
yeah my dad owned this before my brother
how's thursday
good see you then
monday rolls around
shop smells bad
shopmaster wears a worn leather apron
i want to give him my money i think
he's not a corporate fuck
he's a dude who knows a trade
and for that i want to give him money
fair trade transaction
money for skill
and so he says that'll be seven-fifty
and i have to laugh to myself
should tip him i figure
need some laces he asks
looks like i do
those are awful worn
yeah give me some laces
how about these
they look good
while you're at it how about some for these boots
maybe shorter - 54 or so - maybe 50
how many holes in them boots
seven i think
those should work
let's call it ten bucks
i sure am happy you could stitch up those boots
i can pay with a credit card or check
whichever you prefer
i know they nail you for a fee on that card
i'll give you a check if that's good
boots now home
wipe them down with a wet rag
air dry
and follow with some bear grease
been in a bottle for years
saved by another thrifty economist
who thought at that time
it'd be appropriate to reduce and preserve
fat from a large mammal
insert new laces
look at the shine
salvaged goods lose their tags
they become resurrections
no longer made in china
but now found in dumpster
and i sure like that
two for one
eliminate waste
eliminate need
that is a foundation of home economics
and that is why there is written in
big black marker on my fly shop ceiling
mine because i made it
mine because i got it
always better than mine because i bought it
anyway no matter how you look at it
or what you figure
i got a sweet ass pair of boots

I think an economy should be based on thrift,on taking care of things, not on theft,usury, seduction, waste, and ruin. - W. Berry