Living On Things That Excite Me

South West Wisconsin-Driftless Area

With a big fat goose egg for me this last trout season I was on a mission to land one trout on my own. It was the last weekend of trout season for the year and I had some tough choices to make. Play it safe with better luck next year & take in a  few family functions that will bore me to death. Or hear flack for the rest of my life & pack up the truck and head north to the spring creeks of Wisconsin, for one last shot at my first trout. Ummmmmm…. What a tough one. So I took my chances and had to go north,  4 hours later I’m faced with bugs clawing at my every hint of flesh and weeds up to my ears, after a string of days with plenty of rain, the local shops kept saying its not about the fish but the experience. Many places to choose from in the driftless area of Wisconsin, I wanted to check out a few favorites. Not knowing what the heck as far as, match the hatch and all that jazz, hoppers and terrestrials were a safe bet. Besides whats seemed to be millions of grasshoppers were darting around like shooting stars, it was a good call. 

With my 4wt in hand, I decided to take a few shots at a little crook in the creek about 30ft up stream from a roadside bridge. Like I had mentioned before it’s late summer, weeds are about 8 feet tall, no joke.  Between swatting bugs and untangling my back cast, I  managed to land my hopper in a nice little drift right off the bank. All this is happning I get a mosquito bite on my lip, and feel instantly my lip puff up like a golf ball. I was like Quasimodo, drooling out the side of my mouth. A madman swinging a stick in the air with a bump the size of a child’s fist on my face, not a good feeling.

That day I’d broken my cold spell, I landed 4 trout that day. Beautiful in its spectrum of colors these little wild trout, were a gift from above. My first experience, as a man in waders, made a huge impression on me. 

While driving home on this trip I began to count my blessings on how lucky we are to have wild trout waters so close to home. I realized these waters needed to be kept clean and as an angler it is my responsibility to take care of this natural wonder.  I wanted to be more frugal in my way of living, live more green. I’m doing my part, are you? Little Driftless Brookie

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Cigar Smoke Does Swirl

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San Pedro, Belize

Jet lagged from the night before & filled with anticipation, waking up in a country way to far from home, with a guy in the next bed I barely know.  Along with a  room full of gear enough to fill a local shop, I had no clue what was going to happen. I was out of the local pond and into a world I only heard and read about in the local fly shop and magazines. This is how my first trip to live out my dreams began.

I had made it to my destination in search of my first real hook up, the bonefish. After spending countless hours, reading, casting, buying and asking questions. I was here, the big leagues. Hearing stories at dinner of guys who have been fishing for 20+ years , myself having less then 6 months under my belt, was ready to do the deed. Being fortunate enough to get here with the right gear (rods, reels, flies, etc.) I was up to bat 5:00 am the next morning. 

As the alarm went off, quickly I smacked it, I hadn’t slept a wink. On edge with anticipation not knowing what to expect from this day.  I had gotten ready and headed to the dock for my first encounter with “salt”. My guide Tayo a early 20’s man who has been commercially fishing for as long as hes been alive, now guiding for better pay, took my rods and gear bag with a smile. He had headed in to the lagoon to weave in and out little islands and bridges to get us to my first bonefish feeding hole. Twenty minutes later I’m staring at a clean blue water just like the magazines, with nothing but us three for what seems to be eternity.  The cool water just fills my flats boots with tiny water bubbles, that add to the moment, I’m trying not to forget.  My casting was very difficult to put together with the winds just knocking my line around, as if I have never threw loop. So Tayo put me on this little flashing feeding hole , and had told me,

” dem bones, dos flashes”, So with my little shrimp like fly in hand and line stripped out , I began to cast. Looking at my back cast trying not to hook myself or the guide, I took deep breaths and got into my rhythm, and let my loop straighten out. With a few strips in , I began to get the hang of it. Another cast out, strip, strip, nudge….ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ….There’s goes my fly line. Tights lines and a bent rod what a combo. That day turned out to be a day that will humble and still build up this newly made fly fisherman. Many fish lost and a few that were brought in, yet it was well worth the time and effort.  

 That week I had learned many knots, casting on a clock, fighting fish, slinging an 8wt all day is like using a hatchet on a rock & whats its like to get into your backing. All in all I  had met some great people, especially the locals and there warm hospitality. 

Down time at night, with a smile stuck on my face from that day, I had the chance to spend time in this little island town while not feeling like a complete tourist, the local restaurants offered great food. Riding my green beach cruiser bike home that night I sort of had a little swagger to me, like I just climbed Everest or finished the Iditarod . My first salt trip had came up successful, with a learning curve that I will remember forever. Life on the fly.

The Hook Up

La Habana, Cuba – El Presidente Hotel

As I kick back by the pool, the sun is beating on my face similar to a desk lamp in a dark room, its therapy for this land locked kid. I glanced over and noticed a gentleman using his hands to create what appears to be art in some small natural form, not knowing that this tiny object would be my way out of the daily grind an addiction that drives my every thought, a pit for my money. With much wonder I had to ask, this wasn’t just a normal 9 to 5 activity that is done half hearted it is a way of life that had a learning journey attached to it that seems to be the heart beat of few.  Matt was his name and tying Crazy Charlies’ was this little art piece, Matt was from the UK, who was on his dream adventure that made me change my outlook on life and all that it had to offer.  He was preparing what seemed to be an army of flies, ready for battle, for an elusive fish I had to learn more about.  Matt was telling me of the thrill of the hook up that clears your reel in seconds and fights for whats seemed to be hours on end. Fly fishing was born in my eyes, heart & soul.