Archive for July, 2013

This week, I took five days vacation from work to go fishing. Monday morning I got up at 4:30AM like a good angler, and drove to the lake. When I get to the boat ramp, I noticed a couple of rain drops starting to fall. A quick check of the weather radar shows a small band of rain coming, so I decided instead of taking the chance of getting caught mid thunderstorm in my belly boat, I would curl up in the backseat of my car and wait for the rain to pass. I set an alarm for 30 minutes and drifted off.

When the alarm went off, the rain was falling pretty hard. So I set it for another 30 minutes…

And another. And another.

At 9:00 AM, I just went home.

The rain we got on Monday put all the fish down. I even tried fishing through the rain for a while, to no avail. Tuesday, the weather had cleared. I don’t normally head out to the lake after a rainstorm for a day or two; but dang it… I took vacation to fish! I was going to fish regardless.

After an hour of bass fishing with no hits, I gave up and went to my old favorite…

Bluegill.

Sorry “DD”, I don’t think ‘selfies’ are creepy at all…

Call them easy to catch, but fishing is a lot more fun when you occasionally feel a tug at the end of your line. Finding the bluegills took a little bit of time. But after I found them, they saved me from a skunked day. Heck, I even ended up with an 8 1/2 incher!

Later in the day, I headed back out to Bowling Lake with my Tenkara rod (mostly at the request of one of my readers… here you go John!). Bowling Lake has weeded over in most parts pretty heavily; making a tough lake to fish. But the bluegill action just kept right on going. The first few bite on a foam ant fly, but after I switched over to panfish popper flies. Then the action really took off.

Here is my panfish popper box… all but the yellow and black flies are hand made by yours truly!

I guess the life lesson in this post is sometimes you have to take what life will give you and make the most of it. Life might deal you crummy cards… But as any poker player will tell you, it’s not the cards that count… it’s how you play them.

I think I played my hand pretty well today.

And the best part of the whole experience? Watching the fish splash away…

Fishing is about more then just the fish.

Just as life is about more then the cards you are dealt…

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Updated! Swingline has responded!

This post will have nothing to do with fishing…

Those who follow along with me on my blog should know that I am a passionate person. My life passions are, in order:

  1. My family
  2. My job
  3. Fly Fishing
  4. High Quality Stapling

Points 2 and 3 might be interchangeable… but I digress. My passion for high quality stapling actually arises out of my job. I absolutely love everything about working in higher education; except for one thing.

My stapler.

I have been cursed in the four years I have held my position by the fact that I can never have a stapler that operates correctly. I have been through every spare stapler in our office. Every one of them has jammed, broken, incorrectly, or poorly stapled. Often, the stapler is unable to even bind even a few pieces of paper together.

“Blame the user!”, my colleagues often say. Go ahead.

But I think there is a conspiracy afoot…

You see, I feel that the issue is with the quality of the staples that we are putting into the stapler. We have been putting SF13 staples into our staplers that require SF4 staples.

Big deal, you may ask. Well, Swingline feels so passionately about using the proper staples that they put this on each stapler they make.

Not with a sticker mind you; they literally engrave this on the staplers…

I think that sends a pretty big message. The right staples are important.

So why this rant?

You see, another co-worker of mine cut her hand today on a jammed staple while trying to pull it out. People in my office are now bleeding over the use of improper staples.

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It’s not just me. And now people are starting to get hurt…

Thus, I am passionate about high quality stapling. Ask any of my co-workers.

Tweets to @Swingline regarding the importance of using the correct staples have so far gone unanswered…

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I will keep Flies Over Nation notified should I receive corporate confirmation of what I know to be true.

In the meantime, for the sake of your loved ones, please use the proper staples…

Your knuckles could depend on it.

E

Update

Swingline has confirmed the importance of using the correct staples after reading this post!

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Flies Over Nebraska would like to thank Swingline. When loaded with the proper staples, they really are the worlds best staplers!

And I know… I have been through my fair share of staplers recently…

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Who is Jaques? Read my Freshly Pressed article, “The One Who Got Away”, to get caught up!

For the first time since I first laid eyes upon Jaques, I decided to go back after her.

This week I purchased a tent for Little E and me (she is super excited to camp under the stars like on an episode of the Fresh Beats Band), and I headed out Wildwood Lake armed with my meager camping gear. I hiked back along a trail on the lake, located a campsite on the shallow end, and pitched my tent. As I was pitching my tent, I spooked dozens of small frogs from the shore and into the weeds. I tied on my trusty foam frog fly. About an hour and a half before sundown I waded out into the water in search of my advisory.

I can’t explain why I waited almost two months to head back out after Jaques. The first experience with her was so emotionally draining that I am pretty sure I was not able to handle a heart break like that again. I have spent the mean time fishing other bass waters, perfecting my presentation, and working on my ability to play large fish. Now that graduate school is completed, and with my recent success fighting a large catfish on Wednesday, I felt prepared for my next encounter.

The shallow end of Wildwood lake is only 2-3 feet deep in most places. The lake has weeded up for the first few yards around the shore, but has open water for the remainder of the area. Infinitely wadeable; and, as the fly fishing mantra goes “match the hatch”, allowed me to present my foam frog in a way that precisely mimicked the action of the frogs I spooked into the water.

Infinitely wadeable being most important… as I popped the intertube on my belly boat and almost went down with my ship Friday night…

I fooled around with a Clouser Minnow on my 5 weight rod first, catching a little bluegill.

This allowed another angler to sneak into the spot where I believe Jaques might be hiding. As I stood waste deep in the water, I watched as he cast a giant plastic frog back and forth across this spot with no avail. We had a quick chat about our similar strategies regarding top water frog fishing. As he headed off, he wished me better luck then he had.

Not four or five casts into the same spot, albeit from the water instead of the shore and with a fly, I managed to snag a little bass.

Something about watching a bass explode through the surface of the water onto a tiny handmade fly intoxicates me. It is one of the most addictive experiences I have ever encountered. Even though I now have a couple of years experience with this type of top water fly fishing, my heart still skips a beat when the fish strikes.

The bass will pounce at the exact moment that you least expect them to. Often they will come almost completely out of the water. Incredibly violent, the bass will consume the entire fly in one gulp as it comes through the water. As it lands, the water splashes high into the air; and the line vibrates as the bass tries to shake the life out of the frog under water. And all of this happens within a few short feet of where I am standing. To be standing so close to such an efficient predator when they strike inspires both fright and excitement all in the same moment. When my heart resumes beating, I set the hook instinctively. And as the hook strikes home, the rod doubles over like you are trying to pull a brick through the water with a piece of sewing thread.

A brick that thrashes about, still angry about being fooled into taking a fly.

Having success with a little bass lifted my spirits. It took me over 45 minutes to work to the secret spot where I believe Jaques to be hiding. Fish after fish turned over on my fly, but hook ups where few and far between. Nothing in life worth the effort ever seems to come easy. But that makes the payoff so much better.

I actually cast to the spot where I felt Jaques was hiding several times. As I worked my way to the spot, I could see something feeding on the surface. My heart beat quickened, and continued through quite cast after quite cast.

Until, unexpectedly as always, there was a violent explosion on the water.

As the hook struck home, I could feel the line race out of my hand. I didn’t get a good look at the fish and don’t know for sure; but the way it fought suggested that it could only be Jaques…

Instantly, the fish bolted for the weedy cover. Trying to maintain pressure on the fish and feed it line for it’s run with my right hand, while trying to frantically reel up my slack line to “reel up” the fish with my left hand, was a daunting task. Each reel of slack line felt like an eternity, and I was sure that I would not be able to maintain pressure on Jaques. Losing pressure would mean a slack line; the perfect opportunity for her to throw the fly.

As I got Jaques reeled up, she was on a bee line for deeper water. “Perfect”, I thought, as this would allow me to keep up the fight with out worrying about getting snagged up again. But as that thought floated through my mind, she took an abrupt U-turn, headed fast for the weeds again. I lowered my rod almost into the water to increase the pressure on her and stop the run.

Nothing.

Not having enough time to adjust the drag, I palmed the reel in a desperate attempt to stop Jaques from heading into the weeds. As she got closer, I pressed my hand harder onto the spinning fly reel. As she reached the edge, I pressed so hard that I stopped the reel completely…

Suddenly, I was in a game of tug-of-war with my legendary fish. A very bad place for a fly fisherman to be in with such light tackle…

After a few short seconds, my rod leaped limply backwards. The line slowly fluttered over my shoulder as my tippet gave out to the pressure. And Jaques escape back into the depths.

I only had two of my trusty foam frogs left from my winter’s tying session. Jaques claimed the first one, and I tied on my last. I desperately cast to the spot where Jaques had disappeared to. But just like my first encounter, I knew these efforts were in vain.

After several minutes of desperately trying to find my fish, I continued down the bank. I had many small bass turn over on my small foam popper, but none seemed interested in holding on. As the sun set, I slowly worked my way back to my tent. When I returned to the spot where I had lost Jaques, I cast my final frog a few times into the general area of the first fight. One cast landed perfectly on the edge of the weeds. After a few seconds I started the retrieve back to me. As the frog popped back toward me, I saw the massive wake of a large fish come up behind it. My heart skipped with excitement as the fish burst through the water on my fly…

But as I set the hook, the rod popped back and the line limply flew over my shoulder again. The knot between my tippet and leader disintegrated on the hook set; my final foam frog disappeared into the night.

Wildwood Lake seemed intent not just to defeat me, but to rub salt into the wound by claiming my last frog fly.

I climbed from the water after dark and into my tent. As I laid there, I came down with a mind numbing migraine headache. This was not helped by the infinite chorus of crickets, cicadas, and an outspoken young man on the boat that decided to anchor for some night fishing just off my camping spot; playing an interesting mix of all musical genres at high volume with plenty of bass, all the while wondering why the fish weren’t biting…

By midnight I had been beaten down to all that I could handle. Wildwood had defeated me again.

In spirit, mind, and body…

I packed up all my camping gear in the middle of the night and headed for a bottle of Tylenol PM and the quite comfort of my own bed.

Make no mistake, I will be back out to chase Jaques. I love challenges, and Jaques is proving to be just that. The challenge of fly fishing drew me into the sport in the first place.

Besides, what good is a legendary advisory that surrenders so easily?

See you again soon Jaques…

And next time I’ll pack the Tylenol PM.

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I have written time and time again that big fish are different… and special. They capture the heart; and tease the mind of the fishermen for years to come. They will even enter your dreams; as you think about how you can always catch one just a little bit bigger…

I was lucky enough to have someone talking pictures for me last Wednesday when I hooked into a nice catfish. She caught pictures of my fight with one of the biggest fish I have ever caught on a fly; from hook set to release. This whole process took about 15 minutes. Amazing.

I have been struggling to think of words to go along with the pictures. And I have decided there are no words that can do the pictures justice.

Follow along through the pictures… and keep an eye on my face. Only in the pictures can you see the magic that fly fishing provides…

And this same magic drives me back to the water time and time again; through the lost flies, fishless trips, bugs, sunburns, and mud. This magic is what kindles in my heart over cold winter months as I work away the long nights at the fly tying bench.

Days like below are precious. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

And now… FISH ON!

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And who better to spend it with then Little E…

Now that graduate school is over, and some family visits are taken care of, I was able to hit the water and fish. With graduate school being over now, this was really my first guilt free fishing trip. I can’t think of the last time I had been fishing when I had something school related I probably should have been working on.

Little E got a Spiderman life jacket to wear at the beach, so we rocked this new look at the lake tonight. Armed with a new sense of fearlessness, she waded right into the water with daddy, and stood by my side as a pulled to hand a few bluegills and one tiny largemouth bass…

Definitely the best little fishing buddy… until about 45 minutes later and she demanded that I take her to the grocery store for the fudge ice cream bars I bribed her with to get her to come out with me…

So my first trip out was cut a little short. But still fun. And definitely cute.

And I have a TON of vacation time that I need to burn, so my fishing time is only just starting to heat up!

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Has anyone noticed that the fly fishing has slowed considerably over the last 5 weeks? I have been hard at work on my final graduate class for my master’s degree program. And tonight I turned in my final research paper in my final class.

You have no idea how happy this makes me.

I can finally go fly fishing guilt free… that is, assuming I pass the class. Five more weeks and I can walk across the stage one more time in my life. But this time with an awesome looking hood on. And I can get back to my personal passions in life, writing and fly fishing. Because I am definitely done with graduate school for a while.

Hopefully I will have some fishing stories/photos in the near future…

See you running to the banks of the nearest lake… and away from the many cries of my colleagues to start a Ph.D. program.

E

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And thanks for the reminders that no matter how good of an angler I feel like I have become… my phone will constantly buzz all through my workday, with pictures like above, to remind me that I am still the apprentice in the family!

Happy 60th Dad!

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