Posts Tagged ‘Bowling Lake’

The ice melted away…
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And the first fish landed…
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Like a phoenix, Flies Over rises again.
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Open water 2014.

Happy fishing.

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In case you missed, Nebraska has started it’s fall 2013 trout stocking schedule

Which means I have been out chasing my favorite fish, above and by far: the Rainbow Trout.

There isn’t a prettier fish around. Or one that is more fun to chase.

I have all sorts of things to say about chasing trout over the last week. But one experience takes the cake. One night this last week, Little E tagged along with me to catch a trout. She knows full well that the Rainbows are daddy’s favorite. And daddy desperately wanted to catch her one so she could hold one in her hands. Hopefully holding one would inspire a lifetime of awe in her, just as it had for me.

Well, they call it fishing for a reason. I got skunked.

Little E spent her time picking cattails to take home to mommy. Right toward sundown, when we were getting ready to call it a night, she pulled on my pant legs and asked if she could cast. I had my tenkara rod with me, and figured why not…

I had been messing around with a dry fly, as I had gotten a few pecks at it, but no takes. I didn’t think anything of the fly choice at the time; I just wanted her to cast the rod. So she began flinging the rod around. Her “cast” (using the word loosely) was pretty funny.

I was working with her to pick the line up, cast it, then count to five; to give the fish a chance to bite. An important skill for down the road I thought…

I thought…

When she went to pick up the line for a cast, she belted out “Daddy! I got a shishy!!!”

And sure enough, she did.

She pulled the rod back, almost instinctively. All I had to do was grab the line and flop it up on shore.

She was so excite… just look at that smile.

She even put it back in the water herself…

And then she wanted to keep going. And two or three casts later, up came another one…

That’s my girl!

Somehow, even the days I get skunked somehow turn out being pretty memorable

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Sometimes the best fishing trips are ones that don’t have a single bite…

In order to give mommy sometime to get her projects done, Daddy and Little E planned a whole day out. She had been asking place that has bouncy castles, ball pits, and everything else that would make a three year old’s day. And seeing an opportunity to use this to my advantage, I struck a deal with Little E…

You see, she has not be “volunteering” to go fishing lately. She’s three and everyday brings with it a new revitalization of the knowledge that their is a whole world for her to discover.

And she loves to explore. The loss of my fishing body becomes a difficult pill to swallow.

So we struck a deal. If she would go fishing for a couple hours this morning, I would take her to the “play place”. At first the proposition only brought tears… “I don’t wanna fish; I just wanna go to the play place! I only want to do one thing!” But after a few minutes, she took the deal.

On the way to the lake, we talked about how “sometimes I don’t like to go fishing”, but only because she wanted to play. I can’t say I blame her.

But then we got to the lake… and out came the Sponge Bob fishing pole…

She marched me up and down the bank, to all of the “good spots”… the spots where she could drop her toy jellyfish tied to the end of her line in the water, and then she could retrieve it. Each time she did, she held it proudly in the air. She would march it over to me and ask, as I have done so many times for her, if I wanted to pet her “shishy”. And after a quick pet, she would have to put it back in the water… and make daddy say “bye-bye fishy”.

As we continued this process, it didn’t take her long to realize that daddy had not caught a fish yet… but she had caught lots of jellyfish. And she let daddy have it…

“I am a good fisher-girl. I a better fisher then you.”

That’s my girl. Rub it in…

No, I didn’t catch a fish; or even had a bite all day. But when I told Little E it was time to go to the play place, I caught the greatest line of the daddy…

“I don’t want to go, daddy! I’m not done fishing!!!”

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A “Good Stick”: A term for an excellent angler; who can catch fish regardless of the circumstances…

One of my life goals is to have someone refer to me by this phrase.

I know a few good anglers. Several of them I grew up around; including my old man and his friends. I found my passion for fishing in my late twenties, and never really appreciated the knowledge they had to offer. I a lot of my fishing knowledge (and virtually all my fly fishing knowledge) comes from the school of hard knocks. But I grew up listening to their stories; and they inspired me to reel in a few of my own.

Another angler who has had a huge impact on me is a bit of a local celebrity here in Nebraska. Our Game and Parks Commission here in Nebraska has a fisheries biologist that writes a local fishing blog as part of the Commission’s public outreach mission. Daryl Bauer and his “Barbs and Backlashes” blog (http://outdoornebraska.ne.gov/blogs/category/barbs-and-backlashes/) has inspired me in numerous ways. First of all, the guy is a heck of an angler. Second, he gives out tons of Nebraska fishing tips… if you are willing to read between the lines (no pun intended). And third, his wiliness to share his passion with the world was a huge influence on my creation of this blog. He takes a much more scientific slant on his blog; and by no means can I compete with that. I focus much more on the emotional aspects of fishing. But I have read every one of his blog posts since I rediscovered fishing…

I had a chance to introduce myself to him at a kids fishing tournament two years ago. I took two seconds to thank him for sending me some trout fishing info I emailed him for. That info lead to a great February tail water fishing trip that cured some mid winter fishing blues. I am sure he doesn’t remember me. And even though I only had a chance to say my name and thank you, shaking his hand was like meeting an idol of mine…

He has inspired me to fish, to write about fishing, and even to start the process to become a certified youth fishing instructor and teach others.

The weather here in Nebraska has taken a turn toward fall weather… cold, windy, and overcast. Today, I didn’t let this stop me. I had a couple hours to kill, and I had an itch to hit the water. Seven layers of clothing later, I was standing waist deep in Bowling lake casting right into a 30 mile per hour wind.

Less then ideal, but fishing is fishing. I love it even if I spend half my time fighting wind knots and horrible casting conditions.

Despite this, I read the water and devised a strategy. A stiff 8 weight rod, heavy jig head flies to bounce the bottom, and a painfully slow retrieve. The combination lead to a solid strike on the very first cast…

Despite the cold, wind, and less then ideal conditions, I kept fishing on. Several times I stopped and looked around. Even though I was at a very popular city lake, I was the only one on the water. Not many other people are brave/crazy enough to brave these conditions. I waded through the vegetation from hot spot to hot spot at my own leisure. I slowly worked each spot I knew on the lake; knowing that today I did not have to share it.

Alone on the water. Just me and the fish.

Bowling Lake could have skunked me, and I would not have cared…

And instead, the lake rewarded me with bite after bite…

The lake even rewarded me with a rare catfish on the fly today. I even had to reel him up.

When I got home and packed all my gear away, I started a general reading routine that I go through almost daily; which includes Mr. Bauer’s blog. On Friday, he had written about how although fish are affected by the weather and cold fronts, good anglers can still get a fish to bite. Bad weather does not always mean bad fishing…

He didn’t need to tell me. But a little confirmation brought a smile to my face. Catching fish on a day that most anglers wrote off provided a healthy boost to my ego…

I fish because I enjoy fishing. I don’t need external verification to know I am a good fisherman. I am a good fisherman because I enjoy fishing… rain or shine, skunked or once-in-a-lifetime day.

I am pretty sure that Mr. Bauer does not read my blog. Heck, I am not sure if anyone does (kidding). But how cool would it be if he did? And how awesome would it be if your idol thought you were a “good stick” too…

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Little E hasn’t wanted to go to the lake recently. She has been in a “Mommy’s Girl” phase. But this weekend we saw the roles reverse… for the first time in weeks!


It’s nice to be on favorite every once in a while. Letting her wear her toy fishing vest helped too…

What a great night!

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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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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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