Dreaming about Steelhead

Today, I find myself dreaming about Steelhead and remember I had once written a short piece a few years back.  I found it and will include it below.  I will read the story and it helps take me back to those moments when my world it at peace.  I have been working on a fictional story for many years and one day hope to finish it.  I may include a few samples on here in the future.  Let me know what you think.

Moments of Steel

The world surrounding me is damp, dark,  and silent as the sun slices its way above the horizon.  A pastel mural on the clouds, a crisp chill in the air, leaves crunching under my feet as I follow the meandering trail.  I arrive at red rock hole, stretch a little as I watch my breath float away, remove my yarn fly from the hook keeper, and make a few drifts.  A slight smile comes to my face; I am in the zone now.  This cast is the one.  I feel a tap, tap.  Set the hook. Nothing.  I cast again.  Blood pumping with anticipation.  Nothing.  Again, nothing.  Again and Nothing.  Working the water looking for the spot.  This is the one.  Tap, Tap.  Set the hook and the game is on.  Feeling the power pounding on the end of my line.  The fish makes a screaming run up the hole, followed with an amazing aerial display.  Scrambling to take in line as the fish runs towards me.  Finally, I catch up when the fish makes a mad dash to leave the hole.  I let up on the tension and the fish immediately turns around back upstream.  I apply some pressure the angered fish takes off and leaps through the air and I catch a glimpse of the sacred chrome creature as my fly shoots past me.  Thankful for the chance I move on to cast again.

Forecasts & Decisions

It was Saturday (1/14) and all the computer forecasts for Sunday were looking worse as the minutes ticked by.  A high of 36 had changed to a high of 29 with winds at 20 mph.  I called a few fishing buddies to see if they wanted to go fishing somewhere and all had other plans.  I finally decided on hitting the upper mississippi river for some smallmouth as it was a little closer and if the conditions were intolerable I could just head home.  Also, as a friend noted the bigger rod (8 wt) for smallies is more manageable in the wind.  After much consideration I finished tying a couple last minute patterns, set the alarm, and hit the pillow.

Arriving at my destination just as the sun was nearing the horizon not another single person to be found.  The swans, geese, and ducks were just starting to get ready to move.

I took a couple sips of coffee and headed to the river.  It is amazing to hear the world get going in the morning starting with the animals and then the human start to stir about.  The swans that winter here are incredibly large birds and it baffles me how they are even able to take flight from the water as their feet and wing tips slap the water.The temp was about 17 F when I arrived.  I fished my first spot for a bit with no luck so I moved to another good spot.  Fished two or three flies before tying on one of the last minute patterns from the night before.  First cast produces a fish, I think to myself it was worth it to get here this morning.  I had the water all to myself until about 9 am.

"First Smallmouth on the Fly of the Day"






I caught a few more fish before deciding to go warm-up and have some more coffee.  When I got back out there the wind had really picked up, the water was very wavy.  The temps were on the rise as my guides did not ice up near as much and by the end of the day not at all.  The wind backed the water up a bit to where it was almost a foot deeper where I was standing then it was in the morning.  The flows could have went up too but it was probably a combination as the wind was blowing right up the gut against the current.  I was able to land a few more fish and missed a couple too.  It was a great day on the water.

On the drive home I was a very happy man and glad I stuck with my decision to go.  I have had very few trips were the weather won and sent me home.  I have generally been of the thought if you have the time to fish, that is the best time to go.  Now that we have had a few -15 F nights here I wonder if  I will hit the river again before the season closes in February.  The fly boxes are in need of filling it is just hard to keep me away from moving water.

Nice Winter Smallmouth Bass on the Fly on the Upper Mississippi River

Embracing Difference

Difference = the individual things that each of have that make us unlike each other.

Commonality = all the things that make each human similar, the majority of all things.

In today’s world difference is unwelcome, at least that is what I have observed.  Especially upon the lines of opinion and beliefs.  We don’t appear to be drawing lines in the sand waiting for the tide (negotiation/dialogue) to wash in so we can draw new ones but building fortified walls around our beliefs.  Pulling the welcome mat inside our walls, only welcoming those who are already there.

How can this be productive as a society or even human beings?  To not hold conversation because of pride and values.   To not listen to another human beings truths because it is different then your truths.  To not try to participate in discussion because you fear no one is listening.  To believe that you are that different from any human that you no longer need a line you need a fortified wall to protect your truths is outrageous.

Community and Dialogue: Humanity needs you.  We live in an interconnected global society.   Now is no longer the time to build walls.  Now is the time to learn about other people truths, the commonality we share, and the unique differences we each bring to the table.  Actively listen, visualize yourself in their truth, think about your actions, and reflect.  We need to change our actions as our walls are getting so high we are not sure how to get ourselves out, let alone talk to someone outside of them.  If each truth is true and we each hold those truths with passion and emotion, then we need to open the window in your walls to let the light of other truths in to be heard and evaluated.  For if a truth is true it holds value and if others have truths it also holds value.  Work to find truths that work for all, but at the very least do not disenfranchise people who are different by not trying to understanding their truths.

Fathers and Sons

Reflecting on last weekend (1/7-1/8/12), I am reminded at what a gift it is to be a father.  On Friday my son Nolan (3 almost 4) wanted to go play in the snow and for me to pull him around in the sled.  Our unusually warm and dry winter had left just enough snow to cover the grass.  As I am pulling him he asks me to stop, when he proceeds to get out and ask me to get the pretend auger and drill him a hole.  We proceeded to fish the park with plenty of pretend fish caught and lost, including a shark.  On our way back home I asked him “Hey Nolan, do you want to go ice fishing tomorrow?”  His eyes got big with excitement and he replied “go on the ice for real, don’t forget my fishing poles and one for you too dad, lets go get ready.”  I remember as a child dreaming about ice fishing, I would wake up dreaming about my bobber going down the hole, not sure I slept much the night before a fishing trip and for sure I was up and ready to go when Dad would come get me.   For a guy like myself I don’t know if there can be many things much better then your son asking to go fishing.  So, we called my fishing buddy Don and his son, Wyatt (3) to see if they wanted to go too.  We went to a little lake Don and I had fished several times throughout the years and is typically a great tip-up and panfish lake.  We went to the usually spot moved flags all around for an hour or so, checked holes for panfish and never marked a fish or had a flag.

So, we packed our stuff up and went searching.  We probably drilled and checked 100+ holes to only find bottom.  We went to another spot to setup tip-ups with 6 out we had a pretty good spread.  While we waited  we looked for panfish and still not a fish marked.  Nolan and Wyatt are running around.  The boys needed a snack so we started to sit down to eat it when finally, a flag goes Don and the boys run for it.  False alarm, wind or a fish just bumped the bait.  Fifteen minutes later the flag goes again, I can see the line peeling off. I run over.  I wait, the line is still spinning so I slowly pick up the tip-up.  The line is keeps flying off the tip-up.  Grab the line.  Nothing…. We decide to move a couple flags around and look for some more panfish.  I hear Nolan yell “Dad, I am ready to go” then he goes to pack up our sled, fishing rods, vexilar, buckets, and cooler sits down and waits.  I couldn’t believe it, the things these little people do sometimes just surprises you.  Don and I are talking about moving a flag and where it should go when it goes up, our third flag of the day Wyatt and Don get there first.  Wyatt brings in his first tip-up fish hand over hand like an old pro and iced then released a largemouth bass.  That was the only fish we caught that day but it was a great day.  Later on Saturday, I gave my Dad a call to see if he wanted to go trout fishing with me since I knew my parents were not up at the cabin this weekend.  We decided to leave around 9 or so.  Truck was ready when Dad got there in the morning so we hit the road for Hay Creek, a trout stream near Red Wing in Southeastern Minnesota.  The forecast for the day was suppose to be 50F.  I was looking forward for my first trout trip of 2012.  I was a little shocked my Dad was going to give it a try, he had only picked up a fly rod a couple other times.  The first was in 1991 on our family Camping Trip to Glacier NP and Yellowstone, Dad and I fished the Gallatin River for a half-day with a guide, I remember it being pretty dirty from the rain the day before.  I insisted on using my new Eagle Claw 5/6wt fly rod over the guides equipment, this trip was also my first experience with fly fishing too.  It was probably 5 days before the guide trip that I bought my first fly fishing magazine and have been infatuated with the sport ever since.  On the trip I didn’t catch a thing I blamed it on the conditions, remarkable I don’t remember catching anything on a fly rod for several years later at least not a trout.  I don’t know if my first trout came from the Rush River or Pine Creek (pre-rehab). The other time my Dad used a fly rod was on a cold day at the Cabin we practiced casting as our family was going to Mexico for a week in January, I set us up for a full-day with Pesca Maya.  Dad opted to use the 3 pc spin rod I brought down for him to use.  We caught bonefish and enjoyed a great day on the water.  One of my memories is when a shark came with-in range, the guide got the bait all set Dad went to cast and the bait went flying without the lure, bail was closed.  The guide quickly put on another piece and was urging my dad to go quickly and again the bait went flying only this time it hit the water scaring off the shark, closed bail will do it every time.

Dad and I have many fishing memories and that Sunday we made some more.  One that comes to mind, we get to a nice pool so I let Dad go first.  He makes a cast or two then gets in a big mess and tangled in some vegetation.  So, I state its my turn and cast my fly in, let sink a bit, make two quick twitches of the Black Whiskey Fly and a nice little 10 in Brown Trout slams it.  I say “Got one.”  Dad goes, “Really, Already?”

The water was very clear and the sun was very bright.  Dad decided he was going to mostly watch and learn, and that he needed some more casting practice.  Winter fishing on a small, crowded stream (most I have ever seen on this stream) like Hay Creek was on that Sunday can be highly technical and challenging.  Fish were holding tight to the bottoms and structure.  Towards dusk we saw a few trout taking midges but were unable to fool them.  We enjoyed a nice sunset on the coulee as we walked back to the truck to head home.  The moon was full in in the sky to the East as we hit the hill tops to witness another sunset.I am looking forward to the next day on the water with my Dad.  I am also looking forward to the next day on the water with my sons.  The things my Dad has taught me through the sports he enjoys and passed on to me are invaluable to my life, Thank You!  My hope is to pass those experiences and passions on to my own children as they get older.

A Wet Line and a Bent Rod during a Minnesota December

A nice smallmouth saves an otherwise fish less day on the Upper Mississippi River.

With a couple hours to fish after wrapping up most of my holiday shopping I stopped at one of my favorite winter escapes (at least until the end of February).  Temps were hovering around freezing, guides were definitely icing up by the end of my trip.  No one (except myself) was to be found fishing this popular stretch of water during the 2-445pm stretch I was there.  Not a lot of action, the pictured fish and a few other hits but the fished seemed to be fairly negative, pecking at or picking the fly up and spitting it.

Experienced something I never noticed before, a thin layer of ice forming on the line  I could feel it as I stripped the line it.  It seemed to keep my fly from being in the strike zone.  Nonetheless I look forward to my next trip to the river.  I need to hit the vise and tie a few new patterns.  Stay tuned for some vice updates.  Minnesota Winter C&R Trout Season is just around the corner too.


This blog is about my fly fishing adventures, fitness, and occasional enduring thoughts.  Fly Quest is my business where I guide clients for Driftless Area Trout or Float Trips on some Upper Midwest Rivers for Smallmouth Bass, Northern Pike, Carp , or Muskie.  Come experience one of the Midwests premier fisheries. Every since I first set my eyes on fly fishing twenty years ago I have been hooked.  Fit Quest is my personal training business where I strive to help clients reach their health and wellness goals through fitness.

Hello world!

This is my first official post on a blog of my own.  December has rolled into town very quickly.  Lakes are locking up for the season.  The days since being on the oars have moved to counting by months.  Winter trout fishing is a month away.  For a stir crazy fishing enthusiast, it is this time of year that we have to be creative to figure  out how to get our rods bent or resort to hibernating in our fly tying caves to replenish our fly inventory.  If temps move into the mid 30s I will consider wetting a line, unfortunately the 10-day forecast shows no sign of being that warm anytime soon.  Leaving me to hunkering down and working some materials into some fishy looking flies.