Happy Wisconsin opener y’all. Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars. I’d like to celebrate this annual tradition with an in-depth review of my April conquests, but that would simply be a smoke screen for less rewarding scuttlebutt. Typically I’d find myself knee deep in caddis by now, but for a number of reasons I haven’t logged much time on the water. You could start with the mind numbing volumes of rain pounding streams far and wide, but a little closer to home I’ve been laid up with a few health issues. Mrs. Adrift attempted to slit my throat while I slept, as you can clearly see in the photo above. Ouch! The frustration of being married to a bonafide trout junkie must have been too much to handle. In reality, I had a mass removed from neck a few weeks ago along with the offending salivary gland (good times). When the problem first reared it’s head, I sheepishly labeled it the proverbial “cancer scare”, but the good news is that the unwelcome intruder was benign. In the interest of full disclosure, I’ll admit that was a diehard tobacco chewer in my youthful angst years. Like many of my outdoors brethren, fishing and chewing went together like peas and carrots. Did my habit get the best of me? Perhaps. But I’m just happy to be on the mend, and looking for a clean bill of health in the future.
But I digress. After several years of pain and anguish I finally added a new landing net to the stable. An astute Adrift™ regular may have noticed the one of a kind tape job on my net in some of the pictures lately. I broke my primary trout net late last season in a streamside tumble that would make Chevy Chase proud. Instead of simply throwing it into the trash bin I elected to resuscitate the victim through an elaborate combination of aluminum flat stock, hose clamps and Jack’s favorite roll of camo hockey stick tape. Even though the net is still in service, I endeavored to add a larger one to the mix. After mishandling a few big fish while photographing them last few years, I wanted a net with an ultra large hoop, but still comfortable enough to carry in my back. After extensive research I decided to keep it local by choosing a Wolf Moon Rogue Net via the fine folks at the Fly Angler. I stepped it up in size going with a 15″ x 22″ hoop. It’s absolute overkill for average trout stream angling, but will give me the extra size I was looking for when targeting big stream trout and lake run fish. I somewhat reluctantly chose the nylon mesh bag, as opposed to the ghost rubber bag. I’ve used rubber bags for a number of years in my other nets, but wanted a deeper, light-weight offering. I can’t stand how the mesh bag gets tangled in every hook, stick and twig, but I chose it for it’s fish friendly qualities. I’ve found that the shallower rubber bags don’t allow bigger fish to swim freely while you’re handling them for photographing. They sort of lay there contorted in what appears to be an uncomfortable hammock. The much deeper mesh bag allows them to swim comfortably upright. Will I be able to tolerate the mesh net for the long term? Only time will tell.
Let’s be honest here. The new net is way too huge for garden variety trouting. I acquired with the full intention of loading it with Lake Michigan steelhead a few weeks ago, and we all know how that turned out. Since I really have no new tall tales to offer up. I thought I’d at least share with you the first slime to coat the new net from earlier in the season. This is a fishing blog after all. With that in mind I’m eager to write about a few of the rig and fly combinations that I’ve been tinkering with, but that’s a story for another day.
My doctor initially told me I’d be out of commission for a month. That’s is a tough pill to swallow given that we’re hitting the sweet spot of trout activities. Heck, you’ll probably see me at your local trout stream in the not too distant future. I’ll be easy to spot with the massive rectangular net, and my recent shiv wounds. Keep the train on the tracks boys and girls, ’cause if you mess with the bull, you get the horns.