The Perfect Storm

adrift_fly_fishing_labor_graphic_design_minneapolis_andy_weaverling_driftless_big_brook_trout_09There has been a healthy dose of hit or miss permeating my daily grind since our last visit. Outside of the angling paradigm, I’ve been stuck in a rut of a different sort lately. 2016 to this point has been little more than a blur of too many 12-20 hour workdays. As if that isn’t bad enough, the j-o-b has been bleeding profusely into the weekends, which tends to wear a guy down. To add insult to injury, the honey-do list has been in full effect. There’s nothing greater than some time on the water to release the pressure buildup. I’ve had the good fortune to be able to escape deeper into the midwest troutin’ abyss for some camping and fishing to clear the cobwebs in recent weeks.

Water conditions have been quite manageable this spring. I’ve been rained out of a few areas, but for the most part streams have been somewhat low and clear. I plotted a course this week, full well knowing that things were about to change. Our run of summertime conditions were about to take a turn for the worse. While legions of brown trout enthusiasts trip over each other looking for the next big thing, I plotted a course for brook trout bliss. It’s no secret in these parts that I’ve been a certified char-o-holic the last few years. I’ve gone through these phases in the past. From bull bluegills to slab crappies, there’s something fascinating about searching for the biggest of the “little fish.” It’s not exactly a Labrador conquest, most midwest brookies have the stature of an Oscar Meyer weiner. I’ve found that there isn’t any one pursuit in angling that can sustain my interest over the course of the long haul. Let’s just speak plainly, I’ve got the attention span of a cocker spaniel. My ever changing angling goals are a simple case of peeling the other layers off of the onion, and brook troutin’ is simply the next layer.



adrift_fly_fishing_labor_graphic_design_minneapolis_andy_weaverling_driftless_big_brook_trout_12adrift_fly_fishing_labor_graphic_design_minneapolis_andy_weaverling_driftless_big_brook_trout_03adrift_fly_fishing_labor_graphic_design_minneapolis_andy_weaverling_driftless_big_brook_trout_10I found myself standing knee deep, up shit creek without a paddle so to speak. The morning had started out dry, but you could just see that the sky was about to bust at the seams. I carefully watched the weather forecast and knew I had a limited window of opportunity before my dreams would be washed away for good. If I haven’t mentioned it previously, I love fishing in the rain. I can’t quite put my finger on why, but I’m a sucker for adverse weather conditions. A little unpredictability goes a long ways. If I wanted it easy, I’d stick to my weekly game of shuffleboard.

As I worked my way upstream I picked up a few dinks here and there. This action served to keep my attention span from waning, but it wasn’t particularly productive and was smelling like another run of the mill kind of day. I nonchalantly worked my way through a nondescript section of water intermittently firing off casts to lackluster features. At one point I was fairly sure I’d snagged something on the bottom when I realized that it had a pulse. I attempted to horse the fish into sight. When I first set my eyes on it, it looked as if I’d crossed paths with an nomadic northern pike. I’ve caught pike while trout fishing from time to time, so it’s certainly not out of the realm of possibility. In the interest of full disclosure, I repeatedly chased a monster Brookie last year that I spied on a popular section of a stream that had the same M.O. I’d seen the fish a few times earlier in the season and eventually hooked into the toad early one morning. adrift_fly_fishing_labor_graphic_design_minneapolis_andy_weaverling_pullquote_1He flashed out from a log, grabbed my offering, made a few head shakes and went along his merry way. It was like two ships quietly passing in the night. I never saw the beast again and I’m sure she found her way into the clutches of another lucky angler. This was the first time I’ve had my lucent pike/brookie hallucination. My brain went into cruise control yet again with this latest fish and just automatically perceived it as the tell tale greenish hue of a pike. While this fish was nothing special by global standards, brook trout generally don’t come in that size category in this part of the universe, and my mind automatically wandered to the billion pint-sized pike I’ve battled over the years. Perhaps it’s just the greenish tubular flash of the take. Who the hell knows, the mind works in mysterious ways? Once I got the beast into closer range I realized that it was a quality brookie. Like a finely tuned instrument, I reached back to my sling pack to fetch my trusty landing net. The “oh shit” moment hit me like a ton of bricks. “Where the fuck is my net,” I asked myself in a panic stricken outburst? While going net free is commonplace for some, I’m an ardent subscriber to using one for trout fishing. Especially if you photograph as many fish as I do. It allows the fish swim comfortably while you catch your breath, remove the fly, retrieve your camera etc. It became readily apparent that I was going to have to do this the old fashioned way. I looked for relief from the tall bank to walk the fish into the shallows. I gingerly worked her up to the bank and proceeded to scoop her up via a light craddle maneuver. This is the point where the typical “lose your mind” punch drunk, big fish behavior is full effect. I immediately realized that this fish was worthy of measurement and a few pics. I kneeled down and positioned the fish on my thighs while attempting a quick tape measure and photograph. I was so swept up in the moment that I didn’t realize that my camera settings were all jacked up (see shitty pic above). It’s at this point that the skies opened up into a torrential downpour. It’s as if Prince himself had deemed this moment worthy of celebration. I’ve purified myself numerous times in the waters of Lake Minnetonka, so I guess I’ve earned my stripes. Within seconds my lens (and my psyche) were soaked to the bone. I pulled out my backup first generation GoPro and shot a few self absorbed “man fondles fish” pics in burst mode to commit the moment to eternity. The shoddy, yet strangely appropriate psychedelic results speak for themselves. I’d be remiss in my duties as a citizen of Minneapolis if I didn’t do my part to send Prince off in style. We all have our connection with the purple one. I mean the guy pretty much scored a decent portion of my childhood. The introductory guitar solo of Purple Rain takes me right back to standing on the sidelines (in predictable wallflower fashion) at every school slow dance and roller skating rink I ever attended. In fourth grade I wasn’t exactly sure what business “darling Nikki” had masturbating with a magazine, but Prince sure made me curious. When life gives you lemons in the form of rain-induced blurry fish pictures, why not make lemonade in the form of a laughable Prince tribute?


adrift_fly_fishing_labor_graphic_design_minneapolis_andy_weaverling_driftless_big_brook_trout_20adrift_fly_fishing_labor_graphic_design_minneapolis_andy_weaverling_driftless_big_brook_trout_15adrift_fly_fishing_labor_graphic_design_minneapolis_andy_weaverling_driftless_big_brook_trout_06dadrift_fly_fishing_labor_graphic_design_minneapolis_andy_weaverling_driftless_big_brook_trout_18adrift_fly_fishing_labor_graphic_design_minneapolis_andy_weaverling_driftless_big_brook_trout_19adrift_fly_fishing_labor_graphic_design_minneapolis_andy_weaverling_driftless_big_brook_trout_21adrift_fly_fishing_labor_graphic_design_minneapolis_andy_weaverling_driftless_big_brook_trout_17adrift_fly_fishing_labor_graphic_design_minneapolis_andy_weaverling_driftless_big_brook_trout_07badrift_fly_fishing_labor_graphic_design_minneapolis_andy_weaverling_driftless_big_brook_trout_22adrift_fly_fishing_labor_graphic_design_minneapolis_andy_weaverling_driftless_big_brook_trout_04eadrift_fly_fishing_labor_graphic_design_minneapolis_andy_weaverling_driftless_big_brook_trout_11I labored for several more hours plying my trade to every nook and cranny holding lie that I could muster. Periods of undulating rain permeated the outing. It certainly put my Patagonia Mininalist Wading Jacket through it’s paces. It’s been a solid addition to the outerwear lineup (minus the tiny/tight fitting hood). Clearly my head is too big for it’s britches (no surprise). The rain hadn’t yet wreaked havoc on the water clarity, though it was slowly was becoming a case of diminishing returns. Much to my surprise, the first fish wasn’t the only good one to come to hand. The brook trout gods smiled upon me by offering up multiple uncommonly large specimens. I picked my way through dinky trout to catch to a handful of fish that often take you eons to catch in this region. At one point I began to repeat my new found cradle maneuver only to watch a giant shake loose before my very eyes. Sometimes you just have to get out of your comfort zone, but I kept thinking, “of all the days to leave my landing net back in the car, why did it have to be today?” Occasionally I’d get the lens on one of my cameras dry enough to snap a decent pic, but rarely could I corral the trout long enough to produce good results. Perhaps it was fitting that I wasn’t able to get many high quality images. Eventually I returned to find my net comfortably dry in the back of my vehicle. This stark discovery served as a reminder of what’s really going on. These fish don’t actually belong on our walls or in our Instagram feeds, or on a blog for that matter (despite our efforts to reproduce the feeling we get inside when we cross their paths). I need a pat on the back just as much as the next person, but for me it’s the game or challenge to know the unknowable, as opposed to braggin’ board fodder. I’ll divulge a dirty little secret. While I’ve found writing of this blog to be cathartic, and I have a soft spot for shooting photos of all sorts, the real reason I started this venue was to expand my limited WordPress skill set. That’s why the site is sort of buggy when viewed on some mobile devices (my apologies for my shortcomings). Fly fishing seemed like the most innocuous of subject matter, and if anyone finds value in my exploits it’s a bonus.

Occasionally I have to pull myself away from the temptation of the “me, me, me carousel” and look at things through a longer lens. This is one of the reasons I went off the grid and didn’t even carry a camera or tape measure for several years before I started this god foresaken endeavor. From my experience behind every door that you open through your outdoor pursuits, you’ll simply find another door. By that rationale this outing is not one of photographic excellence, or peddling my wares, or some masterpiece of storytelling. It’s simply pounding another stake in the ground. For whatever reason, it will always be appropriately engrained with the surrealist smear of the perfect storm.





Funny Math

adrift_fly_fishing_labor_graphic_design_minneapolis_andy_weaverling_driftless_trout_17adrift_fly_fishing_labor_graphic_design_minneapolis_andy_weaverling_driftless_trout_18adrift_fly_fishing_labor_graphic_design_minneapolis_andy_weaverling_driftless_trout_19It’s time to get while the gettin’s good. And the gettin’ is good in these parts. At this point the transition to summertime troutin’ tendencies is complete. I’m glad to see that I’m not the only one who’s full of hot air. Today’s little heat wave is a far cry from the morning chills I experienced recently. The daytime highs have been moderate, but I opted to give it a go on one of the coldest morning’s in recent memory. One should never underestimate Mother Nature, but I’m prone to rash decisions. I found myself shivering in the icy cold waters of spring creek delirium, with only a thin layer of breathable fabric to reduce the shrinkage. Not to be dissuaded, I plodded forward in typical binge and purge fashion, ignoring the fact that my teeth were chattering like an age old teletype machine. Let’s not let little things like hypothermia get in the way of our quest for numerological know-how.



adrift_fly_fishing_labor_graphic_design_minneapolis_andy_weaverling_driftless_trout_27adrift_fly_fishing_labor_graphic_design_minneapolis_andy_weaverling_driftless_trout_16Despite that fact that we’re knee deep in our orgy of dry fly antics, my mind has prematurely wondered towards the giant bugs of terrestrial season. I’ve probably been spending more time tying than casting, and that’s a problem in itself. I’ve secretly been pulling out the vise and constructing new monstrosities meant to test my meddle. Some may see air time, others will be sent to the dust bin of bad ideas. Putting your own spin on a known quantity is half the fun of it anyway. The results portion of the equation have yet to be written.



adrift_fly_fishing_labor_graphic_design_minneapolis_andy_weaverling_driftless_trout_04adrift_fly_fishing_labor_graphic_design_minneapolis_andy_weaverling_driftless_trout_09adrift_fly_fishing_labor_graphic_design_minneapolis_andy_weaverling_brook_trout_31Since we’re talkin’ tactics, I figured I’d follwup on the Brookie bonanza from earlier posts. The best laid plans of mice and men often go astray, but the latest batch of flies and strategies have been paying dividends in the form of a smattering of quality fish. The curiously unnamed pink fly has done some serious damage. Perhaps we shall call her a “double-bubble” #10 Bubblicious? Somewhere between my Strawberry Twizzlers fly and a Pink Squirrel lies this double tungsten bomb-beaded blasphemy. No need to get your panties in a twist over the material choices folks, she’s all artificial. A light round of R&D tells me that if you want to increase the durability, but sacrifice some action you can substitute the current tail with chenille, but it’s all cheatin’ in the minds of some I suppose. Perhaps thoraxes, dubbed bodies and legs comprised of space age components are okay, but not plastisol tails? I don’t really follow any prescribed conventions when it comes to fly tying, so everything is fair game in my pea-sized brain. I’ll leave the unspoken rules of proper fly roddin’ to those in the know. I’m just full of contradictions, but the truth remains that good ol’ Bubblicious has worked as good, if not better than I’d hoped. I’ve been delinquent in furnishing you with any angling action lately, so I’ll just offer up this murderer’s row of finned foes and then we can proceed to go about our business.



adrift_fly_fishing_labor_graphic_design_minneapolis_andy_weaverling_driftless_trout_24cadrift_fly_fishing_labor_graphic_design_minneapolis_andy_weaverling_driftless_trout_08adrift_fly_fishing_labor_graphic_design_minneapolis_andy_weaverling_driftless_trout_21adrift_fly_fishing_labor_graphic_design_minneapolis_andy_weaverling_driftless_trout_03adrift_fly_fishing_labor_graphic_design_minneapolis_andy_weaverling_driftless_trout_20adrift_fly_fishing_labor_graphic_design_minneapolis_andy_weaverling_driftless_trout_02adrift_fly_fishing_labor_graphic_design_minneapolis_andy_weaverling_driftless_trout_22adrift_fly_fishing_labor_graphic_design_minneapolis_andy_weaverling_driftless_trout_14adrift_fly_fishing_labor_graphic_design_minneapolis_andy_weaverling_driftless_trout_26 adrift_fly_fishing_labor_graphic_design_minneapolis_andy_weaverling_driftless_trout_01adrift_fly_fishing_labor_graphic_design_minneapolis_andy_weaverling_driftless_trout_25Why are we so entrapped by a game of numbers? The true measure of a man can’t be found in a simple spreadsheet or at the long end of a ruler. If I wanted to keep score, I’d be swinging the sticks on the golf course. It’s not that I’m immune to amassing quantities of quality fish. I like big fish and a good bite as much as the next guy. How many fish did I catch on this morning? It was somewhere exactly between “a lot” and “many”, but I can’t be 100% sure. Heck, I have a favorite corner bend that I throw Sulphers on ’til the cows come home, but truthfully I’m simply out to put one in the mental win column. Sometimes the simple arithmetic of religiously counting fish, or measuring every catch to within a micron can be almost too much for me to bear. Is more really more? Going fishing and not fervently keeping score is addition by subtraction in my estimation. I never liked math class, and I’m not about to start now. It’s all about the experience by matching wits with something that is wholly uncontrollable. Not to mention the silence, ahh the simple beauty of utter silence. So get out there and get while the gettin’s good (the numbers are there for the taking). There’s no question that I’m often guilty of using some “funny logic,” but in this case it’s simply that I find the math to be the funniest part of this whole equation.







Slow and Steady Wins the Race

After furnishing you with a flurry of early spring reporting I went off the grid for a bit. If I’m not careful I can slip into some of my old bad habits. I was recently surfing through the aisles of a local big box sporting goods store when I had an epiphany of sorts. I was stopped in my tracks at this Fenwick fishing rod rack. There was nothing particularly special about the fixture, other than the large photograph that adorned its flanks. A flood of memories washed over me. In my line of work it’s commonplace to cross paths with things that you’ve created. You make stuff, you send it out into the universe, and occasionally reacquaint yourself with it at a later time and date. I shot this pic for Fenwick a number of years ago and it served as a catalyst for a self-imposed hiatus from the glitzy world of angling photography. At this point in my life shooting fishing pics became nothing more than a simple commodity. It was a classic case of mixing business with pleasure and ultimately it became a chore. Quite frankly, it led to me no longer carry a camera while on the water for a decent chunk of time. Angling excursions big and small went by without a single frame to capture the experience. It felt good for a few years to get back to the basics and remove the tether by not worrying about photographing this or that. Truth be told I only started snapping pics again with my phone about the time I started this blog. As it turns out it’s hard to spin a yarn without the visual layer to support your case. I guess my college english professor was right, I’m no Ernest Hemingway. I’d imagine that most who partake in documenting their ventures struggle to keep it fresh. Beyond the endless string of water, woods and caudal fins, if your goal is a simple case of hero worship ultimately you’ll be left empty-handed. I’ve always claimed mine to be more of a personal journal than a periodical in the truest sense. It’s all fluff, and occasionally it also becomes a chore to construct the narrative. If there is truly something to be written, it will find it’s way to these pages, otherwise Adrift can to languish with the best of them.



adrift_fly_fishing_labor_graphic_design_minneapolis_andy_weaverling_30adrift_fly_fishing_labor_graphic_design_minneapolis_andy_weaverling_31So where does that leave us? What is all this mindless blather about anyway? I decided to freely fish a good portion this spring without the fishing blog elephant on my back. Fish came and went with little fanfare. Fishing rods and hearts were broken with little more than my standard array of curse words. In the interest of full disclosure, it’s a little known fact that all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. I really haven’t been out in full force this spring due to the life/work balance conundrum. Though, after a new watershed didn’t quite live up to my hopes and expectations back in April, I could only soothe my soul with the steamy auspices of some Tung Ting Shrimp. Was this stream not as good as I’d hoped? Were its fish victims of climactic change like the others swirling in the internet rumor mill? Wrong place? Wrong time? Perhaps I’ll never know.  I was eloquently reminded by a power infinitely more wise than myself that in life, blogging, and angling, slow and steady wins the race.









Distance Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

adrift_fly_fishing_labor_graphic_design_minneapolis_andy_weaverling_milwaukee_steelhead_19As much as I’d love to give you one of my long-winded, blow by blow accounts of the last few days. How about we let our eyes do most of the talking, okay? So many miles, such little time, and I’ve got too much to say.











Too many photos? Yeah I thought so. There’s something about distance, both figuratively and literally that just keeps the blood pumping. The further away from something we are, the more we yearn for it. I think that’s what makes portals like these work. Sharing our experiences in a strange way brings people together. It allows us to vicariously live through someone else’s eyes. We all have distance burning inside us. Often you find yourself days, miles or a world away from something that matters. In the context of steelheading, the flash of chrome peeling drag off your reel can seem so foreign that it almost feels like an out of body experience. I have a propensity to overcomplicate things, and the fish don’t give a shit. I love to search far and wide for something that doesn’t actually exist. 30 seconds into a journey. Picture perfect conditions. The very first drift into a deep pool with the most uncomplicated of rigs. She proceeds to melt away the months of turmoil. And that’s just the beginning. Is it always this easy?

Back to reality, back to the grind. Plodding away on my computer like the rest of humanity. I’m right back to square one. Never before has the old adage been more true. Distance makes the heart grow fonder.









adrift_fly_fishing_labor_graphic_design_minneapolis_andy_weaverling_margin_06adrift_fly_fishing_labor_graphic_design_minneapolis_andy_weaverling_fly_fishing_07Let the extreme weather games begin. We’ve seen it all lately, from blistering cold to spring-like heat waves. Fortunately I’m dreaming of a brownish green Christmas, just like the ones I used to know. In terms of weather related angling choices, I just seem to find myself on the wrong side of history. Though in a shocking turn of events, I finished my holiday shopping early (so to speak). I generally throw down an end of year jubilee which serves as my gift that keeps on giving. This year I found it within myself to furnish you with the yule log a few days early. Having a blog is a funny thing. If you don’t feed and burp it regularly, ultimately it will choose the wrong path and be banished to the cozy confines of irrelevance. We’ve all surfed the remnants of the land of misfit toys. Not every website can be the Rolling Stones. Day after day, year after year forging ahead, even in the face of adversity and age (not to mention heavy drug use). Most of us wither and die prematurely. It’s because there’s just not enough hours in the day. Perhaps if we switch to the 27 hour plan I can give it all that it deserves? In the meantime why don’t I just drop a midwinter photo bomb as an attempt to fill in the cracks. The angling will heat up again soon enough, and hopefully I can provide some fresh content. As with all my B-roll filler, this one will be light on the storytelling, heavy on the cream. While y’all don your red and green X-mas sweaters, the true color of the season is brown (an awful line, I know).



adrift_fly_fishing_labor_graphic_design_minneapolis_andy_weaverling_fly_fishing_05adrift_fly_fishing_labor_graphic_design_minneapolis_andy_weaverling_fly_fishing_04adrift_fly_fishing_labor_graphic_design_minneapolis_andy_weaverling_fly_fishing_15adrift_fly_fishing_labor_graphic_design_minneapolis_andy_weaverling_margin_02adrift_fly_fishing_labor_graphic_design_minneapolis_andy_weaverling_fly_fishing_19adrift_fly_fishing_labor_graphic_design_minneapolis_andy_weaverling_margin_01adrift_fly_fishing_labor_graphic_design_minneapolis_andy_weaverling_fly_fishing_14adrift_fly_fishing_labor_graphic_design_minneapolis_andy_weaverling_fly_fishing_04adrift_fly_fishing_labor_graphic_design_minneapolis_andy_weaverling_fly_fishing_20adrift_fly_fishing_labor_graphic_design_minneapolis_andy_weaverling_fly_fishing_19While I’m bummed out that the childhood promise of living on a moon colony hasn’t come to fruition, in many other ways the digital age has been wonderful thing. Namely waterproof digital cameras and the resulting photography. The days of returning from the Fotomat with a largely useless pile of paper is a thing of the past. Much to the chagrin of the professional photographer, we can fill our memory cards with crap and cull a handful of greatest hits from a mountain of misses. It’s these little misses that I’ve been fascinated with lately. I’ll leave the art and style of the grip-n-grin hero shot to  others. The wet lens, the errant misfire, the poor metering, a lack of focus, it’s all good. There’s a reasonable mix of solid trout in this post, but don’t be mislead. This was the cream of the crop, pulled from a massive shit storm of misfortune. For every one big fish there are the legions of littles (not to mention the fishless hours) but I never met a trout that I didn’t like. I like to log the miles, but I mean you have to ask yourself, how many new and different ways can you fondle and photo a fish? This thing reads like a broken record.



adrift_fly_fishing_labor_graphic_design_minneapolis_andy_weaverling_margin_04adrift_fly_fishing_labor_graphic_design_minneapolis_andy_weaverling_fly_fishing_14adrift_fly_fishing_labor_graphic_design_minneapolis_andy_weaverling_fly_fishing_10adrift_fly_fishing_labor_graphic_design_minneapolis_andy_weaverling_fly_fishing_12adrift_fly_fishing_labor_graphic_design_minneapolis_andy_weaverling_margin_05adrift_fly_fishing_labor_graphic_design_minneapolis_andy_weaverling_fly_fishing_18adrift_fly_fishing_labor_graphic_design_minneapolis_andy_weaverling_fly_fishing_08adrift_fly_fishing_labor_graphic_design_minneapolis_andy_weaverling_fly_fishing_11adrift_fly_fishing_labor_graphic_design_minneapolis_andy_weaverling_fly_fishing_13adrift_fly_fishing_labor_graphic_design_minneapolis_andy_weaverling_fly_fishing_09adrift_fly_fishing_labor_graphic_design_minneapolis_andy_weaverling_fly_fishing_22adrift_fly_fishing_labor_graphic_design_minneapolis_andy_weaverling_fly_fishing_02adrift_fly_fishing_labor_graphic_design_minneapolis_andy_weaverling_fly_fishing_06adrift_fly_fishing_labor_graphic_design_minneapolis_andy_weaverling_fly_fishing_21This kind of post just seems to get me in trouble. I’ve taken heat from detractors and friends alike for some reason. But I figure if I’m not evoking a response (good, bad or otherwise) then I’m not doing my job. The truth of the matter is that this mile-long extravaganza is nothing more than a higher-powered placebo, or really just a copycat of last year’s season ending “of Mice and Men,” (without the tactical “mousing” tomfoolery). As my google analytics bear out, it’s all pretty quiet on the western front these days anyway (other than a nice plug of my recent Milwaukee post by my old friends at North American Fisherman). I usually consider my fodder to be anti-social media, but I did get 769 likes on their Facebook page. Is that a good thing? What’s the point of this cast, catch, photo, release, post pics cycle anyway? In the misguided arms race to be “internet popular”, other anglers were eager to show off their big fish in the comments section. The eastern Wisconsin/Lake Michigan crowd was well represented with the prototypical “braggin’ board” beasts. Perhaps they were playing the childhood game of “mine’s bigger” or just exhibiting a light touch of bravado? Certainly I’m as guilty as the next person. Maybe I’ll file it under the auspices of shared community and experience? I guess I’ll never know. But as much as we like to think that we’re unique individuals, we’re really more similar than we care to admit. We do the same things, to the same fish, in the same places, and clearly we’re dying to tell the world. It’s all just, “in through the nose and out through the mouth” (and the occasional wind knot). Maybe next time I’ll stick with a simple, “ditto”.






Mess with the Bull, You Get the Horns

adrift_fly_fishing_labor_graphic_design_minneapolis_andy_weaverling_neck_scar_01Happy 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. 



adrift_fly_fishing_labor_graphic_design_minneapolis_andy_weaverling_polar_vortex_19adrift_fly_fishing_labor_graphic_design_minneapolis_andy_weaverling_wolf_moon_netsBut 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.



adrift_fly_fishing_labor_graphic_design_minneapolis_andy_weaverling_brown_trout_01adrift_fly_fishing_labor_graphic_design_minneapolis_andy_weaverling_brown_trout_01Let’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.








The Winter of My Discontent

adrift_fly_fishing_labor_graphic_design_minneapolis_andy_weaverling_polar_vortex_23adrift_fly_fishing_labor_graphic_design_minneapolis_andy_weaverling_polar_vortex_02From the high volume of weather related Facebook posts in the last few weeks, I’m pretty sure that we’re all more than a little tired of being polar vortexed. I get it. It’s cold and snowy outside, no pics needed, I’m scraping my car windows just like the rest of you. From an angling perspective, my first indication that things were turning south was when I was locked out of the Milwaukee River in late November. The uncharacteristically icy conditions left me scrambling for green pastures, and I was dead set settling the score. I made plans back in February for a late March Steelhead trip to Milwaukee. As winter wore on without any sign of spring I ratcheted up the vise time, poured over maps, researched new gear, and clung to every turn of the river gauges. To a certain extent this behavior was both preparation and a smoke screen to convince myself that I’d be fishing under ideal tributary run conditions. As we all know, this brand of angling comes down to timing. Not being a local, I usually only get one Lake Michigan shot per season, and I’m forced to play the cards that I’m dealt. 

Fully caffeinated, I arrived at legal time to test my mettle on the highly trafficked confines of the Menomonee River. I hadn’t fished the Menomonee in the last few years, but decided to start my assault on Brew Town in the belly of the beast near Miller Park. As I wandered through predawn brush I spied two headlamps feverishly moving to intercept my position. This is standard Milwaukee behavior. If you’re an early riser you can limit the amount of angler interference, but there’s always a crew of hardcores attempting to beat you to the punch. I went right for the jugular by giving the camo clad warriors a hearty, “good morning.” In no time one of the fellas whipped out his high-powered spotlight and was scanning the well known gravel bar for redds and/or fish. An interesting tactic I thought to myself, but quickly left them with a “good luck guys,” and proceeded further upstream. They seemed surprised that I willingly gave up my position on the gravel, but that’s not how I roll. In the past I’ve caught a number of fish in the adjacent deeper pools upstream and downstream, but just leave the fish alone that are actively “working their magic.” In some ways I feel sorry for the Steelies that choose this as their love den, since they’re bound to be ogled by every Tom, Dick and Harry hellbent on sealing the deal.



adrift_fly_fishing_labor_graphic_design_minneapolis_andy_weaverling_polar_vortex_05adrift_fly_fishing_labor_graphic_design_minneapolis_andy_weaverling_polar_vortex_04adrift_fly_fishing_labor_graphic_design_minneapolis_andy_weaverling_polar_vortex_06Milwaukee had a good soaker a few days before my arrival which forced all of the gauges to spike. I was counting on this rain to push a fresh load of fish, but I had yet to see to see direct evidence of such events. I spent an hour or two swinging and nymphing the usual spots with no sign of aquatic life. At this point my worst fears had come to fruition. As online reports had indicated, the run hadn’t really begun in earnest, and it was evident by the receding waters that there were few, if any, fish moving up. Just to rub a little salt into the wound, the water clarity wasn’t particularly good. By trouting standards she was still running a little muddy. After poking and prodding every nook, cranny and current break with a variety of offerings, I chose to swing some of my biggest and gaudiest patterns just cover more water. I was eager to check out the work done at the new Three Bridges Park section.
It was more of an exploration of the new park, than it was about patiently working for a fish. I must confess to having a love/hate relationship with Milwaukee. It’s hard to put my finger on it, but Minneapolis and Milwaukee couldn’t be more different. In Milwaukee you regularly feel like you’re fishing in an episode of Scooby Doo. It’s hard not to be distracted by rummaging through the haunted remnants of the industrial revolution. There’s both a sense of respect for the past and a level of dissatisfaction that we haven’t yet cleaned up our act. You just might swing up a dirty diaper, or interrupt a graffiti tagging session, but that’s all part of the allure. I can’t say enough good things about Three Bridges Park, and the habitat improvement efforts in general on the Menomonee. Unlike the excessive cookie cutter efforts plaguing the Driftless, this is money well spent. Once they remove the concrete channels above I-94 it will allow the fish to run free, and spread the angler pressure out from the Miller Park parking lot section.

Twin Cities anglers tend to be fixated on the North Shore and the Brule, and what’s not to like about the Brule? With its close proximity and wild fishery, it may be the finest river in the region. It’s a recurring theme in fly fishing. Everyone wants to date the prom queen, and for good reason, she’s smokin’ hot. Sometimes it takes a change in perspective to see past the warts and appreciate the inner beauty of the wallflower. It’s not the Menomonee’s fault that she’s been in an abusive relationship. I covered almost two miles of the not so mighty Menomonee with no hookups and no fish sighted. I had the entire Three Bridges section to myself. By the 15 other cars that I counted back near my vehicle, I can only assume its hard to teach old dogs new tricks. Anglers lined the popular redds area (where I fished predawn) like a picket fence. I heard one stogie chomping guy exclaim to his fishing partner, “it feels pretty damn good to be out, too bad there aren’t any fish in here.”



adrift_fly_fishing_labor_graphic_design_minneapolis_andy_weaverling_polar_vortex_13I put a number of new flies through their paces, including a seedy little nymph I’ve deemed the “Bill Clinton.” A few weeks ago I stumbled into Mend Provisions to pick up a few things. I whipped up a few prototype stonefly nymphs in a rainbow of flashy colors, but wasn’t completely satisfied with the results. My intent was to purchase a few packs of tungsten hot beads and some other items that might improve the look of my patterns. I showed Mike a few of my poorly executed offerings including my take on an egg sucking stonefly. I pointed out my usage of a Hareline Dubbin Reel Egg in one version. Mike was quick to dismiss it as “cheating.” He proceeded to tell me that he’d never carry those in his shop and stated “if you’re going to use that you might as well use a spawn bag.” Initially I was caught off guard by the comment since I’m an ardent supporter of all forms of free expression, including angling. I recalled that I first used these faux eggs many years ago when Matt from The Fly Fishers gave me a handful of his egg and stonefly patterns after I helped him CPR a great looking buck on the Menomonee. My gut reaction was to cross examine his statement, “so a rubber leg is okay, but a rubber egg is not?” But I know better than to piss on the carpet when you’re a guest in someone else’s home. The fact of the matter is that Mike is a super nice guy and runs a good joint. If you haven’t supported your local shop, check it out. Our difference of opinion is one of the things that I love most about this sport. We’re all just loaded with opinions and convinced that our way is the right way. Fly fishing comes with a heavy dose of “let’s just agree to disagree, then clink a few drinks.” It’s like old school politics. Our exchange only served to bolster my resolve to fish this fly. It’s well documented that I’m a sucker for fishing anything that might ruffle purist feathers. I even tied a few using dumbell eyes and orange UV ice dubbing balls that are wrapped in a material resembling spawn bag netting.  I robbed the material from Barbie’s dress in a long forgotten toy box. What encompasses my stonefly/egg mutant “cheater” fly better than one of the most polarizing “cheaters” in US history? Tired of those lazy “cat poop” rubber legged stonefly patterns? Tie yourself up a chubby little #4 Bill Clinton and become the master of your Steelhead domain.



adrift_fly_fishing_labor_graphic_design_minneapolis_andy_weaverling_polar_vortex_10adrift_fly_fishing_labor_graphic_design_minneapolis_andy_weaverling_polar_vortex_08badrift_fly_fishing_labor_graphic_design_minneapolis_andy_weaverling_polar_vortex_09I reassessed my situation for the following morning, surmising that a run south was in order. Admittedly I was still a little apprehensive about my chances based upon the river gauges. The plan was to arrive predawn at the Pike River, hoping that the fish to angler ratio would be in my favor. The good news is that it was Monday morning, the bad news is that it was Monday morning. I had the river all to myself, but I’d venture to guess that this little gem got pounded into weekend submission the previous 48 hours. As the sun came up I was able to determine that the water clarity was worse than the Menomonee. The Pike’s water level was fantastic, but unfortunately she resembled Nestle Quik. The gauge had almost returned to pre rain levels, but clearly it was going to take a few more days to run clear. My excitement quickly turned to disappointment as I knew that it would be tough to find a bite. I worked downstream for awhile picking apart any fishy looking holding lies. I flipped my offering tight to logjams hoping I could find a high water hidey hole. After the exercise in futility the day before I decided I needed switch gears and run and gun to find fishable water.



adrift_fly_fishing_labor_graphic_design_minneapolis_andy_weaverling_polar_vortex_20adrift_fly_fishing_labor_graphic_design_minneapolis_andy_weaverling_polar_vortex_11You might think that the beloved Root River would be my first choice of Southeast Wisconsin Steelheading, but it’s not. She was still running over 500 cfs and the water had yet to recede to more comfortable levels. I decided to do a quick flyby nevertheless since it was on my way to other destinations. I drove to the weir and looked for a porta potty so I could relieve myself of my heavy burden, but sadly was locked out. I walked around a bit and threw a few casts downstream from the prohibited section just for good measure. I managed to grapple with a few snags, but was no worse for the wear. My timing on the Root was clearly a bit premature based upon the good fishing reports from last week. Apparently the rain that was wreaking havoc on my trip proved to produce a successful push of fish, I was just a few days early for the parade.




adrift_fly_fishing_labor_graphic_design_minneapolis_andy_weaverling_polar_vortex_21 Desperate to find good water, I thought I’d stop by the lakefront on my way out of town. I’ve never fished the Racine harbor, but figured I’d do a quick search for easily fishable areas. At this point I was just touring and reminded myself of the old adage, “a day on the water, sure beats a day at work,” but quickly dismissed that as a cop out. Getting skunked leaves a bad taste in your mouth no matter what the optimist tells you.

I found an old timer soaking some spawn in search of moby. He spoke with a thick Norwegian accent, and was eager to shoot the breeze. He announced that it had been the worst winter he’d experienced in the 30 years since he’s lived in Wisconsin, and didn’t seem too confident about his chances of hooking up. I inquired about his ingenious use of beer cans as a strike detection device. He set two rods flat on the concrete walkway with several feet of line pulled out from the reel and around the can. If you hear the can clanking on the ground, odds are you’ve got a live one. At one point he potentially saved my ass. I didn’t realize it but there was massive chunks of glacial style ice lining the rip rapped breakwall. The slabs were so large that I didn’t even recognize that I was standing on one that was perilously hanging over the chilly waters. Being sandwiched by a great lakes ice avalanche isn’t on my list of honorable ways to bite the dust. I thanked him for the tip and proceeded to review a gently sloping beach inside of the pier. There was a soothing wind chime melody emanating from ice crystals rhythmically tapping against the shore. The inner harbor clearly had just iced out and would be promising if it wasn’t for the ubiquitous muddy water. Evidently the combination of the wind and the Root spewing it’s contents into harbor would prevent any worthwhile angling endeavors. It was time for Plan D.



adrift_fly_fishing_labor_graphic_design_minneapolis_andy_weaverling_polar_vortex_14I probably should have chosen Oak Creek to start the morning, but I must confess that it’s my least favorite destination in the greater Milwaukee fishing scene. The uppermost section tends to be a circus sideshow and I generally avoid it. It’s actually a nice little valley in the middle reaches with some solid little logjam pools. The stream just isn’t big enough to get away from the crowds, which is usually one of my top priorities. I arrived late morning to the normal volume of looky loos. As I expected from this smaller watershed the stream was in great shape with the slight stain that often works to your advantage. Parachuting in on this creek at this time of day provides you somewhat long odds of hooking up. Any fish that have made their way up has already seen there fair share of delicacies from any number of anglers. I made a single run from top to bottom. Like those that have come before, no fish were spotted, no bites, and nothing to show for my efforts.



adrift_fly_fishing_labor_graphic_design_minneapolis_andy_weaverling_polar_vortex_22adrift_fly_fishing_labor_graphic_design_minneapolis_andy_weaverling_polar_vortex_18adrift_fly_fishing_labor_graphic_design_minneapolis_andy_weaverling_polar_vortex_15adrift_fly_fishing_labor_graphic_design_minneapolis_andy_weaverling_polar_vortex_17I made one last ill fated attempt to redeem myself by running north to the Mighty Milwaukee. If I had my druthers I would have fished the Milwaukee first, but she was the most temperamental of the bunch. The Milwaukee had just fully iced out days before and the levels hadn’t really dropped in earnest from the rain. I popped in at Estabrook mostly just to confirm my suspicions. As expected the flows were heavy and the water clarity was complete shit. I watched a family fully armed with bobbers arrive streamside only to be perplexed by the virtually unfishable water conditions. I attempted to repair my ego by painfully muttering, “if only I was here next week.”

For some reason I felt compelled to pay homage to the patriarch of Southeast Wisconsin tributaries. At least then I could reassure myself that I did all that I could to complete the journey. For every good outing I’ve had on the Great Lakes tributaries there must be 2 or 3 like this one. The miles I spent traversing these waterways last fall and now this spring serve to bookend one of the worst winters in recent memory. Mother nature is once again a worthy adversary, and my game just isn’t up to snuff. Her message was tagged on the Estabrook dam for all to see. I’d like to say that I’ve come to accept this sort of defeat with grace and humility, but frankly this one sat in the pit of my stomach like a fresh batch of bile. I’m not convinced that I even presented a fly to a fish at any point on this trip. So what’s the point? I’ll leave that for others pontificate. Only time can heal the winter of my discontent.








Honorable Mention

There was an inordinate amount of chatter last week about the subject of “winning,” at the Adrift™ worldwide headquarters. To most practitioners of the angling arts, winning is measured in inches and pounds. To the youngest inhabitants of my domicile, winning was measured in red, white and blue. It’s the time of year that we look  for macroinvertebrates to pop like a hot batch of kettle corn, but more importantly, it’s track and field day at elementary schools far and wide. My clan has a spotty track record in this event at best. If memory serves I pocketed a coveted third place ribbon one or two times, but little more. For the record,  I am a sports fan, but like most of us I’ve been blessed with an average athletic skill set. I was an okay soccer player in my day, dabbled as a point guard, and still trudge around the ice touting my corn-powered hockey game from time to time. I had the misfortune of being born 3 months premature. From an efficiency standpoint, I like to say, what took you 9 months I managed in 6. Unfortunately this meant I started out as a beefy 3 pound baby boy and never really caught up until I was 17 years old, topping out at 6’1″ and being tabbed a “late bloomer.” While my dreams of quarterbacking the Dallas Cowboys may have been dashed early in my flag football career, the truth of the matter is that I’ve always been drawn to more individual pursuits. Skateboards, bikes, skis, snowboards, and the fishing rod has always been my vice. I put ten times more effort into my design work and things like “bump skiing” than I ever did at team sports. For people like me, the insurance policy for track and field day is the infamous green “participation” ribbon. It insures that every kid can leave with his or her coddled ego in tact. There was a handful of preparatory conversations with my kids that generally revolved around the concept of, “win or lose, it’s okay, let’s just have fun.” You know a canned “Olympic Spirit” sort of speech.



What the hell does all this “dear diary” have to do with fishing anyway? We’ll get to that soon enough since I’ve found some time to fling the feathers over the last few weeks. I must confess that after I racked up a good “numbers day” chasing Brookies I figured I’d tempt fate and poke around on some lower numbers turf. I wasn’t exactly sure what I’d find on this stream, since I don’t recall fishing it in late May, but I assumed there may be some level of caddis activity. The minute I dipped my toes into the drink, the caddis were readily available, but there was no evidence of rising trout. I strung up a Shirley Temple with the notion that I’d dupe a wily Brook Trout into my clutches. I casually flipped it into the first good set of logjams and was met with a solid take. To my dismay, it wasn’t a stout Brook Trout at all, but a garden variety Brown that was doing the damage. Not what I was after, but it felt good to be on the board. I worked my way up to the first deep corner bend, practically drooling over the promise of this pool. I fired off a few casts with nothing to show for my effort. A quick sidearm cast to the heart of the run did the trick, as another fish had taken the bait. After a brief tussle I scooped up my second respectable, but still not photo worthy Brown. I was in search of Brookies, but clearly a trend had begun. Over the next hour I managed a few more Browns, and only had one good looking Brookie take a swing and miss. My self-diagnosed A.D.D. kicked into high gear, as I mentally prepared for the switch to Plan B.



I made the drive to my second destination with the Lewis and Clark factor in full effect. While Plan A hadn’t gone to plan at all, I didn’t let that rain on my parade. Visions of sugar plum fairies still danced in my head, and I was dead set on righting the ship. What transpired next was somewhat unexpected. It was one of the most grueling treks in recent memory. Apparently the massive snowstorm that blasted the region earlier this month downed many new trees into the stream. The exploration of this creek was borderline insanity, though I found that I couldn’t turn back. There were just too many brushy deep pools that I knew must hold bruisers, but there was a catch. I’d only seen a few smaller fish with only one bite, to show for my efforts. Did this creek hold the holy grail? Who knows? About an mile into the journey I finally had a good take by stripping a Strawberry Twizzlers downstream. Not a classic presentation to say the least, but the fish missed the fly anyway. I took a few steps upstream so I could get a better angle and put my offering back into the run. Like a dog in heat, a second and much more sizable fish stepped into the batter’s box, only to miss my fly as well. Fuck. Third time’s a charm, right? Wrong. On my third cast, the smaller fish grabbed hold and didn’t let go. A shabby-looking little char with a mysterious injury wasn’t much of a consolation prize considering what had just transpired. At this point in the season I feel like a broken record, words like “viscosity” or phrases like, “the big one that got away” just don’t cut it in the excuse department. After another hour of exploration I came to grips with my failure. This creek is a really low numbers affair. I can personally attest to only about 10 trout per mile, but no more. I didn’t even bother photographing much of the day to this point. Most of my time is spent in fishing cruise control, with little mental capacity for things like good blog content. A few blurry shots from a wet lens must serve to tell the tale of what could have been.




The backup plan if things were to go awry was to make a play for some sizable Browns on the way home. A quickie dusk tour of bigger water proved to heal my wounds in short order. Dead drifting Twizzler rigs and a new prototype streamer served to move some good fish, though my batting average/hooking percentage was still consistent with typical slump levels. The flows were heavy from recent rains, though this stream still had good clarity. As I worked my way upstream through some ultra shallow riffles I haphazardly cast my fly while looking upstream to the next good pool, in typical multi-functioning fashion . I was stopped in my tracks by what I can only describe as someone throwing a big chunk of concrete into the water. Only it wasn’t concrete, it was a big dude beginning his evening prowl for a late night snack, and he chose my streamer for his first assault. This riffle had a whitewater vibe to it and looked to be 6-18″ deep. The fish darted to the side then began sort of a dashing, death roll type maneuver that caught me completely off guard and allowed the fish to come unbuttoned about 10 feet away. Let’s just call a spade a spade in this instance and state that the big one did get away. My opinion (however clouded by eager angler embellishments) is that this fish was north of what I call the “Mason Dixon Line.”

Like I said in the beginning of this post, many anglers attribute success of an outing to the exact size of the fish caught, and I am certainly not immune to this disease. I just don’t get hung up on the details with any regularity. For a number of years I didn’t carry a camera or tape measure, and I’m embarrassed to admit I didn’t even know what my “personal best” fish exactly was for a number of species. I could make an educated guess, but I didn’t know the answer in microns. Furthermore, I rarely count exactly how many fish I catch. Sure if I only catch single digits of fish I can easily recount the tally, but if I get to ten fish  there’s a good chance I may quit paying attention. This somewhat explains why I rarely recall my experiences in terms of mathematics. I know many use the mythical standard for a big Brown Trout at 20″. Don’t expect me to always produce a statistically accurate report, but I’m trying to get better at reporting results, I get asked size questions all the time. As a means of convenience to the readership I’ll occasionally use the Mason Dixon Line to designate a 20 incher. Heck, I might even set the standard Mason Dixon line of Brook Trout to be 14″.

Back to the task at hand. This shallow riffle assassin straight up rolled me, and was in my opinion, well north of the Mason Dixon Line. I caught some other decent fish, but all were unfortunately south of the Mason Dixon line. Complicated? Perhaps, and thus concludes today’s math assignment.



My misery continues as I mourn the loss of the latest big one that got away. It almost feels like one big excuse, but the truth is what it is. I don’t really care about the numbers, I just find that big fish are often more exciting than little ones. Why do we think in these terms anyway? I’ve been in a rut lately and I’m solidly bringing home the fateful green “participation” ribbon. Yep that’s right, I’m simply participating, and that’s all that really matters. We can’t all stand at the top of the podium. My children on the other hand, showed me up by bring home a cache of multi-colored track day booty (there’s a joke in there somewhere).

Mrs. Adrift was insistent that we do some spring cleaning this weekend, and I found this vintage picture of my mom cira 198o. It got me thinking about Memorial Day and doing my part to honor those who have served. I’m dutifully awarding my red, white and blue ribbons to those who have lost their lives in service, but I’m reserving the green ones for my mom and dad. I remember fishing this Colorado stream, but my mom wasn’t an angler by any stretch of the imagination. She would drive me anywhere to fish when I was a kid, and usually just sat and read a book. If you look closely she’s holding her new “Sage ONE” upside down on a not-so prime looking run. The shot was clearly was staged by my parents. You wouldn’t be reading this post right now if it wasn’t for their endless support and commitment to showing me the value of truly being outdoors. Take pride in your green ribbons mom and dad, you are my honorable mention.






From Zero to Hero

Hey let’s look at a bunch of fish pics, shall we? What is it with us anyway? This baby reads like a dysfunctional issue of Playboy. Don’t hesitate to bask in this voyeuristic medley of pint-sized aquatic pin ups. Regular folks must wonder why someone would be drawn to such banter. After a recent Brookie outing, I completed the task by uploading the trip photos onto my mainframe for review. It’s at that point that I usually determine if the results warrant a full blog entry. Contrary to popular belief, I don’t put all of my fishing exploits on the world wide web. If it’s just another garden variety session of cast, jerk, caress, rinse and repeat, it may not make the cut. I’m typically looking for a yarn to spin, and if there’s no yarn, there’s no spin.

Let’s just set the record straight. If I find out who originally coined the phrase “from zero to hero” I might punch them in the face. Historically speaking, I’m not not prone to violent outbreaks (outside of a few alcohol-fueled skirmishes in my disillusioned youth). Really I’m as tame as an innocent little pussy cat, it’s just my lengthy attempt to show my disdain for this blog title. But there’s a method to my madness. It’s time to get this season back on track. My comedy of errors must come to an end, and one way to right the ship is a solid round of easy fishin’. Pounding out a session filled with eager Brook Trout is just what the doctor ordered.



Let’s just say things didn’t start off quite as well as I’d planned. I’m not sure why, but I chose to fish a cheap little 7-foot 4-weight fly rod that seems to collect dust in my garage. A number of years ago I picked up the rod as part of a combo package from Cabela’s. I had no interest in the rod per se, but Cabela’s always does an admirable job with the upsell. Somehow I walked out with a cheap flyline and rod to match the reel I was purchasing. If memory serves, my reasoning was that it would be a good rod for the kids to destroy or serve as a backup. As it turns out it rarely has seen the light of day. For no particular reason I threw it in the truck and vowed to put it through it’s paces.

As one might imagine, a rod of this caliber is somewhat of an throwback soft-flexing noodle rod. I managed a few feisty fish while I worked my way through the casting motion “adjustment period.” Much to my chagrin, a soft roll cast caused my reel to plummet into the creek. Initially I thought that I hadn’t cinched down the reel tight enough, but quickly realized that the reel seat hardware had come unglued. The rod, like the corresponding Cabela’s flyline turned out to be a real piece of shit. I fished the flyline once right after I purchased it, and hated every minute of it. Thankfully these subpar products didn’t break the bank. I’m sort of a mixed bag when it comes to product loyalty. I’ve got a healthy dose of skepticism stemming from my experience doing design and branding work for a wide range of manufacturers. Mix that with a practicality learned at an early age from my engineering father, and a lot of time hanging out on a friend’s used car lot. Where does that leave me? I believe in some brands, but never blindly buy the marketing BS behind the latest and greatest claims of many. I’m willing to dole out the cash for some high end items, while others times I’m looking for reasonable quality at a good price. On this morning I was treated to the old adage, you get what you pay for. Fortunately I slipped my workhorse small stream Sage into the car as a backup.



Speaking of product loyalty and easy fishin’. I had my sights set on some dry fly action to test drive an upstart Iowa-based floatant that I did the design, naming and branding work for. Finally, a fly dressing for the most discriminating of anglers. The floatant category is inundated with a brand attitude and product assortment on par with wart removers. HighHorse Fly is a client of mine but I haven’t had the pleasure of using their products yet. They offer a few ideas in floatant that are new to the industry. HighHorse is available in Naked/Original, UV/Infused and Scent/Infused. This ain’t your grandpa’s fly dressing, and I had a hankering to try out these new “flavors.” While this stream isn’t blessed with a killer “Mother’s Day” caddis hatch, I had reason to believe that the fish might be looking up. I loaded up a fat PMX with some UV/Infused HighHorse with a dropper nymph and began to dissect the patient. The rig, along with the floatant performed well. It’s a little to early in my scientific method to conclusively report my findings on the merits of UV or scent infused floatant, but from a risk/reward standpoint I’d fully endorse test driving a bottle or two of HighHorse. A few bucks will get you a bottle, and why not support an upstart local supplier as opposed to sending your dollars out into the stratospheric Ginks of the world? So step on up to the HighHorse and earn your “elitist” merit badge!

This stream generally puts out average-sized Brookies, but occasionally will produce a reasonable specimen. The concept of readily duping trout with ease seemed somewhat foreign to my fragile angling psyche. The the icing on the cake was nabbing them on the surface. Every little fish served as baby steps towards redemption. It’s as if I was relearning the mastery of our aquatic friends. Everyone is prone to a slump, and Mrs. Adrift™ will be the first to tell you that it affects my mood. She can tell before asking, whether or not I had a good day on the water. To be honest with you, she doesn’t even ask that often, she just knows. If something is worth mentioning I’ll give her a play by play, but for the most part it remains unspoken. Keep in mind while she’s not wise in the angling arts, she worked for a fishing magazine when I met her, so she’s wise in the ways of our kind.



Give me an inch and I’ll take a mile. After declaring victory via the dry/dropper rig, I couldn’t help turn my attention to more R&D with a Shirley Temple micro streamer. I’m a staunch believer in tying with whatever you have on hand. The latest batch of Shirley Temples were tied on blue Gamakatsu hooks because I had some. Did it matter? Nope. Fly fishermen tend to be obsessively anal about details, but the pursuit can also be as simple as you choose to make it. Many focus their angling efforts on the finicky fish that reject your latest offering, but for every selective sonuvabitch trout there’s three willing to submit to an attractor. I’m eager to dole out the opinions with the slightest inkling of success on this easy track I suppose. Even the smallest of Brookies chased down these things with reckless abandon, just like my last outing throwing a Shirley Temple. Upstream, downstream, strip, dead drift, it didn’t matter.



It felt damn good to be fishing devoid of snow and cold, a strange statement indeed for mid-May. You gotta appreciate this brand of fishing, it’s like a stroll in the park. Tall weeds, ticks, mosquitos and fly eating trees are at a minimum. Casually hopping from hole to hole in ultimate golf course fashion. I’m not a big fan of man-made golf course fishing, but I enjoy a nice round of spring angling on a more natural section before the weeds take over. No particularly big fish were brought to hand, but that isn’t the point anyway. This nice looking fella greeted me with his presence before my time was up. A fitting end to the day.


I’ve been rocking a pair of “antique” Hodgman wading boots the last few weeks since my Korkers Metalheads are in for warranty replacement. I have a soft spot for these wading boots since they’re over 15 years old. I don’t wear them often, but everytime I do I appreciate the advancements in boot design even more. Upon departure one of the felt soles finally came off. A solid run by any stretch of the imagination. Perhaps this is the ying to the Cabela’s fly rod yang? It matters little since I’ve already Shoe Goo’d the sole back on and am looking forward to another 15 years of faithful service. I’ll put them back on the shelf tomorrow when my new Korkers KGB’s arrive and will be next up on the Adrift™ wading boot throwdown. Can any footwear really stand the test of time?

I have a nasty habit of occasionally torturing myself on some questionable water choices. I just get a little uneasy with the same old same old. When I have a run of bad luck and worse fishing conditions, I need a little shot of redemption. A healthy cache of Brook trouting provides me a false sense of accomplishment and is a one way ticket to go from zero to hero.








I’ve previously stated that there is no greater month for trout fishing in these parts than June. It’s just a personal preference. On the flip side I’ll admit to disliking the late winter/early spring period. I don’t appreciate being the meat in the trout sandwich. Earlier in the winter things are cold, somewhat unbearable, yet somehow predictable from a fishing standpoint. Later in the spring is the delicious treat. It’s when things really begin to heat up. The in-between period is a hit or miss roller coaster of spring creek fishing. It seems Mother Nature has taken it upon herself to play mind games with our fragile upper midwest psyche. Wave after wave of pseudo historic snowstorms have blanketed the region with sloppy springtime precipitation. There’s an eerie Bill Murray Groundhog Day vibe to it, and we’re all just living in it. Speaking of living in it, what can I do other than fish my way through the misery? As I stopped by the neighborhood Pump-n-Munch to coffee up recently I looked up to the fishing gods and quietly asked why? It’s not like I need to get up at the ass crack of dawn to hit the water in this wintery mix, but I’m knee deep in spring training and choose to go through the motions nevertheless.



Wildly fluctuating April water levels and clarity have continued to plague my efforts. Most watersheds have continued to huff and puff with the casual ease of musty accordion bellows. I must confess that I’ve still got a case of Brookie on the brain, though I’ve been reluctant to visit Shit Creek until I’m confident of better water conditions. I could be waiting a long time.

I’ve been eager to unleash a handful of new patterns built to dupe the wiliest of Brown Trout. The aforementioned flies, like my fishing has been in a significant slump. Baseball and angling are on a similar trajectory. It’s a batting average issue, and right now I’m hitting .112. The unseasonable temps have been contributing some light bites, to an even lighter skill set. I’ve managed a few big bites, but ultimately lost every fish. I hooked up with an absolute bridge busting tank that took me for a 30 second ride, only to watch him spit the hook on a largemouth leap that would make Dwight Stones proud. Mother Nature’s cruel plan is seeping into my pores.  I feel like the Tin Man in need of some oil. At one point after a short strike I threw my rod down to the ground in disgust, followed by a healthy round of filthy expletives. Fishing karma is in full effect. I had an excellent bite last fall. Now it appears as if I must atone for my sins.



For various reasons a good portion of my angling tends to be a solo affair. While I used to fish with a regular pack of cohorts, inexplicably I’ve become somewhat of a lone wolf in recent years. It’s not that I’m anti-social. I feel most at ease when I’m able to tackle specific onstream challenges in a spontaneous manor, often free of other anglers. My wandering, run and gun, grip and flip, upstream, downstream, chaotic approach isn’t for everyone. From time to time I try to break up isolation and actually fish with another human being. I recently met up with a crankbaitin’ crony for specifically that purpose. 

I have little patience for fly fishing purists, or at least those who openly admonish others for their choice of individual pursuits. I’m an ardent “each to their own” kind of a guy. A self contradiction, perhaps? The beauty of fishing with a skilled crankbait angler is the opportunity to observe, learn and in turn question some of my own streamer patterns. Putting anything you’ve personally tied up against the pedigree of a classic Rapala is a daunting task to say the least. The reason I mention streamer fishing probably more than any other aspect fly fishing, simply because it’s one of my favorite tactics. I could go in greater depth covering the entomological angle of the sport, but it is well traveled turf, covered in mind numbing detail by those who are more passionate and knowledgeable than myself. I could spend all day talking about my #16 Elk Hair Caddis, but why bother? I’ll even fess up to a dirty little secret that I’ve been harboring for sometime. I don’t like to fish nymph indicator rigs. Shhhhh, please don’t tell anyone, okay? That’s not to say that I don’t nymph, I do it all the time, it’s just my least favorite way to skin the cat. Bobber fishing for me has always been a sticky wicket. From an early age I was too impatient to stare at a float for any length of time. Let’s just say I’ve always tolerated it more than I’ve enjoyed it. You can either wait for them, or take it to them. In a lot of ways it’s the difference between playing offense or defense, and I’ve got more of an offensive mindset, preferring to play the role of instigator.

My sidekick and I set out on a morning trip in search of the Brown bonanza. While things moved at a slow clip in the first hour or two, his Floating Rapala began to make a dent, nabbing a good fish or two. My viscous fishing style continued to affect this outing as well, as my flies and casting abilities were running ice cold. I cast right into a streamside tree on one of the most promising holes, surely scaring the big boy that I knew must be holding down below. In a moment of frustration I violently jerked the rod attempting to dislodge the fly from the branches, but mysteriously stripped my fly line down to its core in several spots. It was a wounded duck and there was no chance it would smoothly shoot through my guides any longer. I was down, but not out. We casually BS’d our way up to another prime location, alternating shots between cranks and flies. As we approached a terrific looking holding lie, I predicted the location of the big dog. Like clockwork my counterpart expertly fired his Finnish masterpiece right on the money.  A few turns of the handle later we saw the tell tale flash of a bruiser in hot pursuit. Fish on. A lucky guess, who knows? I instantly wet my pants like an overeager puppy in the front doorway, by prematurely diving into net duty. A short, sluggish fight crescendoed with the beast successfully secured in my net. A sturdy round of high fives, a few quick pics and we sent her on her way. While I was personally struggling with my fishing abilites, I was bolstered by the sight of a good fish, and a job well done.



Biding your time is a funny thing. We’re entrenched as a collective just waiting to pounce on any sign of better things to come. In the context of upper midwest living, that thing is summer. Hell, we’d even settle for a healthy dose of spring. The annual exercise in restraint is at it’s wit’s end. As I sit here penning my latest entry I’m bracing myself for the latest round of wintery weather. The weeklong respite from Wisconsin trout fishing can’t come soon enough. It allows us to take a deep breath in preparation for the upcoming season, and I certainly could use a little relief from viscosity.







The Best of Both Worlds

Nothing says R&R like a magnificent sunrise in the greater La Crosse area. A quick peek out my hotel window revealed a plethora of choices. Should I wander over to the Home Depot for some wallpaper paste, or hit the Olive Garden for the all you care to eat pasta bowl with extra Alfredo? I opted for neither.

The Adrift™ entourage was in the grips of a makeshift spring break getaway. To some this may seem like the stuff that dreams are made of, though I’d suspect that it’s limited to the elementary school demographic. The primary task at hand was to throw the kids in the pool, while the adult contingency basked in sultry waters of the hot tub. Possibly knocking back a few cold ones if the mood should strike (the sign on the door in the photo above will elaborate). I must admit that lounging around a pool is never my first choice when it comes to relaxation, or entertainment for that matter. Quite frankly I find it boring. But the world doesn’t revolve around my needs. For those who have gone the procreation route in life, this brand of existence is well traveled territory. But the cloud would have its silver lining. The follow-up to our meager hotel existence came with a road trip through the heart of the Driftless. I was struck with a dilemma given our mud city launching point, Wisconsin or Minnesota? 



We felt compelled to play the “home slice” card and chose a day trip through Bluff County to Lanesboro. It’s not often that the entire crew goes out to explore my stomping grounds. This was kid fishing 101. They were lathered up to wet a line for the first time this year, and I’m not one to rain on a parade. Furthermore, I’m knee deep in the “pay it forward” portion of life’s equation. The elders in my family had me on the water early and often when I was young, and now it’s my duty to pass it on. I’m dead set on sharing my appreciation for the outdoors, which can be particularly challenging given our urban lifestyle. Yep, ’tis the season for the family photo album portion of the Adrift™ bloggarama.



We set the cruise control and turned the wheels south along the river road. There would be no particular agenda on this day, and that’s just the way we like it. Our journey the night before had us crossing many creeks in the region and things were in rough shape to say the least. I watched every imaginable bridge crossing and field like a hawk, and the spring runoff gods continued their evil campaign of terror on trouty lies far and wide. A strategic decision was made to make a dash towards my Hawkeye homeland in search of more amiable water conditions. This fateful decision left us with carte blanche to roam the precious valleys of Houston County. As we busted up the gut of the Crooked Creek valley I knew I had made the right decision. It’s as if a transporter had beamed us to a different universe. The waters of this area were a far cry from their northern counterparts. They were running at perfect levels with just a hint of stain for good measure. I had difficulty containing myself upon seeing these conditions. It was love at first sight. I was conflicted by the fact that I’d slid a small 8-foot 4-weight into the car, but had no real plans to fish. I would be the conductor, not the musician on this fine spring morning. Jack and Ava have had a few rounds of practice casting on the fly rod, but have yet to fully embrace the concept. They came armed with spinning rods, Panther Martin spinners, and a willful determination for trout slaying duties.
Ava got on the board in short order nabbing a sleek stocker bow. I was assisting Jack with a miscue when I heard the fateful words. “Dad, I got one, I got one!” Followed by a round of high pitched squeaks that are the hallmark of the third-grade repertoire. This was a moment that will be etched in stone for all eternity. She was beaming with pride. In recent years I’ve been unable to convince her to join me on any creek explorations, and I feared her lost to the dark side. This is another example of how simple stockers can serve a useful purpose.

We moved up to the next bridge upstream. It contained a generous easement pasture section allowing us to free ourselves from the confines of the riprap bank. The kids chucked their offerings far and wide into a deep bridge pool, but only managed a few reluctant followers. I took them aside hosting an impromptu course on retrieval speed which helped garner Ava a little Brown Trout that was quickly named “Brownie.” There would be high fives all the way around. I offhandedly mentioned to them that we were dangerously close to the “spring break slam” of a Bow, Brown and Brookie. Their eyes widened as if they had a new reason for being. Ava was committed to catching a Brook Trout to complete the slam if it’s the last thing she ever does. We walked a short section of the pasture, but had only one lazy follow from a Brookie. I could orchestrate this sort of dance until the cows come home, but I sensed the impatience growing on the face of Mrs. Adrift™. She’s a real trooper for this sort of thing, given she’s not an avid angler by any definition. She did however choose to marry me, so this is not unchartered territory, and the look of pure joy on the faces of the youth helped to prolong the duel. We were well past lunchtime, so we finally relented and returned to the car, turning the page to the next chapter of our journey.



The original plan was to hit Beaver Creek Valley State Park which would have cemented the “spring break slam” in short order, but we decided to skip it and make the run to Lanesboro. I slow rolled a few juicy looking creeks, while Mrs. Adrift™ peered at my Gazetter. She was taken aback but the overabundance of spots marked on the map and inquired, “are you scouting right now?” To which I eagerly responded, “I’m always scouting!” Rating Driftless valleys is a game of personal preferences, but for my money there are no more picturesque valleys than those found in Houston County and far northeastern Iowa. At times I can almost convince myself I’m the subject of a Norman Rockwell painting, then the cruel reality of modern life comes charging back.

Our early afternoon arrival in Lanesboro was greeted by a sleepy ambience that is indicative of a Friday afternoon in the offseason. We decided to hit Pedal Pushers on the main drag to recharge our batteries, and it didn’t disappoint. Good food and better service was on tap. There was even talk of a second round of afternoon fishing with a possible shot at the slam. A quick mozy down to the chocolatey brown waters of the Root helped move the doubt in the back of my mind to the forefront.




We decided to head over the the Trout Hatchery and take a look at Duschee Creek. I got voted down for an actual tour, for fear that I’d just BS with staff about trout nerd issues at great length. The entire area had a rice paddy vibe to it with mud and standing water as far as the eye could see. The creek wasn’t super high, but had too much of a mudslick for kid fishing. At this point I knew I might be up shit creek, yet again. It was time to punt. I proclaimed that we’d start heading for home, but would take the scenic route in search of clearer waters. I was lambasted by Ava who displayed the fervor that I’d expect from my offspring. She was determined to get her slam. A quick review of Trout Run didn’t help the cause. The Bucksnort Dam was chaotic to say the least.



The Upper portion of Trout Run was still a mess. Heading north we reviewed the Whitewater system and it was a no go. In addition to our runoff woes, the bluebird skies and temperate climate slowly gave way to something much more sinister. I had one more spot in my back pocket, attempting to get Ava the holy grail that she so richly deserved. A small piece of Brook Trout water that I hoped would be running clear. We weren’t so lucky. This little gem was running very high and off color to say the least. I felt compelled to give them a shot. The roller coaster of spring runoff and precipitation was putting my guiding skills to the ultimate test. It’s not like these were experienced adults fully decked out in gear. This was roadside kid fishing, with limited skills and a shrinking set of viable opportunities. The window was closing. We worked every inch of an easily accessible section of stream. It just wasn’t working, it was too fast and high to fit the objective. Jack was simply having a good time. But Ava, ever the do gooder, took my challenge at face value. She was prepared to “one last cast” herself into oblivion. It was surreal. The daughter who has shown little interest in fishing recently was smitten with the pursuit. She almost broke down in tears of failure as we pried her from the stream bank. The reality is that this was my fault. We could have easily gotten her a Brook Trout earlier in the morning, had I anticipated the change in stream conditions and understood the breadth of her commitment. What I figured to be a few quick fishing pop-ins turned out to be a game changer. I promised her a rematch as soon as more seasonal conditions return to the area.



Within minutes of our departure the rain and sleet began to fly. It was a wise choice to leave when we did. Plans were scrapped to get some ice cream based upon the deteriorating weather conditions. The cruel reminder that this perpetual winter won’t relent rubbed me the wrong way. I’ve tempered my disdain for mother nature more than most in recent days. The truth of the matter is that this was one of the best days I can recall in recent memory, and the negativity was short lived. I made a promise to Ava before we left the hotel that morning, and I’m a man of my word. She asked me, “Dad if I catch a trout, will you feature me on your blog?” A little trout fishing and a lot of family time. It’s not often that you get the best of both worlds.




Up Shit Creek

In standard annual rite of passage fashion I strapped on the boots and donned the waders for celebratory purposes. It was birthday week here at the worldwide headquarters, and the gift that keeps on giving is a hearty round of chasing tail. For a second year in a row I was snubbed in the steelhead category of this event. The once annual tradition of trekking to the eastside for Lake Michigan chrome has gone by the wayside yet again. It rubs me the wrong way that I was unable to get back to lake run bliss, but I’m more than happy to concoct an alternative plan of attack. I’ve plotted and planned many new tours this season, and I had the best intentions of crossing another one off the bucket list. But for some reason I couldn’t leave things undone. I felt driven to go back to the first creek I explored for my Wisconsin opener.

This would not be an early morning affair like my previous review of the place I now lovingly refer to as Shit Creek. I took care of a few work-related issues, gave the mini-Adrifters™ a few hugs, filled my belly with foodstuffs and hit the road for a late morning arrival. The last time I set eyes on this stream I found it uncomfortably low. When I did find deeper holes they were covered in a thin layer of surface ice. It was a brief tour, the cold temps and poor conditions forced me to look elsewhere. Many anglers may chose move on to another watershed and never look back, but I’m a glutton for punishment. I’m not looking for the quick fix, but more of a long term engagement.

I pulled up to the bridge and immediately recognized an increase in flow from the ultra skinny water on my last visit. I got an extra shot of adrenaline from the thought of working more seasonal conditions. The positivity was short lived. Upon closer inspection Shit Creek sealed it’s nomenclature with a water clarity evocative of a frothy glass of ovaltine. Fuck. I stood in brief contempation as to my next move. Should I move on to greener pastures I asked myself? I’d set my sights on a particular set of spots about a mile upstream from the access and I just couldn’t shake the notion. In an instant I chose to forgo grandiose plans of victory. I would grind it out by tempting the skunk on Shit Creek.



I thought of a half dozen other places I could be catching fish in better conditions, but quickly put such nonsense to rest and concentrated on the task at hand. The mission was multifaceted. It wasn’t just about the Lewis and Clark factor. I enjoy testing my ability to catch fish in murky water, but I wasn’t convinced I could muster a bite in this mudslick. It’s not like this creek was blown out or running particularly high, it was just muddy as hell. This was one of the first truly warm days this spring with overnight temps still holding below freezing. It mattered little as I had misjudged this stream and it was mucked up in short order. I didn’t care. I was determined to go down swinging. Some may enjoy plucking dinks on micro dries, or majestically swinging their regal offerings, I enjoy testing my limits of what’s possible. I’m not stupid (debatable), I actually chose to slog through this muddy mess. As I worked my way methodically up the Milky Way, I began to change out flies at a rapid pace. I cycled through big streamers and smaller nymphs. Heavily weighted offerings and lighter attractors, dark, light, the kitchen sink. No stone was left unturned, and no fly served as the magic bullet. Shit Creek is an absolute fly monster intent on devouring my offering at a moment’s notice. The abundant woody debris wreaked havoc in true Poltergeist tree fashion. I probably lost more flies on this outing, than all of last year combined. Ouch.



I scoured the stream looking for the tiniest margin of clearer water. About three-quarters of the way to my curvy, spring fed target, I practically stepped on a quality Brookie in skinny water. This served to bolster my morale and convince me that what I was doing wasn’t complete madness, or was it? To be honest with you this was largely a fact finding mission. This journey served to confirm two things in my mind. Shit Creek held quality Brook Trout and a healthy roster of deeper, yet challenging holding lies. At one point I slipped a Shirley Temple into a laydown and was met with a solid take. I set the hook almost in disbelief. A stout Brook trout that I estimate to be in the fourteen inch category porpoised to the surface. The gorgeous coloration of the fish pierced the shitty mess that surrounded him. As I attempted to work the fish out of it’s evil abode it gave me a few headshakes and plunged back into the depths. A fitting conclusion. I continued upstream, but couldn’t manage any more participants. Eventually I decided to retreat in defeat and turn back towards the truck. As I trudged back down I must admit that an eagerness to take this place at face value and fish it under normal conditions grew from within. There are no immediate plans for a rematch, but never say never.



As I’ve mentioned previously, I never go fishing without a Plan B, and usually it goes much deeper than that. I earmarked the lower section of a stream that was a half hour drive from Shit Creek for second fiddle Brook Trout duties. I hopped in the car and ingested my makeshift dinner with hopes of better things ahead. It wasn’t realistic to think that this watershed was free and clear of runoff issues, but I’d hoped that the clarity would be marginally improved, and it was. I was renewed with the possibilities that clearer water presented and proceeded to work it like a part-time job. For the second time this week I was fishing one of the most promising spots of the early season. I probed and prodded every nook and cranny, and in a cruel twist of fate it seemed devoid of life. To add insult to injury the creek had muddied as I fished into dusk. At this point it was an exercise in futility. I put on a meaty streamer and began to blanket the area, but really I was just enjoying the surroundings. Every once in awhile I can mentally detach myself from the cruise control of everyday fishing. I had the luxury of reflecting on the day’s events, and by almost any measurable standard getting skunked is something to bemoan. But for me it only serves to fan the flames.  If I was to do it all over again I wouldn’t change a thing. Sometimes you have to get back to the basics. I often quote my kids elementary school principal in these instances, “if it isn’t hard, you’re not learning.”  The reality is that my mission is complete, and I know what’s up Shit Creek.









Little Trout, Big Smiles

My 4-year old son Jack got his first brown trout in about 30 seconds on his first cast with a worm. I opted to start his inaugural trout outing on the golf course like ease of the big numbers, little average size Upper Kinni.


Hold on tight Jack! You’ll remember this one for awhile!


The reward for good behavior was the promise of pancakes for dinner in River Falls. I was somewhat surprised how successful of an outing this was for a 4-year old. Sometimes he’s done after 15 minutes when we go for panfish, today we got a solid 4 hours in. Wish the rain wouldn’t have rolled in because we had plans of camping, but there are no complaints from us!

Rush River = Hot Bite


I stopped by a few spots on the Trimbelle, but deemed it too muddy to fish yesterday. Then proceeded on to the Rush and fished 10-4

Caddis and BWOs were hatching when I arrived with noticeable risers in every stretch I encountered. Caddis were the ticket, I landed it 20 fish in relatively short order until they destroyed my dry. I retied on a giant stimulator pattern to see if they’d go for that and continued to catch fish.

After getting my fill of standard Rush browns to 13″ I switched to big streamers to search for some bigger fish. It didn’t work out for me, I only noticed one fish swing at my streamer, and no takers. I suppose midday 86 degree weather isn’t primetime to search for big fish, but I tried anyway.

While I didn’t seem to connect with any nicer browns, the icing on the cake was the brookie fishing. I caught a lot more than I normally do on the Rush, including a number of beautiful 9″-11″ fish. I ran a caddis larvae dropper off of my dry for awhile, when I noticed a few fish with mouths full of larvae.

It was one of those dry fly days were the number of fish you could catch was only limited by your time. I almost “one last casted” my way to being late for my kids baseball practice, and I’m a coach. I would have loved to fish the evening.