spot the eagle

Last summer, my clients and I were floating down a side channel and just as we were about to pass under a (severely) tipping pine tree, my client whispered to me that there was "a big bird right over us".  I looked up and there was a juvenile bald eagle, not more than forty feet overhead.  I managed a couple quick shots before she got nervous and bailed.  Ditch the motor and it's amazing what you can see... And how close you can get.


dam removals

This is a really interesting site that shows the dam removals across the country.  Great to see the entire state of Wisconsin covered in check marks... I can think of a handful of deadbeat dams I'd like to see come down.  Several of these could potentially allow trout and salmon smolt to migrate upstream to waters that are cool enough to allow them to survive.  --American Rivers Link--

Also, this marks the 500th post for this site and 8th year in existence.  Thanks for following along and all the kind words.  It's amazing to go to TU meetings and fly fishing shows and hear that people are actually keeping up with this site and reading along.  Much appreciated...



Reminder to get your tickets for the Fly Fishing Film Tour... Once again, we're holding the event at the Meyer Theater in Green Bay on the night of March 5th (Thursday).  St. Brendan's Inn, which is just down the block, will be home to the pre and post-film festivities.  Click on this link for more info or call the shop at (920) 336-4106.


eat a peach

We had the pleasure of hosting guest tyer Dave Pinczkowski this past weekend and Tim filmed and edited this little clip of Dave tying his "Eat a Peach Leech".  If you don't know this fly, you should. It's ridiculously easy to tie, cheap to tie, and it's durable.  The color combos are endless, although Dave has this particular scheme pretty dialed in.  Swing them for steelhead or strip them for smallmouth and browns... Can't go wrong!


should've read the user reviews

Pictures to come... Tomorrow afternoon?  Last year I made the switch to a card reader as my means of transferring images onto my computer.  I had been using a cord that went from my Canon to my USB port, which was slow and prone to "unexpected transfer interruption" when I was uploading. When I got to my local electronics place, there was only one card reader left in stock and it was a whopping $14.99.  I bought it and should've researched them a bit more.  Turns out that the one I got only scored 1.5 stars out of 5 because, in most cases, "it just stopped working".  Well, that's exactly what mine has done.  Time for a new one I guess.

I did get some nice shots yesterday though... It was a beautiful morning on the local river.  Slightly overcast, warm, low winds and only one other angler.  That one other angler did just happen to be right where Bart, Charlie and myself wanted to fish.  So, we did what any other anglers in that situation would've done... Sat on the tailgates, had a couple beers and told fishing stories.  When the fisherman did leave, we headed down and started casting away.  Streamers and sink-tips went out again and again, with little notice from the fish.  I did see one fish boil in the middle of the river, but I could not tell what species it was from my vantage point.  It had all the ingredients to a perfect day, that is until the hometown team absolutely crushed the souls of their adoring fans in a true heartbreaker.  In the words of Forrest Gump, "and that's all I have to say about that".


dawn patrol

Heading out with Charlie and Bart to see if we can work some pre-game miracles.  Streamer session for big lake-run browns and steelhead before the NFC Championship game!  I'm a Russell Wilson fan, but I'd like to see my team destroy the Hawks!  Go Pack!  Pictures (hopefully with a fish or two) of the morning outing coming this afternoon...


kick the winter blues

When I first started fly fishing, the only fly fishing-specific movies were "A River Runs Through It" and some instructional movies that were about as exciting as a college biology video on mitosis. Now there exists a plethora of fly fishing movies that are part Warren Miller, part Wes Anderson and just a little (tiny bit) informative.  The one common bond that they all share is that they're fun to watch, which is a big change from past movies.  They catch your eye and appeal to your senses with drone shots, underwater footage, edgy side-stories and things that all of us enjoy, like beer, music and big fish.  With so many films currently available of this same mold, I get asked all the time which ones are my favorite.  Here's my list.  These are here because I appreciate the story, the fisheries, the editing, the characters and most importantly, the originality (at it's respective time).  I'm leaving out the instructional-type movies.  I know there are some excellent ones, but I feel that that's a whole other genre.  If you live in the upper-Midwest, these can be lifesavers on those wondrous twenty seven-below-zero nights...

- Feeding Time by "The Drake" Magazine - One of the first of it's kind.  Available here... 

- Trout Bum Diaries: Vol I - The first of the TBD films, this one is shot in the Patagonia region of South America and chronicles the crew sleeping in the dirt, dealing with vehicle malfunctions, and of course - catching big brookies, browns and sea-run trout.  Still one of my favorites.

- Running Down the Man by Felt Soul Media - Short flick about chasing rooster fish in Baja.  Fast moving and original. Wish it was a bit longer, but knowing a little about that type of fishing, it happens in the blink of an eye and I can see the challenge in making it an hour-long movie.

- Once in a Blue Moon - Super rad movie about the bizarre mouse migration in New Zealand. Unknown numbers of mice migrate across the landscape and unfortunately (for them) have to cross rivers full of big, hungry brown trout.  Absolutely top-notch editing and footage, one of the few that's as informative as it is beautiful.  Available in HD in the iTunes store.

Off the Grid by RA Beattie - I'm partial to this one because, yes, we are in it.  It also was the first time I got to witness how these films are actually made.  The foresight and planning that goes into the shots, the work it takes to edit and put together these films and just the sheer amount of time that goes into them is astonishing.  Hours of shooting for a three minute segment... Dedication.

Hustle and Fish - As funny as it is original.  A follow up to Fishizzle, a movie that, because of it's title, I avoided for years.  Once I watched it, I realized it's humor.  From trout to salmon to salmon sharks, this little gem is not meant to be serious or informative.  It is, however, fun.

The Drift by Confluence Films - Watch it for the John Hazel segment if you dig two-handed rods. Watch it for the Charlie Smith piece if you like and appreciate fishing in the salt.  A must-have on everyone's shelf.


the countdown

The Wisconsin early trout season opens Saturday, March 7th this year.  That leaves 51 days to go. Someone told me this past weekend that the "experts" are calling for a prolonged winter and a cold, wet, nasty spring.  Fine by me, as long as we're fishing.  There's a new streamer stick in the quiver for this year... Can't wait to break it out.



Great time at the Indianapolis Fly Fishing Expo this past weekend... Great vendors, speakers, outfitters and friends!  The weather made getting there sketchy as our 6.5 hour estimated time of travel turned into almost nine hours of windshield time.  Things cleared out Sunday earlier than normal with an impending ice-storm and the playoffs, but overall it was a well attended show.  I haven't seen that many people all collectively interested in the warmwater game in one place... Ever. The show season is just kicking off for us - Here's a quick list of the shows we have on deck:
- Saturday, January 24th - Cabin Fever Days in Appleton
- Saturday, February 14th - Badger Opener in Madison
- Saturday, February 28th - Trout Fest in Winneconne
- Saturday, March 14th - Tight Lines Open House

Our guest tier Saturdays are also starting up this weekend... Great lineup again this year!  Remember, these are free events for all, so come on over and watch some of the best local talent spin up their specialties.  For a list of the guest tiers, click on this link for more details.

Booth, packed with merch and smallie flies galore!
Night out with the Simms family
Timmy helping some youngsters pick out flies.  Lots of young kids at this show, which is great to see.
Sapporo and sake... Why not?


simms goodness for '15

Just a handful of some of my new favorite Simms pieces for this season.  Some of this stuff I've put through the wringer already and it's come out shining.  I'm still waiting on the packs, but I have handled samples of them and they're going to be bomb-proof!

Simms Dry Creek Z Daypack - Bomb-proof design, totally waterproof.  This will be my new camera/gear/everything pack.
Simms Dry Creek Z Hip Pack - Same material and concept as the Daypack, just in a hip pack format.  Great for steelheaders and deep waders.  Never worry about wet gear in your hip pack again.

Simms Axis Hoody - I wear this as a layer and as a stand-alone piece and it's been awesome.  I've literally beat the hell out of this hoody and it still looks new.  This will be one of those "I own one of each color" pieces for me... It's that good.

Simms Kinetic Jacket - Warm, stretchy, lightweight, packable and tough.  Need I say more?  I love the new material around the sleeve cuffs as this was always a high-wear area and this has stood up much better.  Shockingly warm for it's weight.

Simms ProDry Gloves - 3 in 1 glove system with a removable liner glove.  Can be worn as just the liner, just the shell or all together for the ultimate in warmth and waterproofness.  GoreTex.  Order a size big, they seem to run a bit snug.

Simms Vapor Boot - For those of you that love to hike, this is your boot.  Super lightweight, great traction on all surfaces and tough design.  I love the mini D-loop for hooking your gravel guards to.  I'm looking forward to wet-wading with these!


indiana fly fishing expo v1.0

Tim and I will be in Indianapolis for the first ever Indiana Fly Fishing Expo.  Click here for more info on times, venue, exhibitors and presenters.  It should be a great show with basically every Midwest quide, shop, rep and club in attendance.  The only bummer is that we'll have to watch the Packer playoff game on the iPad on Sunday.  Other than that, I'm stoked to see everyone and catch up, have a couple beers and attend some great talks.  See you in Indy!



Monday, my kids had a late start at school.  Today, there is no school.  It's not snowing... It's just that cold.  Brutal cold.  My German Shorthaired Pointer is enjoying the fact that we put a crate downstairs where it's nice and toasty.  I can't imagine that any mammals (other than polar bears and fur seals) could enjoy this kind of weather.  That said, we fly anglers pass these months by dreaming about open water, watching fishing movies and tying flies.  If you're into tying flies, you have to check this page out.  I stumbled on it while searching for a musky hook that ended up being really hard to find. Tons of great videos, stills and tutorials.  --Click here to visit the FrankenFly site--


happy '15

Happy New Year... It's the first day of 2015 and I'm looking outside at a fresh batch of powder, blowing like crazy in the 25 mph gusts.  Looks like the first day of the year is reminding us that winter in the upper Midwest can be brutal.  I hope everyone ushered in the year (last night) safely... Our celebration was a pretty tame one, complete with steak, shrimp, poor man's lobster and some cocktails with friends and my beautiful wife.  Today we'll celebrate once again with friends and family and watch the Badgers (hopefully) put a hurt on Auburn in The Outback Bowl.  Go Bucky!

The unbelievably warm temps a couple weeks ago granted us a very small window in which we could get out and fish.  Even though we only hooked one fish, it was nice to refill the spirit tank a bit and fish open water.  Tim and Sam were out last week and as suspected, the cold temps we turning the rivers into a slush-fest.  With the nightime lows that we've had the last couple nights, that slush has surely locked up the rivers again.  For the next 3+ months it will be hard-water fishing and, if Mother Nature allows, swinging flies near the open water that the dams provide.  Plenty of time to restock fly boxes, clean reels and lines, watch movies with the kids, snowshoe, and dream about spring.

A couple things in the hopper for 2015... More product and fly reviews in the off-season months.  I have the time in the winter to scour the web and attend the shows that keep me up-to-date with new products that hit the market... I aim to do a better job of sharing them here and giving my input. Also, working with a couple folks on getting some MT caps and decals done.  They'll be similar to the circle logo on my header with the Lake Michigan and Lake Superior outlines.  I'll let you know when I get closer to this and will probably have a PayPal link with a "Buy it Now" button on the right sidebar.



f3t '15

Pretty stoked to be doing two nights of the Fly Fishing Film Tour this year... March 5th in De Pere and March 6th in my hometown of River Falls.  Check out the Fly Fishing Film Tour's website for short trailers for the movies, ticket info, locations and dates.  It's worth the drive to wherever you have to go to take part in this event.  Go ahead, act like a kid again; yell, scream, whistle and laugh until your guts hurt... No one will notice.

                 THOSE MOMENTS - official trailer from Kokkaffe Media on Vimeo.



Cannot wait for warm days, bare feet, smallmouth, cold beer, hot sun... Seems so far away right now.



So this little gem has been floating around the inter-web the past couple days... More gold from Mr. Patterson himself.  Enjoy!

"Sensei" (Trailer) - Official Selection, IF4™ 2015 from IF4™ on Vimeo.


12/15 report

Last week's warm temps and precipitation did exactly what I'd hoped they'd do... Open up frozen rivers and pump some water through the systems.  Charlie and I made it out on Sunday and although the rivers were open, the clarity was lacking due to the amount of runoff in such a short window. Visibility was maybe 10" on the edges of the river... Not great, but I've caught fish in worse conditions.  We strung rods and fished hard, the river unwilling to reciprocate our efforts.  Tough fishing aside, it was great to be fishing open water and not having to wear gloves or deal with frozen guides and lines.  Give me 40 degrees to fish in any day of the week.  My general positive attitude and great mood from the day of fishing was quickly squashed when, upon returning to my truck, I realized that someone had forced my tailgate open (even though the topper window was locked) and helped themselves to my coveted seven weight Sage XP and Sage reel... In broad daylight... On a weekday.  Damn.


go pack

Let's do this!  Hoping to see a Packers/Seahawks rematch at Lambeau Field this season...


weekend warmup

Warmup in the forecast this weekend... Bart, Charlie and I are heading out Sunday to attempt to bend the sticks.


ice galore and a brief warmup

I got out the other day to scout the local rivers for the first time since the stretch of brutally cold weather started.  What I found was not a shock...

For the first time in nearly a week, the daytime temps actually crept over the freezing mark.  I wadered up at my house and strung my switch rod up, even throwing on a sink-tip and fly, so that when I arrived at the river I could hop in and start fishing right away.  The first stretch of river below the local dam always stays open because of the speed and turbulence of the water.  I knew that I could fish there, but it wasn't my first choice because of the depth of that particular stretch of river. Most of the fish that we find when the water drops below 36 degrees are holding in deeper, slower pools where they don't have to exert much energy.  There's always food in the deep pools in the form of baitfish, crayfish, sculpins, etc.  It makes sense that that's where most of our browns and steelhead spend the winter.  The downside is that those slow pools and slower runs are also the first to freeze over, making fly presentations difficult.  Knowing this, I headed downstream to some runs and pools that have great depth and slower currents.  Upon arriving at the first run, I was semi-optimistic to see that it was 40% open... Just enough to sneak out there and swing a fly for 40 yards or so.  The tough part there would be what to do in the event of hooking a fish.  With all the shelf ice around and the speed of the water, any decent fish would have you downstream and under the ice in no time.  I continued downstream, driving one of my favorite roads in the state that runs along the majority of the lower river.  The next spot was a 100% no-go... Not only was there ice, but there wasn't even a hint of an opening.  Anywhere.  Same thing at the next spot below there.  Well, back up to the dam I went.  The water was high from the unusual amount of precipitation we've had this fall, but clear and wadeable.  I opted for an un-weighted Hickman pattern and a light sink-tip, just enough to put me about midway down in the water column.  Step, swing.  Step, swing.  Step, swing.  I fished hard from the dam back down to where I'd parked my truck with not so much as a bump.  It felt really good to cast though, and my toes reminded me that the water was a touch under the freezing mark.

It's amazing what a quick 45 minute session in open water can do for the fly angler's soul.  Even though most of the river was locked and had me disheartened, there was just enough hope and optimism in the fast and shallow water to keep me going.  I'm not sure what this weekend did to the river and with Thanksgiving coming up, I'll be out of town for a handful of days and unable to check on it.  We had temps at nearly 50 degrees and two days of rain, but I'm not sure that was enough to open up much.  The USGS gauges are still reading "Ice", but I wouldn't go completely off of those.