Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year!

The older I get the faster time seems to fly. I watch in awe as another year comes to a close. This time of year always allows me to reflect on the adventures of the past 365 days. I am grateful for those days and look forward to many more. I am thankful for my wife and my children and the health of my family. I am thankful for my friends. I am thankful for my job.
On the fishing front, this has been quite a year. It was a rough start with rain dictating the fishing in our part of the world. Winter allowed me a few fishing excursions, but spring was brutal. The perpetual precipitation left the local rivers at impossible levels for fishing. My favorite hatch of the year came and went without a day to fish because of flooding on the rivers. Before I knew it, it was May and the dry fly fishing in Ohio hadn’t even gotten started.
Let me address some of the highlights from this past year: The Mad was fantastic. Each trip there, I found my net filled with fat, healthy browns that were more than willing to take a fly. The water levels remained healthy throughout the summer and July was one of the best months of the year. As I do every year, I spent my late Grandfather’s birthday on the water. I believe that is how we should remember those that were dear to us; we should enjoy some of the things they enjoyed while on this earth. We honor their time here and create new memories even without their physical presence.
July would also find me in the mountains of Colorado. It was my first trip west and it will not be my last. I was fortunate to meet and befriend Steve Schweitzer. Steve went to high school with my brother-in-law, Wes. Steve is also the author of A Fly Fishing Guide to Rocky Mountain National Park. It was an amazing trip that I chronicled in detail here. I am grateful for Steve’s guidance and friendship. This trip, along with the blog, afforded me the opportunity to do a little writing as well. I was asked to write a destination article for Global Fly Fisher. It was a very enjoyable and somewhat tedious task. I look forward to more of this type of writing in the upcoming year.

My own children have really grown to appreciate their time on the water as well. Morgan and Matthew have worked hard on their skills and are a pleasure to have with me on any adventure. Morgan and I were even asked to do a local TV appearance. We filmed a fly fishing segment for fitTOGETHER, a local show that airs in Fairfield County. It was not my first time in front of the camera, but creating this memory with Morgan made it one of the most special trips of the year. As for Matthew, he is quite the bass slayer. I look forward to capturing more adventures with him as the New Year matures.
I even won the lottery this past year. The Castalia fish lottery! I have been faithful to donate my three dollars each of the past ten years. This year the Division of Wildlife gave a little back.  Mike and I(Owen Wilson) , travelled north to the booming metropolis of Castalia to fish the famed waters of the most pristine waters in Ohio, Cold Creek. This was chronicled in a short video that we shot and Mike produced. You can find it here or on Youtube and Vimeo. It is some of the best dry fly fishing footage that you may ever see from our great state.
Speaking of Mike, he created our new website We are very excited about what the future holds for this adventure. We have several videos from last spring and summer and this year promises to be even better. Stay tuned, you won’t be disappointed. I am fortunate to have such talented friends and Mike’s abilities often leaving me shaking my head. He is a great friend and a wonderful fishing companion. His abilities to lose my flies in trees also often leave me shaking my head.
As the year takes its last breaths, I am encouraged and excited to see what the future holds. It has been a good year on some fronts of my life and a very difficult year on others. I am grateful for both.
Happy New Year everyone!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

It's Not Over Yet!

Two days ago, I sat here and typed my year in review. It was raining, again. I thought my fishing for the year had come to an end. I even mentioned that I did not think I would have the chance to get out again. I was wrong. I do that quite a bit. Be wrong, that is. Today, I had every intention of getting in the woods for an evening hunt. However, the weather was very warm and the wind was all wrong for where I wanted to hunt. With only a couple of hours of daylight left, I headed for Clear Creek. 
A little practice with the camera timer
I was not even sure if the stream would be fishable with all the recent rain. I was surprised to find the stream in great shape. It was carrying quite a bit of water, but it was completely manageable for flinging a nymph and a small bugger. I quickly rigged up and was soon on the water. The sun was warm and I only needed a light sweatshirt and a fleece vest. I was ready and comfortable for my   winter adventure. It is hard to believe that it is December 29th and I am fishing in such nice weather. I think this creek was covered in ice last December.
Every turn offers another beautiful run

I chose to start with an olive bugger and began to swing it through the seams of one of my favorite runs. On the first cast, I had a fish miss the fly three times.  This continued as two or three more fish would come up short on their attempt to take the fly. I decided to slow things down a bit and tied on a bead head green weenie. The green weenie is an easy tie and a great winter attractor pattern. It proved its worth on the first drift with a small, but very healthy, brown trout. I proceeded to find two more willing trout from this run and my day was already as satisfying as it needed to be.
After beating that stretch to death, I worked my way through some other familiar spots as I headed for the car. I picked up another fish on the green weenie before switching back to the olive bugger. I managed one more fish to my hand and several that were short on the strike. Five trout on a winter’s day in Fairfield/Hocking County Ohio, that’s a darn good day! I was thankful for such willing trout and the warmth of a winter day.
I have to add a side note here: I was asked why I would post pictures of such small fish. Trout and their habitat are beautiful. I do not care if they are five inches or twenty-five inches; I am excited every time I see or catch one of these swimming gems. When I fish, I can often be heard oohing and awing when I miss a fish. Friends that fish with me just shake their heads and laugh. I just love catching trout, no matter how big or how small. I have been catching trout since I was old enough to walk and carry a fishing rod. I will continue until I can no longer walk or carry a fly rod!
My last fish of the day

As you can see, Clear Creek is a beautiful place no matter what time of year. I could spend the entire time taking pictures of all of the beautiful portions of this wonderful park. It is a great luxury to have such a place so close to home.
One of the many unique sights in the Park
The road home