Thursday, January 28, 2010

Day Dreamin'

I posted the pen and ink version of this a few weeks ago, and over the weekend I couldn't resist dressing it up with a little color. So now, rather than a non-descript trout of unknown variety, she is now officially a fact, it’s from Slough Creek, Second Meadow. Hit the Muddler really hard.

Ah yes, fantasy is a wonderful thing. Especially this winter. And tomorrow we are expecting another foot of snow! Wonder what I’ll "catch" this weekend. Hmmm, there’s a nice Brown hanging out over at.........

Monday, January 25, 2010

A Lazy Rainy Saturday

After a great monthly meeting at the Asheville VA Hospital on Saturday morning with our Project Healing Waters crew, I turned down an invite to fish the Davidson from Ryan to get some much needed "catching up" done back at my studio.

The meeting was a lot of fun as Ryan had arranged to get his hands on three of those Echo practice casting rods for our vets to try out. After a bit of instruction we held a casting competition for the vets and the top five winners got some pretty neat prizes...some prints, flies, books, etc...all designed to whet their appetites for an upcoming on stream adventure.

Those Echo practice rods are fantastic! (I'm trying to figure out how to put a reel seat on them for some bluegill action this summer.) They really do mimic casting with a regular full sized rod and they were great for teaching the vets some of the finer points of casting.

Back in the studio I tackled some of those un-fun bookkeeping items that we all hate, but also managed to have a little fun finishing the rainbow you see above. Hope you like it.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


Project Healing Waters has just added my art to the “Buy Stuff and Help Us Out” section of their website! Needless to say, I am proud to partner with them on this new fundraising effort, and I hope you’ll jump over there and check it out. For this special project I’ve done a series of four prints...a Brown, a Rainbow, a Brook and a Cutthroat...and I’ll be donating ½ of the sales price from each purchase to their great organization.

If you are familiar with their ongoing work with our veterans you know what a good cause it is...and if you’ve been considering a donation to support their efforts, here’s your chance to do so and in return you get something nice to display on your wall.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

I spent a couple of nights this week drawing this Rainbow, and sometime over the next week I hope to bring some color to it and finish it up. The week has also been spent trying to lay out a schedule for this Spring and Summers' shows. I know that I'll do all of the ones from last year and I might be adding a new one or two as well.

Scheduling the shows is the easy part. Now I've got to plan some new artwork...

Friday, January 15, 2010


There is something about the classics. Be they movies, music, paintings, architecture...whatever. Even trout flies. Do you recall seeing a plate of classic dry flies when you first started tying? And as determined as you were to tie them never got it done. Well, I never did anyway. But those images were fixed forever in your mind. Such it is with me and the Blue Winged Olive...a tempter with few peers.


It snowed about 14 inches the week before Christmas and the daytime temps have stayed below freezing...until today. For nearly a month our yard has been encased in ice. Completely covered in compacted and hard as a rock snow. No more “ice climbing” just to get from the drive into the house. Yes, yesterday the sun was out and it hit fifty degrees. Winter is over; daffodils are getting antsy and so am I. The hatches are coming and wet wading is in vogue again. Don’t I wish.

Hopefully this respite from Alaskan weather will be permanent and I can again start accepting fishing invitations.

I will look back on this year as the one where I swore off winter fishing forever. As one ages, things change. Especially one’s tolerance for the cold.

My buddy Mike, (who is obviously still a youngster) over at his Mike’s Gone Fishin'... Again blog has just posted a great piece about winter fishing, and the quite solitude that it can provide. But as beautiful as his words are and as stunning as his photography is, there aint no way that I’ll ever again be a practioner of that sort of fishing. I’m done with it.

I could say that I’ve caught so many trout over the years that catching just a few more on a cold day means nothing to me.
I could say a lot of things. I’m done with it. Don’t even ask me next year.

“You say they’re biting? Now?...but it's too cold! Yeah, I’m coming. Where’s my coat!”

Thursday, January 7, 2010


(Editor’s Note: While many if not most of you consider Alan’s recollections and fish tales to be mostly fiction, they mostly aren’t. The silliness that follows definitely is...maybe.)

Those of you inclined to visit various TU Chapters on a regular basis, and those of you that hang out on the fly fishing forums may have become involved with the debate about fly fishing etiquette. To be specific, the debate about who has the right of way on a trout stream....the upstream fishing dry fly elitist, or the lowly knuckle dragging (I bet they are fishing with corn) downstream angler.

Not to stir the pot further, but who cares? I have yet to see a One-Way sign posted on any of the waters that I frequent, and besides that, the idea that anyone traipsing up – or down – through my favorite pool has some kind of “right-of-way” privilege is preposterous. I’m more concerned with, “What are you doing in my pool in the first place!”

I can’t count the times that after driving countless miles to my favorite water; after hauling my stuff from the trunk and luggin’ it to the creek...that I find some slub that I don’t even know sitting on my my pool. What has happened to manners? The coarsening of America has crossed the line.

Short of putting up a sign (and believe me, I know how to paint me a sign) what must I do? On any given weekend I am there. Any casual observer knows it’s my spot. You can see the little hollowed out place I’ve made for my cooler and if you look up and to the left of that you’ll see the nail in the sycamore where I hang my provisions, so as to keep them away from the little crawly things. And if you haven’t figured out what that perfectly carved out can shaped depression is for...well, you’ve been spending too much time readin’ American Angler and other such high-falutin’ rags instead of catchin’ fish. There I sit all day (unless I’m napping) just having myself a good time, casting and sittin’ and waiting for a fish to bite. I know there are fish in that pool ‘cause I’ve seen some of you wadin’ and walkin’ types catch them right under my nose. And I know that I can catch them too, cause you see, I’m all about patience. But my patience wears a little thin when you’ve grabbed my spot. It’s my spot and everyone knows it.

I recall a time about June of last year when a carload of young women had set up camp at my spot. I was outraged. Not only had they overtaken my hole, but they weren’t even fishing! Nope, they were sun bathin’ and causing a commotion like you’ve never seen. In no time at all, right there in front of them, waist deep in the river, lined up shoulder to shoulder and mumblin’ to themselves, was at least a dozen Orvis outfitted dandies...slobberin’ all over themselves and staring at the women folk. You can’t tell me that commotion didn’t stir up the fish.

No sir, that kind of crowd, with nothing on their minds but fighting for a better view and the impure thoughts that followed, couldn’t have cared less about disturbin’ the water. Even if I had run them and the girls out, I doubt I’d have caught anything anyway, so I just sat myself down in the midst of the girls, so as to protect ‘em if things got out of hand. I sat there for a good long time too. Even shared my Vi-enna sausages and crackers with the ladies.

About sundown the girls noticed that they were about tanned-up and headed for the house, leaving me there to direct the traffic. The guys that remembered which direction they came from were easy to deal with, but the others put on quite a show; bumping into each other, falling in over the tops of their rubber pants and cussin’ each other to no end. I finally had to lay down the law and play traffic cop. Everyone wearing a proper old fashioned fly vest was directed to move away upstream and those wearing those Disneyworld tourist purses, I mean fanny packs...or those new fangled necklaces with the little thingies attached...was told to head downstream.

So, lookin’ back on that episode (which I often do), maybe there’s somethin’ to be said for this etiquette stuff. Maybe I’ll start me a club and we’ll create a new etiquette. Might even start up a website to promote the proper behavior. RULE #1...stay outta my spot!

Saturday, January 2, 2010


Our recent heavy snows have reminded me of the essentials needed to successfully fish our local waters in severe winter weather. All of us have had occasions – perhaps as recent as our last storm – when we have had to cancel our fly fishing plans due to inclement weather. Instead of spending a good day on the stream we have opted to recline before a climate and resource destroying fireplace and a watch a silly game where grown men throw a ball around in tight pants on television. Or worse, spending the day shoveling the walkway and drive for the little woman.

With proper preparation there is no need for this to happen, especially since there is such a ready source of products available to make our wintertime ventures more enjoyable.

Let’s start with the basics.
Track System for Kubota RTV 900 Utility Vehicle
You will need this to get you to the stream and to haul additional essentials.
$7395 (Assuming you already have the RTV 900 Utility Vehicle)

Herman Nelson BT – 400 Mirage Desert Wind Portable Heater
To be strategically placed and fired up just upwind of your selected pool prior to entering the water.
$1,900.00 for the budget minded, on eBay, used.

Coast Guard approved Mustang Ultimate Ice Rescue Suit
Combines the robustness of the Tactical Operations Dry Suit with the high visibility and padding needed in swift water rescues. $946.00

Electric Pet Deterrent Fence Controller (for your Fly Rod)
Effectively eliminates line icing. The term “Tight Lines” is for salutations only. Do not be concerned with that pesky electricity stuff... graphite fly rods have a very low resistivity ranging from 9 to 40 uqm, which is essentially zero, insuring a relatively safe method of fly delivery.
$29.95... Or just use the one you use to keep your spouse under control.

To equip yourself with just these basics you have only spent a little over ten thousand dollars, plus whatever shipping costs would be involved. A small price to pay to insure a comfortable day on the stream. And if my math is accurate and you achieve the average wintertime catch rate, that comes to something like an expenditure of, well, about ten thousand dollars per fish.

And an additional benefit to being properly outfitted: With the noise generated by the portable heater, you will not be distracted by wildlife of any sort, and more importantly, you can rest assured that you’ll have the stream to yourself as those without proper ear protection will surely seek other venues.

Regarding tactics, I recommend fishing deep...very deep. And very noisily. As trout, during severe weather enter into a dormant state it is important to wake them from their slumber. As there is little chance that the trout will be in the mood to eat anything once woken, avoid all attempts at “hatch matching” and revert instead to the tried and true “Hellbender.” With its weight and broad deep diving bill, coupled with its awesome treble hooks, you increase your chances of not only waking, but of actually “catching” a fish. You will find that a strike indicator is unnecessary. If snagging, I mean, if this sort of fishing is not to your liking and if the fishing is particularly slow, you will also want to consider chunking rocks into the stream from time to time. Big rocks.

As a final cautionary note, please be aware that under such severe conditions one needs to keep hydrated throughout the day. Many have found that Absolut 100 is perfectly suited to the flask, I mean task. Not only is it best consumed in a near frozen state, but achieving that proper temperature will require no auxiliary refrigeration equipment.

Editors note: In normal fashion, the writer totally ignored his own advice and accepted an invitation today from son-in-law Chad to join him for a day of fishing in north Georgia on Duke's Creek. Leaving out of south Georgia at an ungodly hour and a temperature of 28 degrees, they arrived at the stream to a temperature of 22 degrees and blowing snow. Finding the temperature at the check in station to be a toasty 74 degrees, the author elected to remain inside as Chad and his buddy Brad headed for the stream. Totally unprepared, the author remained ensconsed in the warmth for approximately 3 hours until the temperature rose to a high for the day...of freezing...32 degrees.

Upon entering the stream, the author attempted to lure its inhabitant for approximately 20 minutes...all the while considering the benefits that could be derived from setting himself on fire.

At the end of the day there was only one photograph worth exhibiting...a photo of one of Chad's two fish. This one being of particular interest as the fish was heard to demand his immediate release, stating something like..."Please sir, please, please, please put me back in the warmth of that 35 degree water!!!"