Sunday, December 14, 2008

Fishing at Rose River Farm

I finally got a fly rod back in my hands after basically taking the entire spring and summer off. My friend Douglas invited me down to Rose River Farm to knock some of the rust off and try to catch a few trout. It rained all day, temps in the mid 40s and dropping, but thanks to some decent gear it was comfortable enough to fish for several hours.

There were times when the rain let up, and in those windows of opportunity the trout were feeding off the surface. But due to the weather conditions, my vision and my knot tying abilities, by the time I switched to dry flies the rain would pick up again.

Regardless, we had a great day on the water and caught some very nice fish. It's always a treat to get to fish at Rose River Farm.

Montana Trout

My friend Ed was doing some hunting and fishing out west recently, I wanted to share some photos here. For some reason I don't think these two photos were taken on the same day.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Georgia Redfish

Okay it wasn't caught on a fly rod. It wasn't even caught by me! But since I don't have any fish stories I'm living vicariously through my friend Matt, who is home for a break from his job in Iraq and, from the looks of it, making good use of his time.

I really want to catch a redfish. Matt said they fight like mad!

I am actually going trout fishing next week, so hopefully I will have a photo of an actual fish that I caught by then!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Tiger Trout

Before my friend John Bass sent me these photos of a Tiger Trout - a hybrid of brown and brook trout - I had never seen or heard of one. But they sure are beautiful! If I ever go fishing again I want one of these. These photos were taken in Pennsylvania, thanks John!

Monday, September 08, 2008

One long, drawn-out week to go!

Five days till I meet Winnie for the first time. I think we're set at home - crate, toys, food, toys, Redskins headlines to spread out on the floor by the door, toys...

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Note to self: Go fishing in Alaska

My friend Curtis of Fly Rod Chronicles gets to travel to some beautiful places to film his show. But I'm most envious about his recent trip to Alaska. The perfect Alaska fishing trip is not for the faint of heart, however. "We floated for 9 days...first 3 days we hiked and carried rafts before we strung a rod," Curtis told me. But his efforts paid off, as the fishing beyond that three day trek on southwest Alaska's Cash River was spectacular. Pictured here is the biggest rainbow I've ever seen, a stunning sockeye salmon and a beautiful grayling.

Don't go back without me, Curtis!

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Meet Winnie!!

Still two weeks before I meet my Wirehaired Vizsla in person, but the puppies were selected by their new owners yesterday, and I ended up with the one I wanted all along! Pretty good fortune considering I was third in line for a female. This is her, and her name is Winnie. (Unless the 800 mile trip home with her reveals a more appropriate name like Vomitty or Pukey or something.)

All the puppies look great and I would have been happy with any of the females. But this one with the yellow ribbon is the first one I started to notice early on. And I tried not to let myself wish it because I didn't want to be disappointed if someone else selected her before me. But I'm really, really happy!!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Lore of the Bird Dog

Much like fly fishing, hunting upland birds with a dog has the kind of appeal that has made it the subject of authors, artists and poets for hundreds of years. The dogs who do this work -- magnificent in function, beautiful in form -- take that work very seriously. Here are a few of these noble dogs...

Buddy (Thanks Jerry)

Gent (Thanks Matt)

Pete (Thanks Don)

Squirt (Thanks Don)

Uh, Puppy To Be Named Later. Well, evidently they aren't BORN with all that grace and style, I guess they get it later on. I'll keep you posted!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Hang on, Buddy!!

We'll be there in four more weeks!!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Let the Games Begin!

No, silly, I'm not talking about the Olympics. It's Football Season! This is a shot from our new season ticket location! The Redskins beat the Bills in this preseason game, 17-14.

Offshore Fun!

My wife, as is our family tradition, got the biggest fish of the household when we had the opportunity to go offshore fishing recently. We're having fresh Mahi Mahi on the grill tonight!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

My next dog was born today!

I was third in line for a female out of this litter of Wirehaired Vizslas. An early ultrasound of the mother indicated probably at least six dogs, but those are inaccurate at best. So I had my fingers crossed when the breeder called me this evening. Three boys and SIX girls!!

So middle of September we'll take a road trip up to Illinois and pick up my fishin' buddy/huntin' dog/couch potato/car ridin' pal/troublemaker/Best Friend!!

Monday, July 07, 2008

Dog Training 101

I don't know. What do you think? On the one hand, Gromit has yet to discover a horizontal surface in our house that he doesn't enjoy standing on. But on the other hand, and certainly more positive from a dog training standpoint, he did obey the "Stay" command long enough for my wife to get the camera and return to catch him in the act. That's not all bad, right?

Friday, July 04, 2008

Maryland Heights II

In need of some quiet time this morning, I revisited Maryland Heights, the place where not too long ago I was reminded of my pathetic physical condition. Well the second time I went back I hiked higher and farther, and this morning I took the long route past the civil war relics. About a five mile hike start to finish, and some very steep parts.

So steep, in fact, that today I made it a bit higher than ol' Abe himself went in 1862. But, in all fairness, I think I would have been impeded if I were wearing the big Abe Lincoln hat, having to duck under all the low branches.

Great views from strategic strongholds along the way.

This is part of a stone fort at the summit.

Evidence of bears can be found along the path. Not surprising on this upper route, it's a challenging hike. I was there mid-morning on a holiday and didn't see another person on that trail loop. But after seeing this my eyes were peeled for the rest of the way!

By the time I started heading downhill, I could stop focusing on my physical limitations and water conservation, and started to take in the sights a little closer than the vistas I took in from the summit.

Thursday, July 03, 2008


To quote a Patty Griffin song, "Today my heart is big and sore."

Thank you, Sierra, for thirteen years of companionship. You will be deeply missed.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

More self propelled river fun

Early morning on the Potomac, nobody else in sight most of the time I was out there. Not catching fish in great numbers, but the ones I am catching are good fighters, I've heard that it should be a good season for big fish, I'm starting to believe it! This one took that green popper you can see in the top left of the photo.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Product Review: Rio Gold

Let me just get this out of the way: I am NOT writing a glowing review about Rio Gold fly line just because I want Rio to see this and send me a hat and a sticker and more Rio Gold for my 5-weight to match the 3- and 4-weight reels I have already stocked with it. Or maybe a t-shirt.

But the first time I tried this line it was loaded on a Sage demo 4-weight rod. Granted, it was a wonderful $650 rod that helped shoot that line, but regardless, the line felt great. So great, in fact, that I ordered it for my two favorite trout rods.

This little Scott 3-weight rod is not an expensive one, but I do love it and it casts pretty well as long as it's not windy. Today I tried it for the first time with the Rio Gold and it went from pretty good to awesome! I love this line! The Rio fly lines also have a really great welded loop that I have put to the test on my 7-weight (that rod is loaded with the Rio Grand and is my smallmouth rod), and shows no signs of failing. I like it a lot better than the nail knot alternative.

(Additional cool side note: My testing ground for this was my neighbor's pond across the street from us. First cast with a little popper, in this pond that last year held nothing but sunfish, and I got a really nice size largemouth bass! After that some nice bluegill too. Could be a lot of fun this summer!)

So, bottom line is this: I think that if you're neglecting your fly line as a critical part of your fly rod equation, you might be overlooking an inexpensive way to make a $240 rod feel like a $640 rod. And for me, this Rio Gold is the best casting line I've ever tried.

More reptile superhero action

Recently I posted this picture of Squirt, wearing his shedding skin like a cape.

Well today yet another reptile in the house decided to sport a cape.

That's Butchie, a Kisatchie Cornsnake. And this is the blog equivalent of a Slow News Day.

Potomac Smallmouth Float

Thanks to Mark Kovach Fly Fishing who donated a float trip for two at the Trout Unlimited show earlier this year, I was the lucky winner! I brought my friend Douglas and we had perfect weather for our day on the water. Between the two of us we boated about 75 fish! A couple big smallies (largest about 16", I'll post a picture of that once our guide Mike emails it to me - his camera got wet and no longer functions!). And some fun bluegills on poppers later in the day. We went out as part of a larger group and had a fantastic streamside lunch of grilled steaks and corn on the cob. Great day, here are some more pictures...

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Exciting Introduction to Kayak Fishing!

When I asked my friend Harry, who used to be in the kayak business, advice about what kind of kayak would be good for an overweight, uncoordinated, water-averse fly fisherman (I was, uh, asking for a friend), he said this one, and GAVE me a 16' Wilderness Systems Tarpon!

I tried it first on a lake and that went pretty well. So the other night I tried it on the Potomac near my house with no fishing gear, just a test run to make sure the current wasn't overwhelming. That went okay too so yesterday morning early I went river fishing for the first time in the kayak.

Sometimes when you get only one bite when you're out fishing you're disappointed. But on this day, the one and only bite of the day produced this, my first smallmouth of the year, my first fish from a kayak, and - by far - my biggest smallmouth ever! What a surprise. My 7-weight was really bending with this one, I have never felt such a strong smallie, I thought maybe I had hooked a catfish or something. Which I would have been fine with too, actually. I just wanted to catch something. But when I landed him I just couldn't believe it. I don't know how big he was, maybe 16" to 18" and heavy.

Hopefully I will have more great kayak fishing to post here, I sure have enjoyed it so far!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


June tenth. I remember the date, but am a bit foggy on the year. 1989 maybe. A pile of yellow and black and chocolate lab puppies tumbled into the world onto last week's newspaper and one of them was mine. Jasmine. Or as I was fond of calling her long before she actually earned the title, Jasmine the Wonderdog.

She is shown here in one of only 35,000 photos ever taken of her, after winning a gold in obedience and a bronze in the frisbee competition at a local Canine Olympics or some such thing. She did a lot of stuff, basically anything I ever asked of her. She took to obedience training and spoiled me for life, thinking that I was some sort of dog training genius or had some kind of 'gift' of communicating with dogs. Nope. It was just her. Well, maybe it was just her. Maybe it's just that my current dog is an idiot.*

*This remark may be the one thing that finally gets my wife to leave a comment on this blog.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Nature, Interrupted.

Yesterday while mowing the lawn I saw this little head and ears pop up out of the tall grass. I thought it was a rabbit at first, but when he didn’t move I got off the mower for a closer look.

It was a baby fawn, not more than a day old. He just put his head down and stayed put. I couldn’t tell if he was hurt, abandoned, sick or starving, and didn’t know what to do. We live near a main road and I didn’t want him to wander into it, and while spotting deer in that area is not unprecedented, it's not exactly common either. No sign of mommy nearby, but it was the middle of the afternoon. I called animal control to ask what to do.

An officer arrived about the same time my wife got home, he made a few calls and found a vet that would take him overnight until a wildlife rehabilitator could take him. My wife questioned his judgement (and mine for calling him in the first place) and thought at least we should take him to the vet ourselves so we could talk to them and make sure it was the right thing to do. Sure enough, the vet looked him over and said he was fine, wasn’t dehydrated and probably the mother would come back overnight to get him. If he was still there this morning (they said he would not wander off without mom), then maybe the mother was hit by a car and we’d have to look into a Plan B.

So we took him back to the same spot where I found him. Then as I was putting away the mower I noticed a big doe on the far corner of my neighbor’s property, watching me closely. Darkness soon fell, and after a few hours I checked and mom and baby were gone!

An awfully long way to go to end up simply letting nature take its course, but there was a happy ending and I’ll know better next time. I sure gave that fawn a weird day he didn't need to have. But the day he gave me I'll remember fondly for a long time.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Super Squirt!

Our little Rankins dragon Squirt is shedding. And last night we got home and all the skin on his back had come loose except for right at his neck. He had a distinctive superhero look about him, so I had to snap a picture.

As superheroes go, Squirt would not be a very good one I don't think. He's cute, but he's frail and tiny and, at very least, mildly retarded. Which makes imagining an alter ego with super powers that much more comical. "Able to stare at his reflection for more than an hour straight! Able to jam his face into the corner of the tank and fall asleep that way for nine hours! Sometimes recognizes a worm as food when it is held in front of his face! Will expend barely enough effort in feeding himself to avoid starvation!"

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Maryland Heights reveal New Lows in Physical Fitness

I've been working for a few weeks at trying to lose some weight and get more exercise. It's been going okay, and since I've been walking almost every day the weight has started to come off. I was motivated Saturday to do something a little different, so I drove to Harpers Ferry where I had seen the beginnings of a trail before.

It's called Maryland Heights and it was steep. S-T-E-E-P Steep. Right off the bat it's like walking up stairs for a couple hundred yards and that's just to get to the sign that marks the beginning of the trail and has a map of the area. Being winded already, I welcomed the opportunity to stop and read all the signs thoroughly. Then it continued uphill for a really, really long time. I didn't make it all the way to the top, but got more than my fair share of exercise just going straight uphill for about forty minutes.

By the time I turned around I was really sucking wind.

Then I run into this jackass JOGGING up the hill! Okay he wasn't a jackass, he was quite friendly when we had brief exchanges both times he passed me. What a freak though. Jogging up this trail, that's like Lance Armstrong territory. Anyway, it made me realize -- as if I needed to be reminded -- how truly out of shape I am.

But I think if I work on my stamina and legs throughout the week, maybe I will try the Maryland Heights trail every weekend and use that to measure my progress. I'll never jog up that damn thing, but maybe by the end of summer I can get to the top without stopping to "read."

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Not just a long weekend...

I hope everyone has a happy and safe Memorial Day weekend. But please remember the true meaning of the holiday, and honor those who have sacrificed everything for us. God bless those who serve, and have served, this great nation.
An American soldier walks through the graves at the American cemetery in Colleville, Normandy, France, for the 60th anniversary of D-Day Sunday, June 6, 2004. AP Photo/Jerome Delay