silver dollars

ROP running low and clear before my one stand of the fall, and lo and behold MZA is funemployed. Under challenging conditions, Employment Quest 2012 is underway and word on the street is that fish are being hooked: skinny water and down economy.

It occurs to one that a job search is much like fly fishing for steelhead – meat must be kept in water, chins up. Just cause there’s not a tug-tug when you swing through a run doesn’t mean your program is fucked – although it could in truth be fucked, but just not automatically, inherently, out of hand fucked. Whether crafting a cover letter or a streamer, use sticky hooks and nice paper. Be like a zen archer when you cast or hit Send, destroy the separation of you and target, annihilate both expectation and surprise.

I had a job that let me drink (and brew) beer during working hours and paid enough to buy fly lines more or less whenever I needed to, or at least when I remembered to. But, as happens in the course of human events, it became necessary to keep stepping down the run. Take stock, be mindful of what’s important and what’s transitory. I’ve got a typo-free resume and a passable low-water box and no leaks in my waders. Go time.

a farewell to farms

The smell of freshly-spread hog manure on ochre September fields was heavy in the air on the banks of the Big Muddy, but the biggest farmer stood in the bow on what was probably Squatto’s 2012 smallmouth float swan song, and that farmer is blogging before you now.  Continue reading

Hella Bronze 2: the Rebronzening

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In which your author continues his drifty-rowing apprenticeship, beers are mortgaged before the sun is over the trees and the Dark One proceeds to party, Storm Shadow appears and does St. Croix bujitsu on topper eaters for ten entire consecutive minutes of hot popwater action, and a rigorously halfassed beef jerky taste test proves conclusively that Jack Link’s Carne Seca is still the one to beat.

lost tribe

My rod hand hurts. Every aperture of integument clogged with greasy sweat and 70 degree dewpoints  giving it nowhere to evaporate. This eutrophic urban fishery the color, clarity, and temperature of a nice bowl of miso soup.

Masquinonge? Qua? Ain’t seen one.

I busted off my lucky popper. I drank beer from the bottle and hurled long loops and stripped line like it was a job and rowed Squatto in circles under the landing pattern of Delta jets in purple Minneapolis dusk, the far shore blurry with haze. It was a sticky, humid, high summer evening. Bass were slurping, carp were jumping, the lake sang the body electric for a few minutes at dusk but nobody was playing eat the fly.

There’s a tribe for this, I know, but some of us are still in the desert. If you can’t beat them, eat the locusts.

My first video

It is what it is … home movies, mea punter culpa. Shot on a Flip, edited in YouTube, and I’ve learned some things: bluegrass abounds in fly fishing videos because it’s about the best and most simpatico option offered in the YT video editor; the clips of rising fish look better when watched on a large player; midges can be bidges; and the Dark One looks so good walking away in Simms it’s almost a shame he’s ever coming back.

the one

Lots of each are nice but sometimes one is all you need.

The one need not be big or rare, just timely.

The clutch fish turns the day around. The clutch fish improves your subsequent casts, unfurls your leader, betters your drift, lets you carom flies off trees and leaves and onto the holding lie; it lets you laugh full-throated at missed strikes, makes you feel smarter than you actually are.

Today’s one was my first fish of 2012, and she came from way up a feeder creek that was running clear while the main branch was becoming higher, cloudier, and colder as the sun melted snow off the bluffs miles upriver. Crawling over old elms downed in last year’s flood, tiptoeing through ankle-deep water on flat cobbles that looked like they were hovering under rippling air, casting upstream to every broken top deeper than my boot.  In the trough of a long riffle the drift brought up the fish that would have busted the slump and I missed the take, but when I made the cast again she came back – a little nosy blip and a flash of wormy olive and the weight was there, fighting to gain what passed as deep safety in that austere March stream. When she was close enough to net I saw she was a spec, a brookie, a streamborn native and that my year on the water was starting auspiciously. The hook was fair in her left maxilla; her right pectoral fin was torn along one of the rays. She rested in my cupped cold fingers for a while and breathed water and then pushed back into the creek and turned invisible again. And as I sit at home with a glass of beer and a picture I hope this hard winter is coming to an end, and I hope she ate a big fucking dinner of stonefly tonight.