Friday, April 26, 2013

Weekly Waderfunk: Whiskerwear Sneak Peak

I've been teasing up the new gear quite a bit lately and just so you don't think I'm completely full of it, I'm lifting the curtain for a second to give you a sneak peak. The image quality isn't great, but I'll get a few high-res shot up once I have the lids in hand.

The logo is 100% original and was designed by the incredibly talented Nate Vargo. He's also mocked-up a few other designs that I'll be stamping onto future collateral pieces. 

Stay tuned for updates on availability and more pictures!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

There & Back

Back from a whirlwind trip to ManTana and I've got to say, it feels good. There's nothing quite like the Mountain West but the fact is that while I haven't yet figured out how to make them eat a dry fly, our trout are bigger.

The trip was a nice balance of business and pleasure that included the full spectrum of spring in Montana, from 60's and sunny to teens and a full-on blizzard. 

The latter happened to coincide with my only day of fishing on The Missouri, and it made for a really, really cold but pretty damn good day. Skwala's had fish looking up for foam early on and blanket BWO's brought up the sippers towards the end before shivering and windburn got the better of us. In between the nymphing was silly, providing a nice cross-section of fishing on arguably the most prolific trout fishery in the lower 48. A big thanks to the guys at Headhunters Fly Shop, who've got the entire program dialed.

Also, a special shout-out and congratulations go to our friends Tim and Joanne Linehan and also to El Pescador Lodge (you may recognize the names from previous posts). Tim was named the Orvis Endorsed Guide Of The Year, and El Pescador was named International Destination Of The Year. Having visited and worked with both programs, I can tell you that the awards were well deserved!

I managed to score some nice swag throughout the week, including a fresh pair of Costa 580G's (bad news for local carp populations). Now if I could only find a place to put all of it...

Speaking of swag, got word that the new Dudewater gear is on the production line as we speak and should be in hand in very soon! Stay tuned for samples.

Also got a sneak-peak at some of the new gear coming down the Orvis pipeline, and a lot of us were chomping at the bit to get our hands on the samples. The next year or two are going to produce some really exciting stuff.

Hopped off the plane Monday with daylight to spare so I hurried home, scooped up the pooch and fled to the carp flats. Things are heating up in a big way over there and I'm convinced it won't be long until I stick one on a floater. Not exactly in the same league as steelhead on top, but it will have to get me through the summer.

Tuesday I made a valiant effort to accomplish my other mission but came up short. That is, if you consider double-digit grabs on a swung fly 'coming up short.' #firstworldproblems

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Stuck In The Middle

From a distance I could see that gate B95 was  suspiciously vacant. I sprinted awkwardly for the ticketing desk,  my overstuffed carry-on bags flopping about on either side, drawing the ire of a few more responsible travelers whom I clip on the way by.

"Did they already board for Missoula?"  I plead frantically, as if asking will somehow alter that now plainly obvious reality.

"Yes, they're backing up now. We'll have to put you on the next flight."

"And when is that?"

"7:00 tonight."

I left my house at 6:45 AM this morning - Eastern Standard. I've spent the last 3 hours in the massive pit of angst that is the Denver International Airport. I want to scream at the gate attendant, but I restrain. What's done is done. She hands me my new boarding pass and I read a scheduled departure of 7:07 PM. I turn toward the flight screen to find my gate, having already been burned once by the incessant shuffling caused by weather delays at a major airport. It is snowing steadily outside and nearly every incoming and outgoing flight here has been canceled or delayed by several hours, including the one I just missed.

Flight 5515Y, Denver to Missoula
Scheduled depart 7:07 PM  
Now departing 8:24 PM

Well, fuck me.

I find the nearest wall outlet and sulk in a comical pile of charger cords and touch screens, bitching to anyone who will listen, placing blame, looking and sounding an awful lot like the over-priveleged, guiltless middle American that I love to loathe. I catch myself, and after taking a second to reconstruct my worldview I slide down in my seat, close my eyes and begin refining my Double Spey.

It is not long before my stomach starts barking. It is voicing its disapproval of the hasty travelers diet it has been fed. Fish tacos topped with sour cream and sprinkled with Tobasco (a proven digestive disaster that I can't seem to stay away from). Fries with that? Yes please! A couple sugary sports drinks to combat the altitude-induced dehydration.  And one very hoppy pale ale. 

Maybe I should request an aisle seat...

The prevailing opinion amongst my 20-30 something peers is that Denver is about the most happenin' & awesomest place you could ever imagine. They flock here as if sagebrush grew leaves of gold. There are mountains and trout streams and killer skiing. There is bad ass Mexican food and weed "dispensaries"on every corner - far out! There is wind energy and human energy and an enthusiasm for life outdoors. & perhaps most attractive of all, there are sports teams that actually win now and then. 

Inside these walls though there is none of that. Trapped in a vast complex of shrink-wrapped conveniences and people movers shuffling along anxious strangers, I imagine this may well have been Lucas' inspiration for the Death Star. I've been to three different Starbucks in this  concourse alone. I imagine that there must literally be several miles of carpet covering the floor. Outside the endless bays of windows there are no mountains, no high desert; only a wall of white, temporarily fractured every few minutes by the arrival of another 747. In here, the fly rods under my seat won't do me much good. 

All of this does, however, provide me some time to read and write - two things that I don't do enough of. I finish the latest copy of The Drake in about 8 seconds and as usual I'm left longing for more. At the news stand I pickup a copy of Rolling Stone because it features an interview with one of my new-age heroes, Louis C.K. I am especially struck by his take on parenting:

"It's narcissistic to try to give our kids a utopian life - when they leave your house, they're going to be in a world of shit. The only thing you can give your kids that's going to be of any use is a mechanism for dealing with  all the awful shit that's coming. Then, it won't be that awful. As a matter of fact, it will be great."

I imagine that for me, that mechanism is fly fishing. I finish the interview, close my eyes again, and go back to working on my double spey.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Weekend Whiskerfunk

It seems like a distant memory already, but the warmer weather of early April had the carp flats lit up like the 4th of July...

I've been testing a variety of patterns from the epic March tying binge, and have had varying degrees of success with all of them. At the moment, with water temps fluctuating dramatically and still on the chilly side of the whisker pigs' comfort zone, the key has been fly placement. Fish aren't moving far to take flies, but an accurate cast has garnered an eat more often than not.

The highlight of the week was a close encounter of the third kind with a Turbo Dyson that mouthed a dry fly (a prototype "algae fly" that is showing promise) only to spit it before finding the business end. I also got to tango in tight quarters with some small stream bottom suckers. Wonder if the boys up at the mother ship can cook me up a 6-foot 7-weight?

In other news, orders have officially been placed for the new line of Dudewater gear! Hoover hounds everywhere will be clamoring to get their paws on the new lids. As soon as I get the samples I'll share them with you and I'll be talking pre-orders for both hats and koozies. Proceeds will go to a good cause... the perpetuation of this blog!

I'll be squeezing in a few days of hunting for chromers before jumping a plane for Montana, where I'll spend the majority of next week hanging out with industry pals and (hopefully) sticking a few trout. Stay tuned for the latest updates.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Weekly Waderfunk; "The Deep Water"

Many of our readers may wonder why, whilst in high season of one of the most prolific steelhead fisheries in the world, we spend so much time talking about carp and smallmouth and just about everything else that swims. Well, my day on the water yesterday should serve as explanation enough.

Indeed, the perils of another spring steelhead season have befallen us.

My day started yesterday at 5:30 AM. I showered, layered-up, pulled gear, packed lunch, and made coffee. All standard fare, and all the while the hound was on my heels. Unfortunately he wouldn't be joining me this day. I told him so as I walked out the door, and he stared back at me with broken-hearted puppy eyes.

I loaded up the tiny dancer with gear and lunches and was about to pull out when I realized I'd forgotten my cell phone. I opened the door to the house and was greeted by the unmistakable sound of liquid hitting carpet. I looked through the kitchen and into the dining room to see the contents of my wife's purse torn through, my dog pissing spitefully under the dining room table. He didn't even think about stopping as I screamed his name and threatened his ultimate demise.

After getting a handle on my domestic disaster, I had the pleasure of introducing two first-time fly fishers to the river. We were working out the, ahem, kinks, and things were going along swimmingly when suddenly a figure came charging out of the woods, ripping line off his reel and throwing surface-slapping overhead casts... With his 12 foot spey rod. He proceeded to nuzzle into our cozy little bunch of fly fishers, cutting my downstream angler's drift short by a good 10 feet.

I approached him and politely requested that he give us a little room. His response?

"C'mon Man, how much room you need? I know you been to PA, they fish a lot closer than this."

I offered a rebuttal, in response to which he puffed out his chest, made another horrendous attempt at a spey cast, and took a step closer. I decided to let it be (he had a considerable height/weight advantage) and we fished out the run in unfortunate proximity to each other. He made a dozen or so attempts at a fishable cast, and threw me a number of poop-faced looks before he finally gave up. I figured that was the end of it.

Then, he marched to our upstream side, ripped off some more line, and went back to flailing.

After 15 contentious minutes he finally turned tail, but only after he'd sufficiently chafed my program. On principle, I waited until he was out of sight, and then pulled chocks myself.

Later in the day, with a few fish under our belts (including a gorgeous near 30" buck taken on the swing) I was sitting on a log observing when two anglers appeared above us on the far bank. One of them pointed with his rod, first here, then there, whispering to his buddy. My neck hair began to stand on end.

"Well, you guys seein' any?" he inquired.

One of my anglers replied: "Yea it's been pretty good for us. Couple nice ones."

"Yea, but are you seeing any? Or are they all down here in the deep water?"

"No, we hooked 'em right in here," pointing to the juiciest part of a picture-perfect run.

A look of despair began to come over the Redd Reaper's face.

"Yea, that's what I thought. They're just not on the beds yet. I walked all the way to X and back and checked all the usual spots. They're all hiding in the deep water. What'd ya get 'em on? Sucker spawn?"

"Streamers, actually."

"Yea," he droned, his hopelessness betraying him. "I can dead drift a little bit, but I just don't have time to fish like that, ya' know?"

He whispered again to his buddy before the two of them retreated from the river, sullen and downtrodden over the lack of vulnerable targets.

A few minutes after they'd disappeared into the woods, I heard splashing in the riffle above us and looked over to see a pair of a spawning steelhead, clearly oblivious to the flogging they'd just narrowly avoided.

I shook my head in despair and started counting off the days until June.