Nice Video on Why Fly Fishers Do What They Do

If I had to explain to a non-fisherman why I love fishing so much, I’d just show them this short film by Peter Vong.

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Self-portrait in Stream

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This was a really fun experiment. It’s (8″ x 24″) acrylic on plywood like many of my paintings, but it takes a different approach than most of my work. I sketched a scene entirely from my imagination without the aid of a photograph or any other visualization (that’s a first), I painted quickly (another first), used bold colors, and didn’t fuss over things (and another first). I’m pretty happy with how it turned out. Maybe I’ll do some more like this.

It all started with a sketch done with a Sharpie on a piece of gesso’d scrap plywood…

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Quickly dash in some sky and purple mountains…

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Keeping the colors bold, add some foothills and a stream bank …

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Add some water…

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And a few trees…

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Finally, put myself fishing in the stream to complete the self-portrait…

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Bird of Prey

It’s been a while since I’ve pushed some paint, and this one was inspired by an Instagram photo taken by a friend of mine, Todd Straka, while he was on a trail run.

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Bird of Prey, acrylic on canvas, 8″ x 8″, 2012

And here is the original Instagram photograph (http://instagram.com/p/Rl3XIuupvi/). Thanks Todd.

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Hudson’s Shag Nasty

Over the last two weekends, I introduced a bunch of local pike to the Shag Nasty. It’s a rather small streamer designed for pike, bass, and fall brown trout. The pike I introduced last Sunday were definitely not hatin’…well they hated it after they got a little taste.  The “shag carpet-like” yarn used to create the body has a really nice flow in the water, and the stinger hook rarely fouls.

I’m kinda lazy when it comes to fly tying. So the Shag Nasty, like most of my flies, is really, really easy to tie. Enjoy!

Material for Hudson’s Shag Nasty:

Hook: Gamakatsu Octopus 02408 #4
Hook Shank: Fish Skull Articulated Shank 35-55mm
Head: Medium Fish Skull (pictured below) or Large Black Nickel Coneheads (much cheaper and same results)
Eyes: 3/16″ Oval Pupil 3D Red/Black
Tail: Dark Olive Marabou
Body: Fun Fur yarn
Thread: red and black

Directions:

Step 1: If you are using the Conehead instead of the Fish Skull, you’ll want to add that to the shank first. You will need to bend the tail of the shank just enough so you can get the cone on the shank. Then bend the shank tail back into position. In these destructions, I’m using the Fish Head instead. Next, add the stinger hook.

Step 2: Start the thread toward the back of the shank. A few tight wraps will ensure the hook stays in place. While you’re there, tie in a small bit of marabou. This gives the nice place to hide, and it gives the tail a bit of extra action.

Step 3: Next, tie in some of the Fun Fur and wrap forward making sure all the loose strands get pulled back. Many wraps will (obviously) produce a bushier fly, and fewer wraps will craft a thinner fly. Your call, Boss.

Step 4: Tie off right behind hook eye, and a few drops of Zap-O will allow you to place and solidify the Fish Skull. If you opted for the conehead instead of the Fish Skull, you’ll tie off tightly behind the cone.

Step 5: Finish off the fly with a few wraps of red thread in front of the Fish Skull or conehead. Top the thread with a drop of Zap-O. Finally, glue on some 3D eyes for that finished look.

Step 6: Because that was so easy, go tie a half dozen more in silver, red, and purple. It’s an almost indestructible fly, so you don’t need too many. After a dozen pike thrashings, it still looks brand new.

Colorado Greenback Cutthroat Trout

 

See the painting.

Easiest Egg Pattern Ever

It’s that time of the year. The ice shelves are breaking up and the ever-present cold wind gives way to the trickle of running water. Other than the occasional crocus peeking through the snow and the moans of allergy sufferers, increased fish activity give us an indication that winter will soon be over. It’s also spring spawn time, and egg patterns can be effective producers. Are you looking to tie the easiest egg pattern this side of the Mississippi (or maybe even both sides)? This pattern probably ranks in the top 10 as the easiest fly pattern to master. All you need are plastic beads, a few hooks, Loon UV Knot Sense, and a beer.

Step 1: Open a beer and round up some hooks. Umpqua U501 hooks in #6 or #8 work great. You can alternatively use just about any scud or nymph hook with a decent gap. A pair of pliers are always useful for tweaking the proper gap when necessary.

Step 2: Raid your kid’s art supplies to scrounge up a few plastic beads that might pass off as a fish egg. No kids? Go down to the closest hobby store and plunder their craft bins. In a flash you could mimic a salmon egg, rainbow or cutthroat egg sac, or even mountain whitefish roe.

Step 3: Here’s the most difficult part, place a nice glob of UV Knot Sense on the hook, slide it over the hook, and then shine the Loon UV light on the bead for a few seconds. Finally, drink your beer.

Yep, that’s pretty much it. What the hell did you think it was gonna be? You could be completely shit-faced drunk and still pull off a dozen of these killer flies in a half an hour. So, get ‘er done.

Live Every Day As If It Were Your Last

Live every day as if it were your last and then some day you’ll be right.  ~H.H. “Breaker” Morant

Steal Like An Artist

Steal Like An Artist is a manifesto for creativity in the digital age.

I love the manifesto. I have not read the book, but it’s definitely on my short list.

My Latest Obsession

I love to make shit. For me, there’s nothing more satisfying than making something with your own two hands. When I step back to take a look at whatever I’ve created, I revel in the fact that it didn’t come from some damn factory where the maker didn’t give a crap about who would actually consume it. It wasn’t bought. It wasn’t made in a foreign country. It probably didn’t cost that much to make. It wasn’t mass-produced, and, for all I care, it may be impossible to reproduce. It doesn’t need a warranty. I know exactly what’s in it. And, it is actually something I’ll use.

What is it?

Hell, it could be anything – carpentry, metal work, a website, a new painting, a tasty meal, or climbing gear (yeah, I used to make my own climbing gear).

Right now, it’s beer.

A Belgian-style Blonde Ale

I made my first homebrew almost twenty years ago. It was bad. I was a college student, and, like school, I didn’t take brewing too seriously. In my defense, a homebrewer did not have the resources available today to make great tasting beer. Still, I wasn’t motivated to do much of anything aside from chasing girls, rock climbing, cycling, or fishing.

Oh my, how times have changed. Nowadays, there seems to be an almost inexhaustible supply of quality resources available to the homebrewer – books, equipment, and ingredients. I’m pretty much obsessed. On Monday, I’ll start my third batch in less than two months.

By the way, if you have any empty beer bottles, send ’em my way. I’ll be bottling something next week.

Oak Aged Arrogant Bastard (clone). Here you have mildly oaked, heavy oaked, and fermenting oak tree.

The 12 Month Ski Season

The other day a guy sitting next to me on the lift at Eldora said to his buddy, “it would be really cool if we could ski twelve months of the year here in Colorado.” I butted in and said yes it could be done, but it sounded better than reality. Ideas always sound better on the chairlift, around a few beers, or on the chairlift after a few beers.

A few years ago a buddy of mine, Cheyenne Wills, and I decided to challenge each other to see how long we could drag out the ski season. The goal was to make at least one run every month of the calendar year. Our streak ended at 20 months of consecutive skiing. In case you’re interested and want to try it yourself, here’s how it went down.

January – April

OK, that was easy. We pretty much skied every weekend, and most of it was at lift accessible areas. Our usual haunts were Arapahoe Basin, Breckenridge, and Vail. In fact, it was not hard to find good snow, and we made plenty of turns. Lucky for us, it just happened to be decent winter.

May

While most of the resorts were closed and most folks were thinking of spring, Arapahoe Basin was still open in May. Actually,  it stayed open that year through June. Instead, chose to hike a few peaks since the spring skiing conditions in the backcountry were great. The usual suspects were Rocky Mountain National Park, Indian Peaks, Montezuma, Loveland Pass, and Berthod Pass. The best trip we had that month was near Montezuma in the Deer Creek drainage.

Deer Creek Basin above Montezuma

June

The backcountry skiing was great in June, as well. The corn snow was perfect in the mid-morning hours, and we had no problem finding spots to make a few turns. However, due to procrastination, we got out only once that month and it was in Rocky Mountain National Park right off Trail Ridge Road…yeah, I know, we were lazy bastards.

Finding a few nice patches of snow off Trail Ridge Road in June. If you look behind me you'll see a few elk we spooked on the descent.

July

July was unusually hot. The rivers were swollen, and Cheyenne was spending most of his time whitewater kayaking, and I was doing a lot of running. You know the saying, “there are no friends on a powder day?” The same applies for skiing in the summer. So, you should have a determined partner that will get your ass up in the mountains when you’d rather be drinking and enjoying the summer weather down at lower elevations. However, we did have a great morning on July 2 hiking to the top of James Peak and skiing the east face. This is where the novelty wore off.

Cheyenne hiking up Saint Mary's Glacier en route to James Peak.

August

Oops. We almost forgot about August, but while on a trail run in the Indian Peaks, I spied a nice decent pitch of snow on Mt Epworth above Rollins Pass. Actually, it was the only patch of snow I could find anywhere in the Indian Peaks that didn’t involve a death march and climbing gear. The summer heat was raging down in Boulder, and it was a nice relief to spend the morning on the snow. It was so nice, I think we took several runs that day.

It was a shorts day on Mt. Epworth

September

September almost got away from us too. We actually waiting around til the end of the month foolishly believing the weatherman’s predictions of an early season dump that never materialized. So, we searched high and higher for a patch of snow to get our September run, but none could be found…except a miserable patch of “snow” on Saint Mary’s Glacier. It felt downright silly at the moment and looks even worse in the pictures. Yuk. Thank goodness that October and new snow was just around the corner.

 

I guess this counts as snow.

October

Well, October came and almost went without much snow. Facing the last week of October, we had two options a) ski Saint Mary’s Glacier again or b) the icy ribbon of death of early-season skiing at Arapahoe Basin. We chose the latter. Arapahoe Basin opened the last weekend, and we braved the crowds for our last month of craptastic turns.

November – December

Back on fresh snow, we finished up our twelve month ski season making turns at the usual suspects. In total, we ended up with a 20 month ski season which is not too shabby. In retrospect, it was a fun challenge, but I’m not sure I would do it again. I checked one off the Bucket List, but there are just too many other things to do in Colorado during the beautiful summer months.

Corsair on Peak 10 at Breckenridge

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