Sunday, February 22, 2015

Snow Shoeing

We finally got a little break in the weather.  Decided to head out with snow shoes, gaiters and a fleece plus camera in tow.  Didn't have a plan but as soon as I got near a spot I knew exactly where I was going.  It was in the low 30's which felt warm given our recent period spent in the single or negative digits.  

 A nice barn that I came upon on my travels.

The trail was clear and I was excited to be the first one on it since our last big snow.  With the warm up in the weather the snow really changed consistency, from light and powdery to clumpy.  Breaking trail was work, but well work it.

 Things are looking up.

The snow was out of the NW.

 This is what I came for.

 Kids tagging anything.

On the way out with the end in sight.  It felt great to feel with sun and warmth it radiates and to feel the snow, wind and my muscles get a little workout. 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Winter Outings

On my outings a few things have caught my eye for pics.  Here are a few of the latest.

Monday, February 16, 2015


Given the conditions, white seemed like a good subject to take pictures of both inside and outside. 

Monday, February 9, 2015

Florida Revisit

On a snowy day its  good time to review some more pictures from Florida.  Warm weather, sun and shorts seem like a long time ago. 


Saturday, January 17, 2015

Homosassa Springs

While visiting my folks in sunny Florida we made a trip to Homosassa Springs State Park.  Homosassa Springs is an old tourist trap turned into a Manatee and wildlife rehabilitation center.  There is a large spring that attracts a large number of salt water fish seeking the warmer water temps of the spring.  I got to take some nice photo's of some birds that it's just not so easy to get close to in the wild.
                                                             Our national bird

                                                          Barred Owl up close

                                                            Black Capped Night Heron

Friday, November 28, 2014

My Spey Awakening-Intermittent reinforcement.

My Spey awakening took place slowly over time.  At first I thought it was a ridiculous, unnecessary method of fishing.  Too traditional for my liking.  Launching a fly and swinging it on a tight line high in the water column did not sound like a sound method to catch a steelhead especially in the fast, deep often cold waters that I plied my nymphing technique.  It seemed like a waste of time as my conditioning to bottom bouncing and nymphing was deeply ingrained.  Just about everyone who started fishing the Great Lake tributaries in the 80's or 90's learned to bounce the bottom with split shot and running line.  At first I employed this method but then when I started nymphing with an indicator, I worked the river meticulously, focusing on the deep seams on the inside bends and catching my fair share of fish.

As time went on I got tired of loosing all kinds of flies, leaders and split shot as one typically donates a lot to the river bottom fishing in this method.  I remember at the time thinking that someone could mine the river bottom for lead given how much gear was lost on the ledges and rocks. 

My first move towards swinging took place when I got a switch rod.  The one benefit I could not deny was that a two handed rod allowed one to reach water that one could not easily do with a single hand rod given the limited backcast room.  I happily used my switch rod to nymph waters that would have been out of range previously plus the longer rod aided the mending of the line, a bonus.

Little by little myself and my friends started swinging flies.  I don't actually recall how it happened but it did.  Whenever one of us caught a fish on the swing it was worthy of  a little celebration as it was an outlier for us, an achievement.  Looking back I think it was more of an accident than anything else, but it happened just enough to keep us interested.  Many days we would nymph in the morning and then swing flies in the afternoon.  If I recall correctly we ended up catching almost as many fish swinging and enjoying the hell of out of it.  Part of what happened for me was that once you get good at nymphing and know some good seams the challenge and learning curve in that type of fishing diminishes. 

                                                                                                    Photo by Dave Severson

Swinging flies provided a whole new learning experience and one that pulled me in deep.  During this transformation I had to relearn my approach to the water.  I found that good swinging water wasn't always good nymphing water.  Conversely good nymphing water typically didn't make good swinging water.  This concept alone took me a while to truly understand. As I finally made the leap to swinging flies full time in my pursuits of steelhead I became to really appreciate the challenge of enticing a fish to take my fly.  The process was active on my part.  I needed to be able to read the water well, to picture what the surface currents divined about the river bottom.  Then I had to pick the correct tip, properly position myself above the designated spot, make the correct cast and mend, if needed, to get the fly to move properly through that water at the right speed and depth.  It required a much more active involvement on my part.  Each section of water required one to properly read the water and formulate a plan of attack.  The challenge was full of nuance and one that changed with every visit.  After a few years the most important part of the process came down to the feel of the swing.  When every thing was right, my fly had just the right speed as it moved through the water and when this happened regularly so did the number of hookups that I got.  The process made me feel more fully engaged in the process of fishing and in full hunt mode on the river as my flies plied each bucket and run.  I had undergone a full transformation and was no longer interested in nymphing for steelhead.  If I couldn't get them on the swing I didn't want to get them any other way. 


In psychology there is the concept of intermittent reinforcement. When I heard about it, it made me think of spey fishing.  Intermittent reinforcement is when rewards (in this case steelhead) are handed out or enforced inconsistently and occasionally (when you get a hit often after hours of fishing). This usually encourages the person to keep pushing (fishing) until they get what they want (another take) without changing their own behavior (still swinging flies).  I believe this is the reason for the moniker "the tug is the drug" that is well known in spey fishing circles. 

As I have been only spey fishing for steelhead for at least 7 years now I find myself enjoying my fishing time more than ever, the challenge remains ever present as with each season the river changes subtly in ways that I was never aware of as a nympher.  Each season I relearn the river anew. Each trip presents different water flows and water temps that force me to be conscious of my position in the river, my casts, mends, which tip I have on, what type of fly I am using and the all important feel of the swing.


I have to say that I am constantly amazed that this method works as well as it does.  I love the challenge.   The river rarely gives anyone anything.  One has to go out there and earn it.  With spey fishing the never ending layers of learning that this method provides will allow me many years of enjoyment that I eagerly look forward to.

Friday, November 21, 2014

The First Snow, A Side Trip

I'm interrupting the tribe series to post about a recent weekend of swinging flies. A group of friends made our annual excursion northward to the shores of the Great Lakes to chase steelhead.  The company was excellent and it turned out to be a much needed break from my recent busy stressful work life.  We fished hard each day, ate well, got plenty of outside time and slept early each night. Fish were caught, time slowed down and life became simpler at least for one weekend. My batteries were recharged and I get to relive my time via the pictures that I took.  They don't sum up the entire weekend or even accurately represent what took place, but they are another form of fishing; fishing for images.  Every time I'm on the water I fishing for fish and images, for me it makes it a rich time.