Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Rust and Bliss

There remained only an hour of daylight once we were afloat. Biceps and abdominal muscles both felt the remembered stresses of the paddling that seemed oh, so long ago. I dug deep and stroked hard, going for speed and that feeling of quiet flight. To what portent will the new season bring? Panfish and bass, trout and pike? Perhaps some things exotic. I worked up some sweat before taking a pause. Then let out a roar into the sky.

Arriving after a brief cool down at the cattail fringed shallow bay, the fly casting began anew.  Too anxious and freshly wired from the exuberance of the paddling, the first cast was a piled mess - due mostly I suppose to line and leader memory. And rust. The second cast produced an immediate hookup, a fairly large swirl, and then a quick unpinning. Three more cast to the same spot produced three missed takes. Then nothing. Spooked.

So, out of the bay and down the shore a bit we go, my little craft and I, flushing a pair of mallards lurking in the bullrushes. Past a beaver lodge and green water lilly leaves already emerging from the mud, striving up toward the sun. Past the red-winged blackbirds and their raspy trills, staking their claims for breeding rights. And the early frog cackles of the riparian edge. The urgency of springtime.

I cast the shoreline pockets here and there working out the old rhythm. It's never far away. Turning back toward the little bay, I paused at its mouth as a few ripples indicated more fish. Missing another three takes before finally getting a solid hook up, I marveled at the quickness of the grab and rejection that is the hallmark of these early cold water fish. Far too soon it was too dim to fish.

So I paddled around into the dark.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Black Ice

This is the end of it
This is the stuff that you yearn after for months
composed now of millions of shattered shafts
fused together like a massive honeycomb
but unglued daily by the increasing infrared waves
squeaky and bowing under foolish weight
This is the stuff that will kill you
there is but a day or two left 
this is the beginning of the next thing

  Bring it............

Monday, March 13, 2017

Two Aspects of De-Construction

As per the humanoids and their bots

As per the gods


 Feelin' a bit more love for the latter............

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Rich beyond belief

Went onto the ice today, as I have not been out there since King Day, which was a winner and resulted in three fat jars of pickled tullibees and good times with the old crew from the north shore. Cold but manageable, I nearly got lost trying to find my way off the lake at the end of the day - rewards and adventures indeed. But today's excursion was of the "I can't believe I am so freakin' lucky shit" kind of thing. The dogs and the Piscator walk but a quarter mile from the house, drill two holes, drop down a little spoon, festooned with wax worms, predicated by a droppered, x legged fly - and whack, whack, whack bluegills at will and a couple of fat crappies to boot! Most of the sunfish came on the dropper. The intention was to make some meat, but there was already red meat thawing in the kitchen at home, so it was just a pure bliss kind of a thing. Windsor and water as a boost wasn't lost on it either. And trumpeter swans were flyin' around on the hoot.

Like an electrical switch thrown, the fish turned off just as the western sky went all red under grey. Daylight became darkness as each fish went back down its respective hole. So to home then.

Venison backstrap steaks and wild rice tabuli in the place of fresh fish.
And a full glass of Steelhead Red to besot the Piscator further.
Lucky, lucky shit!!

So starting with a lump of butter in the pan - that can't be bad..........

    Add in the seasoned backstrap steaks. 
Cook about four minutes on medium low heat. Flip and cook about two minutes more. Too long and it's tough like your boot - so don't get distracted.
Plate with wild rice tabuli
Wash down with full goblet of Steelhead Red

Exclaim aloud, "Great Googly Moogly!"

Oh, of course, the tabuli..............

2 or 3 cups of authentic cooked wild rice (not the black paddie shit) seek out an Indian friend or knock it yourself
2 medium tomatoes diced
1 stalk celery diced
I red bell pepper diced
2 green onions chopped
2 bunches fresh Italian parsley chopped
1 small bunch  fresh mint chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
juice of 1 lemon fresh squeezed
salt and pepper to taste
mix well

The deal here is fresh, fresh, fresh!!!

Oh and bye the bye.............
48 degrees Fahrenheit today

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Owls and such


The barred owl that provided the UFO freakout in the dark of the opening morning of deer season last November, is still in the woods on the home place. At least I like to think its the same bird. We see it a couple times a week, mostly on the five acres across the road. Night and day it silently flushes from various low branches before the dogs during our rounds. They are so used to its presence now that they hardly give it notice. Lately though, it has taken up residence close to the house. Close to where we feed sunflower seeds to the birds. The mice and voles profit from that feeding as well.

Two days ago, as I arrived home from the daily grinder, I went around the side of the garage for some relief, and while the day's problems and issues were draining, the owl went "Thump" into the snow from an unseen perch about thirty feet from my position. Yikes. That was unexpected. The owl seemed pretty unconcerned about the lack of space between us, as it looked first to me and then to its catch and back again, finally killing a little black shrew. A couple of flaps brought it about ten feet up into a low aspen branch. The black shrew dangled for several minutes from the beak of the owl before going down the gullet in one gulp. A fair amount of work for such a tiny reward. 

Chel Anderson talked the other day, about some of the owl issues this winter as they relate to the quality of the snow. The conditions are tough now, as a thick crust prevents the owls from getting at most of the mice and voles down below. You can hear it here  on WTIP Grand Marais.  This morning the owl was on the south side of the house, posing.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Critter attractant


Sometime in late November, after removing all the meaty bits from the buck's carcass, I hoisted some of the remainder in a tree behind the barn. High enough and away from my always hungry dogs, it helps to sustain some of our our woodsy neighbors through the harsher parts of the winter. The list of pickers who have pretty much finished the task is notable:

White breasted nuthatch
Red breasted nuthatch
Downy woodpecker
Hairy woodpecker
Red bellied woodpecker
Pileated woodpecker
Flying squirrel
Grey squirrel
White footed deer mouse
house cat

At the base of the tree there are tracks in the snow of both fox and weasel , but I have not had the pleasure of an eye witness encounter.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Pretty damn savory

The trim from the butchered, closing day buck
went into the grinder in a seven to one ratio
with the smaller part being smoked bacon

Blondie was jonesin for meatballs
so I launched..........

1.5 lbs venison/bacon grind
1.5 lbs 93% beef grind
1/2 smallish yellow onion super finely minced
1 small shallot super finely minced
1 teaspoon dried sweet basil
2 tablespoons dried parsley
3 tablespoons worchestershire sauce
1 teaspoon Morton sausage and meatloaf seasoning
2 eggs
1/2 cup unseasoned bread crumbs
salt & black pepper

A coarse paste resulted from a vigorous hand mixing
chilled four hours to marinate the mess
then rolled into two inch spheres
browned in a light swirl of olive oil to get the skillet going
turned three or four times to create a crust
then finished in gravy made of the pan drippings


Later in the afternoon we made some artwork:

                                                                                      "Still pike with retriever"

Thursday, January 5, 2017

a glance behind

Pursuit of the fishes was less than rabid this past year
Indeed, excursions familiar and casual were the outings
Distant storied adventures were but the shared experiences of others
Perhaps to be joined in the year ahead
with pike, perch, bass and even troutlings

Time on the ice was fruitful and simple. No fancy gear or fish house. Just a few holes and some eager panfish. The season was short, as the winter was mild with a very early ice out.

Late March found me in the Lake Superior drainage, both North and South shores. The early steelhead run was worth the 34 degree air temp and wind howling off the big lake up the canyon.

Then on to splendid April and May, that just kept the crappies and bluegills coming.  For me, this is truly one of life's great pleasures. Wet flies and nymphs (no bobber please) produce freight train takes one day and the most subtle line twitch the next. A few of these come home for the pan as they are just prime after a long winter of gorging on chironomids

June was all about walleyes and perch - making meat. More work than usual was required this year to stock the larder and feel entirely satisfied.

Kev with a keeper

One July evening when the bugs were fierce, I was able to paddle up to a school of crappies feeding on top. I plucked five slabs in a row before the school spooked for good. They were just on fire. Never satisfied, I'm still looking for that magic seventeen. Prime number.

I only made one outing looking for the hex hatch. Must be getting old - twenty years ago, I would be out there seven or eight nights in a row. One fish only - on a sunken streamer before dark - no hex hatch occurred that night

Bass, bass, and more bass. Bycatch

A few good fish.

Captain LaPup with a Kalawah chromer
Spank with a Brule bruiser

My last open water fish of the year. Six November

And LU with what has to be one of the latest kings ever from the Knife. A pud in December is some kinda  Christmas present

There were a lot of great musical hooks this year, as well as the fish.  Of the thousands that passed through in 2016, this one stuck me.  Jayhawks,  from their 2016 release Paging Mr. Proust

And then there was this; another of those tunes that just wouldn't leave me alone. Darlingside, from their 2015 release Birds Say

And one more. Kevin Morby with a song from his 2016 release Singing Saw. Incredibly, Meg Duffy, who just shreds the guitar in this performance does not appear on the studio album.

So, goodnight 2016. Looking forward to again employing the angle.