December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from the roughfisher! Hope Santa brings you what you'd been wanting! Unless, of course, you're like the majority of us who fish the brown line and are probably on Santa's naughty list, haha!
I guess we'll all find out in a few days... Happy Holidays!

December 7, 2011


I think it's finally time to hang up the long rods for the season, get out the shorties, and fire up the ice auger. Winter's arrival has the lakes pinging from the formation of new ice, sounds reminiscent of the Hunt For Red October. Fishing villages are starting to sprout up as each ice house fights to get set up on their honey hole. It's about that time to hit the ice and do a little harvesting.

setting sun
While the 2011 fly fishing season included some memorable moments and fantastic adventures, most notably my excursion to Beaver Island, it was also matched with much regret. This past season has probably marked my fewest number of days on the water, which is not something that I am proud to report. High flows early on in the season, as well as domestic issues, kept me off the river for much of the year. While I will never be one to shirk my responsibilities as parent and denigrate the role, my priorities have recognizably focused on duties and activities other than fishing. I am hoping for resolve over the winter, in hopes that the situation will improve. I will will also make a better effort to get my kids involved in fly fishing this next year. At ages 3 and 7, hopefully, under my guidance and with a little help from dad, my kids will be able to land their first fish on a fly next season. In addition, they might be lacking the dexterity and maturity to master the skills needed behind the vise, but I will also strive to expose my kids more to the world of fly tying this winter, in efforts that they begin to embrace fly fishing culture. I've already got two great little helpers who are more than enthusiastic about fish and dad's interest in fly fishing. It's been long overdue to have them take the next step forward.

The sun sets on yet another season. I can't wait to get my boots wet in 2012.

December 1, 2011

GreenFish Announces Hands-free Camera Mount for Sustainable Fishing

New from GreenFish, a hands-free camera mount for sustainable fishing. Greenfish announces the introduction of a new camera mounting system designed for boats and kayaks, the CPR mount, designed for Catch-Photo-Release.

CPR Mount
Available online only, the CPR Mount's patent pending Expansion Locking system secures the unit into most tube-style rod holders and rocket launchers. It also works with a Scotty Flush Mount. The CPR mount retails at $79.99, with $4 going towards fisheries conservation through our GreenFish Gives program.

GreenFish - By Anglers | For Fish
Promoting a lifestyle of sustainable fishing

About GreenFish
GreenFish is focused on building awareness of sustainable fishing practices through its
product lines, which include apparel and camera mounts. GreenFish donates five percent
of its revenues through its GreenFish Gives program to non-profits that promote the health
of world fisheries.

November 23, 2011

giving thanks

Roughfisher Oval

2011 has been a year of turmoil, not just in the scheme of world politics but there has been a lot going on behind the tungsten curtain over at the roughfisher command post. It's been a state of upheaval and change, including a brief stint of unemployment, however it also brings about the opportunity for reflection, self discovery, and growth. So here's what I'm thankful for this year:

The Family - My support staff has always been number one. Thank you for holding the rudder straight and firm, even when I was listing off course.
The Kids - You guys are my life blood. Thanks mateys!
The Lady - You keep the wind at my sails. I love you!
My Fishy Friends - Thanks for keeping me in the scene even when I haven't been able to be on the water.
Hurricane High Gravity - If it wasn't for your $1.39 price tag, high ABV, and delicious taste hitting my lips, I don't know how I would have made it through those fierce gales and turbulent high seas.

Happy Thanksgiving!

November 16, 2011

Funnin' around

I was filling customer orders recently and had a chance to tie up some thunderbirds, a pattern I hadn't tied much since this spring. Man I love this pattern, between the moose tail and the soft hackled ruffed grouse thorax, the profile of this fly is so sexy.

Did some messing around blending up an insect green dubbing blend from a couple of other dubbing blends I had already made. I think I like the composition of this blend better than some of my previous batches in this color. What do you think? I had to tie up a few Carp Crack in this color of course...

carp crack
Carp Crack, always lethal!

November 14, 2011

Sausage Haus

So the roughfisher has been slacking a bit in both the fishing and blogging department. I apologize folks. But I have been busy in the background grinding up some fresh meats in the seedy underground laboratory at the Roughfisher Command Post. In addition to making some 8 quarts of napa cabbage, daikon radish, and cucumber kimchis, I've managed to stuff about forty-five pounds of beef, pork and venison, transforming plain old protein into the delectable charcuterie known as sausage.

pre grind
fresh sausage
I ended up with six varieties of sausage, a Wisconsin-style bratwurst, Italian sausage, a smoked Italian, smoked jalapeƱo cheddar, smoked bulgogi inspired snack sticks, and a fresh salsa verde pork sausage.

fresh off the grill
salsa verde sausage
There was lots of fun behind the grill. My favorite experiment was the chile verde pork sausage. Crafted on a whim, I ground pork shoulder, onion, garlic, jalapeƱos, cilantro, and tomatillos, stuffed it into a hog casing, and cooked it on the grill. I served it on a brat-style hard roll and garnished it with fresh onion, cilantro and salsa verde. Most definitely a winner!

Thankfully I saved a few sausages for the freezer to nourish me through the winter...

October 18, 2011

Soft Hackle Heaven

Whether you call it a partridge, thunderbird, thunder chicken, or a ruffed grouse, Bonasa umbellus is among the tastiest of all upland birds and game. It is also prized for its hackle in my fly tying stash. Fortunately, living in Minnesota provides me with the nation's premier grouse habitat and population, with over half a million birds harvested annually, making it Minnesota's top game bird. Life is good in the Great White North.

Ruffed Grouse
The rump feathers, while used to determine the sex of a ruffed grouse, are also a vital component of the venerable Carp Crack pattern. The ruff feathers, located on the sides of the necks of both genders, are used to form the collar on the Mustache Ride and Landing Strip patterns, as they are long and wispy, providing lots of movement in the water. They are the ultimate soft hackle for those larger streamer fly patterns.

ruff feathers
rump feathers
Regardless of how you obtain a ruffed grouse skin, whether it be a a retail acquisition, roadkill salvage, harvested bird, or a donation from a fellow hunter, consider yourself blessed. The ruffed grouse is the pinnacle prize of keen fly tyers.

October 7, 2011

Fall Scenes

The fall colors are past peak now as the gusty gales of fall are blowing the leaves from the canopy onto the forest floor. The winds of change are here and with it the carping season will soon be drawn to a close. They'll likely be a few more opportunities yet this fall for other roughfish. But until next spring, it will just be denial until I can hold the shimmering golden scales of a cyprinid in my hands again.

golden bone
So long.

September 13, 2011

smart business decisions

What do you do with all of the countless fly leftovers and daddy's got to eat? You trade flies for beef. Prime 100% grass fed locally raised beef. I'm glad someone's got a use for all the test flies and holdover patterns from the past several years, but frankly it was an insult to them to be sitting in my fly boxes not even getting a chance to see light of day or breathe some fresh air. Now, there's two winners involved here. My buddy gets to stack his fly boxes with some roughfisher originals and I get some tasty beef from Thousand Hills Cattle Company. Winner.

thousand hills beef
I think I've just found a new niche market, bartering flies for food and drink. Now if anyone's got some homebrewed IPA, barleywine ale, or imperial stouts they're willing to trade for, I'm listening.
Use the contact link to get in touch.

September 11, 2011

The Mustache Ride Strikes Again

Another poor victim who went on a Mustache Ride.

mustache ride
Believe it or not, I've made it out fishing twice this past week. Almost unbelievable considering the summer I've had back at the Roughfisher Command Post. And as much as I'd like to contribute fishing stories and adventures with you all, I've had a couple of cameras snafus this past week, one involving accidentally deleted photos which were immediately overwritten by Android OS, the other involving mystery photos that never showed up on my SD card. Maybe it was operator error, who knows, but the bottom line is I won't put up a fishing story without photos simply because then it becomes just that, a story. You know what they say, pics or it didn't happen. Words to live by....

sneak attack
So I met up with a Facebook friend of mine the past two weekends. Last weekend was on his home turf near southeastern Minnesota. This weekend was on my home turf up on the Otter Tail in northwestern Minnesota. Kind of like a home and home series. Flows in both regions have been somewhat stable, something that has been in short supply this season. Even the Otter Tail was low, having finally dropped to 543 cfs, the lowest it's been in two years. Of course normal flows for this time of year is 206 cfs, but I'll take what I can get. We'll see how long this lasts.

the release
It was ungodly hot this weekend with highs around 90 both days. Fine for you southern folk, but not for us northerners, and especially not in mid September. Hell that's above average for us even in the peak of summer in July. Regardless, the bass were soaking it up. I watched countless numbers of smallies expolode towards my fly as I skittered it across the rocky shoreline. There was tail dancing involved. I know it's just a bass, but it provided for some quick entertainment between searching for pods of carp.

heron style
With the lower flows and water levels in the reservoirs above Orwell, I was expecting to find a bunch of congregated carp feeding. No dice. This has been the summer of where's the fish? I can see fish being dispersed off the flats during high water and on to the floodplain, but now that the water's dropped, those flats are barren and the floodplains dry. Where have they gone? I have no idea, but I'm curious to see if these fish will work their way upstream this fall IF the flows stay somewhat reasonable for awhile. At least that's what I can hope...

Finally got my first Minnesota carp to take a Mustache Ride. I had pondered whether or not this fly would be too big for the Minnesota variety carp, but I was pleasantly surprised when this fish hit it. I watched a pod of two fish turn out off a flat and enter the main channel. I was at a high vantage point and dropped the fly right into their feeding lane. I had wondered if my fly was going to be coming in hot and way too high for those fish until I watched one of them roll up off the bottom and rise to the fly. It quickly inhaled it and turned downstream. Any shred of doubt about whether or not this fly would be effective on Minnesota carp was immediately thrown out the window. Now that's what I'm talking about! Not the biggest carp by any means, not even average sized really, but this little guy helped turn the worm and proved to me that the Mustache Ride can hang wherever it's fished. Good to know.

bass thumb
I know the bass love a Mustache Ride. Thanks for the bass thumb little fella...

August 30, 2011


Otter Tail River at Orwell There may be hope for 2011 yet. Despite the rain falling from the sky as I type this, a two week dry spell in the region (somewhat of a rare occurrence as of late) has allowed many of the tributaries of the Otter Tail and Red Rivers to finally begin to fall. While nowhere near as low as normal for this time of year, flows are starting to finally approach wadeable and fishable levels, nearly four months after the start of spring runoff. Insane. With rivers finally back within their banks, hopefully these lower flows will start to congregate fish and bring them off of the floodplains and onto their normal flats and other haunts. Lower flows will weaken the strong currents allowing a fly to drift more freely to fish holding in deep pools anr runs without the added burden of excess tungsten and lead. This should give the advantage back to the fly angler. Who knows how long this will last. Time to get back on the saddle.

August 28, 2011

Summer Fields

wildflowers It's late summer and things are beginning to wind down. The arrival of monarchs on their annual migration to Mexico and points south, blooming wildflowers, low temperatures hinting at dipping into the forties, and the rogue tree or two teasing with hints of gold and crimson on their periphery all mark the inevitable change in season. This is also the beginning of prime time for collecting tallgrass prairie and wildflower seeds. Yes, summer is near over and fall is almost here. Finally. wildflower monarch Fall brings many of my fondest memories in the Great White North, often culminating with the first frost of the season. Water temperatures and fall turnover often result in some tremendous fishing. Some of my most memorable fish have come in late fall. In addition, flushing grouse from aspen groves, apple picking and hay rides with the family, and the explosion of pheasants from the remaining crop residue from the fall harvest are all some of my favorite pastimes, not to mention good eats. There's nothing like the smell of roast pheasant, apple pie, smoked duck, wild rice, or the flavors of fresh bratwurst and sauerkraut emanating from the kitchen. wildflower monarch wildflower Sending the kids off to school in the little yellow bus is just a few days away, which begs the question, has anyone every come up with a monarch butterfly fly pattern? I bet the bass would hit that! And then my next question, how much vacation leave do I have saved up?

August 22, 2011

Reader Mail

Dear Roughfisher,

We haven't met, but I received your card with fulfillment of an initial order for your Carp Crack ties - which are nice by the way. Thanks for getting them out to me. They work on NC carps.
bent seeya forRB caudalscales slimeddeck
That particular eat was exceptionally cool. On Lake Norman (NASCAR country) on a rocky shoreline 50 yrds from Matt Kenseth's dock (a driver), the fish was a cruiser and I laid the fly about 10ft off its bow, gave it a twitch when he was at 5ft and he rifled in and pounced with a clockwise swirl of green, gold, and orange. Visually, as cool as any gamefish eat......

Thanks again for the sweet ties.

August 14, 2011

Kitty Kats

Channel Cat Channel Cat Day two on the water was considerably different than the day prior. Fish were present but were busy "sunning" themselves under the ironically cloudy skies. Perfect casts to slow cruisers resulted in no takes, nary even a look. Frustrating to say the least. Moving on to some backwater bays found some active fish. Tails could be spotted and even a few dorsal fins breaking the surface. Still tough conditions with the clouds on the sky, but with the surface breaks we were able to locate fish. In between a break in the clouds, we were able to find a bunch of large bigmouth buffalo filter feeding. Unfortunately, fishing to buffalo when they are feeding on plankton and filamentous algae is for naught. I have yet to catch a buffalo under these conditions, other for casting a fly directly into their gaping mouths and snagging the hook inside their throat. Hardly sporting at all. At one point, a lined fish erupted in a chain reaction of spooked fish, much like nuclear fission, resulting in a tsunami like wave over one foot high and sixty feet wide. The tip of the crest was so powerful on this wave that it even broke like a wave hitting the surf. An unreal sight. Channel Cat The day was saved after dredging up a very healthy channel cat from the bottom of the mud flats. A stripped fly was taken by the cruising cat whose dorsal fin was ripping through the surface like a shark. An easy five pounds for this fish. And now for the obligatory Hero Shot Gone Wrong shot: Hero Shot Gone Wrong Even under high water, it's always a great time out on the backwater flats. Good stuff...