Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Art of Seeing Things

Summit of Bonticou Crag, Mohonk Preserve, New Paltz NY

One of my favorite authors is John Burroughs.  He was a contemporary of John Muir and cut from the same mold.  The main difference between the two is where John Muir traveled widely through the Sierra Nevada Mountains, John Burroughs spent the great majority of his time at home in his beloved Catskill Mountains of New York.  The enthusiasm with which both described Nature has few parallels in nature writing.  I have always been drawn more to Burroughs though because of his ability to allow the reader to see  the nature that is available to everyone just outside their back door.  His essays, whether they were written about a common robin or some exotic animal that may have been passing through, always gives you the chance to see something in a new light or from a different angle. To Burroughs, no nature observation is mundane.

One of my favorite Burroughs essays is The Art of Seeing Things.  The main theme that pervades this essay is that of awareness of  nature that surrounds us and to what degree people display this awareness.  According to Burroughs, "Power of attention and a mind sensitive to outward objects, in these lies the secret of seeing things."  The naturalist, the hunter, the angler, the tracker and certain other professionals are all practitioners of "the art of seeing things" to some degree.  I have always tried to better my ability to "see" so that I may gain a better understanding of my world whether it be while I'm fishing or simply going for walk in the woods.  However, as I have grown older and looked around I have found so many who are tuned out and unaware of the potential dangers and the beauty of the world that surrounds them

Whitetail Deer antler rub, Long Island Pine Barrens
Personally, I think it's important that this trend be reversed.  Before there can be understanding there must be awareness and observation.  Understanding is a psychological process related to an abstract or physical object (or Nature), situation, or message whereby one is able to think about it and use concepts to deal with that object in an intelligent manner.  How can one appreciate Nature or deal with a problem that poses a danger to us if we are not aware of it?  The answer is simple....YOU CAN'T!

Black Bear Tracks, Minnewaska State Park, Gardiner NY
As 2011 comes to a close and with 2012 staring us in the face, I have decided it is time to more fully utilize the potential of this medium of blogging for greater awareness.  I suspect that many of the individuals who read this blog and many of the other wonderful outdoor blogs like it already have a well developed sense of awareness, practice the art of seeing things and truly love the outdoors and all that it entails. I still plan on writing about the things I love about fishing and Nature but I also plan to step up my game on certain topics or come at things from a different angle in the coming year.  Blogging about the things you love about the outdoors contributes to this awareness.  If you let others know about the beauty and excitement of something important to you they be more inclined to help you protect it. My challenge to you and all other outdoor bloggers for 2012 is to continue blogging about the things you love and think are important but add a little extra something to help increase the general public awareness of the world around them.  This will ultimately lead to better understanding and intelligent actions that will benefit all of us as well as those who will follow in our footsteps.  May everyone have a Happy and Healthy 2012!

Climb to top of Bonticou Crag

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year To All!

Candy Cane Kebari

I'm a firm believer that no one should be left out, especially at this time of year.  So I figured I'd tie a little something for our fishy brethren for Christmas.  I hope they and you enjoy it. From ours to yours....may everyone out there have a joyous Holiday Season and a Happy & Healthy New Year!

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Dinner Bell Kebari

The Dinner Bell Kebari
Winter may be a poor time for fishing but it's a great time for fly tying experimentation. For me, this season is the best time of year to scan fly tying catalogs for interesting materials or older fly fishing literature for ideas.  I prefer using natural materials such as fur and feathers to make up the bulk of any fly...Nature always provides the best materials.  However, sometimes something catches my eye (and eventually, hopefully, a trout's eye).  That was the case when I came across Crystal Skin.  Crystal Skin is a stretchy, gooey, adhesive material used in the body of many types of flies.  Simply cut a strip peel off the backing and wrap it.  The colors I have decided to try were moss green and holographic silver. Both colors are embedded with sparkles of some sort.  I'm hoping it will look something like the late Gary LaFontaine tried with antron fibers in his various caddis patterns.  If is doesn't...Oh well, it will still probably make a decent attractor pattern.  I call this version (with green moss color) "The Dinner Bell Kebari."  I think the sparkle is not over powering but will be seen in a variety of water conditions.  It may "call" the trout like a "dinner bell".  For those interested the recipe and a close up are below.

Dinner Bell Kebari closeup

The Dinner Bell Kebari

Hook: C49S Mustad, scud hook, size #12
Hackle: grey Hungarian partridge
Collar: peacock herl
Thread: Pearsall's gossamer silk thread, highlander green
Rib: fine gold wire
Body: Crystal Skin, thin, moss green

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A Fly To Be Named Later (12/08/11 UPDATE: aka THE GREEN HORNET)

A fly that needs a name
One of the fun things about creating new flies is the chance to name them.  I like trying to come up with catchy names for flies that have a certain ring to them, that make them standout, or reveal something about the place they come from or the purpose they were created for.  Occasionally I have a difficult time with this little task.  In the past there have been times I have asked for help from other anglers.  This is another of those times.  Krystal flash is a useful fly tying material and can be found in many patterns ranging from fresh to saltwater.  I have used it several times on other sakasa kebari, in the body or tail of the fly.  So for this fly I thought why not mix in with the hackle for an extra trigger.  I think it may make for a useful fly but ultimately that is for the trout to decide.  However, I could use help in the name department.  So here is the deal....for the angler who can come up with the "catchiest" name I will send you a 1/2 dozen of these guys to try out on your home waters.  I look forward to hearing some of your suggestions.

Unnamed Fly
Hook: Mustad C49S, scud hook, size 12
Hackle: Hungarian partridge and Krystal flash
Collar: peacock herl
Body: Pearsall's gossamer silk thread, highlander green

Photo taken out of focus to highlight krystal flash

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Versatile Blogger Awards

Fog below SkyTop on an early autumn morning, Shawangunk Ridge, New Paltz, NY
Recently Trout MaGee, at The Catching Chronicles, posted his seven award winners for The Versatile Blogger Awards.  Among his great choices was the The North River, for which I'm grateful.  I find it very cool that something I started a little over a year ago for mostly my enjoyment has turned into something that others appreciate as well.  As part of being selected, an award recipient should in turn select seven of his or her own blogs for recognition.  The following are my choices for The Versatile Blogger Awards in no particular order.  Some of these blogs I began following prior to my entry in the blogger-sphere and some are new to me but all have something that strikes a certain cord in me.  I must say, even though I follow many more blogs than I have listed as following, it was difficult to narrow the list but here goes.....

A great blog that I especially love due to the pursuit of small stream brookies and beautifully tied classic streamers.  When I dream about fishing Alan's posts are what come to mind.

Hands down, one of the funniest blogs you will ever read.  Mike's mix or humor, pop culture and fishing will make an instant fan out of anyone.

If a picture says a thousand words, one post from this blog will have you feel as if you were actually there when it happened.  The photography is phenomenal!

This blog comes from Jason in Michigan, which is great trout country, and he the pictures and posts to prove it.  On the name alone I would already be a fan.

This is another blog I like very much because I'm biased.  Mark writes some great posts that highlight two of my favorite things about the outdoors...The Adirondacks (in my home state of NY) and pursuit of wild trout in a small stream setting.

This is another blog in which I have a strong bias towards.  Karel is a fellow tenkara angler who gets to fish some beautiful country out in Colorado.  He also ties some beautiful sakasa kebari that are worth a look.

This is another blog I have followed for a while.  I think I'm drawn to Jay's blog for not just the fishing posts but also those about Nature observations in general.  Part of the reason I think we blog about our outdoor experiences is the sense of awe and wonder that can be found in the natural world and this blog does a good job of capturing that.

With so many people out there writing such great blogs it was difficult to decide on only seven.  Maybe next time I write a post "The Versatile Blogger Awards:Part II" and select seven more.  Until next time, everyone keep those great posts coming!

Fog rolling through the Hudson Valley on an early fall morning