Saturday, December 22, 2012

Shouldn’t Christmas Be About Taking?

Beginning in 1990 I started writing a Christmas poem and send as our Christmas Cards.  I am sharing this year's poem with the blogoshpere because given recent events, things that transpired over the last year, and where people try to place blame I thought more that my close family and friends should see it.

Shouldn’t Christmas Be About Taking?
written by T.L Hackett
Christmas 2012 
Very few would argue that Christmas is about giving, but this year, I’d cheer if Christmas was about taking…

Taking blame, taking charge, taking the bull by the horns, taking an oath, taking a stand, taking stock in yourself, taking your medicine, taking pride in your work, taking a vow, taking care of business, taking control, and most of all taking responsibility.

You agree with my plea that we need some taking?  No? How about ample examples to change your thinking?

It’s not the bar tender’s fault if you drink too much
It’s not Joe’s fault for your felonious touch
It’s not the president’s fault if congress can’t get it done
It’s not the referee’s fault if the other team won.

If you don’t like what’s on, turn off the TV
If you don’t like my politics, don’t vote for me
If you don’t like hypocrites, take a big bow
If you don’t like this poem, stop reading it now.

You can voice your opinions, all day long
You can even think that mine are all wrong
You can stand up for things that you believe
You can dislike this place, but you are free to leave.

Stop feeling that you are so doggone entitled
Stop making excuses that are so unbridled
Stop believing that somebody else will do it
Stop blaming other people, just own up to it.

Start taking these rhyming words seriously
Start taking a stand, it’s your responsibility
Start taking stock of the stuff inside of you
Start taking pride in everything that you do.

Take hold of the reins and control your own sleigh
Take charge of the things that you can change today
Take this great advice as I suggest it here
Take, don’t give, for a Merry Christmas this year!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

What makes a perfect day?

The End of a Perfect Day?

What makes a perfect day? For fly anglers it starts by being on the water.  From there it may include catching a fish, catching a lot of fish, catching a big fish, or catching a lot of big fish.  Of course, at this point in my fly fishing career, there is more than fish catching involved to make a perfect day.  For me a perfect day is rooted in my genes, my heritage.  My grandmother, may she rest in peace, probably encapsulated it best when she said, “The men in our family are only interested in the three F’s…food, fishin’ and, …well, um…hmmm…let’s just say the love of a Fine woman.”

Over the years I’ve modified that credo a bit.  For instance, fishin’ includes fly fishing with good fly fishing buddies.  Food definitely includes a good beer.  The last “F” does include a fine woman, my wife.  She and I are really best friends and we both enjoy…
live music (c’mon now get your mind out of the gutter…at least for now!).  Watching my sweetie shake her booty to a good band definitely helps to make a perfect day.
Yes…my grandmother’s statement about the men in our family is a great barometer of what makes a perfect day.  On a recent trip to Beaufort, I think we may have busted that barometer.

It started early where I met my buddies Fin and Woody.  Fin is a long-time fly fishing friend and Woody is our little skiff.  It’s a sea worthy craft, as long as you pick the right day.  Today was that day…light wind and calm seas meant we would have no trouble getting out of Beaufort Inlet and into the false albacore.  It’s a good thing it was calm too…we ended up several miles off shore before we found the fish.

False albacore are one of those bucket list fish for fly fisherman.  Birds, bait showers, and busting fish don’t even come close to describing how exhilarating this kind of fly fishing can be, especially when you spend so much time looking rather than fishing.  It took us most of the morning to finally find the fish.  When we did it was truly gang busters for awhile.  On the horizon we saw birds…working birds.  Bait was balled up tight and the tell tale bait showers…small baitfish simultaneously jumping out of the water…was more than a good sign, the feeding frenzy had begun.

Fin had a pretty good day, but was it perfect?

There were actually three in our boat, me, Fin and John.  Two anglers would go at a time while the other played captain.  I was very proud of myself as I put both buddies in perfect position to catch fish.  Of course with albies it takes a “few” minutes to reel in a 10 pound “little tunny” that just ripped 200 yards of fly line and backing from your reel.  That doesn’t lend itself to putting big numbers in the boat, but for me that’s not the game.  The game is finding a pod of busting fish, putting the boat into position and someone getting a hook-up.  We all did.  In fact at one point Fin and I doubled up…as the two fish headed to the other side of the pond, they crossed paths…at least three times.  Fin and I spent several frantic minutes passing our fly rods back and forth until we got the lines separated…and both fish landed!

Back at the boat ramp, we cleaned up the gear and I headed back to my room where my sweetie was ready to go…

To go eat (dang…get your head out of the gutter…for now!).  Beaufort is a great little historic North Carolina town blessed with some nice eateries.  We walked down to the Blue Moon CafĂ© where we shared some wine, great conversation and a terrific meal.  From there we headed over to the Back Street Pub for a beer and some live music.  They had Shiner Octoberfest on draft…a dang good Marzen brew.  The music was great too.  The band was called “The Morning After” and they were sort of a blue grass rock and funk band.  Check them out some time…really cool music.

After my sweetie got her dance on…we headed back to the room.  There was a barometer on the wall…it read “perfect.”

Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Cicada Symphony

Poets write about it...

Elizabeth Barret Browning heard the wind, Emily Bronte spoke to each leaf, good friend Sep felt it in his bones…signs signaling the end of summer and the start of autumn.  For me, it is something less poetic. While the cicada’s song signals the start of summer, it is their “plop” onto the water’s surface that signals to me that the dog days of summer are almost over and brightly colored leaves of fall are just around the corner.

Getting ready to drift!
That plop of a big helpless bug drifting slowly along the edge of the river followed by the slurp or SLAM of a river bass eating an easy meal...that’s a sure sign of autumn…uh, I mean fall.


To hell with this poetic crap…let’s go catch some smallies on surface bugs!

A chunky smallie
It’s an annual ritual for me and some of my fly fishing buddies…this year’s version featured Cope, Fin, Chainsaw and of course, me…Tbone.  With names like this how could the fishing trip be anything but a success? On the way up to our favorite smallmouth water, Cope and I once again pondered the aged old fly fishing question, “If you could choose but one fish to pursue with a fly rod, which would it be?”

We looked at each other and just laughed, then responded at the same time, “Smallmouth bass!”

How 'bout a 20-incher?!
Or more specifically, river smallies.  I love fishing moving water and add a fish that pound for pound actually does fight and jump as hard as any other and the fact that flies, especially surface bugs, can at times out fish other methods and bingo…you have what could be a perfect fly rod fish.  It’s certainly in the top five of any anglers list.

Not that I am “dissing” my revered river largemouth’s from my home river the Eno. They too slurp up cicadas this time of year and run a close second for my favorite fly rod quarry (at least at this time of year)…but our annual trip to the New River Valley in Virginia has to be one of my favorite fishing trips.

Fin says he'll be ready as soon as he finishes breakfast!
This year didn’t disappoint either.  Oh sure, it didn’t start too well.  We arrived at our cabin and settled in for the night anticipating our float with the guides the next day.  We tried to get to sleep ahead of Chainsaw…he comes by that nickname naturally and his well deserved reputation of being a world class nighttime sawyer of logs did not escape the rest of us.  Yet it wasn’t Chainsaw that woke us up, but the pleasant sound of rainfall hitting our tinned roof cabin.

“Crap,” I thought.  You see when it comes to rain, fishermen have mixed emotions.  I’ve had great days fly fishing after a nice rainfall but have also spent my entire trip on the porch because the rain fell fast and furious and turned a clear flowing river into a turbid torrent. 

This was a "small" one today!
We headed out the next morning…Cope and I were ready to roll, Chainsaw and Fin seemed to be just a bit behind.  Cope and I just seem to fish well together…just give us each a cup a coffee and granola bar and we are ready for the river.  We can eat later is our motto.  We arrived at the outfitters and finalized our float plans.  Cope and I fished together.  I like that, he’s always been good mojo for me.  On the way to our put in, the guide lamented the fact that the rain, and subsequent cloud cover could really slow things up…he was just preparing us for a slower than normal day due to the weather.  At least he didn’t say, “should have been here yesterday.”

What's better than wading for smallies?
We fished hard.  This is seven or eight weight water, needed mainly because throwing surface bugs 60-90 feet away can plum wear you out…a bigger rod, helps.  Plus, there is always a good chance of a trophy smallie and having enough rod to turn these prized fighters in the current ain’t a bad thing at all.

Catching a smallie while wading of course!
Our two boats floated two different sections with two different results.  Chainsaw and Fin had some success with a couple of good fish, but me and Cope…we faired a bit better.  We didn’t catch great numbers of fish, but they all seemed to be chunky bronze backs with shoulders. For the second year in a row I boated a citation sized smallmouth.  Dang I like fishing with Cope…have I mentioned he is good mojo?

The highlight of the trip came the next couple of days.  Our cabin gave us access to a major tributary of the New River. This wadeable river was known to have fair sized smallies.  It’s much smaller water but close in size to our Eno River.  It’s definitely five and six weight water.  Cope and I waded at least three to four miles in two days and caught lots of small fish, sunnies, and rock bass. We saw a fair number of quality smallies, and yes we landed a couple.

I’m not sure Fin and Chainsaw had quite the success but they are fun to have on a fishing trip. One evening I grilled up some chicken and corn on the cob…good eats for sure. We each grabbed our preferred beverage and Chainsaw made a toast, “Here’s to you…you mother f*@%ers!”

Chainsaw..."here's to you....well, you know"

For the rest of the night, no matter the topic, each of us ended our sentences with…, “you mother f*@%ers!”  It was a fun evening, and of course reminded us all that fly fishing is better with great fly fishing buddies.

My mojo continues!
I love smallies caught on surface bugs

On the way home, Cope and I relived our successes. Cope may have had his dauber down a bit that he didn’t boat a citation smallie again this year…although he did down a citation sized beer!  We then started making plans for next year’s trip.  It’s invitational only so if you want to participate you better start training now…you can also ply me and Cope with your favors.  A good beer or some flies is a start.

No citation sized smallie for Cope, but he did manage a citation sized beer!