Sunday, May 21, 2017

Gear Review: Patagonia Tropic Comfort Hoody II

As an avid outdoorsman, I spend a lot of time out in the sun. Fly fishing definitely takes the top spot, however I also enjoy hiking, kayaking, and camping. With how much time I spend outside, I am constantly being battered with the hot sun. I do not particularly enjoy putting on sunscreen, so for the past while I have been searching for something to protect me from the rays. I tried a buff and, although it works, I find them better to wear in the winter. When the temperature is hot, a buff makes me feel even warmer. Also, when I put a buff over my mouth and nose, it fogs up my sunglasses, a big no-no. I then wore a long sleeved Columbia shirt for a while. It worked, but again it did not cover up my hands nor my head and neck. I wanted to find something that would provide substantial coverage of my upper body. Preferably, I wanted it to be a solo item. I didn't want to pack a sun shirt, gloves, and buff all to protect me. Frustrated, I did more research and finally found the perfect solution. Researching led me to an article from Fly Fish Food, reviewing a great sun protection shirt from Patagonia.

The Patagonia Tropic Comfort Hoody II is the only clothing item you'll ever need for great sun protection. Not only is it rated for UPF 50+, it's also lightweight and incredibly breathable, all very important characteristics when spending all day in the sun. I never feel too warm in this shirt, and with it's lightweight stretchy fabric, am never restricted with casting.

Another big selling point are the sleeves which contain thumb holes. I don't know about you, but I would find the tops of my hands to always be a place that sunburned. With this sun hoody, the sleeves extend the fabric to the knuckles which completely cover your hands. This is a well thought out design, and makes me wonder why so many other top companies have not included thumb holes.

The hood is another great feature. With it's wide capacity it easily covers your face, even when wearing a hat. There is also a button at the top of the shirt that when buttoned, easily covers your neck. Due to the lightweight fabric, your head never feels warm as one might suspect. The hood simply eliminates the need for a buff, a big positive for me.

Lastly, Patagonia claims that the item has permanent odor control with Polygiene technology. I can attest that this clothing item will not leave you stranded outside the tent due to your buddy kicking you out because you smell like skunk. Whatever Polygiene is, it works. Odors do not linger around with this hoody.

Truth is, if you spend lots of time outdoors, you should be taking care of your largest organ, your skin. Living in Utah, which has one of the nations highest rates of melanoma, I try and take extra precaution when I know i'll be in the sun for long periods of time. I have spent many days all day in the hot sun and have never been burned when wearing this hoody. Although my skin can at times feel very warm, I have never burned. You will occasionally still need to put sunscreen on your face, as the hoody cannot completely block out UV rays (reflection of sunlight on water). Though, it still does provide ample protection.

Patagonia is also one of the only companies who strives for clean practices when making their clothing and gear. All of their cotton is organic, and the facilities that produce and house their gear use much less (and more efficient) energy than others. All good things for the environment, which is the cornerstone of the company. This is a company I am thoroughly impressed with, and that's why I will continue to purchase from them.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Spring Retreat: Annoying Campers, Kayaking, Trout Bum, Pink Flies, and a Hula Girl

Part I: Family Camping Trip

Spring has unleashed it's warmth over Southern Utah, so the family and I set out for our first camping trip with our newly two year old daughter. Would she sleep all night in a tent? Who knew, I wasn't really thinking about that. I just needed to get away from the world. My birthday was the day after hers, and I finally got a new tent that I had been wanting. It was a perfect time to hit the mountains.

We set out to a nearby reservoir that we had camped at once before. The road leading up to the water was lush with vegetation and giant red rocks towered above. Someday, I would like to hike around in the area and explore. We arrive at the lake and set up camp near where we did our first bout. As soon as I was finished, I anxiously set up my new kayak and hurried out to the water to try the new rig. The rowing took a while to get down, but I think I have the general motion. It will take a few more trips  to fine-tune the technique. I eventually returned to shore and decided to take the whole family out. Maybe I will toss Daisy aside and let her swim, maybe.

Emma's ready to go

It was a little awkward at first. The rowing was out of sync, we were leaning to the right, but the kayak was upright and floating, all that mattered. Natalie's nerves were high when we were out in the middle of the water. I tried comforting her, but my words seemed to blow right away as the wind was.

The wind and erratic rowing took us to the far shore where Natalie was much more comfortable. After a while, our rowing began to improve and we were soon far away out into the lake. It was really fun being out on the lake with the whole family. You can cover lots of water in a relatively short amount of time. This will be great when scouting for fish.

We eventually return to shore and I venture out again solo, in hopes of finding some tug. I make my way over to a small bay and cast out my line. Within a matter of seconds I realize that fishing from a kayak is definitely going to take practice. The main problem was the wind. Any subtle shift in the wind and the kayak would turn, messing up my drift. I foresee many early mornings and late evenings free from wind will be key if I want calm water and better drifts. I ended up not catching anything, but felt a few nibbles. At least the fish were interested.

I return to camp and while I wish I was in a state of peace, sitting there enjoying my surroundings, I certainly could not . From the camp nearby a loud annoying ruckus was going on. Adults were yelling at their kids, swearing, and just being loud. Out from the trees came a dude with a purple mohwawk. I had to get out of here. I go to the mountains to escape from people. Life's too short to deal with this crap. We decide to break camp and head over to where the stream flows into the lake to pitch our tent.

As we were carrying gear over, I noticed a trio of fly fisherman fishing the inlet. I sparked conversation with one of them, someone who turned out to be a true trout bum I have known through the internet. He was one of the guys behind Whisky and Windknots, a fishy blog dedicated to our grand sport. We chatted for a while, mostly about fishing of course. It was fun to talk with someone who's fished a lot of the same areas as me. Hopefully our paths will cross again.

The camp was perfect. No noise but the sound of rushing water and wind through the trees. We enjoyed a nice campfire meal and dessert and all watched the sun fade over the mountain. Now this is why the mountains call to me.

Healthy Food = Feel Good

One thirty AM, Emma is awake crawling all over us and not going back to sleep. Soon enough we're all awake, and now Emma is crying. She will not go back to sleep, no matter what we try. At this point the thought of an early morning sunrise, flat water, and bent rod all but seems to disappear. This is life with a toddler. I love her, but man it was hard packing out in the middle of the night. We break camp, and make the grateful quick drive back to home.

Part II: Redemption

Due to the disaster the day before, I had to get out again into the mountains. The void was less than half full, as I had not been out fishing for a long time. Mike and my dad pick me up, and we head North to one of our favorite mountains.

The destination was a small secluded stream with plentiful trout. And plentiful it was. Due to runoff, the higher water had us reaching for pink flies that would shine through the muck. Mike's trusty "muddy water worm" was the true ticket of the day. It has proven it's worth time and time again. Although, the san juan proved to be working fairly well also. The fish would even hit our dries once in a while. At one point, I was fishing a pink chernobyl that met the lips of a few trout. My void was beginning to fill, this was something that had been missing in my life for far too long.

Healthy snowpack

Mike was kind enough to let me try out his light saber, aka his Blue Halo 3wt. This rod truly shines on small water. If I could describe the rod in one word it would be smooth. The casting, the delicate presentation, and the fight of a fish, all perfectly smooth. There's just something about fiberglass that truly shines. 

We break for lunch on the side of the stream, and I scarf down a PB&J and banana. It was nice to feel some calm and peace from last nights disappointment. Eventually, the stream was calling to us and we venture out again. While fishing, I make my way around a corner to find something rather unusual. A girl, standing on some sort of platform, performing an array of hula hoop techniques. I would have never guessed to see an acrobat in this type of country. Nonetheless, she seemed not bothered by our presence. We decided to not fish through their camp, and headed upstream to the last pool.

We traded off picking fish from this pool, and eventually retired back to the jeep. The day was filled with beautiful fish, thundering clouds, and free spirits. The perfect redemption from the day before.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Man Caves, She Sheds & Mother Bunker's

My sister Katy is a talented writer who is curently dishing out articles weekly for Disney's Babble. This is a website dedicated to parenting and lifestyle. Her latest article, one that I am rather drawn to, is about man caves vs she sheds, or the alternative "mother bunker" as my sister explains. The man cave is something that has been around for a long time. I myself have my own corner of the house dedicated to the art of tying flies. It is my little escape where I attach fur, feather, thread, and/or synthetics to a hook in hopes that it will look enticing to fish. As men need their so called "man caves", women are now on to the trend and making there own "she sheds". I'll admit, when I saw the picture in her article of the so called "shed"(its more like a mini-house), I thought to myself, "man, I want one of those." Just not one with a pink door and flowers all over it. Mine would look like a miniature cabin with a rod-rack out front to hold my fly rods. Anyways, give the article a read. It will surely make you laugh.

FishEatFlies Man Cave

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Winner Winner

I have been on a long dry spell. What kind you may asking? A non-winning contest dry spell. Yes i'll admit, I am a contest junkie. I have been very lucky to win some great fly fishing and tying gear the past few years. Last week, AvidMax on Facebook held a fly tying contest in which they were looking for the most creative fly you have ever tied. It did not take me long to know which fly I needed to enter. I won 3rd place in the contest, which scored me the Tacky Dry Fly Box. This will be a great addition to my arsenal. I must give credit to fisheatflies for helping me with the pattern. We both tied roughly the same fly that evening, incorporating lots of synthetics and bucktail. I fished the pattern on a lake known for big tiger muskie, but never even saw one that day. Regardless, the pattern sits on top of my tying desk where hopefully someday it will pierce an esox predator.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Don't Hotspot Utah's Wild Places

It upsets me to see an article from a nation wide fly fishing magazine talking about one of Utah's best kept secrets. I'm grinding my teeth as I read about and see pictures of a particular lake that I have fished before. Orvis guru Phil Monahan goes on a cutthroat slam in Utah and travels to my neck of the woods seeking bright colorado cutts. Here is my message to you Phil: Dear Phil, please do not talk of secret fishing places in a national magazine for others to see. I understand that you were highlighting the new Utah cutthroat slam, and it's importance in conservation and awareness. However, as a local angler and someone who wants special places to remain that way, it was upsetting to see this area brought to light on a national scale. You wouldn't want others showing off your secret spots would you? Or are you just interested in making sure Orvis keeps you on as editor of OrvisNews by pushing great content? Regardless, know that you have upset many locals here in Utah, and you should think twice before talking of special wild places that are seemingly becoming more out in the open with social media. From: Your fellow Utah angler.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

A Moment of Solace

This winter season has been particularly hard for me. A lot is going on in my life, and as briefly mentioned in my last post, I have not taken the time to do the things I love. Depression has taken hold of me like vines on an empty wall. The drive and passion for life has left me, and has been replaced with sadness. Deep down the desire to get back to what makes me happy and feel free is there, but the motivation and effort is not. With the upcoming holiday on the horizon, all negative emotions were put aside, and the effort was finally made for an escape into solitude.

The drive up the canyon was a memorable one. Low lying clouds swallowed up our surroundings and a light freezing rain was coming down. We are making our way up the mountain and come upon a beefed up FJ Cruiser on the side of the road with a police officer standing outside. It appeared the vehicle had crashed, made noticeable by the debris on the ground. No souped-up vehicle can completely overcome mother nature. After passing, I slowed my speed with a heightened sense of caution.

The amount of snow was amazing to see. So high in fact it nearly engulfed some of the road signs. Good news for trout. As we ventured further up the mountain, the feeling of freedom and happiness began to trickle inside of me (Despite my child being fussy in the backseat).  With no four wheel drive, we made our stop at a well groomed parking lot. The foggy scene with tiny ice crystals pegging my body made for a great location.  I hurried and strapped on the snow shoes and wandered up the steep mountain.

That's a lot of snow
All Emma wanted to do was eat snow.
The snow was deep and felt awesome to trudge through with ease. I carved my own untouched path through trees while trying to keep my breath. A nice meadow appeared and my tired legs called it quits, and there I sat in a moment of total peace while looking up into the white sky.

I snapped a few photos and then trekked further up the mountain. My hike was eventually interrupted by the honking of the horn. A signal to me that my toddler has had enough. Despite not ready to leave, I felt re-energized and happy, two things that have been vacant a majority of this winter. I need to get back, and soon.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

It's Time to Breathe

After reading and watching Fish Eat Flies newest post on a great fly fishing film, I began to browse the web in search of fly fishing films that I have never seen before. I stumbled upon a great one from RC Cone, which really spoke to me. I am at a time in my life where I really do need to breathe in some fresh mountain air, and re-evaluate what is going on. We all (well most) of us have the daily duties of work and so called "life", but is that really what we view as success? Currently in my life it seems all I am doing is working and letting life get in the way of what success means to me. Yes having money and a stable job is nice, but is that everything we seek in this life? I know for me it is certainly not. To me, success is finding balance. Watch the film and you'll get my drift.

Breathe: A people film about fly-fishing and work. *FULL MOVIE* from RC Cone on Vimeo.