Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Fishing the Chiemgau: Bugs, beers and Bavarians!

The prize 
Before I get too deep into this story, realize that my trip to Europe was billed as a family trip to Germany and the Chiemgau region.

Margaret, Tae and my extended family all came to visit our Cousin Meg Huschle and her family at their Lebenspark near Chiemsee.  I was super excited about this trip, not because of the fishing or even the mountain biking, but because this was to be Tae's first family trip to Europe.  However I was having images of National Lampoons European Vacation in my head, imagine my surprise when I realized that Peter, Megs husband and his kids were all into the same things my family is into!

Skiing, fishing, mountain biking and beer, and possibly in that order!

Only when you travel to another country do you realize the things that you have taken for granted in yours.

Martin in the learning process
Ever since I was a kid I have stumbled down to river or stream and tossed a line in to catch a fish.  Trout, Pike and Bass, you name it.  I did not need a license until I was a teen, I worried very little about access.

I would cut across the cow field, jump the electric fence, kick over a cow pie (only dry ones) and grab a handful of night crawlers and drift them in deep inky black pools of fat brown trout. If the trout were slow I would head with my buddies to the Mississippi (The River) and fish for catfish and Sheepshead from shore or head to the back channels and cast for Pike.  If all else failed we would toss flies for sunfish on Lake Winona.

The possibilities were endless and always out your door.  30 years later and living in Duluth its just as easy.  We have so much water, so much access and its so easy to get into it.

Two springs back I headed to Costa Rica with Dave Dawkins and saw how Costa regulates their fishing, which is to say they almost don't!  We did not have to buy a license at all to fish the inland streams.

Flies for breakfast!
On the first day in Germany my little brother and I were slurping beers and pressing our host Peter on what it would truly take to fish as a guest in the country.

I think that we both assumed that it would be hard to get a permit and I don't think we really assumed we would really try to go, but Peter saw how excited we were and decided to help us go for it.

The process to gain access to fishing was truly impressive.....especially coming from our experience here in the States.

Consider that fact that the local fisherman has to spend about 200 Euro, take a 30 hour course on fishing then navigate and pass a comprehensive exam just to get there right to buy a permit.  Once that hurdle of gaining a Fischereischein” has been leaped then a permit must be purchased for each and every body of water that person intends to fish.  Those permits can be daily, weekly or monthly.  

To complicate matters further the fishing waters are controlled privately.  So there are individuals and organizations that control the rights to stretches or rivers and lakes and the permits used to fish must go through them.  

Interestingly enough some of these rights quite literally date back to feudal times.

Your Papers Please!
Bam Bam!  You can fish sir!
I am not a collector of fish as many fisherman are, however I have had a few I have wanted to catch over the years.  For some reason the Grayling has been one of those fish.  The River Achen and its local tributary in the town of Marquartstein is full of them. With that in mind I realized that it would be worth both the time and the money to get on the river.  Peter was awesome in the fact that he realized we REALLY wanted to fish and certainly the fact that he is a die hard fisherman helped in realize the jones level my brother and I were dealing with!  

After being photographed, filing out piles of paper work, spending some solid Euro's and waiting for our applications to go to the city council we were approved to catch Native Browns and Grayling on the second to last day of our visit.

All I can say is that now when I waddle into a Holiday Store, pick up a Slurpie and a couple bags of Cornuts and in the last moment decide to toss on a Sportsmans License so I can catch trout on the creek behind the house I will know what Fricking FREEDOM means!! Ha..

Tactical Rod Placement

Peter at home
The fishing did not disappoint.  We were originally going to pull a permit for the much larger River Achen but the flow was high and the water silty.  So we did plan B.  Which in truth was perhaps even more awesome than plan A.   We learned that Peter and his buddies were leasing a five mile stretch of a smaller tributary.  This means that they must manage this stream, both in stocking, clean up and in controlling the access to it.  What it truly means is that Peter and his buddies have control over five miles of super clear, super sweet trout water, literally in the middle of the village they live in. The stream was full of fat browns, rainbows and of course grayling!

Even better the water was so similar to the kind of water I grew up on.  Small and extremely technical, the fish were easily spooked due to the clear water but all of this was the type of fishing I am honed to enjoy.

Within an hour I hooked and landed a really chunky grayling and all the permit BS was forgotten.  

By lunch time my brother and I had been catching browns, rainbows and grayling and joking about getting the big three "native" trout in one morning.  Peter and his son Martin were with us and they enjoyed the morning as much as we did.  In fact Peter at one point pulled four large grayling from a single hole!  After that we headed to a local grill and ate Schnitzle and drank Weiss beer in the cool shade of the mountain.


Aran swinging and flipping 

I have done my fair share of fishing in my life and I can truthfully say I have forgotten more fishing than I remember, however I will remember this day for the rest of my life.  It was a perfect day with my little brother and with our new friend Peter and his son Martin.  Not only were the sights stunning, the fishing was super fun and productive and we all had a glory moment at one time or another.  

For me the defining moment of the day was when I landed a dry fly under a hanging tree, just along the shadow line and both my brother and I witnessed a large rainbow drift up from the darkness and Wham! hammered my fly and the fight was on.......

The fish killer that special day

Peter with his fourth Grayling from the same hole 

Curry Wurst!
A couple of other interesting observations while on the stream were these.  One, you almost always had a spectator.  Since gaining access to fishing is so hard and also since we were nearly in the middle of town, people would stroll over and form a sort of hecklers gallery.  

At one point my brother and I were trading turns as we were fishing through a campground.  While we were wading up to a hole a couple strolled out of their campsite, hand in hand with loving smiles on their faces.  They wanted to watch us fish, so they strolled straight up and into the hole were going to fish and say down, waiting for us to start, oblivious to the fact that the fish were now vacationing elsewhere.

The other interesting thing was just how manipulated the streams were.  Hundreds if not thousands of years of flood control have turned much of the stream were fishing in, into a sort of wild canal.  Nearly every foot of the stream has been manipulated by human hands, it was sort of amazing and sobering all at the same time.
Little Bro drinking it all in 

Achen Rainbow 
Das Radler 

Big high five
Many, many thanks to Peter and his family for this amazing experience.  It was truly priceless.  I look forward to the day when Peter returns to Minnesota as we are going to hook him up with a fishing hootenanny that is for damn sure.

I will have a couple more posts on Germany and the amazing Chiemgau region and for sure I am already plotting our families return!

Monday, June 22, 2015

A trip to Germany and my recovery from it!

So we were in Germany for about a week.

It was awesome.

I got to hang with family.  See the Famed Marchen-Park.

Got to Go

-Mountain Biking
-Beer Drinking
-Swimming and boating

Of course I have lots of great shots of all of it, and once I get unburied from my re-entry I will be posting them!  Sorry for the lag, but hey there is only one of me......

Monday, June 01, 2015

Playing at Fatherhood: The boys bachelor weekend in Carlton Minnesota summer 2015

The nightcrawler hunter 

Being a father has does not always come easy for me.  I would love to say its all roses, but the reality is that I am a tough person to be the son of.

That all put out there, I certainly try damn hard and this weekend it seems to have gone much easier than ever before.  Margaret was away on a girls trip with her mother and sister and thus Tae and I had a bachelors weekend.

We hit it hard with fishing every day, sometimes twice a day and riding in the afternoons.  Full combat.

This week my Patagonia Fishing catalog came in the mail, full of stories of extremely far flung places and exotic fish.  A veritable cornucopia of the un-attainable.  Yet there I was, my seven year son, my fly rod, a 14 foot bathtub with a 10 horse motor, fishing a lake 9 minutes from you door and loving every minute of it.......Permit fish in the Atolls of the Pacific??? Really?

You want the best for your kids, you want to protect them, you want to expose them to the world, yet the reality is that "the world" is right out your front door and man, I had a really good time in my world with a seven year old and a bucket of worms this weekend.
Nope its not Costa Rica, its not bonefishing in Florida....its catching crappies on Chub Lake in Carlton!

A fish named Stewie (as named by Tae) 

He still wraps his feet like a baby...at least I like to think so.

Full boat crash 

Ripping Spirit Mountain 


Wednesday, May 27, 2015

#OnlyinMN: My shots used by Explore Minnesota In Denver, CO.

Denver Wallscapes 
So this past season I was approached by Colle McVoy a marketing firm working with Explore Minnesota to see if some of my images were available for use in their Only in Minnesota Campaign.  I was super excited to be involved and even more excited after seeing the results.  My shots are the two kayakers walking on 210 (Ryan Z and Joe D) and then the camp site shot on the corner with the trees and then of course the Casey K. MTB shot over the Lift Bridge!

Hilariously I also saw one of my shots on the Jumbotron over 1st Ave in Minneapolis last week, it was a shot of Elmo with his line unspooled on our BWCA trip last year.  It was tag lined "Last Call" which was fitting as I was leaving the MLT Gala event at about 10pm and heading for home!

The Miracle of the Lost Sunglasses: Keweenaw Trails Fest, Copper Harbor 2015

Dave C on Daisy D
I have to say, weather wise it was one of the most amazing Keweenaw Trails Fest's I can remember.  It was pushing 80 degrees and it was dry, dry, dry.  When you compare that to the fact that in years past we have been spinning by snow patches and through puddles, you realize that it was about perfect.

The warm weather brought out two things.  First it brought out the Black Flies and I was super stoked to have my head net, and at some points was actually riding with it on!  I must have looked like a cross between a bee keeper and a biking terrorist with that on!

The dry weather also brought out the riders!  Holy moly.  CH was beseeched by off road cyclists. I guess if success looks like bikes everywhere, three shuttle lift lines and full restaurants and hotels that Copper Harbor has hit that over Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day weekends that is for sure.  I have to say though that I am questioning now if that is what I personally want to deal with, now that my new job allows me to shuffle the weekends I spend up there.!
Fishing on the harbor
Found this guy walking home one night
Peace and chaos 

Smallie Fly Rod Fun 

The Wisco Crew 

Moonrise over the Manders estate 
Barry B showing how its done 
I was originally going to ride the Enduro. I am a huge fan of that race format.  However after riding, Friday eve and all day Saturday I quickly realized that my investment in that race would be squandered as my legs were NOT going to be racing anytime soon, let alone that Sunday.  I opted instead to roam with the camera.

Like most things I went a bit overboard.  I ended up hauling three lenses, two DSLR bodies and my tripod as well as my flash kit and triggers.  The whole pack had to weigh 40 plus pounds.  With that kit on my back I rode to each of the three Enduro legs, trying to hunt down Casey, Barry and Andy as they destroyed the field.

It was fun, I did not get many good shots but I had a blast trying.  However I was literally shelled by the end of the event.  It was hot, I was thirsty, hungry as I had skipped breakfast to fish in the early AM with Aaron Rogers on the Harbor. I was near hallucinating by the time I rolled down to Sam's.  I was hoping to catch a shuttle back up so I could descend down to the Manders compound halfway up Brockway and where I was living for the weekend.

When I got down though I found that there were almost 3 shuttles worth of people ahead of me.  Maybe an hour wait.  At that point I realized I would be riding home, no big deal, I can do it.  I shoulderd my pack and reached for my sunglasses.....oh dang!  Where are my sunglasses!  Turns out I had lost them on the trail.

Only one thing to do.  Go find them.  I dumped my pack and proceeded to ride everywhere I had been to find them, only to NOT find them.

Now I was truly defeated.  Hot hungry, bummed I once again ended up at the Shuttle line and sat there for nearly another 30 minutes talking to friends.  While I spoke I ate and drank some water and generally just gave up on the glasses.  Eventually I felt better and moved on, yet I was still waiting for a ride and again I just gave up and decided to go for a ride.

At first I was going to hit the new section of the Keweenaw Point Trail.  Aaron and the crew had just finished about 3 mile of that lovely idea and since it was so new, and not on a shuttle route, it was free of people.  I started trudging up the hill.  Somehow I ended up getting my second wind and when I hit the KPT I was like, well dang I am feeling good, I will just keep on climbing and catch a Red Trail Lap.  I kept on creeping up the climb, hordes of gravity riders came down on my in packs of five or more yet I kept on spinning up and up and up.

I was actually really enjoying this.  After a piece I realized that I was on the Ma Maki leg of the enduro and right at that moment I looked down in case I could see my glasses and BANG!  There they were, literally right in front of my wheel.  How crazy was that.  All those people had ridden past them and here they were!

A Copper Harbor miracle.

Every time I am in the harbor I have one of these moments where I just let out a huge sigh.  Its like I am finally just letting all of the stress, all of the worries and all of the hell I go through on a monthly basis and I just release.  When I picked up those glasses and I felt the sun on my face and the wind in the trees, I did just that ......sigh, release...ahhh
Dry as dust and dusty!

Night over Copper Harbor 
Party at the "Choose your own Adventure" Campground


Fire dancer, waiting for music 

An interesting proposal 

Casey K.  When I see these eyes, I know something crazy is coming 

Caleb blasting into the final bridge on Woopidy 

Monday, May 18, 2015

The memorial service for Bruce Harstad of Harmony, Minnesota

This weekend I had the privilege to attend a Memorial service for Bruce Harstad, or "Uncie" Bruce as Margaret has always called him.

Bruce was the second oldest brother of Blaine, Margaret's father.

I took a lot of amazing photographs of the event which was held in Harmony, Minnesota where the Harstad family hails from.

I fully intended to do a really in depth photo story on the event but while editing my shots I ran across this one and it really struck me.

Two kids, doing what nearly every farm kid or kid that has visited a farm will do, jump hay bales!

Then the thought struck me about the fact that Bruce was a kid here and that while they might not have been using round bales in his day, most likely as a kid, he and his brothers jumped from bale of hay to bale of hay at some point, just like my son Tae and his buddy Braydon.

It also struck me that after he left this place and went literally across the world whether it was in WWII to Japan or on a cruise with his wife Beverly, he ultimately came back to this beautiful place and was buried here.

He quite literally is always will be, of and part of Harmony.  That this cycle of being alive, of living life has a start point and an end point and that all us are from somewhere and we end somewhere.  The fact that Bruce came from and return to Harmony.

At that point I realized that I only needed one picture to remember Bruce Harstad that celebrated his life that had come full cycle and it was this one.

At the end of the service, after the crowd had moved on to the Branding Iron in Preston, to visit, I lingered with Bruce's immediate family at the burial site.  Bruce has spent most of his adult life in Maryland and because of that he had already had a service there.

However, ultimately his urn was to be buried in the family plot in Harmony.

As we prepared to follow the others,  an older gentleman, dressed in jeans and sweatshirt showed up with a shovel, with the intention of shoveling the dirt over the urn.

It was a pivotal moment and Beverly and her brother, sister and sister in law decided to lend a hand as did Margaret, Kass, Tae, Karyne and I.  As we did so the man doing the job, mentioned that he was buddies with Bruce and that indeed that very evening he had put Bruce's urn in his car and had driven to all the old spots in and around Harmony that Bruce used to hang out in and gave him a "tour" of the place one last time. Then he put him in front of the TV to watch the Twins game (they won).

Again, Bruce was and always will be, from Harmony, Minnesota

Monday, May 11, 2015

Image Dump: Homegrown 2015

Friday night Blasphemy 
My kid wondering where I have been all week

I tend to not push the photo taking too much over Homegrown.  We have a well versed, skilled and very passionate group of photographers in town that really shake the image tree when it comes to music in the city and especially at Homegrown itself.  So I instead haul the small point and shoot, pull it out when needed and tend to stay away from the scrum.

That said, I pull it out occasionally and these are some shots from the week, which was by far the best Homegrown I have experienced personally and I have been the nearly every one since it started.

The Rock Star shoes of Sarah Krueger 

Soup B4 Supe!

Al Sparhawk in character 

A quick way to get from venue to venue 

Actual Wolf every morning at 10am Duluth Coffee Company 

Morning hike after a late night 

The "Jefe" of Chaperone Records 


Pollard making it happen
The wife heading out with me on Friday night!

Scenery on the walk between venues 

The Mayor kicking it off