Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Walk-On Adventures at LL Bean

Today I headed over to LL Bean to purchase the fly rod outfit I've been saving up for and was distracted by the idea that they had an hour and a half walk-on flyfishing adventure for only $15. I decided that it would probably be worth $15 to try out the fly rod equipment that LL Bean has to offer before making my purchase.

I got there 15 minutes before the noontime adventure began and there were only two folks signed up before me. Another guy signed up when he heard me talking to the guy about all the open slots still available. We hopped onto a little LL Bean bus (with seatbelts) and headed down the road towards the Desert of Maine. We pulled off into a little field. For $15, our fly fishing would be done on a nice green grassy lawn. You get a stocked trout pond in the two day $399 class.

Our instructor was Bill Stevens, and fortunately, he was very patient. There were four students, a father and son from Connecticut, myself, and an older gentleman from Yarmouth. None of us had ever held a fly rod before. We were invited to partake of the provided 50spf sunscreen and deet flavored bug spray which all of us declined. We were then issued a pair of awesome polarized LL Bean sunglasses to protect our eyes. Bill ran us through a safety checklist for liability purposes and then, finally, class was in session!

Bill started by demonstrating and describing the four part fly cast: pickup, backcast, forward cast, and presentation. He even gave us little laminated orange cards to take home that describe the process. We all got a chance to ask questions.

We practiced casting for a little while and I repeatedly demonstrated a gift for tying knots (sometimes two at a time) in the line while casting. I hope Bill wasn't telling the truth when he said he'd never seen anyone do that before. I seemed to be very adept at tying the knots until Bill suggested that I try moving the rod tip out to the right while casting, and that seemed to help me as my casts improved significantly.

Then we practiced false casting, before taking a short break where cold drinking water was provided in case we were feeling dehydrated. Bill demonstrated the roll cast and we practiced that for a few minutes, before, all too soon, the bus returned. Bill finished our class by pointing out the $99 Quest Two fly rod outfit we had been using in the LL Bean Fishing Catalog and inviting us to take more Outdoor Discovery School classes. We were given a $15 off Outdoor Discovery School coupon and a 10% off fishing gear coupon for use in the LL Bean store. Basically, the class pays for itself if you make another purchase.

The bus delivered us back, as promised, in exactly 1.5 hours from the time we left, just like clockwork. I wanted to rush in and buy Bill's recommended rod outfit, the Qwest Two 8' 6" 6wt for $99, but I had to get back to work. Fortunately, I don't work that far from LL Bean and will try to drop in before I go on vacation this year. I'm pretty sure that this $99 rod and a few flies will keep me very busy fishing this Summer. No guarantees about catching, but the fishing will be great! I'm going to try to convince my brother-in-law to meet me there sometime for an hour and a half of shooting sporting clays or a two hour kayak paddle. All in all, a ton of fun for about the cost of a movie ticket these days.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Long winter

It was a log tough winter. I managed to get one trip in through Baxter State Park in January that I will surely blog about. After that we got snowstorm after snowstorm, and I was constantly reminded of how poorly we are set up here on our farm. The barns we use to store hay and house chickens roofs have a pitch that was inadequate for the snow to slide off of. I have pictures of me shoveling five feet of snow from them.

Spring brought thunderstorms and lightening took out the well pump. At 280ft, you can't service your own well. So there went another $1500. Why do we choose to fight nature? I wish we had a shallow well and the nice gravel that go along with it!

So, in any case, Summer is finally here and we're still getting ready for next winter.

This year, we'll be using the wood boiler. No more oil for us at $4 plus per gallon. I'm attempting to reroof the barns with a steeper roof. No sense fighting nature, I'll let nature shovel the roof.

Have you planted your garden yet? We've got tomatoes in. We hope to plant more but time is rushing by!

Trout and Eggs for Breakfast

My youngest woke me up this morning and said let's go fishing- you can have trout and eggs for breakfast. I told him to wait a while and tried to get back to sleep. It was then that I realized that if I didn't go, he'd eventually stop asking. So, we got up and headed to the brook. To make a long story short, the kids had stored the worms in a can with a hole near the bottom so most of the worms had escaped. We used worm pieces (the one's that didn't have the smarts to escape) and he managed to catch one little keeper. He ended up fishing the last of our hour with my fishing rod. We saw a lot of fish and caught quite a few little ones. The brook is still healthy!

We came back to the house and cooked up trout, eggs, and sourdough toast for breakfast. It doesn't get much better than this!