Shisitos + Flies

Two weeks ago I was in Hawaii. (More on that soon, I promise!) I came home to chilly weather, but eventually it warmed up a bit and repeated a few of those 60 degree days that I missed while in the Aloha State.

And then it snowed. Not a lot, but enough to shift the weather around and create a dry, blustery wind that hit you in the face every time you walked outside. Yeah, it’s a bit dramatic. I know. But seriously, it’s cold. Cold enough for slushy snow and ice, but not cold enough for fresh powpow to ski on. (Although they are calling for a storm on Tuesday – finger’s crossed!)

Our weekend plans were originally to camp and chase fish, but with the weather being so frigid at night we decided we may have to reevaluate. When we woke up on Saturday morning, we still had no idea where the day would be taking us. I got up a bit earlier with the dog and made coffee and scrambled eggs. I sat at my computer to write for a bit, but then got tied up with chores. Sometimes I hate when that happens, sometimes I love it. I work so much better when the house is clean and clutter free. I know a lot of people probably see that as procrastination, but I don’t. I really think your space translates to your mind. Hell, Marie Kondo has made a whole career of it.

When Stephen got up, he told me that he needed to go to the local fly shop to get some fly tying materials. I joined, and admired all of the people who were taking casting lessons in the freezing cold. Brave souls.

Once we got our materials and headed home, I made us a Blue Apron for lunch (recipe here) and we watched a few fly fishing films while we cooked and ate.

Last weekend we were to the Fly Fishing Show in Lancaster, PA. We try and go every year – outfitters, new gear, celebrity fly tiers, casting lessons, educational sessions, and the film festival. I have been thinking about taking up fly tying for awhile now, and the show really enforced that for me. I do a lot of cross stitch, although I never know what to do with the completed works and patterns except to frame them and give them as gifts. I tried taking up knitting, and that was an all-around hot mess. I was terrible at it. I like creating things with my hands, but I was feeling restless as to what my options were. Stephen – who has been fly tying since we lived in Wyoming – suggested that I take it up. It’s a beautiful art, and the best part – we could actually USE them! Flies also make great gifts to fellow anglers.

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Stephen has a pretty impressive set up in our basement – some may even refer to this as his “mancave”. Whatever, fine. However, I would like to point out that I DID suggest that we move this operation upstairs to the office, but he reminded me that the basement is better since Bridger doesn’t go down there – which is actually a blessing, since we’re dealing with hooks and small materials. It’s also nice to have all of the fishing and hunting gear with our outdoor gear, so it’s a one-stop-shop when we’re getting our weekend accessories together. As for why Bridger doesn’t go in the basement, we have no idea. He has full reign over our house (and most of our lives, for that matter) but the basement is a no-no zone. He stands at the basement door and whines for a bit, then finds a comfortable spot on the couch and waits for us to return. Here’s a photo of Bridger just to remind you how cute he is:

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See? Full reign over the entire house, our bed, and our hearts. Aww.

My first fly was a woolly bugger. It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be, but it was also exactly as hard as I thought. Does that make sense? It was an easy pattern, but I found it difficult to get my fingers in the right place, or knowing where to stop and start on the hook. Stephen showed me how to do it – no instructional video, no pattern, no book. He just stood behind me and guided my hands through the process. He was patient, and kind, and didn’t mind that I was probably wasting a lot of materials by not knowing exactly how much I would need. Here’s my first ever woolly bugger. He’s got some issues, but that won’t matter when this little dude catches me a trout.

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So, I tied my first fly. Now I’m hooked. Ha! Pun intended. Sorry. I had to.

Next up was a brassy. Once I figured that one out, I went back to the woolly bugger and realized I didn’t remember all of the steps. There was a lot of tying, and untying, and retying, and by the end I had tied eight flies, including the brassy and a cress bug. A simple Google image search of “woolly bugger fly color variations” had me messing with all sorts of colors, rotating the marabou, saddle hackle, and chenille (Look at me! I know words!)

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Here’s another one of my woolly buggers. It’s safe to say that I won’t need to buy them ever again, but I do need to get a bit better at two things: using the appropriate amount of saddle hackle before it turns to fluffy feathers (it should be spikey, not fluffy), and finishing (=tying off) my flies. But hey, I’m doing it!

We were pretty hungry by this point, since fly tying is such an exhaustive art (ha, ha) and wanted to go somewhere for dinner. We ended up going to Tired Hands brewery. It’s a fun spot, but can get really crowded, so we left a bit early in hopes of getting a table right away. Luckily, we did, at which point we proceeded to order way too much food and eat it way too fast. I keep telling myself that we should order an app, get a drink, eat, enjoy, and take a moment to digest. If we’re still hungry, we order more, and so on. But I think the chaos of the restaurant had us feeling rushed, so we ordered everything at once.

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Shisito & Grits, Tired Hands

One of my favorite things on their menu is the Shisito & Grits. I fell in love with shisito peppers when we lived in Jackson – there was a restaurant that had ‘Blistered Shisitos’ on the bar menu one night, and when I asked about them the bartender compared them to “popping edamame”. Done. I’m game for any food that you can eat with your hands in a restaurant. They’ve become pretty popular at this point – you can even by a bag of them at Trader Joe’s and blister them in a cast-iron pan. I like to have them on hand for when we have people over. I heard somewhere that 1-in-10 are spicy, so eating them with a group of people is like playing Russian Roulette. It’s a fun party trick, unless you don’t like spicy foods!

Every time I go to Tired Hands, I always get the same thing – Mushroom Tacos. They are so yummy, and the sauce that the mushrooms are cooked in is so tasty. I should probably branch out at some point but if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right?

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Mushroom Tacos, Tired Hands

As for the beer: It’s always tasty, but when I’m there I’m a dark beer girl living in an IPA world. I prefer porters, stouts, and brown ales. Most of their beer menu consists of light, hoppy beers. Don’t get me wrong – the ones that I tried (they don’t offer flights, so I always go for the small pour!) were super delicious, but yesterday was soo cold – I could have gone for a beer with oatmeal, coffee, or vanilla flavors. Mmm. The upshot is that I am always down for a Tired Hands HopHands or SaisonHands growler in the summer!

Once we got home, we took Bridger for a short walk (sorry, bud, but it was freezing) and then watched Treme. We’re currently in the third season, although Stephen started watching it when I was in Hawaii so I missed the entire first season. It’s great, and I can’t believe that I didn’t watch it when it was first on. It also has me itching to go to New Orleans, which I’m sure was a goal of the production. Good work, team!

As for our Sunday adventures… we are ‘springing forward’ into today! (Get it? Sorry, I had to!)

 

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