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New Years Resolutions - Fly Fishing Edition

In the spirit of New Years and new beginnings - and maybe in the spirit of past failed resolutions, here are my resolutions for 2024. Let me know what your resolutions are in the comments.

  • I think this is one that I will actually succeed in fulfilling - I plan to keep up with the blog and post at least once every other week for the year. I started this thing late in the summer of 2020, the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was my escape at the time. I had no plans other than my first goal was to make it for one year. Then that goal became two years. Three-and-a-half years later, I have kept at it but dialed it back a bit to better fit my life / desire to write posts at this time. I think I can come up with 26 (or more) more posts - there are 113 drafts that range from fairly close to done to a very rough outline or simply a title. Though I will say there is no guarantee but I do think I will try but things could change.

Driftless Area Brook Trout
Brook Trout we sampled in the summer of 2023 from a northern(ish) Driftless stream.
  • I plan to fish more this year. Yeah, I know this is - as it should be - every angler's resolution, every year. But I am pretty confident that I can do it because this past summer is certainly the least I have fished since I made the move to La Crosse. And I was OK with fishing a little less. After all, I spent a lot of time in the field doing research and that kept me interested and active all summer. I can't wait to share more of that with everyone but I want the graduate student I am working with to have the first chance to share the data and his findings. This summer will likely not be a big field work season - or at least not like 2023 was. I have a small bit of field work and some geeky computer-based modeling stuff I am interested in this summer but other than helping the local biologists out when they could use another hand, probably not a ton of field work for me this summer.

Rock marking a Brook Trout location
How we marked the locations of trout while snorkeling streams this past summer.
  • I plan to practice what I preach and do some good in the community (Most people don't care...and I struggle with that). I have also been teaching a non-majors biology course recently where students have to complete a volunteer activity to fulfill the "gen ed" part of the course. It rings pretty true to them when I can talk about how I volunteer with Wisconsin Trout Unlimited, Coulee Region TU, and the West Fork Sports Club, among other organizations where I play smaller roles or at least put a little money towards. This year, it appears to be my turn to "step up" and take the presidency of CRTU. I have always been happy to do more behind the scenes and I have been pretty active behind the scenes. These next few years, I "get" to be more of the face of the organization - and hopefully work to build others into that position so I can step "backstage" though stay active. In any case, this looks like another resolution, I can't help but make come true.

STREAM Girls sign
From the Coulee Region TU STREAM Girls event this summer - always a hightlight but so is the gathering I miss with friends the same weekend.
  • Now to resolutions that I am more likely to fall short on. This one will be a little surprising to those that know me well / have known me for a long time. I plan to tie more flies this year than last. I probably tied fewer flies this year than I have any year in the last I have no idea how many years. There are a number of reasons for that - I fished less this year; I have tied so many in past years that I have stockpiles of flies; in supporting my local fly shop, I've bought more flies than usual; and any number of other reasons. Maybe the biggest reason is that tying flies sort of fell out of my routine and I am not entirely sure why but part of it is that post-COVID, a few friends and I don't get together online to tie like we used to. But I plan to tie more in 2024 even if my boxes are full. There are always places like CRTU that will take fly donations.

Top of a smallmouth bass fly box
One of three smallmouth bass boxes - I can stand to lose a lot of flies before tying becomes a necessity.
  • In most recent years, I have pledged to get out of my comfort zone more and fish in more different ways and in different places. Certainly this year I failed at that. Other than a "Crash Camp" trip and one to Sylvania Wilderness, I fished the Driftless almost exclusively. And given the amount of field work we did, that was to be expected. Maybe this summer is the year I make a trip to Pennsylvania and West Virginia "for old time's sake". Or at least make it to the annual August Wolf River gathering I have not made in a few years due to CRTU activities. Hell, I can at least finally cross the river and fish Minnesota this year (even if it isn't driftless), can't I? I'll be very disappointment if I don't make this one a reality.

Sylvania Wilderness
The view after a short portage in Sylvania Wilderness.

I am really not sure that I need any more resolutions than that. It seems like a fairly manageable set of resolutions for one year. And if there is often one thing wrong with resolutions, they should be obtainable, not just aspirational (though some should be aspirational). I will not fulfill them all but I think it is a pretty reasonable set of goals for 2024.

What are your goals / resolutions for the year? What to do plan to do better or at least differently this year?

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I have been fishing for trout in streams since 1958. There were a few earlier days with my dad or an uncle. But I started fishing alone in 1958. I began fly fishing and tying flies in 1965. I have never had much interest in travel for fly fishing; the fishing is good enough close to home. I have developed my own pattern variations for my home waters, and currently enjoy fishing a dozen miles across several area streams.

If I have resolutions for 2024, they would be these:

1) Encourage and coach our elder son, who has come to fly fishing late in life. He’s in his 40s now, 30 years after he might have profitably started, but b…


I plan to change flies more often when fishing. I have a tendency to stick with the same fly way too long when not catching fish.

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