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The Scientific Fly Angler - What to Expect

Updated: Aug 12, 2020

This post has been slow to materialize. Mostly because I'm not entirely sure what I want to do with the website. First, I'm doing it for fun, not for profit (who knows, that could change but I doubt it). Second, I had a website way back in the day when it was easier to write it in html code than it was to use the crude WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) programs of the day. Boy, has that ever changed! Third, here is a bit about me and what I *think* I want to do with this website / blog.

Me, with a Smallmouth Bass.
Your's truly with a Lower Wisconisn River Smallmouth Bass (Kyle Zempel, Black Earth Angling Co. photo).

I would like to bring some readable "short form" science to fly anglers. I am a scientist with a MS and Ph. D. in "forest resource science" but more precisely, my background is in fisheries and stream ecology. I say readable because there are a number of books that explore the science of fly fishing (look for reviews over the winter) that are long and some are less than readable by the average angler. And short because I think it is a lot easier for the reader to read a 4-8 minute blog post than a chapter that will take you three to ten times that long.

I've been a fly tier (tyer?) for about 30 years. I'd tied my first flies before I caught my first trout on a fly. I see fly tying as a way to solve a puzzle. It is an experimental endeavor - what are they eating and who can I imitate that? As such, I like to play around with flies. The Clouser Deep Minnow is a great pattern but it is a guideline for a fly, not a blueprint. I'll spend a little time thinking about and experimenting with different flies and ideas.


I am a "trout guy" living the the Driftless Area of Wisconsin. Sure, I branch out some but most of my fishing is Driftless Spring Creek fishing within 45 minutes or so of my home. Expect a lot of Driftlessness but much of it is pretty transferable. Trout are trout, after all. That said, I love fishing anywhere I can and mostly do it with a fly rod because, quite frankly, I'm much better with the fly rod than spining, or heaven forbid, baitcasting gear. Holy birdnest, Batman!

I like to think I'm a pretty decent photographer...and sometimes I am. Much of what you'll see are camera phone shots but my DSLR certainly gets a work out as well. Why camera phone - because it is what I am comfortable carrying on the stream. It's fun to share some photos and to play around trying to get new and interesting shots of flies and fishes. Many of my friends do not really understand the idea that fish photos bore me. Seriously, how many "grip and grins" or full fish photos can you see before it bores you? As a fisheries biologist, I have handled more fishes than most and quite frankly, few are that unique. So take an interesting shot. (Yes, I did start this post with a grip and grin...I guess there is a place for that or I'm a huge hypocrite.)

How often am I going to update the blog? I really have no idea, sorry. I have a full time job that is at times exceedingly full time and other times, I have more time to "play". I have some plans for the tying season. In Wisconsin, that means from mid-October through about mid-March most years. That is not to say that there is not fishing to be had but you really have to pick your spots. During the fishing season, I hope to have some weekly blogs and here and there some non-hotspotting posts about fishing in Wisconsin and other places.


I'm doing this for fun, if it stops being fun, I'll stop posting or do it a lot less. I'd love to see lots of (constructive) comments and feedback and make this a real community. We'll see as we go along what happens.

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