Archive for new years resolutions

Looking ahead to 2017…

Posted in Uncategorized, Writing with tags , , , on February 8, 2017 by stflyfisher

“Hope
Smiles from the threshold of the year to come,
Whispering ‘it will be happier’…”
― Alfred Tennyson

Anglers are a hopeful bunch, and perhaps the hope curve is highest this time of the year, when angling is still months away for us in the Southern Tier. Snow, ice, and arctic air might contain us, but within us our imaginations run like roaring rivers about what might be in 2017. We are hopeful in the pause of winter. We look back on the year, re-live the great moments on the water and learn from the not-so-great and then turn our gaze forward. We turn to tying flies, building rods, cleaning equipment, spooling lines, patching waders, and studding boots. And we dream and plan…

I set goals in most areas of my life, including fly fishing. I think the act of goal-setting is important in becoming a better angler. Goals stir us to action and hopefully, force us out of our comfort zone. It’s rare when I achieve everything I set out to do; in fact, if I hit 70 – 80% of my targets, I consider it a very good year, indeed.

All in all, 2016 was a decent year. A few factors and events influenced my results both negatively and positively. Because of the extreme drought, for example, I was much less of a trout fisherman this year and much more of a river rat, so that had an impact on some of my goals. The purchase of investment property in Florida also added a dimension to my fly fishing that was not in the plans back in January, 2016.

quote-dwight-d-eisenhower-in-preparing-for-battle-i-have-always-47920

So it is with planning and goals. General Dwight D. Eisenhower, architect of the D-Day Invasion, once said that plans are useless but planning is necessary. My take on his quote goes along the lines of another version of it – that no plan ever survives “first contact with the enemy.” The crux and irony of planning is that one needs to do it to preclude failure but since so many factors change the course of events and impact plans, one must not be rigid to a plan and should only use it as a guideline. One must be committed to the goal or objective, but remain fluid with respect to the plan to achieve it.

So looking forward, I hope to set goals that help me achieve a higher level of effectiveness as a fly fisherman but not keep me from pursuing opportunities as they arise…

Here’s how I did in 2016:

  1. Learn more about nymph fishing – I read a little of Joe Humphreys and George Daniel’s works but as mentioned previously, a lack of trout fishing kept me from doing much in this area. Call this 10% complete.
  2. Learn to fly fish for musky. Per my 2016 plan, I purchased a new musky fly rod – a beautiful Scott Tidal “MP” 9′ 10 weight, and a Lamson Liquid Reel Pack to go with it (1 reel with two additional spare spools). I still need to purchase fly lines and then tie flies, study, and lastly, intentionally fish for these apex predators. Call this 20% complete.
  3. Saltwater flyfish in Destin, FL. – As mentioned in my Looking Back on 2016 post, I was able to wet a line a few times in Destin and had some fly fishing success as a newbie. 100% COMPLETE.
  4. Continue fly tying – learn to tie 5 more patterns. Thanks to last year’s BCFF Fly Tying Class, this is 100% COMPLETE.
  5. Donate a box of my flies to the TU banquet. The Al Hazzard TU banquet, a ritual of Spring was not held in 2016. Initially, it was rescheduled to late 2016, but it never actually happened. I’ll remove this goal for 2017 unless I see the event scheduled.
  6. Float-fish the Susquehanna (4X) – I did only one float of the Susquehanna this year, mainly because Mollie, my prized all weather fly fishing vehicle, was given away early in 2016, her rusted frame not able to pass another NY state inspection. I did not see a way to transport my small kayak to the river, as my wife’s SUV did not have a roof rack, but come fall, my interior design wife – the ultimate packer – showed how I could fit my kayak inside our SUV. So 1X could have been 4X after all. Call this 25% complete.
  7. Make perfect fly casting practice a habit. 100% COMPLETE.
  8. Fish with friends, including at least 3 trips with new friends. I fished with 11 different friends in 2017. 100% COMPLETE.
  9. Fly fish and/or attend fly fishing events 100 times this year. I also accomplished my goal of fishing / attending fly fishing events 100 times. This was a stretch goal but well worth it. 100% COMPLETE.
  10. Learn to tie 3 new fishing knots. 0% COMPLETE.
  11. Fish the Salmon River – Spring, Fall, Winter. I fished for steelhead in the spring and got out once for the fall Salmon run. 66% COMPLETE.
  12. Night fish for trout. 0% COMPLETE.
  13. Fish marginal waters. 0% COMPLETE.
  14. Build my own fly rod. As profiled here in early 2016, I built my first fly rod courtesy of the BC Flyfishers and expert rod maker, Joe Swam. 100% COMPLETE.

Putting a final measure on my results, I’d say I was a little over 50% effective in achieving my 2016 goals.

As most who have read previous “looking ahead” posts know, my process for goal setting starts with a look back and recounting of the year past, usually in December. Once that is done, I begin to plan for the year ahead in early January, mull my draft goals over through the rest of January and early February, and post them – a formal commitment – before my birthday in early March. This year I’m ahead of schedule…

My fly fishing goals for 2017:

  1. Learn more about nymph fishing – study Joe Humphreys’ “Trout Tactics”
  2. Learn to fly fish for muskie.
    1. Purchase line and leader
    2. Tie flies
    3. Study muskie fly fishing
    4. Fish for them
  3. Saltwater flyfish in Destin, FL.
    1. Fish the bay for redfish & trout.
    2. Fish the inlet / surf.
  4. Continue fly tying – learn to tie 5 more patterns.
  5. Float-fish the local warmwater rivers (4X)
  6. Fly fish, practice casting, or attend fly fishing events 125 times this year.
  7. Learn to build leaders. for a
    1. Buy kit
    2. Buy micrometer
    3. Fish my leaders
  8. Night fish for trout.
  9. Fish marginal waters.
  10. Build more fly rods / advance my rod building skills:
    1. Fly rod for my brother-in-law for his 60th birthday
    2. “River Rat” prototype.
    3. “Bay Rat” prototype.
  11. Search for the ideal river boat.

So here’s to achieving fly fishing goals in 2017! In the words of Saint Gerome (340 – 420), father of the Latin church: “Good, better, best, never let it rest. ‘Til your good is better and your better is best.”

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2012 Goals

Posted in Uncategorized, Writing with tags , , , , on January 17, 2012 by stflyfisher

The phrase “time flies” may be cliche, but time, it seems, truly does have wings, and even more-so, accelerates like the dive of a falcon as one gets older. On the eve of my 50th birthday, I recall my mother telling me, “if you think 50 seems old, wait until your oldest child turns 50”. Time’s march is indeed, relentless.

So here we are at the start of 2012 – another year and one in its infancy. And the exciting thing about that is that no matter how old one might be, we all get to plunge into it with a clean slate. I recall a New Year’s party scene from the movie Forrest Gump where a blonde bimbo enthusiastically whispers in Forrest’s ear; “don’t you just love New Year’s – you get another chance to start all over again”…

...another chance to start all over again...

In my own life, I start every year much the same – spending New Years Day in “seclusion” – or as some in my family would say – in my “cone of silence”…

Goal setting the Get Smart way...

Free from distractions, I once again eagerly put pen to paper to plan out the year. At least some of that planning is related to fly fishing. The end result is a bucket list of goals.

Way back in 2010, under the magical qualities of a rather high quality dry gin martini, I had enough chutzpah to actually publish those goals. Revisiting them has been more than humbling, to wit:

1) Purchase and set up an 8 weight fly fishing rig (fly rod / reel / line) for Finger Lake and Great Lakes tribs. Accomplished thanks to the fine folks at JP Ross Fly Rods in Utica, NY!

2) Catch the following “firsts” on the fly; a steelhead, lake trout, and a bluefish, striped bass, or weakfish. I did catch several steelhead on a guided outing with NY State Fly Fishing Guide Loren Williams (a post on this trip is forthcoming), however, none of the other species have been caught to date…

3) Begin fly tying – focus on the Picket Pin, Wooly Bugger, and Egg and Worm Patterns. Not even close…

4) Float fish the Susquehanna; a) Binghamton to Vestal Park, b) Vestal Park to Campville, and c) Campville to Owego. I’ve yet to float the river again since Kelly’s Excellent Canoe Adventure. I should get a “pass” on this goal for 2011, given the high river levels in general and the flooding that wiped out the fall smallmouth bass fishing…

5) Practice and improve my casting distance and accuracy.  Learn to single haul and double haul. A zippo…

6) Purchase my PA fishing license and explore, fish, and learn PA creeks and rivers. I did purchase the “pee-yay” license in 2010 and did some trout fishing on a few creeks such as the Loyalsock, Muncy, and the South Branch of the Tunkhannock.

7) Learn and use the following knots:  Non-Slip Mono Knot, Palomar Knot, Improved Turtle Knot, and Perfection Loop.  Learn to tie my own leaders. I have mastered the Non-Slip Mono Knot and Perfection Loop, but need to work on the others…

Overall, a lackluster accounting, and no wonder, as 2011 was not a great year for the Southern Tier Fly Fisher. As will be covered in a future post looking back on the year, water was actually a problem much of the year. Precipitation plagued the region: we ended with close to double the norm for the year.

So what’s a fly fisher to do?

Option 1 – Delete the 2010 goals post.

Option 2 – Forget goals altogether.

Option 3 – Forget 2010 and 2011, rewrite my goals for 2012, and get back in the water.

I noodled these questions with every swill of Hendricks gin and decided to consult literature on the subject. I found a myriad of advice on the internet, and all of it, through the ages, suggested Option 3. Here’s just a sampling:

“We aim above the mark to hit the mark.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

“My philosophy of life is that if we make up our mind what we are going to make of our lives, then work hard toward that goal, we never lose – somehow we win out.” Ronald Reagan

“Lee Wulff was born in Valdez, Alaska on February 10, 1905 and began fishing almost as soon as he could walk. During the rest of his life, until the final day, April 29, 1991, when he died at the controls of his Super Cub airplane, Lee furiously and fearlessly pursued lofty goals in conservation, innovative fly fishing techniques and tackle, habitat protection and fisheries management.” On the life of Lee Wulff…

As a special challenge, I recently set myself the goal of catching an Atlantic salmon of ten pounds or over on a #28 hook… Lee Wulff

“Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp,
Or what’s a heaven for?” Robert Browning

“Without some goal and some effort to reach it, no man can live.” Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky

“In philosophy, it is not the attainment of the goal that matters, it is the things that are met with by the way.”Henry Havelock Ellis

“Hitch your wagon to a star.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

“I respect the man who knows distinctly what he wishes. The greater part of all mischief in the world arises from the fact that men do not sufficiently understand their own aims. They have undertaken to build a tower, and spend no more labor on the foundation than would be necessary to erect a hut.”John Wolfgang von Goethe

“If one advances confidently in the direction of his own dreams and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.” Henry David Thoreau

“Begin with the end in mind.” Stephen Covey

“First say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do.” Epictetus

For last year’s words belong to last year’s language. And next year’s words await another voice. And to make an end is to make a beginning. T.S. Eliot, Little Gidding

Every man should be born again on the first day of January.  Start with a fresh page.  Take up one hole more in the buckle if necessary, or let down one, according to circumstances; but on the first of January let every man gird himself once more, with his face to the front, and take no interest in the things that were and are past.  ~Henry Ward Beecher

And so, fellow anglers, I have decided to re-write my goals – possibly pare them down a bit, removing those that occupy that space beyond possibility, replacing them with other goals just within reach. I’ll take those trout rising a little closer and leave the big boys for later on, when my cast is stronger.  You’ll see what I’m talking about just around the bend…

2010 Goals

Posted in Uncategorized, Writing with tags , , , , , on January 2, 2010 by stflyfisher

It’s been a pattern of mine for years – spending a part of New Years Day camped out in a comfortable chair – fire softly burning in the fireplace – bourbon on the rocks or a dry gin martini within arm’s reach – and putting pen to paper, inking out my plan for the year ahead.

"Let's see, goal number one, improve shelter..."

Don’t get me wrong – this is not some quick exercise completed in one sitting – it is the final draft of a plan I start formulating well before the end of each year.  I start with the big picture, or as Stephen Covey would put it, “begin with the end in mind” – and gradually break my goals down into reasonable objectives for the year ahead.  It’s a cherished process, and one that causes me to not only herald accomplishments, but recognize failures.  Best of all, it helps me, in Stephen Covey’s words, to “be proactive”.  By acting positively on past failures, I choose to respond rather than react.  Put another way, I can gripe and wail about not being able to cast well, OR, I can recognize my shortfalls and do something about them…

While I do this for all areas of my life, I thought I’d publish my goals in terms of my one and only avocation – fly fishing.  And so with great fanfare, I list them below:

1) Purchase and set up an 8 weight fly fishing rig (fly rod / reel / line) for Finger Lake and Great Lakes tribs.

2) Catch the following “firsts” on the fly; a steelhead, lake trout, and a bluefish, striped bass, or weakfish.

3) Begin fly tying – focus on the Picket Pin, Wooly Bugger, and Egg and Worm Patterns.

4) Float fish the Susquehanna; a) Binghamton to Vestal Park, b) Vestal Park to Campville, and c) Campville to Owego

5) Practice and improve my casting distance and accuracy.  Learn to single haul and double haul.

6) Purchase my PA fishing license and explore, fish, and learn PA creeks and rivers.

7) Learn and use the following knots:  Non-Slip Mono Knot, Palomar Knot, Improved Turtle Knot, and Perfection Loop.  Learn to tie my own leaders.

So how about your fly fishing goals?  Have you thought about how you could be a better fly fisherman in 2010?  Take the time now, while Mother Nature is deep in sleepy snow, and jot down a few ideas.

Can you hear the bass snoring back there???

Mull them over between swigs of whiskey if you will.  Keep coming back to them over the next few weeks and refine and rethink them, until your list is something that inspires you.  Believe me, you’ll be happy for it when 2011 rolls around…

Tight Lines, and Happy New Year…