I want to lead with saying I had an excellent Independence Day weekend. On the holiday itself I grilled enough meat and (sweet) potatoes to satiate 400% of the party size actually being served. But, the leftovers have been serving me well and in fact I just finished working through a plate of shrimp and pork ribs before moving over to write this post.
I really enjoy the atmosphere of being in proximity to an active outdoor cook in a side-yard in the suburbs (particularly in this case where the charcoal grill was going strong from the lunch recently removed, and the pellet grill was working full-smoke-ahead towards dinner with similarly appealing aroma).
That said, it was on the verge of 100F through the afternoon, so between refrigerated cans of seltzer water I took to watching the smoke from the comfort of the indoors. One thing my experience would have really suffered from would have been were I not the proud owner of a good pair of Grill Heat Aid Extreme Heat Resistant BBQ gloves. Even apart from dealing with the cooking heat, neither of my grills was concealed in shade, so as one might imagine the metallic handle-bars were more than a little warm to the touch. I would consider any essential barbecue accessory kit incomplete without a pair of these, and my blister-free hands would back me up on that. More generally, I anticipate now that the major Summer holidays have passed (for U.S. readers), sales on grilling hardware and accessories will be more prevalent and in tune with this I plan to publish a guide in the near future for assembling a beginner's charcoal grilling kit on a budget.
On a loosely related note, a couple weeks ago I decided to drive out to a part of the river I had not visited in a couple years, and the pay off was nearly immediate. As I went on a brief scout along the bank before gearing up back at the truck, I quickly observed a school of what I believe were modestly sized rainbow trout feeding on the surface, all grouped under a specific spot shaded by an overhanging tree. By the time I returned donning waders and flies, and waded over to where I had observed this activity, the clouds had already shifted and temperatures risen. I no longer observed this specific school at the surface, but I did begin to observe various smaller rises up and down stream. After failing to achieve anything with a dry fly, I decided to tie on a trusty copper nymph. This time however, unwilling to disrupt the pleasure of smooth casting with a bobber, I decided I was just going to nymph blindly. Unlike the parts of the river I frequent, the current was highly consistent here, so I figured stripping as necessary to retain a tout line as to feel the nymph being briefly taken would be relatively trivial.
Fortunately my reasoning was apparently sound, or at least in short order I had hooked, fought and landed the first brown trout I have ever caught (leaving mountain whitefish the only item on this year's fish hit list, for those paying attention to that). There was no other activity to record that afternoon, but I did vow to return to this spot.
I returned to the spot on Independence Day at an earlier hour and noticed a much greater level of top-water activity. After a few minutes of failing to achieve any response with the same nymph I had used previously, I switched to a dry fly (I would tell you what it was but I'm still trying to learn my entomology) and shortly proceeded to catch my second ever brown trout and first ever trout on a dry fly. By all appearances this may as well have been the same trout I caught the previous week, quite small so I released it quickly and went back to targeting all the other risers.
Unfortunately despite cycling through the majority of dry flies in my box I did not achieve any further activity. I did have a passerby (apparently an angler himself) observe one of my overhead casts, remark "that one was right on the money!" and then proceed to explain how surprised he was when it was apparent no trout would be taking the fly. My tippet was starting to whittle down in size which I suspect may have been a factor, but more generally I believe I need to really focus on educating myself in the art and science of fly selection.
In both outings described above, my ability to enjoy and focus on the experience of wading and fishing was owed in large part to the set of Summer apparel I have assembled to combat high temperatures and control moisture:
I picked these up a few Summer's ago when I first took up fly fishing, and they provide excellent service especially paired with related apparel. When wearing these I experience no inhibition of dexterity when grabbing flies and tying knots, yet the better part of the surface of my hands refrain from burning in the sun. I can also wet my hands quite easily on landing a fish, and the gloves will dry in short order once the fish handling has concluded
2) Huk and Columbia Fishing Shirts
I would be lying if I said I did not pick up my Columbia shirt primarily based on how much I liked the graphic featured on the front side. That said, Columbia and Huk make excellent long-sleeve fishing shirts and having never worn this kind of thing previously, I can confirm the experience is far superior to just wearing short sleeves. There were similar offerings that included hoodies which I would probably be inclined towards if I lived somewhere with a notable rainy season.
Back in early Spring this company sponsored a podcast I was listening to (unrelated to the topics of this blog) and I figured I might as well get in on what seemed to be a pretty good deal. I thought I would be getting 6 wraps for the price of 1, but I ended up getting a 7th bonus one as well. I gave one to a buddy and keep the rest stashed in my truck for access at a moments notice. I wrap most of my head when on the water to keep the sun out and the bugs out of my ears.
With all of those in conjunction (plus a good fishing hat), I minimize my demand for sun screen on the water. If feeling oily and sticky (inorganically or otherwise) impedes your enjoyment of the outdoors, I strongly recommend investing in some moisture wicking apparel.
That's all I had for this one. Stay hydrated out there, thanks all!