Thank You For Reading My Blog

This blog is about my life as a fly fisherman, guide, and fly fishing instructor in and around Northern Virginia and Washington D.C.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Skill > Beginners Luck | Quality > Quantity

I'll start off with the usual lake conditions. Early Sunday morning with steam rising off the water. A crowd of runners gathering at the Lake Audubon pool parking lot. Herons (great blue and night) flying low over the water.

Charlene and I pushed off from the boat ramp around 0730 and set out to work the shores. The water was covered with a thin film of midge exoskeletons. Their chitinous ingredients reflecting sunlight. Water visibility was poor. We could barely see a few feet down, make that a few inches.

Charlene worked the banks with a 10' 6wt rod and scorpion bug. We were not working on any complex casting techniques, just a simple water haul --> back cast --> forward cast. She placed the fly just off the bank, next to pontoons, in front of docks, under trees etc. The fishy spots. As an experienced angler, Charlene knew where the fish would be and put the fly in those exact spots. She was able to put the fly in the 1' gap between two pontoon boats. Not bad for a first timer.

By now we have worked maybe 50 yards of shoreline with a nibble or two. Cohesion allowing tension on the line for a back cast was all that was needed to cast here.  We rounded an outcropping and approached a small floating dock, maybe 4'x4'. Charlene tossed the fly just to the side of the front left corner and SPLASH. Something took the fly and went straight down. She set the hook and got the slack out of the line. I'm watching from the stern of the canoe and can't believe what I am witnessing. Her fly rod is  bent double and I think its going to break. That is a lot of bend for a 10' rod. The scales flashed just below the surface and I could tell the fish was big. I thought it was a big carp taking a bug off the surface.

The fish is digging deep and going down and Charlene keeps tension on the fish. She strips the line in and gets the leader just inside the guides as the fish comes up along the side of the boat (which has now turned). I see its a big largemouth and wish I had brought the landing net. The fish comes up to me and I manage to grab the leader and lip the bass. This thing was huge.

The largest bass I have seen taken from this lake in the history of the lake (it was built just before I was born). This is the first fly-caught fish for Charlene and it gets the first X-Large file size status on the blog:

Say it is beginners luck but she knew what she was doing and put the fly where it should go and got the results.

We continued along the shore and she caught a few smaller bass which would have been considered nice sized fish on any other morning. A sunfish here and there but not the normal amount of fish. I'm not sure if it was the water color or the recent string of 90+ degree days.

We glided over some carpzillas and spooked them. They sent up a trail of bubbles and cloud of mud as we neared the head of the lake. Charlene was now fishing a dry-dropper rig with a scorpion bug as lead fly and damsel nymph as dropper. Not hard to guess that combination with me. She now catches a baby grass carp. Two huge accomplishments in one day, a monster bass and a carp on fly.

The next thing that blew my mind out of this awesome day was a bird spooking fish. I have not seen that since my time in the Florida Keys. A bird took off from shore and the shadow spooked something big and we heard it from a distance.

We were now on the paddle back to the boat ramp, working the opposite shore. The spots that are normally productive proved fishless. Charlene continued to place the fly where she needed and missed a few fish. Granted she was throwing a huge bug and some of the fish had small mouths. Setting the hook is never easy for a first timer and a fish here and there was missed due to a bit too much slack in the line and that fly size.

1000 came before I knew it and our time was up. The Germany vs. England game was about to start too. I paddled us around the creepy drain and back to the boat ramp. Charlene set a new standard for what a first timer can pull out of the lake. Spoiler alert, Germany won.

Charlene plans to fish mountain brookie streams in West Virginia in the future. She should look into a 8'6" 5wt. That rod might be a bit heavy for tiny brookies but versatile enough for local streams, lakes, and rivers.

I hope to fish with her in the future, be it client based or just bumping into her on the water.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Preparing For This Weekends Bachelor Party

No, not my bachelor party. I am already married. Speaking of bachelor parties and my wedding, THW still owes me a rain check for a bachelor party. We didn't do anything.

Ok, enough of that. I have a group of 6-7 this weekend on the Potomac. Mission, smallies. I wanted to get out to the location as I have not fished it this season. Needed to check on water levels, clarity, exposed structure etc.

I crossed the rte 15 bridge and geared up. The sun was still behind the trees so I could not see into the water. I walked up stream to try and find some access as the parking lot had a family working the water. Md side was looking plausible. I found one entrance to the river which required me to scramble down a hill on exposed roots. Not the kind of entry a client should use. The cool water was a respite from the hot and humid air. I managed one bite on the scorpion bug (the one Charlene used yesterday). As mentioned above, I could not see into the water. I was hesitant to wade in. I played around on shore and found a piece of submerged bark with snails, mayfly larvae, and scuds attached. I'm not a super fan of my camera but took some pics anyway.

Since the camera is waterproof (about the only good thing about it, the thing takes over-exposed pictures no matter what the setting) I put it in and snapped a few shots of the net-building caddis.

I decided to sniff out the Va side, climbed back up the roots, and made my way back to the car.
There were several large fish flashing their scales out in the middle. The camera is crap so take my word for it:

I cross the Potomac and drive past the Va boat ramp for a few minutes. Pandora is on the smart phone and I want to explore a bit of country road. I make a u-turn and see a bunch of ripe raspberries on the side of the road. Good thing I brought an empty Nalgene just for foraging. I worked the plants for a few minutes and got the bottle 2/3 full. Props to my fishing gloves, no thorns in the fingers. THW will be so happy. We can freeze them and drop them into Cava, make a sauce reduction out of them, or just eat them as they are. Nom Nom Nom.

Enough shenanigans, time to fish. I get back in the car and head toward the river. I pass a small field and see a turkey on the edge. I stop and snap a picture. Now you already know I'm not a fan of this camera. Another issue is it takes to long to start up. So I'm ready to take the bird's mug shot and the camera is still warming up. Here you can see the turkey going back into the woods. Take my word for it, its there.

As I get back into my car I notice another stand of raspberry plants. I get out and start picking. One thing about raspberries is they are just that, plural. Each individual sphere is a unique fruit. What we call the raspberry is a cluster or conglomeration of fruits, an inflorscence. The flower on the end of the stem ripens first and thus that fruit forms first. So the fruit on the end of the stem is the oldest and thus the most ripe. I went for those first. The Nalgene was now full. THW will be stoked. I love when there is free food at the office. Ps, roast turkey with raspberry coulis sounds good eh? Until Google comes up with scratch and sniff blogs, this will have to do. 

Enough screwing around, I need to find out what is going on with the river, I have clients in a few days. I have the Va lot to myself and walk down to the water. The sun lights up the water and I can see individual grains of sand and clam shells. A tree full of vultures creeps me out but I tread on.

The wading is easy and I can see fish in the water and those jumping out. There is plenty of room to back cast. The clients will have a good time.

I wade out a few hundred yards and work the deep pools below the bridge. I managed two nice smallies and was able to photograph one.
Underwater shot

The fish were eager to take flies and put up a good fight. The scenery was pastoral and calm until the clouds rolled in. Dark clouds this time of year = thunder. I'll fish any weather but lightening. The sky opened up and I go the hell out of there. That storm followed me to Leesburg, Tysons Corner, and back home.

The forecast does not include storms for Saturday morning. These guys will have a good time. Hopefully they will all want to get into the fly fishing lifestyle and the bride to be may become a fishing widow.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

First Fish On A Fly

Osman e-mailed me about catching his first fish on a fly. He had purchased a basic set up but his busy life doesn't allow him to get out as often as he likes. He lives near Burke Lake. I decided to use this location for his casting lesson and fishing adventure as it will be his home water. I have not been to the lake since 1991 when I ran cross country in high school. The lake is about 15 minuets from my current house.

I met Osman in the parking lot. It was early and the air was already saturated. He brought his Orvis outfit and we walked down to the lake. I forgot how big this lake is. Something I should take more advantage of. We walked out to the fishing pier and set up camp in the shallows. The water was about a foot deep and I could see a bunch of sunfish milling around. We tried both sides of the dock with a damsel nymph. The fish would nip at the fly but not take the hook. I should have brought brassies. We tried a popper and they lazily nibbled. I cut off the tail of a damsel and Osman had several tugs but no fish hooked. We worked on the timing involved in hook setting. These fish were not cooperating.

He worked the fly and we talked tactics and techniques. I explained how I use straight mono rather than store bought leaders and don't really use a formula. Fishing like this requires nothing more than a piece of 8' 8lb mono. Osman is a member of TPFR too. We discussed fishing the tidal sections of the Potomac and how stream fishing is different than lake fishing.

He did a great job of picking up the fly and with a smooth back cast put the fly back down. I had a boxes and boxes of flies and the go-to patterns were not producing: mr. bob lucky day popper, damsel nymph, damsel adult, modified damsel nymph. At some point I pulled out my box of split shot. I think this was when Osman asked about sinking lines and heads. I told him that a sinking line is not always needed and a bb sized split shot can get your fly down. At this point I noticed a size 16 flash back pheasant tail in the split shot box. I tied it on as a dropper under the green popper and he worked the fly in the shallows.

Now Osman may credit me but he caught the fish. The nymph was in the water and I was holding his rod as he cast. We lifted the rod and as he leg go of the cork I could feel a fish on the end. I quickly gave the rod back which he released a split second ago. Osman now had his first fish on his fly rod. He brought the little sunfish in and we got a picture on his mobile. He wanted proof to his wife of his catch.

Our time was up and I left Osman with the dry-dropper rig for him to play around with. We plan to fish the near future on the Potomac and hopefully get into some migratory fish. I have no doubt that he will visit Burke Lake a lot this summer and improve his skills. The amount of confidence he gained in one hour will last him a lifetime.

PS, he outfished the bait guys at the end of the pier.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Fish Anatomy & Physiology Podcast Now Up

Environmental Benefits Of Working At Home

 Here is a list of environmental benefits of working at home:
  1. Electricity  
    • I can use my phone to check e-mail, web hits, and social media instead of using a computer which is either asleep or off
    • I am not stuck in a cube with constant overhead flouresent lights, computer air conditioning, printer, fax etc running 24/7
    • My home office is lit by windows now until 7:30 pm
    • I can regulate the thermostat and lights based on my needs, not my co-workers
  2. Water 
    • Less laundry and dry cleaning. No more suits to the office, slacks, button downs, under shirts, and socks to wash. I can wear shorts, a shirt, and flip flops every day
    • A shower is not required every morning if I'm working in the guest room
    • Fewer dishes and plastic containers to wash since not brown bagging
    • No more water wasting industrial toilets
  3. Paper 
    • No more needless waste of paper "we are not in the business of saving paper" said my former boss
    • No more disposable paper towels
  4. Gas 
    • No more commuting
    • No more sitting in traffic wasting fuel
    • I can run errands and go to the gym during the day when there is less traffic
  5. Food 
    • I can rely on whats in the cupboards, fridge, leftovers, etc
    • I do not need to prepare 2 meals per day as I can eat leftovers
    • I require less corn store purchases as I do not need as many ingredients to prepare those meals
    • I am about to go pick raspberries along the golf course edge

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

UFOs On The Potomac

Fished with fellow TPFR member Paul Brooks yesterday. We met at the Fletchers parking lot around 0930 and geared up for carp and snakeheads. We walked upstream on the C&O Canal toward Chain Bridge in the hopes of sight casting to carp. We walked the 1+ mile and did not see any carp until we passed the bridge. There were distinct cloudy spots and bubbles coming up. The canal was ovaltine brown and it was hard to see anything in there, let alone try to cast to fish. We had no idea of water depth, number of fish, or how they were feeding.

We took the trail down to the spillway and started fishing. The temps were now in the upper 80's. The walking is extremely treacherous during low tide. I would compare it to the asteroid surface from Armageddon. The smell was awful and I used my buff to cover my nose. Mix rotting shore fish, anoxic mud, and what ever else was out there.

Paul and I worked the pools and eddys with a variety of flies and lines. No luck. Several fish jumped out of the water, broke the surface, and otherwise mocked us. Several fish were breaking along the seam out in the main channel. This of course, was out of casting range.

I climbed some of the larger rock outcrops to get my fly closer to that seam. I'm glad I wore my Patagonia stove pipe pants. I lost my footing and slid down one side of the rocks and would have gotten torn up if not for the tough fabric protecting my legs and arse. I caught a gross channel catfish. The fish took the damsel nymph dropper (behind a clouser). I took some pics and threw it back. People actually eat these gross fish.  It had lesions on its barbels, back, and was missing a chunk of a fin. Gross.

Paul was headed closer to the bridge and I was content to stay put. My camelback was now about 1/4 full and I was draining it fast. I continued to throw my line out into the current with no luck. Then I spotted this UFO, unidentified fish object. I'm not sure if it was a single fish or more than one in some sort of mating event. Whatever it or they were, was huge. If I was fishing in Florida, I would have said it was a manatee.

As soon as I got the camera out and snapped a few shots, it was over. I packed up my gear and headed down to Paul. I did not enjoy the 100 yards or so over sharp rocks and loose ones that shifted upon my weight. Paul said something to the effect that he'd rather be in a pool than on the river in that heat and I agreed. We packed up and took the 'trail' under the bridge.

No carp were spotted on the way back to Fletchers. We talked fishing and family stuff and Paul told stories about striper fishing in New England. There were plenty of raspberries on the wood's edge and I nibbled one.  Before long we were back at the lot and I went straight to the ice water in the trunk.

It was good to be out in the heat and try for carp and snakeheads. One of the goals of TPFR is to get others out fishing together and today we met one of those goals.

Monday, June 21, 2010

I Smell Like A Pretty Girl While Getting Skunked

I spend a lot of time and effort to prevent skin exposure to the sun while fishing. I cover my hands, face, head, legs, arms, feet etc with clothing and sunscreen. Yet I spend the afternoon at the pool with THW and friends with skin exposed. I forgot to re-apply after going in the pool. I woke up in pain.

I woke up with red arms, chest, and thighs. The plan is to drop THW off at the airport and hit up gravelly point. A day in the sun. I grab the wife's jar of after sun deep aqua cooling body souffle body lotion creme stuff and lather it on. Now I smell like a pretty girl. 

I arrive at the parking lot and ride the skateboard down to the boat ramp. I climb out onto the dock and look upstream. I have the whole place to myself. Good, no one will bust my chops for smelling like a pretty girl.
I move around the marsh and to the fishing spot, drop off the gear, and enter the river. I"m tying on a fly and feel something tickling my leg. I look down to find one of those urticating hair caterpillars. If  you don't know what I'm talking about, listen to my podcast on entomology. Click the RSS link to the right -->

Water is rushing out of the duck pond as the last of the tide change occurs.

I'm throwing a curly tail bunny. Nothing. I switch to a braid worm. Nothing. I see a few baitfish busting the surface and cast over them. Nothing. I tie on a damsel nymph dropper. Nothing. Are the fish laughing at me? Is my sassy scent scaring the fish? What is going on. I'm throwing into the current, working seams, working the slack water, stripping, dead drifting, and more. Not a single tug on the end of my line.

I put on a clouser and still no fish. The tide is now starting to come back in after a few hours. I have to move my gear to higher ground. Its getting hot now and I'm soaked with sweat. The smell is now spreading out with the sweat beads. I finally get a tug on the end of my line. I strip in and think I've snagged some baitfish. I can't even do that.

I snagged someone's rubber baitfish jig:
Now I'm just bummed out. I have been casting and working the water for hours and not a single fish. I decide to switch locations.

I get on the longboard and set out on the Mt Vernon Trail. I already smell like a pretty girl, now I'm on a 40" skateboard, I have on a huge hat, holding a 12' switch rod, wearing gloves, and have a huge bag slung around my shoulder. People are staring at me. I'm used to it. I'm also reminded of how much of a wus I am.

I am not a fan of fast paced sports, fast cars, or boats. I get scared going downhill on my cross country skis on the golf course, I could not ride on the back of a scooter, I get freaked out if the skateboard goes to fast.
I'm now cruising on a 1% slope on the Mt. Vernon trail and getting nervous. I want to bail and dive into the grass. My biggest fears are falling and getting hurt, my skateboard going into a biker, or the skateboard flying off into the river. The trail flattens out and I calm down. I can now cruise at a slow pace and work on my skating skills.

I ride a couple miles north and fish a marina outflow. Nothing. I pack up and skate back to the car to end my day.

Metropolitan Angling Lessons

We were out on the water before the heat set in on Saturday morning. A husband and wife team who are interested in fly fishing. We went over the casting basics, flipped over some rocks and found snails, caddis, midges, and mayflies. Damsels and dragons filled the air. This stream appears to be quite healthy. All of this within earshot of an airport, train tracks, and major urban thoroughfare.

Forty minutes of casting lesson allowed the couple to sneak up to a waterfall and apply what they learned. The water was surprisingly cool and clear. We wet waded up to the boulders and began to cast. Sunfish and bass chased the damsel nymphs with each strip of the line and twitch of the rod tip.

Our biggest issue with landing fish was setting the hook. The clients were able to see the fly disappear into the fish's mouth but were unable to set the hook. The wife missed several fish but eventually got the hang of it. She set the hook on one fish too hard and the fish was launched behind us. 

The mimosa trees were in full bloom and provide shade over classic pocket water:

Sunfish will always be one of my favorite target fish. Strong fighters, willing to eat, beautiful colors, and a great introductory species for beginners:

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Fishing Lessons from Robert Duvall

How patient are you when fishing?

Are you the angler who exits the parking lot and throws the fly in the first hole encountered before you get your boots wet? Or are you the angler who slowly approaches the water, observes and surveys the water, bugs, sunlight, glare, and looks for feeding fish? You observe the situation and then apply your new gained knowledge while fishing.

Going in rods a blazing (baby bull) might get you a fish, but it most likely will scare fish away (and think of all the people who fish that first hole, that place is worn out). Going in slow and observing (papa bull) will get you a better understanding of what is going on and should get you more fish. 

Take a lesson from Robert Duvall.
Kids, put on your earmuffs. Language is not suitable for you.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Gear Review | LG Ally Smart Phone

Running my own small business requires me to be plugged in 24/7. I have missed client e-mails and calls while away from the home office. I have been caught in violent storms and traffic jams. I decided to enter the world of smart phones and be connected when away from the computer.

I purchased the LG Ally from Verizon. The phone is integrated with Google (picassa, blogger, Google documents, Google maps, Google checkout, Google calendar etc.) and met my criteria:
  • e-mail
  • internet
  • doppler radar and weather
  • twitter
  • facebook
  • touch screen
  • keyboard
  • camera
  • bar-code scanner

Images thanks to Best Buy

Here are some of the official specs: 

  • Android 2.1 with Google Experience 
  • 3.2 inch touch display
  • slide-out QWERTY keyboard
  • 3.2 MP camera with autofocus and flash
  • 512 B ROM, 256 MB RAM memory
  • 4 GB microSD
  • Qualcomm MSM7627 600MHz processor
  • 3.5 mm headphone jack
  • Wi-Fi, S-GPS, aGPS
    The only draw back so far is the battery life. I have to constantly re-charge the thing. There are ways to decrease battery usage via several applications. I encountered a strange error with words similar to 'voice calls cannot be made when in HDR mode.' I think the phone is too new and the help desk had not encountered this. They were unable to assist me. I drove over to the local store at Landmark and dodged the pedestrians. Its as if these people are training for a frogger reality tv show. Who crosses 4 lanes of traffic (in each direction) with a kid under their arm? Cross walks were invented for a reason. 

    Anyway, the employees played with the phone for a while and decided a hard reset was the only solution. They managed to save my contacts but all else was lost. I was not that bummed about loosing my Pee Wee Herman soundboard, but other apps and bookmarks had to be re-entered. 

    Overall I am quite pleased with this purchase and think it will be a great asset to my consulting business. I would recommend this product to others. 

    Lets hope I don't drop the phone in the drink.

    Tuesday, June 15, 2010

    Light Cahill or. Tim Cahill ?

    Sunday's plan was to be like this: brunch at parents house --> fish --> Germany v. Australia --> fish --> make groceries --> go home and sleep.

    dr jones and I found some free fly tying material on our morning walk:

    THW made us late to brunch so fishing was put off till later. Delicious tortilla (think of an omlette with cooked potatoes in it, served in Spain). We finished rather late and the clouds were building as they do this time of year. The sky got very dark and I was not about to wheel the canoe and gear down to the lake and set out and chance being caught in a storm.

    We hunkered down for the game. Still can not believe Cahill got ejected from that game. Sure he was late in the tackle and got legs not ball but come one.

    I spent half time in the backyard debating about taking out the boat. The wind had picked up and the sky was switching from ominous to blue bird. Speaking of birds, I found this turkey feather in the backyard.That is the second turkey feather I have found in Reston. Cool find no?

    The heat was tolerable but the humidity made being outside rather unpleasant. Sweat does not evaporate off the skin if the amount of moisture in the air is greater than that on your skin. Evaporation causes a cooling effect. Your body can not maintain its normal internal body temperature if evaporation is prevented. Being overheated and electrocuted was not how I wanted to spend the afternoon.

    Some friends showed up for the final 15 min plus stoppage. They brought snacks, nice. Germany destroyed the Socceroos and the game was over. It was now around 5pm and too late to fish --> make groceries --> go home. We took the hound out for a walk. I chose the trail along Audubon's tailwater. We stood on the hill above the first pool after the dam and could see large bass and sunfish swimming around and chasing each other. I should have brought my 1wt. We continued along my childhood playground and came across all sorts of asters, sunflowers, berries, solomons seal, jack-in-the-pulpit, chicory, and a variety of other wildflowers. Vernal pools were drying up and the remaining tadpoles were huddled in the 'deepest' locations.

    The heat was too much for dr jones so I picked him up and put him over my shoulders like a shot boar. He is a total wus. We worked our way back to the trailhead and I spotted a crayfish house on the side of the trail, in the middle of a dried up vernal pool.
    We stopped by the boat ramp and enjoyed the breeze coming off the lake. Everyone was complaining about the heat so we headed back to the parental unit's house.

    Footy has taken over my urge to fish for the second day in a row. I'll try to get out next weekend between matches.

    World Cup > Fishing

    DC United home games and World Cup matches > going fishing.
    I did not have any clients this past weekend so time was spent watching footy.

    The afternoon started off with a trip to the craft stores as I do most Fridays. I picked up some fuzzy, maroon colored yarn for mulberry flies. Next stop was to get a smart phone. A picturesque sunset over the Potomac for our drive into the city. Can you spot the plane as it approaches gravelly point?
    Friday's games were a good introduction with Friday night spent at cousin Ari's restaurant. I had the Bowtie pasta with sautéed porcini mushrooms, garlic, parsley and a touch of parmesan cheese. It was awesome. THW ordered Cannelloni Mascarpone e Funghi. The food and drink were awesome. We decorated a plate for the wall and drew royal coachmen around the edge. Our reservation was at 9:30 so we were out later than I like. 

    Here are some images from the restaurant. I would have normally taken food pics but this phone is new and I did not know how to use the flash. Anyway, here is Ari in the open kitchen. 
    Up early and off to Kittys at 0830. Some of the kids were already there and the table was covered in empty strongbow cans. The worst thing  you can see during a world cup feed is the blue screen of death.

    I took a break after the Argentina game and strolled up to Orvis Arlington to pick up my new Buff Pro Angler Series Gloves.  Courthouse and Clarendon were full of footy fans all decorated in hats, scarves, jerseys, and flags as they celebrated the greatest sporting event ever. 

    Javier and Dan were working. Trent was working with them now. He's the guy who caught the 30" snakehead at chain bridge.

    Javier grabbed my gloves from the back and I sniffed around. There was a dude in there who was preparing for a trip to Florida. He was boasting of his trip and got a little defensive when I asked about Boca Grande, "its around Boca Grande, its in Florida, north of there, on the gulf coast". Dude, I took geography, spend vacations for most of my life in Florida, worked down there, and know the manager of a shop there. And I fish. He didn't have to be all snotty with me. I was just there to hang out and spend some money at the local shop. I think he was wearing brown flip flops.

    Dan was putting bimini twists on this guys reels. Trent and I watched for several minutes as Dan wound the backing onto the spools and then knotted them. I had never seen bimini like this. Then again, Dan is an encyclopedia of fly fishing and he shows me something new each time I see him. That shop is lucky to have him. I managed to snap a few pics of Dan's knots with the new phone before dropping off an old reel for repairs. A large arbor with no drag is nothing more than a paperweight. 

    I returned to Kitty's just in time for USMNT coverage. The outside temp was around 90 and not much cooler in the pub. I needed a few pints to cool off. Glad I brought my Tervis Big T.

    THW showed up and stayed on the patio. She shows about the same interest in fishing as she does football. A draw with USMNT and England was better than a loss. We finished the night at a friends house having drinks in the hot tub.

    dr jones was running through our friends backyard and romping through the plants. He chased after me as I ran across a foot bridge over their little pond. dr jones had never seen lily pads before and probably thought they were the plants growing on the rest of the yard. So he jumped onto them and immediately sank. There was a gap in the pads where he entered and he popped up with his fluff-less white head through the plants. He had to be fished out and proceed to run all over their yard trying to dry off. For a dog that does not like being wet, this was the first time he had gone in the drink with out my help. One of the funniest things I've ever seen.

    Friday, June 11, 2010

    "The things I'm gonna do for my country." - XxX

    THW and I attended a BBQ at the Sweedish Airforce Residence in McClean, Va last night. We brought Ken 'guy flowers' in the form of a 6 pack of mixed stouts from total beverage. Pernilla as always provided a smorgasbord of eats and drinks.

    The Aussies brought a bottle of chilled bubbly which complemented the warm breeze. We dined al fresco and the house lights came on as the sun dipped behind the trees. I noticed a bug on Martin's back and offered to pick it up. The bug was an Elaterid and I showed them why this beetle is a favorite party trick.

    Take the beetle and flip it over on your open palm. Watch for the beetle to arch its head back, you will feel this as the head presses into your palm. Point at the beetle and say 'JUMP' and if you time it correctly, the beetle will click, flip in the air, and turn itself over. By now most of the nordic foreign nationals know me as the angler married to THW. Most know I am not a normal person and did not find this at all out of the ordinary. Then there were the people Martin was talking to and they thought I was some freak the Sweeds let out of the basement.

    I threw the beetle into the air and it flew away. Empty handed, I entered the kitchen to grab some drinks. A Xante and a 10 year Balvenie. I like how its early enough that mosquitoes are not all over the place and eating me alive. There must be a stream nearby other than the Potomac. The caddis and mayflies started to congregate near the lights. I could not help myself, I had to get a closer look.

    The Aussies, Sweeds, Fins, Yanks, and others were enjoying a drink while staring at me nose close to the aluminum siding. One of them invited us down to their lake house on Smith Mountain Lake for some fishing and water ski adventures. Score. I'd say the mayflies were size 16 sulfurs or white millers. Several had 2 caudal cerci and others had 3. Some looked like duns with darker wing venation and poppy seed eyes. I was picking them up by their wings and displaying them on my fingertip to the onlookers.

    Time for an entomology lesson. THW came over and I pointed out the hydropsyche caddis flitting around the lights. Ken then pointed out that these were special outdoor lights from Home Depot that were supposed to not attract bugs. Sounds like an international diplomacy issue to me.

    A 3/4" stonefly had arrived and was crawling around the lights and then the humidor and votives. I was in heaven. 

    I had Sweeds and Aussies hanging out and examining bugs. No one else there seemed to notice the biodiversity congregating around the lights. I had no shame in playing with them and teaching the diplomats, the things I'm gonna do for my country! I then described the outbreak of stinkbugs in the area and Martin chimed in that his house if full of them. They fall out of his vents every time the air comes on. He also told us about watching the filming of Bizarre Foods at the House of Sweden where Zimmern ate Surströmming and had it spooge on him when he opened the can. Nasty.

    Did I forget to mention the dangling bug zappers? I despise bug zappers. A device created to kill human pests. These pests are not attracted to light, they are attracted to our respiratory waste and body heat. There were dozens of caddis crawling on the zappers cage and getting fried. Others celebrated the sound, I poured out a drop of Xante to my entomological brethren. 

    The crowd is gone and we are finally sitting down. I kick THW under the table to indicate I want to go home as its late. She gives in at 12:45 this morning and we head home. Being exhausted behind the wheel is no fun. We had the top down so the blowing air did not help my contacts and the beltway construction made the on-ramps very confusing.

    I'll upload the pictures tonight if I am awake. We have a late reservation at cousin Ari's restaurant tonight, Acqua Al 2 DC or tomorrow after the world cup matches.

    Wait, what was this post about? Oh yea, I'll play with bugs in front of foreign diplomats. I'm so tired I don't know what I'm talking about.

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