Fly Fishing 101

Our local Orvis dealer offers free introductory fly fishing classes on a regular basis. So, with the encouragement of my wife, I took a fly fishing class. The Fly Fishing 101 class was held in the Orvis store (with the exception of the casting, which took place outside) and students were introduced to the very basics of the sport. We were shown how to tie two very basic knots, the double sugeon's knot and the simple clench knot. The former knot attaches the leader line to the fly line and the latter is used to tie the fly to the leader line. There's also a shorter fishing line called a tippet and it's used to extend the leader line. There are a near infinite number of flies categoriezed as a nymph, streamer, or dry fly. Flies are chosen based upon the time of year it is, the insects that are in season, one’s fishing location, or as our instructor put it, whatever the fish feel like eating….

…Needless to say, there's a lot to learn and a great deal of additional fly fishing gear to be had…

Once outfitted with all that's necessary to fly fish don't fall in…you'd sink and lose a lot of money. Don't worry, though, fly fishing typically takes place in scenic streams like those from Robert Redford's movie, A River Runs Through It minus the view of Brad Pitt. Besides, fly fisherman wear waders to wade the streams and stay dry. They also wear some pretty cool hats, which is my favorite clothing accoutrement.

The second class is Fly Fishing 201 where students are taken to a local stream, or in our case, a pond. Everyone is handed a rod and reel and then allowed to tie a fly to their leader line should they feel so confident. There's a brief review on how to cast a line and then everyone is turned lose to make a fool of him or herself. I ended up hooking my shirt and eventually losing my fly to the grassy lawn behind me. Still, I persevered and did not give up my dream of landing a big fish.

I did my best trying to recall what I had learned from the previous day, but failed miserably. Bear in mind that during the previous day's introductory class I practiced casting a line for maybe half an hour. Most fly fisherman spend a lifetime practicing this art and never succeed. There's a certain je ne sais quoi to finessing the fly line out and into the water all in one effortless motion.

Eventually, one of the instructors made his way over to me and after careful consideration of my technique relegated me to the empty grass where, and without a fly, (it got lost in the grass earlier, remember) he had me practice my casting. I really, really tried to do my best. I paid careful attention. I asked questions, and I even complimented the instructor on how easy he made it look. Perhaps it was due to my low casting aptitude, lack of a dry fly, or a crummy rod and reel, but I could not get the hang of fly fishing. Much to the instructor's chagrin, he eventually mumbled a few lines, shared some encouraging words, and slipped away towards another more gifted student. I think he had finally met his match when it came to patience and teaching even the most novice student how to cast a fly line. I sort of know how my former students felt when they didn't quite get something I was trying to teach like counting a set of objects.

I don't consider myself a fisherman, but I do enjoy fishing with Olive. We use live bait and I'm quite proud of my self-taught casting technique. There's little in the way of additional gear, but like any hobby, one could, can, and will invest heavily in things that are not always needed. We catch our fair share of fish, keep a few, and return the ones we don't need or want. Olive has her favorite Frozen themed fishing rod and tackle box and I have a friend's cast-off fishing pole and spinning reel. When we lived in our previous home the highlight of our fishing adventures was digging up worms in the garden. I think I'm too much of a minimalist when it comes to fishing. I have it my head that I am Nick Adams, the main character in Hemingway's short story, “Big Two-Hearted River”. I'm a simple man who simply likes to fish. (Not that Nick Adams was a simple man.)

Regardless, I enjoyed the experience and I can finally say I gave fly fishing a try. For now I'll enjoy and appreciate reading about the sport through the writings of Hemingway and dream about the fish I didn't catch. However, if my wife will allow it I might buy one of those cool looking fly fishing hats.

"He watched them holding themselves with their noses in the current, many trout in deep, fast moving water, slightly distorted as he watched far down through the glassy convex surface of the pool, its surface pushing and swelling smooth against the resistance of the log-driven piles of the bridge."


Enjoy some highlights of my humbling fly fishing experience. Please note that I was not “that guy” with a camera; all of these photos were taken with my phone, while still trying to be the best Fly Fisherman possible.

So long, Maryland . . .

From our old home to our new home, Wisconsin!

From our old home to our new home, Wisconsin!

So long Maryland!

After nearly 47 years of living in Frederick, MD my family and I have moved to Wisconsin.

Why Wisconsin? My wife's family lives here. We want our daughter to grow up near her cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents. Wisconsin is also a beautiful state. In the short amount of time we have lived here, I have discovered some breathtaking sights. I am continually adding to our list of places I would like to visit, and friends and family are constantly adding to that list with their favorite recommendations.

I retired from teaching (after 26 years) and decided it was time for a change, a huge change! I have taken a step back from my career as an educator, and, with the encouragement of my family and friends, I am pursuing a greater passion: Photography. With fewer distractions, I am able to consider what I want to do with my photography. There are projects I want to complete and new opportunities to explore. It's an exciting endeavor and one for which I am grateful. I look forward to exploring, photographing, and making new memories in our new home.

What are your favorite places to visit in Wisconsin? Do you have any special memories or traditions in Wisconsin? If you were to have photographs taken in Wisconsin where would you want to go and more importantly, why?

Being a Farmer

I’ve always dreamed of becoming a Farmer...sort of. I tend to romanticize what it would be like to wake up at the crack of dawn, feed the animals, milk the cows, collect chicken eggs, tend to the crops, and the myriad of jobs a farmer does to keep his farm running smoothly. However, after spending an hour watching and taking photographs of a friend who runs the family dairy farm, I realize that I do not have the wherewithal, stamina, focus, concentration, brains, and brawn it takes to own a farm.

While visiting Wisconsin, I asked my wife's close friend if I could spend some time taking photographs at her husband’s family-owned dairy farm. I was readily welcomed, with the caveat that I might be put to work. I secretly hoped I would be asked to work, and went so far as to look at overalls on Amazon. When I shared this secret with my wife I was met with a firm "no." (Don't worry, I saved them in my Amazon Wish List, should someone want to purchase them for me.)

Roselawns Farm is a multi-generational dairy farm run by Eric Otto and his brother. With well over 300 dairy cows and 200 acres of farmland, Eric and his family are kept busy, very busy, with all that it takes to run a farm. My respect for what farmers do to keep food on our tables has increased exponentially. Each and every day Eric, his brother, and their employees milk the cows at 6:00 am, 2:00 pm, and 9:00 pm. It's a process that takes between 5 and 6 hours per milking, eight cows at a time, 54,000 pounds of milk every other day. Think about that the next time you're in a hurry to pick up a gallon of milk!

Getting up early, I arrived to the farm around 6:00 am and met Eric along with several of the farmhands busy at work. The cool Wisconsin morning along with the smells of a working farm made my heart happy. Stepping into the darkness of the milking parlor, I was met by several stray cats that Eric was more than happy to send home with me. (I declined the offer, knowing my wife would have sent me to live at the farm.) Eric introduced me to the inner workings of dairy farming; his brain runs in overdrive. Eric tossed out facts and figures faster than I could wrap my head around. He knows every cow, how much milk they produce, how much feed they eat, how much feed the farm will need for the winter, and exactly how much feed there is stored in the farm's silos. It was an awe-inspiring experience for me, and one that left me feeling proud for this husband and father of two beautiful daughters. Eric is proud to be a Dairy Farmer and it shows in all that he does to keep Roselawns Farm producing milk for families everywhere.

While I was only at the farm for approximately two hours, I took as many photos as I could. Sadly, Eric shied away from the camera. Between now and the next time we visit I plan to talk him into a portrait. Eric did encourage me to take as many pictures of the cows as I wanted. What I find most interesting about cows are their curiosity. As I walked up and down the rows and rows of stalls, each one took notice of me. Several of them stopped what they were doing, which was chewing their cud, to investigate what I was doing. Although curious, they are also cautious. Why such an enormous creature would shy away from a human is funny to me. Cow number 505 (and pictured below) was perhaps the most curious. She, along with several other cows, followed me around the barn. I wonder how my wife would have felt if I would have tried to bring a cow home with me! 

Thank you again, Eric, for allowing me to interrupt your morning to learn more about what it takes to be a Farmer. Your knowledge of dairy farming goes beyond impressive to genius. We are grateful for all that you and Farmers everywhere do day in and day out! A special thank you goes to Krystel, Eric's wife, for making this photo session possible. While she denies being a Farmer, she is certainly a Farmer's wife. Given the hours that Eric works, it's not always easy, but her love and support is always there for him.

Do you own or work on a farm? Do you know someone who does? I would love to spend more time taking photographs with an agricultural theme. Feel free to contact me here or at My favorite time of the year is just around the corner, The Great Frederick Fair where Farmers from all around Frederick County show off their livestock and crops. I can't wait!