Saturday, December 31, 2011

Looking Ahead

So of course, I owe you guys a typical new year post.

I don't (or I try not to) do the 'resolution' thing.  For me, its too confining, too all-or-nothing...which makes it somewhat counterproductive, as the whole point is to better yourself.  When you set a resolution, it's usually either too harsh (tomorrow, I'm done smoking!) or too soft (over the next year I'm going to try to cut back slightly on junk food).  In the first situation, the moment you break it, you're done.  And in the second, it's so lax that there's really no self-betterment.

No, for my new year, I just try to set a few well-defined goals that will require effort to accomplish, yet are realistically within my reach.

For this year, I have five goals for myself as far as my recreational activities go:

  • For my fly fishing, like last year (and the year before), I want to catch at least one new species on the fly.  I don't care about how it was accomplished, only that I got a fish to take a fly.  Last year, by dumb luck, I caught a chain pickerel.  In 2010, I added a flounder, my first saltwater catch on any tackle.  This year, I'm hoping to add one or more of pike, carp, gar, catfish, or, if I make it back to the salt, another species from the ocean.  One of my best friends lives minutes from the Chesapeake bay, so we're hoping to get together to fish some of the estuaries from kayaks.
  • For my tying, I'd like to explore one specific area that I've been avoiding ever since my first attempt at it: spinning and stacking hair.  I tried to tie a few muddlers when I first started tying a few years ago, and they simply looked horrible.  This year I'd like to improve on that, and get some nice flies tied with spun or stacked hair.  This will coincide nicely with my goal of catching a pike on the fly.
  • In October, a friend of mine invited me to do some waterfowl hunting, and I loved it.  To that end, I've been making a good effort at finding some good hunting around here, but so far, I've been unsuccessful.  While I did manage to take one bird on that first outing with my friend, I'd really like to get a few 'on my own' in 2012.
  • For my photography, I'd like to continue to learn, specifically in terms of landscape shooting, as well as macro work.  Of course, there's a wishlist of lenses, gadgets, and other good stuff I'd like to get, but the main thing for me is to make time to get out there, and to push myself.  Sure, this one is fairly nebulous, but it's probably the one that will mean the most to me on December 31st, 2012.
  • Finally, and most difficult, I want to get my work out there.  Ideally, I'd get published by a magazine or some other publication, but I don't want to limit my options.  While this will take some work (and I may be kidding myself with optimism at this point), I believe this is a goal that I might be able to achieve in the next year.  Hopefully, with the right combination of hard work, inspiration, and luck, I'll be able to see my name, words, or photos in print.
Well, that about sums it up for me.  What are some of your goals for the new year?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

International Fly Tying Symposium 2011

This year, just like in 2010, I attended the International Fly Tying Symposium in Somerset, NJ in mid-November.  This trip meant a little more to me than the trip last year because I had planned on going since mid-summer, but then I lost my job in September, and I really couldn't justify the expenses of a hotel room, food, and gas at a time where I really had to stretch my limited funds to make ends meet.

Then, at the very end of October, just a few weeks before the show, I got a new job.

As it turned out, I got my first paycheck from my new job they day before the Symposium.  I could justify the expense again, and it seems like a bit of a karmic reward.

The show was fairly similar to last years show, and while I'd highly recommend that any fly tyer go at least once, there wasn't enough different to make me immediately say that I want to go again next year.  For the cost of the trip, I could easily add a rod, reel, or new piece of photo equipment to my arsenal, and now that I've seen what there is to see, I'll likely go that route instead.

That being said, I did have a great time at the show, and had a lot of fun in New Brunswick Saturday night.

I'm not sure how much I talked about it here last year, but when I went in 2010, I had only just bought my SLR, and at that point, I had no lens to use on it, which limited me to taking my compact camera to the symposium.  This year I got to take my SLR and get some pretty decent shots.  Hopefully you'll enjoy these images as much as I enjoyed taking the shots.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

My Fall (Part 2)

Aside from my now job, there were a few other really notable positives in the fall, the most relevant one to my readers is that I caught my largest trout to this point.

I didn't have a tape at the time, but comparing it to the rod beside it, I estimate it to be a 22-24" tiger trout.  This is my third tiger, and it was an intense fight on my 4wt!

As usual, I took a break from the small streams and wild brookies when they decided it was time to spawn...

As I said, I made it to Erie to do some steelhead fishing...

And for the first time in my life, I went duck hunting.  A friend of mine invited me to do a few days of hunting with him, and now I'm hooked, and on a mission to get a few ducks around here on my own.  My first duck hunting trip was successful...

But subsequent trips have been a bit less so.  In any event, it's a new venture for me, and just like fly fishing, I don't expect lots of early success.  I'll be out again early tomorrow morning to try to get a few, but even if I don't get any, every trip out is one closer to the trip where it all finally clicks.  For now, I'm just enjoying learning something new.

A few weeks after my first duck hunting outing, I started my new job, and focused on adjusting to it for a few weeks after that.  Still, it couldn't have come at a better time, as it meant I could afford the gas and hotel room to make the drive up to Somerset, NJ for the 2011 International Fly Tying Symposium.  While I was there, I made sure to take plenty of photos...

...which you will all get to see in my next update!

That's all for now.  Merry Christmas to all my readers, and when I post again after the holiday, you'll have lots of fly pictures!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

It's Been One Heck of a Fall

Hello again to all of my readers.

No, I'm not gone for good, but I had a lot of changes in my life over the past few months, and while I wasn't busy the entire time, usually when I had the time to post, I just wasn't inspired to do so.  While I'm not exactly inspired now, I wanted to pop in to let everyone know what's up.  My readers have been great ever since I got Dharma of the Drift started, so I wanted to let you know where I've been as well as where I intend to be in the future, with regard to the blog here.

When I last posted, it was early September.  summer fishing was winding to a close and my thoughts were rapidly turning north with thoughts of Lake Erie steelhead.  Then the unexpected happened, and I lost my job.

In retrospect, getting laid off hit me much harder than I ever thought it might.  Sure, there's the financial hardship, and the daunting task of finding a new job in this economy, but the hardest thing for me was the blow to my self-confidence.  It wasn't that I'd failed to perform or done anything wrong at work...just that, even after holding my position for four years, I was still low man on the totem pole in my department.  Business had been slow for a long time, everyone knew this, and my employers had done what they could to avoid layoffs, but as time went on and prospects remained bleak, they were forced to make difficult decisions, and while I wasn't pleased with the outcome, I don't take it personally.

Like I said, the biggest impact, for me, was the blow to my confidence.  While a part of me knew it had nothing to do with me as a person or a worker, it's hard to avoid the nagging feeling that somehow you didn't measure up or you weren't good enough.  I'm sure anyone who's been laid off before can understand.

While I immediately got to work getting my resumee into shape, I wasn't really optimistic about hunting for a job, interviewing, or even doing the things I enjoyed, like fishing, tying, and taking pictures.  My family was really great at that time, keeping me moving and encouraging me, while at the same time giving me the space I needed to sort things out on my own.

Over the next several weeks, I got my resumee up to date and submitted it to at least a dozen places, in person, online, you name it.  Eventually, keeping myself busy with the job hunt got me thinking about fishing again, and I realized, finally, that without a job, I was uniquely available for making a trip or two to Erie to fish during the less crowded weekdays in the early season.  This also got me back to tying, and before long I had dozens of eggs and buggers in boxes, and was driving north on I-79.  Through late September and early October, I managed to spend 7-8 days steelhead fishing, having some of my best days since starting to fish for steelhead.  Through this same time, I started to get a few calls about my resumees.  Finally, in early October, I got my first interview.

Things went well and through a bit of fate or karma or divine providence, the job I applied for (which wasn't in my field) was already filled, buuuuuuut they were considering adding a position that was exactly in my field.  At this point, a lot of my optimism and confidence returned, even though I still didn't have a job.  I think it was just the idea that yes, my skills were still useful, and yes, I had a chance at what seemed like a nice job.  I think my confidence must have shown through a bit, and they said they'd be in touch to schedule another interview.

Turns out that they called while I was up in Erie, fishing for steelhead.  After my trip, I returned, and did another interview, and a few days later, I got the call: I'd gotten the job.

I started my new job on Halloween, and while I do understand that I was fortunate, and very much in the right place at the right time, it gives me a little hope for our ailing economy.  I don't wish to use the site here as some sort of soapbox for my political views, but suffice to say that while there are certainly people that are in the position I was in for two months that abuse the system and don't try, I like to believe that there are lots more good, honest people that are trying, and that their right place and right time just haven't come yet.

In any event, that covers my life in September and October. I'm getting tired, and I have a cold, so I'm going to stop here for now, and finish bringing everyone up to speed in another post.  That'll likely be tomorrow.

Hopefully, my return finds my readers in good health and high spirits!

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