Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Holy Mackerel , I Won Something!

What are the odds? About a million to one , if my past experience is any indication.

Imagine my surprise when I received a Facebook message from a blogging friend just a few minutes ago informing me that I had won not one , but two - TWO random drawings for some free fishing gear! Unbelievable !

It's just icing on the cake that the fishing gear in question happens to be the best fishing spinners I've ever had the pleasure of using! John , of Fish Creek Spinners fame , truly makes some of the best baits out there. His small spinners are perfect for my local trout and bass , and I can't wait to get my hands on these!

Fish Creek Spinners also has a wide selection of other baits to suit whatever type of fishing you do , be it walleye , muskie , bass , trout , or even toothy African fish! Pair that with John's commitment to making quality baits , and his promotional offers , and you have a truly great American company that puts fishermen and women first! Be sure to follow along at the FCS blog for your chance to get in on their next giveaway!

You can see what I won HERE , and HERE 

Have a great week! I'm going to wait beside the mailbox...

Monday, May 13, 2013

Problems with the Daiwa Emcast Sport

A cautionary tale... and a possible fix.

I'm not usually one to complain about gear. I understand that everything has limitations , and I understand that anything put through the abuse of surf fishing will eventually succumb to salt and sand. That's a part of the game , and one I've grown to begrudgingly accept. Maybe this post will serve as a fix for anyone who has waited too long for warranty repairs , but didn't address the problem fully when they should have. Certainly , if you have a problem with your Daiwa Emcast Sport , send it in ASAP , rather than putting it back together and hoping for the best. I dropped the ball on this one folks , and now I have a rather expensive paperweight.

I've had this reel since they first came out , and I liked it at first , but now that the honeymoon is over (read: limited one year warranty from the date of purchase) , I must say it's been a big disappointment when compared to Daiwa's other reels. I think some of the problem may be due to the fact that this is a very large reel. Daiwa really tried to make it affordable , and it was at $69.99 , but as is often the case , quality suffered or at least seemed to suffer to my untrained eye.

The first year I had it , I was on Hatteras Island and at Virginia Beach fishing for drum , catching huge skates and rays. I did the same thing a few months later in the surf on Assateague and Chincoteague. Big barn door skates are like hooking into a tank - just a long , steady pull , with no head shaking , no jumps , and very little in the way of speed , but they are powerful fish just the same. You're hard pressed during any fight to keep the fish from burying up in the sand and refusing to move. Putting the heat to the large flatfish causes extreme pressure on any reel - making the frame  flex and causing undue stress to gears , and additional wear on the drag washers. These reels probably weren't designed for this type of fishing.

What happened? During the last fight in the surf , a shim or spacer under the worm gear that makes the line wind levelly (is that even a word?) , popped out due to the frame flexing. You'll see it in the picture below , it's a rectangular piece with a horseshoe shaped notch in one end. That piece is supposed to go under the worm gear and act as a bushing or something , keeping the gear lined up. All I know is the reel goes all to crap when it comes out.

The Villain in our little story.
My Hero!
First I put the shim back where it goes.

Then I added a small , but long , machine screw and nut with a lock washer.

A better view.

Then I trimmed it.

Looking good , so far , right?

Nope. I've put the shim back in three times previously , and it has popped back out every time. I waited too long to add my fix , and now the gear itself is damaged. At first I thought it was just the small bolt I added interfering with the gear , but it's not. The shim stays in place now , but the level wind feature is shot. That brings me to a hard decision : do I try to track down a gear and waste more time trying to fix a reel that quite possibly has a bent frame , or do I just replace it? I'm leaning heavily towards the latter , since this is mainly a loaner rod

I don't blame Daiwa for this entirely , but I will say they should beef up the design on these reels or do away with the shim thing entirely. I'm sure it would have held up to smaller fish , but really I prefer my reels to be nearly indestructible.

**Disclaimer : This was a last ditch attempt to save a broken reel that was no longer under warranty. If you choose to modify your reel , you assume all responsibility for any damages that occur and any modification will almost certainly void your warranty , if it is still in effect. Daiwa will be your best bet for having your reel repaired.**

Have a great week!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Outwood Sports

Summer is fast approaching here in the Northern Hemisphere , and with Summer comes hoards of pleasure boaters. What's a fisherman to do? The answer for many of us is to retreat from lakes and streams during the day , and fish at night. Fortunately for us , times have changed and there is a ton of great gear out there to make nights on the water easier. Gone are the days of having a lantern on deck , blinding you and providing minimal light.


Outwood Sports carries a line of Petzl Head Torches that I just love! They are designed to provide you with the best in hands free lighting , making it easy to cast from boat or shore. Petzl Head Torches were originally made with climbers and spelunkers in mind , but I've found that they are invaluable on the water at night. Those of you with any familiarity at all with climbing gear will know that climbing is a demanding sport requiring the toughest , most dependable gear. That's what I look for in my fishing equipment , too.

I actually never thought I would get as much use out of a hands free light as I do , but in truth it makes things so much easier. Everything from tying knots , to baiting and casting is just easier when you don't have a small flashlight clamped in your teeth. That's why I'm happy to say that companies like Outwood Sports that strive to carry the most up to date gear at reasonable prices have been a boon to me as a fisherman.

Do yourself a favor and pick up a hands free light today!

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Prepare for Fishaggedon!

I have a pretty active imagination. It plagues me in my sleep. I was snoozing along last night , and came a across a dark place.....

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

A Few Thoughts About State Parks

And what the Civilian Conservation Corps did for you.

It's hard to believe how much of an impact the CCC had on our National and State parks. Eighty years later , and you can still see the handiwork of the young men who volunteered to work as government mules in exchange for meals , shelter , and $22.00-25.00 dollars a month of which a large portion had to be sent home. That's chump change by today's standards , but I'm sure it was welcome economic relief following the years of the Great Depression. These fine young men made a lasting impact on many aspects of America as we know it today , notably : infrastructure , early soil erosion projects , and park facilities. You may not know it , but you've probably been fairly close to a CCC project (<= map) in the last month , if not the last week , depending on where you live. They laid the foundations for our park systems when conservation and environmentalism were in their infancy. I am always impressed by the longevity of their works , and rightfully so.

The area I live in has several parks that bear the trademark of CCC construction : native stone work on facilities and roads , mature trees planted for erosion control , picnic shelters , stone dams , lodge style cabins, etc. I could go on and on , but you get the idea. It was a pretty standard formula for parks , and you'll see many similarities between parks in just about every state where the CCC was active. Certainly , not all of their original work remains , but the number of projects still visible in their nearly original form is significant. Not to say that improvements and maintenance haven't occurred , but rather that the CCC gave us a good foundation to work from , a huge head start for making places where we can enjoy the great outdoors with our families in relative comfort. The legacy they left behind is nothing short of impressive , especially when you consider how the work was done without a lot of the heavy equipment we see today.

How the times have changed! Somewhere along the way , we lost sight of the original intention of the park system , and it turned into a source of revenue , rather than a way to preserve our beautiful places and create opportunities for recreation.

What on earth does this have to do with fishing? Quite a lot , actually , at least in my opinion. It's my belief that fishermen shoulder more of the burden of upkeep and improvements to our parks , without getting anything in return. Other groups pay less for more services and cause more damage by way of wear and tear than your average weekend angler ever will. Not that some other groups , like campers , don't pay extra fees to enjoy the parks , but rather that they get more bang for their buck than I do.

Think about it : someone with a huge tow behind camper decides they want to move their little house into a state park for the weekend , they pay on average probably $25.00 per night here in VA. The perks that come with their nightly pass include (in most cases) parking for 2 vehicles , potable water , electricity , a fire pit , a lantern hanger , access to bathroom and shower facilities , and use of the pump out station on their way out of the park. Factor in wear and tear on the parks roads and it is quite a deal indeed! I'm OK with that , and happy that campers are able to get such a bargain because I do camp occasionally , but it doesn't make it right.

Here's a breakdown of my weekend fishing expense (one day , for about 5 hours) , with my family : parking $3.00 for one vehicle , daily fishing fee for my wife and I $18.00 ($9.00 each). What we got in return : one bass , one bluegill , use of a picnic table for lunch , a little time on the playground equipment for my kids , and parking at an out of the way spot a good way from the water. Spots closer to the water were reserved for Winnebagos  and park employees. I'm also required to have a state fishing license , and depending on the season , a trout license. Sure , the license allows me to fish statewide , but why the extra fee when the water here is as average as everywhere else? The fishing fee is supposed to cover stocking of the lake , and I'm sure it does contribute , but I question how much of "fishing" fees , licenses  , and boat launch fees are diverted to other areas of park maintenance , or even entirely out of the park system? Privately held fee fishing areas are usually teeming with fish , so what gives? I pay the fees , and cross my fingers hoping that at least some of it goes towards things that benefit me as a fisherman , but I have my doubts.

I won't claim to know the inner workings of park budgets , or even fish and game management. I will say that it's a good thing that some of our parks were built eighty years ago by the CCC , because they would never be built today , even with the huge amount of money the parks undoubtedly bring in each year. It saddens me to see parks going downhill while fees continue to rise. It's also a tough pill to swallow when I pay more just to take my kids fishing , and get less in return.

Maybe my expectations are too high.

Leave a comment about your opinion on fair usage fees at our National and State parks , and we'll try to continue the discussion in another post!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Almost Skunked

Almost. It's funny how we outgrow the types of water many of us grew up fishing. I'm very guilty of neglecting the numerous small lakes that dot the hills here in my part of the world , in favor of a 20,000 acre hydro project that I'm fond of , or even better the Atlantic Ocean. I'm also guilty of neglecting smaller streams , in favor of big behemoths like the New or James river. Having admitted my bias , it's refreshing to say that I've been taking the wife and kids along with me and hitting a few old favorites over the last year or two. I took such a trip today.

I won't claim to know the history of the park I was at today , nor will I waste time searching Google and paraphrasing what I found. It's a fifty acre lake made by damming a creek. They stock it with trout (yeah right) and it will usually produce a few bass and Chain Pickerel this time of year if you fish the right spot. This is my first trip in three or four years , and only the second in ten or twelve. I missed more than I caught.



Fluke You!

Dam It.

Double Dam It.

Triple Dam It

 Just Dam It?

That's the third dam in the last picture , from a bad angle. I'm not really sure why we need three dams instead of a big honkin spillway , but I'm sure there is a rational explanation out there , steeped in post Depression Era fisheries science. I think this lake/park is a CCC project? Maybe updated since , but I wouldn't know.

More on my opinions of parks in a day or two , but for now enjoy what's left of your weekend. Hope everyone has a great week! I'm hitting the couch for a lazy , rainy , Sunday.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Marine & Outdoor Clothing

Back before I announced my break from blogging , I featured several retailers that I use to keep costs down for my outdoor gear. Today , I'm getting back into the game , and I'm excited to share one of my favorite online retailers for brands such as Under Armour and Helly Hansen.


Marine & Outdoor Clothing offers a wide variety of outdoor clothing designed to be worn in layers for full functional use on the water. It's hard to beat a base layer of Under Armour , topped with a Fleece Pullover and a Sailing Jacket to fight the elements during a cold morning on the water. This is a tried and true approach to staying warm on the water , and one I use often when I fish for Stripers during the Winter months.

They also offer great deals on functional and stylish backpacks and duffels for those of us who travel with lots of gear. Their current sale on Under Armour Victory backpacks is one of the best deals I've seen for quite some time.

Currently , Marine & Outdoor Clothing offers free shipping in the UK , and a £10.00 ($15.00 ) voucher for every £100.00 ( $150) spent. Add that to their price match promise , and you have a company that puts customers first and delivers quality merchandise at reasonable prices.

As the Summer months approach , it's often a great time to catch sales on cold weather gear. Go check out Marine & Outdoor Clothing for the latest cold and wet weather gear!

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Don't Miss Your Chance to Win a Free Pair of Costas!

I rarely ever participate in "Like This" or "Share This" stuff on Facebook. Why? Because 99.9% is fake and just designed to create buzz about people's pages with no real benefit to the person doing the liking and sharing. I'm gonna throw this out there because it is legit.

My good friend Salty , of SoCalSalty fame , is having a contest RIGHT NOW and you can win a free pair of Costas by liking and sharing. Get all of the details HERE , and be sure to enter for your chance to win a free pair of Costas!

I HIGHLY recommend Costas. Mine are without a doubt the best sunglasses I have ever owned.

Have a great week , and good luck in Salty's contest!