Saturday, November 29, 2014

Cyber Monday Deals

I never have cared for Black Friday. Maybe it's because , if you ask a turkey , Wednesday and Thursday during the week of Thanksgiving are far , far darker days?

I have much to be thankful for this year , even though I've had a pretty terrible year , all things considered. I'm thankful for my kids and their health and safety. Same goes for my family and friends. I'm also thankful that I'm still on the "right" side of the ground , as I realize more and more with every passing year that each day is a blessing , and not to be wasted on petty people or things

I won't bore those of you whose support I am so grateful for with the details , but I'm turning a corner in my life. I've neglected my websites for nearly two years , but I'm at a point now where I want to get back to fishing and taking pictures , back to writing and posting updates , which for so long brought me a great deal of pleasure as I built an audience , and connected with so many of you whether through comments or email , on Twitter or Facebook , even Google+....

As thankful as I am for everyone's support , all I can do is ask , beg for more. Amazon helps keep the lights on around here , so if you are planning to do holiday shopping through Amazon on Cyber Monday ,  accessing their vast warehouse of goods and services through THIS LINK or the ad at right (scroll down) lets me collect a small advertising fee. It's free to you , and it helps me out a great deal. My thanks goes out to everyone who has and continues to support the blog.

Have a great weekend , and Happy Holidays!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Spool Me Once...

Shame on you, spool me twice, shame on me! Isn't that how it goes? Close enough.

Getting "spooled" is a hell of a thing for any angler. It is at once exhilarating and immensely frustrating. It's pretty rare in freshwater , rare in general if you're using appropriate , species specific tackle. Unfortunately , I am a magnet for line stripping mystery fish whenever I hit my favorite pier , so much so that I've been forced to take action.

The problem lies in my affinity for Got-cha lures when I'm fishing from this particular pier. I love those things. If I'm on the pier , odds are there's a rod of mine with one tied on the line , either in my hand or leaning on the rail , waiting on a school of fish to pass through. Can you blame me? The only thing that loves those lures more than me is the fish. Blues , Spanish Mackerel , Speckled Trout , Weakfish - the list goes on and on. False Albacore , Sharks , Rays , Drum and about anything else you can name will grab them , too. Which usually ends in a 200 yard run , followed by a loud snap and several dozen words you wouldn't say to your Mother. Lots of guys have started keeping oversized tackle at the ready , so when someone spots a school false albacore headed our way they can toss lures to them and land any they hook. It works , but it's just not the best situation when you take into consideration rod limits on piers and casting distance. You just can't toss a one ounce plug very far with a catfish rod.

And so my search began. I needed a very specific rod and reel. Light enough to throw 3/4 to 1 & 1/2 ounce plugs , yet heavy enough and with enough line to handle 20 pound , fast swimming fish. Limited as I am to the pier's 3 rod rule , I also wanted a rod I could cast all day. Even in today's vastly improved market , it was a tough combination of conditions to be met. Some rods could cast it like a dream , but were too light to handle a fish of size. Other rods could handle the fish , but not cast far enough to reach them. The reels either couldn't hold enough line or were far too heavy for long periods of use. I was tired of getting spooled.

I found the type of rod I needed first , and used it for years with a too small reel. Only recently have I been able to arm myself with a couple extras. It's a 7'3"(name withheld) , Medium Heavy Power with an Extra Fast action. My two backups are almost the same , but MH/Fast. These rods are perfect for my needs , even though they are a little light for catching numbers of big fish. They handle bigger fish just fine , mind you , but it's a little more work for the angler. 5 or 6 big fish in a day with these will wear you down , but it's a good way to tire yourself out. Pleasant , even.

Now for the reel. I love to hate reel manufacturers. Not that I think they are nefarious intentionally , but just that their designers have no idea how to make anything practical. Walk into any tackle store , and the old standby line comes on 330 yard spools , just like it has for the last 20 years. Which is why reel manufacturers make so many reels that hold 250 or 270 yards of line , right? We all need half a dozen spools laying around with 60 or 80 yards of 12 pound test keeping us from throwing them out. It's just enough to seem absurdly wasteful to me. Sixty yards of line isn't enough to do anything useful or practical for me , but it's enough to throw me off track when I'm writing , apparently. Anyway , the reel. I really needed something that would hold 300+ yards of line. Not so unusual , except that I needed it in a smaller reel with a good drag , and bearings , light enough to use all day. Reels like that are hard to come by. You run into reels that are too big or too small when you live in this oddball reality I call home. Everything that held enough line weighed a ton. Anything that was reasonably sized , barely held 250 yards of the 10-12 pound range I was shooting for. Finally , I ran across a reel on CLEARANCE! at Cabela's , online. It was perfect. An Okuma Epixor 55B. Smooth as glass , perfect retrieve , not too heavy , AND it holds 340 yards of 12 pound test on a deep spool. I don't think I'll miss those extra 10 yards of line!

Tight Lines , and have a good weekend my friends!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Visual Check In , Summer 2014

I'm still kicking around, just enjoying what's left of the summer with my kids. It's been fun, see you guys when the fish quit biting! Have a great week my friends!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

A Roanoke Bass??

I grew up catching "red eyes" , aka Rock Bass. Now, living in another state, it's came to my attention that there is a separate species here that gets a little bigger and looks a little different. Who knows? Still looks like a red eye to me, but maybe not. I'll have to look into how to tell them apart...

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Overlooked Urban Water

Here locally there's a persistent belief that our local river is more raw sewage and toxic waste than actual water. I'm not sure why , but the majority of people are extremely wary of it , even though the water is fairly clean by just about any standard. There are factories on the water that have fed the myth of toxic sludge being pumped into the water by greedy capitalists , or something. Everybody else can believe what they want , I know the fish look healthy and there are thousands of them if you know where to look. It's been fun doing some urban exploration the last few days...

20 feet from a factory..

I like how this shot turned out.
A very photogenic longear sunfish.

Have a good weekend!

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Two Bit Hookers

There's nothing quite like hooking yourself. Fish hooks really don't hurt going in , but damn if they don't sting on the way out. I've hooked myself many , many times , even once while showing someone how to tie a knot (skip that last step) , but by far the worst was two treble hooks through the gut.

My shirt was pinned to me , I was getting ready to take my kids to a doctor appointment or something equally important , and I was otherwise alone. It was a treble from a bass plug , and two prongs of the treble were buried in my stomach , right below my ribs. There was nothing to do but grab the trusty needlenose pliers and get to it. Having someone snatch a hook out of you is a much better way to go , kind of like pulling a band aid off fast , but I set my jaw and started pulling. The skin on my gut stretched for what seemed like a foot before it finally popped out , and I almost got the rear treble from the plug in me from the other direction. Thankfully it didn't go in past the barb , because I doubt I could have pulled another hook out , especially not with my left hand and the bad case of the shakes I developed pulling out the first one.

Anyway , I've seen some nasty hook shots on social media here lately. Be careful out there , guys and gals!

Then there's this guy...

Friday, April 18, 2014

Cold Water Jigging

Hit a few ponds Wednesday with a friend. Still snow on the ground , albeit patchy and melting , so the water was cold , the fish were sluggish , and it was a tough bite. Managed a few bass , a couple crappie , and a handful of bluegills. Between us we might have caught 50 fish or so in a couple of hours. Not bad , but the fish were small. I'll go back once it's warmer. We did survive an attack by two pissed off Canadian Geese , who had a nest with eggs in it about ten feet from where we were fishing at one pond. The drake hissed like a snake , and tried to act otherwise menacing , but they eventually settled down and the hen went back to her eggs.


The Nest
The last person to get this close to the nest...

 Have a great weekend!

Monday, April 14, 2014

An Interesting Discussion..

Is going on over at Mel's new blog. It's worth a read , and also a pretty decent discussion to jump into because it is something that can only be measured by anecdotal evidence. Check it out HERE

I'm certainly no expert , but I've done a fair amount of fishing for both bass and trout. Part of what intrigues me so much about Mel's post is that both species have been widely stocked outside of their native range , to the point of naturalization in many waters. There are so many environmental factors that can contribute to a fish's perceived intelligence , and indeed even the fickle nature of fish taking an offered bait is something to ponder.

I associate trout with clear streams , and living on a diet of tiny bugs. That's not entirely fair , I know , just as it's not fair that I think of bass as living in mudholes and eating anything they can catch. However , I do think those are good generalizations for each species , regardless of exceptions , especially when you consider their "Native" ranges and the water those encompass.

I pegged the bass as being more aggressive. They just seem more predatory to me , plus they are prone to being territorial , especially when bedding. I've watched largemouth bass pick up my bait and move it out of their bed before the female had even laid any eggs. The males are very aggressive when fry are present , which is one reason I don't like to fish post spawn unless I'm after the females in deeper water.

As for the trout , I've always been impressed by their eyesight. The difference between 2 and 4 pound line can make or break a day of fishing. Then again , maybe their eyesight isn't as keen as I think , because I've seen days when stocked trout would eat anything , and I do mean anything , that was pink or orange. Wild trout are extremely hard to fool , which is why you'll see the flyfishermen (and women , HI RD!) talk about tiny tippets and size 18 gnats. Hell , i can barely see a size 18 hook , so a trout has to have at least 20/20...

So go check it out , Mel would love to hear your thoughts on it , as would I!

Have a great week my friends!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Tenkara Tuna for Troutrageous!

Our friend over at T! questioned the use of Tenkara rods for tuna today , so let's resurrect an old video! Smaller fish come up first , but you'll notice towards the end these guys switch to a 2 or 3 pole rig , and promptly begin to yank big fish out of the water like bluegills.

I guess for Mike's 600 pound fish we might have to treat Tenkara as a team sport , but I'm not entirely sure if I'd want to be that close to a freshly hooked quarter ton water cow..

Apparently , this is still a viable method of catching Albacore in the Pacific , as evidenced by a handful of videos on YouTube.

Ball's in your court , T!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

You Can Tune a Guitar...

But you can't tuna fish!

Reports of big bluefin tuna out of Oregon and Hatteras Inlets here lately , so get it while you can. It's a relatively short window of opportunity for the big boys , usually March and early April. Good luck!

I've personally heard of several 500 pound class fish , multiple 400's and a rumor or two of fish pushing 600...

Have a good week my friends!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Perspective on a Dam

Dams. Some people love em , lots of people hate them because of the damage they have done to fisheries during the years of misguided dam building several decades ago. I'm indifferent. Lots of dams are mainly for flood control and or hydroelectric power generation. I can dig it.

So anyway , I was at a favorite spot over the weekend , and just randomly took a shot or two of the dam. Didn't think they'd be worth using , since I've posted pictures of this same dam here before , but because the dam is undergoing renovations and improvements there just happened to be a crane or two hanging out in front of it.

Perspective. The old concrete monstrosity is bigger than it looks.

Dayum , Dayum , DAM!

Have a good week my friends!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Guest Post: Wintertime Kayak Tarpon in Boca Grande - By Nick Doumel @

Wintertime in the midwest is a tough season to get through. This year has been especially tough due to frigid cold temperatures and record amounts of snow. Many afternoons are spent doing things around the house and relaxing on the couch with a couple of logs burning in the fireplace, WFN on TV, and a nice warm cup of coffee steaming on the table next to me. Luckily, an escape called Boca Grande exists where my kayak silently slips through the expansive flats, twisted mangrove forests, and across Boca Grande Pass.

As I arrive at the beach, I unload my kayak and in what feels like only seconds, I am making my way across the incredibly crystal clear waters. As I paddle, I pass a boat that is clearly hooked up with a huge fish that is going absolutely crazy. As I continue to paddle, the tarpon starts to tail walk RIGHT AT ME!! I thought I was far enough away but I suddenly found myself right in the middle of the entire thing!! Luckily the fish went under before it reached me and took off in the other direction. The problem for this guy is that the fish is headed right towards a bridge! 

Don't get stuck!!!
I'm not sure if they ever landed it or not because once they followed the fish under the bridge, I lost sight of them. After all, I was here to catch a tarpon; not watch someone else catch one. Really though, if I wanted to watch someone catch a fish, I could just sit in front of the TV.  I did realize, at least, that this was a good sign!! Anyways, I kept paddling and the fact of that matter is that there are way too many power boats out here for my comfort. If I were to hook up out here, the fish would probably drag me right through the entire pack of boats and I just don't want to deal with that. 

Waaaay too many boats for my comfort!!
So off I went...In almost no time at all, I found myself deep into mangrove country. Finally! This is the stuff dreams are made of! The water was unimaginably calm and crystal clear, the sun was high in the sky, and I could see silver flashes of feeding tarpon in the distance. I was all alone out here with absolutely nothing but my kayak and a fly rod. PERFECTION! 

Now that I was here, it was time for stalking tarpon mode. I stood up so I could see a bit further and it wasn't long before I had spotted my target. This was a big fish that was clearly feeding on something out there so I pulled some line off my reel, made a couple of quick false casts and, with a good double haul, I had landed the fly right in front of his face! Strip, strip, strip...I could hear that textured line slipping through the guides - HE SEES IT!

"KEEP STRIPPING!!!!" I yell to myself through clenched teeth.

 HE'S ON IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The line tightens up and rips through my fingers and guides at blazing fast speeds!!! 

Within seconds, he has me deep in to my backing and heading straight to the mangroves! "STAY OUT OF THERE!!!!" I yell as I squeeze the line a bit tighter while praying the tippet doesn't break. Luckily, it holds strong and am able to get him slowed down a bit which only makes him launch out of the water!!

STAY ON!!!!!

As if I have someone in my head telling me to give him a little bit of slack, I let up a bit while his head violently shakes in midair. The shakes resonate through the line, up the rod, and into my hand with intensity that I have never felt. Every little movement is somehow amplified. Not once in my entire life have I felt this kind of feedback from any other fish or any other fly rod. It's almost surreal!!!

As the epic battle continues with the prehistoric giant, my arm begins to go numb. I can feel what was, just a second ago, the most astonishing sensitivity that I have ever felt rapidly start to fade. First, the sensation disappears from my very furthest tip of my finger. Then it fades up my fingers and into my hand. Next my wrist is completely without feeling. I can suddenly hear a voice waaaay off in the distance....It keeps saying something but I can't quite make it out. As the feeling of numbness continues its progression from my wrist to my elbow, the voice grows proportionately louder and louder. 



What the...? Why can I hear my wife calling me? She's supposed to be stuck at home over 1,300 miles away...

Her voice is getting louder and I've completely lost all feeling in my entire body. I can see the fish, the water, the mangroves, and even the fly line but I can't feel a thing!! I'm now starting to panic as I feel fluid falling from the corner of my mouth. Am I bleeding? Am I dying? Everything fades now from my vision and turns to a nearly complete whiteout.  My wife's voice is almost crystal clear and I can suddenly see her standing over me. Is this...heaven? How did she get here?

"Babe!" She yells out with a clear aggravation in her tone.

I look up at her...

"Wake up! It's your turn to make dinner!" 

"And clean up that drool!" she snaps as she walks away. 

SON OF A...........!