Posts tagged “fly fishing

The All-Encompassing

This weekend I was fortunate to spend time on the river with friends.  Erich from Nomad Anglers is a dude that I’ve only fished with a few times, but have had frequent interactions with both in the shop and online, he, Dan and I pursued steelhead for the day enjoying the last sliver of decent weather before the inevitable yearly winter lock down.

One of my favorite aspects of fishing is the relationships that are made and the resulting conversations that are had.  Erich made a comment that really resonated with me and provided a really interesting perspective that triggered me to really think about why fly fishing is so unique in relation to other hobbies and pursuits.  It’s obvious the we start fishing for the fish, but soon realize its about way more than that – the fish are just the medium that binds it all together.

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  1. This one is obvious, fly fishing connects you to nature and allows for you to get outdoors and enjoy wildlife and experiences you otherwise wouldn’t be able to.
  2. It’s something that requires an enormous amount of concentration.  Everything related to fly fishing demands substantial amounts of attention.  Casting, tying flies, reading water, rowing a boat, fighting a fish, crossing a stream, tying knots – none are simply mindless activities that require little to no focus.   The devil is in the details, the extreme focus on any task associated with fly fishing provides us with a significant respite from dedication of brain function directed towards work or problems or whatever is weighing us down at any given time.
  3. You can do something fly fishing related all year long.  Today my face hurts when I go outside because of the cold burn of the January air and it looks like I live in a recently shaken snow globe……but I still was able to “escape” by tying flies.  How many golfers out there?  What did you do today in Michigan?  Probably not golf eh?  We have the luxury of still continuing our pursuit by tying flies, organizing materials, building rods, or patching up leaky waders (a once a month routine for some).
  4. The connection to people that you normally would have no connection to.  Fly fishing is something that is enjoyed by people from an enormous range of social and economical situations.  It’s a common interest that links blue collar works with CEO’s of corporations and college students with retirees.  The diversity of the people that share fly fishing and the resulting network of connections that would normally not exist is amazing.
  5. It allows us to maintain a respective level of competitiveness.  As a former athlete a strong desire to compete is part of my being, it’s something that is so strongly engrained in me that it will never cease to exist.   Fly fishing allows for me to maintain a healthy level of competition, I compete with myself and others.  When someone within my circle catches a big fish – I want to catch one bigger!  When someone ties a great new fly pattern, I want to come up with something better.
  6. There is the availability of varying degrees of difficulty.  Fly fishing has an endless amount of levels of degree of difficulty from the different tactics to species we pursue.  Challenges abound.  Because of the substantial challenges associated with fly fishing the learning will never end.  There will forever be something that can be learned in the many different aspects associated with fly fishing.

“To go fishing is the chance to wash one’s soul with pure air, with the rush of the brook, or with the shimmer of sun on blue water. It brings meekness and inspiration from the decency of nature, charity toward tackle-makers, patience toward fish, a mockery of profits and egos, a quieting of hate, a rejoicing that you do not have to decide a darned thing until next week. And it is discipline in the equality of men – for all men are equal before fish.”
~ Herbert Hoover


Weekly Review

weekly review

Koz at True North Trout reflects back on 2015 and looks forward to 2016in his most recent writings.

Fontinalis Rising offers a a look back at the year that was for him.

The Fiberglass Manifesto details in words and incredible photos a trip to the Pere Marquette.

Persistence pays off at Gink and Gasoline.

Nomad Anglers announces the 2016 Brews and Bugs lineup at all 3 of their locations.

If you care about our waters you should read this article by Josh Greenberg on A Tight Loop.

FrankenFly put together a rad pictorial of his 2015 – highly recommend looking through the awesome photos.


Mitt Monkeys Top Arkansas Invasive Species List

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission has issued an Invasive Species Alert for Mitt Monkeys, replacing the Northern Snakehead as one of the top threats to state waters.  Unsurprisingly, the alert coincides with the annual winter migration of Mitt Monkeys to the warm and friendly White and North Fork Rivers.  Employing a multi-media approach, the Commission has strategically placed billboards on I44 and other common northern routes of travel displaying the the familiar circle-backslash symbol over a monkey and the phrase “When it comes to invasive species, Zebra Mussels aren’t alone, Mitt Monkeys go the F back home!”

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The Commission’s Invasive Species page provides the following detail:

Origin – Native mostly to Michigan they have been found to originate from nearby states including Indiana, Illinois, and Ohio. Irritating numbers started appearing in the late 1980’s. This detestable species is known to inhabit AR watersheds during winter and early spring. Appearances range from hipster to dumpster diver but most are characterized by mismanaged facial hair, a propensity to go shirtless in temps above 40 degrees, are often seen consuming BBQ like a swarm of locusts, and generally act like they own the place.

Damage – Voracious consumers of craft beer and beef jerky, the species is known to choke out native fishermen by blanketing local streams. Millions of dollars are spent annually to discourage their travel to AR. They attach themselves to local bars, restaurants, women, and hotels, sometimes for weeks at a time.  If they spread they could disrupt the natural order of fisheries in the US.

Prevention – If you encounter one, don’t try to kill it. If engaged in a conversation, residents are strongly discouraged from suggesting fly patterns or alternate fishing techniques as they can be met with intense opposition. Deterrents include commenting on slow fishing, salad bars, math, and expensive shuttle rates.  It is rumored that they can carry disease so handling is discouraged.

“It’s time we stop with the southern hospitality and put our boot where the sun don’t shine” commented resident and outspoken monkey opponent Hank Himler.  “Last year they burned our dam”, referring to the Bull Shoals disaster, “and this year it’s time to send them packing”.  (Click to read about the assualt on the Bull Shoals dam)

Northern snakehead, feral hogs, silver carp, and now Mitt Monkeys. Time will tell as to whether AR survives this year’s infestation and if anything can be done to slow the annual Mitt Monkey invasion.


Steelhead Flies

Now that the holidays are behind us, its back to our regularly scheduled programming…….who am I kidding, there’s nothing “regular” about us.

Spent some time behind the vice the past few weeks, spinning proven steelhead targeting nymphs and trying to come up with a few “new” patterns.  There’s really not much new in the world of fly tying, we borrow materials, proportion templates, color schemes, and pretty much just about anything else fly construction related from others.  However, that shouldn’t stop anyone from trying new things, developing new ideas and adding new bugs to their box.

Here are the “new” bugs that I put together for this year’s edition of my steelhead nymph box.

FLY1 FLY2 FLY3 FLY4 FLY5 FLY6


Mitt Monkeys Top Arkansas Invasive Species List

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission has issued an Invasive Species Alert for Mitt Monkeys, replacing the Northern Snakehead as one of the top threats to state waters.  Unsurprisingly, the alert coincides with the annual winter migration of Mitt Monkeys to the warm and friendly White and North Fork Rivers.  Employing a multi-media approach, the Commission has strategically placed billboards on I44 and other common northern routes of travel displaying the the familiar circle-backslash symbol over a monkey and the phrase “When it comes to invasive species, Zebra Mussels aren’t alone, Mitt Monkeys go the F back home!”

Untitled
The Commission’s Invasive Species page provides the following detail:

Origin – Native mostly to Michigan they have been found to originate from nearby states including Indiana, Illinois, and Ohio. Irritating numbers started appearing in the late 1980’s. This detestable species is known to inhabit AR watersheds during winter and early spring. Appearances range from hipster to dumpster diver but most are characterized by mismanaged facial hair, a propensity to go shirtless in temps above 40 degrees, are often seen consuming BBQ like a swarm of locusts, and generally act like they own the place.

Damage – Voracious consumers of craft beer and beef jerky, the species is known to choke out native fishermen by blanketing local streams. Millions of dollars are spent annually to discourage their travel to AR. They attach themselves to local bars, restaurants, women, and hotels, sometimes for weeks at a time.  If they spread they could disrupt the natural order of fisheries in the US.

Prevention – If you encounter one, don’t try to kill it. If engaged in a conversation, residents are strongly discouraged from suggesting fly patterns or alternate fishing techniques as they can be met with intense opposition. Deterrents include commenting on slow fishing, salad bars, math, and expensive shuttle rates.  It is rumored that they can carry disease so handling is discouraged.

“It’s time we stop with the southern hospitality and put our boot where the sun don’t shine” commented resident and outspoken monkey opponent Hank Himler.  “Last year they burned our dam”, referring to the Bull Shoals disaster, “and this year it’s time to send them packing”.  (Click to read about the assualt on the Bull Shoals dam)

Northern snakehead, feral hogs, silver carp, and now Mitt Monkeys. Time will tell as to whether AR survives this year’s infestation and if anything can be done to slow the annual Mitt Monkey invasion.


Hexito Epidemic Threatens Great Lakes States

hexuito

The University of Michigan Department of Entomology confirmed this week one of the most bizarre cross-species developments in the insect world. “Hexito” is the a name entomologists are currently using for the mosquito and hexagenia hybrid recently identified near the rivers of Western Michigan. “This is the biggest piece of news since Blake O’Neill bungled that snap” commented a U of M spokesperson.

Increasing reports of anglers reporting encounters with wasps and other stinging insects while fishing the late night hex hatch peaked the interest of local fisherman and entomologist Aaron “Cal” Naughton. “I wasn’t taken seriously at first” Naughton stated, “because everyone thought I was trying to start wild rumors to keep out-of-state anglers from taking my favorite water”. “I’m not going to kid you” Naughton goes on to say, “I almost pulled my heater on the guy from Tennessee I found standing in my favorite water last July”. The hex hatch has become a true “shit show” as indicated by hundreds out-of-state license plates spotted at any given riverside parking lot in June and July and now has become even more life threatening.

According to Naughton, receding high water events leave mosquito and hexagenia larvae sharing the same brackish, silty ecosystems. It’s theorized that male mosquitos often confuse the large hexagenia females with their own species and attempt, with some apparent success, to mate.

Naughton successfully captured several Hexitoes and his is research revealed them to have all the characteristics of adult hexagenia with one startling difference, each had a sturdy proboscis capable of puncturing a soda can. “It’s pretty terrifying” commented Naughton.

Naughton’s research has revealed some startling facts about the hybrid creature including an extended life cycle as a mating adult of up to 40 days, typical of the mosquito and unlike the hexagenia which survives for only a few days as an adult. Limited research also indicates the hybrid’s distaste for blood containing alcohol, seemingly good news to hex anglers. Another deterrent, according to Naughton, is the scent of most brands of liberally applied cheap women’s perfume.

What was thought to be a rumor started by locals looking to fish their own water without out-of-state anglers to deal with has now become a huge discovery. MDNR is expected to issue public service announcements this summer warning fishermen of the dangers related to swarming Hexitoes.  Anglers planning to venture out this summer are encouraged to bath in perfume and bump up the BAC before heading out.

Tuesday Bananas


2015 B1F Recap

The 2015, and 4th rendidtion Bass 1fly (B1F) is in the books.  First, let’s take a moment to remember those with their names already etched on the back of the Duke & Lily Cup:

2012 – Jeff Cole

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2013 – Dan Moser

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2014 – Joe Donati

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2015 Recap

This year the angler group doubled in size, going from 9 to 18.  This meant that we’d have to split up into 2 different stretches of river – 3 boats/9 anglers in 2 beats.  The competition was close for quite sometime – but after about the 1/2 way mark became a 2 horse race between to guys in the same boat.

 

 

 

 

Joe Donati passing the torch to Drew Peklo

Joe Donati passing the torch to Drew Peklo

 

 

 

 

 

Drew Peklo ended the event with 12 smallmouth landed and the next closest angler was Erich Gross with 8.  Erich manages the Grand Rapids Nomad Anglers fly shop (NOMAD’S Website) and Drew mans the counter there from time to time as well.    You might want to shoot them an email, or better yet stop into the shop and ask them both what they’re eating for breakfast before they fish!

 

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2015 Bass 1 Fly

b1f background

The 2015 B1F field is set, we doubled the participants this year and there will be 18 anglers, 6 boats total.  Because of the larger group we will be fishing 2 different sections of river, with 2 boats in each stretch.  Here are the teams:

TEAM COLE TEAM JOE TEAM LUKE team moser TEAM RICH TEAM TIM


4-4 Steelhead Trip

The last few years we have dealt with severe high water events that have prevented my father from being able to spend much time on the river with me in the spring chasing steelhead, this year has been a nice break from the historical high flows and has allowed us to spend much more time together.

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High hopes for a huge day quickly dissipted after we walked up and down the river searching for a decent spot to begin our day, only to be met with enormous amounts of traffic from other anglers. While its great to see so many people out enjoying the resource, there are days that solitude is preferred.

We spent most of the day hanging out on the bank of the river together having great conversation, exploring topics we would never speak of in front of mom, we also formulated exact resolutions to all of Michigan footballs recent woes – in case Jim Harbaugh reads this, feel free to call us for some free advice.

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Eventually, we were able to settle into a run and our patience was quickly rewarded with finding a few willing players – landing 2 solid fish in a matter of minutes.

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Sure, it was nice to be able to bring a few fish to hand, as they were the reason that brought us to the river – but, the fish were just a bonus.  It’s these days of being in the presence of the man that sparked my passion and constantly encourages me that make steelhead fishing and spring so special.

 


Once Every 7 Years

My brother is a very busy person with an occupation that requires a great amount of attention and effort.  He also is an exceptionally devoted father and husband that spends most of his little free time with his family.  He does have hobbies and passions – fishing for steelhead used to be one of them.

Nearly 7 years ago, he and I choose different passions to focus our free time energy allotment into.  As young men our father had introduced us to the outdoors, and taught us many great lessons – using hunting and fishing as the text books of his classroom.  My brother with limited time to enjoy outdoor activities choose to hyper-focus his attention into hunting, it’s obvious what I decided to pour my free time into.

We figured out that it had been nearly 7 years since my brother joined my father, whom still splits his time between sitting in trees and standing in rivers, and myself on a fishing excursion.   This year everything finally fell into place, our schedules all synched and my brother expressed renewed interest and excepted an invitation to join us.

A few days of planning and coordination only added to my own anticipation to spending a day on the water with my father and brother as we had done so many times long ago.   I was excited to have the gang back together, and it became obvious on Friday night that my brother shared the same sentiment.

justin text

We met at my house early Saturday morning and loaded my 2 man inflatable raft, and my fathers 1 man toon.  After a quick double check of the gear inventory we were off.

My brother, a talented outdoorsman – actually he is talented at anything he chooses to do (don’t tell him I said that though) – jumped right back into the game, as if he hadn’t even left it.

3-28 1A mere minutes into the float, my brother was able to hook and land his first steelhead in a long time.  Years of memories of he and I tagging along with dad, stumbling around on creek banks in oversized waders and packs weighted down by several sandwiches and extra clothing packed by mom, came rushing back.  It was again the way it always was, it was familar.

This was familar to me as well.

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What was unfamilar for me was the food.  As many of you have already gathered, both by my past posts and my growing waist line, I enjoy good food.   On most occassions, I am the coordinator of the riverside lunches.  Cooking for others is a gift given to me by my mother, a wonderful cook that always makes certain every meal is carefully prepared and can be enjoyed by everyone present.  However, on this day I reluctantly relinquished my typical duty of going to great lengths to make sure that even if the fishing sucks, at least there is a great bankside meal to look forward to.  My brother spent much of the day prior, when not filling his flask with scotch or looking for gear that hadn’t seen the light of day in many years, prepping a feast.

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We ENJOYED pork that had been in his smoker for much of the previous day, bacon wrapped BBQ venison tenderloin bites, and homemade baked beans, (once again, please don’t tell him) a meal far better than anything I’ve put together on the river before.   Unlike many days I’ve spent on the river, we didn’t need a hot meal to lift the spirits of the group.

The rest of the day featured a few more shots at fish, and of course getting back to our roots, good natured competition and ribbing ensued.  As I was the only one to not be able to capitalize on an opportunity, it was a 2 horse race between my two companions.  Those two would make a competition out of anything – especially when outside of the supervison of mom.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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It sounds cliche’ at times, but this day truly was not about the fish – they were simply the excuse for us 3 to be back together enjoying the outdoors together as we had so many times before.   It was great to be in their presence again.

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Twizzlers, Orange Soda, and a Fish

My son is growing up fast and the signs are starting to show that he’s gearing up to be an independent little dude.  Those days of getting a hug before school in front of his friends or after a baseball game are gone.  We do have our times though, and fishing together happens to be one of them.  A short window of opportunity opened this past weekend so we both jumped at the chance to run out for a few hours.  It was one of those quick trips that finds me in a mad scramble for gear and wondering whether I forgot something during the entire ride up.  Things were forgotten but we had what we needed to set out.

We had time to fish only a couple runs so I was happy to see the one I had in mind was open when we walked up.  He’s been tying some flies lately and we picked one he tied last spring during high water, a black rabbit strip leech over an orange estaz body.

IMG_2242It didn’t take long before a nice fish was hooked.  He did a solid job of fighting the steelhead, knowing when to reel and when to let the fish run.The fish was fairly compliant and after a few runs in the pool I was able to get a net under him.

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The fish was a clean, nicely colored male steelhead.  We’ve had our share of fishless outings so it felt great to see him bring a nice fish to the net in one of those moments when a lot of things could easily go wrong but didn’t.

FullSizeRender (1)We took a couple quick photo’s and released the fish to finish it’s work over the course of the next few weeks as the spring spawning period kicks into high gear.  Afterward we made some half-hearted attempts at another knowing we got what we wanted out of our afternoon.  We found a river rock to memorialize the day as we always do then made our way back to the car talking about cedars and trying to find the best tree to build a tree fort in so that we can live near the river permanently.  Often times the highlights of a fishing trip are just the twizzlers and orange soda we eat and drink on the way up and back.  This trip had a bonus fish and some good ideas on where to build our dream home.
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Steelhead vs. Big Brown Trout

We are fortunate in Michigan that we have the ability to target so many different fish in varying types of water on the fly.  The opportunities here are seemingly endless in regards to the species we can catch and the type of water we can catch them in.  In my opinion, the 2 greatest sport fish we have available are Steelhead and Large Brown Trout.  I have, over the years, waivered back and forth as to my answer to the question: “if you could only pick one fish to fish for, what would it be?”  So, I thought I’d weigh out many of the deciding factors that go into it for me.  These attributes are just my opinion on the matters – would love to hear what everyone else has to say about it though!

steel v brown

STEELHEAD BROWN TROUT                           REASONING
Availability

   √

It’s reasonable to expect that you would be able to find a brown trout pretty much all 12 months out of the year.  Great Lakes steelhead are typically only available from October through April (sometimes May).  Edge Brown Trout

   √

Photogenic qualities This is a really tough one for me – giant slabs of buttery goodness are not exactly a dime a dozen, but steelhead go through several unique transformations of coloration and composure once they enter the rivers.  In a close call, I’ve got to say Edge Steelhead
Watersheds found in

   √

Most of the rivers that steelhead can be found in will also hold a population of large brown trout.  However, there are several areas that browns are found in that steelhead don’t have access to, including some of the most beautiful/pristine stretches of river this state has to offer.  Edge Brown Trout
The take

   √

As the saying goes, the tug is the drug when it comes to steelhead.  While I will admit that the ‘jolt’ a steelhead on a swung fly is exciting, for me the visual experience of catching a big brown on a pulled streamer or on a dry fly can’t be matched.  Watching a buttery brown propel itself towards the boat at Mach5, and open its mouth to inhale a streamer makes me weak in the knees.  Edge Brown Trout
Tactics they are targeted with

   √

Swing and bobber fishing for Steelhead vs. Pulling streamers and dry fly fishing for Browns.  I’m an extremely visual person and watching a bobber all day while visual, is far less interactive than pulling a streamer or manipulating your line for a drag free drift of a dry.   Edge Brown Trout

   √

The Fight This one isn’t even close.  Rarely, in my experience will a brown put up nearly the fight or require the amount of skill to land once hooked that a steelhead requires.  Edge Steelhead
Crowds

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Uggggghhhhh…..steelhead brings people out of the woodwork, people come from all over the country to experience the great fishery we have.  Many people you encounter will be utilizing questionable tactics as well.  You’ll often times spend as much time searching for a spot to actually fish than you will fishing.  Edge Brown Trout

    √

Success Rates Steelhead, when they are available are for the most part more easily caught than large brown trout.  Steelhead success rates are measured in #’s, browns are measured in inches.  Being that steelhead are typically easier to encounter – Edge Steelhead
Tying the Bugs

   √

Steelhead fly tying, whether it is for swinging or nymphing gets very monotonous, it feels like full on production mode.  Tying streamers for trout allows me to flex the minimal creativity that I possess, and I enjoy it.  Not to mention you only need a few streamers and a few dries and you’re all set.  Edge Brown Trout

Car Shuttles Dirty Little Secrets Exposed

In a startling new report that blows the cover on over 50 car shuttle / spotting services nationwide, something we’ve all suspected is confirmed – most vehicles shuttled are in some way violated.  Common offenses, and ones that would be considered somewhat expected, include texting while driving (89%), smoking (28%), smoking marijuana (63%), siphoning gas (43%), nose picking/booger flicking (73%), stalking x-girlfriends (22%), fishing through the loose change receptacle for quarters (98%), stopping at liquor stores (21%), and cruising high schools (42%).

Several more incideous behaviors were captured on video including two rival shuttle companies found drag racing customer vehicles, with trailers, on a stretch of road between boat launches.  One trailer jockey took his whole family to the Buford Waterpark for the day in the customer’s Escalade after finding out that the customer was going to try to fish two stretches of river, ensuring he’d be on the water for over 10 hours.

Footage captured of Shuttle Driver being pulled over for doing 85mph in a 35mph school zone.  The driver can be heard giving the police officer a fake name, speeding off after tearing up the ticket issued and telling the police officer to "go taze yourself in the balls bro"

Footage captured of Shuttle Driver being pulled over for driving 85mph in a 35mph school zone. The driver can be heard giving the police officer a fake name, speeding off after tearing up the ticket issued and muttering obscenities to the officer during questioning.

All of this is the work of Jerry Karlin, your ‘average Joe’ trout fisherman fed up with never having any change in his car after his shuttles. “Trailer Jockeys need to elevate their game if people are going to trust these guys anymore” noted Karlin.  Back in 2013, Karlin set out to get an inside look into just what goes on during that 30 minute shuttle from Flaming Gorge Dam to Little Hole on the Green River.  Over the course of a two year period what he found ranged from the expected to the astounding.  Karlin decided to take action and during the summer of 2014 Karlin convinced 250 people countrywide to install hidden cameras in their vehicles in search of the truth and possibly some justice.

Minor damage done by shuttle service in Michigan - client found vehicle in the parking lot this way.  Review of video footage showed that the shuttle driver engaged into a "Car Spotter Obstacle Course" in Plumbs Grocery store parking lot.

Minor damage done by shuttle service in Michigan – client found vehicle in the parking lot this way. Review of video footage revealed that the shuttle driver drove down an abandoned railroad track for three miles at 65 mph

Further inquiry of 10 regional car spotting services revealed that only 47% of shuttle drivers had valid drivers licenses.  Karlin and many others who are just plain sick of these shenanigans are advocating a trailer jockey certification program. Drug testing, background checks, eye examinations, proof of citizenship, and psych tests are but a few of the criteria.  Industry objection to regulation is fierce.  Veteran trailer jockey Skeeter McGavin summed it up in saying “Jockeys is gonna scatter like carney workers on payday”.

Even if Karlin doesn’t get his legislation, the work of the video footage that was captured lead to the arrests of 39 shuttle drivers abusing the job as a means of funding everything from drug trade to illegally transporting bottles and cans across state lines for undeserved recycling refunds.  If you suspect your local shuttle service of foul play just mention that you’ll be fishing with Jerry Karlin on your next trip and rest easy that you’ll be taken care of.

Tuesday Bananas


You’re Probably Paying too Much

It sometimes amazes me at the amounts of money that some individuals spend on fly fishing related gear – specifically the amounts that are spent on fly rods.  Some time back the owner of a very well known fly shop in Colorado – one that would benefit greatly by the sale of expensive rods by the way – put together a great piece highlighting why you are probably spending too much on a rod.

The first point in his arguement is:

1.     The more expensive rods don’t catch more fish. So don’t think that because you are paying more for a rod, you will catch more.

Most often a more expensive rod WILL NOT make you a better caster – I’d even say that many times it makes you a worse caster!  Today’s rods tend to lean more towards ‘tip flex’ instead of moderate actions – many of them on the expensive end of the spectrum.  ‘Tip flex’ rods, from my experience are much more difficult for MOST fishermen to cast because they loose the feel of the rod actually loading.

So it maybe that you have an affinity with a characteristic which is not solely about catching fish. Rather there is some other aspect of the sport to which you are attracted.

Also, do you really believe that a fish cares if a bug is presented with an expensive rod?  All that fish cares about is if the fly is presented in a way that convinces it to eat or not.

So ask yourself whether you just want to catch fish or satisfy some other urge. If you just want to catch fish, the relevance of the rod should be dictated solely by reference to that metric. Cost should generally be irrelevant.

Secondly:

2.     The more expensive rods are not necessarily more expensive to build. The increased price is often just to fund the extensive marketing and propaganda campaigns that rod makers undertake to convince you that their product is better.

The ability to have a “peek behind the curtain” has been an eye opening experience for me!  The amount of costs associated with marketing, sponsorships, enormous amounts of overhead is incredibly substantial.  Those costs will be transferred to the consumers.

So why are some rods more expensive than others? The answer is simple. Marketing. If you read fishing magazines, you will see particular products given a lot of real estate in the various publications. This is simply a consequence of magazines demanding that manufacturers advertise with them in exchange for positive reviews. Nothing more. If you want proof, look at the number of advertisements devoted to particular brands and then check out the numbers of reviews and advertorials where those brands are mentioned. Then look at the brands which don’t seem to show up in the magazines so much and see how little they advertise. In other words the fishing press simply sells itself for advertising dollars. Nothing more. Then the uninformed public sees the masses of print devoted to particular products and that becomes their choice. These companies do it because they have the budgets to do it and to some extent it works sufficiently to justify the expense.

If you are to take a rod that costs in the $200-$400 range produced by a company that DOES NOT spend a great amount of money on advertising and compare it component by component to a rod in the $600-$800 range produced by a company that DOES spend enormous amounts of money and promoting their product – you’d be surprised!  Often times you are actually getting less in the more expensive rod!

I’m not saying that the least expensive rod is as good as all the other rods out there.  What I am saying is next time you are in your local fly shop, do a side by side comparison of rods that are in different price brackets – start at the tip section and work your way down.

Are the guides for each rod comparable?  Check!

Do they have the same number of stripping guides?  Check!

Is the cork quality relatively the same? Check!

Are the reel seats similar – both double locking?  Check!

Then cast each rod – try and hit a target at the distance that you will be fishing away from you most often.  Does each rod allow you to hit that target?

**Block quotes were pulled from an article on the Frying Pan Anglers website, more info can be found here: http://www.fryingpananglers.com/How-to-choose-a-fly-rod.html


Weekly Review

weekly review

 

Fly Fish the Mitt, Jeff Cole Farms a Giant

I’ve never in my life taken one picture nearly as rad as any the have at the G&G Photo Contest

Hands down, without a doubt –this is my favorite fly to sling for bass.

#somestreamerchick with another cool vid.

Not sure winter works like this but Fontinalis Rising gives it a shot.

Koz at True North Trout Wraps up the Fly Tying Celebration


“Who’s Your Buddy?” These are my Buddies.

Another fantastic read (as all their other stuff is – I’m sure you know the site well), that Louis at Gink and Gasoline put together titled Who’s Your Buddy? (click the link to read more) really struck home with me.

“We spend a lot of time selecting our gear, choosing the water, tying the flies, setting up the boat. There’s endless talk about waders and boots and reels and lines. Don’t forget that the most important piece of the puzzle is the guy standing next to you. Choose your fishing buddies wisely. Wives and girlfriends come and go but a fishing buddy is a serious commitment.” -Louis Cahill, Gink and Gasoline

I keep frequent company with a ridiculous motley crue cast of characters.  A band of drinking, fighting, fishing, swearing mauraders that all operate and function in the ‘real world’ under the guise of normal, mostly socially acceptable, humans – some of them even professionals.  Introduce water, woods, nature, booze, and fish to this pack of hooligans and they morph into entirely different creatures that probably would be unrecognizable to their co-workers, family members, and neighbors.  I suppose I fit the bill in these regards as well.

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We have helped each other sometimes make poor decisions, given bad advice, we talk about ridiculous things, there is a language understood by each of us that is nothing more than some form of jibberish that would be entirely foreign to any semi-educated adult.  I’ve lost count of how many far fetched inventions we’ve discussed or how many times we’ve solved pressing matters such as world hunger and the economic crisis.

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We’ve helped each other break into our own houses. We’ve waited, huddled together in the pitch black in areas where bears and meth cooks out numbered us while cars were shuttled.  We’ve happily risked our own lives and tempted death by drowing to land fish for each other.  We’ve also been there for one another when things in our ‘real lives’ were broken.   We’ve gone to war for one another.

We came together as sometimes single outcast misfits from other groups, or perhaps in pairs of free agents looking for new guys to fish with.  Some of us were new in town and didn’t know any better when they were drafted by a group member and now they are in too deep to get out.  We have others that have joined in looking for a dose of irresponsibility in their lives, and we have others that need the little bit of structure that we do have.

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Myself and my pals aren’t perfect.  We annoy one another sometimes, we don’t always understand each other, and sometimes we even get angry because someone did or said something that was really stupid, even by our low standards.  Our friendship isn’t this nice, neat, tidy little corner of our lives that we just get together and fish every now and again.  The relationships that started on the river someplace spilled over into the ‘real world’ and became a larger part of who we are.  We are different with each other when we are in the ‘real world’ than we are when we are on the water – its something that has to be done to be socially acceptable to those that aren’t us.

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These guys are my brothers, they are the ones that have shared some of my best and some of my worst moments with me.  They have each taught me what to do and often what not to do, both on and off the water.  More so than anything, fishing wouldn’t be what it is to me if I didn’t have them.

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GISS

“Trout are either self-aware, intelligent, rational, educated, cunning, suspicious, choosy, fickle, fussy about what they eat, and are increasingly wise to our tricks – or they’re not.”    -Bob Wyatt, “What Trout Want”

There are possibly hundreds of books and thousands of articles that go to great lengths to describe how ‘selective’ and picky of eaters trout are.  There are essentially 2 camps of thought as it regards the feeding habits of trout and the effect that has on the fly fishing world and it’s approach to catching them.  Camp #1 is that trout are highly selective creatures that have the ability to cognitively reason through their meal selection, thus making them (most of the time) very discerning eaters that often  refuse an artificial offering in the form of a fly because it does not look exactly like ‘real food’.  Camp #2 is more in the mindset that trout have to eat to survive and thus do not have the luxury of being uber picky eaters, while they will indeed become keyed in on a singular food source (hatches), they will gladly eat anything that mimics the general impression, shape, and size (GISS) of the food source they are keyed in on.

Looks like a lot of potential different types of bait fish for a trout

Selectivity vs Non-Selectivity is like politics, you are going to get people that are extremely passionate about their beliefs on both sides – and they usually will not agree with each other on most issues.  I know some folks that are thought leaders in the Selectivity camp, and they are some of the best fishermen in the world.  Likewise, I know folks in the Non-selectivity camp that are also some of the best fishermen in the world.

For me, I believe that I fall to the right of the Selectivity crowd, and firmly in the Non-Selectivity belief.  I have seen too many times where fish that are feeding on (name your mayfly hatch here), but those exact same fish are happy to take a parachute adams that fits within the GISS theory.  Think about many of the classic, time tested, proven fly patterns – Adams, Royal Coachman, Wooly Bugger, Hare’s Ear, Pheasant Tail, and others – what are they tied to 100% accurately represent?  The answer to that is EVERYTHING!

Finding the proper angle to present the fly is perhaps most important

The arguement that those in the non-selective group would make is that, as long as your fly falls in the framework of the GISS philosophy, the most important thing is the presentation of that artificial to a trout.  Finding a way to present your artificial in a manner that accurately simulates how natural food sources is more important than poorly presenting the fish with an accurate representation of a meal.

Essentially, better flies won’t make you a better fisherman – but, better presentation will.


Weekly Review

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#somestreamerchick backs up a boat and wins an award. 

Fly Fish the Mitt comes back into the fold with an awesome new video.  

Wait – there’s more from FFM with That Never Happens (I agree by the way). Then the birth of some idiot streamer dude, then he talks about a bunch of dummys that aren’t able to identify a Hennie flat. (what a bunch of losers)

Rich at Trout on the Fly wraps up his Arkansas trip HERE

Kent at Gink hauls some water or water hauls or does something to make you a better caster.  Louis talks first rods – need to check this out for sure!  Koz discusses the danger that is intruding on the Great Lakes (eff off big head carps!)

Drink your PBR in style – #glassisnotdead

Not freshly minted this week, but is only a few weeks old and a really touching read at Rivers of Reckoning


Is it Just Me? (part 1)

I’m not exactly sure if it is my own personal perception the state of affairs within the world of fly fishing, or maybe I was just naive to it previously and have recently just developed a heightened sensitivity – but it seems to me that there is a growing contingency of self promotion and campaigning that is prevalent in the world of fly fishing.

I know what you may be thinking – “so this guy that has a blog and pushes an agenda, is talking to ME about self promotion?”

Let me explain a little bit.  I believe most that know me and have spent time on the water with me will attest to my sheer excitement and joy that I have when someone else in the boat catches a fish.  Or I am the first person to see a picture of a fish that someone else caught and send that throughout my text network. I get so pumped at the awesome accomplishments of other people – quite honestly, I enjoy celebrating other people’s success as much as my own.  I’m not certain this is the case with many other people out there.

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To me, it seems that a growing number of anglers work very hard to keep other anglers down – as an effort to make themselves look (feel) better, perhaps.  There are many out there that always have some sort of secret technique, fly pattern, or fishing spot – and they flaunt it around in a fashion that  exudes “I know something you don’t know” type of attitude.  I can only believe this is done to try and establish credibility for themselves.

I have heard of people telling others that they can’t share everything they know with others because they “want to be a big deal in this industry”.  I guess to me this doesn’t really make to much sense – I’ve always been a firm believer in lifting yourself up by lifting those around you up.

It is not lost on me that this sport and this industry is many people’s livelihood and it is a sound business practice to become an ultimate self promoter, and give the perception that someone is the best at something, or the most accomplished at a particular aspect of fly fishing.  That attitude has seemed to extend well past only those that make a living in the industry – all the way to the general population of fly anglers.

What is most troubling to me in all of this, is that it seems to be more socially acceptable to be an individual that talks in a demeaning fashion, presenting themselves in a hero like fashion, than it is to be just some normal dude that likes to go bang around on the water with buds.

Of course there are several generalizations made in these statements, and I do not in any way feel that everyone is this way.

Is it just me or am I not alone in this feeling?  If it is truly a growing issue – what does it take to reverse this trend?


Late Winter/Early spring is Hex Nymph Time

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As the swamps and mucky areas where these burrowing nymphs begin to unfreeze and escape the grip of winter lock down – often times these nymphs are dislodged and washed into the current to become easy meals for steelhead.  Undoubtedly, a hex pattern is one of my top 3 producers for steelhead as temperatures become warmer.  Here is a series of hex nymph patterns that you will find in my box.


Midwest Fly Fishing Show

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Alright – who’s going to be there?  I will be manning the Mystic Rods booth with Dennis (and probably a few others) both days.  Come by, shoot the bull, cast a rod, give me a high five…whatever you want man.


When it Started to Click

I’m admittedly still very much a work in progress, and in no means have I figured out as much about pursuing fish on the fly as many others.  Hell, I’m even the “D” student amongst the group of guys I fish with the most.  However, I have been able to increase my success significantly the past couple of seasons, through some really simple changes.

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  1. Dumped my ego.  You know the feeling, you just caught a good fish, a few other dudes saw the whole thing go down.  Now you feel like you can walk the banks of the river like you’re carrying around a 10′ long pecker.  There is no room for ego in this game.  There is always going to be someone out there that is better, has caught bigger, can cast farther, can tie better, etc.  Not to mention fish have a way of humbling you that cannot be matched by any person out there.
  2. And, if that realization didn’t deflate me enough – I stopped blaming those fishless days on conditions, or some other variable not in my control – and realized that I was the only constant variable in the equation.  I began to understand that just because one method, tactic, or approach worked one day – it doesn’t mean it will work every other day.  I learned that I needed to get better at understanding how certain nuances affected fish – and how I should alter my approach.
  3. I was always told at a young age that God gave me 1 mouth and 2 ears for a reason.  I stopped being overly excited about sharing everything that I knew in an effort to establish my own credibility and started listening to what everyone else had to say.  There is an entire world of knowledge out there, and there is a countless amount of ways to approach any situation that might arise – and I didn’t have all the answers.
  4. I got out of my comfort zone, and started approaching things completely differently.  Simply put, if you do what you’ve always done you’re going to get what you’ve always got.  I wanted to get better, it was time to try new things.
  5. While just about everyone that fishes with me will tell you that my mouth rarely shuts when I’m out, I have actually become very observant.   I really started paying very close attention to everything that everyone does when they are fishing.  For instance, last year I noticed Jeff from Fly Fish the Mitt, who is a Streamer Jedi, makes less false casts when streamer fishing than everyone else in the boat.  This means that his fly is in the water roughly 33% more than anyone else’s.  Small and subtle – but an enormous difference.
  6. I stopped worrying about how my casts looked.  The fish could not care any less about if your cast looked like something straight from a Joan Wulff video.  Did I deliver the fly where it needed to go?  Is the fly line properly mended, and the bugs travelling through the water column as they should?   That’s all that matters.  Why does it matter how you get to where you are going as long as you get there?  It allowed me to focus on fishing more instead of trying to be something I’m not – a good caster.
  7. Through some self assessment I found that I spend entirely too much time out of the water, untangling, re-rigging, tying on new bugs, sipping cheap whiskey, or just participating in general shenanigans.  I needed to spend more time with my bugs in the water.
  8. I took a calculated approach to each situation.  It had always been my method of operation to just blast into a spot and start fishing the gut of a run, missing lots of opportunities for fish that were in closer to me.  Once I started to grid out areas and work methodically, everything began to change.
  9. Maybe the biggest thing that helped me was fishing with confidence.  If I lost confidence in a bug I was fishing, I got out of it and into some different product.  If I didn’t feel like I was effectively covering the water, I assessed my approach and got myself where I felt comfortable that I was being effective.

Each time out on the water, I make an effort to learn something new, try something different, or pick a particular aspect that I want to improve upon.  Here’s to hoping my own personal continuous improvement plan helps to further my experience in 2014.