Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Lake Fishing

Over the last year, I've been trying to become more familiar with the local lakes. I'm still pretty clueless but every now and then I learn something.

The Hook Set
Many times a fish will swim towards your boat making it difficult to get a good hookset. I've found to counter this I make a hookset like I'm trying to yank the fish out of the water. Even doing that at times doesn't work. If you can do it, strip set. That's your best chance at getting a good hookset.

In a kayak you don't have a ton unless you're anchored. Fish under a pound can't do much but a fish of substantial size can really affect your kayak. Imagine hooking a 5lb weight in a swimming pool while you're on a raft. If you pull hard on the rod the weight might move some but you will definitely move towards the weight as well. This creates a constant battle of keeping leverage while managing slack in your line. What I've found works best is to keep as much pressure on the fish as I can. This may sound crazy but I try to put so much pressure that I figure either my rod will break or the fish will come to me.

A Little Paddling Goes A Long Way
It took me quite awhile to realize it doesn't take much paddling to move your kayak. I found countless times where I made an approach towards an area and I was going too fast. I wouldn't notice this until I was about to cast and I would be almost right on top of my target area. I'd have to paddle to back myself up or slow myself down which most likely spooked anything in the area.

The Wind Can Be Your Friend Or Enemy
Similar to the comment above if you don't pay attention to the wind you can be pushed faster than you like. This can work out in your favor if you want to drift a certain direction. It can be good for trolling over a certain area.

Secure Your Stuff
If you have something you really don't want to lose put a lanyard on it or something that will make it float. It is really tempting to just lay something on the edge of your boat. It just takes one unexpected wake or bump of your elbow to send that tool, knife, or rod you love into the drink. If you can only secure one thing make sure it's your paddle. If you lose your paddle on a big lake when it's windy you're going to have a rough day.

Line Management
If you have something in your boat that can get tangled it will. I enjoy having neat rod holders and attachments that make my kayak look cool as the next person. The problem with those things is they make casting more of a chore. I try to have as little in front of me as possible. Get a cheap collapsible waste basket to use as a stripping basket.

Keep Your Rod Tip Down
I still have issues with this. You have better contact with your line and fly when your rod tip is down. My rod tip is usually touching or under the water when I fish. Your rod tip should always be pointing towards the fly. Especially when fishing streamers. You want to feel the resistance of the water when you strip. My hookups went up 10 to 1 after concentrating on this.

Noise Control
When you're approaching a location make sure you have an idea of how you're going to lay your paddle down and grab things in your boat without making noise. This is a lot easier said than done. I've found laying the paddle on my lap keeps it from hitting my boat. I can also use one hand to dip the paddle in the water and help me steer. I try to keep my paddle in the water as little as possible when I'm approaching a target. The fish don't seem to care about the kayak but they do care about the disturbance from the paddle or my casts.

Hopefully, these tips can help anyone starting out.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Recycled Waders Wallet

I have always hated the bulge my current wallet puts in my pocket. I don't carry that much stuff and hardly ever carry cash. Even with the small amount of things the wallet is large. Recycled Waders is a company that repurposes old fishing waders into products people can use. I spied their wallets a long time ago and decided to try one as a solution to my problem. When the wallet arrived I was concerned that it might be too thin.
I also wondered whether the cards would stay in the pocket.
I've been using the wallet for about a month and I love it. The cards stay secure and the side pinch pouch for cash is a great feature.
You can barely tell when the wallet is in my pocket. That was actually an issue at first because I kept thinking I had forgotten my wallet. After using this I can't see myself ever going back to a big bulky wallet. I'm also impressed with the build quality of the product overall. If you're looking for a wallet, small bag, or pack, check out Recycled Waders.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Thank You Smoothie Girl

This last week was spent with a lot of internalizing. The weather made fishing tough. The beach was sandblasting me with 20mph sustained winds. The shells underneath my feet made wading the surf like walking on glass. I put in the work but was only rewarded with a sunburn. The rest of the time was spent with family. Napping and eating great meals while listening to random comments about the amount of white in my hair and the size of my belly. Gone are the days when I receive second glances from cute 20 somethings or people mistaking me for a high school or college student. My one last attempt at the beach was met with a girl selling smoothies from a cooler. I asked how much they were knowing full well I wasn't going to buy one. After some small talk, I was offered a free smoothie. I'd like to say it was my good looks or charm that had this encounter end with me getting a smoothie. In reality, I'm sure it was just a nice gesture or maybe she felt sorry for me as I limped with cut feet and a sunburn. In a week of knowing I know longer have "it", on this day I got a free smoothie and it tasted amazing.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Not Your Day

When you fish with friends sometimes it's just not your day. It's still fun to see others having success and enjoy the moment with them. Yesterday Troy and I hit a local lake in search of monster bass looking up. We really only had one good opportunity and Troy made the most of it. There was a large swirl near the reeds and we knew it had to be a good sized fish. A few casts later Troy hooked up and it was hard to tell what he had at first. The fish swam right at him putting a ton of slack in his line. Troy was able to take in the slack quickly and put some pressure on the fish. The bass shot out of the water and we both looked at each other and at the same time said "that's a nice fish!" It's weird seeing a 6 plus pound bass sky out of the water. It shows how powerful a fish's tail is. After several jumps and a good fight, the fish came to hand.
The stealth bomber was inhaled.
The fish was a great break to the otherwise slow morning. Troy has always been kind enough to invite me along and share his boat and fishing knowledge with me. He's one of the few people that I believe likes fly fishing even more than I do. In the end, I can't emphasize this enough. Fly fishing is fun but not as fun as fishing with friends.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Fishing With My Son

I took my son out in the kayak for a short trip on the lake. He still thinks fishing is all about snacks, right after I caught a fish he asked if it's time to go home now. It was still nice to get out and enjoy the outdoors even for only a couple hours.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Hiking Grayson Highlands

The family got out for a day hike in Grayson Highlands State Park. I have seen pictures and heard about this park but never visited. The Appalachian Trail runs through the park and there are quite a few people there for such a remote location.
What struck me first was how green it was. The area has seen a lot of rain lately and the vegetation is definitely flourishing. There are hiking trails that intersect all over the place. Some are for hikers and others are for horses only. 
The trails are very well maintained and there were several crags for kids to climb on. My kids were in heaven scrambling all over the rocks.
The elevation from the top of the rocks lent itself to some spectacular views. 

In the distance you could see what most day hike visitors come here for, can you find them? 
There are wild horses that roam this park. They are smaller than the wild stallions that roam the western plains. These horses have a shaggier coat, long manes, and tails.
The horses have obviously built up a tolerance to people with so many visitors at the park. They are still beautiful creatures and fun to see. 
Even though there are signs everywhere asking people to keep their distance people tried to pet and feed the horses. It's sad how people have to push the limits and ruin it for everyone else. The horses associate people with food if they're always fed. People don't think about what they are giving these animals. Fritos and potato chips don't have the best nutritional value. 
If you are in the area I highly recommend visiting this park. The scenery is fantastic and on days like today, you can really see where the name Blue Ridge Mountains came from.