Tuesday, December 6, 2016

My Best Video Ever

So happy I can finally share this. It's a collaboration I did with Jumping Rock Media about the Eno River. I'm really proud of how this turned out. Let me know what you think.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Watch Your Step

This is how the small creek I fished looked over the weekend. It was very dangerous. The dry leaves covered the water running just underneath. In some places it hid where there was wet rock. A couple times I stepped on what I thought was solid ground only to have all the leaves move at once. I took some nasty falls and I was lucky to not get hurt. The leaves are beautiful but the experience reminded me they can also be a hazard. Watch your step out there.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Adoration For Browns

For some reason, browns are special to me. I've always had a deep respect for them. They seem to be great at adapting and efficient at hunting. Arguably they are the smartest fish when they're combined with rainbows and brook trout. There is a feeling of accomplishment every time I catch a decent sized brown. Catching one over 15inches isn't a common occurrence for me. What I find interesting is the bigger browns I usually catch are on flies I have no real confidence in. Take this last fishing trip for instance. I've never been a huge fan of copper johns. I have friends that swear by them but they never worked well for me. I'm sure it's partly because of my confidence in fishing them. On this day I was running low on the usual softhackles I love and decided to try a rubber legged copper john. I didn't catch a ton of fish on it but did manage this largest fish of the day which happened to be a brown.
Do the larger browns hit these flies because they are less common and they haven't learned to avoid them yet? Or is it just luck? I have no idea but it keeps me reaching for those flies in the far corner of my box that get overlooked.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Post Hurricane Matthew

I hadn't worn my waders in months. Hurricane Matthew gave me a good reason to wear them again as I assessed the water around my house. We had over 6" of rainfall in a 24 hour period. I found out water will find a way to seal itself even where there are cracks. The water had pushed leaves, pine needles, and other debris against the cracks in the fence and created a dam. Water started to build up and push its way towards the house. My last resort was breaking one of the fence slats to let the water out. Once I made the hole I could feel the current pushing against my waders. It made me think about the people wading through several feet of water in other areas. That has got to be terrifying. The day after the storm was beautiful. Not a cloud in the sky and the air was dry and cool. It was the first day that really felt like fall. I was able to muster up the family to go on a bike ride. I wanted to assess the damage on a local greenway. The creek that followed the trail was swollen and water covered the trail several times. We also came across downed trees.
This part of the trail was unrecognizable. Sediment covered the trail and the creek used the trail for its flow. 
Nature never ceases to amaze me. We were really lucky with Matthew it could have been a lot worse.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Summer Funk

Sorry for the lack of activity on the blog. I have no good excuse. I've been making getting back in shape a priority. Watching more what I eat and making an effort to get more active. I'm starting to see positive results. The weather has been so hot it's distracted my mind from fishing. I've also found a group of people in the same boat I am. Older dads trying to get back in shape. We've organized a small mountain biking group. The group has been on a few rides so far but they have been very fun and I hope the rides become a consistent thing. I'm sure I'll fish soon and I'll post a decent report. 

If you can get out tonight try and check out the Perseid Meteor shower. I went with the family last night to a local lake. We saw an average of a meteor a minute after 10pm. I also saw something I've never seen in my life. While I was watching the kids play on the playground and waiting for it to get dark I saw something fall from the sky and land on the sand. It looked like a large leaf but there were no trees close by. My first thought was that it looked kind of like a bat. I saw my kids running over and I could tell from their body language it was something alive. I ran over and sure enough there was a bat laying in the sand. On closer inspection, you could see there were two bats. 
I guess they were mating. After I snapped a few pics the top bat flew off then the bottom one took to the air. The kids will probably remember this more than the meteors that fell.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Fishing in San Diego

The family just got back from San Diego on Wednesday evening. I don't think we recovered until yesterday. The trip was a whirlwind of activities. Visiting family, Disneyland, San Diego Zoo, Comic-Con, The Safari Park and much more. It got to the point by day 5 that when I told my kids we need to get going they just ignored me. I couldn't blame them the pace we were going was frantic. I didn't bring my fishing stuff because I figured my schedule wouldn't allow it. My uncle and cousin are just as into fishing as I am. They were hoping to get me out at least one morning to fish off the coast. A friend invited us to use his boat and even though I was exhausted I felt like I couldn't pass up the opportunity. 

Riding out from the docks was amazing. San Diego really is a special place. While getting bait we watched seals swim hoping to get scraps and dolphins popped up here and there. It was a scene right out of a movie. The weather was an unusual clear morning. 
San Diego is known for its perfect weather but what most people don't know is the coast is clouded most of the time. The hot temperatures of the inland and desert block the cold air coming from the ocean creating a marine layer. This usually results in a cloud bank that often hands out from the beach to 5-10miles inland. 
I was surprised at a number of boats that were out. You can see the boats in the distance and there were just as many surrounding the boat. If you hooked up some idiot would punch it as fast as they could to drop a line in your location. I had never seen such a lack of etiquette. I guess that was the norm because I seemed to be the only person that had major issues with it. 
We were tight lining live mackerel and waiting to feel a hit. It took me awhile to get the hang of it. I couldn't tell if the fish was just running or if a bigger fish had taken it. The seals and seagulls were constantly surrounding the boat. Several times seals took our bait and seagulls tried as well. It's crazy to see your line go from the ocean up into the air then you see a seagull stuck in flight. They usually dropped the mackerel which my uncle called relocating my bait. The seals made reeling in fish interesting. If you took to long you just gave the seal breakfast. Even with all the boats and other obstacles we managed to catch fish.
This fish looks similar to an albacore that is caught on the east coast. It's actually called a Bonito. Very hard fighting fish.  It put an L in my rod when I was bringing it in. I thought I had hooked a seal. 
We all had success catching calico bass, bonito and yellowtail. It was a special day and I'm glad I was able to spend it with family. 


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.

Leverage
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.


Monday, May 23, 2016

Personal Best Brown

The weather was overcast and the water was higher than normal with a little stain. I had just gotten in and after my 10th cast with a streamer I hooked this guy. It used the current and put up a great fight. I was using a 3/4wt 10ft rod and it gave it all it could handle. Landing the fish was a total cluster you know what. When I went to net the fish it wouldn't fit in the net. I decided to ditch the rod and try to grab the trout. That's when a hilarious scenario ensued. I had to have a friend help me net it. I had already gone through many bouts of having the fish in my hands to only have it slip free. This is the largest trout I have caught. 

Monday, May 16, 2016

My Sighting

I'm an open minded person when it comes to myths and legends. I'd like to think there are some things out there we can't proove. Even though I feel that way I always had a hard time believing I'd be involved in a situation I couldn't explain. I'm a very logical person so if I suspect something or hear about something I'm pretty skeptical until I see the evidence.

My buddies and I were fishing last weekend in a remote part of Virginia. The access isn't difficult but the location is sparsely populated. The day was overcast with a cold front coming in. There was a constant draft accompanying the front. The wind seemed to stay at 20mph with higher gusts every now and then. Branches were falling randomly and there was an occasional rain shower. I was walking the tree line with a friend. Behind the tree line was the forest and the river. Between the tree line was a field and a few houses on the far side. The tree line didn't run in a straight line it was serrated and came out to points then went back towards the creek. I walked around one of the points and heard a dog barking from a house across the field. I looked back in front of me and saw something hunched down on the edge of the tree line. It was facing into the forest. I thought it was a dog at first but it looked strange. The animal was a good 50yds or so away from me. It was dark colored almost a charcoal gray. I figured maybe it was a bear at first but the back of the animal was streamlined and nothing like what I've seen in bear pics before. The animal was also hunched down like a cat. I took a few more steps and the animal's body language did a move like it sensed or saw me out of the corner of its eye. In what seemed like a second it dashed into the forest. What I saw as it did this is what stuck with me the most. It was the animal's tail. It was long like a mountain lion. I turned to my friend and said, "I think just saw a mountain lion." As the words came out of my mouth I felt stupid for even saying it. I couldn't discount what I had just seen. It was way too big to be house cat. The coloring was nothing like a bobcat plus that tail. I really wanted to say it was a panther but I knew that would be even more unbelievable. The coloring was so dark. It was darker than any mountain lions I've seen in Zoos or in pictures. The problem with thinking it was a panther was the color. The animal wasn't shiny like the panther pictures I've seen.

My buddy was really skeptical and we walked over to where I had seen the animal. There was a trail leading into the forest that disappeared into the underbrush. The overcast skies shaded underneath the trees and made difficult to see. The ground was covered with ferns, tall grass, briars and vines. The wind made it impossible to hear in behind the tree line. I wanted to go down and search but I was scared. I knew I had seen something and I had a feeling it was still seeing me but I had no idea where it was. Neither my buddy or I had the nerve to go down the trail. The ground was hard-packed at the beginning of the trail and there was no sign of any tracks. We told my other friend that was with us and he spent about 5min trying to figure out if we were messing with him. The rest of the afternoon was spent wondering if I was lying, hallucinating or doing drugs. It got to the point where I didn't want to talk about it anymore at all. What I was saying sounded crazy but then again I knew I saw something.

That night we researched online sightings in the area near where we were. There were articles here and there and none were very creditable. The location made sense if there truly was a panther loose. There was easy access to food and water. The forest covered 100's of square miles and provided ample cover. The only thing we could come up with is maybe someone had a mountain lion or panther as a pet and let it go. Or it got loose.

I guess we'll never know.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Rolling In

I filmed a recent thunderstorm rolling in. Watch the sky change it's not getting dark because it's night time. The clouds literally made it that dark. The screen flashes aren't the movie or your computer that is lightning.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

A Bunch Of Firsts

A few friends and I spent a weekend at a large freshwater lake in NC. It was my first time fishing the lake and I wasn't sure what to expect. The lake has a reputation for amazingly clear water and great bass fishing. The first-morning I got up before dawn and the conditions were perfect.
Glass calm and even though there was rain the night before the water wasn't murky. It took me awhile to start seeing fish. The color of the bottom was a light tan and my eyes were looking for dark shadows. What I found is the bass were lighter colored than I'm used to. They actually looked more like redfish under the water than bass. I was able to hook a few on a stealth bomber. I ran into one bass that seemed to not spook at all. I cast a clouser a few times and the fish didn't budge. As it started to swim away into deeper water I made one last cast in the direction the fish headed. When I started to take in the slack line I felt pressure and made a strip set. The water swirled and I couldn't believe I had hooked the fish. There was some not quite right about this bass. When the fish got closer I realized it wasn't a bass at all. It was a bowfin and the hook was barely in its lip.
All I have ever heard about bowfin is how hard they fight. I was able to get the fish to the kayak but I didn't have any grippers or anything to lip the fish. A bowfin's mouth is lined with small needle-like teeth. Against my better judgment, I grabbed the fly and moved the fish. The bowfin didn't want to give up and it took several tries to get it calmed down. My weekend was made. This fish was well over 22 inches and qualifies for an NC citation. It swam away as though it was never caught. 

The fishing slowed down after that until I saw some activity. Water splashed every now and then between the weeds and wakes would move the blades of grass. Something was obviously chasing bait in the shallows. I waited until I saw a splash and cast a popper in the area. A mouth opened and inhaled the fly seconds after it landed. It was a nice bass and it tangled itself in the weeds. The water was so shallow I was able to get it free.
A few casts later I had my first pumpkinseed.
The coloring on this fish was striking. I have seen pictures of pumpkinseeds but never caught one. The markings on the face are beautiful.
In the same area, this yellow perch came to hand a couple casts later.
It was a great morning. Later my friends and I took a trip to the other side of the lake. It was a huge contrast from the south side. Instead of light colored sand, the bottom was dark green and you could not see the banks through the cypress trees.
We found an area that had a mixture of grass and trees.
The wind started to pick up and we decided to make the trip back across the lake. This is where things got interesting.
The sky started to get very dark and storm clouds moved across the horizon with gale force winds. This lake is shallow, the average depth is 4ft. When the winds pick up the lake acts like a wave machine. We had 2-3ft waves all around and several came close to coming over the bow. The boat couldn't get speed with the rough water and we had to surf the waves more than go through them. The trek across the lake was spooky and the view at the dock wasn't any better. There was lightning and thunder at our backs. The plan was to leave the boat tied up and run to shelter. Breakers prevented us from doing this. The boat could smash into the dock and be destroyed.
The next plan was to load the boat on the truck until the storm subsided. 
The boat and ourselves got out of the water unscathed. It was a scary experience and a reminder that nature is always in control. The wind continued through the weekend and made fishing tough. It was still a great trip and I'm already planning my next trip back. 

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Stressing Before A Fishing Trip

Ok, the picture might be a slight exaggeration. I was already obsessed with checking the weather before I had a kayak. My Native doesn't love the wind so I always have one eye on WindFinder. If you've never checked the site before it's pretty good. I've found it gives accurate wind forecasts for the lakes I usually fish. There is also a free app you can get for your phone. I like the mobile app more than the website.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Fishing With Buds

As much as I like catching fish I enjoy sharing spots with friends. Joey and I hit a crappie hole that has been good to me lately. I had him go with a fly color I hadn't tried yet. It was basically a red wooly bugger. Several casts in he hooked this beast. 
It was a trophy crappie and gave him a good fight. I was wondering what was taking him so long to bring the fish in. He thought it was a catfish at first. When I saw the fish I didn't think it was that big until it turned onto its side. The thing was almost as tall as it was long.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Hungry Crappie

I've stopped trying to figure crappie out. Over time I've figured out their patterns at a certain lake. I go there when I think they should be there. It works out most of the time. Today this was the only crappie I caught and it inhaled the fly. So deep the hook was embedded in the gills.
I was able to get the fly out and the fish seemed to stop bleeding before I released it. It swam away fine but I never feel great releasing a fish I question will make it. Crappie are interesting fish. They have the body of a panfish and the mouth of a largemouth. Even though the mouth is quite large it is fragile and you can easily pull a hook free if you lip snag a fish.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Fly Fishermen Are Bad Drivers

 

I can't drive over or next to any piece of water without being curious if there's fish there. I have never gotten into an accident because of the distraction but I have done some dumb things. 

When I see pictures like this I always think maybe it was just another guy wondering if there was fish in the river.