Sunday, January 26, 2014

First Fishing Day of 2014

I couldn't stand it anymore and tried a local river today. My expectations were low and a quote from John Gierach stuck in my mind.

"I like everything about fly fishing, but especially this walk in before you've even tied on a fly. You never know what to expect-and in winter you don't expect much-but the goal of going fishing has already been accomplished, so the rest is aimless, doglike happiness of being outside and off your leash."
~ John Gierach

My hope was that the crappie would start staging. We've had a couple warm days in a row but the crunchy ice still lined the banks. It's still too early and no matter how much I wanted to change time I was going to have to wait. The fish just weren't there.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

What To Wear

When I lived in San Diego, CA I could get away with a t-shirt and jeans for almost any situation. Moving across the country to one of the coldest places in the region set me up for a rude awakening. It was a slow transition at first. I was in denial of how cold 20 degrees actually is. I'd try to get away with jeans and a t-shirt when it was sunny and 25degrees with wind. I wouldn't understand why I was so cold. I was even cold in my car which was strange. It was like my heater couldn't heat my whole body. I could either get my legs or torso warm but never my entire body. After being reluctant to even check the mail without putting five layers on I decided to look into how people dress for this climate. It was a little daunting at first. I had to actually look at what things were made of and understand terminology like shells, fleece and wicking. When I moved east from the mtns I was happy to be away from the frigid winters but encountered a new problem.

 Growing up in California you always hear about humidity but figure hot is hot. I mean 100degrees in dry weather can't be that much different in humid weather right? The heat index seemed like a joke to me. For those who aren't familiar the heat index, it is what it's supposed to feel like. So if the temperature says 90 and the heat index says 95 it's supposed to feel like it's 95 outside. When I first heard about this I didn't pay much attention to it. That was until I attempted a mtn bike ride in August. I've ridden in San Diego before when it was 90 but riding in the South with a index of 95 is a whole different story. I made it maybe a mile before I was panting and feeling dizzy. What was wrong with me? I thought I was in pretty good shape. I had to learn how my body reacts to humidity and what it can handle. 

All of this may seem obvious for those of you who grew up in this weather but I wish I had found a post like this when I first moved here. With the cold weather closing in a lot of stores are having deals on clothing for hot weather. It took me a few summers to realize a cotton t-shirt wasn't the best choice. I've been experimenting with different blends and shirts for quite some time. Columbia's Bonehead shirts are pretty good for hot weather and so are Nike's Dri-Fit Shirts. The problem with most of these is the long sleeve version was just too hot. After all my searching I think I've found something that will be perfect. 
ExOfficio recently came out with a shirt called the Sol Cool T-Shirt. This shirt is very light weight and has the dry wicking technology to keep you stay cool even with long sleeves. I like the long sleeves because the less sunscreen I have to put on the better. It's not so thin that you can see through it. The shirt also comes with odor resistant material which is a blessing for those car rides home after a long day. If you wait until Sierra Trading Post has one of their 45% deals you can get the shirt for $20. This is a steal for this type of shirt. I bought two. The fit is great but they large for their size. A small fits me and I'm 5'10, 175lbs. Columbia has a similar shirt called the Freezer Shirt. STP has this shirt as well but it's a little more than the Exofficio shirt. If you haven't worn anything by ExOfficio before you owe it to yourself to give them a try. They make great products that hold up well.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Somebody's Tying

It was too cold to fish last weekend and too rainy this weekend. At least there's football on and plenty of tying supplies. I messed around today and worked on a bass pattern. When it comes to tying dubbing matters. I got some from Stu Thompson of Dark Water Dubbing last year. I really liked this purple black color but I wasn't sure quite how to use it.
I'm not sure how this pattern will work but I like the look of it. I also used dubbing for several soft hackle bodies. The dubbing at is superb. I really believe it's made a difference with my flies. They have more of a buggy look.

I haven't tried to do any poppers for quite some time. I never really know how to tie them exactly. This was my attempt at a Sneaky Pete style pattern. The body is a little awkward but I think it will fish fine.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Finding a Blog Identity

I have to admit last year I tried to go a different direction with my blog. Usually when you spend some time on a blog you get a good idea of what the author is trying to accomplish. Exposure for their writing, hope that that they are an undiscovered fly fishing talent, narcissism, getting free stuff or the worst of all just for attention. I saw so many blogs getting gear for free. I kind of knew how this game worked but I wasn't sure I wanted to join the game. I started with the first few steps. Changed my blog name to a catchier name, started a Facebook page and tried to create content that was unique and attractive to a wide audience. This became more like work than a fun hobby. I also came to the reality that if I wanted the blog exposure I needed I was going to have to compromise my morals. In my opinion people should want to read your blog because it's entertaining. Not because they have a chance to win free stuff or get special deals they can't find elsewhere. I'm not a huge fan of what I call "whoring out your blog".

Here's how this works. I'm sure you've seen it before. The game goes like this; if your blog gets a certain number of hits you can use this leverage to get free stuff. Using simple tools such as Google Analytics you can go to vendors proving your blog gets X number of visits. Presenting this info you explain that if you get one of their products to review they will get more exposure. It's a good tactic and depending on your motive you can get a lot of free stuff. There are several ways to artificially increase the number of hits. How is this accomplished? You create a "giveaway" or have a contest. The main way people win this contest is by liking your Facebook page and sharing your post on Twitter or other social media. It's basically spamming your blog to whoever will listen. This tactic is very effective even if the product you're giving away isn't all that great. People love free stuff. 

I don't resent anyone who does this and I've seen the positive effects for several blogs that do. I couldn't bring myself to go down this path and the result was a huge lack of free stuff. I do find comfort knowing that the people who follow my blog do so knowing that they aren't getting anything in return but my thoughts. Poor grammar and all. I still seemed to lack a blog identity. I went through a struggle of figuring out what I wanted my blog to stand for. The purpose of my blog from the very beginning was to provide a place to share my thoughts and fishing experiences. That's where it's going again. The other side of the game just isn't for me.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Going Over 2013 Goals

2013 was a great year for fishing. I set several goals for myself and it was fun trying to accomplish them. Here is a list of the goals:

  1. Fish More with My Daughter 
  2. Explore More Wild Streams
  3. A Year That Kicks Bass - Really learn my local bass waters
  4. Catch 7 NC Citation Fish in one year using only flies
  5. Tie and Use More of My Own Flies
I'm probably the most proud of accomplishing the first goal. I was able to fish several times with my daughter.
I had a lot of concern about this. Was she still too young? Would she enjoy it? Did I have the patience?
The experience was a severe test in patience and I had to reside to the fact that fishing with my daughter meant no fishing for me.
That wasn't bad but I had to admit there were times I wanted to fish as well. Sometimes we compromised, mostly when fly fishing. I'd cast and hook a fish then let her reel it in. She hated this. I'd try to tell her she caught the fish herself but she would have none of it. She only felt she caught the fish if she hooked it and reeled it in. I couldn't blame her. I would have felt the same. The times we spent on the water were some of my favorites and I look forward to our trips this year.

My goal to explore more wild streams was also based on trying to catch my first North Carolina brook trout. I had fished several waters where the fish were present in the past but never caught one.
It became more difficult than I thought it was going to be. The scenery made up for the lack of fish.
My buddy Jim joined me on many of these quests. We found some really great streams and we noticed brook trout only seemed to be in certain sections.
Finding them was always exciting and I never got tired of the hunt. This small stream trout fishing is something I will try to continue every year. The experiences out weigh the fishing. It's hard to feel anything but joy when you're on these streams. 

 The bass fishing this spring started with a bang.
I was catching bigger bass than I had in previous years and I seemed to be figuring them out.
At least I thought I had. Then the rain came. We had the most rain in at least 20yrs in the Triangle. The rivers were swollen and almost impossible to fish. Especially for fly fishing. It really killed my goal of fishing more local waters for bass. In the fall I had forgot about bass and looked to the mountains for fishing opportunities. I'd have to say I didn't accomplish this goal and I'm eager to work on it again for this year. 

 The Citation goal was probably the most difficult to accomplish. Especially without a boat. I have a float tube but I don't really count that as a boat. I'd like to blame all the rain this year but honestly it probably had nothing to with it. Catching panfish over a pound just isn't as easy as I thought. I really wanted the large mouth bass citation(8lbs or 23inches long). I never even got close. In the end I was 3 citations short of 7. I'm glad I didn't take this goal too seriously. It could have really ruined my year. It wasn't all bad. I did hook up with a fish that has been one of the most difficult for me to catch. American a.k.a White Shad have been evading me for years. The abnormal rainfall allowed these fish to run up closer to Raleigh. I knew this year was probably my best chance at catching one.
I had heard these fish were large but this one was enormous. It had to be over 5lbs. I was really happy to have accomplished this from land and with a fly rod. What this taught me though is at least where I live; fly fishing for these fish is not worth it. You really just make things overly difficult for yourself. I will still chase these fish in the spring but it will be with a spinning rod. 

 This year I probably tied and used more of my own flies than I ever have. It was a goal but I didn't consciously try to use my own flies it just worked out that way. I used soft hackles 90% of the time this year for trout.
I tried to get out of my comfort zone and enter a fly swap. Trevor at Fly-Carpin was nice enough to let me join his.
It was a great time and I'd gladly do it again. My fly was even featured in CarpPro Magazine. I gained more confidence in my flies as I used them more. It's amazing how many flies just work.
Maybe we think too much when it comes to what fish will eat.

The year overall was amazing. A couple other great moments was catching my first red drum
and my biggest trout ever in Utah.
I can't complain and I look forward to what 2014 has to offer. Happy New Year everyone!