Monday, November 30, 2009

Thanksgiving with the family







Had quite possibly the best Thanksgiving in memory with my family this year. Mom, Nana and Steve were here. Mom fixed a GREAT spread, and Lacy was a constant source of entertainment.

Did the Black Friday thing for the first time ever, standing in line at Target at 3:30am. Scored a great deal on a new TV and didn't spend too much on it. Now I no longer have to lug around the 200 lb behemoth.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Fall Fly Pattern



This is a basic Double Bunny pattern. It can be used to imitate one of the most prevalent baitfish in salt water everywhere. The alien looking Toadfish Game fish love toadfish and this pattern is easy to tie. Bead chain eyes are an option to help get the fly down to the bottom. Toadfish like to hang around oyster bars and backwater estuaries and are a perfect bait for fall and winter gamefish. A slow darting presentation is essential to imitate a toadfish since they don't travel very far or fast to avoid predators.

It can also imitate a smallish shrimp or mullet.

I tie them size 1 to size 2/0.

Monday, November 23, 2009

My Buddy Chad - Punching Bag For The Great Baracudda


Several years ago, my buddy Chad (he's deceased now) and I went to the Keys for a week of fishing. 5 whole days of being in the boat, on the water from first light and returning to the dock just before dark. Of course there were a few nights of fishing in the marina at the motel that we stayed at, but most nights were spent sleeping and tending to sun drenched skin. The middle of June in the Florida Keys can be quite sweltering, especially when spent in a 14 ft Carolina Skiff. Staying in Marathon has it's advantages when on a trip like this....being pretty much right in the middle of the island chain, we could go just about anywhere.

We had spent the previous 2 days chasing tarpon in Vaca Cut, catching yellow tails on the deeper flats and combing some backwater areas, sight fishing redfish on the Gulf side....but Chad had an idea for day 3.

We had left early (5am) to make it to the ramp past 7 Mile Bridge to launch the boat. The seas were utterly flat calm, like glass, as they say, when we passed under the bridge, the rosy colored horizon giving us just enough light to navigate. I asked Chad "Where are we going?" to which he grunted something I couldn't hear but mentioned something about "going offshore"....Offshore? In a 14 foot Skiff?

We stopped to catch some bait on the way....8 inch Blue Runners, and some sort of choice white bait that I've forgotten. Now, I have to state that before I realized the joys of tossing feathers and bucktail, I used to chuck 2 oz sinkers, live bait, and Bomber A's attached to 25 lb test mono and broomstick sized Ugly Stiks with a big Penn spinning reel. We had all of the big guns out on this trip.

We went far enough out where we could still see the shore in the distance....maybe out a mile and a half or so. We anchored and Chad strapped on a mask and fins and dove over the side to check if anyone was home on the reef 30 feet below. He surfaced an said "This is the place"....Grouper and Snapper we in the rocks below.

Before long, we had a few smaller snapper and a few Red Grouper....as well as some HUGE barracuda. They showed up like we had rang the dinner bell and hung around the skiff like a half dozen wild dogs. They were smart buggers. They wouldn't take the smaller fish as it was cranked up from the bottom. They would wait until you'd take it of the hook, and just hammer it as it swan back down.

I decided to try to catch one of these toothy predators, connecting a pre-made 80 lb wire leader with a snap swivel on the business end, 3/0 hook and one of the choice white baits....toss and WHAM! off to the races with a 4 ft torpedo. It was doing the "porpoise" thing where it was rocketing out of the water every 20 ft or so and then the line went slack. Upon review, the steel leader was bitten through! 80 lb steel leader bitten through!

While this was going on, Chad was trying to build a 100 lb steel leader and put a hook through his finger. almost all the way through, past the barb. He was trying to get it out , without success. After a while, He said "pull 'em in...I've gotta get this thing removed at the hospital". I was reeling in his gigantic Penn, You know, like the one Quint used in the movie Jaws? It had a blue runner on it and when it arrived at the boat, I could see there was a half a blue runner left on the hook. I mentioned something about that, and just as he looked over at it, a 6 foot reef shark did the eye roll and took off with it....reel screaming as the shark blasted off, with the half bait, bird nesting the reel.....and broke off.

At that point, Chad had reached his limit with the hook, Manned up, bared down, and ripped it out, wrapped it and stated, "we're not goin' anywhere". He made sure that he used pliers to finish the leader he had been building. Lining up a 'cuda, he looks over and says, "this is how you do it".

The hooked barracuda flew off just like mine had, but this one had something else in mind, turning toward the skiff, leaping every 15-20 feet. When it was close enough, traveling at top speed, it blasted out of the water and clobbered Chad right in the jaw, momentum carrying it over his head and back in the water.....

When he woke up a few minutes later in the bottom of the skiff, Chad asked me, "Dude, why did you hit me?"

Yes, nothing quite like being a punching bag for a Great Barracuda.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

In recognition of Suicide Survivors Day

My Reflection of Personal Growth and Death of a Failed Relationship

In recognition of Suicide Survivors Day - For both me...and my family who experienced this rough time along with me.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Any Takers for Florida Keys Trip?


Ok...I have this crazy idea.

As was mentioned a few posts back, Julie and I booked a trip to Long Key State Park in the Florida Keys for April 11th-16th 2010. This is prime time for bonefish in the Keys and quite possibly one of the best bonefish flats in the US. Plus the campsites are right on the water and literally steps away from your tent door....plus, it's probably the most inexpensive place to stay in the Keys, as it were, if that interests you. You can camp there for the entire 6 days for under $200.00.

Anyway, back to my crazy idea.

I think it would be cool to get folks together and do this on an annual basis. Bonefishing in the Keys with my favorite bloggers and readers....

If anyone is interested is going, book your campsite now....they go fast and the best time to book a trip there is as far in advance as you can. If you need us to, we can pick you up at Key West Airport.

We'll be in campsite 2. Let me know if you're going to be there.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

My Dog Lacy Part II




It seems that my dog Lacy's post is getting as much run as the Fly Fish Chick interview. Tons of e-mails and questions from her new fans keep coming in so I'm going to answer them for you.

Lacy is an American Foxhound


Her favorite thing to eat besides her dog food is rotisserie chicken.

She knows to stay out of the kitchen, but will get food off the counter if no one is looking.

She is a great hunter of rabbits, and will chase them until she's ready to drop.

She talks to me. We have conversations about dog food and cookies and which dog park she likes and why.

She snores.

I have to wake her up and get her going in the morning.

She has never, ever woke me up when sleeping in.

She likes to swim but won't go in the pool.

She has never torn up anything in the house - except once - when she redecorated the house with the contents of the trash can.

Her boyfriend is Bailey, Julie's Golden Retriever.

She looks like a Beagle, but weighs in at 65 lbs where a Beagle tops out at 30 lbs.

I hope this answers your questions.....

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The "Gear" Guy


I'm sure that we're acquainted with a "Gear" guy....you know the type - the guy with all of the new gear/bag/stripping basket/rod/reel/hat/high tech clothing....and he isn't afraid to talk about it.

What I find funny about the Gear Guy is, none of his gear help him get on fish any better than me or you. It's not as if the gear is a fish attractor....because, as my friend Scott likes to say, "The fish haven't read "In Fisherman" yet this month".

That's me in the photo, and I'm pretty geared up because we were quite a ways from the car and we were walking a fairly long stretch of beach.

I can remember being Gear Guy. When I used to bass fish, I'd always drag out 3 HUGE tackle boxes, and 4 rods just to hit a golf course pond. I can distinctly remember being out fished by my buddy one day, me with all of my gear and he with a Wal-Mart spinning rig and a few bags of plastic worms.

I usually don't carry all that much gear with me when I fish unless it's "expedition" style fishing....or I'm REALLY far from home. 90 percent of my gear isn't name brand gear and most of it isn't fishing gear at all, rather other gear "converted" into fly fishing gear. I'm not trashing anyone outfitted head to toe, I'm just saying that it doesn't work for me. I'm not going to list everything I take, I'm just mentioning the fact that I'm a minimalist of sorts.

Ken Morrow can be a gear guy too, but he uses everything....(just kidding Ken)

Take for instance, the gear guy at Long Key State Park. There were several of them sighted on this particular trip, but the guy I'm speaking of was a Gear God on a scale of gear-guy-ness. This guy looked like he just walked out of a fly shop that day, knocked off all the price tags, and started fishing....new wading shoes not even sandy yet. I was wading back to the campsite as the tide was almost gone, tired, spent and thirsty....my two 32 oz Nalgenes empty, I see this guy walking along the shore, and says to me "I can't see anything to cast at" to which I responded "you just have to wade and blind cast", opened up my fly box and gave him a few hot pink Sweet Ernies I had tied that morning...and he just sort of wandered off down the beach. It was necessary to blind cast because the 30 mph wind made it so. I couldn't see anything and I was getting hit.

Just like "softball guy", People of Wal-Mart and the always popular "boat guy", Gear Guy will always make me chuckle a bit.....

Time for Trout


I know, I know....You're thinking that I've gone over to the trout streams and 4-5 weight gear...right?

Nope!

Due to the fact that there still isn't a brown trout to be found in Florida, I have to stick with the trout that I know....Spotted Sea Trout.

Fall is here which means the bite will pick up for savvy anglers targeting these pretty members of the drum family.

The largest one I've caught was 42 inches long and quite a monster. It ate a beat up, hammered and shredded shrimp (the pinfish had got to it so the only thing remaining was a shell and a head)that I used because the bait was gone and we had just found a ten feet deep hole in the middle of a field of 12 inch deep oyster beds....between Christmas and New Years.

Fly selection should include shrimp imitations, finger mullet and the always popular white grunt patterns fished near grass beds, oyster bars and, at night, around dock lights.

Hoping to get after some trout this weekend.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Interview with the Fly Fish Chick

You've seen her on various blog rolls, and websites. You've seen her photos and read her articles and seen her on Facebook and Twitter and The Drake Film Tour... My next guest, please welcome....the Fly Fish Chick! (Cue Late Night Music and Applause)



BBC: Did you have any experience fly fishing before you waltzed into that fly shop in the mid 90's?

FFC: Actually I had one prior flyfishing experience. I was about fourteen years old and my family was on vacation in Aspen in June. My dad decided to take me fly-fishing for the day so we found a guide and rented gear. I just remember some stoned kid handing me neoprene waders through this little window in a door on the side of the shop. He was so out of it, he'd probably been handing out ski boots all winter, he didn’t know which way was up.

Of course looking back I realize it was probably runoff and there were no fishable rivers. So the guide took us to some teeny pond -- today I could easily cast to the other side of that pond and I'm not at all being braggadocios when I say that. And it was miserable dreary weather. We stood in the cold pounding rain for hours casting in one spot over and over while the guide sat in his truck and drank coffee. We caught zero fish.


BBC: Since you take an occasional foray into saltwater and I've never fly fished a stream, what would you say is the biggest difference in the two besides the gear?

FFC: It’s Kalik versus Fat Tire; Muscle versus Finesse. Throwing big crab patterns and spoon flies all day long on 8, 10 or 12 weight rods in the wind just takes more muscle literally and figuratively. Not to take away from trout fishing. There is a certain finesse required on a trout stream that can actually be more taxing. Even though I am more exhausted physically after a day of saltwater fishing I feel less pressure, it really feels like vacation.


BBC: Any particular reason that you don't tie flies?

FFC: Time. I simply haven’t taken the time to learn. I am stretched so thin these days but it’s on the horizon. I would love to catch a Missouri River trout on a pattern I tie.


BBC: Do you carry an Ipod in your waders when out on a stream? What would you be playing if you did?

FFC: No ipod while wading. But I am wholly unafraid to take the ipod speakers on my boat on the Missouri in Montana under the right circumstances. Have had some great evening floats catching fish to Willie Nelson, BB King, Marc Broussard, even a little disco dancing in the boat to Michael Jackson when the fish weren’t eating despite a huge caddis hatch.


BBC: Can you tell me about Team Paddlefish and how you're training for the race?

FFC: I really appreciate you asking! I am training for a 262-mile canoe race called The Texas Water Safari in order to raise funds and awareness for a rare disease called Rett Syndrome. My paddling partner and I call ourselves Team Paddlefish. I am also working on a book about the whole year-long endeavor with Departure Publishing. It’s really exciting and a ton of work. Writing, editing, fundraising, paddling – Team Paddlefish has become a fulltime job and I love it.

Right now we are paddling 7-10 mile runs one–to-two times weekly. I am doing Pilates to strengthen my back and core. Weights for my arms. And walking/running for cardio. I loathe running, I can barely run one pitiful mile. But I am trying as hard as I can. I am also working with a nutritionist eating a lean organic diet (most of the time, ahem.) Trying to stay gluten-free, sugar-free, mostly vegan. I seem to be week-on, week-off in terms of my nutrition, but I am determined to lose weight and get strong.

We need all the cheerleaders we can get!! I humbly but enthusiastically encourage anyone & everyone to check out our website Teampaddlefish.org and/or follow our journey on Facebook at:

http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#/pages/Team-Paddlefish/110098016064?ref=ts


BBC: What sort of gear do you use? Any companies you'd like to give a shout out to?

FFC: For sure! I am having a mad love affair with my Scott G2 trout rods, I have a 5 and a 6 weight. For nostalgia I still adore my old Winston Joan Wulff 5 weight. And I feel pretty sassy with my sexy new Hatch 8-wt reel.


BBC: Is there a Fly Fish Dog?

FFC: There used to be, well sort of. I had a basset hound named Gus for ten years, but he passed away last year. He never went fishing with me, but he was my first baby and a real charmer.


BBC: A lot of women "marry in", if you will, to fly fishing and only do it because their significant other is into it. (I can only think of 4 women offhand who really dig it) Why are you different?

FFC: Technically, I’m not. My parents were really into flyfishing. And my ex-husband was also into flyfishing. So all of our family vacations were fishing vacations. I loved it. But after my divorce I really put the hammer down and got into fishing big time on my own. I’ve learned so much in the past five years.


BBC: There is a big difference in women's backpacking gear because women are built different of course. Have you tried any of the fly gear made for women and is there a difference?

FFC: They are finally starting to get it right. It used to be a “woman’s” flyfishing shirt was nothing more than a man’s shirt with a pink hibiscus pattern. Awful. Or they created really outdated “womens” outdoor clothing that was reminiscent of something Karen Blixen wore in Out Of Africa. Finally, now they are producing womens fishing/outdoor clothing that more closely resembles current fashion trends and active lifestyles. Some hip colors, stretchy modern fabrics and realistic feminine shapes. Thank heavens!! I am a real Cloudveil bunny. Love their stuff.

BBC: What is your favorite fly fishing blog to read every day?

FFC: Oh, please don’t throw me in that briar patch! There are too many good ones, would hate to leave anyone out. A Bad Backcast, Trout Underground, Buster Wants To Fish, Fishing Jones, Missouri River Fishing Blog, Michael Gracie, Deneki, Moldy Chum. Blanco Honky is consistently funny. And Chi Wulff is consistently solid with excellent river reports.

BBC: Any way we can entice you and The Professor down to the Keys for a few days of camping and bonefishing in the spring?

FFC: Uh…hmm…let me see…YES! Sounds like a gas. Send details.

BBC: Thanks for your time!

FFC: Thank you! This was fun, thanks for the good questions and don’t be a stranger. Cheers!

There you have it folks....The Fly Fish Chick!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Mo' Better Things


I'm just overflowing with ideas for the blog as of late. Got a new writing gig that will be launched soon and have been meeting a lot of new folks who are excited about the outdoors and writing as well. Am also loving Twitter. There are a gaggle people from different walks of life who are very interesting tweeting and some of them actually pay attention to my tweets.

I know I promised big things this week, but I had an interview scheduled that I haven't got back yet among other things. I'll let you know about the new writing gig as soon as I get the go ahead.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

My Dog Lacy











Julie is already pretty high up in my book of favorite people, but she reached a new level of awesomeness today when she took my dog Lacy to her place of employment and gave her "the treatment". She's such a good woman!

Lacy is a 6 year old American Foxhound that I adopted 2 years ago from the Humane Society. I can't figure for the life of my why anyone would even think of getting rid of her...she is such a good tempered and well behaved dog.

I don't know about you, but my dog is like my child. I wouldn't get rid of her just as I'm sure you wouldn't get rid of your kids.

Here are some photos of her day at the doggie spa and her triumphant ride back to Julie's. Before and after photos. See how she's smiling? I'm told she REALLY liked the chicken flavored toothpaste....

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

My Teva's



Yes!

A bit like the old school Run DMC song "My Addidas", I was lost when I found out that I left my Teva Dozers at home on our most recent camping trip. I was reduced to buying a pair of flip flops (Ewww)at Wal-Mart. I have always disliked flip flops, and this past weekends experience only solidified my belief that flip flops suck.


These Teva Dozers are probably the most comfortable shoe I've ever worn. They're good for light weight hiking, going to the beach, or wading the flats. They hold up well on oyster bars too. The last pair of hybrids I used for that (Ocean Pacific) were sliced to shreds after a few times over the oyster beds. The Teva's seem to be impervious to slicing.



Check them out here

Thursday, November 5, 2009

So much gear, so little time


Have you ever noticed, when packing for a normal camping trip to a state park (normal camping trip meaning big tent, drive up campsite, water and electric), why do we pack so much?

Now I know that there are limits to how much one can carry in a backpack, so packing light is a necessity. On the other hand, why can't we pack the same way when going to a drive up campsite?

I have to say, I've become better at it, but still find myself with a packed and stacked vehicle. The only things that I bring that are different from backpacking would be a bigger tent, a large air mattress and pump, and regular food. Why does this tend to take up so much more room?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Fly Fish Chick

I'm sure you all know about Austin Texas' very own The Fly Fish Chick blog....but just wanna take this opportunity to say how much I like reading her site. She's a very good writer and quite an adventurous person. Check her out! You all know I don't recommend rubbish (unless I'm writing it). Now if I can just convince her and the Proffesor to hit the Keys in the spring during the bonefish run....just leave the IPOD at home please.