Saturday, December 31, 2011

The New Year

I want to say thanks to the subscribers and followers who are reading my blog, I hope I can inspire you to get out and fish the same way I get inspired reading other people's blogs and posts. It is New Years Eve and while I do not like making resolutions I do believe in attempting to better myself.
Here are some of the goals I will peruse this year.
1. Spend more quality time with the wife
2. Fly fish once for every kayak trip
3. Visit 2 national parks
4. Fish in the ocean
5. Take out 2 people new to fishing
6. Work towards a degree
7. Blog at least twice a week
8. Take the dog on a run at least once a week

That's my list, I can't wait to see what this year has in store.
Have a great new year, thanks for reading.
See you all again in 2012!
Every end is a new beginning- Proverb

My dogs

Roxy my blue Weimaraner at Sequoia National Park, California  

This has been a good holiday season. I had a decent plane ride from California to Illinois where I have been able to see friends and family I have not seen in a few months. The hardest part has been leaving my dogs at a kennel. I have not been away from my dogs for more than a week, My wife's dog Diesel has been with her for 5 years and with me for just over 3 and we have had my dog Roxy since she was 6 months old.  My wife calls my dog my "Grey Shadow' for good reason, this blue female Weimaraner can not bear to have me out of her sight. She sits shot gun in my truck and does fine off the leash, never wandering too far and healing on command. 

Roxy on a fishing trip to Sterling lake, Lake County, Illinois
A lot of people use Weimaraners as hunting dogs but Roxy makes a good fishing dog, she is happy sitting at my feet while I am casting, sniffing rocks an grass while I curse and pull out wind knots. Roxy is happy whether we get skunked or catch the biggest fish of the year. The girl can draw a crowd, people asking what breed she is and showering her in compliments about her temperament and beauty. With all of this attention she is still humble and loving. 

Roxy on the shore of the DuPage river, Winfield, Illinois
Roxy only wants one thing, companionship, she will sleep for hours cuddled on the couch an will bark for hours if left alone in her crate, another reason I feel guilty for boarding her. This is our first Christmas apart since we have been together.
Diesel, my wife's Gobirian

Diesel is my wife's dog, she has had him since he was a pup. A lot of people ask what breed he is, to set the records straight he is a  Gobirian. His parents were both show dogs, daddy was a red Siberian Husky jumped the fence to meet up with a Golden Retriever and they had 10 pups, oops. Diesel is one of the sweetest dogs I have ever met. he does not bark and is completely kid proof. You can do anything to this dog, pull his tail, jump on him and his only response is to love you. He is a digger though, leaving our backyard with a surface that looks more like the moon then anything else. Diesel seems to like fish, him and Roxy enjoy chewing on Gobies at Government Pier in Waukegan, Illinois. Once I caught him with a channel cat I took home to clean, the booger stole it and hid in the back yard gnawing it's head off.   
Unlike Roxy, Diesel has a thick undercoat and loves the snow. Which means he is the go to dog for some ice fishing. 
Diesel admiring Sam's catch
Diesel sniffing at a Bluegill at Round Lake, Illinois
Roxy at the end of Government Pier in Waukegan, Illinois
Diesel and Roxy at Sequoia National Park, California
My wife and I are dog people, and it kills us to have to leave them locked up. I can just hope they are in good hands and look forward to seeing them in a few days.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Learning to fish all over again.

I have a new fishing obsession, fly fishing. I had some interest in it while living in Illinois but moving to California is what really pushed me that direction. Streams and rivers that just scream "I have trout in me" with water too swift for a spinner bait. For Christmas  my uncle got me a fly tying kit, my wife also got me a fly tying kit along with a 5wt fly rod. I got to tying right away, I needed something to fish with. I tied a few wooly buggers and a few bead head nymphs.

My father and I set out to Fermilab in Batavia, Illinois to see if we could coax anything into biting, by the time we got there the wind was whipping. We got tot the lake and set up with our backs to the wind. I was throwing a Senko and after several casts without even a nip I decided to break out the fly rod. Between the wind and the tall grass it was difficult to fish, I could only get the fly out about 10 feet past the shore. It is like learning to fish all over again. The wind picked up and began to blow even harder, my efforts were futile, I went back to the spinning rod and after about an hour of cold wind we gave up retreating to the warm car. 

The next day I was chatting with a friend on Facebook when I realized I have not caught a fish in the whole month of December. This was not right, I decided I was going to go get at least one. I picked up the fly rod and headed to the river. Started off with a wooly bugger, no nibbles after about 20 minutes so I switched it up and tied on a bead head nymph. I used a #12 Nymph hook, copper wire, brown goose biot, and one peacock hurl to tie it. On the second cast my line started moving funny, so I gave it some tension and there was a small crappie on the other end!  

Beat the skunk

He thought he had an easy meal

Crappie stasch

#12 Bead head nymph

I threw out several more casts but the line kept icing up making it difficult to shoot. I decided that little crappie was enough for me. I am just glad I beat the skunk and broke in the new rod.
Icy rod guides
Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Lifelong Obsession

Fishing for me is a lot about reminiscing about the past, remembering the fish that got away and going after him again. Fishing spots that I caught the big one and beating that water until another shows up on the end of my line. My Grandmother's brother is a farmer in Iowa, he has wheat and corn fields, he raised Shetland ponies, llamas,  ostriches, peacocks, pigs, dairy cows and fainting goats but the best thing about the farm was the pond. Bill and his boys filled it with the biggest fish they could. 

That sticks out for me, fishing on Uncle Bills farm pulling out bluegill larger than my hands, bigger than any bluegill I have ever caught before. It was amazing, almost every time i pick up a pole I think back to that day, those few hours. I remember seeing the picture in a photo album, and being back in town and starting this blog I had to find it. IT took me a while, I thought it was the only picture of me fishing as a kid but I was wrong.
I came across these photos while going through a shoe box of loose photos from my parent's closet, my parents don't remember the day. I figure it must be around my birthday judging by my eagerness to fish, jacket and the lack of leaves on the trees. 

Walking out with my dad to find the right spot, we can't figure out where this is. Might be Mallard Lake, I have a feeling it could be Busse or some other north western suburb of Chicago as well. If you have an idea pleaselet me know in comments.
So now I knew of 4 fishing pictures, I kept sorting through and found more.
My parents moved to Streamwood when I was in the 2nd grade, there was a lake called Kollar Pond full of bullhead catfish and bluegill. I would fish that from sun up to sun down with not much more than a my rod and reel, bobber and a hot dog for bait. Here I am with what I thought was a good sized bull head.
I don't remember why I brought my rods and tackle box to school but here is a picture of it. I brought a lot of things to school, almost got suspended for bringing shot gun shells to school but that is another story. This must have been in English class at Taft Middle school. I remember the people in the picture but am not in contact with them so who knows.
Then I found a picture of me fishing with my dad off the back of my Grandfather's pontoon boat, on Lazy Lake in Fall River Wisconsin. I remember catching my first good largemouth bass on a original sized silver and black Rapala.
View of the lake from the cabin. I was about to give up after searching through two boxes of photos. I went back up and found the photo I was looking for but it is what it is. 
Apparently sleeves were not in that year but busy patterns were. You can see me in the white and blue and my two cousins. My Aunt was helping unhook the fish. Pretty good sized bluegills, big enough to scare one of my farm raised cousins. :D
I am glad to have these memories and thankful to my parents for being there and supporting me.
If going through these photos has taught me one thing it would be to take a kid fishing, they will always remember it fondly.
Fishing with my niece on the DuPage river

This post was inspired by two blogs
Nick the Brookfield Angler Ahhh  The Memories
And Ken G of Water Dog Journal A drive Down Memory Lane
Thanks for all the inspiration guys

Friday, December 23, 2011

DIY Swinging Kayak Camera Mount

My ride, a 2009 Ocean Kayak Prowler Trident 13
I came up with this design after fishing with Rob Wendel of Great Lakes Kayak Angler, he made a simular swinging mount with aluminum tubing, I figured I could do the same with Aluminum Rod, here is what you need. It cost me 20 dollars to build as I had all the tools already.
   -One 3' of 1/4" Aluminum Rod
   -One piece of 6" x 1" of 1/8" thick T-6 stock aluminum
   -Two 1/4-20 Washers, I like the ones that are rubber coated on one side
   -Two 1/4-20 Nuts
   -Two 1/4-20 Wing Nuts
   -One Dollar store Digital Camera Tripod
   -Two Aluminium Pop Rivets
   -One Scotty Rod Holder Post
   -Standard Tap and Die Kit
   -Bench Sander/File (if you grind Aluminum in a bench grinder the stone may blow up on ya.)
   -Pop Rivit gun
   -Gloves and Goggles (Safety First)
   -Crescent wrench
   -Your Mitts
   -Drill bits
   -Hack Saw
There are many ways to skin a cat, here is how I did it.
After sanding down the rod to a point I  added some threads with a 1/4-20  die

Sandpaper is a good way to keep the rod from spinning in the vise as you turn the die

Put a bend in the rod and used this lure cover to test the angle

Drilled a hole in the Aluminum stock

Made it big enough to slip the Scotty bolt through it

90 Degree bend

Figured out how long I wanted it

Drilled my second 1/4" hole 

Hack sawed it off

Smoothed the edges and burrs with the belt sander, If  you do not have one use a  file 

All smoothed out

It needs something to keep it from slipping 
Drilled 2 holes and sank pop rivets, then sanded stems smooth

Checking the angles and how it works

Threading the bottom

Got this tripod at a Dollar store, I cannibalization the
top piece so I would be able to have more manuverbility,
Just unscrewed it, drilled the center and threaded it on securing with a wing nut. 


Top view

I can always tighten the nuts for more Resistance to  make is swing less. 

I can stow it upside down and out of  the way of lines. 

Easy to get to the controls and set the timer

Get a close shot

Or push it further back for more scenery, it is up to you

Let me know what you think, Hopefully soon I can get this guy into action and show you what he can do. 


Update: January 8, 2012
It works well. :D

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Totally Hooked

I am drawn to the water, there is no other way to put it. I just need to know what is in it, I can not help myself. Since moving to California it has been tough, the nearest body of water is the Kings river which it about 9 miles away, it is muddy and slow moving. According to a neighbor of mine 6 pound largemouth bass were plentiful up until about 15 years ago when Fish and Game used a fish killing chemical in an attempt to stop white bass from spreading and the river has not been the same since. 

Yesterday I had to leave my dogs at a kennel because I was homeward bound back to Illinois for the Holidays. It was an hour fifteen minute flight into Phoenix with a five minute layover (Yes, 5 minutes to get from one side of the airport to the other) followed by a four hour trip into O'Hare. Got in at midnight, My dad picked me and the wife up, we got settled in and in bed by 2. 

I awoke at 8 AM and looked out at the DuPage river flowing fast and slightly higher then it was in the fall through the bed room window. I only had one rod I left behind by accident but that is all I need. I could have raided my father's tackle box for a jig, but it is not about the catching sometimes. Had a Rebel Pop-R tied up, I don't think this is the lure for the conditions but that won't stop me. 

Just the thought of a smallmouth bass taking that popper was enough for me. After a few casts I realized I was out in 40 degree, damp weather wearing a tee shirt, shorts and boots casting topwater.

It was not about the catching, it was more like chasing the dragon. I am more hooked on fishing than I have ever been.