Sunday, February 23, 2014

Winter San Joaquin River Fishing

        My buddy Caleb messaged me on Facebook before I was about to head home on Friday. He wanted to go fishing and wanted company. Between school, a new baby, and work fishing has really taken a back seat. We agreed on a time and place, a mid day trip to the river in north Fresno, California. The worst part about this launch is the half mile hill you have to take the kayaks down to get to the river, and as you can guess the downhill portion is not the bad part of the trip. The water was cool and clear. We could see a few rainbow trout that seemed to be uninterested in my spinner baits and carp that spook easy leaving muddy puffs in their place.  

I got to play with my new camera mount a bit but did not have much luck with the fish. I lost two small bass in the few hours I was on the water.
A guy on a bike told us he saw two guys take four spotted bass over four pounds that morning but I don't know how much I believe his story. No one else we ran into were catching anything, but it was a beautiful day.
Caleb managed one decent fish on a black jig. It was tagged but we didn't have a tape measure to get any data about it. I saw a few more smaller bass in the shallows with tags in them as well. I'll have to look more into that.

Thanks for getting me out of the house Caleb.

And thank you for reading,


Friday, February 7, 2014

What's a Tumblr?


        Photos at times can say more than words. An interesting photo can share an experience, catch someone's interest, and even invoke deep emotion. Photos have the power to condense chapters into paragraphs, and say some things without words at all. Taking photos of nature is a hobby of mine that drew me into blogging. I started out on fishing forums and realized I could share a blog with more people than just the folks on the forum. The problem was I still had photos I couldn't find room for int he blog that I wanted to share. Some went to Facebook, but posting old photos seemed to it undermine what I was posting about my blog. The solution ended up being Tumblr.

            I want to get it out of the way and say I am not sponsored, paid, or otherwise associated with Tumblr in any way and am writing this to share a web site I use and enjoy. Tumblr is a micro blogging site where a user can subscribes to as many blogs as they wish.The posts show up in the user's feed. The Feed is infinite, meaning there is no page navigation, you can just scroll down for hours viewing, commenting, and even reblogging other user's posts. Some blogs focus on specific genres like vintage fishing pictures
Some blogs focus on ocean life.

Some bloggers you might already follow have blogs on Tumblr Like Arizona Wondering.
     Chris of CB Fishes has two blogs

             Now just so you are not shocked Tumblr is on the internet and there is porn on the site, but that does not make it a porn site. I personally choose to not follow blogs that post porn because there is enough of that on the internet as it is. Tumblr has very little regulation (unlike other popular social media sites) and only chooses to regulate cyber bullying. The fact is for that little bad there is on the site there is a lot of good. 

            As a blogger I like sharing my photos with people who want to see original outdoor photos. I also like the chance to spread the word about my blog, and stumble upon other blogs that interest me. If any of this interests you get signed up for a free account, check out my tumblr blog and the others I mentioned and see how you like it. Even if you don't want to sign up you can still look at the blog pages and check them out, so there is nothing to loose. If you have a Tumblr leave the address in the comments so I can check it out. 

Thanks for reading,


Monday, February 3, 2014

Guest Post: Brookfield Angler Fly Fishing From A Kayak

Nick Doumel "The Brookfield AnglerFly Fishing From A Kayak - The Greatest Inefficiency

What do you get when you combine a kayak and a fly rod? If you guessed an exercise in combined inefficiency, then you guessed right but I’ll be damned if it isn't an awesome one!!

Now, arguments could definitely be made that fly fishing is incredibly efficient in some scenarios and that a kayak is more efficient than a boat for some reason or another but overall, neither one are generally considered the best tool for the job. Let’s face it, tossing some bait on a spinning rod is not only easier than casting a fly rod, but it also catches fish! Likewise, kayaks will definitely get you from one point to another, but a boat sure does it a lot faster. Plus your arms won't be exhausted when you finally get there. However, just because something is easier doesn't mean it's more fun. As a matter of fact, most of my life has been spent taking the harder of two roads and, truth be told, I've loved every moment of it. Perhaps that tendency to take the hard road is why I enjoy kayak fly fishing so much.
Most of the time, I can be found floating down some small river or creek here in the Midwest. Chance are that I will be throwing a clouser minnow or deer-hair popper to one of my favorite freshwater fish, the smallmouth bass.  Something about floating down a river just as the sun is peeking its way above the horizon on a warm summer morning is next to impossible to beat....or so I thought.

A lot of you California coast fisherman might not understand this next part but here in the Midwest, we fisherman tend to get this feeling towards the end of winter. There are a million different names for it but no matter what you call it, it’s always the same. A feeling of anxiety, being trapped, and a longing to feel some warm sun on your face as you double haul a fly in hopes of feeding the drug known as the tug. You've been cooped up for most of the winter and have probably resorted to things like deer hunting or this weird thing they call “ice fishing” just to keep from going crazy. Still, to no avail, you still have the “itch”.
This is what I was dealing with when I left for Florida
Normally, I don’t get the “itch” until the end of February or early March but this year it hit me hard and early! Winter set its sights on us early this year and by early December I was starting to feel a bit claustrophobic. I wanted nothing more than to be in my kayak with a fly rod in my hand as I floated down a river. Since most of the rivers were frozen and the air temps were a mere fifteen degrees below zero (yes that actually happens), that desire had to be itched some other way. That "other way" came in the form of a strange and mystical place called Florida.

It was the morning after Christmas when I, and good friend Teddy from Lucid Fishing, loaded up our kayaks in the back of my truck and started the drive down to the Sunshine State - Sanibel Island to be exact.  The drive was long but the moment I smelled that amazingly refreshing ocean air, I knew it was worth it.

We did some fishing along the beaches for snook with some mild success on the first day and even paddled along some little channels before grabbing a much needed dinner and a good night’s sleep.  As we got going the next morning, I was beyond excited. I have read about this sort of thing in magazines and watched it on TV but never had I the opportunity to do it before. As we arrived to a place called Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge, I knew that I had just ruined fishing back at home. We hadn't even launched the yaks yet and I was on cloud nine. I could not get on the water fast enough and once I pushed off the bank, it was pure serenity. Mangroves lined every bank you could see. Various channels led to various openings and bays. Somewhere in the distance, I could hear the sound of the open ocean crashing into the mangrove shores so I followed my ears. As I exited the mouth of a narrow channel, I knew that I had gone to the right spot! At least four flats boats were back here doing exactly what I wanted to do with my kayak. I quickly paddled to the main inlet, put the paddle down, stood up and started casting. It wasn't long before I hooked up with a little mangrove snapper. It’s amazing how hard these fish hit a fly! If I didn't know better, I would have thought that a three pound smallie had just hit my fly but was a hand sized snapper. 

"Stalking some snook"
Despite being protected by all of these mangroves, the wind was still able to push me along the bank quite well. I used that to my advantage by basically setting up a drift and just going where the wind pushed me. Every five minutes, or so, I’d have to reach down for the paddle and reposition myself a bit in order to keep myself from getting too close to the shore, but aside from that, the wind was my trolling motor. Every few casts would result in at least a strike and not knowing what species was at the end of the line was extremely exciting. Snapper, pompano, and snook were the most plentiful but who knows what I missed! Unfortunately, with exception of one heart breaker, I just didn't hook up with anything big so I decided to paddle through the final channel that connected to Gulf of Mexico.

I swear to Gumbi….as I exited this channel, I was in heaven. I quickly jumped up for a better view into the water and for as far as I could see, various weed patches dotted flats that were no more than waist deep.  I also realized that the winds were quite a bit stronger out here and the waves were rather big when compared to the calm protected bays that I had just exited. Still, I found myself just standing and casting as I blew over various weed patches. The kayak was steady as could be and never felt unstable. A variety of fish made their way to the end of my line including a puffer fish which was pretty neat. Still, nothing big, had been landed. In all honesty though, at this point, I just didn't care. I knew before this trip even began that this was far from the prime fishing season down there and we didn't want to hire a guide. With exception of fuel for the truck and some food, this trip was costing us nothing. 

This, to me at least, is what kayak fly fishing is all about. Would it have been more efficient and productive to hire a guide and throw a baited hook from one of those flats fishing boats that were out there? Absolutely! I can pretty much guarantee that we would have caught some really nice fish that way. However, as I stood on a kayak that’s only around twelve feet long and about two and a half feet wide in this enormous body of water called the Gulf of Mexico, I really didn't care about efficiency. What I felt instead was much better than ultimate efficiency. I felt free. I felt vulnerable. I felt a sense of adventure that I never would have felt if I had chosen the efficient way.

"Found one!"
As the sun started to go down that day, Teddy and I had probably ended up about two miles from the entrance of the mangrove backwaters that ultimately lead us back to the truck. We were now sitting in water that was about ten to fifteen deep and could no longer see the ocean floor. Our kayaks were about fifty yards from one another when an amazing reminder of how small and vulnerable we really were came to the surface not more than twenty feet from my tiny and inefficient kayak. As a massive grey body with blunt head full of teeth took a bite of something right near the surface, I knew that my exercise in inefficiency was worth the effort. It was in that moment of culmination that I knew floating down a river in the Midwest on a summer morning would never be the same. I also knew that taking the inefficient route proved to be the right one for me.  

~ Nick Doumel