March 29, 2012

Gear Review - Chasing Wild Trout, An Arizona Wanderings e-Book by Ben Smith

Ben Smith, author of one of my favorite blogs, Arizona Wanderings, has gotten pretty entrepreneurial over the past year or so.  Starting first with selling some of his more popular flies, he's also branched out into logo merchandise, and most recently, e-Books.

A little while back he wrote his first Arizona Wanderings book about Hunting Gambel's Quail.  I don't know who Gambel is, or why one would want to shoot his quail, but it evidently must have sold well enough for Ben to write another book, this time about how to pursue wild trout.

"Why do you want to shoot my quail?"

Over the weekend, I was fortunate to receive a preview copy of Chasing Wild Trout - A Beginner's Guide to Fly Fishing Small Streams.  Eager to read and review it, this post contains an overview as well as my two cents.


Chasing Wild Trout essentially serves as a primer to anyone interested in the gear, tactics, and techniques of fishing small streams for trout.  It's also a pretty solid introduction to the sport for the totally novice angler, who may have little or no background, but is intrigued about fly fishing.

The book is split up into 8 relatively short sections (9 including the Acknowledgments at the end), and is a very brisk and easy read.  Ben does a great job making a subject that one might think to be very technical and difficult...simple and comprehensible.

38 pages in all, there are sections that focus on essential gear suggestions, (including rods, reels, lines, flies, accessories as well as a checklist accounting for all), fishing techniques (with great "how tos" and diagrams), and best of all tips on how to be a responsible outdoorsman, outlining stream etiquette and conservation.

Diagram

As with Ben's blog Arizona Wanderings, the layout of this book is very clean, simple, and easy on the eyes.  The font is large and clear, and the vibrant photography pops off the pages.  In closing the book, Ben also includes a section with links and referrals to additional sources of information should the reader want to continue his or her research and learnings.

To conclude this review, I must say that I found Chasing Wild Trout a great little read.  While intended for the "beginning small stream fly fisherman," even I, as someone who has fished more than a few streams before, was able to pick up a few nuggets of info to take with me on my next time on the water.  Ben's written a good one, definitely worth the $7.99 download.


DISCLAIMER:
The Chasing Wild Trout e-Book featured in this product review was provided to me at no cost by Ben Smith, the author, and holds a retail value of $7.99 per his website.  Ben has been a blogging acquaintance of mine for a few years now and I do hold his work (including those little Mini Hoppers) in the highest regard.  As with all independent gear reviews at Troutrageous!, I try my best to keep my reviews honest and unbiased.  That said, if Ben happened to toss a steaming pile of sh*t my way, I'd let him know it, but would have probably withheld a negative review out of respect.  Luckily, we didn't have to go down that path this time.  Well done Mr. Smith...well done.  

March 28, 2012

A Reel Fix

Since this week's posts have been tenkara heavy, here are some reels to sort of balance things out.


Okay, I feel better now.

March 27, 2012

Berkley® Trout Dough Rod Sighting!

In case you didn't check my post last Friday, the Berkley Trout Dough Series Spinning Rod has become the official unofficial non-fly rod of Troutrageous! for no other reason than it's goofy name.

Well, faithful reader (and author of Average Outdoors) Steven Smith tracked down one of these elusive beasts in what looks like a Dick's Sporting Goods and sent me this grip n' grin via the magic little Twitter bird.


Should anyone else find this toad (the rod, not Steven) in their local sporting goods store, please feel free to snap a picture and send it on in...as always, the goofier the picture the better!

Tenkara Tuesday - "Tenkara Japan"

Welcome to Tenkara Tuesday.

I was recently invited to join a Facebook group called "Tenkara Japan" by Tatsurou Okaniwa, an experienced tenkara angler, and founder of Tenkara.com and the "Tenkaraman" videos on YouTube.



(Check out the "Release Net" used in this video, there's no bag, it's more like a platform)


While we're all just a bunch of folks chasing fish, I have a feeling that this is going to become a pretty neat place to visit from time to time (much like the Tenkara-Fisher forum, which I'll admit I've been shamefully silent on as of late).

The language barrier has already created some interesting conversations...but despite that, the sharing has been pretty special.  I mean check out this fly, it's got a pretty unique tube body, something I'm not sure I've seen replicated on a tenkara fly in the States yet, even with all of the talented tiers out there.


What's next?  Beats me, but as the group grows, it'll sure be fun using Google Translate to try and figure out...

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Are you a Western tenkara angler? Do you have a story, pictures, video, fly recipe, or simply a fishing report from one of your recent tenkara adventures? If so, Troutrageous! wants to hear from you for a future Tenkara Tuesday post! Feel free to send an email HERE, or check out this previous post for more information.


March 26, 2012

Tying My "Secret Weapon" Tenkara Kebari Fly

So...since I get a lot of emails from the tenkara-curious asking me what sort of flies I use when going tenkara fishing, I figured I'd show you...and heck, even give you the recipe, should you feel industrious and decide that you absolutely must tie some yourself.

Look Beavis...It says ASS-IDUOUS.  Hee hee.

Before I get into the meat & potatoes of this post, I'm gonna be honest. Nine times outta ten, I don't use those fancy-pants reverse-hackle kebari flies you see all the tenkara websites singing gospel about.  Nope, I'm evil and as such shunned by the tenkara Gods in the sky.  Instead, I practice the time-honored tradition of dirty nymphing, using any sort of #16 & #18 nymph I can get a hold of.  Prince, Copper John, Zebra Midge, whatever...

But that's probably not what you want to see here.  Especially if you're a Tenkaraian...
ummmm...Tenkaraite?...ummm...fishing Ninja.  Plus, there's like a bajillion websites and videos on how to tie those standard flies.  So instead, and to also make YOU, my readers, happy, on that one time outta ten when I do go reversies with my hackle, this is the fly I use.

Pretty awful picture & tie, right?

So here's the deal with this un-named piece of shiitake.  It's the ultimate tenkara fly.  Why?  Well, first off, it's got a beadhead, so you can dead drift it, like a nymph.  It works quite well as such, which is good, because as Big Daddy Kane once said, nymphin' ain't easy.  What, he didn't say nymphin?  Oh, okay...  

On the flip side, its also got that pretty reverse hackle hair-do going on, so if you want to get all twitchy & jerky in your retrieve, there's something there to excite a fish into a strike.  Drift it through riffles, then jerk it through pools.  It's the best of both worlds, like a jar of Goober Grape.   


So here's what you need to tie this bad boy.

  • Hook:  Size 16 Scud/Pupa, DE 2XH, 2XW, 2XS, R2-D2, C-3PO...I use these because I got them at the fly fishing show for something stupid like 25/$1
  • Bead:  3/32 Brass Bead.  Use brass, because tungsten is for show offs
  • Thread:  Uni-Thread 8/0 in Black.  You prefer purple or chartreuse?  Go get 'em tiger.
  • Wire:  UTC Ultra Wire Copper
  • Body:  Peacock Herl, as every fly should have Peacock Herl if humanly possible
  • Hackle:  Grizzly, like Adams

Okay, materials in hand...all you pretty much do is tie a really lame variant of a Copper John...

1)  Put the bead on the hook while trying not to impale your fingers in the process.  

2)  Wrap a some thread on there from head to tail and back.  

3)  Tie on the copper wire and unevenly wrap from tail to about 3/4 up the hook.  Uneven wraps are key if you truly want your fly to be authentic to my pattern.

4) Tie in some Peacock Herl and spin it around the midsection until it's nice and bushy.  The bushier the better, just like a fine moustache.

5) Tie in some Grizzly hackle right behind the bead.  After a few wraps pull all of the fibers forward toward the front and tie down the back so they stick out facing the hook eye.

6)  Grab one of those Matarelli Whip Finishers, search for it on YouTube so you can figure out how the heck it works, then tie off the fly.  Preferably twice so you don't have use glue.  If the thread breaks while doing this, you're f*cked.

7)  Eat a donut.  With sprinkles.  Life is better with sprinkles.

Once you're done, it should look something like this:


If it doesn't, it's because you're just a terrible student, and there's likely no hope for you.  If that is the case, I suggest you go sell your fly tying materials on Craigslist and go buy some tenkara flies from Kiwi on TenkaraBum.  And while you're at it, get some bread for the Goober Grape too...because I'm hungry and the next lesson is how to make a mean PB&J.

March 23, 2012

Berkley® Trout Dough Series Spinning Rod

Was paging through a Cabela's catalog that showed up in the mail the other day and stumbled across this very unique, and might I call, specialty fishing rod.


Yeah, the Berkley Trout Dough Series Spinning Rod.  Trout Dough rod?  Let's examine...

Now I'm not in the market for a new spinning rod (I still happen to have a very sweet spot for my BPS Micro-Lite), but this really piqued my interest...one, because I haven't fished with trout dough (aka PowerBait) for probably 5 or 6 years, and two, because I wonder if having "TROUT DOUGH" slapped on your rod in big gold-trimmed letters really makes it more appealing?

Here's the skinny on the rod, happily lifted from the Berkley website.

Actions engineered specifically to cast dough further and with more accuracy without losing your bait. Each rod is designed to provide you with enough light-line, head turning power to help you catch more fish. Cork Split grip handle construction helps to reduce overall weight. Uni-directional fiberglass technology delivers the strength required to fish for trout without compromising the diameter or weight of the rod. Creates a stronger, more sensitive glass fishing rod.

So I'm asking you all, especially those of you that regularly lump a gob of PowerBait on a hook (...paging Shoreman...), does this specialty rod interest you in the slightest?  Does what that description says make any sense at all as a real benefit to this type of fishing?

Image Courtesy: Fishing My Way

I know fly fishermen are stupid crazy, needing all sorts of rods we can't really justify owning (yes, tenkara rods included), but if this thing is a success, can a "Corn Niblet Edition" rod be far behind?  In a sick way, I'd really like to see it.  I guess the good thing is unlike many fly rods, Cabela's sells this thing for $39.99, so it's at least affordable (& fiberglass, for all you glass geeks) if nothing else.

March 21, 2012

Yesterday Brought Bad News

Yesterday sucked some really stank ass.  Ooooh, I cursed...sue me Carla DeKalb.

About anything that could have gone wrong at work did go wrong.  Later I arrived home and was greeted with an extended dinner drama with the kid.  Since chicken nuggets were not on her plate, she didn't want to eat her food, which resulted in some removal of privileges. (I hate it when I actually have to be a parent and make my kid cry).  Worst off...which may be more grim than death or dismemberment...I learned that I would be fishing solo on Opening Day for the first time in years.

Sure, Opening Day isn't everyone's cup of tea.  Purely ceremonial, it's a shoulder-to-shoulder, stupid stockie, battle fishing cliche, but I still enjoy it because I generally get to hang out with some of my oldest friends and just be idiots for a few hours.  We take sick pride in getting there early, spreading out, claiming wide swaths of land, and mocking pretty much everyone around us that clearly doesn't understand that you don't wade through the middle of the fishing hole.  Plus, if you show up to the fishing hole 5 minutes before the 8AM start and expect us to make room for you...you've got another thing coming.  Yeah, we're pretty much douchebags.


Unfortunately, over the past few years the number of attendees in our party have slowly grown up dropped off, one by one, to the point that for the last two or three, it's become a simple two-man mission, which while was not the same, was still very enjoyable.

Well I got the news yesterday that it wasn't gonna happen this year.  Something about my fishing partner's need to be overseas for work.  Dude, it's Opening Day!  Screw work...that's what the other 364 (this year I guess it's 365 thanks to Leap Year) days are for...  FML!

So I'm rollin' solo on Opening Day 2012.
Look out Darby Creek, we may be down to one, but you're still getting your ass kicked.

Last year's "Creel o' Death"

Post Script:
I will confess that I did consider taking Lilly out on Opening Day instead, but last weekend she confided to me that "I don't really like fishing anymore," so I'll just let that angle simmer for a while.  I'm not one to forcibly shove something down my kid's throat...unless it's the dinner she stubbornly refuses to eat.

March 19, 2012

Sneaking In A Fishing Trip

Stole two and a half hours of fishing time yesterday in what was otherwise a pretty busy weekend.    

The weather was nice, so there were a lot of people enjoying the park and creek.  While gearing up I had the pleasure of witnessing two Park Rangers escorting a couple back to their SUV, asking them to produce a driver's license, and writing up some sort of "ticket" for not keeping their dogs on a leash.

The "wife" was going apeshit screaming lawsuit.  I dunno what was going on...but it was one of those trainwrecks you can't help but blatantly watch.  I was hoping to see a taser gun pulled.

As for the fishing, I caught two, sadly lost one after an acrobatic 3 foot jump in the air, and failed to set the hook on maybe 3 solid strikes.  Tenkara USA 11' Iwana paired with 3.0m yellow Masterline & assorted #16 nymphs were the meal ticket.  Only one picture, and it turned out crappy, so I added a bunch of stupid filters to it to hide some of the flaws.  Yeah, I'm freakin' artsy.


March 16, 2012

The Blogroll Quarantine

As many of you know, I've got a ridiculously large...um...blogroll.

Roll cast...blog roll...get it?...I know it sucks...bite me...

I'm very liberal with inclusion in my blogroll, pretty much if you send me cash have a fishing blog that I've read more than once, you end up in there.  The only "rule" I guess I have is what I call the "3 Month Rule."  I'm not a very complex person, so the concept is pretty simple.  

If you haven't written a post in more than 3 months, you're outta the blogroll

Now, since the Trout Underground blogroll no longer exists (thanks to Owl Jones), I do realize that inclusion in the Troutrageous! blogroll is probably the crowning achievement of all of you fellow blogger's online existences.  Well, other than scoring over 100 points on an unpronounceable word in Words With Friends.

So rather than outright blogroll deletion, I've created what I've called the "Blogroll Quarantine," a place were these tardy bloggers can reside until they throw up that token post to make everything good in the universe. You gotta scroll all the way down to find it, but they're there...lurking...awaiting redemption.


See, I do understand there is life outside of blogging for everyone except WK&TL Howard, and there are reasons why new material may not come regularly.  (Prunes or Metamucil may help with that BTW).  Anyway, look up benevolent in the dictionary and you'll clearly find a captial T and an exclamation mark.

However after 6 months of no posting...tarring and feathering (with subpar hackle), will immediately be followed by death by stoning.

So 3 months and counting Outdooress...that Christmas post of yours is beginning to fester...have you taken your tree down yet...cuz you're on the clock...


March 15, 2012

Sh*t's Going Down On The 24th

There are two trouty things locally that are worth mentioning...you know...if you're local...and you're into trouty things.

The first is the Great Swamp Fish & Game 7th Annual Pre-Season Trout Derby...

Great Swamp Fish & Game 7th Annual Pre-Season Trout Derby

With Pennsylvania approved trout water closed for the month of March to allow for pre-season stockings, this is one of the few opportunties to get out this month and chase some fish.  Plus, stockies are stupid and to be blunt, this is easy pickin's.  I'm not one for derbies, but Great Swamp is a friend of my trout club, and they run a top notch event.  Even if you're not fishing, it's a great excuse to get the kids outdoors!

Speaking of which...

My trout club, the Stony Creek Anglers will be hosting the 26th Annual Stony Creek Cleanup the same weekend...

Stony Creek Anglers 26th Annual Stony Creek Cleanup

Yeah, we pick up a ton of trash from Stony & Kepner Creeks, and to be honest, it's just a really fun time.  It's amazing the stuff you can pull out of an urban watershed...one of the big ticket items from last year being a hot water heater...  The 2011 event was covered locally by several news outlets and our club also does a pre-season stocking immediately following at noon for anyone that wants to swing by the nursery and help out.

So...Stony Creek Clean Up on Saturday, Great Swamp Pre-Season Derby on Sunday...sounds pretty trouty to me.

March 13, 2012

Beware - The eFishing Age Is Quickly Approaching

Oh snap!  The secret weapon to catching fish is here...are you all ready to go all iPhone app and digital camera up on some bass?  Well, then this is for you!

Suck it banjo minnow

There's so much technology here, I've not no freakin' idea what's going on, but I do know that you clearly need one.  All the cool kids on the iPhone fishing team will have one.

I mean, it even transfers your real time data to social networks...holy crap...or is it holy carp...why waste your time letting everyone know where you got an oil change on Foursquare...when you can turn that time into productively becoming the Mayor of Electronic Lureville!



Make George Jetson proud and "Kickstart" yourself into the futuristic age of smartphone fishing HERE.


March 12, 2012

Fishing, F3T, & Func Fish

This past Saturday was pretty damn fun.  It was the day the Fly Fishing Film Tour (F3T) came through the Philadelphia area, and I was to attend with a small posse of anglers, following an afternoon of fishing on Valley Creek, where I was supposed to play "guide."

Well, the posse never quite came together as planned, but Matt (aka Func Fish) & I decided to make the best of it.  Fishing would be first.

We arrived at Valley Creek around 1 or 1:30 PM.  It was a  bit chilly, but the sun was out so it was pretty tolerable weather.  I took Matt down to a spot I had done well with the prior week and gave him first shot at the water while I rigged up.

Bang.  First cast, trout on.  Maybe I'll earn that guide card after all...he claims it's his 4-LED powered "lucky" fly fishing cap.


From there the fishing was pretty average for Valley.  I caught 3 and lost three.  Here are pics of two.

This one was caught before, as evidenced by the jacked up lower jaw

Here's a random pic of Matt nymphing the covered bridge.


Matt didn't manage another trout, but did catch a pretty healthy sucker that was extremely "excitable," and by that I mean it decided to try to impregnate both his landing net and right hand upon capture.  Tasty.


We fished Valley until about 4:30 PM.  There was a bit of creek traffic, you know the random "dudes" you have to circumnavigate to get to the next fishing hole...but it wasn't too bad, and what I would consider a productive & fun mini-fishing trip.

After a quick side stop to re-fuel at Gino's Burgers & Fries...

this was a Gino's Giant & Fries

...we headed out to Media, PA, home of The Sporting Gentleman, the fly shop that was playing host to the F3T.

Let me first say that the folks at The Sporting Gentleman are top notch.  I never set foot in that place before, but everyone on the staff seemed very friendly, helpful, and accommodating, despite the fact that their small store was crammed full of like 150 people, all lined up for free pizza and craft beer from Pinocchio's Pizza & Beer Garden.

At a little before 7:00, the party moved a block down the street from the fly shop to D'Ignazio's Towne House, a nice restaurant/bar/banquet hall.  No, the F3T wasn't taking over some movie theater like I suppose they might out West, but it was a good location for our crowd...heck, have cold beer, will travel.

Once inside, Matt & I met Josh & John, some like-minded folks we had met on Twitter.  Does that sound creepy?  Dudes meeting dudes online? I guess I feel a little dirty now...  Anyway, they were good guys, the both of them...and fun to banter with while watching the movies.  (If you're reading this guys, good luck on your upcoming steelhead trip!)

Now as for the movies themselves?  I think I'll want to see the full versions of:

Riding High: A Season on the Fly (which has one of the coolest fishing dogs ever)


Geofish Belize 


And just because it got BY FAR the loudest reaction of the night, Doc of the Drakes.  


After that it was close to 11:00 PM, so we headed home and called it a day.  Exhausted, I got home in just enough time to turn my clock forward to lose an hour of sleep heading into Sunday.  One heck of a fly fishing day, it was definitely a worthwhile trade.

March 10, 2012

Guest Post - Landing a Steelhead in One of Lake Ontario’s Tributaries

I didn't write today's post.  Considering it's about Lake Ontario Steelhead, that probably doesn't shock you, despite the fact that I do own an underused NY state fishing license.

Larry Chandler is the author who did approach me the other week to write this post...and although he's not that "underground trout" Chandler guy, it's still a very nice piece, clearly much better than I could have written if I tried.  Plus since I don't typically write about steelhead, it should be good fodder for all those Googlie-Mooglie search engines.

So enjoy the read, on what is hopefully a nice, lazy Saturday for everyone.

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Landing a Steelhead in One of Lake Ontario’s Tributaries

If you have been lucky enough to fish the Lake Ontario area of New York you are likely aware of the excellent steelhead fishing. The state of New York has invested time, money and effort in stocking these beautiful strains of rainbow trout throughout the waters. The state even had the good vision to stock not only a winter strain but a summer strain too, providing more opportunities throughout the year to catch a trophy.


Types of Steelhead

In the winter anglers can go after the Washington steelhead. Most of the time the run will hit its stride at the middle of October and last until sometime in November. As water temps cool off during December and January the action noticeably drops. However, the middle of March signifies the spawning period and the fish are ready to bite again.

Starting at the beginning of May the Skamania steelhead will start to move in to the river. As of this writing the Skamania are only kept stock in Little Salmon River as well as Salmon River. The height of the run for the summer fish usually begins in June and will last all the way until September. The Skamania are a little more skittish and tend to be a tougher catch. Experienced anglers have seen their best results immediately after a hard rain or a rise in the water level due to a recreational release of water volume.

Techniques to Match Every Personality

One of the attractive features about fishing for steelhead is the variety in techniques that are used. If you like finesse fishing with light line and long rods, then you will enjoy the spinning reel strategy used by many people. Rods can vary from 8 feet up to 14 feet and the lines may be as big as 10 pound test are as light as 2 pound test.

What if you prefer the traditional fly fishing method? No problem. The common setup for steelhead is a 10 foot long rod along with 7 weight fishing line. A fast, smooth fly reel is essential to handle the quick-as-a hiccup moves of these fish as they dart away once they are hooked.

For those that like to drop a bait in a strike zone and patiently pass the time while the water moves the lure along, float fishing is a great method for landing a steelhead. Long rods, up to 14 feet, are perfect for this technique. The length allows the angler to make a good cast, keep the line from setting on the water’s surface and to set the hook when the bite hits.

Like most types of fishing, the most effective lures are the ones that resemble some type of prey naturally found in the tributaries of Lake Ontario. Mayfly, fish eggs, leeches, minnows and caddis fly larvae are some of the best examples.

Getting Your Chance to Land a Steelhead

Since these fish have great speed and power it is not uncommon for anglers to lose a steelhead in the first few seconds of the bite. It is vital to take up all the slack line immediately when you get a bite. Then, allow the fish to run and let your reel’s drag take over. Maintain pressure by keeping the rod near the water and move the rod side to side. This keeps the fish out of balance and will cause it to tire.

If you want a real fight with a dandy of a fish, try out one of the tributaries of Lake Ontario and launch into one of these beautiful steelhead. You won’t be sorry.

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Larry Chandler is a freelance writer and trout fishing enthusiast. When he is not on the computer he enjoys being outdoors and spending time with his family.


March 7, 2012

Thank You For Your Cooperation

Last Saturday was one of those days on the water.  No, it was not the typical day of finicky small stream trout frustration, yielding only a few takes and even fewer landed.  Rather, the weather was warm, the fish were frisky (and hungry), and good karma came my way.


There were more...but I'm sure you're tired of looking at my hand by now.

March 6, 2012

Holy Crap...Lilly's 6!!!

There are some days that define a man.  A day which you face adversity like none other, when you are forced to harness all you have learned, and earn the title of Dad.  The adversity in overseeing 16 sugar-fueled, token crazed, screaming kindergarteners at a Chuck E. Cheese birthday party makes for one of those days.

Actually, the day and party largely went off without a hitch.  This past Sunday, we celebrated Lilly's 6th birthday, something she had been looking forward to all year, despite her phobia of costumed "mascots."  Judging by the smiles on the faces of her and her friends, I think this party will be remembered for quite some time.  

Pre-party birthday gift from Mom-Mom (Angry Birds hoody blanket)
Roller coaster simulator ride
Inside the TICKETBLASTER!
Puppy & flower cupcakes
Blowing out the candles
I think receiving the birthday medallion was the highlight of her day
HIGH FIVE!
A party well done.

Happy Birthday Lilly!  
Love Dad.