May 28, 2013

Farewell (For Now) Good Friend

T! minus two weeks and counting before Pennsylvania is in the rear view.

Having already said goodbye to Valley Creek with the April "blogger" outing, I wanted to take a day of this past extended weekend to visit my other favorite "not so secret" water that has been extremely kind over the past year.

Looking back, it's kind of funny that it took me almost two years after I was initially tipped off about this little gem (under a veil of secrecy) to actually give it a try.  It's about a 45 minute drive from my house, and not necessarily in a place you'd think to look...literally right alongside a well traveled road.

Being that it was Memorial Day, I tied a special kebari pattern the night before, just for the occasion. 

USA American Flag Fly Sakasa Kebari

I dropped in at the usual spot by the parking area, working the creek upstream.  Unfortunately, fishing started a bit slow.  The first 3 or 4 usual spots I typically see action yielded nothing.  I was actually kind of disappointed (and I guess concerned); I didn't want this kinda-final experience here to result in a skunking.

Eventually, things came around, and the fishing became more to resemble why I love this water.  Not big fish, but very active (& impulsive) wild browns.  Most were taking the kebari about 6 inches below the surface, if not on the dead drift, then with a pause-twitch-pause-twitch repetition. 

tenkara brown trout
tenkara brown trout orange spots

I'm not much for counting fish, but I probably landed six or eight, stung three, and LDR'd one more when my line got wrapped around a partially submerged downed branch.

The hike out and back to the car was a little sad knowing this might be the last trout fishing trip for a while, as I foresee the next two weekends involving far too much packing and other nonsense of the sort.  

After that, well nothing against Northeast Florida, as I know the fishing opportunities are going to be remarkable (redfish here I come), but there's something about the both the literal and figurative coolness of having a small sylvan creek right around the corner that it will be hard not to miss.

May 22, 2013

5 Reasons To Put the T! in Tongass...

Tongass…besides fiberglass fly rods & bacon, it’s what bloggers are writing about these days. Like the trout we fancy that lie in wait silently until presented with a easy meal, us bloggers usually only jump to action when something free is waved in our face…so in this instance, our hellgrammite is a trip to Alaska.

As such, I’m asked to write a post about why “conserving its prime but threatened salmon and trout habitat is vital to the regional economy, local culture and the nation’s sporting heritage.”

And just like in college, I chose to watch a movie rather than read the book, so after viewing this, the “why” seems pretty self-evident to me…

Take away the habitat you lose the fish. Take away the fish and the economy and culture that relies on them suffer. Suffering is no good for the Tongass, the people of Alaska, and of course America. And anything bad for America sucks. Am I missing something?

With that out of the way, here are 5 reasons why I should be one of the bloggers rescued from the smothering heat & humidity that is July in Florida and shipped to the Salmon Forest of the Last Frontier...

1) It’s called the Salmon Forest. And I have no idea what that means
I went to the website that was recommended for research, but I’m still confused. I didn’t see trees made of fish, or trees that grow fish, or anything like that. I was mildly disappointed by this fact since half of the flies I cast typically end up snagged in overhanging branches.  Figured by going to the Tongass, I'd just be cutting out the liquid middleman...

2) Tenkara, baby
Who doesn't want to hear the drag scream as line hastily peels off after hooking into a salmon on a brand new tenkara rod...


Oh, I knew that...

3) I’m gonna find me an Ewok and bring it home for Lilly
Although I guess if it’s a National Forest, the law probably wouldn't be in favor of that. I mean c'mon!  I looked at the pictures of the Tongass, this is prime Ewok habitat. It’s gotta be crawling with those little buggers.

4) When Trout Unlimited puts their mind (& minions) on something, they go BIG or go home.
I see successful reports of TU chapters restoring & conserving all the time. Plus, how many letters do we all get in the mail each month looking for monetary support for this, a donation match for that, or become a “Lifetime Member” of the clan? Now that Dwight’s in charge of the Scranton branch, he should really look into scoring the “whale” that is the TU paper account.

5) Finally, you read this list
Yeah, let’s be honest, if you've been following some of the other Tongass contest-inspired posts, you perhaps read one or two from start to finish, but likely skimmed the majority. I mean if you've read one “copy and paste of facts people only researched for the sole purpose of entering this contest” post you've read them all.

However, I know you read this...Google Analytics ratted you out.

No, seriously, I know you read this because Americans are suckers for lists of any sort.

So TU, Fishpond, Tenkara USA, RIO, and the OBN, send me to Alaska…or at least lodge me and show me around after I pay my own airfare to Juneau…because when I get back, in addition to showing off my newly obtained dog sledding skills...and placing my full blogging energy toward the Tongass, I’m going to insert just enough snarky pop culture references in my follow up post(s) to make what might otherwise be considered a boring or tired subject amusing enough for people to actually read.

And I figure that’s the end game here.  Spreading the word & creating awareness.  But I could be wrong.

Guess there’s only one way to find out…

This is my submission to the Trout Unlimited 2013 Blogger Tour sponsored by Fishpond
Tenkara USA and RIO, and hosted by the Outdoor Blogger Network.

May 20, 2013

Making Lemonade from Vandalized Lemons

My wife and I were supposed to buy the Jacksonville house today.  Settlement was scheduled for May 20th...but some vandals (i.e. kids) got inside our construction about a month ago and messed some things up good.  It's being fixed, and after a 75 page remediation report, I'm not overly concerned (anymore), but our closing date was moved back a few weeks into June.  Whatever...

Our ceiling about a month ago (since repaired)

That said, we had plane tickets, a hotel room, and a trip to Lilly's-to-be elementary school scheduled around that 20th date, so instead of rescheduling, we kept all of the arrangements and decided to take a mini strangely the a place we'll be living in less than a month.  Yes, odd...but that's how we roll.

Lilly enjoyed the beach yesterday...

I'm going to try to get over to Blackfly Outfitters today for some window-shopping...but my wife wants to go furniture shopping...we'll see how that works out...

May 18, 2013

Kickstarter: Hitch 'N' Fish

While tournament angling ain't my thing, when I got an email about a Kickstarter project called Hitch 'N' Fish, I felt compelled to post...if for no other reason that it seems like it will be entertaining (if funded).

From the Kickstarter post:

The Trip
On June 8th, we will begin our fishing journey in northern Minnesota. The trip will span two months and involve traveling over 6,000 miles, while we partake in fishing tournaments and challenges along the way. From Minnesota we will head to the deep south, then head west towards the rocky mountains. From there we will head north until we hit Montana and eventually come full circle back to Minnesota. The four crew members of Hitch’N’Fish will be traveling in a 2000 GMC Tahoe and trailering a 16 foot basstracker. We will be sleeping in tents in some of the most remote areas across the country. The trip will emulate what we think represents: A Real American Story!!! 
The Documentary
We will be documenting every part of our journey. Think about it. Traveling across the country fishing in small town tournaments will illuminate a different side of this country. We plan to document every leg of this trip from the time we wake up until we hit the hay at night. We will be journaling the entire trip while we encounter and meet extraordinary people that are from different parts of this country. The footage will be condensed into one riveting documentary.

So if you're interested in supporting, check out this link HERE.  At the moment, they're about $20K short with 15 days to go.  Difficult, yes.  Impossible...well...what do they say about fishing?  It only takes one BIG fish to turn your day around...

May 17, 2013

Kype Fishing Magazine: Volume 4 / Issue 2

Issue Two Highlights:

Unconventional Spey Techniques
Flippin-Switch Rods
Punk Rock Fly Fishing
Jungle Fever
Kype Vise, Modified Caddis
Longevity for Nymphs
The Yukon Experience

May 15, 2013

Tenkara Summit 2013 - Day One's Events

The first official day of the 2013 Tenkara Summit had a little bit of everything...

Welcome to the 2013 Tenkara Summit

Lots of people...

A view of the vendor fair floor

Fly tying...

Loften Deprez tying kebari for an onlooker

Book signing...

Misako Ishimura and Kevin Kelleher (not pictured) signing copies of "Tenkara"

Gear hawking...

The Zimmerbuilt was very brisk all day long

Knot making...

Lance Milks showing how to make that tricky Level Line to Lillian knot

Raffle items...

Lots of items donated by Mossy Creek Fly Fishing & Tenkara USA

Casting demos...

Daniel Galhardo showing casting fundamentals

Bamboo rods...

Some vintage bamboo tenkara rods saw the casting pool as well

Baby pools...

For Tanago rods only...

DVD previews...

Daniel Galhardo previews the upcoming Tenkara DVD

Technique presentations...

Tom Sadler gave an incredibly entertaining presentation

Stream disclosures...

Brian Trow of Mossy Creek Fly Fishing points us all in the right direction

And Skype-ing with anglers from Japan...

Quite possibly the highlight of the day, talking live to Tenkara anglers halfway around the world!

Got all that?

Good, because there was a bluegrass band too.

Shenandoah Alley plays for the after-Summit bar crowd

And evidently, a lot of blurry cell phone pictures!

May 14, 2013

Tenkara Summit 2013 - Fishing The Day Before


Exhausted, bruised, and smiling, it's tough to get back into the work week after a most excellent long weekend at the 2013 Tenkara Summit in Harrisonburg, Virginia.  Over the next two days, I'm going to recap some of what went on...because it seems like a lot got crammed in over a short period of time.

I made the trek down to Virginia from Philadelphia immediately after work last Thursday night.  It took about four and a half hours to get down there, but I finally arrived around 11:30 PM, just in time to check into the hotel and get a good night's sleep for a day of Friday fishing before the Summit was to start on Saturday.

I figured I'd split Friday up into two parts, as I wanted to hit at least a few different fishing spots.  Using the advice given by Tom Sadler in his Middle River Dispatch blog, I figured I'd give the Rapidan River a go in the AM, and Skidmore Fork in the afternoon.   Unfortunately (and I didn't realize this until I was halfway there), the link he provides that gives the Google Maps GPS directions for the Rapidan were really that for the St. Mary's I fished the St. Mary's instead.

Now the St. Mary's was gorgeous.  Picturesque even.  A little bit off the beaten path with not much of a trail in and around.  It truly was in the "Wilderness."  Albeit a damn beautiful wilderness.

Although it doesn't look it from the pictures above, the water was really high and really fast and pretty hard to wade.  The one pic with all the rocks wasn't even from the main flow, but a smaller break off.  Turns out high water was to be the trademark of the trip as the Harrisonburg area suffered through about a week of rain prior to the Summit wekeend.  Although I had a couple of swipes and flashes of brookies stinging my kebari, I didn't catch any fish.  Oh well.  After about 3 hours decided to leave after I took a spill on some rocks and banged up my left wrist.  I was okay, but figured it was a sign to get lunch.

After lunch, I headed over to Skidmore Fork to try some tenkara in a different locale.  Luckily, Tom's map worked this time.  :)

Even though the water was pretty high and fast here too, I found a little bit more "soft" waters in and around rocks and downed trees that yielded fish.  I didn't catch bucketfuls, but I did manage a few wild brook trout, expanding my wild Eastern brook count to Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and now Virginia.  (Who's next?!)

The best part of the trip to Skidmore was that I happened to run into a lot of different folks in my meanderings.  About five minutes after dropping in I waved hello to Chris Stewart as he appeared from the brush and crossed the stream above me.  As I walked in the woods I passed Chris Zimmer (Zimmerbuilt) and bumped into and chatted with TJ Ferreira and John Geer from Tenkara USA who were watching Misako Ishimura fishing in the current.  Finally, on the way back to the parking area, I was greeted by Daniel Galhardo, TJ (again), and Anthony Naples, sharing about a half hour conversation before sending out the search party for the rest of their group.

Exhausted, I headed back to the hotel to grab a bite to eat, shower up, and get some rest.  However once I got there I got a text from Lou (Fly & Fin) that he was down at the of course being thirsty I wandered down and met up with him, Bart (The Jersey Angler), and their friend Rich.  A better bunch of guys I've never met.  They had evidently dominated Beaver Creek earlier in the day.  As the night progressed, the folks from Skidmore also seemed to show up one at a time as well.  I also met Justin Ide, a talented photographer that took some great pictures to chronicle the event.

Some other things may have happened after the bar closed, but after a few sips from a Mason jar it was all a blur... #shineresponsibly.

Tomorrow, Day One of the actual Summit...

May 6, 2013

A Rare Family Fishing Outing

I'm a fishing dork nut.  

Lilly is lukewarm on the topic of going fishing.  We've done it a few times, but it's clearly not her favorite thing to do.  As a "fishing dad", I'm okay with that.  If she prefers karate to casting, cool by me.

My wife K.C. will sometimes play along, but refuses to touch fish and generally doesn't like things - like bugs - that come along with being outdoors.

So was I pleasantly surprised when I asked Lilly on Saturday if she wanted to go down to the pond and try to catch some fish? bet.  And was I startled when my wife said she'd come along too? (More so to play with her fancy camera than fish...but whatever)  Holy crap yes!

We lasted a little over an hour...which is pretty good in my book.  The weather was nice.  We caught fish.  We took pictures.  All was good.  We left happy.  Will we go again?  Beats me, but at least I got Lilly to put down her Nintendo 3DS for more than 5 minutes...and was able to coax some smiles out in the process.

(All pictures taken by the wife)