May 26, 2018

Quick Pond Hop To Start A Long Weekend

With this Memorial Day weekend's weather forecast not looking too good, figured last night was as good as any to try and steal an hour or two at dusk and go fishing at one of the neighborhood ponds...

The fishing was a little on the slow side, but passable. Caught a few bass like this...


And a few bluegill like this...


Those chunky "copperhead" bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus mystacalis) are damn good fighters on light tackle.

In any event, thought this picture summed up the evening rather accurately...


I made the mistake of not shooting my ankles, arms, and neck with bug spray... and damn if those yellow flies and mosquitoes weren't out tonight. I will say, if that ever happens to you, that Itch Eraser in the photo above works well, and the relief comes quickly. I got it in a Cairn box once upon a time, and this is the first time I've used it.

I dusted off the Tenkara USA Ayu II too... or should I say "as well"... I haven't fished that rod in forever, but it's a sleeper in my tenkara rod collection. Since I'm in the process of streamlining some of my fishing tackle, I might sell it, or I might hold on to it due to some sort of warped sentimental value because it's not produced or sold anymore. Whatever...

Oh, and you might have noticed those little metal tabs on my rod. I finally got around to attaching the line holders that Jean Santos skillfully engraved for me around the New Year. He lives in France and is a true artisan. Knowing I live in Florida, he even etched a largemouth bass chasing a kebari on the one holder. They're gorgeous in person, these zoom shots below don't do them justice... (and I really need to attach them properly, not with gross o-rings).


If you want to see more of Jean Santos' work, you can check out Isaac Tait's article in Tenkara Angler, Adam Trahan's article on Tenkara-Fisher, or Jean Santos' YouTube. This embedded video is a great start:



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Fishing Fitness Footnotes:
  • Date: 5/26/2018
  • Current weight: 208 lbs ( -8 since start)
  • Current waist size: 38, but pants not quite as tight
  • Today: Plan to ride bike in AM, walk Gourd Island trails after dinner.
  • Yesterday: Walked after lunch... oh and fished for an hour!

May 23, 2018

Discover Keiryu Rod Co.

Hmmm, now this is something... as you know I have a fondness for obscure Japanese fishing methods.

Looks like somebody took the Tenkara USA model of "introducing a Japanese form of fishing to America" up a notch by launching the Keiryu Rod Co.


(Hope my friends in Idaho don't take offense by the name selection).

For those not in the know, "keiryu" means mountain stream in Japanese. The particular rods this company is selling is for a style of fixed-line fishing that also uses long, telescopic rods, but instead of being engineered to cast flies, they employ bait. As so much, it's not fly fishing, and certainly not tenkara, but to the casual observer, they may look very similar from afar.

Chris Stewart over at TenkaraBum has been selling keiryu "stuff" for a while now; his site has a breakdown of what I'm trying to describe if you're interested in learning more. Obviously, there's more to it, but his link will at least point you in the right direction.

I've actually only seen keiryu bait gear in person once. There was a gentleman (Craig) I became friends with on tenkara fishing forums & Facebook a few years back who invested in the system and brought it out to the Midwest Tenkara Fest back in 2015. He even put on a short presentation on how he builds & fishes his rigs.

Craig fishing Coon Creek in Wisconsin

Anyway, will be interesting to see if this catches on, fades away, or even becomes a thing. I only found out about it stumbling across a newly uploaded video on Vimeo (there's actually a few there), so my guess is there will probably be some sort of marketing push in the not too distant future. Guess we'll see...



Oh, and if you're interested in picking up one of these rods, looks like they're selling them for $170 through Amazon. "Prime" it, and you'll have it in time for the long weekend!


May 21, 2018

Wanderlust - Anywhere But Jacksonville


Back to the work week...

Got that wanderlust feeling again. Guess that's usually what happens when you get back from one little getaway, you're already looking forward to the next one! Plus, it's pretty much been raining in the greater Jacksonville area non-stop for the last week. The grass sure looks green, but cabin fever is pretty fierce!


Luckily, I do have two "escapes" planned for the summer. They might even involve a little fishing, we'll see...

Middle of June the whole extended family (on my wife's side) is descending on the Outer Banks. There is going to be like two beach houses full of "in-laws" from all up and down the east coast. I've never been there, so I don't know what to expect. But from the number of "OBX" oval stickers stuck to the back window of people's SUVs, I'd guess a pretty tourist-heavy beach area, at least if you venture into whatever towns they have there. No big deal, I'm more or less just along for the ride on this one. I don't even remember the town we're staying at...

It's cool though, I figure I'll bring the fly rod, get up early each day to do some fishing... or at least flailing in the surf on the beach... and then sleep it off in the afternoon. I really don't know what's swimming in the waters there. There are some pretty good anglers in our family, but I don't think any of them fly fish...at least not what I've heard... they're more the go out in the ocean in big boat types. They crush it though. I don't talk about tenkara around them... :)


Guess I have a month to figure it out. Probably can't go wrong with my 6 or 8 weight and some Clouser minnows, they'll catch anything...

The end of July is really what I'm looking forward to. K.C., Lilly, & I am headed to Alaska on a cruise (via Seattle)! To say I'm excited is an understatement, and not only to get out of the hot Florida summer. The itinerary looks pretty solid and I'm sure I'll wear out my camera taking pictures. I really want to go on this train through the Yukon. Like this is a thing... are you kidding me?


Now fishing isn't necessarily on the agenda yet, but the cruise ship does offer some guided fly fishing excursions where you hop on a float plane for the day, fish for salmon and whatnot, and then head back to the ship. I need to look more into that. K.C. booked the vacation, so I'm really not certain of all the details or the specific port of call.

Anyway, until then, daydreaming from my cube at work...

Any cool summer plans this year, fishing or otherwise? Heck, if you have any intel on OBX or AK, I'd take that too. If so, hit me up in the comments, would love to hear what you're up to!

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Fishing Fitness Footnotes:
  • Date: 5/21/2018
  • Current weight: 213.5 lbs
  • Current waist size: 38
  • Today: DDP Yoga, Walk after dinner (weather pending)
  • Yesterday: DDP Yoga, Bicycle in light rain, a lot of great suggestions from friends

May 20, 2018

A New (Family & Fishing) Fitness Plan

Anybody need to lose a couple pounds? I know I sure could stand to...

Here's the deal. I really don't do all that great a job of taking care of myself these days. I know I gotta eat healthier, exercise, lose some weight, all that great stuff that sounds wonderful in concept, but just never seems to stick. I'm getting a little older, my metabolism is slowing, I prefer to sleep as late as humanly possible before I get up to work an office job every day, and I don't like getting that "look" of disgust from the doctor when he reviews those high numbers in my bloodwork results. At least I don't smoke, guess I have that going for me.


First off, my family deserves better. I may currently be considered a "good husband & Dad" and be taking care of paying the bills and whatnot, but what good is that if I get laid up with a heart attack, stroke, develop type 2 diabetes, or who knows what else? Especially if it can be avoided. Genetics are always a bit of a wildcard, but regardless, going down the current path is kinda negligent.

Plus, (and this is probably a little self-serving), being a bit more fit is going to make fishing more fun, as it certainly can't make it any worse. A stronger core and less of a spare tire to lug around will definitely make this summer & fall's rock hopping, wet wading opportunities a bit easier to manage. And, maybe losing a few will give me some incentive to get down to the surf with a fly rod & reel and show off my new beach body as I flex my pecs hoisting a 30-pound redfish. Okay, let's not get ahead of ourselves here...


Anyway, I'm going to try and make some healthy changes starting today (why wait), and I may or may not use this blog to track the progress via "Fishing Fitness Footnotes" dropped in at the end of my ever random fishing posts (so if I do, bear with me).

I'm pretty sure I know what I need to do (although my 40+-year-old body probably won't respond quite as quickly as my 20 or 30-year-old once did). My problem is motivation. It comes in spurts (like this one), but rarely lasts past the first week or so. Especially when you've just had a long day at work, and really just want to eat that bag of "whatever" at night while you're decompressing on the couch and watching WWE Raw or catching up on all the shows you DVR'd last week. And I know, despite my behavior, a whole bag of goldfish crackers is not a single-serving size.

If you want in too, come aboard. Maybe we could create an online support group for fishing fitness, or at the very least email or comment encouragement on each other's blogs, Facebook, Twitter, (or whatever). I feel like I need to do this somewhat publicly so the shame of failure will keep me on the right path.

So that's it. Wish me luck, I'm gonna need it. I'm already hungry.

Fishing Fitness Footnotes:
  • Date: 5/20/2018
  • Current weight: 216 lbs
  • Current waist size: 38
  • Exercise Plan: DDP Yoga

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And on a totally unrelated side note that has a little more basis in fishing, I did a little reader poll on tenkara rod preference over on my Tenkara Angler Instagram last week, the results are posted over on the TA blog. If that's something of interest to you, check it out HERE!

May 14, 2018

The Driftless Photo Dump

Took quite a few photos while in Wisconsin.  But first a bit of backstory.

I usually take most of the photos on this blog with my smartphone, which has (what I think) is a pretty good camera. Well, as I was headed to the airport to start my long weekend in the Midwest, I heard this "thud" while getting some stuff from the trunk of my SUV and looked down to see that I had obliterated my cell phone screen... to the point that it started leaking purple LCD juice all over the inside of the display, rendering the phone pretty much unusable for the weekend. Ugh.

R.I.P. Google Pixel

When I landed in Wisconsin, I ran over to the Walmart and picked up an inexpensive, unlocked Android phone to use for the weekend. The new phone works just fine, the major tradeoff being that the camera wasn't quite as good, although it took photos that were generally okay in the full-on sun.

The reason why I tell you this is some of the photos below are from the cell phone, while others are from my waterproof point and shoot. You may or may not notice, but it bugs the heck out of me.

In any event, here's a photo dump from the Driftless, 2018... starting with the Midwest Tenkara Fest, then expanding to a liberal amount of fishing, (captioned where needed, accordingly).

Culver's is always a must stop. We finally have them in Florida, but there's just something about eating them in Wisconsin. As far as a "chain" fast food burger goes that isn't an absolute gut bomb, these are at the top of my list. 

Coon Valley American Legion, home to the Midwest Tenkara Fest

Matt & Mike from Badger Tenkara conducting an onstream clinic


The new Tenkara USA Hane was attracting quite a bit of attention

As was Tenkara Grasshopper Graham Moran

Chris Stewart always brings the best toys

Some spin fishermen taking on the muddy waters of Coon Creek



Used my Tenkara USA Sato in the muddy water with some Coulee Killer tungsten bead nymphs to get into fish on Saturday




Was interesting to be in Wisconsin the first day of the season. So much water available to fish there was little to no crowding



This fish was a solid fighter, came out from an undercut to attack a "road kone" kebari 



I think the best fishing was toward dusk. Fish really started coming to life from 3-8 PM.




My beagle buddy


Viroqua, WI is a very fishy town. Home to the Driftless Angler fly shop as well as the Driftless Cafe (pictured)




Once the waters cleared up a bit on Sunday & Monday,
I flipped to fishing the Three Rivers Confluence and "road kone" kebari. 
I really think the Confluence is an underrated rod, worth checking out if you haven't already.






Picked out about 3 fish that looked just like this one in a certain run of narrow, but deep and fast water. By far the most frantic, fun, and fantastic twenty minutes or so of the trip.


Fishing adventures over, the reflective walk back to the car

Before ending this post, I did want to thank Len Harris (Stream of Time) for keeping me abreast of the weather situation via Facebook, probably wouldn't have brought the gear (particularly flies) I did had he not warned of the high and muddy water. Also, huge props to David Nash (My Leaky Waders) for pointing me in the direction of a lot of great fishing. I'm sorry we didn't get to fish a bit, definitely the next time.

Oh, and if any of these photos (or prior posts) have you interested in visiting the Driftless, make sure to check out this video from a few years back. It's awesome and captures everything that makes the Driftless Area a unique fishery.