Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Bad Company

They get you with water coverage.  It's simple math, really.  So I put down the flies for some big stupid shiny things that came in a tangled mass of hooks and glitter.

The high-speed chases and explosive reflex-like reactions of big toothy fish are nice, don't get me wrong.  But I still felt as though I could quit at any time and go back to the long rod, pick up that 10wt quietly collecting dust back at the house...

It would be so easy, I told myself.

Then out came the sabiki rigs and the big nasty circle hooks.  We started jigging for....bait.

Sitting on the dock or bridge with some beers and pizza, there was time for socializing instead of the endless mental challenge of scanning for fishy shapes in shallow water.

It felt wrong.  It was too easy.  Big fish need to be earned.  Right?

But we caught some monster fish.  The conversion to the dark side was complete.

This is a cautionary tale, lest you find yourself sleeping in bus shelters near secluded docks on more-or-less deserted islands, with racks of spinning rods, coolers of beer and good friends snoring on the wooden benches after fishing into the wee hours.  Consider yourself warned.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

System Shock

The reports were excellent. They told of consistent day long insect activity that was inciting trout to rise system wide. I was eager for sulphurs, march browns, and possibly some drakes. We arrived on the water anticipating some mid-afternoon activity that would culminate in a magic hour sometime after the sun would set behind the horizon. We settled into a pool, riffle, pool section of the river that was full of anglers but seemed less crowded than many other spots. Throughout the day, Dan caught a few trout in a side channel while I struggled getting fish to take on dries in clear blue sunny skies. Other anglers left our area without any luck, leaving us the entire spot during prime time. The bugs never really came, the trout failed to rise with any consistency and like fools, we stayed and waited. We managed a few more trout in almost pitch blackness and illuminated their colors with the flashes of our cameras. Looking back at the reports for the day, they told of epic insect activity, every trout in the river rising, and large fish on dries. I guess we missed something. That or just happened to choose the only section of the system that was running low on insect reserves.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Weekend Warrior

You get one shot at life, so you'd better be damn sure that you're doing it right.  Put your priorities in order, decide what matters, reflect on how you're doing.  Ask yourself if you can honestly say that you're satisfied with the level of adventure, adrenaline or fishing in your life.  If you can't...

Later on, no one will regret the opportunities they tried to take advantage of.  No one will say they wish they hadn't scraped together enough cash for a DIY bonefishing trip.  No one will say they wish they'd never spent a week sleeping in the bed of their truck, chasing trout through those rivers they'd always wanted to fish.  No one will regret being there to net a steelhead for a friend, catching panfish on dries with their kids or sharing beers around a campfire in your waders.

If more people worked to live, and not the other way around, this world would be a better place.

These were the thoughts running through my mind for the past few months as responsibilities at work began to eat away at my real world.  Being outside, on the water, or fishing far less than I think is right lately, any chance I get to plug in is food for the soul and reinvigorating.

Make it happen.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


Sunday morning and I find myself sleeping in well past the alarm that was supposed to wake me up. It takes me another hour or so to organize my fishing stuff, find some flies, and load the SUP Yak into the back of the truck. I am heading out on a whim to a river to see if I can spot some of its many carp. The river is wildly unpredictable at this time of year and I am rolling the dice. Flows can go from 8,000 cubic feet/second to over 80,000 cfs in about twenty minutes. Fishing can go from I can see a carp every once in a while to I won't see a carp for another few days. When I first laid eyes on the water, it was roaring and looked off color. I sat in my truck for awhile contemplating what to do next. I decided to go for a drive and got stuck in some traffic, found nothing, and ended up going back to the original spot for shits and giggles.

I arrived to find that the water had dropped at least five feet. It seemed like a miracle and I was ready to go. The sun was high in the sky, hardly a cloud to be seen, and the river was low enough to sight fish. I made my way upriver to a large backwater area to park and look for some carp. Thus far, my carping experiences with the SUP yak have seen mixed results. The acoustics that the Yak sends out in the water scare the carp easily, not to mention the sounds of an anchor, two paddles, and me repositioning my feet every minute or so. My best luck comes from anchoring in a position with the sun at my back and waiting for things to settle down. If I am lucky, a carp will work its way into my view and hopefully they'll be feeding. It is a game of patience, that I definitely need to work on.

After the first few spots, my patience was wearing thin and I was about to pack it in. Then I saw it. A large eruption in about four feet of water. The river bottom seemed to be upwelling into a boil. I had never seen a carp go to town this hard along the bottom. River carp must be an entirely different breed and I was about to find out. Amongst the boil, I made out a very large tail swaying vertically back in forth and my knees began to shake. It had been awhile since I sight fished to a large carp. I casted down  and across about ten feet above the carp and used the current and the angle to swing my fly into position without spooking the fish. I let it drop and the fly descended into the murk where the head of the carp was munching on the bottom. I had to time this to have the fly land as the fish was picking up his head and on the third try, it worked. I popped the fly slowly twice along the bottom and on the third pop, I stripped tight into a large slab of carp. Needless to say, the eight weight was a good choice.

For awhile, I thought I had on the largest carp of my life because all I had seen up to that point in time was a very large tail. I had out for the first time, a net I purchased to land a musky I have yet to go for. It is a massive net, and it paid dividends landing a large carp in the midst of a river. I hopped out of the yak onto a large boulder and was able to have a moment or two with my prize. He wasn't as big as I hoped he be, but he was a torpedo perfectly designed to power his way through the changing flows and challenges presented by his estate. The only carp that I saw feeding all day found the bottom of my net and I was a happy man.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

No, But I Didn't See You

Almost a year ago, I embarked for the first time with my Diablo Chupacabra SUP Yak. I heard about a lake deep in the woods that could only be accessed by having a kayak. I scoured Google maps for a way to get my kayak in and settled on what looked to be a trail. Well, it took me over two hours to get my kayak back to the lake and it amounted to bushwacking. With a massive yak, it wasn't a good idea. Leaving the lake, I found an alternative entry/exit point but it went through state property. I returned last week with the intention of trespassing.

I arrived, geared up, and took my kayak on a long haul to the edge of the property. A large hangar housed some heavy machinery, and I walked inside to do something I have never done: ask for permission. I decided on this to cover my butt in case someone stopped me. I asked if I could access the lake in the woods and he replied,

"No, But I didn't see you".

That was all I really needed to continue on. He mentioned that if Fish and Game stopped by, I might get a heavy fine, but I was willing to take the risk. He told me to lie and tell them that I accessed the lake some other way. It sounded like a plan, and I pushed on into the woods. I took apart my carriage and had to carry the yak and my other gear about a hundred yards through the woods to a put in that was overrun by vegetation. I put in with the intention of catching some nice bass.

For all the effort, the results didn't match the risk. I caught a decent number of bass, all mostly small. However, I was granted an afternoon alone on a lake, deep in the woods with only beavers, heron, osprey, and a bald eagle to keep me company. I was fine with that.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

New Strike Indicator Review

A few weeks ago, I was asked by Barry Dombro to try his innovative new strike indicator tool that he developed in New Zealand. We don't do a lot of reviews here on the blog, but I was willing to check it out. I started fly fishing with indicators and still use them across a lot of applications, as do most fly fishermen. The product intrigued me because I spent the better half of the Fall trying different types of indicators out and Adam even resorted to making his own. Barry's idea seemed to address some of the things we were looking for in an indicator.

What immediately separates Barry's concept from every other indicator out there is that your basically getting a tool that allows you to fashion your own indicators out of New Zealand wool (provided in the purchase). The tool resembles a large open needle that contains a bulbous grip and loop to attach to a vest/pack. On the needle, slides tubing used to attach the wool to the line. It can handle about a dozen pieces of tubing, good enough for multiple trips on the water. The tool has been well thought out for its intended purpose. It is not too large that it gets in the way or too small that it can be lost. It is an ideal size. Rather than get into the details about how to attach the indicator to the leader using the tool, just watch the video below:

Advantages, disadvantages, and final thoughts.


1. What separates this indicator is that it is completely customizable to specific fishing situations. If you need a large bulky indicator to keep afloat a double nymph rig with split shot in fast water, you can create one. If you need a minuscule piece of wool to allow you to track soft takes in skinny water, you can cut one of those too.

2. Once assembled, the indicator can slide up and down on the leader to adjust automatically to any fishing depth and also water flow. The most common mistake that anglers make when fishing with an indicator is not getting down to the right level where the fish are feeding. Most indicators, especially the most popular, thingamabobber, do not allow you to easily adjust the depth of your flies. In fishing situations where a few inches can mean the difference between not hooking up and having a banner day, this will allow you to adjust after any cast, quickly and efficiently.

3. Adjusting the indicator once on the line does not produce any problems to the leader. Most indicators that are adjustable damage or kink leaders. For those that do no make their own leaders, why damage something that can cost upwards of fifteen dollars?

4. Once you get the hang of how the material and tool works, you can have a new indicator on your leader in under a minute.

5. Likewise, you can remove the indicator even more quickly than you can put one on. I can't tell you how many times I have been fishing an indicator rig and I came across a pool with rising fish or a run ideally suited for swinging a streamer. If you want to change, you have to re-do your entire rig just to adjust to the different fishing situation. Here I can adjust and be fishing a dry fly as fast as I can tie one on.

6. The last advantage that I admire about the product is that it is completely knotless. I tend to tie knots directly to my thingamabobber to produce a right angle presentation. For the most part, this has been reliable for me. However, every now and then, the ring where the leader and tippet are attached has a habit of causing a knot to slip or break which can result in losing a nice fish and a set of flies.


1. My first complaint relates towards any yarn/wool indicator. Like a dry fly, you constantly have to be reapplying floatant to keep it riding high. Yarn/wool indicators work most efficiently when riding high allowing you to detect every little stop, bump, and twitch. If they are saturating, riding low, or sinking they aren't doing as good a job as they can. The wool packaged with the product is top notch and naturally floats right out of the package but still requires dressings every hour especially when fishing faster water.

2. It can take a lot of practice to make the ideal indicator that you are looking for. In the beginning, I found myself wasting a lot of the provided wool as I experimented with the amount the tubes/leader size could handle. Once you practice and get the hang of things, I would cut out several pre-determined sizes and shapes for different situations and place them in a fly box, leader wallet, or small baggies in your vest/pack.

3. That brings me to another thing I don't like, storing the pieces of wool. Once you pre-determine the sizes you like, you might need to dedicate a small compartment fly box to storing them or use small rubber (those small orthodontist bands work the best) bands to keep the wool together.

4. My first experience fishing with this indicator was during a weekend trip where it rained the entire time. Trying to attach dry wool to the leader with wet fingers proved to be difficult because the wool would stick to my fingers creating a mess.

Final Thoughts:

Overall, I like this concept a lot. In the Fall, I was searching for an indicator that was completely adjustable to the depth/flow I was fishing. This provides an ideal solution to the main thing I was looking for. I think this system will truly shine in the smaller tributary waters of the Great Lakes during Steelhead season, especially in Pennsylvania and Ohio Erie tributaries. An article that goes into great detail about indicator fishing these waters is by John Nagy. His article, "The Top 10 Do's and Don'ts For Indicating for Steelhead," really touches on points that can be fully utilized by Barry Dombro's new strike indicator system. I am looking forward to fishing and experimenting with this system more, especially during the Fall migratory runs of steelhead. If you are looking to add another weapon to your arsenal and enjoy using other yarn/wool type indicators, I recommend checking out this product. It will not completely replace my preferred indicators but it definitely has its place and when properly utilized will yield excellent results.

To check out more go to: www.strikeindicator.com