Mar 31, 2009

Speaking of those who catch big fish

As previously explained we don't have great trout angling opportunities in central Illinois, so I guess I'm not up to speed in the goings and doings of the trout angling world. That explains why the following pictures that arrived in my mailbox today were a surprise to me even though they are apparently from 2007. Regardless, I can't help but be amazed at this; amazement that is driven primarily by the size of rainbows I've seen caught around here.









My first thought was to double check the validity of these pictures, and a quick google session seems to confirm this is the all tackle world record rainbow trout that weighed in at 43.6 lb. This article explains quite well the how, when, where and who bits so I won't duplicate that effort. Of note is these guys (at the time the article was published) owned the 2#, 4#, 16#, 20# and 30# tackle records and were apparently about to cinch up the 6# (with this fish) and the 50# with another un-pictured fish. Me thinks if you're a trout angler with some spare time and spare coin, you might be well advised to look up "The Fishing Geeks."

Mar 28, 2009

This guy just catches big fish

The Apr/May issue of In-Fisherman arrived in my mail slot the other day. I picked it up wondering if there would be anything worth blogging about. My eyes were drawn to the words near the top of the cover: "Master Angler Highlights!" If you're not familiar, In-Fisherman runs a program where you send in pictures of your monster fish and they send you an award of some kind. It's very similar to the "Big Fish" award program the Illinois DNR runs. This issue has what I assume are the biggest fish from the 2008 season. I paged straight to page 66 to see these lunkers. Imagine my delight when I recognized a face first page of the highlights. It's the face of Kevin Wakeman, and I don't actually know him. I'm just a fan of his website (it's more of a website than a blog but it's a blurry line.) I've kept a link on my side bar for some time now. Bingo! My mind went off on this wonderful blog material. It was even enough for me to dust off the old scanner...




I can't find that exact fish on his website for a more clear image, but it doesn't matter because here's a bigger one (shamelessly hotlinked):




What I like (or maybe hate) about this guy is that he happens to fish a couple of the lakes I do and kicks my butt. He seems to like Spring Lake which I've already fished twice this year, plus I've been to Lake Delavan twice in the last two years and he fishes there often as well. I've caught big fish from these lakes but never this big, and he does it with regularity. For example, last Saturday Dave and I fished spring lake for 8 hours and caught three small bass and two small crappies. Kevin was on the same water in the same month a couple years ago and...well I'll let his video do the talking, make sure and watch the whole thing to see him empty his livewell...



If Kevin happens to be reading this, congratulations man. If you notice a guy following you around Spring Lake taking notes, pay no attention. It's just me trying to figure out your secret and I'll try and stay out of your way.

Mar 23, 2009

I finally did it, followed by injury



After a long winter, a few practice sessions and a couple close calls I have finally landed a bass with my fly rod. Today I was on jury duty, then got to Banner Marsh in time to squeeze in about two hours of fishing before dusk. It was windy, which isn't good for amature fly anglers, more on that in a minute. I started out with a jigfly and pig, got a nibble with that but then nothing. I switched to a purple and yellow Mad Tom thinking those fish might have never seen one. When the thing struck I knew what to do: set the hook. After setting the hook, I realized I wasn't using a spinning reel and stood there for a second trying to remember how to work that contraption. Luckily this beauty had cold water in her veins and the fight was uneventful, she didn't even surface. Here she is again, look at that belly.



Now, about the wind. It was gusty, not windy but gusty. Wind makes fly fishing a little unpredictable, especially when the angler is new. During this outing I hit myself in the back of the ear and wrapped my leader around my head (two loops around). I discovered that if I ducked at the right time I could avoid getting hit in the back of the head. Then, not long after catching the fish, my Mad Tom assaulted me from the front and left me with a story to tell coworkers. If you have ever wondered what a hook wound looks like on a face, today is your lucky day. You might have to click to see a bigger version.



This one is minor, but it did make me think. Next trip I'll be sporting my new fishing accessory:




PS. I tried to get the successful fly in the pic, but it didn't really turn out. If you're interested the Mad Tom was made with a purple zonker strip, yellow bucktail, and white barbell eyes on a #1 hook. It's the smallest one I have, better make some more.

Spring Lake Slump Buster

Dave and I went to Spring Lake this past Saturday and fished the south lake. In total we were on the water for about eight hours on a gorgeous day and boated five fish. Two 8" crappies and three very small bass. Most importantly we both caught our first fish of 2009. Here is Dave's first fish, it's not much to look at but it's number one.



He also caught this enormous wood bass, it put up a pretty good fight.



I wasn't thinking and let my first 09 fish go without photo. For the record it was an eight and a half inch crappie.

Mar 22, 2009

I have to disagree

I just joined Technorati, a fact most of you will find boring, but in browsing the blogs I found one that got my attention. It linked to an article about how fly fishing in Spring will yield bigger bass. So far I have to disagree 100%.

The interesting thing I found in that article, and probably the reason I'm blogging it is Barr's Meat Whistle. I think I have the goods to duplicate this.




I also noticed that Umpqua site had a nice selection of bass flies.

Mar 21, 2009

Getting jiggy with it

In preparation for a fishing trip tomorrow I tied some jigs to throw with my long rod. Interesting note, I was interupted during my tying session when a drunk guy hit my neighbor's parked car.

These are all bass jigs tied on 2/0 plain shank hooks. I used the spinner skirts you can find at tackle shops. Also I tied in the weed guard Dave mentioned using some 40lb mono. See if you can figure out the order in which these were tied. Hint: the first one is crappy looking.


I really like this one, the cone head allowed me a little more flexibility with getting the skirt to sit right. I don't think I'll tie anymore jigs with barbell eyes.


And I tied these four crappie jigs on #4 hooks. Two have Mylar tubing for a tail with a medium chenille body. Those have a silver bead head. The other two have buck tail on the end with chenille bodies as well. I spiced up the bottom two by exposing some red thread and using a black bead.


I also tied a few Clouser Mad Tom's to replace those lost last Saturday. Plus tomorrow will be the first launching of the Good Ship Clif in 09 and the first use of my new portable fish finder.

I think I need some old barn wood or worn cork to take fly pictures on, don't you think that will really make this blog seem professional?

PS - Jonn, I've got your Dahlburg Diver carved and painted, tomorrow or Sunday I'll put on the clear coats and it'll be done and ready for a trade. Hope you like orange.

Mar 17, 2009

It's official, I want one

As a follow up to my previous post about the Hobie Pro Angler, here is another video. After watching the previous one and reading all the product descriptions I was left wondering how it performed, specifically the likelihood I would get wet if I had one. Well my questions have been answered in the following video. Buried somewhere in the obnoxious video effects and annoying commentary you'll find the answers to your doubts, I suggest you hit the mute button before pressing play.





My only problem is with the money I'd plunk down on this I could get a pretty decent jon boat. Especially if you consider my wife would likely be wanting one too. Maybe once the newness wears off, the price will come down; you can bet I'll be watching.

Mar 16, 2009

Maybe it's my fear of commitment

I got a hair brained idea on Saturday. Maybe it is my refusal to commit to fly fishing that has led to my inability to catch fish on a fly rod. I've always brought my fly rod along as something to play with, or alternately I've brought my spinner as a backup. Well Saturday I went out to Banner Marsh fully committed. I had only my fly rod, my fly box, a camera, waders and what I could fit in my vest. I had a plan to wade out to some structure that I've previously fished with some success by boat.

Upon arrival I was disappointed to see the water level a couple feet higher than normal, so my plan of wading to said structure was out. Instead, I waded as close as I could get and fished. The water was cold enough to force 10 minute warm-up breaks on shore, and the fish were taking breaks to correspond with my time in the water. After about 5 hours of fishing deep structure, I happened to throw a Clouser Mad Tom (olive in color) near shore by a bush. I saw the line flick, with what I like to all a "tink-tink" (say "tink-tink" while picturing a fork hitting wine glass). Fish on...short fight...fish off - damn, I ended the day with a blank. At least I caught enough wood bass to make some room in my fly box for more fly tying sessions.

I did learn a few things. My jigflies were easier to cast than a standard jig, but still not with the grace you picture a fly rod to produce. I learned that standing in freshly thawed water for any length of time is enough to give me a mild case of hypothermia, my knees were cold to the touch well into the night. I also learned that when the sun is bright, it's hard to see the LCD display on a camera. In such a situation, you might not notice your white balance is set to "incandescent" for every single picture you take that day. This is the second time I've taken a bunch of blue pictures (see below) only to discover the problem at home, I'm starting to think I should scrap the DSLR and go back to pointing and shooting.


Mar 14, 2009

Shazam!

I put up a new Lunker Hunt logo.
I made a few of these and I'll be trying them out over the next few weeks, hopefully I find one I like. This one features me on the right and my father in law on the left.

Let me know what you think, I'm not sold yet.

Mar 12, 2009

All the rain makes my attention to detail float to the surface and dive back down

This past weekend was non-stop rain. I think we totaled 3 inches or so. So Saturday I started carving again.

It started a couple weeks ago in a misguided attempt to tie a Dahlberg Diver, it was a complete disaster. I ended up throwing the whole mess in the trash swearing to never do that again and just generally swearing. So here is my carved Dahlberg Diver. I'll keep the witty banter to a minimum and serve up the good stuff...






If you're following along at home, the next picture is when you will mess up and start over.








Wondering why I drilled a hole? See below, that is a rattle.










Those of you still reading are in for a treat. Remember when I mentioned the point where you'll mess up and start over? Here is my first attempt after said mess up and prior to said start over.

Mar 7, 2009

When pigs fly

A stormy forecast cancelled my fishing plans today. In an effort to avoid other responsibilities I tied the jig-flies I've had in mind since my last trip. Here we go, I made these up with inspiration from Ehler's J-Pig. I think all will look pretty tasty with a pork frog attached. Hopefully these will be easier than a normal jig to cast, can't wait to find out. I think the second two might work without the pig and if I manage to keep these around I'll be sure to try that out later this year.







They are all on a 2/0 Eagle Claw plane shank hook. The first uses a small set of barbell eyes and I upped the last two to medium - I ran out of small. The fur is is a short strip of rabbit zonker wrapped only three times behind the eyes and tied in front. Also I've decided to buy some more rubber legs because the only color I have is orange/black and it is really limiting my creativity.

Mar 6, 2009

As far as yuppie boats go, heres something to think about.



Thanks to Dave for showing me the Hobie Pro Angler. At a smidge over $2000 I think this is going to fit in the same catagory as the X10. That is the "pretty sweet boat with lots of shiny things you can dream about but probably won't pay for" category.

What I find of particular interest is Hobie's Mirage drive, making it like a pedal boat but better. If you like the mirage drive but you're not interested in this particular price tag, Hobie sells a few other boats with pedals; boats more closely resembling the kayaks you're used to - with a presumably lower 30 year fixed.

These guys do a pretty good job of running down all the features but I suggest you click the link above for info on the drive train.

Mar 4, 2009

Free Range Pork

Today I made a run down to Spring Lake today after my afternoon at the dentist. I was hoping to see open water, but upon arrival I discovered ice. It was barely hanging in there and breaking up, but ice none the less. I decided that I had driven 45 minutes so I might as well fish a little, even if the conditions were not great. In pike hole I found plenty of open water, so I threw my first cast around 4:15. I fished until seven and didn't catch a thing. But I did learn one lesson regarding my previously alluded to experiment.

When throwing a heavy (well by fly fishing standards) jig and pig it pays to keep some slack at hand. During a false cast, when the weight of the jig reaches the end of the leader you can say bu-bye to your jig and hullo to free range pork. I think a lighter jig would solve the problem, but I had already tied the lightest one in the box. The solution was to let the line loose just before impact and load my rod by tightening down at the perfect moment. Soon I'll be tying my own jigfly and trying again, Ehler's J-Pig is looking pretty good.

After I gave up on that idea, I proceeded to decorate the trees with a couple more flies before turning to my spinning rig just before dusk. I can throw jigs a mile with my Shimano and I did that...until something crawling around in the dark forest spooked me to my truck. My little oinker grew up so fast.