May 29, 2009

Yaks and leeches filled a Friday night

Tomorrow, Dave and I are going to try kayak fishing. Special thanks to John who loaned us the yaks, making me promise to take him kayak fishing if it works out. John likes to fish and owns kayaks, but he's never done both - go figure! Think of this as a test drive, Dave's been wanting a kayak for some time but isn't willing to commit without some practice. I suspect as long as he doesn't get wet tomorrow, we can expect a new kayak to show in his garage.

In anticipation of tomorrows "strictly fly fishing" trip, I tied some flies, including a leech pattern I made up. I haven't gone looking to see if there is already something out there...

Don't tell Dave, but I'll be bringing my spinning rod as a backup.

May 28, 2009

Forget the barometer

It makes so much sense I can't believe the idea hasn't hit, or at least been mentioned so I can pretend it hit. Ever have a crappy day on the lake and try to figure if it's the pressure, cloud levels, clarity, etc? Well forget it, just get a pet fish! Next time you get the itch, head to the basement and check in with Fido. He'll know if the fish are biting.

May 20, 2009

Would you tell me if my geek was showing?

After much prodding, Dave has finally posted instructions on how to tie in a very effective weed guard. If you tie flies or make lures, you need to click here and take a look at what he's got going. I have tied a few this year and in my opinion it is a vastly superior guard than the traditional loop of mono over the hook in that it actually works.

There is one point in his post that I disagree with. About his preference to slant the guard back he states
"The goal is to allow the fly to glide over an obstacle as you strip your line slowly but deflect enough to set the hook."
We've been having some debate about that at work lately and here is your fair warning...things are about to get nerdy. If you have a weak stomach or poor math skills you need to run away and fast.

What you see above is going allow me to use a search engine keyword that is relevant to this blog, but might attract some attention from those using the internet the way it was intended: free body diagram. Dave and I are both engineers and our debate about how to tie in this particular guard quickly evolved degraded into a highly technical nerd-fest. I finally felt the need to dust off my engineering degree and prove to him that the best angle for the guard is ninety degrees.

I'll spare you the boring details, but the summary of my argument is as the angle of the guard brings it closer to the hook point, less force is required to expose the point and your chance of snags increases. However the force a fish can apply with it's mouth will always be sufficient to overcome the strength of the monofilament regardless of angle.

Update: I just realized I wasted my 100th post on this crap. 100.....that's pretty good I guess.

May 19, 2009

The secret weapon is on-line

Last Saturday was not the best day to be on the water. We'd had about 5 inches of rain in the previous three days combined, the wind was howling from the northwest and the clouds disappeared mid-morning. None the less, Kerr and I ventured out in search of some fish. I'd previously fished three of the five lakes my club offers, so the plan was to give number four a chance. Our drive became complicated rather suddenly; it seems the heavy rain was the straw that broke Spoon River's back and sent it out over the banks....way over. Our third crossing attempted proved to be successful and we arrived at the lake about a half hour later than planned to find no where to hide from the wind. Plan B was one of the lakes I've hit twice before with limited luck, but I knew there was sufficient wind protection to make fly fishing possible, difficult but possible.

The primary intent of the trip was to get Kerr acquainted with fly casting. He has a Montana trip planned next month where he'll be hoping to catch trout, but prior to Saturday his fly fishing experience was limited to my back yard. From this perspective, I'd say the trip was a success. The fly rod was rough on him for some time before he finally started to get the hang of it later in the day. The only problem was he never caught a fish. Don't worry though, I didn't let that get in my way.

I ended the day with seven fish, plus a little eight inch bass we decided shouldn't count. The largest weighed in at just two and a half pounds, I suspect she'd have weighed three had I found her the previous weekend.

The hot ticket for me was Senkos fished as close to shore as I could get them - sometimes just inches. This lake is normally quite clear but with the rain taking visibility to a few inches I never saw any beds, but with the locations these fish came from I'd say they were actively spawning. Bait color didn't seem to matter much, but over the past few years I've learned to not bother throwing light colored Senkos. I'm not sure how something without a little black would have faired. I was just pleased that my favorite lure is out of retirement and deadly once again.

We got back with just minutes left before post time at Pimlico. I had showed Nick how to fly fish and promptly returned the favor by teaching me how to lose ten bucks on the ponies.

May 15, 2009

How I tie Clouser Mad Tom flies

In giddy anticipation of tomorrows fly fishing trip with Kerr, I decided to tie a few extra bass flies. As you know by now, one of my favorites so far is the Clouser Mad Tom fly. After tying a couple, I decided to record a video of how I tie my version of this great fly. I say this is my version because I've never looked up proper tying instructions. I saw a picture on the web, did my best to emulate it and caught fish on it. Whether or not this is right (maybe someone out there will know) I can guarantee it'll catch some fish for you.

May 13, 2009

You're blind, I'm blind...where the hell are we?

Kerr has been called up to the big leagues. He's planning a fly fishing trip to Montana next month, but he's got a problem to solve first - Kerr has never fly fished. I told him that I'm no casting expert and I don't know the first thing about catching trout, but I can try to show him how to cast and he'll have to figure out the rest.

You can see in the video he had some line management issues, we are working on that too. By the end of the night he was getting the hang of it but it was too dark for video proof.

The weatherman is forecasting rain this weekend; so I think we'll have blue skies when Kerr and I try to turn fly casting practice into fly fishing practice on the lake. I'll post the results of Saturday's trip, hopefully I won't be writing about my new piercing.

May 9, 2009

West Frankfort HS claims it's first state championship ever.

West Frankfort HS has won the first high school bass fishing state tournament. They launched this morning sitting in 6th place and had nearly five pounds to make up to claim the trophy. Plenty has already been written and I am kinda sleepy. So....good night!

Click here for final results.
Click here for Jeff Lampe's Story.
Click here for Dale Bowmans's Story.
Click here for Les Winkeler's Story.

Illinois High School Bass Fishing State Tourney Today

Updated: 9 May 2009 at 2:30pm central

Yesterday while casually following the action from the comfort of a 8x8 padded cell cubicle I checked the weather forecast for Carlyle. The radar showed a strong storm blowing through southern Illinois and I suspected it was causing trouble for the boys and girls fishing Carlyle lake. I'm wishing I took a screen shot of the radar because it looked like a hurricane. Officials sent out word at about 10:15 that boats were to report to the nearest marina to wait out the storm. After a short three hours fishing (might seem long to non-angles, but us die hearts understand how short a three hour outing is) only twenty teams had fish to weigh. Reportedly four teams dumped fish after being called off the water due to confusion about how the rule book handles rain delays. The central Illinois teams I'm rooting for had nothing to show, I hope that changes today because they have some serious ground to make up.

St. Charles north is leading the pack leading into this second day of fishing and today's weather shouldn't hamper the 52 team tourney. It's covered heavily by so I'm not going get too specific about the results. My main goal is get the word out about this tournament so I'm providing some links below to people on the ground in Carlyle.

I do want to mention one thing though...with one day from a two day tourney under his belt, Derrick Hoffman of St. Charles North was asked about his success. His reply of “I caught them on hooks north of the dam,” is priceless. Carlyle lake is an Army Corp of Engineers reservoir and the dam is on the south end of the lake, he was trying to keep a tight lip but I wouldn't be surprised if the St. Charles North boat has some company where ever it goes today. Here are some pictures (that I'm shamelessly hotlinking) and links to more info. Check back often today, I'll keep updating my blog.

Links (I'll update as I find them):

May 7, 2009

In which the author experiences discomfort and his companion finds cool comfort from the water.

Yesterday I noticed Dave wrapping things up in his corner of our cubicle. Then in the corner of my eye I noticed him standing there looking at me. "Want to go fishing?" was the question. "Yes," was the answer. "Dave can be quite persuasive," was the excuse that induced a fit of eye rolling later. The clouds growled at me when I climbed from the truck. The thermometer read 74, so I put on my thermal socks, flannel lined jeans and hoodie. Dave and I are both rookies in the world of wading and we were about to get nipple deep in Banner Marsh to expand our skills.

Sure we caught a couple fish but in the process we both learned lessons involving our level of manliness
manhood. My lesson came on violently while Dave was still peacefully taking in the surroundings, learning his lesson slowly. In the past I learned to take small steps while wading and that cool water intensifies any urination needs that were simply hints a few minutes ago. Yesterday, while filming Dave's catch I realized that standing waist deep in water makes impossible my ability to address any ... uh ... "personal itches" that arise.

As mentioned Dave's wading lesson came slowly and didn't become evident until the end. While I emerged like an army private on leave from Thailand, he emerged looking like a 2nd grader on a long bus ride. While he took in his surroundings, he was taking on his surroundings through a hole in the crotch of his waders.

PS. both fish came on Clouser Mad Toms. Mine on a purple/yellow pattern that gave me flashbacks given the wind situation. Dave's on the green/red pattern you see in the video.

May 4, 2009

Swim lessons in walleye hell

I've been purposefully, perhaps secretly, avoiding my new swimbaits this year. I've heard so much hype about soft body (or hollow) swimbaits lately I didn't want to see them fail. I've been waiting for the tough spring fishing to turn into hot summer action before they come out. I hadn't planned on throwing swimbaits this past Saturday, but Scott cracked a dandy (thanks Jonn) on his Berkley hollow body...

I had to give it a shot...

Mine weighed in at three and a quarter pounds and came on a Shadilicious swimbait in the Neon Ghost pattern with a 5/0 weighted Mustad. I'll let you decide if this was a big male or a post spawn female. It came from a shallow section of the lake where normally thick weeds keep anglers out. This one was was deep in the reeds and hit on impact (no tail wagging required), then swam right at me so it took a second or too for me to figure it out. I do know, this fish put up the best fight I've had so far this year, including the 3.8 pounder I battled on my fly rod.

This particular lake was recently referred to as walleye heaven by a friend of Scott's, and we're both intrigued by a new fishing style. So shortly after reeling in the above fish we set out to catch some. Scott has never fished for walleye; my sauger experience is limited to some fish I caught many years ago on the Illinois river and a walleye accident in Wisconsin. We didn't know the first thing about where to find Walleye on this still water, even though I suspected we should be able to get them on crank baits once we found them. The strategy we selected was trolling; I pulled a Walleye Diver, and Scott dragged a jig. Turns out searching for fish is real boring. I vote we don't do that again until one of us get on a lake with a walleye expert. Any tips from cyberspace?

Any tips on convincing Scott that waking up at 4am sucks the fun out of a good day on the lake?

May 1, 2009

This rule is not meant to be broken

In the summer of 2003 I started fishing in earnest. My first rod was an ultra-light, I don't remember the brand. That rod was seriously undersized for the river fishing we did back then so I wasn't surprised when it met it's maker. That rod was quickly replaced with a cheap (college budget style) 6'6" medium action Shakespeare and the new rod is still my favorite despite all the rods I've since bought. This rod is the reason I've often preached talked about my strategy in shopping for rods and reels. I've fished enough to appreciate a high quality reel, and this Shakespeare has seen three reel upgrades over the years but the rod is going strong. Despite my ever refining taste in equipment, I still see no need to sling a high price rod. A couple weeks ago I was looking at some pictures and I was reminded of the rod customization I made years ago.

I painted tick marks every one inch on the rod. If my memory serves, and it often doesn't, there are 37 marks. I seem to remember that number not because I remember deciding 37 notches was a good number, but because I once caught a gar that was slightly longer than my last mark, so we figured about 38".

I guess the point of this post is two fold. To give you a tip on how to always have a ruler handy and for me to reminisce about all the fish this rod and I have seen. And I'd have truly failed at my job if I failed to mention the time this rod and I snagged something interesting off the bottom of the Illinois River backwater we fished. A few weeks after snapping the first rod and while fishing in about the same place, I reeled in half of an ultra-light rod.