Oct 30, 2010

A Fall Fishing Cap

On my way to a favorite Mackinaw River fishing spot, I spied some litter on the ground and picked it up. It was a product label listing the safe way to use a tree stand.  I looked straight up and spied this...

I had walked up and stopped directly under a stand.  I would never have noticed if I had not bent over to pick up some litter. Good thing the stand was empty; this is another reminder why I wear a "fall fishing cap" this time of year.

I know deer hunters are generally careful when they pull an arrow, but I also know that is not always the case.

Oct 23, 2010


I'd like to start this one off by wishing myself a happy birthday, I've earned it after all.

As 2010 winds down, I've found myself with a vacation day surplus, which is an oddity.  We operate under a "use it or lose it" policy, so what better way to celebrate the big day than to make it a three day weekend?  A plan for the day formulated quickly; I decided to hit the Mackinaw and finally write my name in the Illinois record books with a record longear sunfish.

In a move reminiscent of drinking school college, I kicked off the long weekend with a Thursday fly tying session.  From experience, I know the longear sunfish like the Adams dry fly so I tied a few wingless versions to try as well.  I also whipped up a weighted few I thought the carp might like if I were so lucky as to find them where I left them.  This picture will also mark the beginning of the 2010-11 fly tying season - time to stock up!

I started off the vay-cay-day by sleeping all the way until 7:00am and then taking my sweet time to eat breakfast, drink coffee, watch TV and load the truck.  By the time I made it out the door around 9:00, the mercury had finally crept up into the 40's but I packed a hoody - just in case.  What a terrible reminder about the beginning of the end, there is so much I have left to accomplish this year.

I made my way to the spot I think is the most likely hole to catch a longear.  Things started off cold and I was glad for the hoody - the wind blew, I couldn't bear being in the cool water and tying knots was difficult.  I resolved to not wade again this year without a minimum of thermal socks and flannel-lined jeans.  Eventually the air warmed up, but the fishing never did.  After trying the Adams, the spinner, a pencil popper, and a bass popper I finally struck pay dirt with a white and yellow woolly bugger.

It is the nicest bronze I've managed in a long time and it felt good, but it was no longear and a tinge of disappoint was beginning to set in.  I fished a total of eight hours and tried about every fly I brought. I also missed a few takes...longears no doubt.

The quest will continue. We picked up some rain today and yesterday's 18cfs has almost doubled now...string a few of those together and there might be enough water to fully submerge a nymph.

Oct 20, 2010

The Dreaded Focus Delay

Many years ago, my parents immigrated to Illinois.  It was no doubt a long a grueling journey but they settled and since the beginning of my time, I have regularly made the trek south to visit those they sadly left behind...in central Missouri.  The Mississippi River has always provided comfort on the trip, as crossing it meant the trip was half complete.

Near our Old Man River crossing point and this side of the border sits the small town of Atlas.  In the small town of Atlas sits the General Store.  In front of the General Store sits a peculiar sign.  The sign has read the same for at least a decade, maybe more.  The only change is the recent disappearance of the letter R.  From the time I started this blog the sign has called me to pull over and take a picture and the last time through I planned ahead.  A couple miles down the road I pulled out my phone, fired up the handy camera function and steadied the shot on the steering wheel.  I slowed, aimed and took the picture.

The picture sucks - I mean it really sucks.  You can clearly see the dash reflection, the bugs are in focus and there is a hint of motion blur.  Even worse: I failed to take the picture I had composed due to the blasted delay between when I pushed the button and when the picture was captured.  All that effort to anticipate the sign and be prepared with camera phone in hand, only to be foiled again by focus delay!

Can you make out what it says?  "Eat Here Get Worms"

I should have stopped, gotten out the real camera and taken a good picture. Had I done that, I might have managed something classy like this, this, this or even this.  Would it make a more interesting post?  I like my version, it really highlights the true nature of using camera phones.

Oct 19, 2010

I Feel So Dirty

By now everyone reading this knows about Outdoor Blogger Network.  In the off chance you do not, make sure to click the logo to see what they can do for you.  If you're into reading blogs, they can help.  If you're into blogging about the outdoors, they can help.  If you run an outdoor oriented business, they can help.

OBN was launched on Oct 18th, 2010 by two fellow bloggers: Joe from Flowing Waters and Rebecca from Outdooress.  They jointly developed a vision, which I can paraphrase into "create a centralized place for the best outdoor related blogs and to create a common voice for outdoor bloggers."  What's more, they've actually executed their vision.

And what fine execution it is.  OBN fell like a cannon ball onto the interweb yesterday and the shock waves are still bouncing into the furthest reaches of the globe.  Every nook and cranny is being scoured for blogs, and their rep is growing like Stay Puft.  Most of the traffic seems to be generated by a well timed give-a-way in which you can get some swag for spreading the word (I know...this post will get me a couple contest entries. I'm such a whore).  They promise more contests in the future, as well as writing and photography prompts which I look forward too with glee.  I wouldn't even be surprised if we also see awards for Best Blog, Best Supporting Blog, and Best Original Soundtrack.

The OBN directory is growing at a rate I'm sure no one expected, in fact the "Newest Members" post for this week was canceled due to length.  Right now my mind is running in circles trying to read them all - I'm sure Rebecca and Joe are running in circles too. Surely their pupils have constricted to a micron, their desks are covered with Little Debbie wrappers and their families are starting that "shifty-eye worried look."  There is so much traffic hitting that site right now you'd be a fool to ignore.

So if you keep a blog (they're currently heavy on fishing and light on everything else) get over there and grab a piece of the hot action. No matter what you do outside, there is something for you.


To Rebecca and Joe,
Talk about rolling out of a warm bed and into the frying pan.  Keep up the good work, you've got some steam built and you may think you can't keep the pace.  Just roll with the punches and you'll soon find a groove.  If you need help, I think you have plenty of people to ask.  I'm sure you'll soon see natural light again - you might even fish again in your lifetime.

Oct 18, 2010

Dirty Secrets

I haven't hit the water in almost two weeks (don't worry that will soon change), but I have a hankering to write something.  So here I go with my second consecutive "not fishing" post.

It may be hard to believe, but I do not live fishing 24/7.  As such, there are certain blogs I've secretly enjoyed for some time and today my skeletons will get wiggling room.  Here (in alphabetical order) are the places I go when I desire lighter fare and I think no one is looking.  There are others, but these are regularly updated.  All pictures are graciously borrowed from the source so click the picture or link to see more.

People of Walmart
This camera phone collection give a peak into the world normally available only to those in a blue vest.  Regularly updated with pictures of Walmart patrons, the witty commentary is included free of charge.  You know the type: those worthy of a candid shot and visit to church.  If you want quick and thoughtless relief from the Mondays, look no further than People of Walmart.  This site is updated multiple times per day, so don't feel bad if you can't keep up.

Peoria in Pictures
Lola (I presume the name is correct) moved to my hometown in 2007 and has been providing some great photography of the places I hold dear.  If you're into photography, the common community link is not required.  Just click and enjoy a master at work.  Side note: my big sister was wed in the church featured above.

The concept is simple.  Strangers across the globe mail their deepest darkest secrets to Frank.  The only rule is the secret must be anonymous and sent on a postcard. There are bonus points for hand crafted cards.  Every Sunday Frank whittles down the entries and sends a handful of secrets out to the world, thereby liberating the secret holder.  Mouse over each post card to see "Easter eggs" and be prepared for deep thoughts about things you're hiding, perhaps from yourself.

If you're familiar with Etsy, you'll not be surprised a blog such as this exists.  Etsy provides a global market for starving artists to sell the craft they would otherwise find to be a tough sell - I personally know a few artists who list on Etsy and can testify on it's effectiveness.  However, art would be nothing if not often bizarre and Regretsy seeks out the wild and crazy stuff being sold.  "Helen Killer" pulls no punches in her commentary, so please click with a mind open for in-your-face comedy.

The Big Picture
Another excellent photography blog, this one hosted by the Boston Globe.  Each entry features numerous photographs taken by professionals with fancy cameras and access to events the common man dreams about.  It's not strange for the pictures to document the latest breaking news, as evidenced by recent photographs from the Chilean mine rescue and gulf oil spill. The only way to describe these full size beauties is "breath taking."

Oct 9, 2010

A Different Kind of Muscle

Deviating from the advertised content of this blog, I can't help but become excited as the upland season nears. The warm weather weekend continued today, what better time to warm up the shooting muscles on something that flies straight.  The next time my gun sees a shell, it will hopefully be much colder and the target will dance masterfully around my pattern.

We didn't shoot a lot, just enough to remember how hard it is. Also this may have been my wife's first attempt at skeet, she did great.

Moules à Bruxelles

Hint: I'm Wearing Green
 If you ever find yourself on Grand Platz, I strongly encourage a step from comfort.

I journeyed to Brussels four years ago and I recall the mussels as both delicious and pricey.  Sold by the pound and my recent outing was worth the petrol.

And I Left It One Truck Lighter

The Dusty Trail
The recent cold spell broke wide open, leaving weekend temperatures in the mid eighties.  Such an event calls for certain protocols at work.  Three ski boats in the parking lot confirmed I wasn't the only one planning a weather shortened work day.  By noon the lot was sparse and I left it one truck lighter.

Fall Fishing Cap

Last time on the Mackinaw, the dove hunters reminded I'll be sharing the state park for the fall, so Friday I donned my "fall fishing cap."  Wearing orange to fish seems odd, but upon arrival the crack of plastic antler on plastic antler carved out the "don't fish here" zone and a little blaze is insurance against those I can't hear.

Dam or Jam, You Decide
Flows were low, 18cfs is a far cry from the 1400 I attempted last spring.  In areas my fly drifted with the wind....up stream.  A beaver dam really slowed things down but provided a fishable acre of deep water.  The beaver and I weren't the only ones fishing the pool either; from a couple hundred yards I could see the heron's hasty exit spook about six carp from the shallow muck.  I came here for the smallies but recently I've had a hankering to fight carp with my fly rod.  Time for a change of plans.

Watchful Eye
I've never fished for carp, so I quickly found myself in the midst of serious improvisation.  After slipping quietly in the pool, it was clear I'd have to wait silently for them to forget me and return to range.  From my look out, I could spot about 20 shadows cruising the pool in pods of three to five.  Some were clearly common, but I could not help but imagine the rest were Asians.

I Picture Does No Justice
Eventually I had a chance and ruined it with a clumsy cast....back to the waiting game.  I'd like to to remind you I'm not a carper, so this scene repeated itself for hours.  They'd come in, I'd make a cast and they would either spook or refuse.  The only exception being a short and obviously pointless fight after a carp made a lazy take on my floating fly line - about twenty feet this side of the leader.  I was in search mode with my fly box - every other refusal prompting a change.  Nymphs, dries, poppers and furry things - nothing seemed to do so I resolved to research and come back better prepared.

More carp were stacked up below the dam and my presentation here was a little better received.  A couple takes on a bass popper came up empty so I down sized to lighter hook on a foam spider.  The next cast caused brief excitement but the fish lacked the fight for which I hoped from a big carp.

Not a Carp
I refer to myself as a bass angler and I refer to this as a bass fishing blog; I suppose I made my own bed long ago.  Catching carp my require reclassification to "multi-species angler."

Oct 3, 2010

Lotsa Littluns

I brought a bass rod, but yesterday at Snakeden Hollow was all about rod bending fun with my ultralight, and the little pole got a work out.  It was a great day of hiking and fishing. The pictures will tell the tale; it is a long tale.

I spotted this on the way out, no wonder I was alone....