Dec 31, 2010

Great For Any Decor

This year I sat out of the family's Christmas gift exchange. Had I played, this Bass Wine Holder would now be mine.  I'm sure She would even allow it to be displayed in the garage where the decor is..."rustic."

If you would like to win, it is sound advice to play.

Dec 30, 2010

"My Wife Would Like That"

Cool concept, but somehow the Wunder Boner never hit the big time.  I wunder why... that Mike Rowe's voice?

Dec 28, 2010

The Best of What You Missed - 2010 Edition

2010 is nearly over and what a year it was. Looking back, this was a pretty good year and I've accomplished a great deal. I landed a personal best large mouth, continued my evolution as a fly angler, purchased a kayak and caught a potential record fish. This blog picked up some readers along the way, so here (my 90th post of the year) is a quick recap: the best of what you missed....

I kicked things off with a doozy. Evolution of an Angler or Art on the Riverbanks is an introspective look at what it means to seek a mastery level of angling. I explored how my fishing life has progressed through different phases, much like many of us. In the end I discovered something about myself. My conclusion may leave you scratching your own head.

In January, my Little Boat Library expanded by one with the purchase of a Native Mantra Ray 11. The sit-on-top kayak ranks above all other angling related purchases I have made. The yak is light enough to handle without help and fits in the bed of my truck. I loved the flexibility this boat gave me so much the aluminum Starcraft never left this garage in 2010.

With purchase of a kayak, I was once again forced to navigate the complicated process of licensing a boat in Illinois. This was my third time through the system and the myriad of forms, protocols and regulations was fraying my last nerve. The situation left me with a new appreciation for the Department of Motor Vehicles, where the lines are long and the workers unfriendly. Based on the comments, I'm far from being alone with my frustration.

By March, I was once again beginning to believe the world would thaw. I took an opportunity to scope out an urban creek in my town and was disappointed to say the least. The only ripple I saw could have been either a fish rising or a bird crapping...tough to say for sure. It also wasn't the last time I saw a No Trespassing sign this year. This one left me wishing for a lookout.

1 - A fish can not be considered caught, and therefore added to the official daily tally, until... In April, I wrote a post outlining some basic rules to determine if a hooked fish is also a caught fish. In this post I set forth The Rule, which decided at least one "big fish contest" this year. Little did I know this post was destined to become the post most capable of generating organic traffic to this site. Who knew there were so many people Googling "how to know if you caught a fish?" The answer is plenty.

After months of rumors and murmurs, I recieved an interesting visitor to this page. The visitor was from Springfield, MO and had arrived after searching "central Illinois fly fishing." The hit led me to speculate that Bass Pro Shops was serious about setting up shop here. About a week later they officially announced the location of a new store: East Peoria, IL. I know it's not really that exciting, but I felt pretty good about getting advanced warning.

Dave and I stumbled blindly into some unknown water and had a great time with ultra-lights and a load of eager fish. The experience caused some reflection on how an angler approaches new water and eventually masters it. This one is all about what you know and what you don't.

I used my 200th post to do the first ever (as far as you know) text message recap of some great fishing. The exchange between Scott and I occurred in the middle of some serious topwater action: me catching 6 fish in a half hour. I think it really captures the excitement of the moment. That outing ended with me receiving the best outdoors man's tip ever....
5:52pm - Clif: [picture message fish #2 shown above]
6:10pm - Scott: Not too bad
6:11pm - Scott: U need over 4 lol

On my last outing, I met Randy. Randy changed my life; he handed over the best tip ever for dealing with those pesky buffalo gnats. If you have ever experienced their tiny bites and tenacity you know what I'm talking about. Be warned: it is best to avoid the glitter variety.

The fourth annual Toothless Beaver fishing trip to Lake Delavan, WI was a huge success this year. Multiple lunkers over four pounds were landed, including my personal best of 5.1 pounds. This fish loved my big ten inch and prompted the first Lunker Alert.

In August I let this fish go but kept a thought in the back of my head. After I got home, some internet research revealed I had released a potential Illinois state record fish that day. Why it was a potential record is not the reason you may guess, but this day kicked off a record fish quest to continue in the new year. A couple weeks down the road and I hooked another potential record, but let it go due to foul hooking.

In September I had a chance to throw flies at big dumb trout. When I say big, I mean BIG. Think 4-6 pounders stacked shoulder to shoulder and eager to eat anything that moved. These fish live in a pond where fishing is normally not allowed, but it was opened for one day of pure unadulterated awesomeness. It was a great experience for a good cause and left me wishing Illinois had better trout fishing prospects.

On election day I was steeped in disenchantment, so I perked myself up by sharing a video from my brand new Kodak PlaySport camera. The fishing that day was terrible, but I now own an HD camera...but no HD television. Someday I'll have some sweet fish fighting/landing/releasing footage to share, but this will have to do.

In late November I was given the opportunity to review a great product. RIO's new smallmouth bass fly line was given to me free of charge, all I had to do was try it out and let you know what I thought. Click on the picture to find out what I thought.

In December I was feeling a touch under the weather and had a bit of that other feeling we all get in the winter time. You know, I was feeling like I had to get out and do something. Instead, I posted the strangest thing I've done all year and no one was quite sure what to think about it.

Still feeling crumby and confined, I took advantage of a vacation day to complete a vile task and write another odd post. The task for the day: washing those dirty fishing shorts I wore all year. It normally wouldn't be to bad, but this was their first washing of the year.
Smells like fish

And finally, I ended the year by offering a couple hand carved bass bugs up as a give away. That contest is still ongoing (until Jan. 7th) and you can click here to enter.

So there you have it. 2010 is in the books and I'm quite happy with it. Stay tuned to see what I aim to accomplish in the next 365...

Dec 22, 2010

Give Away - Topwater Bass Bugs

It is time for Lunker Hunt's first ever membership drive free stuff give-away!  I'm pleased to offer a chance to win two hardwood bass bugs.  They are hand shaped, tied and painted by yours truly and will look splendid in your fly box, on the water or in a tree.  The offering is shown in the pictures below, they aren't perfect but they'll catch fish.  I guarantee you'll never see anything like them...even I can't make two exactly alike.

Early on I figured out foam and balsa poppers are not meant to be drug through grass and bounced off of logs.  I was continually purchasing poppers to refill the box.  I finally made my first popper about two years ago. That particular popper has never seen a drop of water, but since then I have made a few more (you can see examples here, here, here, and here.)  Some of those have been fished and I've learned a thing or two about making sure they are castable and durable.

The top two pictures show the hardwood popper in orange and black with a red mouth.  All this on a #6 Tiemco TMC 8089 nickel plated hook.  The second two pictures show the hardwood diver in white and silver with red eyes.  This is set on the same hook.  Click here for fair warning about the size of these flies, a #6 TMC 8089 hook is approximately the size of most other 1/0 or 2/0'll need something bigger than a 3wt to horse this through the air.  Also, I can not guarantee it but you may have some success casting these with an ultra-light spinning rod....

So by now you are asking yourself, "Self, how do I get my hands on them there fancy bass plugs?"  The answer is simple, you may qualify up to four times...just follow these simple steps:

1. Leave a comment on this post telling me what price you would expect if you happened across these plugs at your favorite fly shop along side their foam and balsa brethren.  Please be honest; I am sure I would lose my ass if I ever tried to turn a profit (something about minimum wages and barriers to entry).  However, I enjoy making these so I might just try to sell them some day as a hobby.

2. This one is easy, just follow the Lunker Hunt blog by clicking the "follow" button over there on the right.  If you already do there is no need to follow again.  If you prefer to use an alternate feed reader (and I know there are some of you) that will work too.  In any case, leave a comment so we know you've secured yourself a lifetime subscription.

3. Go to the Lunker Hunt facebook page and leave a comment on the update for this giveaway. Make it your favorite joke, anecdote, pun, original limerick, etc.  This is your chance to nurture that creative nugget lodged in your gut, so do your best to make everyone laugh. I think you can even upload pictures, so an original piece of MSPaint art will also fullfill the requirements of #2.  Once you've done that, come back here and leave a comment stating you've done so.

4. Have a fishing buddy come to this post and leave a good-natured comment explaining why you are not qualified to own such fine tackle.  This will count as an entry for you (not the buddy).  If you are lucky he/she will ask you to return the favor.  Brownie points will be awarded for jabs about rod length, inferior genes, etc.  Make sure they include your user name or a picture of your birthmark so I know who was insulted won.

That's all it takes! The first two are easy, and you can complete as many or as few as you like.

Qualifying closes at 11:59pm (Illinois time) on January 7th, 2011. Any comments left after this time will be appreciated but not eligible.  On or about (I'm pretty forgetful) January 8th, I'll leave it up to the random number generating gods.  If the gods choose a comment not satisfying the requirements set forth above they will draw again.  If anything else goes wrong, it will be up to my best judgment to make this a fair fight.

I'll create a new post announcing and congratulating the winner. Both the popper and the diver will be awarded to one person based on the comment number corresponding to the RNG selection.  The rest of you will be left with nothing but a dream of the day I do this again.

Dec 21, 2010

An Act So Vile

I was left home alone today....all day....alone.  I spent some time on a new Lunker Hunt logo (isn't it pretty?), winterized the four-wheeler, shoveled the sidewalk and took care of one nasty task.  Seeing as the missus had vacated the premises, I took the opportunity to perform an act so vile I dare not undertake it while she is within a five mile radius.  In fact, I am reluctant to admit this to the world...

Smells like fish
I washed my fishing shorts.

The only thing worse is laundering the "unmentionables," but I normally just throw those out - so this is as bad as it gets.  The shorts flew solo through our Kenmore set and the house once again smells of dog.

They used to be navy blue, but a few years of mud, sunshine and fish slime have given them a permanent two-tone look.  With this year's arsenal addition of a kayak, things became worse due to my constant seated position; the prime position for collecting crud.

This was the first washing of 2010....thank goodness for vacation days because I almost missed it this year.

In which some 'splainin is done

So my last post was a little strange, even I will admit it.  Judging by the traffic/comment ratio I am guessing most of you didn't know what to make of you just ignored it.  It did garner two comments:  One to make sure I knew it was weird (I did but thank you.)  The other commenter hinted he might have understood my direction, but he one-upped the weirdness level so we'll never know for sure.  Perhaps I gots some 'splainin to do for the rest of you.

First off, let me say it is extremely challenging to keep a fishing blog lively during the winter months.  I am not much for ice fishing and this year I vowed to post fewer pictures of my crumby hand tied that leaves me with about zilch to talk about.  I have had the idea for the last post swirling in my head for months.  It was just waiting for the right moment to come out.  Well...the right moment came with a side of writer's block.

I think we should consider that post an introspective. The only purpose was to remind myself to not be lazy.  As a profession I'm paid to sit in a cube and toe the line; creativity isn't always an asset.  Lunker Hunt is a training ground where I sharpen my wits and express myself.  Due to my personality, I constantly battle the urge to make a few dozen "fill in the blank posts" per year.

Well I've gotten it off my chest and I'd say the burden was lifted somewhat successfully.  Since posting, I picked up one more "blogger follower" (the big six-oh) and two new Facebook fans.  Plus I'm now feeling a little creativity pulsing as I plot stage my next post.  I think it'll more than make up for my past transgressions.

Now the question I need answered is whether the holiday season is a good time to post...or if I should save this until 2011.  Do you guys have plans for this weekend or will you be killing time in front of the 'puter?

Dec 19, 2010

[Lake Name] [Date]

Had a ______ day today at _______ Lake/River.  The weather man/woman was wrong again when he/she predicted ________ and _______.  Instead we had _______ and _______ in the morning which turned over to _______ later in the day.

Started the day by waking up at _______ and grabbing some _______ to-go on the way.  Hit the water at _______ and started throwing a _______ into the _______ section of water.  It didn't get much attention so I switched to a _______ and managed this little/big guy:

That fish weighed  _______ and was _______ inches long.  Put up a _______ fight but my _______ rod handled it nicely/poorly.  After that the fishing was _______ and/but I had a great time.  Had a chance to talk with _______ who said he/she is from _______.  This was his/her _______ time fishing there and was willing to tell me what was/wasn't biting.

I called it quits at _______ and fished my way back to the ramp/put-in.  All-in-all it was a _______ day with _______weather and even _______ fishing.

Dec 7, 2010

Come On Santa, Be Good To Me

The long skinny shiny box would hold a Sage Smallmouth fly rod with which to shoot lasers.  I've thrown Streamstalker's and I am in love with this rod.  I've not felt anything like it; it's almost as if the line is repelled from the tip like a lady from a public restroom.

The rectangular box would hold a fish finder for my kayak.  I'm not sure how I would mount the transducer but I have a will; there must be a way.  I don't need anything fancy and any model will work.  I just want something I can use with a kayak.

My stocking contains a clue; a little help in life. Such valuable incite about fishing is never spoken and never fully understood. I'll never grasp it all, but a little help would be greatly appreciated.  With this knowledge I'll reach angling enlightenment and the world will be as clear as a spring creek.

The envelope contains coordinates for the secret spot.  The spot I won't even take friends.  A place where the bite is timid, the fishing is tough and the pull is strong.  The place where I've never before fished and I have all the time in the world to learn and disect it's weaknesses.

My Christmas night's dream contains a corporate sponsorship.  [Your company's name here] was gracious enough to sponsor me on a year away from the cubicle farm workplace.  I'll travel the country with my truck, kayak and tent. Fishing, camping, taking pictures and writing about the experiences and people I encounter along the way.

Dec 3, 2010

For My Other True Love

It is hard to fish the still water when flies land with a thud.  On the other hand, it's easy to find pockets when they are the only water iced up.

I'm hanging up the rod for my other true love...the snow shovel.  You may find it sick and disturbing but I freaking love to shovel snow.  Got my first shoveling in tonight and it was a pretty good one.  I think I'll do it again in the morn.