Friday, February 29, 2008

Fish Art Collection Expanding Quickly!

I've written here before about the stunning trout illustrations of Jared Miller. I'm proud to say my very own Jared Miller original arrived today. He had sent me a photo of it, my very first brook trout from Maryland's North Branch of the Potomac, but photos can not do justice to the remarkable detail. I can't wait to get it framed and display it proudly.

My father in law Bill gave me this beautiful gift, a print by Linda Roberts. I've always been fascinated by watercolor. Possibly because although I've been an artist at some capacity my entire life, I have never been able to grasp watercolor. My brain just doesn't work that way. But I'm glad to have this example heading off to the framers as well. (The awkward angle of the photo here was the only way I could get a picture without the glare of the flash.)

What's Spanish for 'Lunker?'

So my buddy Matt emails me today with an offer that, without pictures, would have seemed silly. His friend John (that's John in the photo) went bass fishing down in Mexico and had a great time. We should go, Matt suggested. Well, first of all, if I went fishing in Mexico, surely I'd be fly fishing for some exotic roosterfish or mountain brown trout, right? I mean people don't go to Mexico for BASS! Do they?

Well they sure do and not only can I not blame them, but I'm thinking Matt's offer to join John on his next trip might be a pretty great time. The place is Anglers Inn, and they offer all inclusive packages with insane numbers of huge bass, and some business about an open bar (a dangerous proposition with Matt and I involved).

These fish like topwater lures, so I bet a popper on a fly rod would be a ton of fun. I've never been south of the border, but it might just be a double-digit pound bass that lures me there!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Extremely Efficient Trout Catching Machine

It's a little expensive, but if you can afford it, you can now rent the Troutsucker 2000, a highly advanced fish vacuum that can catch fish at an astounding rate!

Okay, in actuality this is a very cool stocking done by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. They can stock thousands of rainbow and brown trout using a helicopter and this specialized lift bucket, shown here at the lower Saluda River near Columbia. But either way, that's one wild ride for a trout who spent his whole life eating pellets in a hatchery!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

More Rose River Fun

At this point I run the risk of sounding like a commercial for Rose River Farm. It has quickly become one of my very favorite places to fish for trout, and on this trip I not only caught some of the finest trout I've ever landed, but I added yet another species to my 'caught on a fly' list by catching one of the largemouth bass in the pond there. In addition, Douglas and I broke out the 16 gauges and went through an entire box of clay targets! The fact that it was a nearly 70 degree day in the middle of February added quite a bit to the enjoyment of the day.

So, let me get out of the way here and let some pictures do the talking...

The two rainbows pictured above are two of the nicest trout I've ever caught.

Matt had trouble landing this fish. Luckily some whalers were passing through and saw the commotion and helped out with one of their nets.

Enzo. Ridiculous. My favorite dog that doesn't live in my house.

Curved line meets straight line. Ross with a nice fish on.

My first largemouth bass ever!

Douglas has the perfect area set up to practice with some clays.

Douglas' stunning new Kimber side-by-side. I tried it about twenty times and broke approximately one target with it. Douglas was considerably more accomplished with it.

My Winchester Model 12 saw some action too. I still am not very good with it, but much, much better than I am with the side-by-side!

This lovable guy takes over as Biggest Dork on the Farm when Enzo isn't there.

I don't think a person could get much more out of a February day in Virginia.

New Toy!

I've waited a couple weeks to avoid that thing like when you come back from a concert and confidently declare "That was the best show EVER!" only to realize a day later that, well, it was really pretty average. But I think it's safe now to declare: this is my favorite. Car. Ever.

I got the Toyota FJ Cruiser and absolutely love it. I just took it down to Rose River Farm and packed it full of fly fishing and shooting gear and it holds a ton. The Rodloft Pro holds my 8'6" Orvis T3 perfectly, with a couple of inches to spare at either end.

There's literally nothing I don't like about this vehicle. If you're like me and they've caught your eye for a couple of years (the color of this one is called Sandstorm), do yourself a favor and check one out. But make it easy on yourself - empty out the glovebox of your old car before you go, you probably won't be driving it home.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Three new species...on one fly!

I spent a few days on the west coast of Florida, and had a chance to fish with Captain Paul Hobby in the waters around Ft. Myers and Sanibel Island. Unfortunately the weather was not ideal for fishing, a cold front had moved in and the winds were, by my fly fishing standards anyway, howling.

But Paul worked hard to get me on some fish, and before long I started catching a wide variety. The funny thing is, I not only caught three species that I've never caught on the fly before, but I did it using the same actual fly!

The highlight of the day was a fish that quickly doubled over the 8-weight Temple Fork I was using, and took a bunch of fly line in a hurry. If I didn't know better I would have thought I had a Steelhead on the line! As I got it closer to the boat Paul identified it as a pretty good sized ladyfish. Sometimes called a 'poor man's tarpon,' this fish had sides like a mirror! Sadly, while I was trying to figure out a way to grab it so Paul could snap a photo, he shook the fly out of his mouth and got away. I don't know how much he weighed, they are pretty skinny, but it was at least 24" or so. Several more much smaller ladyfish kept the excitement going for a while though, like the one pictured above. They were a lot of fun.

Although I had caught speckled sea trout before, on my last trip to Florida, this trip I caught a few on the fly rod. They are neat looking fish, but truthfully they don't put up much of a fight. Kind of funny, actually, for about eight seconds your rod bends and you're thinking, 'Game On!' Then you see it just skimming across the water on its side while you're stripping it in. But hey, you don't get to see your backing every time.

Finally we found a few grouper. These were interesting also. They are shaped like a freshwater bass, but feel like a trout, smooth and slimy. Cool spots too.

So it was good to be out on a boat in a beautiful place and catching some fish. I might try to head back this summer and try for some tarpon. (And not the poor man's kind!)