Saturday, June 16, 2012

Fly Fishing From A Canoe

I do most of my fly fishing from a Mad River Passage 14 canoe.  I caught this porker bass on a foam popper while enjoying an evening on a local lake with my wife.  I sit in the middle sit when I am solo and I stand up a lot to cast.  I have been on rivers and lakes and even a couple canals.  My wife is a bowfishing nut, so I paddle her around and she stands in the middle to shoot.  Folks always think we are a bit odd for showing up with a canoe.  I guess it is not a normal method of water transportation anymore?  I have found that my friends don't trust a canoe either.  Maybe they spent too much time on a beer drinking float trip where canoes are flipped more than burgers on a grill.  I have always felt comfortable on the canoe.  I always feel more comfortable in a boat then in the water!  Therefore, I stay in the boat.

Here are some benefits from fly fishing in a canoe:

1.  It forces you to think - You have to plan your trip and you have to scale down your gear.  The canoe doesn't have tons of room for every piece of gear that you own.  Only the effective and essential items.

2.  Stealth - You can get insanely close to fish if you are quiet.  My wife and I have paddled directly over  pods of carp only to have them freak out because I hit one with the paddle on accident.

3.  Shallow Water - A canoe can go where most fishing boats can't go.  Shallow water is not a problem with the canoe.

4.  Exercise & Accomplishment - Ok this one sucks.  It is just part of the game.  It is an added bonus though.  Carrying the canoe, paddling and carrying.  You do feel some accomplishment when you paddle a river all day and catch fish on flies that you tied.  Pretty cool.

5.  Cheap - A canoe doesn't have to be expensive.  Our first canoe was a 40 year old 17ft aluminum for $50.  It had a slight leak in the back and dents everywhere.  We loved it and took that thing all over the place.  What fishing boat are you going to buy that is $50?  No trailer or insurance needed too!

6.  Add Ons - I have installed a depth finder and anchor trolley to the canoe since I have had it.  Some folks even add a trolling motor.  I have seen guys add rod holders and pretty much anything you can think of.

This post goes out to my friend and fishing buddy.  My canoe.

Check out the specs, costs and reviews of the Mad River Canoe.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

New Adventures

Life's rhythm changes with new beginnings and you don't always know how it will play out.  I haven't posted for a while because of new adventures.  I have still been fly fishing.  I still go to work.  I am working on tuck pointing our house.  The list goes on.  However, the best new adventure for 2012 is that my wife and I are going to have our first child!  My wife is 30 weeks and some change into her pregnancy and she is wonderful.  It also happens to be the first grandchild for either of our parents.  The excitement and anticipation has been crazy.  We decided to be surprised at birth to find out the gender.  I found out people don't believe you when you say that you don't know if it is a boy or a girl.  They think you are lying to them.  We do have names though.  Penny is our girl name and Eldon is our boy name.  I can't wait to be a dad and meet this little new life.  I also plan on teaching it all about the amazing things that happen in the outdoors.  Fishing will obviously be it's first skill learned.  :)

I also have a goal of catching a fish out of the Mississippi River this year.  I have been fly fishing the river near the St. Louis area on the Illinois side.  I have been skunked each time.  I feel super small when I go out to that river.  I am throwing little baitfish patterns in this monstrous expanse of water.  It  really changes your perspective. 

Any tips on fishing the Mississippi?  Or any tips on being a dad?

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Giant Grass Carp On The Fly Rod

I had the honor of landing this magnificent fish early this season. I often fish at this real classy place near my home. It is a bingo hall across from a Rural King... I know that doesn't sound like much. The property has a public lake that nobody fishes and it is full of mirror carp, common carp, crappie and largemouth bass. All within 5 minutes from my houes and on the way home from work. It is my little dream spot. Well, I finally caught this monster fish after 1 year or so of casting to it. Here is a post where I got a scale from the fish last year.

A nymph pattern took this guy on a 6wt rod with 5lb tippet and a bingo player (onlooker) helped me land this fish and take some photos for me.  This carp was just over 4 ft long!  The bingo player read the scale for me and said 51lbs.  This fish bent my net in half and I had to get in the water to land this guy.  I will never forget this fish.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Winter Fly Fishing in Illinois

You can't fish in the winter right? I am pushing through this winter. I have decided that I will fish in the cold no matter what. I have encounterd my line freezing and ice jamming up my guides. I have had people give me the craziest looks and I have felt the cold that I am sure a popsicle feels. The real question is, "have I caught any fish?"

Off and on. The winter makes you really work for it. I think the winter really tests your desire for the sport of fishing. If you dare go out in the cold temps to fish, then it may just be a passion that is woven into your identity as a person and not just some hobby. I have fished this winter in temperatures that I would think twice about taking my trash out.

Illinois Winter Fishing Spots:

1. Baldwin Lake - This lake is a cooling lake for a power plant. You have an edge here because that water isn't going to freeze over and the temperatures are above other bodies of water this time of year. My buddy Brian and I caught tons of catfish and bluegill in January in 17˚F.

2. Rivers - Get out on a river when the water flow is good.

3. Local Ponds - I have been rewarded with winter largemouth bass at my local ponds in Belleville, IL.

Get some gumption stirred up and get outside this winter season. Why wait for the Spring? Start catching fish now.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Taking Time

People get busy. I think this is more of a mindset than a reality. The mood of being busy creeps it's way into your life until you brush off the important things. Sadly, one of the first to go is people. We say things like, "I don't have time" for this or that. We run by the beautiful things in life. We stay inside all day cranking things out. Work keeps us tied up until the sun goes down.

I was firmly stuck in the trap of being busy until I started noticing the morning sunrises and clear skies lately. The outdoors was calling to me. I had been cooped up for too long, so I made a plan to fish after work. I planned to get off one hour early and hit the lake before the sun set for the day. All was good except I was stuck in the busy trap. I left work late and I was in a hurry to get to the water. I felt like I was wasting the remaining minutes of light, then something wonderful happened. A kid named Austin showed up to the lake.

I met Austin this fall. One day he just showed up at the lake fishing for bass. He didn't know how to fly fish and asked me about it, so I took the time and showed him how. I stopped fishing and gave him my fly rod and a crash course in casting. Austin eventually caught a bluegill and I knew he was hooked. I could have been doing my own thing and being "busy," but I took the time to invest in a kid.

Austin showed up this time, in the winter, still die hard about fishing and with his own fly fishing setup. I couldn't have been more proud for Austin. He taught himself the basics and had been catching fish on his own through the fall and into the winter. He was thrilled to show me his new fly rod and flies. So, we fished together like old friends throwing out line and shooting the breeze. I showed him how to rig up his leader and I gave him a handful of my best flies.

Austin broke me out of my "too busy for the world" routine. It was such a good feeling to have that kind of impact on a person. I would have missed such a great moment if I was too busy for a curious kid. Oh, and we didn't catch a single fish.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Backstabber Fly - My 2011 Favorite

The 2011 fishing season has brought many new things for me and my favorite of all has been the backstabber fly developed by Jay Zimmerman. Jay shows you how to tie the backstaber in a step by step video.

I mainly use the backstabber in a black and olive pattern. I found out about the backstabber because I started fly fishing for carp this season and that fly just works. I have landed carp all summer and I have landed some very nice bass and even some greedy bluegill and a catfish.

I did some fishing after work and pulled out the 4.2lb bass (pictured above) while I was fly fishing for carp. I got a mirror carp about 15 minutes after the bass. I just love this fly.

Tie your own or if you live in the St. Louis, MO area stop by the Feather Craft fly shop.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Mad River Canoe On My Truck

I recently got a used Dodge Ram 1500 in hopes of having a boat some day. The truck has a camper shell and I was worried about how I was going to get my mad river 14ft canoe loaded onto the top of the truck. To add to the difficulties, I am kinda short.

I picked up the Yakima Universal Canoe foam blocks and straps at a local sporting goods store. Here is a link for the product:
I think I paid around $40 or $50 for the set. I wanted to try this out because I have the full roof rack on our other car and that sucker was expensive. I was blown away at how easy the thing was to tie down and the foam blocks and straps worked like a champ.

I was able to load the canoe onto the truck by myself, tie it down and drive off within 20 minutes.

How I load my Mad River 14ft Canoe onto my truck with a camper shell:

1. Put foam blocks on the canoe.

2. Pick up the canoe and carry it to the back of the truck.

3. Put the front end of the canoe on the camper shell and the back end of the canoe on the ground.

4. Lift from the back of the canoe and slide the canoe onto the camper shell. (If you have a metal canoe, you will want to use some padding between the canoe and the truck at this point)

5. Tie down the front and back of the canoe. You can find places to hook the straps under the truck. (Keep the metal parts of the straps off the finish of the truck)

6. Put a strap around the middle of the canoe and through the truck cab.

7. Drive off and find some place to fish.

Taking the canoe off is about the same. Untie the straps and slide it off the back of the truck. Always be careful when lifting a canoe by yourself. I am a smaller guy and I feel confident loading my 14ft mad river canoe by myself. It weighs about 75lbs.

I had a good day of bass fishing at St. Ellen Mine in O'Fallon, IL.

Check out the specs, costs and reviews of the Mad River Canoe.