Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 out...

I've been thinking about this all week.  I've read some great stuff from other bloggers and had some ideas.  But in the end, all I wanted to say was "Thank You."  Thank you to all who have taken a second of their time to read, like, comment and follow my social media sites.  Y'all have made 2015 a great year for me.  I was fortunate in many areas.  But I'm not going to talk about my favorite trip, catch, or experience.  They were all avenues to build friendships and community.  My goal was to reach out and connect with others that share a similar passion for the outdoors.  Here are my favorite posts from other bloggers that I interact with on a regular basis (FB, IG, Blog)...their trip/posts remind me to get outside and experience life.

In no particular order:

Carf Outdoors - Small boats and friends that's why we do it.

The Trout Zone - 2 week long trip to Yellowstone - This is part 4 but the entire series is a great read.  Man I really wanted to go with you.

Windknots and Tangled Lines - this will make you laugh:

Mountains to Marsh - This is day 4 but you should start at the beginning.  Another great trip:

Yak Fish Arkansas - Good stuff:

Small Stream Reflections.  Hard, seriously hard to pick just one from all the great post.  But the one I remember most is when SSR and Connecticut Fly Angler, next blog, went fishing together.  That's what it's all about.

Connecticut Fly Angler, many great posts but but not many share my passion for grass carp and blog about it.

Fishing Through Life - Take a kid fishing, enough said.

The Flying Kayak, This is an adventure.  Great stuff but my favorite is:

BrookfieldAngler:  When it all goes wrong.

The Pond Stalker, if you know Mel you know he's moved many times.  I can't find my favorite post about his fishing hat....but here is his latest blog, lol.

Bayou 'Yakin  - really want to do the "Ride the Bull Tournament" but it's always a bad weekend. Looks like a good time....

The Fugly Fly, because we've all been there.

FishnDave - another carp guy...

High Plains Fly Fisher - an awesome trip...

I can't tell you how grateful and humbled I am for all the support and encouragement I have received on Facebook, IG, and my blog.  I really enjoy sharing my outdoor world.  In 2016, I'll be doing more of the same as part of these great teams.  Happy New Year everyone.


Saturday, December 19, 2015

Staying busy...

After my trip to Grand Isle, LA I spent most of the next week writing, attending Christmas parties (school and work), dance recitals, my oldest daughters birthday and some other things that I can't recall now.  The winter issue of will be out soon and there's a good chance you'll find a bad article from me included.  The month of December is usually very busy and fishing takes a back seat, or maybe it moves to the passenger seat after the 1st week.

However, I found a few hours last week to check on my local carp waters.  As the temperature drops into the 30's at night the grassers are becoming harder to find.  It's a normal transition from the shallows to deeper water near the flats.

Targeting them shifts from looking for tailing and other aggressive behavior to trying to spot a shadow or tail in deeper water.  As you would expect, the catching has slowed way down.  But they still eat when you can find one.  The method has been a nymph under an indicator on a light fluorocarbon leader.

While the fishing hasn't been all that exciting (compared to sightfishing bull reds in SELA) I did get some really exciting news.  I was invited to join the Jackson Kayak Regional Fishing Team.  It's pretty cool getting to represent a company I respect, doing something I love.

Hope to get out a few more times before the new year.  My xmas, birthday, anniversary, father's day, I cleaned my wife's car, watched Twilight with my wife, said I'm sorry 1st, and anything that deserves a gift, was a GoPro 4.  I'm no JJ Abrams but hope to get some video on here in 2016.  

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Pot of Gold

I could begin this post with the details of the huge red below.  But that's no fun.  Instead, lets back this story up a month or 2.  I have been trying to get down to SELA since October.  My last trip was in June.  I never go that long between trips.  That's the beauty of living in SEAR, basically on the LA/AR border.  I'm 5-6 hours drive to great kayak fishing water...fresh and salt.

In October the weather becomes more kayak angler friendly in SELA.  Less melting of people while sitting in plastic boats.  From that month until December it just gets better for both, catching and angler comfort.  Unfortunately, there just wasn't a great time to go in October or November.  The weather was either terrible or it was Thanksgiving and my wife had that look that said, "I dare you!"  

But finally it all lined out.  The conditions looked awesome for sightfishing reds in the marsh.  Honestly, anytime is great for chasing reds in SELA if you just want to blind cast and work the marsh.  I prefer to find a target and test my kayak ninja skills.  There are specific conditions I look for when I decide to drive 6 hours.  So you can imagine my excitement when I saw a forecast for nothing but sun and no wind!  That excitement got supercharged when I watched a video about sightfishing colossal reds in the marsh.  Like I needed help.  

Sorry for the terrible camera video, screen shot photo
I closed my eyes Sunday night and pretended to sleep while the images of colossal reds danced in my head.  Monday morning took forever to arrive.  When it finally did I was sitting in my truck at the road side access.    

After that the day was just insane.  I had a solid day of catching and covered many miles of water.  I was exhausted from not sleeping and fighting upper slot reds all day.  I stopped for lunch and considered turning around and heading for the truck.  As I was resting I noticed schools of bait going crazy in the incoming tide.  The flow was evident and a current line was very obvious.  I know a fishy sight when I see it.  

I decided to stay and fish that hole.  But nothing was happening.  Now I'm done...but I can see another marsh choke point.  I convince myself to go investigate that one.  As I'm getting closer, I can see the same signs of bait activity.  Expecting the same ending, I consider turning around again. Just as I'm about to leave, I see a huge flash of gold!  The feeling that went over me was somewhere between sheer panic, like when you skipped school for the 1st time and you're trying to get home and intercept the schools phone call (maybe that's me).  And...I just saw a freaking leprechaun and his shinny "pot of gold!"

Each feeling carries a specific amount of clumsiness and expected increase in tension.  Which means failure is the only possible outcome.  I always got caught skipping class and the only leprechaun I ever see is on a marshmallowless box of Luck Charms (why do kids just eat the charms).  That's what I was dealing with as I came up with a game plan for getting a fly in front of that red.  I pushed polled up to with in 30 ft, watching as the beast would torpedo through the school and disappear.  Then moments later it would reappear from another direction.  It wasn't being cautious but it's path was nearly impossible to predict.  I knew just blindly slinging fly line across the school was sure I waited.  I watched for a few minutes until I could see it coming from an angle I could work with.  I placed the fly a few feet out from its course and started stripping.  Not for cash...

Fully clothed, buffed out ninja mode, I watched as the red turned away.  Failure, ball game, walk of shame, basses loaded 2 out and you fouled out.  You name the emotion and that's how I felt.  But's back up.  I have a chance to be a hero again.  Center your yoga chi and get back in the game dude!  Put the mess of fur back in the water.  Start stripping again.  Not for cash...

See the "V" and line goes on!  Then it was just hang on and enjoy the ride. We checked the left side of the mash before turning around and checking the right side of the marsh.  When those sides were deemed unsuitable for grip-n-grins.  He decided to show me this "other" spot on the far side of the marsh.  He was so excited about the hero shot that he showed me my backing several times running to get there.  It was a long fight, my forearms were on fire.  Eventually, he wore down.  I beached the kayak and landed him on an island to speed up the release.  Quick picture and rushed measurement before reviving him.  He swam away strong.

Tuesday started like Monday.  Except the conditions were nearly perfect.  I say nearly, but I can't imagine anything better.  It's just hard to say anything is perfect.  I decided to paddle to where I left on Monday and fish from that spot on.  It was a long paddle but I arrived just when I knew the sun would be at the right angle to see reds in the water.  Caught a few slots reds before I made the decision to go bull hunting.  

At one point I watched as 2, 35-37" reds swam under my kayak.  I didn't breath until that were behind me.  Made a half back hand cast and watched one of them eat.  The exciting part of casting to a raging bull behind you is the balance after you hook into a VW bug on steroids.  Almost went swimming as he went real far real fast.  

Cool reflection off my paddle.

That's pretty much how Tuesday went.  Sight fished several bull reds in skinny water.  It was one of those days where the few that were lost to broken hooks didn't hurt so bad.  This was a trip for the books.  Hope I get to experience another like it.  If not, that's cool with me.  This one was a "pot of gold."  


Tuesday, December 1, 2015

What a week

It was a crazy fun week.  The girls were out of school for the week of Thanksgiving so I wasn't able to fish much.  Instead, I took them to the "Refuge" a few times in the canoe.

I started the trip explaining to them if they saw something that can fly, swim, run, or magically disappear and they wanted to see it for more than 1 second.  The best strategy was to whisper and point it out slowly.  I further mentioned that the creatures in the "Refuge" are terribly afraid of children...aren't we all!

Play time in the swamp. I checked the area before I let them out of the canoe.

 As we're paddling?  Not really, what we were doing was slapping the water and banging the sides of the canoe with our paddles.   But were covering water and sure enough, I see a beaver sitting on top of its floating fortress.  Surprised to see anything, I didn't react quickly enough.  Just as I was about to whisper and point it out.  The silence was broken by the excited voices of my 2 little girls, "dad, it's a beaver."  The beaver, startled and confused, freaked at the sight of a 17' canoe that was bearing down on it and went away real fast.

Astonishingly, we didn't have any more close encounters as we explored the backwaters.  From a distance we saw lots water fowl, turtles, and whatever else brave enough to not run for cover as the kids screamed in delight at every natural wonder that spotted.  It really was fun.

In the middle of the week I got the invite to fish the Little Red and travel to Grand Isle, LA.  The Grand Isle trip got dismissed really quickly as my wife said something like, if you don't understand why you can't be in Grand Isle on Thanksgiving day, then we don't have anything to talk about.  I lost my decoder ring (wedding ring) like 3 years ago, so I wasn't exactly sure what she meant.  What I heard was..."I'll cut you if you're not home on Thanksgiving."

I thought about it for a few days (seriously-I'm not that bright) and eventually decided fishing the LRR during a flash flood warning was a safer alternative.  In spite of the constant rain and cool temperatures it was a stellar day...perfect streamer weather!  Not many pictures taken b/c I was busy throwing streamers to hungry trees and a few browns.  Of course my cousin sends me this picture on Friday with the caption, "Sunny and 80."

It wasn't sunny and 80 in Heber Springs but I wouldn't have traded the day.  I was with good friends and the fishing didn't suck.  I even enjoyed the weather but that's just me.  

I ended my last post mentioning some good news I wanted to share.  I'm excited to announce I teamed up with FROSCH Outdoor Travel (FOT) to develop a network of kayak related travel destinations.  Being on the water (canoes, boats, kayaks, the Navy, etc) has been a passion since I was a boy and I'm thrilled to be part of the FROSCH team.

FOT, “FROSCH sees kayak fishing and competitive tournaments in the kayak area growing rapidly, and we wanted to address the interest of our travelers and fan base. Drew was the perfect choice to help us design a program that would tick all of the boxes in the kayak world. We couldn’t do it without Ross organizing and assisting with logistics. He has been instrumental in picking the right waters, destinations and seasons for our 2016 launch calendar”.