Largemouth Bass Lineup

Largemouth Bass Lineup

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Monday Was An Amazing Mail Day!

I am a little late getting to this but I still wanted to share it with you all.  Monday was a most amazing mail day.  I have been talking with Jonathan Marquardt of Badaxedesign recently.  During our conversations, I managed to secure two of his prints.  I have been a fan of his work for some time now.  For those that don't know about Jonathan, I highly encourage you all to check him out.  He was recently featured in American Angler magazine.  He has a Facebook page which can be seen here as well as a website which can be found here.

Jonathan's art is different than most.  He uses linocut printmaking instead of traditional paint brushes.  According to Jonathan's website "Linocut block printing is akin to Japanese woodcuts and intaglio.  I use two gouges to carve the surface of my linoleum covered blocks upon which I sketch reverse images for my final pieces."  I like this style of print.  Each one is special, done by hand, and original.  Jonathan's art is also very reasonably priced which makes it affordable for blue collar fly fishing enthusiasts such as myself.  What's not to like??

I am very happy with my two prints.  I have already been asking Melissa for frames for them. They need to be properly displayed in the tying room.  

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Storage for Tying Materials

I'm a fly tyer and as such I like shiny, new toys.  They catch my eye and make me want to buy them. They call out to me saying things such as "buy me!!!!" and "Melissa won't notice!!!!"  How wrong they are...  I am sure I am not alone in my lust for all things shiny within the fly tying world.  I know others have this addiction as well.  I mean, it really can't be helped can it?  How hard is it for you, dear reader, to walk into a fly shop and not walk out with something that you (a) didn't go there to buy and (b) don't need.  You bought it because it looks great and you felt as though you needed it.  At least that's what happens to me.

As a fly tyer, I am always looking for things to hold my materials.  A while back I got an Oasis portable tying station from Melissa as a Christmas present.  I love it although I rarely use it nowadays.  I also received the Oasis Chenille Center as a gift one year from a friend.  Awesome piece of equipment.  I could not wait to load it with chenille as soon as I got it.  Like an idiot, I loaded it with chenille, didn't mark what they were, and then immediately threw out the packaging.  That, however, is a story for a different blog post.  Since I feel the need to have name brand stuff for my tying stuff, I started lusting after the Oasis Hook Hotel.  The problem is I am already on thin ice with Melissa regarding my "outlandish spending" (her words, obviously) and I can't really justify spending $125 with hooks or $80 without them on this fine piece of storage.  Don't misunderstand me, I have nothing against Oasis or their products.  I own a few and like them very much.  I just can't pay that much money for a storage container simply because it is specifically designed for fly tying.

So, I needed some major hook storage but didn't know where to look.  While the family and I were strolling around Walmart, I discovered these in the craft section of the store:

Pardon the feet.  This box contains 52 other, smaller boxes and sells for a solid 10 dollars.  This thing is designed for beading but I figured it could double as something to store the hooks in as well. So I bought a few of them.  Since that time, I have added more to the collection.  I find that they work perfectly for storing hooks.  For me, I write on the outside of the container as to what they are such as wet, nymph, dry, streamer, or warm water.  Looks like this:

Here is a photo of the inside of the container:

Here is a photo of one of the boxes filled with hooks:

One of the things I like to do is to cut the size and hook info out of the package and store it with the hooks (see, I learned a lesson after the Chenille Center).  Some people may prefer to write on the outside of each box or even make labels for them.  I found that there is a drawback to doing it this way.  If you need to change boxes for the hooks, it can be a problem to change the name.  Just something to think about.

Overall I like these containers/boxes,  but there is a con to them.  Sometimes the lids for the smaller boxes are either broken or cease to work over time.  It hasn't happened to me a lot yet but I know it is a possibility.  I am OK with it though as I have a ton of spares and for the price, you can't beat it.  

Monday, August 26, 2013

Giveaway On Our Facebook Page

Hi All,

Make sure you like us on Facebook and check out our giveaway.  You have until August 30th at midnight EST to enter to win.  We will be giving away a signed copy of Eric Stroup's book Common Sense Fly Fishing.  Our Facebook page can be viewed at J&M Flies.  For those that don't know about Eric, he is a well known commerical tyer, writer, guide and outfitter.  He was a pleasure to speak with and I will be doing a post about him soon.  Till then hope over and enter the contest/giveaway to win the book.  Why not...its free!!!

Vintage Fly Rod

In May of this year I managed to pick up a fiberglass rod for 10 dollars at my local fly shop.  For those that don't know, I made the switch to glass last year.  It is primarily what I fish nowadays.  I love it.  Glass is so different than graphite.  If you haven't tried glass lately, give it a whirl.  You can pick up an Eagle Claw Featherlight for between 30-45 dollars.  Well worth the money.  So I'm in the fly shop and I notice a fly rod hanging on the wall.  I asked the owner if it was for sale.  He said 10 dollars and its yours.  Apparently it was a gift but he is not a glass guy so he was looking to unload it.  For 10 dollars I couldn't past it up.

I posted some photos on the Fiberglass Flyrodders Forum and learned some really neat info on the rod.  According to one individual "You have Montague glass rod from the early 50s. Probably that rod was made in the Montague plant. Many of those Montague decals did not last well, but yours is in prime condition. I would guess the rod was not used too much. By the mid 50s True Temper had purchased the Montague glass production facilities.  In the early 50s you would cast a few lines with a given rod and stick with the one that worked best. That is still the best way to go. Try some 6/7 weight lines and see what you think. The Holloglass might need something lighter or heavier. It all depends on how it feels to you."  

I have to say that I am very excited about this rod.  While it does have some damage to the cork courtesy of some mice I am guessing, it is very neat.  On one hand I want to try it, but on the other I simply don't know.  What do you all think?  Should I?  Here is another ink to info regarding Montague Rods 

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Year of the color

Back in May I bought a Bluegill print from Andrea Larko.  The print was described as pen and ink signed and numbered original artwork done by Andrea with a rapidograph.  They were a limited edition run of only ten prints which were never to be reprinted.  After getting my print, I have to say I was amazed at the detail and quality of it.  I immediately started thinking about a colored print.  Would Andrea be interested?  I reached out to her and we started talking about maybe doing a colored bluegill print like the pen and ink one.  Fast forward to yesterday.  Guess what arrived in the mail....yep my colored bluegill print.  Simply stunning work by Andrea.  I am so happy she agreed to do this.  

I would highly encourage everyone to check out Andrea and her art.  She is on Facebook at Go Fish-Art By Andrealarko and she has an Etsy store which can be found out Go Fish.  As a side note Andrea does not have insurance and needs new glasses.  All of the proceeds from these sales will benefit her by allowing her to get some much needed glasses.  Given what a talented artist she is, I would hate to think that she can't draw and doodle because she can't see.  

Friday, August 23, 2013

Flies for Review and Orders Shipped

One of my goals has always been to get published in some type of fly fishing or tying magazine.  I have to admit that I haven't really tried very hard.  I secretly keep thinking that one day someone will notice how great our stuff is and reach out to us.  I suppose, truth be told, that if I want to do it and I mean really do it, then I need to start submitting articles regarding our flies.  I have been trying to gather interest in our stuff by reaching out to some major companies and personalities within the fly fishing/tying industry lately with little success.  Finally, someone became interested.  Southern Culture on the Fly wrote me back and said they would be interested in looking at our poppers.  So, we sent them a set of four poppers that contained a popper in each of the sizes we currently offer.  I know they are decent flies.  Really I do.  That, however, does not make me any less nervous.  I feel like a cat in a room full of rocking chairs and I have no idea why.  Now to patiently (not) wait to see how they like them and not check my email or Facebook messages (yea right) like a crack addict.  While nervous I am also very excited at this potential new prospect.

Here is a photo of some flies we recently sent to Zeb over at Snowman Custom Rod Works.  Zeb does some amazing work which I was able to see first hand at Beaver Island.  I saw and held the Epic 990 in So Blue that he built for Cameron.  Amazing workmanship.  Truly an artist.  I knew I was going to buy an Epic eventually and after seeing his work with my own two eyes, I decided to have Zeb build it.  He is currently building me an Epic 686 in Salsa.  I really can't wait for it to be finished.  It's a shame I can't fish or even cast it right now with my hand being injured.  It is really going to suck to get that wonderful piece of craftsmanship and just sit looking longingly at it.  

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Back By Popular Demand!

Back by popular demand is our Purple Night Stalker. This is a fly we used to sell a lot of but had to stop because of the hackle craze.  We used to use purple hackle on it but we stopped being able to find it thanks to that mad run of people demanding hackle for their hair.  The following pictures are the Purple Night Stalker done in size 4 TCS and size 4 pencil. This popper has a medium purple body, minty green spots with lighter purple spots inside them. It has a purple calf tail, black saddle hackle and purple legs. Purple and black can be a killer combo for largemouth bass. What do you all think?

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Beaver Island Wrap Up-Pros/Cons/Lessons Learned

I got up on Thursday, July 11th, both happy and sad.  I was happy to be heading home yet oddly sad at the same time.  I had made some new friends, fished an amazing body of water and landed my biggest smallie ever.  I was happy to be heading home to see the family.  It was after all Melissa's birthday.  I knew she gave up a lot to allow me this opportunity.  I was not happy about going home empty handed in the carp department.  However, the weather was not the greatest for us while we were there.  With bags packed, the only thing left to do was to hang around and wait.

While I was waiting to leave the island, I had a chance to meet Jean-Paul Lipton who, for those that don't know, is also known as Rough Fisher.  I have to say that he ties some mean flies.  I bought some of his flies to take with me up to Beaver Island.  I would love to get some of his carp crack when I have a chance.  JP was a friendly guy.  He sat and talked with me as I smoked my last cigar.  I felt a little weird, like a creepy stalker, but I asked JP is he would be so kind as to sign my book.  I had already gotten Steve and Kevin to sign it.  I am sure they all thought I was a little squirrely and a nerd.  For me though it was a chance to get some signatures from some carpaholics.  The book I am referring to is The Orvis Guide to Fly Fishing for Carp.  Great book.

Despite my lack of carp on the trip, I still had an amazing time.  Cameron was a great host and picked a good group of liked minded fishermen.  I am glad I made new friends.  I wish I had had the chance to fish with all of them though.  Maybe next time.

There are some pros and cons about the trip as well as some lessons learned.

Met new friends
Finally put a face to the name The Fiberglass Manifesto
Caught my biggest smallie ever
Got new rods
A new experience for me overall
Food (great food)
Working with a guide

Caught no damn carp!
Missed Melissa's birthday
Difficult to get to (three plane rides for me) (this could be a Pro as well)
Can there ever really be any cons when fishing?

Lessons Learned
Practice, Practice, Practice (I was by far the worst caster there)
Despite overcast conditions, sunscreen is a must
A good pair of polarized glasses are a must (cheap ones from Walmart aren't the best)
Did I mention practicing my casting????
Overload your fly rod with a higher weight line
Don't buy clothing 12 hours before you are supposed to board a plane
Gloves are a must (I had to borrow some from Cameron)
Better planning regarding equipment (I needed an equipment bag which I didn't have)
Do not trout set-learn to strip set
Again better equipment planning

Overall I had a wonderful time and I would love to go back.  It was hard to say goodbye and leave that place.  It really is an amazing fishery.  I still can't get over just how strong those fish were.  I know I got spoiled.  I am hoping that Cameron hosts another trip next year and maybe even more importantly that he invites me back!

Friday, August 16, 2013

The Carp Trip That Wasn't-Continued

Continuing the Beaver Island experience.....

Day 3
My third day on the island dawned.  It was foggy but a little fog would not keep me down!  I had high spirits after boating 16 smallies the day before and coming in second for the daily big fish contest.  I was determined to win.  Determined!

With breakfast out of the way, we all picked guides, divided up and headed out to chase those monster fish.  I was lucky enough to be fishing with Cameron this fine day.  We decided to ride out with Austin as our guide.  Austin can be a quiet dude at times.  He, however, knows fishing and knows where to locate the fish.  Austin and I seemed to be a lot alike.  Quiet, reserved, but good natured.  Perfect!  Carp fishing requires bright sunlight and blue skies in order to be able to see the fish clearly.  We had neither.  We awoke to a dense fog bank that had rolled in overnight thus creating less than ideal conditions to chase carp in.  However, we were still going to try. Austin took us out to a place called bird island, which was aptly named as you will see in the pictures below.  Despite the gray skies and dense fog, the water was crystal clear and it was a neat place to fish.  Stunk to high heaven though!  Cameron was first up in the boat.

Over the course of the next several hours, we moved around looking for carp and taking turns in the front of the boat.  I have to say that my mojo was most certainly off this day.  I had trouble in my lower intestines which was causing trouble with my casting.  I will say that Austin was kind enough to work with me and put up with it.  For that matter, Cameron as well.  I simply could not hook up.  I cast to fish after fish, and either spooked fish after fish or missed strikes.  I did a complete 180 from the day before.  I also started trout setting.  I know, I know, you are sitting there reading this and wondering what the hell was I thinking.  Well dear reader I really have no idea or excuse.  I more or less just fell apart.  You ever have one of those days?  I'm talking one of those days when you continuously make mistakes and no matter what you do, you can't fix it?  In fact the more you try the worse it becomes?  If you have, then you know what I am speaking of.  I slung bugs at some pike, carp and smallmouth.  I just could not connect for a while.

Finally Austin put us in a beautiful flat area that was loaded with black objects.  I have heard the carp at Beaver Island referred to as tanks and submarines.  They seem that big!  To see them cruising with their enormous size is stunning.  However, if the carp are the submarines, then the smallies are the torpedoes.  Fat, black torpedoes.  These photo are of carp so you can see what I mean.

As we pulled into this flat, we saw them...everywhere.  It was like being a kid in a candy store and not knowing where to look or what to buy.  It was overwhelming but in a most fantastic way!  So we started casting and Cameron struck first with a 5 pound smallie.  It was a beautiful fish.  Next  It took a bit, but I eventually landed one.  I had finally gotten that stink off of me and redeemed a little of my manhood, self esteem and awesome fishing abilities.  Over the next hour and a half we chased the smallies all over the flat.  I managed to land 3 fish of which the biggest went 17.5 inches and 3.5 pounds.  I probably hooked and lost a dozen fish overall in that area.  The fish could be spooky at times, quick to investigate at times, and enticed to eat at times simply because another smallie was also looking at the fly.   There really was no rhyme or reason to their madness.  I did take some shots at carp but nothing to write home about.  The day ended for me with only those 3 smallies boated.

Day 4
This was to be the last day of fishing for us on the island.  It dawned with eight foot waves and 20 mile per hour wind.  I have never seen white caps on a lake before.  The wind was howling. 

Crap no carp!  Again!  There was no way we could even think about taking the boat out that day.  The five of us, coupled with the guides, had a meeting of the minds over breakfast.  It was decided by all that we still wanted to attempt to catch some fish (carp) and that we would walk the shoreline a bit in hopes of finding them in a generous mood.  We all piled in vehicles and headed off.

Kevin Morlock, the third guide in the trio, took us to another part of the island.  A few words about Kevin before we go on.  Kevin is a carp fisherman through and through.  He knows carp.  I had the pleasure to have Kevin guide me on my very first carp stalk so to speak.  If you want to learn about carp and how to fish for carp, Kevin is your man.  That is not to say that Steve and Austin don't know a thing or two about carp either.  All the guides were very knowledgeable, outgoing, friendly and professional on my trip.  I really enjoyed working with each and everyone of them.

So, we arrived at our destination and started walking.  We walked, and we walked, and we walked.  I believe we covered around 5 miles that day as we patrolled the shoreline looking for those submarines who we all hoped secretly would be in an eating mood.  

Toward the end of our walk down the shoreline, Kevin spotted six carp working an area.  Kevin took me under his wing since I have never caught nor fished for carp before.  Kevin was kind enough to be patient with me and explain carp and carp fishing to me as we ever so slowing inched our way forward.  Eventually, like a mother bird nudging her babies out of the nest, Kevin slowly backed away as I attempted to move forward in a stealthy manner.  I don't think I went 6 steps before those carp got the hell out of dodge.  Bastards!  We worked our way back up the shoreline toward the vehicles with negative results.  We saw carp, we chased carp, and I chased away some carp but no one landed a thing.  It was a very tough day with some tough fishing conditions.  I did manage to almost step on 5 different snakes throughout the day.  I hate snakes.  Hate them.  So my last full day on the island and the last full day of fishing ended without a single fish landed by anyone in the group.  I started wondering how I was going to go home and face Melissa.  I knew she would mock me for taking a carp trip and not catching any carp.  I spent my last night on the island having a cigar, drinking some beer and laughing with new friends.


* score may be slightly exaggerated

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Carp Trip That Wasn't

Back in July, I took a trip to Beaver Island, Michigan in search of monster carp and smallmouth. Among others, I traveled to the promised land of carp nirvana with Cameron from The Fiberglass Manifesto.  We spent four nights and three days on that magical island.  It has been a month since I returned and it is time to blog about my trip.  I wanted to take some time and think about what I was going to say.  The reason being is that there is so much to talk about when one speaks of Beaver Island and the amazing guides at Indigo Guide Service.  As a side note you can also find them at Third Coast Fly or for Austin at Grab Your Fly Charters.  Because I will be covering a lot and the post will be photo heavy, I decided to break it up into two posts.  The first will cover Day 1 and 2 while the second will cover Day 3 and 4 as well as some lessons learned.  For this blog post Day 1 will start with the beginning of the trip for me which was the travel day on Sunday.

Day 1

Since this trip was being hosted by Cameron from The Fiberglass Manifesto, I knew I needed to bring some glass to throw.  I decided on a Steffen Brothers 8'6" 8/9 3 piece rod for the heavy stuff built by them. I also went with a Blue Halo limited edition black 7/8 built by Shane Gray of Graywolf Products and Services.  For reels I went with the Waterworks-Lamson Konic II.  I loaded one with Rio Redfish line in 9wt, one with Rio Carp in 8wt and one with SA 7/8 Bass line.

Day 1 had me leaving my house at zero dark thirty.  Two things about this before I go on (1) I should have planned better and not shopped for clothing 12 hours prior to leaving which pissed Melissa off and (2) airports provide fantastic people watching.  OK, on with the show.  I flew out to Detroit and then to Traverse City, Michigan.  In TC, Cameron was kind enough to pick me up and drive me up to Charlevoix so we could hop on the plane to Beaver Island.  Despite that I have been talking with Cameron for the past year and a half now, this was our first meeting.  Great guy.  All in all it took me three plane rides to get there.

Once there, we were able to meet up with Austin, who was waiting for us.  Austin is a super nice dude and a terrific guide.  Do yourself a favor and check him out.  Anyways, Austin dropped us off at the house we would be staying at.  It was a nice place and it would become our base of operations for the next few days.  It was also a block away from the market and a block or so away from the deli which is where we would meet every morning for breakfast. It was also close to the guides and the boat ramp.  Two very important things to be near!

While we waited for the rest of the guys to show, Cameron and I hit the deli and then the market.  It wasn't long before the others showed up and greetings were exchanged.  I was able to meet Adam, Ken and Chris who were also on the trip.  All of them are fantastic guys with great personalities.  Chris traveled all the way from Sweden to take this trip.  He certainly made the longest commute for these monster carp and smallmouth.

Well as evening rolled around, I decided to hit the docks and chase the smallmouth for a bit.  I was using my 5/6 cranberry Blue Halo.  For me, I was dying to use one of those sculpin patterns I had tied up so I figured why not.  With an orange/black one tied on, I started slinging the bug.  In the end I landed my first 6 smallies of the trip.  I was off to a rocking start!  The rest of the evening was spent making new memories over beer and cigars with my new found friends.

Day 2
The day dawned gloomy and wet.  A storm had rolled in and everything was put on hold.  We had to wait for the waves/wind to settle a bit before we could head out.  It wasn't looking good for carp either.  Carp fishing requires sun in order to see the fish.  Unfortunately, there wasn't any.  So what were we to do?  Well fish for monster smallmouth of course!  What's a little competition between friends right?  Cameron had secured prizes from several companies.  The first full day of fishing we would be competing for a $100 gift certificate to TrueFlies.  After a few hours, we were finally able to head out.  The weather wasn't great (rain!!) but it's only water right?  Some photos from the ride out:

My guide for the day would be Steve Martinez.  Steve is an outgoing, jovial sort of fellow.  He is very knowledgeable and he put me on some great fish.  This fishing was truly incredible.  I mean I am used to catching smallies in the 8-13 inch range.  Now, at the island I was landing them in the 16-18 inch range.  Huge difference.  Huge!!  Fish like these tend to spoil a man.  The only fish under 16 inches was the first fish I landed of the day.  Other than that one, they were all 16 or better. Cookie cutter fish.  Its funny though just how soon one can get spoiled.  After like the 3rd or 4th fish over 16 inches, I stopped taking photos.  Steve asked me "You want a photo of this one?" to which my reply became "No I want one bigger!"  I have never caught a smallie over 18 inches.  In fact I have only caught two over 17 inches.  We just don't have them that big on a regular basis here in Maryland.  Soon I landed one that went 17 and 1/2 inches and 4 pounds.  I was over the moon with this fish.  However, he was not the biggest.  Steve gave me a small crab pattern to try.  It worked like a charm.  I managed to land a smallie that went 18 and 1/2 inches and 4 pounds.  It was my biggest smallie ever and the biggest one of the trip for me.  It was also the second largest smallie caught that day among us anglers on the trip.  Chris managed to land one that went 20 inches.  So Chris got 1st place for the day and I took second.  Nothing wrong with a $100 dollar gift card right?  By the way, that fly now sits in my display case.  Steve was more than generous to allow me to keep it.  For that and the awesome guiding I say thank you my friend.  My total for the day was 16 smallies boated.  I probably lost just as many. No matter how many times I landed one, they still amazed me.  These fish are strong.  I mean S.T.R.O.N.G.  Every time I hooked up I would be hooting and hollering during the fight.  I was constantly telling Steve how freaking strong they were.  It was mind boggling. 

Before I knew it, the weather started to turn against us and it was time to head out.  I'm not going to lie, I didn't want to.  I didn't want the day to end as I was having way to much fun.  This is a short video I shot while we were heading back to the island.

Days one and two ended with no carp...  Will days three and four be better to me?