30 November, 2009


Been really enjoying fishing with my Dad over the past couple of years, so I picked him up a great surprise. He's started to like steelhead and salmon fishing on flies, but he's been doing it on a pretty low-end rig. Landing these big fish is largely about stopping them and maintaining control. This means a high-quality reel with a strong and reliable drag system.

Buddy of mine is selling off gear so I picked up a nice Orvis Battenkill Large Arbor V (the old design) spooled up with Orvis running line. Perfect solution for chuck n' duck rig! And, got a bargain! I think the old man will be most pleased by this surprise and I'm happy to do it for him. Slap that on a TFO Signature or Orvis Clearwater and we've got a solid steelhead/salmon solution.

More to come soon -- been buried in work just lately! Gotta' earn money to fund my pursuits!


25 November, 2009


I'm lovin' indicator fishing -- did it all day on the PM yesterday. I had an ephiphany on my first drift yesterday. It's not the cast, it's the drift. Sure, my roll cast is tons better, but that's really only a means to an end.

There's a special feeling from finding a spot, seeing a drift that hits the bubble line, avoids snags, and gets the depth just right. And indy fishing gives you a perfect visual high sign that you got it right! Indicator tipped forward? Dragging bottom, shorten up. Tipped way back? Goofy drift, pull it and start over. Straight up or just slightly forward? Nailed it. Plus, there's something really cool about doing it on a fly line. A bit more challenge.

But, yesterday was Boy Scout Knot Tying day. Seemed to be my day to find submerged snags. Started off on third drift when I lost it all -- and then realized I didn't have any swivels on me. Hike back to the truck, and lesson learned. Bought a dozen flies in the morning; came back with two...


20 November, 2009

Gear Lust

Dang - every time I think I'm done with fly gear, I stumble into something else I just NEED. Or, at least I think I do.

This week, after figuring out my indicator fishing, I had a chance to watch my buddy fish them with his 11' Orvis Helios. I can see the benefit of line control with the longer stick, plus with a switch rod, you have some nice two-handed casting opportunities when you really need to cover some water.

No way I'm dropping $800 on a Helios, but it looks like Temple Fork Outfitters' new Deer Creek Series switch rod will be perfect at a fraction of the cost. Checked one out at local fly shop yesterday - looks like a sweet rod.

I've got a couple of TFO's Signature Series rods and they both perform really well at a very low cost. My 10 wt. was perfect for horsing in big ass Kings. On the other end of the spectrum, my 7'6" 3 wt. is ideal for trout on tiny tight UP trout streams. And they were both CHEAP.

Ah, well, one more stick...


19 November, 2009

Let It Snow!

Well, it's official, Winter started at 7pm last night - with the premier of Warren Miller's "Dynasty" ski flick. I've been going to these as my Winter kick-off since I was in college. Always leave amped up for the upcoming season, as I did last night!

Of course, I walked out of the theater into 45 degree drizzle; but you gotta' live with that to get to snow. This time of year is one ripe with anticipation. What kind of snow will we have? After two exceptional seasons, I'll admit I'm nervous. Whatever your views on global warming, you have to admit we've had some WEIRD weather patterns around the globe in recent years. Alta gets 700" of snow last year? Insane. I'm not sure the term "global warming" is appropriate, but I would certainly buy into "global climate change".

I think this weekend I'll need to break the boards out of their bags, pull gear out to inspect, and all that pre-season stuff. But, in the meantime, hoping to slip a couple more steelhead fishing trips into the coming weeks. Have to be in Gaylord overnight next week, so may take a detour on the way home to get in some river time.


18 November, 2009

Dress for Success

On Monday's PM run, finally got attire just right. I blew it BADLY on the September salmon trip, so this was my first wading trip since (Manistee was fishing from boats). Started the day at a chilly 25 degrees with a water temp in the low 40's. Had a long row in to first hole, but stayed plenty warm.

Bottom was Simms base layer, fleece pants, waders, plus heavy boot socks. Top was Simms base layer, mid-weight fleece, Browning Hell's Canyon heavy weatherproof fleece, topped with Simms G4 jacket. Fingerless fleece gloves and fleece ski hat had it just right.

So much more comfortable to be dressed warm! Made fishing and being outside far more enjoyable. Glad I'm making transition smoothly to winter fishing conditions.


17 November, 2009

Best Indications

It started out as a possible fill-in for a friend who guides for steelhead in Ohio's Steelhead Alley region, but then out of the blue, Schultzy asks - "What're you doing Monday? Fish are in the PM and I have the day off." When a professional guide and fly shop manager invites you to fun fish, unless it's impossible, you go.

It was cool to fun fish with a guide. Mike took me to all his fave holes and we really just had a play day on a great river. He got to chillax and I got to learn some more at the same time.

Highlight was finally getting comfortable (and even preferring) fishing my indy rig. Chuck n' duck is easier and usually more productive, but as it's running line, it's not REALLY fly fishing. But my roll cast hasn't been that great and I really didn't completely understand how to get my drift right on the indy. That all changed yesterday after fishing nearly 8 hours on that rig. Tuned up my roll cast and mends to get things right where I wanted them. And, more importantly learned how to read the indicator to set depth. Even found I could read holes to assess which style of fishing would be most productive.

With all of that said, didn't catch a thing. No rain for a week meant very low, super clear water. I think every fish in the river saw us the moment the hull of Mike's drift got wet! A few other solid guides were out on the same stretch and everyone had the same result.

Ironically Mike stuck one on the first drift. I did some net work, and we had the first (and only) steelie of the day -- a 9-10# buck, shown at right. Photo complete with Schultz Shit Eating Grin. Nice work, brother!

Great day and a very enjoyable trip, especially as it's sandwiched into a SUPER busy work week. Had to work a much of Sunday to pull this off, but it was worth every moment!


13 November, 2009


This working for a living thing sure seems to be in the way of my outdoor activities! Oh, well, I enjoy what I do, and I've got to pay for my toys somehow!

11-48 looks like it's going to require a little Dremel work to get things moving. I was kind of stuck, but talked to the gunsmith at Williams this morning and he got me headed in the right direction. Not sure when I'll get to it, as I'm headed into a VERY busy week.

On the upside, might get to sneak out on the Pere Marquette for a bit on Monday. A buddy who guides and runs a fly shop is itching to fish on his day off, so we may sneak off with his boat for a day. Reports are steelies are stacked up in PM and White. Would be cool to take advantage of it before a week jammed with meetings and a couple of high-profile (and pressure) presentations.

Just a quick note, and now back to it. Gonna' play, you gotta' pay!


10 November, 2009

Parts Therapy

Took the 11-48 out on Sunday; bad news as it wouldn't cycle properly from round one. Bolt kept hanging up about 1/3 of the way through return travel. I could help it along manually, but sure threw me off. Many clays lived to fly another day.

After a long day/evening at work, I decided some tear-down was in order to figure out what's what. Somehow assembly and disassembly of guns, particularly shotguns, is super relaxing. Unless you've done it a bunch, you have to be slow and methodical. Otherwise springs go flying, parts get lost, or some other mishap.

Semi-autos like my 11-48 are particularly fascinating. As soon as you get it apart, you can see an intrinsic logic. Lots of "Oh, that's right, this connects to that to provide that action..." moments. The 11-48 is inertia-driven, so lots of connectors and springs.

After stripping it down and cycling 8,347 times I figure out the carriers that connect the bolt to the main recoil spring are rubbing against a hole they feed into.

Tonight's project? Figure out how to correct that. I think the gunsmith at Williams may have re-assembled incorrectly. And with guns, not right is wrong.


09 November, 2009

Cold Conquered

Great road ride yesterday morning with some friends. Rode from downtown Saline out toward Manchester and back in a big loop. Total about 22 miles. Felt GREAT!

While yesterday was unseasonably warm, at 8 am it was still only around 40 degrees. For as much as I love cold weather skiing, fishing, and hunting, I don't do cold on the bike well. But yesterday worked great - base layer, middle insulating layer, and wind-proof shell. Grabbed my winter gloves at the last moment, which was a good call.

I think the key for me is not getting cold at first. That's when I bail. By the end of the ride, I was a bit too warm, but for the most part comfy. Nice to know that the season doesn't have to end in September! Hoping to get 1-2 more rides in now!


06 November, 2009

11-48 Follow-Up

Quick follow-up to yesterday's post. Found time to slip up to Williams Gunsight and pick up my 11-48 last night.


As soon as I picked it up everything was happy. Much better mount, bead's right where it's supposed to be. No fumbling, no moving my head around. Truly amazing the difference a proper fit makes already. Can't wait to bust a few clays with it.

Yeah, the used stock doesn't match the fore end, but this gun's not about pretty. It's for breakin' clays and hunting small game.

Very happy. Kudos to Kevin at Williams Gunsight. Excellent work at a great price!


05 November, 2009


Been wanting to get my Remington 11-48 working better for me as a shotgun for clays. It came with a battered recoil pad that almost disintegrated when I removed it. Tried to install one myself, after Gander Mountain sat with my gun for a MONTH and did nothing. Let's just say, I don't think I'll be applying for any gunsmith jobs any time soon. Fugly.

I'd heard good things about Williams Gun Sight east of Flint. On a recent trip North, I was able to stop in and chat with one of their gunsmiths. He figured out that my length of pull is WAY too short on this gun. Might explain my low averages and difficulty finding a consistent mount. He offered that he likely had some used stock that could get the length where I needed it. Even called me to discuss options and provide his opinion. I think it's going to be a huge improvement. Hoping to run up there and pick it up this week -- wanted to try some clays this weekend.

Report to follow!


04 November, 2009

Where Am I?

I was out with a couple friends who are outdoorsy sorts and they were talking about where they deer hunt. It was amazing how precisely each knew where the other was. This was reinforced last week when talking to a fishing guide about where he deer hunts - I knew where he was talking about to within a few hundred feet even though it was hundreds of miles away in the Upper Peninsula.

This is a huge benefit of spending time in the outdoors. To be safe and effective, you need to know where you are. A skill that serves most folks well in many other situations. I'm not sure how, but most of my friends who're outdoors a lot tend to know innately where they are. Contrast this to a lot of indoor types so seem to have a hard time finding their way home. What's most amazing is that you can drop these outdoorsy sorts into unfamiliar settings and they pretty quickly acclimate and find their bearings.

Fascinating, to me. I'm sure it's got some caveman connection. But it's a cool and useful skill!


03 November, 2009

Reel Deal

I'm lovin' my Orvis Battenkill Large Arbor 5 reel this Fall. I've caught salmon, steelhead, and brown trout on this reel. Drag system is perfect -- smooth, fast engagement. Great stopping power. Couldn't be happier with its performance.

Mine's spooled up with 20# Climax ZIP line for chuck n' duck style fishing. It's tough and tangle-free even in the coldest weather.

One of my favorite facets is the finish. It's almost jewel-like and looks great on any rod. In terms of appearance, this one's my favorite. I wish my Ross Momentum had been available in silver (it's champagned colored).

I see Orvis has them on sale just now (http://www.orvis.com/store/product.aspx?pf_id=65HE&dir_id=758&group_id=768&cat_id=7626&subcat_id=7644) - if you're looking for a solid large-species reel, I highly recommend!


02 November, 2009

Can't Explain

The NRA was flogging this article hard in the latest edition of their propaganda ... err magazine.


First the disclosure - I'm an NRA member. I joined because they're really the only viable option for a voice of gun owners. But, I do find I'm out of alignment with a lot of their views. This article was one.

The NRA commentators acted as if this process were completely egregious. In my opinion, gun ownership SHOULD be a little challenging. I think anyone who wants to own a firearm legally, who isn't a felon or mentally ill, should be able to do so. The author cites $833 in costs -- including a safety course ($250) and the purchase of his handgun ($275) as if these were outlandish costs. A first time gun buyer, especially handguns, who doesn't take some sort of safety course is a moron. Guns are capable of lethal force. They should be treated with the same respect (as the author learned upon handling one).

This sort of spin is what makes the NRA so unpalatable for the masses. Did the author get to purchase a gun? Yes. So drop it. Making a Federal case of the process only points out your extreme viewpoint. And the article highlights inequities amongst States - something the NRA support under the "State's Rights" cloak. WTF?