19 September, 2014

Grudge Match

This Summer my Dad got to resolve his grudge match with the Atlantic Salmon. Over the weekend, I'll be rolling up to the Upper Peninsula to settle the score with Esox Masquinongy, or Mr. Muskie to us regular non-Latin-speaking folks. We'll be spending the day in the capable hands of guide and friend Jon Ray of Hawkins Outfitters. JR's been putting in the hours on UP waters building a solid muskie program. Plus, I just enjoy a day in the boat with him. I always learn something new and it's just fun.

Last year, Dad got his -- just under 40" -- right near the end of our day. While I got a few pike, and had three muskie on, none were boated.

Solid first muskie on the fly!

But those muskie got in my head. I know a bunch of muskie fly guys and it's definitely a mental game. These things are the Unicorn of the Water. I think it's the strike that got me. Unlike steelhead who don't often hit really hard initially, muskie absolutely blow up a fly when properly motivated. It's just cool.

On an equipment front (hey, I can't overlook the gear...), I'm intrigued as I know Jon's got at least one of the new Scott Tidal's aboard. I've test cast a 907 and I have to say I rather liked it. Especially at the price point. It will be interesting to actually fish this new rod. I've got in a fair number of hours on my Scott Radian (of course with MUCH smaller flies in a lighter weight).

I realize so much of it is luck, weather, water conditions, and so on - but this year I do at least feel better prepared. Over the past year I've put some effort into my casting stroke to get more power and distance with less effort. I'm getting better at solid, consistent hooksets (I think poor hooksets were a part of my problem last year).

So, I've stepped up my game. Let's see if the Fish Gods smile upon me.


11 September, 2014

It's time...

Yesterday, I pulled the trigger on an Epic Pass ski season pass. After skiing Vail & Beaver Creek that past two years and seeing the value you get with this pass, it seemed worthwhile. Add to this Vail's decision to buy Michigan's Mt. Brighton (20 minutes from home for me), and it seems like a no-brainer.

Would I ski Mt. Brighton often enough to warrant a season pass? Nope. It's small, icy, and can get crowded at peak times. But the way I look at it, if I ski four days out West, I basically pay for the pass and get a free pass to a local hill. This Winter I'm committed to doing a better job to maintain my fitness. A couple of hours skiing on a Tuesday night will be a welcome alternative to the gym. Plus I have some local buddies who also have the pass. So, I think we'll be having some "Old Guy Ski Nights" this year!

Last day at Beaver Creek - one of my favorites!
In addition, my goal would be to try and sneak in a couple of trips out West. It's usually pretty economical to score a flight to Denver or Salt Lake, so this seems pretty doable. Again, anything over 4 days and I've paid for the pass and gotten Brighton for free. With the Epic I get unlimited days at Breckenridge and Keystone, plus some blackouts at Utah's Canyons and some Tahoe areas, as well as a total of 10 days to Vail & Beaver Creek. Seems like a solid deal. I prefer Utah, but I've definitely enjoyed Colorado these past two years (3' of snow in 4 days last year!!!).

I also scored on my regular season pass at Caberfae Peaks, in NW Michigan. When I've got a little more time, this gets me some better skiing than staying local. Plus, at $99 early season, it's also a no-brainer.

Already the days are getting shorter, the nights cooler, and just a hint of color has come to the maples in my yard. My new Blizzard Bonafide's and my trusty Volkl RTM 84's are waxed and ready to go.

Soon enough the snowflakes should start flying - looking forward to an outstanding season!


09 September, 2014

Streamer Technique for Trout - A Gratuitous Rip-Off

On my trips to Montana I got to be friends with guide Joe Willauer. Cool guy who writes a solid blog - Evolution Anglers. One of the things that I enjoyed about fishing with Joe is that we seemed to have a common outlook on what made an enjoyable day.

So rather than write my half-ass, newbie blog article on streamer fishing, I'd let Joe offer you some tips honed Out West. Plus, it'll drive some nice traffic to Joe's blog anyway!  :)

Technique Tuesday: Streamer Fishing from a Drift Boat

Solid work, Joe! Couldn't agree with this more. I especially liked the light line, heavy fly. On my last Montana trip I had the most success with weighted flies on the Rio Outbound Short Intermediate line. Easy to cast and really produced!


02 September, 2014

Creaky - GONE!

Chris King to the rescue! Since the installation of my new bottom bracket, the annoying creak I've had in the lower regions of the Giant Defy Advanced is GONE! Rode 42 miles on Saturday and even pounding up Delhi Hill near the end of the ride (short, steep climb) nothing. Not a sound.

Nothing to see here - from the outside anyway...

As an added benefit, things just "feel" better. Somehow it's more rigid, and seems to roll more smoothly. Intuitively, this makes sense - there's a reason you buy precision components with precision bearings.

The unit comes in several colors, but I'm not even sure you'd have seen them with my frame. Besides, a little bling goes a long way.

While this was a bit pricey, the piece of mind and performance improvement make it more than worthwhile. If you've got an unhappy bottom bracket, I would definitely check out the Chris King bottom bracket solution.