Tuesday, December 30, 2014

2014 was a good year.

One of my main fishing/outdoor goals this year was to explore new water, and I did just that. Here are the posts that prove it.
  • Gulf of Mexico - Fly fished the Gulf of Mexico and caught my first salt water fish.
  • 31st Street Harbor - Lake Michigan - It's a brand new harbor on Lake Michigan.
  • Orlando Florida - Caught my first gar on the fly.
  • Fox Lake - Fished for the first time from a kayak. Explored new areas and water.
  • Illinois River - Fished for the first time, and from my kayak. The river is HUGE!
  • Northwoods Part 1 - Explored new waters up North.
  • Maumee River Ohio - Wet a line for an hour and found a new place to fish when visiting my best friend.
  • Northwoods Part 2 - Returned to the same area, but explored new sections. I love it up there!
  • Northwoods Part 3 or 4 - Finally hooked up with my first musky. Cannot get enough of the Northwoods!
The Northwoods would definitely be my pick for favorite trip this year. There is just so much water, and wildlife. I would be happy just getting lost in the wilderness for a few days, without my fishing gear up there.

I was also, successful in catching some new species. One of them has been at the top of my list for years, and I finally did it, I caught my first musky! I'm still jazzed by the thought of that beautiful fish eating one of my flies.

I also, caught my first salt water fish in the Gulf of Mexico, a speck/sea trout, and with my fly rod and on one of my flies. Looking forward to visiting Florida, again!

I even hooked up with my first gar on the fly. It was a nice surprise, and definitely a rush, because, I didn't have a proper leader tied on, because, I was bass fishing. I didn't think I was going to find anything with teeth in the lake that I was fishing.

My biggest smallmouth and largemouth bass of the year. I don't weight my fish, so, I'm just guessing, but I'm sure both of them were between 4-5lbs. I can tell you that both were definitely 20+ inches in length.

Looking back on all of my adventures this year, I can only smile and think about all of the good times. 2014 was great, and I'm looking forward to what 2015 has in store for me. I know that it already has a new job lined up for me, and I start the first Monday of the new year. Exciting!

I'm going to continue my 2014 outdoor/fishing resolution to explore new water for 2015. It's amazing how much of it is out there.

I would like to wish all of my friends out there in blogger world a Happy New Year! Cheers to 2015! (Sorry if I forgot anyone.)
I'll end this post with some of my favorite photographs from this year.
Gizzard Shad - Lake Michigan.
Northwoods Smallie ready to be released.
Wading the Gulf of Mexicco. Such an awesome experience!

My biggest DPR Northern Pike of 2014.

The Fat Gordo and I, taking a break from all of the fun.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Winter DPR Float

I have been itching to get out on the Des Plains River (DPR) 1 last time this year, and I finally got my opportunity. After my morning workout, I loaded up my kayak, and headed toward the river. When I arrived at the launch, the sun was out blazing, and it was a very warm 35 degree's outside.

Paddled up river quite a ways. Pretty much my 2nd workout for the day - I was exhausted. My gear was kept to a minimum. It was hard for me to only bring my 10 wt fly rod, and 3 flies. The first 2 minutes of my float back to the landing, I had a very nice chunky 25+ inch northern pike sort of lazily explode out of the water in a terribly failed attempt to strike my fly. It kind of seemed like it didn't want to go after it, but had to. Sort of how I most of us feel about work sometimes. Don't really want to be there, but need to be. I anchored and casted like a billion times into the same area, but no dice...or pike.

That was the most action I received fishing on my float. I did, however, see a female deer standing near the bank, and soon after that,  I saw a raccoon walking the bank. They were probably just enjoying the beautiful weather just like me. 

Not wanting to end this beautiful day with a skunk. I loaded up my kayak, and headed towards an area I can get a decent cast from shore with my fly rod, not to mention, the spot is always good for at least 1 pike. Upon arrival I was happy to find no one else was there. The last few times I stopped here, there were some characters I didn't get a good vibe from.

If you look close, you can see the fly, flying.
Nothing on Side A, so, I flipped over to Side B.

Graffiti under the bridge.
Side B had the soothing sounds of thrashing water I was looking for.

These pike have dirty mouths.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Chorizo stuffed Jalapeño Poppers

If you have ever watched Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, you may have seen an episode where Guy Fieri was at a burger place in Chicago. The name of the place is Kuma's Corner, and the burgers there are outstanding! Not only are the burgers delicious, the appetizers are just as good, too.

Here's a step by step on how to make these poppers. I do them a bit differently than Kuma's, and they come out just as good...in my opinion.

  • Jalapenos
  • Chorizo
  • Whipped Cream Cheese
  • Panko
  • 1 Egg
  • Beer (Optional) 
Step One - Open beer and take a sip. (Optional.)
Step Two - Make sure you have all of the required ingredients. If you don't, then improvise. I forgot to get panko, and was too lazy to go back to the store, so, I improvised and used Italian bread crumbs instead.

Step Three - Cut the tops off of the jalapeno peppers and clean them out.

Step Four - Cook the chorizo sausage.
Step Five - In a bowl mix the cooked chorizo sausage with the whipped cream cheese.
Step Six - Drink Beer. (Optional.)

Step Seven - Fill the jalapenos with the chorizo sausage and cream cheese mixture.
Step Eight - Prepare a bowl with the 1 egg, and another bowl with panko.
Step Nine - Take a jalapeno and soak it with egg, then coat it with panko, and place on a baking tray. Repeat until finished.
Step Ten - Pre-heat oven to 400 degree's, and bake the jalapenos until golden.
Step Eleven - Take them out of the oven.
Step Twelve - Drink beer and eat.

Not pictured is the finished product. It's because my GF bought a deep fryer, and I tried to use it for the first time with these poppers, because, Kuma's Corner deep fry's theirs. In the past I have baked mine, because, I never had a deep fryer, and they have turned out awesome. Well, not the case with the deep fryer. I was very disappointed with the finished product. I chalk it up to it being my first time using the deep fryer. I will post a picture the next time I make them.

Shout out to my beautiful sister, Jennifer, for getting me a case of one of my favorite, hard to attain beers. Zombie Dust from 3 Floyds in Munster, Indiana.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas

I just want to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas. I hope you're all able to spend Christmas the way you would like to. I will be spending my time working both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, but I will be out early enough to spend the evening with family, friends, and food. =)

Easy Daisy and Bo Marley, would also like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas. Bo, also, want it to be known that he is the ruffest toughest in the galaxy. Thunderdome rules applied to their battle, as Daisy watched. 2 men enter, 1 man leaves.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Winter Creek Fishing

It's been far too long since I've been out fishing. With warmer weather this past weekend, I took advantage of it, before the lakes, rivers, and creeks froze up, again. It was about 35 degree's, and gloomy. It's been gloomy for the past 7 days or so, and it's starting to get to me. I need some sunlight soon!

I had plans to pick up my kayak and head out to the Des Plains River, but I over slept m y alarm. Decided to fish the closest place to my GF's place, Poplar Creek. I only fished the creek 2 times this past year, and I wasn't as successful, like in years past. It's a great small creek. It's surrounded by an urban area, but there are parts of it that really disguise it's setting, very well.

Not as scenic as the streams you will find on Alan's blog - Small Stream Reflections
It's a great small stream/creek that feeds into a much larger river, The Fox River. It's surrounded by a very urban area, but there are parts of the stream that really disguise it's setting, very well. Small and largemouth bass, bluegill, crappie, creek chubs, northern pike, and various pan fish can be found/caught here.

There are quite a few bridges that you will come across if wading this creek. Lots of fish can be found congregating underneath these bridges. I cannot stress the importance of wading smart and carefully when approaching any of these bridges, especially, if you're by yourself. 90% of the time, the lighting sucks underneath the bridges, and there's no telling how deep it can be. Even if I am familiar with a bridge, I find a stick and use it as a wading staff. So, be careful out there! Also, cast like a million times in there until you advance through them. =)

Bridges usually always hold fish.
I know what you're thinking, Justin, is breaking the rules, again! - Ohio Smallie - This sign carries no weight. Poplar Creek is all Public. I think someone put it there, because, there's a nice deep bend in the creek right in front of it that holds all kinds of fish. Although, there were none there that day. In the summer the big smallies usually hang out there. Someone is trying to protect their spot. All good with me, if it scares others away. I use it as a land marker when telling friends where to go, and where all the holes are. Ha!

As, the day went on, the gloomy clouds seemed to get even gloomier. It made this bridge look dark and ominous. The name of the street that crosses that bridge is Bluff City Blvd. There's a casino nearby, and when I'm in this area, I usually let my imagination run wild with the thoughts of card games gone wrong, knee caps, and body dumps cross my mind.

Another bridge.
Sure enough, after going to the other side of the dark ominous bridge that is Bluff City Blvd. I come across a shoe in the water. Not just any shoe, but a Nike Michael Jordan shoe. These are highly coveted, and it was in decent shape. What a shame...I hope I don't come across what I've been making up in my mind! Dun Dun Dun!

Thankfully, there were no floaters.
I started to lose feeling in my toes, so, I knew it was time to turn around and head back. Most of my trek back was spent walking through the woods, because, I just wanted to get back before gloominess became darkness. I came across some fresh lumber. I loved how these logs resembled sunflowers. Can you see it?

Some sweet looking lumber.
No fish were caught, but I didn't care. It was a treat to just get out for a wade, wet a line, and walk through the woods. I saw 1 fish, a bluegill I spooked near one of the bridges. I also, spooked a big Red Tailed Hawk out of a tree. I hear it, but couldn't locate it in the tree's until I unknowingly got too close and it took off.

End of my day.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Ice Fishing

As I was wandering through Cabela's killing time, and looking at a bunch of hooks, I came across some very small jigs that looked perfect for ice fishing. The hooks were 1/100 oz, and they had a clean hook shank to work with. 
  1.  I tie on some marabou for a tail (Do not cut off the excess.)
  2. Add some crystal flash for an attractor.
  3. Wrap the excess marabou around the rest of the hook shank.
  4.  Whip finish.


I am going to give ice fishing another shot this winter.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Change Up

Earlier this week, I swapped out the hooks on my tying desk from the big 8/0 hooks I use for musky and pike, for size a size 14. I love to tie a variety of flies. I would go crazy if I had to tie the same pattern 100 times in a row, so, the change was good.

I don't know what you would call these, but it's basically a Copper John with a pheasant tail, with no legs. I left out 2 steps. Much more enjoyable for me to tie than the traditional Copper John, and the people I have tied this for have had equal amount of success.

Pheasant Tail Copper John Clone?

Size 14 Hook
Pheasant Tail
Medium Copper Wire
Peacock Hearl
Gold Bead (Copper or Gold)

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Happy Customer and Catch

One of my most recent customers had an awesome outing on a river here in Illinois. He was able to hook up with about 7 northern pike with the first flies that he has purchased from me. He was more than pleased with the flies, and the pike were, as well - just look at that smile. :)


I love hearing about people having success with something that I created. Nothing pleases me more!

I've been sick for the past 5 days. Bummer, because, it was extremely nice out this past weekend with weather in the 40's. I am hoping that I will be able to get out and we a line this upcoming weekend. Fingers Crossed!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Hank Patterson's Reel Montana Adventure

Tonight I will be attending a showing of "Hank Patterson's Reel Montana Adventure" in Arlington Heights. The event is hosted by a Tight Loop Magazine and Dunn Magazine

Tickets are $10 online at Chiflyfilms.com or $12 at the door.

Star Cimema Grill
3 S. Evergreen Ave
Arlington Heights, IL 60005

If you're not familiar with Hank Patterson, go and check out some of his YouTube videos. They're sure to get you to laugh.

Here's the trailer for tonight's event.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Goose Island Bourbon County Bourbon Stout

Goose Island's Bourbon County Bourbon Stout. A delicious 14.2 % ABV that has a ridiculous amount of flavor. If you come across it, and haven't had it, I highly recommend that you purchase it, and give it a go. I'm not much of a bourbon fan, but the first time I had this stuff, I was like WOW. I believe this beer is best when it's at room temperature. It allows all of those flavors to come out even more.

The popularity of craft beer has sky rocketed, and has gotten out of control. I was only able to score 1 bottle this year. I'm sure I will find some more as the days go on, but I am not one to stand in those "Black Friday" type lines for anything, let alone beer. Ha!

Are there any others out there who enjoy craft beer?

Friday, December 5, 2014

Darty Sharks - Champions!

It was my first season with my cousins flag football team, The Darty Sharks. There were high expectations, because, they won it all last year in their highly competitive 7 on 7 league last year. I was stoked that I got the call and earned a spot on the defending champs roster.

We finished the regular season undefeated with 6 wins. Our defense was legendary, best in the league, the best football defense in the city of Chicago right now (including the Bears), giving up only 51 regular season points.

We continued our dominance throughout the playoffs, giving up a total of 2 points in the first playoff game. Then pitching shutouts in both, the Semi final, and Championship game.

Stoked and already preparing for next year!


Overall Record - 9 wins - 0 losses
Points for - 195
Points against - 53

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Carf Outdoors Decals

What do you think?

I think it's pretty awesome!!!!

Ryan of Dead Weight Fly created me this awesome logo of a smallmouth bass chasing a baitfish fly. If you are not familiar with his work, you should definitely take a minute to peruse his site. Your eyes will not be disappointed. He is incredibly talented! Check out his metal sculptures - one word - RIDICULOUS!

I ordered some stickers with my new logo design on them, and I just received an email that they will be shipped out tomorrow. If you're interested in purchasing a sticker please shoot me an email at - carfoutdoors@gmail.com. 

I will also, be having a holiday giveaway that will include some flies and a few decals, so, be on the look out for that post!

Recent Orders

Finished up some recent orders. Seems everyone has predators with teeth on their mind.

Here are 2  flies that will be hunting down Northern Pike locally for a guy that just got into fly fishing. I've had success with these flies, and I know that they will serve my buddy well.

2/0 bucktail baitfish
These big beautiful flies will be hunting down Southern Ohio and Kentucky musky. Those Clear Cure Goo Jolly Roger eyes on my cotton candy pattern is sure to piss off any musky that it crosses.

8/0 musky flies
I wish I was still chasing musky and pike. If the weather is nice this weekend, I will be fishing.

Option A - Des Plains River for Northern Pike from my kayak. I just don't know if I will have the time.

Option B - Small creek wade fishing for whatever is around. Smallies, creek chubs, bluegill, and tilapia. Haha A buddy of mine caught a few tilapia out of this creek in a certain section this summer. We believe that they were planted there, with hopes that they would sustain their own population. I highly doubt that those warm water fish are still there....but you never know! :)

Monday, December 1, 2014

Secret Spots

Don't ya just love seeing photos like this!

Taken sometime this summer, as you can tell by the fluttering butterfly.
I caught this walleye on a spinnerbait rigged with a Stankx Bait Company swim bait. I caught another one a few casts later. Such a beautiful fish! I was really shocked when I caught it. I haven't caught a wally in probably over 3 years. It's a fish I rarely target. If you couldn't tell, this walleye was caught on Planet Earth, and more specifically, North America.

Where's your secret spot? You can tell me :)