Wednesday, December 30, 2015

2015 Year End Review: Part 2 of 2

2015 was full of fish of all sizes, new water, laughs, and good times in my white sunglasses.  I continued my 2014 resolution to "Explore New Water."  The amount of water around me in Illinois, Wisconsin, and Michigan is simply incredible, so, I'm just going to make that my resolution every year.

Two of my favorite posts of the year about my explorations up North.
One of my favorite non-report type post from this year on becoming a Bass Pro.  I should do more like this.
River Warrior. This one was an absolute beast!
This year has also brought many surprises.  One of those surprises was my first Flathead Channel Catfish caught on the Maumee River in Toledo Ohio with a chatterbait.  It also wins an award for being the smelliest fish I have ever caught.

Grip, grin, and hold your breath!!
I've been trying to catch a carp on the fly for over 2 seasons now (I think), and I finally did it!  Looking forward to hooking up with some of it's bigger relatives and hearing my drag scream!

I've struck GOLD!!!
This Summer I hosted a successful PIG FARM INK: Iron Fly event with the help of homies UA Dave and Adam Alexander.  I was very pleased with the turnout, and look forward to hosting another one, so, be on the look out for the next one, and a late blog post about this one.  Haha

PIG FARM INK - Iron Fly!
Here are just a few of my favorite photographs from this Summer.  Coincidentally, they're all from my trips North.

CARF approves this message.
Keep 'em wet.
Sassy Snapper and The Fat Gordo.
2015 Fish of the Year Award goes to.....

The Backyard Pumpkinseed!

I had never seen one with this coloration on one before.  My first reaction to seeing this fish was, "what the hell is that!?!?!"  Then I calmed my excitement and got lost in it's beauty.  The Pumpkinseed also had a great answer on the topic of world peace...Make Bugs Not War!

What a beautiful fish.
There has been a terrible mistake.

The Pumpkinseed is the 1st runner up.

The actual winner of the 2015 Fish of the Year goes to a catch I have written no post for, and have shared only 1 photograph of it.  Basically, I've been keeping her all to myself.  It's a fish I've been chasing hard the past few years with my fly rod, with plenty of ups, downs, and many many missed opportunities.  Without further adieu, I give you...

The 2015 Fish of the Year...

Northwoods Musky!

39 inches of beautiful violence.

Caught fly fishing, with one of my own flies.

My personal best musky and fish to date.  This picture only shows 1/4 of my excitement.
Smile - you're on camera!
I would like to thank all of my readers and followers.  I would also like to wish all of you a happy and safe New Years!

Chewy, get ready to engage the hyper drive.

2016 here we come!

Monday, December 28, 2015

Dun Magazine & a Tight Loop: Clousers for a Cause

Back in May (I think...sooo long ago haha)....I attended a fly tying event hosted by Jen of Dun Magazine and Kurt of a Tight Loop.  The purpose of the event was to tie flies that were going to be donated to the Milwaukee charter for Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing or PHWFF.  All that was needed was your vise, and tools.  All of the other materials were provided.

The event took place at a fantastic unknown ( me) distillery not far from my home named Copper Fiddle Distillery.  Travis the mixologist or mix master working behind the counter is a magician who creates some fantastic drinks.  If you're ever in that area, I suggest you stop.

The fly to be tied for the Milwaukee PHWFF Chapter was the ever so reliable clouser minnow.  I forget the total number of people that showed up, but it was a fantastic turnout, and a lot of flies were tied.

Quite the turnout.
It was a great event that was for an excellent cause.

Clousers for a Cause.


Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas!

I would just like to say, Merry Christmas, to all of you and your families!  I hope you all have some extra days off from work, and are able to enjoy that time with your loved ones!

Winged Reel and Pig Farm Ink have partnered up to host a gear drive benefiting Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing.  So, if you have any gently used gear that you would like to donate to a great cause please visit the website.  

For more information click below.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

2015 Year End Review: Part 1 of 2

My 2015 fishing season was outstanding, and not because of the fishing.  It was awesome, because, of the new and old friends I had the honor of sharing the water with.  Lots of good times, fish, beers, and laughs.  I just want to send out a big "Thank You" to all who made time spent on the water fun.

Here's UA Dave and I floating the Des Plains River at the beginning of the year in January.  Click here to see the old post - Winter Pike Float with Urban Assault Fly Fishing.

Looking forward to our trips in 2016, dude!

UA Dave and I floating with I-90 & I-190 behind us.
Later in the Spring I was invited out to float and explore the Fox with Kurt of a Tight Loop Magazine, and Sean of Rushing Waters.  T'was a great time that we definitely need to repeat come 2016.  Click here to see the old post - High Water Floating.

Kurt chillen with Sean on the oars.  I'm rowing next time!
Hunting musky with Mike until Midnight was an awesome experience.  There were no fish caught, but I learned that musky lures can fly into trees and never be returned.  I haven't forgotten about you, Mike!  I'm still on the hunt for that lure! Haha.  Read all about that night here -  We're Huntin' Musky.

Mike casting top water lures as the sun sets.
WCF BBQ at Beck Lake, hosted by the meat man himself, Kevin of Utopia Cigars.  It was great meeting, fishing, and throwing back some brewski's with all of you guys...Keith, Marcus, DanK, Tom, and Tim.  I apologize if I omitted you from this list.  Here's the post - Windy City Fishing BBQ at Beck Lake.

BBQ at my place this winter when the lake freezes over!

Kevin and Keith in the S'canoe.  Such a great water craft!
DanK and I always know how to have a good time.  This was a particularly fun day fishing Popar Creek and the lake behind my house, where DanK put on a clinic, hooking up with some monster bass.  Click here to see the old post - Creek Time.

CARF and DanK doubled up on smallies.
WCF Des Plains River outing.  What an awesome time on some local water with a whole bunch of guys from the forum.  DanK, Marcus, Keith, Todd, Piker Mike, Joe, Sully, Zach, John, Dan P, Saul, and SkiFish...It was great meeting all of those I have not met before, and always good to fish with the guys that I have.  Looking forward to next years float!  Check out the old post and video here - WCF DPR Floatilla.

The after float BBQ.
Keith and I with a DPR double.  This was a fun float that I cannot remember if I wrote about or not, and if I did, I don't know where it is. Haha.  Good times, man!

Keith is a DPR monster slayer!
Shout out to Adam aka The Slaunch Mob aka WindyCityFlyFishing.  Glad you've jumped on board with fly fishing, and I'm looking forward to more outings with you, hopefully, there's fish involved, too! haha  Click here for the post - Fly Fishing with The Slaunch Mob.

Another shout out to DanK.  Unexplored water on the Kishwaukee River is awaiting us.  That float was an absolute blast, and I cannot wait to explore more of that river when you get your new kayak!  Here's the post - Fish Da Kish.

Oh, and I want to wish you a speedy recovery with your achilles tendon!  If you're not fully healed by Spring, I will carry you to your kayak, homie! I got you! haha

Another CARF and DanK smallie double!
Last but not least, a shout out to the one and only, The Fat Gordo.  Let's keep it gangsta in 2016!

The Fat Gordo and I floating down river in my kayak.
Another big "THANK YOU" to all of you who I shared the water with this year, and making my 2015 season as awesome as it was!
**I apologize if I left you off of here, and I hope you call me out for it!**

Monday, December 21, 2015

Muddy Explorations

The Chicago Bears weren't looking pretty, and it was seemingly nice outside, so, I took the dogs for a walk, and then venture over to the area of Poplar Creek that I had never fished before. Click here for the previous post - Local Exploring.

Armed with my 3 wt, a sweater, and the bare necessities packed in my Vedavoo Utility Belt, and Hip Pack, I set out with zero expectations.

Gray skies, bare trees, and muddy banks.

It sure was nice to get out and wet a line in some unfamiliar water.  Although, I was not able to entice anything.  Looking forward to fishing this stretch in the summer months.  I have a feeling it's a happening place for fun sized smallies and panfish.

Minimum Cowbell.
A bass pattern I've been tying that's inspired by Nick Granato's pattern Maximum Cowbell.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Flies Flying Off The Vise

T'was a busy night at the vise.  My buddy UA Dave and I are thinking about getting a table at an upcoming fly fishing show in Wisconsin - River Falls Fly Fishing Festival.  So, I've begun to stock up on some of my favorite patterns, and make them ready and available to purchase at our table.

Below you'll find 6 - 2/0 Musky/Pike/Bass baitfish in my favorite color pattern, I Hate Cotton Candy.  These just need to get eyed up, clear cure goo'd, and they're finished.

Reminder - If there is any interest in purchasing some of my flies, please feel free to shoot me an email at

I recently won some stickers from the ever so generous The Fly Trout.  These are some great stickers, and really wish the world would take note from the "Make Bugs Not War" sticker.  Check out their website for some really cool and fun apparel, hats, and stickers. 

Thank you, again, for having the contest The Fly Trout!!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Nautilus Reels Yeti Cooler Review

Last November, I entered a contest on Instagram through Nautilus Reels.  The grand prize was a Nautilus Reels branded Yeti Cooler 35, and never did I think I was going to win, but I did!  Check out the blog post here - I WON A YETI.

Well, this summer, I put that cooler to work.  Taking it on all of my trips, and I have to say, I'm impressed.  I really didn't get the hype around these coolers, but after using one, I get it.  This cooler really does keep ice longer, which is super beneficial when you're going to need it to for a few days.

I have found the best use of this cooler is to use it for any food that will need to be kept cold, if you're going to be out camping or on a trip for a few days.  Keeping beverages in a separate cooler.  If you're not going to be needing to be keeping any food cold, it works great for your beverages.

One thing I absolutely love about the model I received, the Yeti 35, is that it fits perfectly in my kayak.  This way if I'm floating with a few people, I can carry all of the drinks in my kayak, and others won't have to worry.  My kayak is a tank, and I don't mind or even notice that my cooler is behind me.

Some other great things about the cooler, is that it has been a great stool around the house.  When my GF and I were putting up new curtains and rods, I used the Yeti to stand on, because, it gave me that extra height and stability I needed.

Oh, and it floats!  So, if there is ever a time I have the cooler in my kayak and a friend of mine needs a ride down river, I can just tie a rope to the cooler and toss it in the water, so, my friend can sit down in the back of my kayak.  How great is that!  I guess it would make a great PFD in case I ever capsized and my life jacket was not doing the trick.

Conclusion of this review - I love this cooler!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Temporary Happiness

Des Plains River.

20 minutes to kill.

Bait caster.  Steel leader.  Rapala Husky Jerk (Firetiger).

High water.  Fast current.


20 minutes of satisfaction.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

The Jigs Up

After work yesterday, I made it home with day light to spare.  I quickly changed, grabbed my already lined up  3 wt from the laundry room, and rushed outside to wet a line in the backyard.  Shortly after my 4th cast, the sun began it's decent.  I wasn't complaining about it, either.  It was a beautiful sight.  It almost seemed like there was a fire in the sky.

10 casts, a beautiful sunset, 2 skunks (wandering around near me), and 1 skunk of my own, I decided to call it a night and head in for dinner.

After dinner I sat down at the vise and began to tie up some more jigs, but not without some fly tying fuel.  I sure do love IPA's.  Didn't have high expectations for this one.  I bought it, because, it was made with one of my favorite punk rock bands growing up, NOFX.

Here's the end results of some jigs that will pair well with spinning rod and some winter fish.  Nothing fancy.  Just materials that get the job done that fish enjoy.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Illinois Smallmouth Alliance & DRiFT Present: 2015 Early Show

Show season has begun.  Last month the ISA (Illinois Smallmouth Alliance)and DRIFT (DuPage River Fly Tyers) hosted their annual "Early Show" at the Mayslake Peabody Estate in Oak Brook.

The plan was to meet up and fish Salt Creek near the show with Dave of Chi-Tie / Urban Assault Fly Fishing, and Adam of Adam Alexander Photography at 06:30, but I had one of those mornings.  You know, the one where you just continue to sleep, and wake up at a time, later than the one discussed.

I arrived at the show around 12:30.  Much later than I had anticipated.  I was looking forward to sitting in on a presentation on fly fishing the Driftless Area of Wisconsin presented by my buddy PJ, but unfortunately when I sat down, he began the Q&A, which normally only takes place at the end.

PJ and his wife Donna are two of the most pleasant people you will ever meet.  They both love to fish, and are both very knowledgeable, so, if you're ever looking for a guide for Southwest Wisconsin, shoot him an email.  He even has cool shirts!
Facebook -- PJ's Guide Service
Email/Contact --
One of my few purchases at the show. Artwork by Jonathan Marquardt of Badaxe Design.
Throughout the show, there were casting demonstrations going on outside on the lawn.  Someone mentioned to me that if I haven't casted a double handed/spey/switch rod, that I should go out there and try it out, because, Douglas, the guy teaching it was awesome.  

They were spot on about the instructor.  His instruction was knowledgeable, clear, easy to follow, and funny.  After learning how to spey and switch cast, I now want a two handed rod.  While I only spent about an hour with Douglas learning to cast, I know that I can recommend him as an instructor, because, I know if I ever need to relearn it, I'm going back to him.

Here's a cool guiding service with some really cool dudes from Wisconsin.  It was great talking with them, especially, learning about "Crash Camp."  Check out their site for more information, and some fun facts about the guys.  I got a good laugh from it.

I received this fly from one of the local tyers of DRiFT (DuPage River Fly Tyers).  I was told that it's an excellent pattern for crappie, and I think I should believe him, because, the tyer goes by the name of Crappie John.  Thank you, for the fly, John!

I'm a fan of stickers and cool t-shirts, and when I saw the table for The Driftless Angler, I got exited, because, I have been wanting one of their shirts for a long time now.  Unfortunately, I didn't have much time to talk with the guy working the booth, but I did get the t-shirt I've been wanting.

I also picked up some awesome stickers from them, too.  Looking forward to finding a home for these.

Website -- Driftless Angler
Facebook -- Driftless Angler

When I was finished learning how to cast with a two handed rod.  I went over and talked with Matt Sment about Tenkara, and even learned how to cast one.  Interesting stuff.  I can definitely see myself using one of these rods for bluegill and my small creek fishing for smallies.

Website -- Badger Tenkara
Facebook -- Badger Tenkara

After the show I was walking out with Dave and we stopped by his buddy Abe's (Blackwater Fly Fishing) truck for a beer, and some great conversation.  I didn't get a chance to talk much with them during the show, but the conversation in the parking lot between the guys with Blackwater Fly Fishing, Black Earth Angling, and Tight Lines Fly Fishing Company, I can tell that all of them are pretty cool dudes, who I wouldn't mind going fishing with.

Email/Contact --

Thanks, again, for the beer, Abe!!!!

Blackwater Fly Fishing is sponsored by Stevens Point Brewery, a local brewery of the area they fish in Wisconsin.  How awesome is that!!!  That's the best sponsorship I have heard of.