Monday, February 29, 2016

Driftless Winter 2016: BOB'S BITCHIN' BBQ

After Day One of my Winter Driftless trip, my buddy Adam, and I were in dire need of some food and drink.  While I was driving, Adam, was naming off places he was finding near our hotel in Dodgeville, Wisconsin....

McDonalds - No.
Burger King - No.
Hardee's - Hell No.
Culvers - Maybe.
A&W - Maybe.
Bob's Bitchin' BBQ - Did you just say bitchin'?  Really?????

I think we were both sold on the name alone, and I mean, how could you resist some barbecue.  After finding it and driving past, it didn't look like much, but once we stepped inside the place was big, and it was PACKED.  Everyone in Dodgeville and surrounding towns must have been there.  The Hostess told us it'd be an hour wait.  Starving, but intrigued by the place, we decided it was a good idea to grab a beer at the bar and wait.

The BBQ was definitely Bitchin' 
The food lived up to expectations.  I forgot what Adam had, but I ordered the sample platter and chose the beef brisket, smoked sausage, and smoked pork chop.  It came with cornbread and 2 sides of your choice, and I chose the mac n cheese, and sweet potato fries.  They had a bunch of different BBQ sauces that they make on the table.  All of them were great, but my go to was the habanero bbq sauce.

It never had a chance.
Well worth the wait, and would definitely make a return trip there in the future.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Exciting News!

I have been added to the Partridge family!

No, not that Partridge family, although, I do think I have the singing chops to join them.

I am very excited to announce that I have been added to the Pro Team of Partridge of Redditch.  I have been using their hooks for quite some time, and all of my predator flies would not have the same quality if it weren't for their high quality steel, so, accepting their invitation was a no brainer,  To have my name added to a group that includes Bob Clouser, Greg Senyo, Richard Strolis, Pat Cohen, Dave Hosler, Ad Swier, and Andreas Andersson...just to name a a real honor, and I'm looking forward to representing Partridge of Redditch and creating some new and interesting patterns.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Article in DNAinfo

My homie UA Dave was recently interviewed in an article for about fly fishing in Chicago.  Dave has been a great promoter of fly fishing in Chicago.  The video our friend Adam Alexander Photography shot on the Des Plains River made the article, as well.  Good to see these guys getting in some print.

Click below and you will be brought to the article.

Article By: Justin Breen
Twitter: @dnainfo_breen

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Musky Poppers

The top water theme at the CARF Outdoors vise continues!

Here we have some XL sized poppers ready to hunt.  Their mission, to make a raucous and piss off some dragons.

The Bruiser.
The popper heads are shaped and formed by yours truly with a dremel, and a lot of patients.  It takes time to shape these by freehand.  One mistake, and it's toast.

Oh, and if you're wondering, these cast like the most wonderful bag of bricks in the whole wide world.

Monday, February 22, 2016

I've Got The Hook Up

My homie UA Dave hooked me up with some medium sized popper heads with eyes.  Just add a hook decorated accordingly and water.  Bass and pike should lose their minds over these.

Which one is your favorite color pattern?
1. Fire Tiger
2.  Orange Crush
3.  Red Hot

The beer is Pseudo Sue from Toppling Goliath Brewing in Iowa.  If you're a craft beer fan, this is one that should be on your list to try.  It's delicious.

Thursday, February 18, 2016


Other than the tried and true effectiveness of the woolly bugger, the clouser minnow is one of the most versatile and effective fly patterns out there.  A true work horse of a fly that is effective in any body of water from a small pond to any of the Oceans.

Seriously, though.  Anything will eat it.

Material List for these particular Clouser Minnows
Eyes - 4.0 mm Dumbbell eyes
Bottom - White Bucktail
Top - Olive Bucktail
Finished off some Sally's.

I have 18 more to tie up to fulfill an order.  Chartreuse, Red, and Gray, so, 6 of each color.  Then they're getting shipped to Florida.  Already looking forward to seeing some of those huge Florida bass that these hook up with.

Prep work is a must when tying a bunch of 1 pattern.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Field & Stream Hook Shots

Have you ever heard of Field & Stream Hook Shots?

Well, you should have.  Joe Cermele and Captain Eric Kerber have been making, in my opinion, the best fishing videos on the interwebs.  Each episode is a maximum of 10 minutes long, and it's filled to the brim with killer content, quick tips, first rate commentary, hilarity, and some rad tunes.  Mix all of that together, and you have a recipe for some high quality fishy entertainment.

Joe also just hosted a pretty sweet fly swap that I wasn't able to get in on, but he hints he's going to be hosting more of them, so, be on the look out!

Do yourself a solid, check out their videos, and website.

That CARF Outdoors deek looks great on your truck, Joe!  Hopefully, it brings you some fishy mojo on all of your trips!

If you have a CARF Outdoors sticker, take a picture and send it to me.  I'll get it on the sticker sightings page.  Looking forward to seeing where they all end up across the country.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Driftless Winter 2016: Part Two

Day Two

When I walked out of the hotel to my car, I noticed that we got some rain overnight.  One of the streams we were planning on fishing is known to get cloudy fast after some rain.  Throw all of the melting snow and ice in the mix, and our plans changed.

We decided to hit a stream that I have only spot fished in one of the few times I had been up here.  In the summer this stream is extremely difficult to fish, because, of all of the overgrowth.  Lucky for us, it was Winter, and the banks were somewhat open.

With this being much smaller water, I opted for my FSA custom 3 wt.  The weather throughout the day was great.  The temperature dipped a few times, but nothing outrageous.  It definitely did not feel like January.

Adam continued to work a hopper dropper, and I casted small streamers and occassionally drifted some nymphs. Adam was the first to garner the attention of a few brook trout, but none were fully committed to showing face.

One of the small streamers I was tossing was a tiny woolly bugger...I forget the size, because, I didn't tie it, but my guess was a size 8.  Well, I casted at the front of a nice pool I was approaching, and a trout came completely out of the water to hit it, but wiffed, and never came back. 

The after a few more drifts a trout came out from right in front of me and hit the bugger, I lifted the rod, felt the weight, and then it went slack.  After some silent F bombs, I made a few more casts, and then checked my fly, and to my surprise, the hook had broken off.  I could not believe it!  Has this ever happened to anyone??

What really sucked was it was my last small black streamer.  I scarified a few to the shrub gods.  I'd also, like to give a little shout out to, Brad of Tippets and Tales, for giving me the tip on small black leech type patterns, and Tim Lobello, for his report on the area the day before we went up.  Much appreciated Gents!

Tossed pretty much everything.  Don't mind my sinking leaders.  The stuff I was using was stashed behind them.  Ha

On the walk back, we decided to take the road.  We looked down on the stream in the parts we had waded and fished and we could see schools of trout shooting around and stopping at this one pool.  Outrageous.  We drifted some flies towards them, but no dice.  They were really not having what we were selling.

Skunked, but we didn't care.  It was a great weekend to get out and explore some of the endless amount of water that flows through some beautiful country.

The Driftless.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Driftless Winter 2016: Part One

Day One

My friend Adam and I have been trying to get out and fish this winter.  We were thinking steelhead in Michigan or Wisconsin, and that just never happened, because, we've both been busy.  Things always work out in the end, because, it just so happened that we both had a free weekend at the end of January.

We decided, we're going to fish.

Our destination, the Driftless Area of Southwest Wisconsin.

You just couldn't beat the scenery.
I haven't been to the Driftless Area of Southern Wisconsin since May 2013.  The last time I attempted to go was in September of 2013, a few days before the season is set to close for the year.  I never made it, because, my car was totaled. Click here to see that old post - Sitting Duck.

We left early around 4 AM on a Saturday morning and as I made the last turn onto a gravel road we we greeted by a bald eagle.  Always a beautiful sight.  Adam has never been up here, and he recently got into fly fishing, so, I was looking forward to showing him the very few spots I know in the Driftless.

Frozen guides did not stop us.
The morning started off cold.  Our guides were iced every 5 minutes, but that's okay, we weren't miserable, because, we were thrilled to be out of the house and wetting a line surrounded by such beautiful scenery.  Adam brought along some liquid heat to help warm him up from the inside out.

Adam sippin' on some liquid heat.
What to use...dries? nymphs? streamers?

What size should we use...10? 14? 16? ...20??

After changing flies quite a few times, I ended up getting some attention from red beadhead leech I tied on a size 6 egg hook.  Adam went with the hopper dropper technique.  A technique I rarely use, but probably should use more often.

Not wanting to spook any of the fish with my walking, and how I slip and fall in the snow, I was attempting to make hero casts, so, I can fish an area before I was near enough to spook the fish.

Streamer Eater.
Casting the leech to the tail end of some riffles, I got a strike, but missed.  3 casts later, my rod bent, and as I lowered my net, a beautiful brown was scooped up.

As the day went on, it got warmer.  Our guides were iced, no more.  I was actually breaking a sweat, because, I was so warm in the 4 layers I was wearing.  The rise in temperature gave us hope that the fishing was going to turn for the better, but it didn't.  It stayed stagnant.  We couldn't figure out what they wanted.

Long stealthy casts.  One of the keys to fishing the Driftless.
The lack of fish didn't affect us at all.  One look around and it was all good.  These streams are very special, and they just get prettier when the snow reveals lush green grass, and the trees begin to become full of life, again.  The trip wasn't done, and we were already looking forward to returning when jackets and winter gear were not needed.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

DPR Northern Pike - A Winter Float

My homies UA Dave, Adam Alexander, and their buddy Chris got out the Des Plains River this past weekend.  Being the end of January, the weather was perfect out.  I wish I was around to join them on the float, but I was in SW Wisconsin fishing for trout.

Adam is a professional photographer and usually focuses on still shots, but this outing, he decided to shoot some video, and I think he did an excellent job!  The video is short, sweet, very well shot, and tells a nice story.  Check it out!

Get's me excited to get back out on the DPR.  I miss those toothy snot rockets.


Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Cold Hands and Panfish

The wind, it's unforgiving and cuts right through you like White Castle sliders on a Saturday morning.  You're freezing cold, and you're unsure you have a face, because, you can't feel it anymore.  The snot dripping from your nostrils is uncontrollable, but it doesn't even phase you, because, the fish don't care, and neither do you at this point.

Your mind starts to wander, and you start talking to yourself in your head...
I should have worn that extra layer.
I could be home tying flies right now.
Do I have boogers hanging from my nose?
I wish I could feel my face.
I wish I could be poppin' bottles instead of holes.
I sure could go for some chili and my couch.
I should have spent the extra $10 bucks on the nicer gloves.
Should I leave now?
Why am I out here?
I wish I had a shanty.
Is this ice going to break?

Welcome to the exciting world of ice fishing.
(In my opinion.)

Big thanks to Catchafew for bringing his shanty.  It was used a total of 15 minutes.
I don't always ice fish, but when I do, it's because, I forget how miserable I'm going to be out on the ice.

Invited a few friends out to ice fish my backyard lake after work one night.  DanK, BassMan Kevin, and Catchafew all arrived around 7 PM on a Wednesday night.  Have more friends around this time made the outing a lot more tolerable.  The stories and laughing made me forget about the cold.

The ice was 8-10 inches, but it had me buggin', because, it kept making noises.  It didn't phase the other guys. They're experience ice anglers, and kept reassuring me that I wasn't going to fall in, and if I did, I would have only been in about 6 foot of water, and a 100 yard walk back to my house.

DanK trying to coax a bite.
DanK and BassMan set up some tip ups, while Catchafew and I jigged with waxies under a vexlar.  I had a nice sized bluegill on, but lost it right at the top of the hole.  Eventually the wind picked up, and Catchafew set up his shanty.  What a life saver that was.  I even caught a small panfish.

Catchafew was the only guy not able to hook into a fish.  DanK and BassMan found the same size sunfish as me, in about 2 foot of water.

After drilling holes everywhere, some false hope, because, the tip ups being triggered by the wind we all decided to call it a night around Midnight.  Even thought I couldn't feel my face, I had a good time, mainly because of the company.  Thanks, again, for coming out guys!

My first fish of 2016.  Definitely a wall hanger.
If you come across any melted ice in my backyard, BassMan Kevin and his centerfold jigging pose is to blame.

BassMan Kevin aka Mr. January melting some ice.
A little play on a very disgusting videos that I've seen and most everyone has heard about.