Sunday, August 30, 2015

Fly Fishing Poplar Creek

The GF wanted me out of the house, because, I was bugging her while she was baking cookies for a work event.  So, I went fishing of course, but this time, I decided not to take any still pictures.  Instead, I recorded some video. Check it out!

I didn't realize my camera wasn't aimed down far enough, but you can still see what's going on.

I had a lot of fun creating this video, and it made me realize that I had forgotten how much I love the editing process or making a video, so, be on the look out for more in the future.  That's a promise!

Friday, August 28, 2015

Exploring the Northwoods: 2015 - Part 1

Few weeks ago, I had a last minute opportunity to do whatever I wanted, so, I decided to quickly pack my car, load my kayak, and head to the Northwoods.  The weekend forecast called for clear sunny skies, and 90 degree weather.  I was hoping to arrive with time to spare on a Friday night, so, I was racing the sun.  Fall and Winter are on their way, because, the sun is starting to set at 8 PM and rise shortly after 6 AM.  Need to take advantage of what strange summer we have left.

Racing the sun on beautiful open roads.
Almost there.
I made it to my destination with minutes to spare.  I grabbed my bait caster and tossed a few top water lures into the river with no luck.  After providing many mosquitoes with a 5 star meal, I decided to call it a night, and head over to a familiar campsite.

There were a few strong storms that passed through the area throughout the day, and I'm sure this tree fell casualty of the high winds.  Luckily it left just enough space on one side of the dirt for me to pass.  There would have been no way I would have been able to remove it.  I do carry an SOG tomahawk in my trunk, but I would have been chopping away at that tree for quite a long time, if it came to that.

Bumps in the road.
The next morning I got my waders on, loaded up my kayak, and tied a rope from the front of it and attached it to my wading belt with a carabiner.  Wading up river, I was dragging my kayak, and I didn't even know it was there.  It glided over the water and didn't hinder me once.  With the kayak I was able to bring a spare fly rod, my bait caster, extra water, tackle boxes, and a dry bag with some miscellaneous stuff.  In hindsight, I could have just loaded up my Yeti Cooler and had a really nice lunch out on the water.  Hell, I could have just brought everything in my car. Haha

The smallies were en fuego, and still loving the brown fly I had so much success on them my last trip back in June.  So enjoy some fish porn!

I really cannot get enough of these fish.
Catch and Release.
Got some from the kayak.
And more tanks!!!
This place is special to me, and I pick up any trash I find along the way, I only found 1 can of Old Style this trip, but 1 piece of trash is usually all I find.  Another good reason for the kayak.  As I reached the end of what should be a 2 day wade, I hopped in my kayak and floated all the way back to where I launched....BRILLIANT.

Athletic tape saves my wrist and fingers from blisters before they even start.
Be on the look out for Part 2.  I did quite a bit of exploring of new waters this time.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Ohio - Part 2

Yep, you read that right, this is part 2.  Part 1 has not been written, yet. Ha

Last year around this time, my GF and I took a road trip to visit my best friend  Mike and his GF out in Toledo, Ohio.  Last year we went to a German American Festival, and had a great time, but our timing this year was off.  We came out a week too early for the fest, but we made due and had a good time any way.

Got out to the same spot I fished last year with some success catching smallmouth bass while wet wading on the Maumee River.  When I came out here around the 4th of July, the river was unfishable, because, of high fast moving water.  Hoping that the water levels have decreased since then, I was hopeful to get out there and fish.  As we finished lunch at a pizza buffet, my GF and best friend Mike sat down on a bench in the shade and watched me do my thing on the river.

Maumee River - Ohio
I brought my 5 wt fly rod and bait caster down to the water with me.  I casted a few flies, but had zero luck.  I waded back to the shore to some bushes I laid my rod down in, and swapped my fly rod for my bait caster.  I hooked up with a really nice smallie, but lost it to some sly aerial moves done by the fish.  After that, I waved for Mike and my GF to come down.  Mike refused, but my GF didn't, and it was a nice surprise, because, she normally would refuse, as well.

After my GF came down it was smooth sailing from there, I had lady luck on my side, and started to catch fish....some strange fish. Haha  I was tossing a chatterbait and working some of the deeper pools and runs/ripples, and hooked up with quite the eclectic group of fish.  Normally this lure catches me bass and northern that I usually fish for.  On this day, there were no bass caught.

Here we have a Channel Catfish.  I cannot even remember the last time I caught one of these, but I can tell you, the last time I caught one of these was on a nightcrawler.

Channel cats got sass.
Next up on we have a Sheepshead. A strange fish that I do not know much about.  I caught 3 of these last year, and all 3 came in kayak bass fishing tournaments.

This one put up the best fight out of the 3 I have ever caught.
Last but not least - This fish was actually the first fish that I caught that day, and it was right after I took that picture with my GF.  She was about to go up, but I told her to give me 5 more casts, because, I wanted her to be there when I caught a fish.  Sure enough, 3 casts in, I hook up with something BIG!  

What was it...I had absolutely no idea.  I couldn't tell what kind of fish it was by the fight, and it didn't show face until it was at my feet, and when I saw what I had hooked, I could not believe my eyes....My very first Flathead Catfish!  I've been wanting to catch one of these on the Fox River back home, because, of their size and what I hear about their fight.  This one lived up to the hype.  One thing I will remember about this Big ole Flathead was that it smelled absolutely horrible. Hahaha  Hand down the stinkiest fish I have ever caught.  Cool none the less. Haha

Flathead Catfish - you stink.
Before exiting the water and climbing up the rocks back to the bench my GF and best friend were, I spotted some trash on the rocks.  As I got closer to it, I took notice that it was a cast net.  It was probably washed away and caught up on the rocks when the river was flooded.  When I picked it up, a shed from a snake skin fell out.  I was thankful that it wasn't alive. haha  I gladly tossed that net, so, other animals would not get caught and die in it. #leavenotrace 

School of shad.
With my limited allotted time, I caught some fish, smelled some fish, cleaned up some trash, and knocked a fish species off my catch list. It was a beautiful day.

Monday, August 24, 2015

F3T - aTight Loop and Dun The Magazine

Towards the end of July, my friends Kurt - a Tight Loop, and Jen - Dun The Magazine, hosted the Fly Fishing Film Tour here in Arlington Heights, Illinois.  What a great night of familiar faces, raffles, beer, food, and good times.  I did not do any research on what films would be included in this years F3T, because, I know, it's going to be a good fishy time, none the less.

Before the show started, they was a casting contest.  I forgot what the entry fee was, but I was talked into it by Sean from Rushing Waters, who was working the contest.  The contest was with a practice casting rod, and you had to land the fly in 3 small hoops laying on the ground at different distances.  I'm a sloppy caster, so, I was terrified of showcasing my loopty loops for all to see.  I finished in 11 or 12 seconds, I forgot.  They were going to announce who had the fastest time at the break, so, I had to wait to find out the results.

Let the show begin.
The show started, and being a warm water fishing fanatic, I was a little disappointed with the films.  They were all filmed beautiful, but lacked some of the fishing that can be done by just about anyone.  There were lots of destination fishing films, places that I sure as hell could never afford haha.  My buddy Dave - Urban Assault Fly Fishing, and I agree that these film tours/festivals such as the F3T and IF4 lack some of the "rough" fish that most of us are accustom to.  Oh well, looks like we'll just have to do it ourselves! Ha  Other than my personal opinion, the films were great.  Really jealous of all of these guys who can fly around and fish for all of these crazy awesome fish in some of the most beautiful places I've ever seen.

I ended up taking first place in the casting competition, I was completely surprised, and couldn't help but laugh.  I won a Rio Products - 5 wt Gold Line.  Perfect timing, too, because, I was in the market to replace the 5 wt line I've had on my 5 wt reel for 3 years.

After they announced the winners to the contest, they began to pick raffle tickets for the rest of the prizes.  The prizes ranged from a few different things, such as, rods, lines, face buffs, art, and a guided fishing trip with PJ's Guide Service.

I ended up getting one of my numbers called and won again!  This time I won a koozie from Maven Fly, an awesome hat from Midwest Flies, and 5 wt line from 406 Fly Lines.

Maven Fly
How awesome is this hat!?!?!  While it doesn't fit my head, I'm not a fan of low fitting hats, this hat is pretty awesome.  I think it makes a great piece for my bookshelf near my fly tying desk.  I love the art work of the trout on the side of it.

Midwest Flies - Front.
Really awesome art work on this hat.
Now I have 2 options to replace current 5 wt line.  I'm not sure what to choose.  Do I go with the well known Rio Products Gold line, or do I go with this 406 Fly Lines that I am completely unfamiliar with.  Decisions, decisions, decisions...

Can't forget about the sample bottles of vodka we received as a door gift when walking into the event.  The Vodka was from Dry Fly Distillery out of Washington.  They provided some mixed drinks that were absolutely delicious.  My GF and I really enjoyed them, and I wish I could remember the name of the drink and what was in it, but I just cannot.  I'll have to do some research on their website.

It was a great night, and I just want to shout out a huge THANK YOU to Kurt and Jen.  They are a hell of a team, and always on their hosting A game, and really know how to organize an event.  Looking forward to the next one!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Camper with the Family

Family time is the best time.  My GF and I, headed up to my Grandparents camper at Fish Lake Beach in Volo, Illinois, to hang out with some of my family. 

We arrived just in time to join in on a hay ride around the campgrounds.  Not everyone joined us.  My Grandma stayed behind to wave at us when we rode by.  Everyone but 3 people on the hay trailer were a part of my family.  We were the best group that the residence of Fish Lake Beach ever experienced, hands down.

We always know how to have a blast.
When we were nearing the campers behind my Grandparents.  My Grandma was standing outside with a sign that read "Homeless - Need Family"....Hilarious!! We all got a great big laugh out of that.  Ain't she a riot!!

She cracks us up!
After the hay ride, a few of my cousins and I headed down to the lake with our fishing gear.  My cousins have all fished before, so, they all sort of know what they're doing.  My cousin Giacomo (Red Shirt), and Jeff (Not pictured) have more experience than Michael aka Big Red and Sam.  This lake had a terrible fish kill when we had our polar vortex winter, and some have told me it has bounced back through stocking, but I am not too positive about it.

The fishing was tough, as expected.  I was the only one to hook up with a fish, and boy, oh boy, was it a whopper.  After trying several streamers, I switched flies to a small san juan worm, and I cracked the code to Fish Lake Beach.  

Trophy catch.
After fishing, my cousin Jeff and I headed to the store to restock the firewood back at the camper.  Once we returned there was a fire already started, and we all started to make use of it for a snack.

Hot diggity dog.'s me pictured with the person that hates all of my jokes, my lovely GF. :)

My Love.
Here we have pictured myself with a few of my many cousins.

We're a pretty awesome group.
As the evening turned into night.  The campground was having a Ho Down type dance at their pavilion a stones throw away from the camper.  Before we all headed over there, we made some pot pies.  Butter, bread, pizza sauce, and some cheese.  Close the pot pie, and stick it in the fire, and viola, a great meal. 

I've always enjoyed a good campfire.
I apologize, but there were no photos taken of my dancing.  I know you're all disappointed, but what I do have, is photo with my very awesome, special, and beautiful Grandmother. 

My Grandparents are part of the reason I love the outdoors as much as I do.  As a kid they used to take me, my sister, and my cousin Sharese camping with them all of the time.  They used to have a pop up camper, and belonged to a group who would travel together to different campgrounds. 

She doesn't read my blog, but in the event that she does - I LOVE YOU!!!

Love this woman!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Poppin' for Pike

Got our for a float with some cool dudes.  Met up at a boat launch on a Northern stretch of the Des Plains River (DPR) about 7 AM.  Spotted this at the boat launch out of the corner of my eye, and got a good lauch out of it.  I have a simple humor, and I'm a little upset, I didn't think about this. HA!

Here's looking at you!
The Float Crew this trip......

Urban Assault Fly Fishing - Dave
Marcus - DPR Pro
No Intro needed.
Not pictured are Dan and Saul.
4 Kayaks, 1 Canoe, and a partridge in a pear tree.

Dave tied up some big weedless frog flies, and gave me one.  It's just a super sized version of a Gutless Frog pattern, and they're awesome!  Both Dave and I tossed the top water for awhile.  I had a small pike fly completely out of the water trying to eat it...It was AWESOME!!  Unfortunately, none of us hooked up with any top water pike.  I was 0 for 3 or 4...I forget.  Dave hooked up with 2 pike, and I forgot how the others fared.

9 it too early for a cold one on the river????.................NAHHHHH

Thanks, for bringing the brewski's, Dave!! I got 'em next time.
UA Dave and a solid DPR Pike.
DanK got a good shot of UA Dave and I in his canoe approaching the take out spot, and getting in some lasts casts.  This is the very spot that I caught my first pike on the DPR.  T'was a good float Gents.  You would have thought with the overcast conditions that the fishing would have been popping off, but it wasn't.  Next time!

Friday, August 7, 2015


We've had an extremely wet June and mid July here in the Chicagoland area.  That means that one of my favorite fisheries has been blown out or not to my liking to fish.  Finally, the rain let up for a few days, and the Des Plains River returned to it's normal levels, and allowed me to finally get some fishing in.

One of my favorite shirts to wear out on the DPR is a $3 shirt with a shark on it for "Shark Week."  Well, this past Spring I was checking out the clearance section of a store and stumbled across this gem of a shirt.  It's a Shark Week shirt, and it says "I <3 Snuffy"...I'm not familiar with Snuffy, but someone told me that's what they named one of the seals at the infamous spot where Great White Sharks fly out of the water.  The best part about this find is that it was another $3 shirt! SCORE!!  I couldn't wait to wear it out on the DPR, and I finally received my chance.

There were 4 of us that day...DanK, Keith, and Piker Mike.  We floated a section that Keith was familiar with, and it proved to be tough.  DanK, Keith, and Piker Mike tossed spinnerbaits, buzzbaits, and some other lures.  I tossed some flies, with the occasional soft plastic swimbait (I wanted to try something different).

Cleaning up all of the missed pike. :)
I ended the day with 3 pike caught all on a firetiger baitfish pattern of mine on a size 2 hook.  Nothing with crazy size, but the normal hammer handles that love to keep me busy.  I really with all of the ones that missed came back for a 2nd run.  DanK hooked up with 1 little "pickle" and missed about 25 others using a buzzbait.  He was really determined to hook up with all of his pike top water.  Keith caught the biggest one of the day toward the end of the float trip, and missed quite a few others.  Piker Mike finished the 8 beers he brought too early and didn't even see pike.  I'm sure he had some unseen follows, the pike are getting hungry!!

This one exploded out of the water when it hit my sub-surface fly.  Great strike!

DanK got caught playing with his Pickle!
Great company to go on a float with.  Looking forward to our next outing Gents.

Catch n Release

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Windy City Fishing BBQ at Beck Lake

This past weekend, I was invited out to a local lake that I have never fished before, to participate in a small gathering with some guys from a local fishing forum that I frequent WindyCityFishing.  The man organizing this shin dig is Kevin aka "Bassman29" but he should also be known as the Grill Master! ...or cigar man, because, he owns Utopia Cigars (Great place BTW and he is extremely knowledgeable.)

Grill Mater Kevin
I was at a Lake X this Spring with DanK and Kevin showed up to fish, but he also brought his grill, and grilled us up some sausage when we took a break around lunch time.  Man, what a great guy!  If you're reading this, Kevin, thanks, for the hot dogs!!!
Before cheese was added.  Kevin is a master of char...and I love charred burgers.
These sausages were absolutely delicious!
It was a fun outing.  I seriously got almost next to no fishing in, because, I spend most of my time talking with some new and familiar faces.  It's always great to put a face to a screen name behind the many reports that are put up, and to see who is reading your stuff.

There were quite a few Ascend kayaks that showed up.  Here is mine and Kevins. Awww aren't they cute.
A fellow Windy City Fisher, Keith, has this really badass kayak.  It's called a "SCANOE."  I have never heard of these, and I thought that it was a nickname for his boat, but I was wrong, it's the actual name.  There's a lot of DIY mounts on this water craft.  Those seats are definitely not stock, they're from the bar stools at his parents house...and yes, they still swivel.  My other favorite part is his outriggers.  2 Scotty mounts on each side paired with crab pot floats.  WHAT!!!

I wish I was able to stay longer than I did, but I had to leave early.  I caught zero fish, but had many many laughs.  After I had left, I learned that there were a few fish caught, and the biggest one of the day went to Keith.  I don't have the picture here, but I'll link you to the post.  It was a very nice LMB.

More SCANOE with Kevin and Keith.

Looking forward to the next BBQ, and I'll be sure to clear my entire schedule for it!