Ice Fishing Lake Henry

Thursday, February 27, 2014 , , 17 Comments

Well mother nature was finally kind enough to me to grace Kansas with enough consistency to be able to ice fish. All winter we have cycled between temperatures from the 50's* to sub zero, sometimes within the same  week. What that has meant is a thin layer of ice--too thin to ice fish, and just thick enough to prevent conventional fishing. I have been hoping for consistency one way or another just so I could have a little time out on the water. Two weeks ago my wish was granted. I was able to escape studying for a couple of hours and drilled a few holes at Lake Henry. Caught six Rainbow's: two on a Northland Puppet Minnow, and four on a small tungsten jig. All in all, not a bad way to spend an afternoon. That said, every day I am growing more eager for spring.   


Drift: Fly Fishing Film Review

Monday, February 24, 2014 2 Comments

This is the film that started me on my addiction to "fish porn" and in many ways highly influenced the subsequent wave of fly fishing films industry wide. From Confluence Films in 2008, Drift is still a great film and if you haven't seen it or own it, it is worth picking up. The film travels first to Oregon's Deschutes River in pursuit of Steelhead on a Spey Rod, then moves to Belize for Permit, to a variety of Western Tailwaters, the Bahamas chasing Bones, and finally to the unlikely Kashmir Mountains. Had you told me in 2008 I would travel to two of the locations featured in this film (Abaco, Bahama's & The Frying Pan), let alone be confidently fly fishing I would have thought you were crazy. Watching now I look at these places with longing for my return, but until then I have the film and its a damn good one. Here is the link to the trailer. 


Driftless Fly Recommendations and Hatches

Thursday, February 20, 2014 6 Comments

I attended an event last night regarding fishing in the Driftless and picked this up. The Driftless is by far one of my favorite places to fish and if you haven't been I highly recommend it. So much water and a variety of streams. The chart notes it is for Wisconsin, but I am sure it would prove useful for the Minnesota and Iowa side of the Driftless as well. 


Eating Aliens: Book Review

Sunday, February 16, 2014 , 4 Comments

Eating Aliens challenges the conventional thinking surrounding hunting and the stereotypical hunter. Raised a vegetarian, Jackson Landers wished to transition to eating meat in the most environmentally sustainable way possible. Eating Aliens, is his journey to pursue and hunt invasive species which are negatively impacting the environment. Rather than the net negative impact on the environment caused by most modern agricultural practices, Jackson explores if hunting can help restore the natural balance. 
In the book Jackson tells the tale of his hunts to pursue the following species as well as how they are wrecking havoc on the environment: Black Spiny-Tailed Iguanas, Green Iguanas, Feral Pigs, Armadillos, Lionfish, European Green Crab, Asian Carp, Nutria, Giant Canada Geese, Tilapia, Plecostomus, Armored Catfish, Snakeheads, Chinese Mystery Snails and also his experience with the game farms in Texas which recently have introduced African game such as Zebra and Antelope. The book chronicles his successes as well as failures, details how he prepared the meat, and closes each chapter with what he views the potential impact hunters may have in helping eradicate the species from their alien environment. 

Overall the book is quite enjoyable to read and shouldn't take most readers long to finish. Length is 226 pages. The book is eye opening and again challenges what it means to eat meat and brings a remarkably fresh perspective to the question of environmentally sustainability. In fact the book was a large part of what persuaded me to personally take up hunting as a ethic. If you hunt, are considering hunting, are environmentally conscious or just looking for something out of the box to read pick up Eating Aliens, you won't be disappointed. 



Thursday, February 13, 2014 , , 8 Comments

While in Branson with my family I snuck away for a few hours one morning to fish Taneycomo. Unfortunately, the powers at be didn't stick to the posted schedule and water was running high. This meant fast deep moving water and limited availability to wade. Attempted to throw streamers first but the water speed caused them to ride too high in the water column. Switched to a deep nymph rig and caught several trout: all on a zebra midge. Only stayed a limited time as competing with crowds for casting space is just not my cup of tea. Below are a several pictures of a few of the fish. 


Zebra Midge Variations

Tuesday, February 11, 2014 , 14 Comments

No other fly has proven itself more effective in catching trout for me compared to the Zebra Midge. This lowly, small, unassuming fly is also perhaps one of the simplest and easiest flies to tie. But don't let this dissuade you. From the White, to the Driftless, to Lee's Ferry (where it was invented) this fly produces. As it is my most effective pattern; I have learned and employed several variations based on the original black/silver bead head design. Below are several of the variations I employ and if applicable comments on when I use that particular one. I find that sizes #20-16 seem most effective regardless of variation. 

          Often one of the first flies I try at all times of the year in all conditions, along with hares ears and pheasant tails, the zebra midge is one of those "go to" nymph patterns.  

          Given clear water and bright conditions, the addition of peacock herl provides a subtle but effective variation.

          Adding a strand of flash to the end of the midge, adds both movement and visual stimulation.

Pink Neck
            By far my most used zebra midge variation; sometimes it pays to stand out from the crowd. Overcast or sunny, this pattern will produce. Be sure to have a few of these in your box. 

           My go to midge at Taneycomo. Seems to work better when sunny. 

          According to several articles I have read and from personal experience, purple while not a color often found in nature, is a color optimized within the range of trout's natural visual spectrum. Steelheaders and bass fisherman are all to familiar with purple and long has it been a secret favorite. Again sometimes it pays to stick out. 

          Great pattern for overcast days or when subtlety is the key. 

Light Pink/Cream
          Is this a zebra midge variation or a variation of the "miracle midge", who cares, but be sure to try this at your favorite tailwater. 

Solid Black 
           Another pattern that seems most effective in overcast, or low light conditions. 


Gerber Paraframe I: Knife Review

Saturday, February 08, 2014 , 4 Comments

Growing up in the Boy Scouts, if you carried a Gerber Knife you were viewed with a sense of awe. It was the top of the top anyone could carry for a pocketknife in my teens, or so it seemed. Fast forward a number of years and it is of no surprise that for my first knife and the one that introduced me to the idea of everyday carry (EDC) I picked up a Gerber Paraframe I. That purchase was five years ago. Since that time I have learned a lot more about knives, steel, and what I like in a edc role. And within the knife community no single company seems to receive such a hard time and receive bad press as Gerber. So which is it: is Gerber truly a quality knife company or are they not worth the effort and in the end a pile of junk? 

As I noted, this was the knife that introduced me to edc without even understanding that term. It wasn't a purposeful move. Rather the job I had at the time required me to open dozens of boxes each week, box cutters were always getting lost and so from a purely utilitarian stance I went to a local hardware store and purchased a pocketknife. From my background in the Boy Scouts, the choice in a Gerber seemed obvious. After carrying the knife for work I found the immense utility of carrying a knife daily and it just became part of my daily habit. Now I have many more knives to fulfill that edc role and without one I just feel naked. 

Onto the stats themselves: Gerber doesn't specify the steel but through research I have learned it is 7cr17, somewhat analogous to 440A. The benefit of this steel is it is very corrosion resistant due to its high carbon content and cheap to produce. The blade itself is a 3 inch clip point design, and total length when open is 7" Weight is 2.6 oz. The locking mechanism is a frame lock and the overall design is an open frame. MSRP $25.

The Good: I love the feel of this knife. I can open and close it easily with one hand and though others have berated the open frame design I really do like it and it feels natural in my hands. This may be due in part from it being the only knife I carried for many many years. Secondly the price, if you lose this knife you won't break the bank to replace it. MRSP may be $25 but looking around online and at stores over the past few months you can find it as low as $15. Finally the weight and size of this knife allow you to easily forget it is on your person. It doesn't bulge out and the blade length is perfect for light edc. 

The Bad: the steel--it is a pain to sharpen and will not hold an edge very long. Out of all the knives I own, this is the one I look the least forward to sharpening. If you are new to sharpening, all the best luck to you. Gerber went with a cheap steel that wouldn't corrode easily, I get that, but what you lose is a sharp edge. Secondly, the frame--this knife is really only good for light use. In preparing for writing this review I submitted my knife to some hard work. Nothing crazy but some serious work. Two things happened: 1.) the knife began to have a lot of play when "locked" both side to side and even vertically 2.) the framelock is not very secure and will collapse relatively easily if you place moderate pressure on the opposing end. In fact I broke my knife testing it. Finally, if you are left handed, when opening the knife your fingers may slip into where the blade lies. For us righties the pocket clip will keep your fingers from going in, but I can't say this knife is ambidextrous. 

Verdict: though I broke my knife of 5 years while testing I have replaced it. I have much much better knives to be sure but I just can't get away from how nice this knife feels in my hand. It is well balanced and smooth. Its not a great knife by any stretch and the steel is pretty crappy and this is what most of the criticism online centers around. That being said you are spending only $15… not $100 on a Benchmade. I will probably always carry this knife from time to time though I have others I like better. If someone is looking to try EDC and wants an entry level knife I wouldn't hesitate putting this in the running. If you lose it no biggie. It also wouldn't be a bad knife to throw in your tackle box or other place where you can forget about it when not using it. Great for light EDC, a knife to carry when fishing and need to cut line, or a first knife in general, and not a big deal if you lose it. Wouldn't be my choice for a camping knife or survival knife for sure--I just wouldn't trust the durability. If I were asked to assign it a grade I would give it a 6.5/10 (points for ergonomics  and cost, reduced by steel quality and construction). Hope you enjoyed my first knife review, I had to start with the knife that started it all for me, many more to come. 


Introducing a New Segment: Knife Reviews (Philosophy of Use and EDC)

Thursday, February 06, 2014 14 Comments

As an outdoorsman knives are an integral part of my lifestyle. Without a knife many of my hobbies would be problematic. In addition I have adopted a personal practice of EDC (everyday carry) in my day to day life. Over the past 5 years I have steadily collected several knives whilst simultaneously learning about steel, locking mechanisms and the utility of various blade shapes. Therefore I have decided to include an new segment to this blog. My frequent readers would note, the dominant focus of this blog has been and will always been fishing as it is my primary outdoor passion,however, as an outdoorsman I also hike, hunt, target shoot, rock climb, camp so forth. Posts covering these also dot my blog's landscape, I intend a knife segment to be included in a similar manner. 

This new segment will be presented as such. For each review I will define what I view the primary usage the knife is best designed for; i.e. a hunting or fishing knife etc. I will present this as my philosophy of use for the knife, a term I have borrowed and must acknowledge credit to the TNP project also known as philosophy of use. 

What I will review: I will primarily cover knives best utilized in the following categories; bushcraft, camping, edc, fishing and hunting. What I will not write on and what will dramatically distinguish me from the TNP project is I will not write reviews of so called "tactical" or self-defense knifes. 

Allow me a brief argument/rant against the so-called tactical fad which has consumed the knife community. First and foremost, and I cannot stress this enough--a knife is a tool. Secondly I am all for citizens utilizing and carrying a gun as conceal carry or pepper spray. 

However, knife as a self-defense tool, however, is problematic for several reasons. Allow me to explain. First to utilize a knife you typically my physically move towards your attacker. A firm rule of self-defense is to engage the assaultant only to the point to escape the situation and preserve ones life. Secondly under what circumstances would a knife be best utilized as a self-defense weapon. A brawl? Is your life in danger? Were you an aggressor as well? You pull a knife and you just elevated the case from battery charges to assault with a deadly weapon. A gun? Not much use generally. What distinguishes both pepper spray and a gun is the ability to engage from distance and escape quickly, also most who carry a gun also carry with them the understanding that they are carrying a lethal weapon, not so with many who carry knives. You can walk into your local Walmart and be armed. At the end of the day, if I needed to and my life were in danger as a last resort of course I would defend myself with any means necessary but I worry there is a danger and dare I say fantasy imagined by those who submit to the tactical utility of knives. There is much more on the subject and I am sure there are those who will disagree with me but for a more detailed account similar to my position please read this website which articulates far more clearly my own sentiments.

Enough on that, but it needed to be stated in order to distinguish this blog from other knife reviewers. I hope you guys will enjoy this new segment. I hope you learn something and if nothing else it peaks your curiosity. 


First Wild Rainbow

Tuesday, February 04, 2014 , , 12 Comments

I caught my first wild Rainbow. Yes I have caught many wild Browns and even Brookies over the years but never a wild rainbow. In large part this is due to the majority of the Rainbows in this area are all stockers. Now there is nothing wrong with stocked Rainbows, they for one make our fisheries sustainable despite heavy angler pressure--but there is just something special about catching a wild trout. The exception to the rule in the midwest is a collection of streams in Missouri, these are the key to wild Rainbows in my area. Therefore, with the guidance of fellow blogger, friend, and experienced angler of these waters, Jeff,  I finally was able to visit one of these and cross it off the long held life list. Fishing was technical and the fish were spooky. Despite, the limited time frame I was able to fish, with the help of Jeff's experience and guidance I was successful. To say I was ecstatic would be an understatement. I am sure Jeff would testify that I was grinning ear to ear thereafter. I only caught one but thats all I needed. A beautiful wild Rainbow. Surely I will remember this day for a very long time. 

*Photo credit to several of the photographs belongs to Jeff.  Again, many thanks sir!