Kayaking The Norfork

Tuesday, March 25, 2014 , , 16 Comments

Over spring break my father and I traveled south to Arkansas to fish the Norfork River. The fishing proved difficult but that is the nature of tailwaters. Constantly fluctuating waters can make fish finicky, other times it seems they will eat anything presented in front of them. This trip proved to be more on the finicky side. That said the important and most rewarding aspect of the trip was being able to spend some quality time with my dad in some beautiful water. 

We spent three days in the area. The first we fished the White where my dad honed his casting skills. Water was somewhat high but we both managed a trout despite the conditions.

My father landing the second fly rod trout of his life. 

Days two and three we exclusively fished the Norfork. A 4 mile tailwater which feeds into the White. Every morning they were running full capacity and then would shut it off entirely. Falling water is never easy and this trend proved true this trip as well. Despite this fish were caught, with G-Bug's and Zebra midges proving most effective. We kayaked the entire length of the river each day. Stopping at those locations which looked were both wadable and looked promising at holding fish. The river was more crowded than the previous time I fished the Norfork but we were able to still find some good water with plenty of casting room. Having the kayak as transportation definitely helped get to those locations and away from the crowds. 

I also threw some bigger streamers, specifically Jeremy Hunt's Peanut Envy. Didn't land any monster browns but pulled a decent Rainbow and surprisingly this meat hungry Brookie. 

The fish numbers and size were less than desirable but again the important thing was being able to spend time with my dad and being able to watch him develop as a fly angler. It is those memories which will last a lifetime. 


Looking For a Gun Range?

Wednesday, March 19, 2014 2 Comments

If you are like me, finding a gun range can sometimes be problematic and often is downright frustrating. I recently stumbled across a website that helps you locate gun ranges and thought it would be beneficial to share. Simply enter your location and what type (Shotgun, Rifle, Archery, etc.)  of range you are looking for. It then generates a list of nearby ranges with details and contact information. Pretty useful. Here is the link: 



As Requested, From the Vice

Tuesday, March 18, 2014 11 Comments

In my previous post I mentioned a fly pattern called an electric chicken, a few of you asked to see what it looks like so I thought I would share with you not only that pattern but also a few of the other patterns I have been tying this week. Hope you enjoy: 

Electric Chicken: Can either be tied using pink and chartreuse marabou on a jig or clouser style using pink and chartreuse buck tail. 

Hog Snare 

 Panty Dropper 


Success at Shawnee

Saturday, March 15, 2014 , , 8 Comments

Those of you who follow this blog regularly know there is one local lake that has had my number for years, Lake Shawnee. As illustrated by these posts: Frustration at Lake Shawnee & Thanksgiving Fishing and countless other trips, while I would catch fish I just couldn't catch trout there. Well this week the fishing gods decided to turn their favor towards me. I not only was successful but caught some nice sized, albeit scrappy fish. Two things helped: first I took my Kayak (why I hadn't before I have no clue), and they went absolutely crazy for a fly called an electric chicken. Lost a nice fish before I was able to bring it to hand but that was a lesson in having your net accessible. It was a good day and felt good to get my skunk off at that particular fishery.


Tying the Pine Squirrel Leech

Sunday, March 09, 2014 , 15 Comments

This is an incredibly easy tie, yet very effective. It has proved itself numerous times and is always in my box. When the fish seem a little finicky this is one of the first streamers I reach for. Both stripping it  and dead drifting seem to work well. I tie these in black, olive, and a rust brown and always have all three on hand. They are so simple to tie you really don't have an excuse to have a few. Finally, if you are into the carp game try a smaller version on on a stout hook, equally as effective. 

Size 8-14 Streamer Hook
Brass Bead Head
Rust 6/0 Thread
Brown Pine Squirrel Strip

Step 1: 

Slide bead head onto hook and wrap entire length of hook shaft with thread.

Step 2: 

Tie in Pine Squirrel strip just before bend of hook. This tail section should be just longer than the length  of the hook itself. 

Step 3: 

Advance thread 2/3 up hook shank. Tie off pine squirrel strip and cut. 

Step 4:

Tie back in cut squirrel strip. (Note many tiers will simply tie off strip and omit cutting and retying it in, however, in my experience you will get a much fuller looking fly doing it this way and one which will last longer.) 

Step 5:

Palmer strip to bead head, tie off, cut and whip finish. Add drop of head cement. 


The Ethic of Catch and Release

Catch and release is a question of ethics: action precipitated by a firmly held belief. In the not too distant past catch and release was rarely practiced and far from even being considered by most as an option. Like hunting: you fished to attain food, yes pleasure was involved, but the ultimate goal was to acquire sustenance. Now within many fishing communities, catch and release is the norm and some within these communities would not hesitate to shun another for violating it. Fly fisherman, the tournament bass crowd, and muskie anglers all come to mind immediately. In the following brief article I hope to address three topics. 1.) Why I practice catch and release 2.) My take on those who do not 3.) Defend the practice of catch and release against those who think it is nothing but a cruel bloodsport. 

1.) Why I Practice Catch and Release

Beginning in middle school I began to go against the grain in my family and release 99% of fish I caught. To this day I consider myself a catch a release angler. Quite simply I admire the beauty of the animal and find greater pleasure knowing it was released alive compared to any utility gain from eating it. I love fishing and have a deep love and respect for the fish I pursue. Do I keep fish, sometimes but rarely. I may keep a walleye or crappie here and there or a fish that has somehow been severely injured as the result of me catching it (a rarity, and a situation I have not encountered for years), but again I release 99% of what I catch. Finally, I catch a lot of fish each year. I am not trying to brag by saying this. The simple reality is if you spend as much time on the water as I do, and I know as many as you do as well, you will catch a lot of fish, more than you would ever want to eat or is practical to do so. 

2.) My Take on Those Who Do Not Practice Catch and Release

With a few caveats, I am fine with this. I grew up in a family that was almost exclusively catch and take. You fished for a fish fry, end of story. Catch and release is an ethic that I have adopted, NOT something I push upon others. To each their own. However, I do have a few caveats. I am not fine with the following:

a.) Keeping rare or recovering species. 

b.) Killing fish you do not intend to eat (a direct remark to bow fisherman who kill gar in my area then leave them bankside in droves). 

c.) Breaking regulations; if you snag it let it go, if its undersized let it go, if you have reached your limit let it go. The rules and regulations were put in place for a reason, follow the law. 

d.) Keeping more fish than you and your family are able to consume. 

3.) A Defense of the Practice of Catch and Release

Throughout my angling career I have heard something like the following numerous times: "it is cruel to inflict pain on another animal purely for your own enjoyment". I think we have to take these statements seriously and for me it is something I have thought of both often and deliberately. To be blunt, yes we anglers forcibly puncture and inflict pain upon another animal, fight it, then let it go. The end to those who see the logic thus far would be that at least anglers who catch and eat their fish are serving an end. So then the question becomes, to what end are we serving? In summary, I believe the end we ultimately are serving is something much higher than face value, I truly believe the net impact of catch and release on the environment is positive and outweighs and harm we may cause. 

a.) We as anglers act as a sentry to our waters. Most avid anglers I know are keenly in touch with their local waters; they know its rhythm, fluctuations in fish populations, and deviations in water quality. We work to enhance and raise awareness when things become off kilter. Your average joe may visit such and such water say a couple of times per year, most likely on a sunny day and will have no bearing on its ebb and flow. Fisherman are out year round, sometimes multiple times per week. When something is off, we know it. 

b.) We as anglers act as stewards and advocates for improving water quality. Because we have a passion for our hobby and genuine respect for the fish we pursue, we more than anyone have worked to increase the quality of habitat. Here are a few examples:

     i.) Restoration of the Driftless Area from muddy streams with threatened native trout populations due to poor agricultural practices, to clear healthy water restored with native trout and increased biodiversity.

    ii.) The complete and full protection of Bonefish, Permit, and Tarpon throughout all of Belize.

   iii.) Initiative by several organizations including the Eastern Brook Trout Join Venture to reverse declining water quality and restore clean water to protect and promote Brook Trout.

   iv.) Campaigning by many to protect Bristol Bay and its Salmon from the Pebble Mine Project which could cause severe disruption to the historic salmon run so vital for its continuation as a species.

   v.) Efforts from groups like Sturgeon for Tomorrow, to protect and ensure Sturgeon populations can rebound.

   vi.) The work of World Muskie Alliance, to help protect Muskie spawning grounds, protect water quality, and to reintroduce populations where they have previously been eradicated.

c.) Given increasing populations and increased angler pressure, without catch and release, many of these fisheries would be void of viable populations. 

d.) We as anglers through the sale of permits, licenses, park passes so forth support the DNR and Biologist whose job it is to protect and promote these waters. 

I apologize for the length of this post. As you can tell it is something I have thought long and hard about. I welcome all and any comments or criticisms.