Saturday, December 31, 2005

She Mocks Me

I thought I was going to get skunked.

Yes - I found an excuse to go back to the lake to see if "The Legend" would finally give in to the worm. Somebody had to get rid of the Christmas tree and what better use for it than as fish cover in Lake Evans?

Someone once told me that you had to be smarter than the fish in order to catch it. This is one smart fish!

I've also recently heard that some native american tribes used to judge their worth by the veracity of their adversaries. The Legend is becoming a formitable challenge but one day she will slip up and I plan to be there to take advantage.

Someday - but not today!

I decided to leave the boat on the roof rack and just cast a few times from shore. The evening sun was getting low and the wind was dying out but I couldn't seem to find a fish in the whole lake. There were some bugs coming off the water and the sunfish were starting to hit the surface. Of course, I had left the fly rod behind and just had the UL and a green worm.

I worked out in the deep spot near the brush pile where yesterday I caught 6 fish and only got a couple of taps. I think these must have been panfish or turtles since nothing was able to get the big green worm all the way in their mouth.

I heard a couple of loud splashes near the shore and saw schools of baitfish moving along the surface. Eventually I turned back towards the car and decided to try "the cove" with a final cast. As often happens when I decide to leave, I hooked up on a small but feisty bass.

Ok maybe just one more cast - Bingo another nice bass. This one headed for the weeds and I was fortunate to get her ashore.

What time did I promise to cook supper?
Maybe just a couple more casts - its not that late...

Yeah Yeah I know. You said you were leaving right?

But Honey - doesn't this make a nice picture against the setting sun?

Even the small ones look pretty in the twilight...

And then there she was! A huge splash along the far shoreline. This was no ordinary fish... it had to be her. I headed around the shore thinking I could get one or two casts in and then I would leave (yeah right). She hit the surface again as I was getting close and really made the water boil. I think she was after the schooling baitfish I had seen earlier. I got into position and made a cast - a little too far off to the right. I hope I didn't spook her. I tried another cast and hooked up on this little one.

Could I have been wrong? Surely this little squirt couldn't have made that much water move. As I was reeling up to go I heard another huge splash directly across from where I was fishing - and incidently right where I had been standing!

I walked around to get closer and before I got to the spot, I got a good look at a big white mouth as she gave chase to the surface school. Wow - that was definitely bigger than anything I've caught yet.

I tried a couple of casts but she had changed position again.

Another day my friend, another day.

Friday, December 30, 2005

The Legend Lives On

I went back to Lake Evans this afternoon to test drive my tricked out Toon.

The wind had switched to the West and was blowing at a steady 15mph. The elevated seat was a tad too high but the swivel more than made up for it. I really liked the ability to turn at right angles and change the position of my feet.

I hooked up on a couple of small bass then hit pay dirt. This nice 14" fish took the big green worm and put up a good fight on the ultralight.

On the very next cast (after the photo shoot) I picked up this nice 16 incher.
As you can see, I was almost beached when I found the fish.

Then came the big one..Could it be The Legend? This fish was taking me for a ride. It was stripping out line through a tight drag and moving from right to left at will. I hung on and eventually guided her to the net...

Nice Bass!

I don't think this was The Legend - no sign of lip jewelry.

It was a nice bass by any standard.

These were all nice heavy fish and full of fight. I caught 6 fish in all and lost three or four. I had a couple on the fly rod but wasn't able to boat either one.

I'm still after The Legend.

Some say she is still down there - some say she always will be.

Toon Mods

I've made a few modifications to the Pontoon Boat.

I found these Oar Rights in the Gorge Fly Shop in Hood River OR. They have a "key" which fits into the oar lock to keep the blade of the oar positioned in the water.

A basic rod holder was included as an accessory when I purchased the boat.

I also installed the Scotty fly rod holder Paul gave me.

The anchor setup included with the boat left something to be desired so I installed some pulleys to provide a way to raise & lower a small anchor from the normal front facing position.

I recently received a gift certificate to Academy Sports & Outdoors and decided to try a little modification to the seat.

The existing seat is mounted directly to the frame which provides greater stability and a lower center of gravity for use in moving water. Since I will be using the boat mostly on calm water, I wanted to try to raise the seat up a little and to add a swivel.

Initially, I installed the swivel on the bottom under the 7-1/2" pedestal. This seemed to be the easiest as far as installation but proved to be a poor choice since the stress caused by rocking and tilting affected the swivel.

I ultimately installed the swivel directly to the seat and then attached the pedestal between the seat/swivel and the frame.

I'm eager to give it a try!

Thursday, December 29, 2005

The Legend Didn't Fall

After almost a whole week off the time finally arrived to go fishing. The weather has been warm (in the 70's) and the wind has not been too bad for the last couple of days. Paul and I made a plan to launch the pontoons in Lake Evans near mid-day to allow the water to warm up as much as possible. The day was mostly sunny and the few clouds that were about were thin and not much of a factor.

I have been talking about the "big one" for some time and I'm now going to refer to her as "The Legend". I have vowed to catch the Legend on a fly rod or an ultralight spinning rig. So far I have hooked her four times and have not yet been able to get her on film.

We found some nice bass like this one. The net worked great! Thanks Grant!

Paul hooked up but all I got was this long-range shot:

I got a nice surprise when this big white crappie nailed a green soft plastic salamander.

The bass were hitting olive green worms.

I tried the Double Bunny Zonker but no takers.

Paul got creative and since he couldn't catch a catfish, how about a dog-fish?

All in all it was a great trip and the Legend will fall another day.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Performance Reviews

This time of year is full of activity - Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, birthdays, end-of-year meetings, and performance reviews. I participated in a business meeting on the Columbia River near Hood River Oregon held at the Skamania Lodge.

Two of my employees were also in attendance and we took advantage of the time together to visit about their annual performance. Rather than just sitting in the lodge near the fireplace, we took a short trip up the Columbia to the Deshutes river and tried not to freeze our fingers off. I'm a strong believer in team-building and look for opportunities to share my love of fishing with others.

The Deschutes is familiar to me from its reference in the fly-fishing classic, The Major, The Poacher, and the Wonderful One-Trout River by Dayton O. Hyde.

If you have never read this book I highly recommend it.

The river was big and beautiful and was said to contain trout and steelhead but other than a couple of fingerlings our short visit produced more working than playing.

THere are some who would say that a bad day of fishing beats a good day at work but in this case both were accomplished!

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Lessons Learned

I should know better by now.

After all you can't catch fish if your line isn't in the water.

I woke up this morning with a pretty good idea about what today would bring - I had some honey-do's that have been hanging for a while and was committed to getting them done before heading out of town for most of next week.

I was advised shortly after getting half way through my first cup of Starbucks that there was a Fiber festival in Boerne Texas going on today. For the uninitiated that means a knitter's show and sale. I'm always looking for an excuse to take a road trip and to spend some quality time with the love of my life so off we went to Boerne.

I had an ulterior motive for heading west on I-10. Here's a hint:

If you've never stopped in Luling at Buc-ee's you've missed the best travel stop in Texas. Not only do they have a great selection of goodies- they have the best restrooms on the planet.

You might ask why I would volunteer to go to a Fiber festival when there are still fish to catch. Well aside from the fact that I really do enjoy spending time with my wife, there are other things besides yarn to see and do at one of these gatherings.

When we first arrived I was surprised by meeting Grady Ingle, one of the organizers who used to work for the same company I do. He checked out in 1985 - the year I started. Small world.

Next as we headed towards the building with the vendors I began hearing the sound of a guitar and a dulcimer. A husband & wife duo from Fort Worth were playing old-time favorites like Buffalo Gals, and Golden Slippers for the enjoyment of the festival vendors and attendees. As a fellow player of both of these instruments, I really enjoyed watching and listening to them play.

This festival also had several wooden articles for knitters, weavers, and spinners. One item is not one most folks would recognize either by name or if they saw it. Its called a nostepinde and it is used to wind yarn into a ball that pulls out from the center. Sure they make fancy crank type plastic geared winders but these are old fashioned tools that are hand crafted. The first one we bought a few months ago was made from Mulberry wood by Lloyd Stretton of Running Moon Farm in Louisiana. At this festival there was some other LA ladies called Les Trois Amies (the three friends) who were neighbors of the RMF. We picked up a small noste made from Cherry wood.

There was also a dealer of handmade spinning wheels. Bill Wyatt produces some fine crafted custom wheels. He company Wyatt Wheels is quite a story.

In addition to the wooden items that attract me like a hungry Brown trout to an olive and black wooly bugger at sundown, there were live animals at the Fiber fest. Alpacas of all things - producers of fine soft wool that are a knitters dream. These are funky beasts though. These guys seemed pretty worried about all the strangers.

In addition to some yarn we also purchased some local honey from Del Jardin from Poteet.

After leaving Boerne we headed back home via the scenic route. We did manage to stop once more at Buc-ee's.."It's a Beaver!"

At the exit we noticed that Palmetto State Park was just a few miles away and decided to drive down and take a look for future reference. This is the part I was getting to.

Texas has some nice parks and this is one of them. When I realized that the name of the community nearest to the park was called Ottine, I knew I would like it. When I realized that flowing through the park was the San Marcos River I was even more impressed.

But when I saw the four-acre oxbow lake near sunset with fish rising steadily - I was hooked.... well almost.

You see I had left my ultralight next to my flyrod which was next to my backpack with my tackle in it in the garage AT HOME.

Oh well this was supposed to be a trip designed to spend quality time with "you know who". We got to enjoy a beautiful Texas sunset and managed to pass by Buc-ee's a third time without stopping. All in all it was a great day even without wetting a line.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Fisherman's Prayer

Over the years I've received a lot of gifts from my brother.

Recently I got a new "Fisherman's Phone Holster".

A little bird must have told him that I've wanted this fleece lined leather fly wallet for some time now. He even included some hand-tied flies!

But one gift that he gave me to wish me a happy 45th was a plaque of the Fisherman's Prayer. This is one that I will treasure forever.

God grant that I may live to fish until my dying day.
And when it comes to my last cast
I then most humbly pray
When in the Lord's safe landing net
I am peacefully asleep
Then by God's mercy may I be judged
As a fisher of men and big enough to keep.

Thanks Bro
I love you man!

Boat In A Bag

Usually when I get a bright idea the result ends up short of my expectations. That's OK because I am very adaptive and can adjust my expectations without letting it ruin my day (too much). When I first unpacked my TU Colorado Pontoon Boat, I had the bright idea of finding a couple of bags to pack all the pieces in for easy transport.

The whole boat weighs enough to convince me that dividing everything up into two bags would be ideal. If I could only locate the perfect bags....

I tried a couple of unsuccessful candidates then located one at Gander Mountain that seemed to be just what I was looking for.

Its called "The Runner" wheeled duffle made by Camp Inn. GM had the 36" model and I found that I could fit the seat and seat frame, foot pegs, rear platform frame, rear cargo platform, and all hardware - everything except the pontoons, side frames, and oars in this bag.

I also learned that Camp Inn made a 42" model that turned out to be just the size I needed for the pontoons and side frames. I found one on-line at Your Outdoor Outfitter.

The oars are just a little too long but I intend on finding a bag for them too.

Now the rest of the story.

It's rare these days to experience excellent customer service. I've come to expect certain inevitabilities in the 21st century like buttons that don't stay on for more than a day, or minor defects in merchandise that are more of a nuisance that anything else.

When the bag from YODO arrived I was excited and eager to pack the boat. After I got the pontoons in I noticed a minor flaw in the workmanship - a poorly installed rivet.

Not to be put off, I found a similar sized bolt and repaired the defect.

Enter Dustin Buel from YODO. He called just minutes after I performed the repair asking if I had received the order and if everything was OK. I told him about the rivet and that I had already fixed it. He wanted to follow up with the Camp Inn folks because he said they were very interested in providing quality. He told me to go ahead and use the bag for the weekend and that he would get back with me.

Dustin called me back minutes later and gave me instructions on returning the bag for an exchange. He e-mailed me with the address to ship the bag to and will be sending me a RMA # and a UPS Shipping number so I don't pay for shipping. He will also be shipping me out a new replacement bag. That's what I call service!

Thanks Dustin

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Pontooning in Porter

Some days you don't mind not catching any fish. Brother Paul and I took the 'toons to a small residential area near Porter and launched out. The weather was perfect for the fishermen but may have been less than optimal for fishing. This was the maiden voyage of Paul's boat. He had his old trolling motor and a new battery (not a bad combination if you consider the alternative). It took a little while to get situated and to figure out how to reach everything but once he got going - look out!

I on the other hand was trying to demonstrate my oarsmanship with this cool spinning move.... impressive huh?

It was really great to be out on the water fishing again with my brother. I've missed it lately but am looking forward to tight lines in the future.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Joe's Big Catch

My buddy and fellow fisherman Joe got to visit the LC Ranch

After teaching Joe how to properly display the catch, the big rainbow was released. Watch the LC Ranch website to see if Joe makes the photo album.