Thursday, June 30, 2011

New Endeavors - Fishing Guide! - June 2011

Well, as some of you know, I am in the middle of a job search. I never thought I would be struggling right now, but it turns out that a) the economy still stinks b) the Triangle is a competitive region & c) no-one wants to pay someone who is overqualified right now. So, if you know of a job opening please pass it along!

Anyway, this ordeal has made me think a lot about what I love to do in life and what motivates me. I knew for some time that a good friend of mine, Gary Ribet, has been kicking around the idea of starting a guide service. And with a little nudge from myself and Wendy Tonker, we officially launched it. Now things are still a long way from complete, but we are both official NC kayak fishing guides and are open for trips any day of the week. The website has been re-done (and may get re-vamped again), the insurance is in place, and we are ready to start our marketing campaign. Best of all, we offer a no fish, no fee guarantee!

We are offering guided yak fishing trips, wade trips, fly fishing lessons, and just relaxing float trips. We are based out of north Durham, but have access to a ton of private water and will travel to put you on fish. Gary has a vast knowledge of waters all over the state - from the mountains to the coast, so pleaes shoot us an email if you are interested. We are working on setting up a number of sponsors and will be carrying some great products.

We are also planning on holding a Froggy Waters Outdoors tournament this October. The format is going to be different than most - much for fun, relaxed, and family oriented. Proceeds will go to the "Take a Kid Fishing" Organization. Check back soon for full details! It is going to have a bunch of cool sponsors and prizes!

So, if you or someone you know want to take one of our Jackson Coosa Elite, Native Ultimate, or other kayaks for a spin, just email me or leave a comment here. Check out our site for full details - Froggy Waters Outdoors!

Tight lines!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Crazy River Adventure - June 18, 2011

Last weekend Mary May and I headed south to hit the river. I haven't been fishing much lately, so I was eager to get out. We got there and found a lot of people - many of whom were camping. After paddling beyond them all we caught about 6-7 bass on buzzbaits and spinnerbaits. Then we decided to pull off and fish for cats. Mary May landed a nice 17" cat and lost another that was probably 5" longer. We caught a few more sub-15" fish as well. The wind was picking up fast and blowing grey clouds, so we decided to pack it in and head back toward the vehicle. About 100 yards up-river the wind really picked up and all of a sudden a gust came that knocked off both of our hats and ripped the sunglasses off of my face. Thankfully I caught my hat and glasses and put them behind me. At this point I was paddling as hard as possible and going nowhere. The wind was picking water and debris up and just blasting us with it. Mary May's hat hit the water and as she turned to grab it another huge gust - undoubtedly the biggest I have ever experienced in a yak - flipped her. As I turned to help her it nearly flipped me as well and I was forced to abandon ship or lose gear to the river.

My adrenaline was roaring as I could see Mary May was visibly shaken. It was the first time she had ever flipped and the water was deep enough that she could not touch bottom. Thankfully, we always wear our PFDs because you simply never know. This was one of those circumstances for sure. Without them, it could have been much worse. Anyway, we got her boat upright and swam them to the nearest shore. At that point, we took inventory and thankfully only lost a couple of rods, 1 flip-flop, and some less meaningful things. I didn't care about any of the stuff we lost and was just happy we were OK. At that point, the river was blowing white caps like I have never seen on a small river - in the 2-3 foot range. Limbs were falling in the woods behind us every few seconds and thunder and lightning bursts hit every couple of minutes. It was a sight I will never forget.

Finally, everything slowed down and we made a hard paddle for the vehicles. About 2 minutes into our paddle one last lightning bolt pierced the sky and we probably looked like olympic paddlers in our yaks. We got to the truck in about 15 minutes and by then the skies were clearing and sunny. Although the evening bite was still in front of us, we had, had enough for one day and packed it in.

We found out later that the wind had actually done some damage to our friends house not too far away. They had a trampoline, which was bolted into the ground, uprooted and blown into the woods. And her neighbors above ground pool was ripped out of the ground and went through the wall of their house. Another of their neighbors had porch fan ripped from the ceiling.

It was quite the adventure and a good experience both for us both in terms of learning and always being careful. Tight lines out there this summer and stay safe!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Fishing in the Land of Flannel and Hockey - Canada Trip 2011

Nearly every May since the age of 14 I have been lucky enough to head to southern Ontario on what has become a regular fishing trip with my father and friends. Those 4 days are filled with fishing from the time we wake up to the time we sleep. Every year is a little different and that is why every year we show up and are so anxious we can barely sit still. For much of the group, it is a trip before the season begins at Woodward Camp – an action sports and gymnastics camp in central Pennsylvania. For me, it is typically a nice way to end the semester. This year there were 6 of us who made the trip…and as usual, it did not disappoint.

The trip occurred during what I am calling my “road warrior” phase in May. It began by driving from North Carolina to Massachusetts then from Mass. to Pennsylvania. I arrived in PA on a Monday evening and we would leave for Ontario early Wednesday morning. I was happy to be home, albeit not for very long. One big surprise, and one that I am shocked my mother kept from me, is that my dad had bought a new boat. He upgraded the old Ranger to a newer 22.5’ Ranger Comanche with a Mercury 225 on the back. We were riding in style, and at a slightly higher velocity than my Coosa.

We arrived in at The Poplars fishing lodge near Newport, ON on Wednesday afternoon. Thankfully the border crossing was a piece of cake and we hit the water fairly fast. My dad, Mike, and myself got on some fish quickly, but the trip definitely had some slow points too. I am not going to go through every detail of our trip, but here is a general run down….

The weather was all over the place. It started windy with some rain and moderate temperatures. By day 3, it was just flat out hot and sunny. And, the bite reflected the weather. We did best when there was some wind, which makes perfect sense, as wind stirs up baitfish and other fish forage. When in doubt, find the windy bank and wind blown points!

Typically we target weed beds and drop-offs in 8-12 feet of water on our late May excursions. But this year, that depth was rather barren. Ice-off was late in Ontario this year and the temperatures had been cooler than normal. This, combined with the zebra mussel boom, stunted a lot of weed growth. However, we weren’t even catching pike in 4-6 feet of water. Our best bite, by far, came in 1-3 feet of water throwing spinnerbaits and spinners through mixed weeds and lily pads. None of us had ever remembered the pike being so shallow, but they were there and were there in force.

We didn’t end up with any giants this trip and I think it was partially due to the fact that the fish were so shallow, as most bigger fish like easy access to deep water. However, we managed a couple fish right at 30” and about 10 more in the 27”+ range. We also landed quite a few nice bass, although they were not in season and we were targeting pike. One day, we probably would have had about a 16-17 lb 5 fish limit, which isn’t too shabby for those lakes. On a couple of days we caught more than 100 fish between the three of us – a mix of pike, largemouth, smallmouth, rock bass, crappie, perch, and the occasional bluegill.

Our best baits were spinnerbaits that looked like bluegill, particularly those with some dark colors in them. They were able to cut through much of the shallow weed cover with ease and mimicked the sunfish that we could see everywhere in shallow water. Other producers were the old faithful Mepps #4 and #5 in copper, gold, or red, the X-Rap, and the Lucky Craft Flash Minnow. The jerkbaits did very well in areas that were slightly deeper and weedy, but as I mentioned, these areas were few and far between.

The boat ran like a gem and we all had a great time. This trip made me realize some of the steps I have taken as a fisherman. I credit that to the time I spend on the water and the great friends I have to fish with and share ideas with. There is nothing better than going through a few rough spells before you figure out the pattern and then…WHAM…it is on!

Anyway, we got back to PA on Sunday evening and Monday morning I got up early to drive the 7-8 hours back to Durham. That means I logged roughly X miles on the road over the course of a couple weeks. I am tempted to say “what a long, strange trip it was”, but that wouldn’t be accurate. It was long, although it went by fast, and it wasn’t all that strange – except for the pike being crazy shallow.

Check out some footage of our trip, including a pike nailing a spinnerbait caught on film from underwater! Here ya go....

Until next time (tomorrow), tight lines!

Monday, June 27, 2011

I've Been a Bad, Bad Blogger

I need to apologize to everyone who reads this blog, as I have been an extreme slacker lately. I have been moving, searching for a job, trying to finish my graduate degree, and have my fingers in a bunch of little pots right now. So, over the next week I am going to try and catch up on a blog a day - rapid style action. This includes my Canada trip from late-May (with some awesome underwater footage), a few recent trips rolled into one, a crazy experience on the river, and a couple new endeavors I am part of. Keep an eye out tomorrow for part-I of catching up! Until then, check out Rippin Lip Outdoors and their picture of the day - the new world record blue catfish caught on Kerr Lake, which spans the NC-VA border!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Gear Review - Gerber Answer SM Pocket Knife

About a month ago I was lucky enough to win a Gerber pocket knife by way of the Outdoor Blogger Network’s semi-weekly contest. I have been a big fan of Gerber over the years, having used their hatchets on many occasions. Not to mention when I was a teenager the original Gerber Leatherman hit the market, and what outdoorsy teen didn’t want one of those! So needless to say, I was excited to get out and test it.
The exact knife is the Gerber Answer SM. It has a 2.75” blade, F.A.S.T. Technology opening system, a textured handle, pocket clip, and a fully fine edge blade. First, the F.A.S.T. technology. F.A.S.T. stands for Forward Action Spring Technology. Basically, it is a locking mechanism on the side that is attached to a spring system that aides in opening and closing the blade. Although I found the button slightly illogical at first, after a few uses you get used to the system and it works like a charm.

The blade came quite sharp and although I am typically partial to a blade with some serration as well, I liked the look of this one. I first used it during a move this past week to cut tape and boxes – a task it handled with ease. Then I raised the bar a little. I am in the process of making a base for a table out of green wood and wanted to see how it would handle trimming smaller branches from larger limbs. It cut quite well, especially when paired with a small hammer for the larger branches. It cut through smaller sticks with ease and after it was all said and done it remained pretty sharp.

I could only find a couple drawbacks to the knife. First, I have to wonder how long the spring loaded opener will work. To me, it feels like a part that may fail after a year or so of regular use. Second, the grip was a little small for my hand. The knife is made to be small and compact, but I found it to be a tweener. A slightly smaller or larger knife would have suited me better. And finally, I found the knife to be a little on the heavy side. Compared to many of the new knives I have seen, it seemed to weigh my pocket down more than expected. Again, this is nit-picking, but it was something that popped into my head. I will note that I did not use the pocket clip – in part because I don’t need everyone to think I am a bigger nerd than I truly am.

Would I recommend this knife to someone? Yes, I certainly would. It does everything a good little knife should do and is very sturdy and sharp. I put it through its paces and it did everything I could reasonably expect from a knife of this size, and at its price point. Plus, Gerber has always cared about customer service and satisfaction. Tight lines!

I received the Gerber Answer SM free of charge to test and review. The opinions expressed above are my independent thoughts and experiences.