Thursday, February 21, 2013

The BASS Slam Story Hits Kayak Angler Magazine

Yesterday I came home to find an awesome surprise in the mailbox - the spring 2013 issue of Kayak Angler Magazine (KAM).  KAM is probably the most widely published and reputable kayak fishing magazine on the market today and has been one of my favorites since I first picked up a paddle.  Last year as I was planning the BASS Slam, I thought that our adventure and attempt at the challenge would make a cool article.  Of coure, I knew I was biased, but after we returned from our road trip I was even more enthused about the idea.  So I dropped an email to Scott MacGregor, the founder and publisher of Rapid Media - which publishes KAM.  A few weeks passed before Scott got back to me, but he liked the idea and forwarded it to Ric Burnley.  Ric is the current head editor for KAM and he too really liked the idea.  We decided to pitch it as a "feature article", but it was just that - a pitch.  It still had to be voted on and have publishing details worked out if it was approved. 

The Spring 2013 Issue of Kayak Angler Magazine - sweet cover art!

After a few months of nervous waiting, good news arrived - we were in!  I was stoked.  The trip was such a cool experience that I couldn't wait to share it with folks.  I started working on the article, getting our favorite photos rounded up and going through hours upon hours of video.  After a month or so the article was starting to take shape.  Ric had given me an original deadline and we were on pace to meet it - no problem.  Then, on Thanksgiving morning, I got an email and call from Ric.  His other articles and deadlines were a mess and he needed something ASAP to give to the publishers.  So over the course of Thanksgiving day, he and I traded emails, edits and phone calls and knocked out a nearly complete article.  Coincidentally, Mary May had to work most of the day, so that gave me the time to balance editing and not burning the turkey.  By the time she came home, I had somehow managed to fill the house with all sorts of Thanksgiving goodness and get the publishers off of Ric's back.

The format continually evolved into the final form.  It was super fun to see it keep getting better and better along the way.  I also put together a BASS Slam overview video for Kayak Angler Online.  When I finally got to open the issue and see all of my hard work, it was totally worth it.  Beyond my contribution to the magazine (pages 53-56), there are a ton of great photos and articles worth a look including some cool artwork from Rob Choi and inspiring stuff from Heroes on the Water.

Hey, that's me!

Because of the strict word count, there was A LOT that got left out.  I am hoping to share some of those side stories here on Man Powered Fishing in the next couple of weeks, so keep an eye out.  There were also a few things that got "lost in translation" where a key word or two got yanked to cut down on the word count that made a big difference - especially when it came to locations.  One particular word that got yanked multiple times was "basin" and another was "amazing", which was originally placed before the word "girlfriend".  If you have questions about the article or the slam, feel free to email me (

Also, I hadn't originally included a lot of specifics about baits, particularly brands, in order to cut down on my word count.  But they were later added and you will notice that we caught a lot of fish on four specific baits - a Yamamoto Senko, Deep Creek Lures MT and Sink 'N Catch Worms, SOB Lures Buzzbaits and the Premier League Lures River Special spinnerbait.  Honestly, you could easily catch the slam with those baits alone.  They are all top of the line.

Along those lines, another big thanks to friends, family, and kayak fishing peers who helped along the way.  And of course, the companies I partner with because they make awesome gear - Malibu Kayaks, Crack of Dawn Paddlesports, Carolina Custom Rods and Columbia Sportswear.  And I shouldn't leave out YakAttack, Kayalu or Kokatat whose gear also travels with me. 

One last thing - if you are interested in doing a BASS Slam trip, Froggy Waters Guide Service is going to start offering an all inclusive "Slam Package" starting this spring, which will be guided by yours truly.  It will include all travel, lodging, licenses, gear, shuttles, float plans and guiding for the entire trip.  Check out Froggy Waters Outdoors for details. 

Happy reading and tight lines!

Monday, February 11, 2013

My Favorite Squirrel Recipe - Squirrel Pot Pie

I know this is mainly a fishing blog, but I have had a bunch of folks ask for this recipe after I posted it on Facebook, so I wanted to share it.  If you already eat squirrels and want to try it, it is as good as any recipe out there!  If you don't, I highly recommend giving them a try.  I know it is cliche, but they don't taste much different than chicken.  Go find a local hunter and ask him to help you out.

One of the great things about food is how different, yet similar it is depending on where you are in the world.  Many cultures have put their own twists on what is essentially the same recipe. In Germany, and in places throughout the world with German descendants (such as where I grew up in central Pennsylvania), the above recipe is for traditional pot pie. Others may call it squirrel dumplings. Regardless, it is delicious by any name.

The starting product...

Squirrel Pot Pie - Pennsylvania Dutch Style
I use about 5 "average" size squirrels (gutted, cleaned, etc).  I would recommend no fewer than 4.  The recipe makes about 10 healthy size servings.
1)  Put the squirrels in a fairly large pot and fill with water until the squirrels are covered or almost covered
2)  Add 1 tbsp oil and about 1/2-1 tbsp of salt to the water
3)  With the lid on, boil the squirrels for 20 minutes on high then reduce to the lowest temp that still allows the water to boil and let boil for another hour to two hours (I usually boil for about 1 hr 30 minutes total). Some folks say "until the meat falls of the bone", but I have never witnessed that.  In other words, I am not very patient when I'm hungry.
4)  While the squirrel is boiling, cube/chop 6 medium russet potatoes, 1 yellow onion, 3-6 carrots (depending on size). Some folks also like to use celery, but I am not a big celery fan so I don't use it.
5)  Also while the squirrel is boiling, cook 8-12 pieces of bacon and cut into moderate size pieces
6)  I also like to start my pot pie at this point. You can buy it from the store, but I make mine because it is pretty easy. I use 1 egg, 3 tbsp of milk, a couple pinches of salt and flour as needed (1-2 cups). Whip the egg thoroughly with a fork or whisk. Then add all of the milk. Add about 4-6 tbsp of flour at a time and whip with the fork. Repeat this until the mixture becomes doughy and can be rolled out. A lot of times I will double the pot pie portion of the recipe if I am making a larger batch. Of course, I am also partial to a lot of pot pie in this recipe. After you have it mixed, knead it for a minute or so then roll it out to your desired thickness. A lot of recipes recommend around 1/8" thickness, but I like to go a little thinner than that. Then just cut it into pieces about 1.5"x1.5" with some bigger and some smaller.
7)  When the squirrel is done boiling, grab it with tongs and set aside.  The water should look a little more like broth and have a few chunks of squirrel meat floating around
8)  Put all of the veggies and bacon into the squirrel water/broth along with about 2 cups of chicken broth.
9)  Add spices to taste...I add a healthy dose of Hungarian paprika as well as pepper, garlic powder and a pinch of salt.  Parsley is also a must, whether dried or fresh and should be added now.
10)  Covered, boil the veggies, bacon, and spices/herbs on high for about 5 minutes then reduce heat to the lowest temp which allows boiling. 
11)  Now add the pot pie and boil for about another 7-10 minutes (basically until the potatoes and carrots are soft). The pot pie pieces will thicken up the mixture as they cook.
12)  While the pot pie is boiling, pick the meat off of the squirrels. Sometimes they get a bit of a film on them while boiling, so I try to clean that off.
13)  With about 2-3 minutes left in the boiling process, add the squirrel to the pot.
14)  Finish the remainder of the boiling process and you are all set.


The finished product!
It is a great cold weather dish and goes particularly well with a dark beer or a glass of red wine.  Tight lines!

Monday, February 4, 2013

"50 Chunks on the Fly" - a 2013 Kayak Fishing Odyssey

A few weeks ago, I posted a short blog that mentioned Shaye Baker and his "Quest for 100 Kickers".  For those of you not fluent in fishing, a "kicker" is a big fish that anchors a 5 fish limit in bass fishing.  Many anglers go after a limit of keepers first and then search for bigger fish to cull out the smaller keepers.  That big bass, typically at least 4 lbs, is what kicks your limit into contention for cash/prizes.  Shaye has also used the 4 lb standard to define a kicker.  He started his quest in September 2012 and will fish through the end of August 2013.  As you can see in his recent video blog, he is well on his way, but still has a long way to go.  I will be rooting for him!

Now rewind to how this affects me....well it doesn't.  But it did inspire me.  So after asking the public about the doability and logistics of my brainchild, I decided to attempt a quest of my own.  This year, I am going to try and catch 50 bass over 17" on the fly and from my kayak and/or wading and all on public waters.  I am calling it - "50 Chunks on the Fly", being that the word "chunk" is often used for bass that are good size, but not quite "kicker" quality.  So if you are a fly fishing enthusiast, this blog is going to be a little more entertaining for you than normal this year. 

I am going to be chasing a bunch of fish this size in 2013!

Granted, I am not writing off conventional gear altogether.  I promise those traditionalists out there won't be dissappointed.  Maybe you will even find yourself being inspired to pick up a long rod?!
One thing that has been in the back of my mind as I approach this challenge is fly selection.  I have a few bass bugs in my box that I love.  They are mainly floaters and have been incredibly productive the past few years - including catching some big fish.  And of course, I also have a bunch of streamers and flies designed to be fished on the bottom.  But most of them are still fairly small.  So how do you maintain the action of a fly while upsizing it to target bigger bass, keeping in mind that it needs to remain castable.  In my case, I Google.  I went out and found as many awesome looking flies as possible, saved the links and sent them off to my good friend Levi.  Levi and I grew up together and he is an incredibly talented fly tier and fisherman currently residing in Michigan.  About once a year I tend to send him all of my scatterbrained ideas and he makes them into something that catches fish.  I am hoping he can really work his magic this year...I need it!

OK, this might be a little much...even for my taste

So, if you have a favorite bass fly I should know about, please comment below and let me know what it is.  Also, if you have pics, feel free to email them to

And last, but not least, as I was writing this I got a message from Grizzly Hackle Fly Shop out of Montana.  I won a new pair of Patagonia wading boots through a contest they held on Facebook.  I am ecstatic, in large part because my old wading boots have seen better days.  I think the soles have now been re-cemented about 5 times.  They will be an awesome asset for this years quest!

After speaking with the Grizzly Hackle folks and checking out their site, they seem like a great group of guys who love getting others introduced to fly fishing and the outdoors.  They even took the time to check out my blog, which I really appreciate. So, check them out if you get a chance.  They have tons of stuff available on their website and even more at their store in Missoula.

Until next time, tight lines!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Show Off Your Inner Camo

What is it about camouflage?  Outdoorsmen and women are drawn to it like moths to a flame.  Sure, it is practical and logical to wear in the woods while hunting.  But as a self diagnosed lover of camo, even I think we overdo it sometimes.  A quick search on Google resulted in just about anything you can think of coming in camo.  It included weddings, funerals, cars, couches and about a million other things...including a camo rubber ducky.  Part of me is proud and part of me just shakes my head.

I don't think I overdo it.  The vast majority of the camo items I own are only worn in the woods and on the water.  But there is one item that I use to truly embrace my inner outdoorsman no matter where I am - the camo iPhone case.  Is there anything more perfect than taking a small electronic device that holds the entire knowledge bank of mankind and epitomizes the sophisticated technological breakthroughs of our generation and wrapping it in a camo cover.  The answer is no.

Fact - I was actually using my camo phone when I heard the buck I shot this year coming out of a nearby funnel area 

Nothing brings a bigger gleam to my eye than sitting in a meeting at Duke surrounded by folks with ivy league degrees and more academic awards then you could count and pulling out my camo phone to send them an email.  Or better yet, sitting in a Senate building on Capitol Hill filled with staffers and using my camo phone to catch up on things in-between meetings.  Combined with my dapper dress suit, it always earns me a few funny looks.

But that is what I love and embrace about camo.  It is a badge of pride for those that love the outdoors.  Sure, we are sometimes wrongly stereotyped when we wear it, but that doesn't bother me...and I hope it doesn't bother you either.  So whatever your favorite piece of camo is, go out and flaunt it!

If anyone is interested in picking up a camo case for their phone, check out the cases from Fuse - Plus You.  They have a pretty nice selection for a variety of phones in both men's and women's styles.  And they agreed to give anyone who stopped by to read this on Man Powered Fishing a 10% discount.  All you have to do is use the coupon code - MPF - at checkout.  Tight lines!