Nervous Nellie…

This is going to be a long one…there’s a lot to tell!

Every group has one…the nervous type that plans for every eventuality.

All names have been changed to protect the guilty.

“Bob” was invited to go with us on a fishing trip up North. He had limited experience in the outdoors and was somewhat hesitant to go. We of course, hyped it up and he finally agreed.

First-timers always make the mistake of packing too much “stuff” and we generally do a shake down before we leave to lighten the load. You don’t always carry just your gear. There’s group gear as well as the dreaded “food bags.”

“Bob” decided that installing a strap on a big Igloo cooler was a great idea. It would make carrying it across a portage a whole lot easier. My buddy looked at him and said, ” that’s a great idea! Bring two.” I looked at him as if he’d lost his mind! Then he says, “two of them will get it out of your system TWICE as fast.” “It’s a bad idea so don’t do it.” Bob acquiesced and didn’t do it. At least he listens. (NOTE: we never bring coolers)

Next up, Bob showed us his titanium framed uber-lightweight .357magnum “bear gun.” We rolled our eyes! In all our years of fishing up North, we have never had a bear in camp and the ones we did see were off in the distance heading the other way. We said NO! Then came the bear spray canister. Ugh. I had no idea that they came in “Fire Extinguisher Size.” Holy smokes that thing was huge. But Bob wouldn’t go with out it. So the agreement was made that Bob alone would carry it and nobody else.

Some would call it fear, I prefer to call it inexperience. I get it though…I’d want to carry a gun IN THE CITY. But that’s just me.

Now when Bob mentioned “baby wipes”, we about lost it. A hush fell over the group and everyone just stared at Bob. So what does he do? He goes into a high-pressure, used car salesman sales pitch about the versatility and usefulness of wipes. He was pretty damn convincing because we adopted them and take them on every trip. Good one Bob!

Then he hit us with paper plates. Seriously? Real men use mess kits and cast iron frying pans and such. Its tradition! And then came another sales pitch. True to form, men being men, our laziness won out and we use paper plates all the time. Bob’s a PRO I tell ya!

After several trips, Bob is safely in the fold and somewhat comfortable in the Wilderness. Our group is full of pranksters…me being the chief antagonist I might add. One day we left camp early, the pitch black kind of early. I agreed to navigate us through the darkness using a headlamp to help guide them. As we’re paddling along, I look back at my friend in the stern and asked, “wanna have some fun?” He replied, “always!” We rounded a point and I immediately turned off my headlamp and we started to just drift. No paddling, no lights. The rest of the group, being led by Bob started freaking out and paddling furiously to “catch up.” It sounded like a pod of whales going by! Our laughter gave us away, but it was still pretty funny…to us!

Then there was the time Bob and a few of the older gentleman decided they wanted to boat in. It’s a 60 mile ride and its worth the price, its a lot of fun. So the rest of the group was at the drop off point 30 minutes early to get them and their gear back to our basecamp. There was no way we weren’t picking them up since they were bringing in the beer (MGD in plastic bottles!)

So we finally see the boat round the point a few miles out and it arrives at the drop off a few minutes later. There’s Bob…absolutely amazed that we were waiting for him. He asked, “how did you know to be here at this exact time?” I told him it was an old Indian trick…I stuck my head under water and listened for the boat propeller. When I deemed it was close enough, we headed to the drop off point.” Even the boat driver rolled his eyes at that line of BS. Bob told everybody that story for years.

Bob just retired after 30+ years at the same company I work for. At his retirement party, I pulled him aside and told him the truth about that episode. When we dropped them off at the boat ride place, I simply asked the driver what time and where he wanted to meet. Bob got quiet and looked at me with disbelief, then he just laughed and laughed. Bob is a great guy! I include him in the “Fishing Mafia” thing…I’d take a bullet for him.

Old dogs CAN learn new tricks! Thank you “Bob!”

What’s My Fascination With JDM Gear?

For the last several years I have noticed that Major League Bass fisherman from the US head to Japan to learn new techniques that the Japanese use to catch big bass in heavily pressured waters. I’m not a diehard Largemouth Bass fisherman by any stretch of the imagination, but I like learning new things.

One day while going down the YouTube algorithm generated “rabbit hole,” I stumbled across Randy G. at TroutMagnetMan, and he was fishing with Japanese ultralight fishing rods. My curiosity was piqued and I began researching JDM tackle.

I look for “Quantum Leaps” when it comes to gear. Kind of like the Bamboo rods versus Fiberglass rods. And let me warn you now…if you get into this JDM gear, you will be doing a TON of research and language translation.

The Japanese are “Graphite Wizards” when it comes to graphite fishing rods.(For you golfers out there…Japanese made graphite golf club shafts are in high demand.) How they create these rods is impressive as well as the technological advancements that go into them. I used to think my fishing rods were light but I was wrong. My St. Croix 6ft 6in ML tips the scale at 4.5 ounces while my TenRyu 6ft 10in ML comes in at exactly 2.0 ounces. That’s amazing to me. And the sensitivity is off the charts!

Will all of this High Tech Wizardry help me catch more fish? I hope so. But I do know that shaving ounces will help me fish longer so the odds are in my favor.

I haven’t tried JDM BFS (Bait Finesse Style) fishing where they use baitcasting gear. But if you want to see a Master in action…that would be Angler Saito over on Youtube. His channel is named EnjoyFishingChannel.

JDM Spinners…

And finally, a look at JDM in-line spinners.

-Palms SpinWalk Clevis 3 gram Spinner in Yellow, Green, Gold and Black

-Daiwa Silver Creek Spinner 4 gram in Silver and Gold

Both of these brands are made in China. From what I can tell, in-line spinners are not popular in Japan because they are considered to be too easy to catch fish with. If you look close, you can see that these come with a swivel built into the wire frame. I haven’t run across that before but its a nice addition. The off-center body is interesting and I’m guessing it acts somewhat like a keel to keep these running straighter and hopefully prevent line twist.

I opted for the heavier gram weight versions because I’ll be fishing some current and also because it’s always windy here in Oklahoma.

The spoons and spinners were purchased from Chris Stewart at http://www.finesse-fishing.com. Chris is an awesome guy and is definitely an asset to the USA based JDM enthusiast. Very knowledgeable and helpful with any questions you may have.

Until next time…stay safe and stay warm!

JDM Spoons…

And here is a quick shot of a few of the Spoons I plan on throwing for the 2021 season.

From left to right:

  • Smith D-S Line Spoon 4 gram in Yamame Silver
  • Forest MIU Spoon 3.5 gram in Abalone
  • Daiwa Crusader 4 gram in Super Hot Blue Pink Tail
  • Daiwa Crusader 4 gram in Super Hot Rainbow Black

Spoons are huge in Japan for trout in both “Area” and “Native/Stream” fishing. Again, everything is specialized…Rod, reel, line, lure etc. and is geared to a specific fish species or style.

It’s a “DEEP RABBIT HOLE” to go down so be forewarned if your interest is piqued.

JDM Jerkbaits…

Here a few of the Jerkbaits I plan on using for 2021.

I replaced all of the treble hooks with Cultiva SBL-55M hooks in either size 6 or size 8. The only oddball was the Great Hunting 50F Flat Side which required Cultiva S-21 size 8 hooks.

If you ever get the chance to view any of the various Japanese company’s tackle catalogs, you will be amazed at the selection and specialization that you will find. Truly incredible.

From Top Left to Right and Bottom Left to Right:

-Great Hunting Heavy Duty 55S Sinking

-DUO Spearhead Ryuki 60S Sinking

-DUO Spearhead Ryuki 70S Sinking

-Daiwa Silver Creek Minnow 45S Sinking

-Lucky Craft Humpback Minnow 45SP Suspending

-Great Hunting Flat Side 50F Floating

As far as manufacturers go, I know the DUO Spearhead Ryuki 60S and 70S are made in Japan. The Lucky Craft Humpback Minnow Suspending is also made in Japan. The Great Hunting GH50 Flat Sides are made in Vietnam.

Just because it says “JDM” does not mean its made in Japan, rather it’s for the Japan Domestic Market. JDM purists generally do a lot of research before purchasing as they ONLY want “Made in Japan.”

I don’t see myself going down that road, but one never knows.

Country Living Isn’t What You Think…

I was having a discussion with a coworker the other day because he was lamenting the fact that ‘city life’ was getting on his nerves. I couldn’t help but laugh. People love the ‘idea’ of living in the country, but do not really understand what it is all about. In a nutshell…it’s like having 2 full-time jobs.

It’s NOT all Skittles and rainbows! Here are a few examples: the roads are not maintained, the internet SUCKS (think dial-up), utilities are higher, you have to plan grocery runs and it turns into a half-day affair, you gas up twice a week if you commute and there’s a never-ending list of things to get done. Oh, and the major things…no police, no fire and no ambulance. You’re going to be waiting quite awhile for either.

We haven’t owned a TV for close to 15 years…we just don’t have time to sit down and watch it. We are ALWAYS busy. I get up at 4am just to write on this blog. You have to carve time from somewhere!

I certainly see the advantages to living in the city, everything is close by and accessible. You have infrastructure at your fingertips. And I’ve certainly run across the ‘city folks’ who move out to the country…but they try to bring the city with them and it rarely works out for them. Most of them leave in about a year and head back to town. I could get political here with the “Move to a Red State Movement” crap…but I won’t. Country folk aren’t keen on outsiders and you have to earn their acceptance…heed my words…you’d better blend in.

I’m not wired for city living. Never have been and never will be. I’m content to be self-reliant and rely on planning and effort to accomplish what I want or need to get done. And it’s laughable to hear country folk referred to as bumpkins and such. Most of my ‘neighbors’ have college degrees and are well versed and widely traveled. Appearances can be deceiving! We love it out here! No hustle and bustle and zero light pollution.

The main tenet out here amongst country dwellers is they just want to be left alone. And that’s a tough thing to do. City centers have the numbers via population and pass all kinds of laws, even county laws. Those laws may make perfect sense IN THE CITY, but are ridiculous and non-sensical out in the country. Definitely a ‘Catch-22’ sometimes.

I hope that gives you something to ponder if you’re on the fence about moving to the country.

NOTE: And for the city guy in his Mercedes banging on my gate asking me to sign a petition to get the road paved…YOU don’t belong out here, or more specifically, your car doesn’t belong out here! 4WD is the norm here for a reason…refer to paragraph 2! And for the record, that guy moved on after 6 months. You might say we’re judgmental…we think of it as being ‘selective.’

The road IS paved…sort of. I think it has 8-9 different shades of grey asphalt patches and gravel filled potholes lol.

Ice Fishing?

Here in Oklahoma we’ve been socked in by ice and cold temperatures. I realize that temperature is relative…my Dad is currently sitting at -27F while I’m sitting at 10F. Oklahoma has a miserable, damp cold that makes it seem worse than it really is. I much prefer the dry cold my Dad has.

All of the ponds that I have driven past have been frozen over, but not long enough to actually ice fish. I enjoy ice fishing, I’ve done it in New York, Illinois and Nebraska…its a hoot to be sure. It definitely gets a guy to wondering if its possible though. We’ve had below freezing temps for 9 days straight and according to the weather forecast we will continue the trend for a week or more. It will drop to -8F this Sunday. And that’s COLD for Northeastern Oklahoma.

Maybe I’ll grab a bucket and give it a shot…then again, maybe I’ll just sit by the fire and stay warm. Decisions, decisions.

Maybe I’m just desperate to go fishing?

Redemption…

My friend came through for me! He got back from Key West the other day and brought this to me at work today.

I have wanted to try some of the Papa’s Pilar Dark Rum for ages but they won’t ship it out this way for some reason. I’m not a rum connoisseur by any stretch so don’t expect a ‘high falutin’ review about “nose” and “finish.”

I just wanted some…pure and simple. And I must say, as I’m sitting by the fire, relaxing and staring out the bay window at all of the ice and snow… it goes down smooth.

My friend…Thank You! You have indeed redeemed yourself.

However, your choice of fishing attire is another matter for another time! But we’ll consider it a “work in progress.” You’re off to a great start though.

The Wife’s Personal Best Bass…

We had heard about this local lake but had never been there. The previous weekend we ventured down to take a look around and to see if it was worth fishing. It didn’t take long to realize that fishing from the shore was all but impossible. It required a boat. No motors are allowed which is rare these days.

We made plans and loaded up the Jon boat with the trolling motor in preparation. The lake looked ideal for Crappie so we selected the appropriate tackle and headed that way.

We were fishing for about an hour and catching lots of little bass but couldn’t locate the Crappie. I decided to head over to the other side to see if it was any better.

Remember that cheap Chinese telescopic rod I mentioned in a previous post? That’s what she was using when she cast a Crappie jig up to the edge of a reed bed. Twitch, twitch…BAM! That little rod bent almost double and the drag started screaming. I reeled in my rig in record time and manned the trolling motor. No words were necessary to comprehend that she needed help.

I was chasing that fish with the boat as she was trying to gain control. We went to deeper water, then reversed course and headed towards shore. It went left, then right. Finally she got it close enough to see the flash and that’s when we realized it was a decent bass.

She managed to get it boat side and reached down and grabbed its lip and hauled it aboard. We were absolutely stunned. After the obligatory pictures with such a fine specimen, I asked her what she wanted to do with it. She smiled and placed the fish back in the water and held the tail until it was ready. I heard her say “Thank You!” as it glided back to the deep.

We sat and stared at one another for quite awhile…all smiles and wonderment. She couldn’t believe she caught it and I couldn’t believe the rod didn’t break! I was so proud of her.

No words were necessary and we headed back to the ramp. Loaded the boat and went home. What a spectacular day.

“My Precious” Finally Arrived!

This is just a quick photo of the reel seat. It NEEDS to be photographed by none other than Mr. Henry Gilbey to do it the proper justice it deserves.

Ladies and Gentleman, I introduce to you…the TenRyu 2018 Lunakia LK610S-MLT rod from Japan!

She is absolutely gorgeous! The Nishijin weave in carbon fiber that comprises the reel seat is spectacular. It possesses the Carbon Nano Tube Technology and weighs a sultry 2 ounces. It’s 6ft 10in long and has the Magna Flex Tip, which is new to me.

The flex and action on this little beauty will be perfect for the stream fishing I do. So why did I buy it? As a present to myself since I’m turning 50 soon. I’m sure my friends will buy me all of the usual gag gifts…Depends, a cane, Mr. Magoo glasses etc. But sometimes you just have to take matters into your own hands.

This is such a high quality rod, the nicest I’ve ever owned. I asked Randy G (TroutMagnetMan over on YouTube) via email whether he thought it was a good choice for my type of fishing. His response was a resounding “YES!”

I’m not selling anything but if you’re interested, I found it on http://www.finesse-fishing.com. Mr. Stewart ships extremely fast and has good prices on Japan Domestic Market fishing items.

Also, from what I can gather, TroutMagnetMan is the de facto expert on JDM Ultra Light fishing rods here in the US. Every rod type from SUL, XUL, UL, LL, L, ML etc., he shows on his YT channel. Well worth a look…

Patience Is A Virtue…I just don’t have any!

I FINALLY received notification that my new fishing rod was out for delivery. 26 miles in 3 days…hmm. But at least it’s moving in my direction. Second-string carrier pigeon perhaps?

Of course, it’s 17F outside and we’re socked in by ice. It looks like a “crystal palace” out there. So the odds of the rod actually showing up today are slim.

It’s not like I’ll be able to fish anytime soon, but still…”We Wants It, we needs it!”

Chalk it up to a character flaw or something. But I want my rod! All of the admonishments circulating in my head are valid…”this generation wants everything now!” etc etc. But people should realize that you NEVER get between a fisherman and his gear!

So I’ll sit here drinking my coffee and staring out the window. I’ll pace the floor for awhile. And I’m sure I’ll venture out and check the mailbox multiple times…all the usual things a fisherman does waiting on “his Precious.”

Stay warm folks!

The Leech!

No that’s not the actual suspect! It’s a pic I pulled from the web because it was close to the size of the “perpetrator”, albeit flatter since she wasn’t a “little woman.” I actually felt kind of sorry for that leech.

Years ago, I would travel up North to the Boundary Waters and Quetico once or twice a year.

At least one of those trips was with a Boy Scout Troop or Youth Group. On this particular trip was a female leader who regaled everyone in how cheap she bought all of her gear.

I hate cheap gear with a passion! Nothing ruins a “first-timers” trip faster than bad gear. Crappy water shoes, useless rain gear (NO PONCHOS) or “budget” portage packs. Yes, gear can be a costly investment, but from experience, it’s worth the extra cost. The worst offender by far is “outfitter paddles,” holy smokes those things are heavy. A kid will hate paddling for life and I make a point of letting each “tripper” try my paddle so they get to experience the “dark side” of nice paddles. In fact, after each one of my own kids’ first trips, I take them to be fitted for a paddle and let them pick one out. It’s a family tradition now. I can look at a person and tell what size they need…but having a “professional” go through the aggrandized procedure with your kid leaves a lasting impression.

Anyway, back to the topic at hand…On Day 3 of a 7 day trip, one of that lady’s water sandals blew out. We had no choice but to duct tape it onto her foot. It stayed like that until we made it out.

So let me set the stage for you…

We always stop at a certain Outfitter because they have a shower house that anyone can use for $5 bucks a head. There’s a section for guys and one for girls. The kids had gone in to take theirs before the adults so we were chatting as we waited. We’re separated by a wall so there’s “no peeking.” From the other side came a blood-curdling scream and we all just looked at each other. Me being ME, I just started laughing because I had a pretty good idea what had happened. Sorry, that’s just how I’m wired.

So we go outside and around to make sure everyone is OK. And there sits the “cheapskate Lady” mortified and nearly in tears. She had cut the duct-taped sandal remnant from her foot and attached to the sole of her foot was the biggest damn leech I had ever seen. It was almost as wide as her foot and clearly had been feasting for some time! A careful treatment with a cigarette lighter on each end and we removed the leech.

I’d like to thank Mr. Leech for proving my point so I didn’t have to waste my breath! Don’t buy cheap gear when going up North…you’ll be miserable. No doubt, that occasionally you’ll get lucky, but 9 times out 10 its an abject failure.

Heed my words…