How I Fish Most of the Time.

This is how I fish 80% of the time. I fish on foot and carry everything I need for a day or two. Some of the gear choices change due to the season or other conditions. As I said in previous posts, I do a lot of research on gear to find exactly what I need to accomplish the objective. There is always a cost-benefit analysis that occurs to prevent wasted expenditures. The wife and I bounce ideas off of each other and weigh the “Pro’s and Con’s”. Believe me, I’ve bought cheap stuff before and it didn’t hold up for very long. These days I dig into the specifications of products in depth as I’d rather “buy once, cry once.”

The backpack I’m wearing in the picture is the Yeti Panga 28L. Overpriced? Absolutely! Over-built? Absolutely! And it is 100% WATERPROOF which is what I need. ALL of the features I needed were present in this pack. EVERY SINGLE ONE. Was I happy spending $300…NOPE! But I will say that it was a great investment and I’m VERY happy with it.

What you can’t see is that the Panga is holding a silnylon tarp, Klymit air mattress, a poncho liner, a Katadyn Hiker Pro water filter, an isobutane stove and fuel canister inside a titanium mug, food for a day or two, NiteCore NU25 headlamp, filet knife, spare shirt, the yellow MagPul DAKA pouch, a ThermaRest Z fold sit pad, GoPro stuff and miscellaneous fishing tackle. Oh, and a shortwave radio. Don’t ask!

So the big WHY that people ask and want an answer to is simple…it’s waterproof and it floats! I can (and have) put it on my front and lay on it as I kick and swim across deep pools or any body of water that’s too deep to wade. It helps float me where I want to get to. Boats can’t get to where I want to fish. Food for thought…

A Quick Look ay my Homemade Pouch Part Five.

I think the finished project turned out rather well. The Juki sewing machine did not like that material and sewing the corners was a nightmare for me but we got it done. All seams have a double row of stitching for durability. It does indeed hold all of my soft plastics and jigheads so that’s a plus. All in all, I’m happy with it and will probably just use the prototype for now until I fully test it and see if there are any modifications that might need to be made. As far as size goes, I wouldn’t want it any bigger.

And yes… I ended up sewing one for the wife as well!

A Quick Look at my Homemade Pouch Part One.

I knew what I wanted but couldn’t find anything close to what I was looking for. There was an idea for it floating around in my head. I knew I wanted it to hold my jigheads and plastic baits, it must have a solid and secure closure yet be easy to access, it must drain out the water when I wade/swim and it must be able to be carried on my fishing belt.

I own a JUKI DDL-8700 sewing machine that I use to make backpacking quilts and to do gear repairs when needed.

I am a Lucky Man!

Why do I say that? Because I am married to a beautiful woman who loves fishing as much as I do! We plan trips together, research gear together and shop for gear together. I admit…it’s kind of weird buying two of everything, but hey, it’s worth it.

The trust level we have in each other is amazing. When I wander around the next bend leaving her behind, she knows I’ll either return or will be waiting for her. Usually I’ll scout out a riffle or pool, make a cast or two and wait for her so she gets a shot. If there is a tricky river crossing she knows I’ll stop and help her across. Her comfort level at stream crossings isn’t the same as mine.

Above all, she is patient with me. I am not a great teacher and she knows that. She also knows how to ask the right questions to get the answers she needs. Many times I stop just to watch HER fish. Offer up words of encouragement or pointing out prime spots for her to cast to. And for the record…she caught the biggest Velox I have ever seen (a little over the 3lb mark-a real trophy for these waters). The smile on her face was worth more to me than the fish! Needless to say, there’s a framed picture of the moment hanging on the wall.

Imagine fishing several miles of river…just two people who deeply love each other, not another soul within miles, in-tune with each other, laughing together, immersed in the moment and focused on each other and knowing that nothing else matters at that point in time.

So yes…I consider myself a lucky man.

So Why Do I Fish?

I’m not going to “wax poetic” on the topic. But I fish for several reasons. Simply put…I ENJOY it. But it goes deeper than that for myself and I’m sure for almost everyone else.

I enjoy figuring out “THE PUZZLE”. Where they are, what depth, what speed, what color etc etc. It is truly a multifaceted sport. I am not in it for the pictures, in fact, most fish are released immediately. To me, getting set up to take the perfect picture ruins the experience. Not to mention that to me, it seems as if the pictures I take do not compare to what the human eye takes in. It seems too contrived and catapults the fish into a “status” rather than where it belongs…as a worthy adversary that demands respect.

I remember an old saying…”no man fishes the same river twice” and likewise, “no man catches the same fish twice”. Or at least that’s how I see it. Time waits for no man and more and more I find myself slowing things down. Focusing on the fishing and tuning out the mundane things in life that are nagging and ever-present. It’s a nice break from reality really.

I find that the location is equally as important to me. I mainly fish in places that aren’t saturated with people and takes a lot of effort to get to. No cell phone reception is a HUGE bonus. My trips to Canada entail lots of paddling and portaging to get to where I want to camp and fish. The less people the better. I used to carry an axe to chop firewood but found that the noise that the axe made disturbed the silence I was in, some unknown violation of Wilderness Sanctity. I switched to a saw just to be less obtrusive in my environment. It’s about the entire experience, not just the fish.

Perhaps that’s why I am drawn to JDM gear? Maybe they “get it”. They know that quality supersedes quantity everytime. It’s the experience and the reverence for the quarry that combine to make lasting memories…or maybe I just think too much…”Fish Reverence”…is that a thing?

A Package From Digitaka Arrived Today…

The other day I was searching through Digitaka’s site and ran across a reel that piqued my interest. It was the Daiwa 2020 Gekkabijin X LT 1000S-P spinning reel. The price was 12,780 yen which equates to $121.67 usd which isn’t bad since this reel is Magsealed. It shows that it was manufactured in Vietnam. It has 5+1 ball bearings and holds 200m of PE# 0.3 braid, or 100m of 2.5lb nylon, and the weight is 195g or approximately 6.9 oz. I have been wanting to try a reel with Magseal to see what all the hype is about.

NOTE: For anyone not familiar with some of the reel designations, the “S” in 1000S-P means it is a shallow spool.

I have heard great reports about Varivas line and opted to try some while I was at the Digitaka site. IT’S PRICEY! For a 75m spool of the Infinity Area Super Trout PE x8 rated at 5.6lb it cost me 4,320 yen or $41.13 usd. That hurt! Probably why almost all of the 1000 size reels I see for the JDM market are shallow spools…but who knows, maybe they just don’t need to make long casts. We will see how it works out. I’ve got my fingers crossed…

YES. We actually tried these!!!

STOP LAUGHING!

At the time, we thought these might be perfect for the trips we were taking. Throw them in a pack, drive or hike to an out-of-the-way fishing spot and go at it. The thought behind it was a small package, decent componentry and we could keep a reel attached and the line rigged up.

YES, we caught fish and some of them were BIG (8lb Spotted Bass-the Wife). I’m still jealous of the fish she caught…but I had to man the trolling motor to help fight the fish!

I have no idea what the blanks are made of. It could be glass with a “carbon fiber sticker” for all I know. The reel seats were metal but picky when it came to reel feet. Oh, and the action… DEAD AS DISCO!

I remember we were fishing a stretch of a river and I was catching fish left and right…she was not, and not happy! So I “took a break” and handed her my rod and she was into fish on the first cast. I dinked around with her setup and I couldn’t feel ANYTHING. The reel was so squeaky that birds on the shore were answering to my handle turns. Ugh.

To make a long story short, we stopped for dinner before driving home and I promptly ordered her a St. Croix Triumph Travel rod exactly like mine and a Daiwa BG 2000 to go with it. She’s been kicking my arse ever since!

My Go-To Rod and Reel Setup

For years now, my go-to stream fishing rod and reel setup has been the St. Croix Triumph Travel TRS66MLF4 and the Abu Japan Roxani 2500MSH spooled with Daiwa J-braid x8 in 8lb test. I chose this rod because its a 4-piece and is easy to strap to the side of a pack or stow in the trunk of a compact car. The ML (Medium Light) action is perfect for chasing Velox.

This particular rod is made in Mexico but so far (3 years) it has held up well. The Roxani has been brilliant as well and is still smooth after everything it’s been through. We stream fish and that means wading! Some spots we’ve had to swim across or even swim through deeper pools to reach the next section. Both rod and reel have been dunked or splashed but they’ve held up well.

The Roxani was my first JDM (Japan Domestic Market) reel and won’t be my last. They just have a different feel than USDM reels. We will see how it goes as 2021 seems to be shaping up into a manner where I’m going LIGHTER. Both the rods and reels I’ve purchased lately have been lighter…1000 size reels as well as Light to Ultralight rods. Time will tell…stay tuned for more!

Aquatic Surveys

In July of 2019, the wife and I were fishing a particular stretch of river when we saw 2 kayakers coming downstream. They made a beeline straight for us and I told the wife to get her license handy. Instead of game wardens, they turned out to be wildlife biologist research students. After some small talk they asked if we would be willing to participate in a survey. (Note: most fisherman I know are tight-lipped and WILL NOT participate) We agreed and had a lengthy 45 minute question and answer period. It was a great interaction and they shared a lot of information. I would highly recommend interacting we these folks as the learning process goes BOTH ways.

A few weeks later, an official and lengthy survey arrived in the mail. I filled it out and voiced my complete OBJECTION to allowing other strains of smallmouth to be introduced into this watershed. Bass fishing is huge in Oklahoma and there seems to be some sort of tournament on the lakes weekly/monthly. I know there’s big money involved and I’m not knocking tournament anglers (I’ve fished tournaments) but why can’t we leave this watershed unspoiled?

I am not a hardcore environmentalist but I do believe in clean water and clean air and I’d prefer to see this watershed LEFT AS IS. Why do you think I try to leave my fishing waters cleaner than when I arrived? For others, our kids and grandkids!!!

BONUS: Those two research students gave me information that allowed me to open up about 8-10 more miles of river to fish! WELL worth the interaction and sharing of information.