It’s the perfect day to go…

Yah, it was the perfect day to go fishing but I have chores that need to get done. 65F with almost no wind and full sunshine! Around here, that means it’s the perfect time to burn brush. So that’s what I did…sigh.

Starting the day.
There is a lot to burn.

While the fire was going I decided to walk around and try this camera out by taking some pics.

Dead standing Oak. Still serving a purpose.
Life emerging from a previous burn pile. In the spring, I go back and loosen up the soil and add compost to help the area regenerate. Bio-char helps.
Fungus on a dead-standing Oak tree.
Same fungus zoomed in.
Horse playing Hide-and-Seek.
Enjoying the sunshine. I interrupted her nap.
Bluebird sky.
On Chore Patrol. Might as well be comfortable.
Some downed limbs are so long that I lay them over both burn rings.
This chore is almost complete. On to the next one!

Out here, chores never seem to end. I could honestly burn every day for about a month just to get everything cleaned up. I try to get all of the chores done during the week so my weekends are free.

This is just a tiny snapshot of a “day-in-the-life” out at my place. Take care and we’ll see you on the next one.

Almost Done…

Trash haul.

Most of you know that I am always trying to leave things cleaner than when I found them. And this applies especially to the water I fish. I encourage everyone to do the same.

To date, I am 3/4ths of the way done on cleaning the shoreline of one of my local lakes. With the lake level being down almost 5 ft, I can access more shoreline than normal. Yesterday was a tough day for sure. I cannot count how many glass bottles and beer cans I picked up. I started out with 10 Walmart bags and 2 big trash bags. The end result was I used them all.

I don’t do this for recognition or anything, it just needs to be done. Afterall, this is a retention pond for our local drinking water supply. If I wait for someone else to do it…I’ll be waiting a long, long time.

68F while picking up trash, but there’s still some snow around.

And of course, if I’m at the lake, I’ll being fishing. I took the Major Craft FAX-B642UL rod and the Shimano Calcutta Conquest BFS reel with me. Some of you may remember that I really started to try and learn using a baitcast reel last year for the first time. It was nice to know that I hadn’t lost anything over the past few months, I cast without any backlashes or any issues at all.

Great combo!

Obviously I did more trash picking up than casting…but it is always good to get out.

Good company!

Testing out the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra…

So my new phone finally arrived late Monday evening. I’ve been playing around with it and the camera is pretty amazing. Coming from an old Note 9, it’s light years ahead.

So I was out burning a brush pile yesterday morning and decided to try the Slow Motion camera option. Might as well combine chores with a bit of fun. Enjoy.

Slow-Mo Brush Pile Burning

Woke Up To This…

I measured 4 inches of snow this morning and we are expected to get 2-3 inches more throughtout the day. Temps are right around 12F right now with wind chills making it feel like 0F.

I got up early to start shoveling the walkways and cleaning off the vehicles and get them de-iced and warmed up. I don’t need to go anywhere today so that is a plus.

The fire is going and the wood is stacked and ready to feed it when necessary. Zip was a little speed freak when I let him out this morning. The name fits for sure: he was “zipping” around all over the place.

I managed to get fresh water out to the birds and swept off a patch under a tree out front. Spread quite a bit of bird seed around to help them get out of the wind. We easily have 50-60 birds of all varieties taking advantage of the seed buffet.

We did manage to install a radiant heater in the chicken coop and apparently it’s working since we haven’t seen a single chicken this morning. They are quite content to stay indoors just like me.

Looks like it will be a day to relax…

Weekend With Zip…

With the weather being really nice this weekend we opted to work with Zip on traveling by car. He still gets car sick so we have started taking really short trips with him. He has never seen a pond or lake before so we decided to begin there.

He’s definitely not afraid of the water.

Also, we are still working on the basic commands and he is responding well. He likes to explore his environment so he and I will get along great.

And it would be silly of us not to fish while we were at these lakes and ponds. My wife finally tried out her TenRyu Rayz Integral RZI50UL-4piece rod. She liked it and stated that it didn’t cast as far as some of her other rods but would make a good creek fishing rod. I cast it a few times and concur with her assessment. Definitely not a long-range casting rod.

Watching her test the TenRyu rod.

It has been a relaxing weekend so far. Zip is curled up at my feet as I type this blog post. The weather will be taking a drastic turn soon. It is slated to be 71F later today but we have ice and snow as well as 5F temperatures moving in soon. We try to enjoy nice weather while we can. Stay safe out there…

Chasing Perfection…

So many rods and reels…so little money. Being a curious person by nature isn’t helpful at times. With the multitude of technological advancements happening in the fishing industry, it is difficult to choose that ONE rod that does it all. It doesn’t exist and never will. I know this and yet I keep fighting it and keep searching for the perfect setup.

Honestly, I could spend weeks just doing research and refining my needs and wants…but that doesn’t catch fish. But with all of the “Graphite Wizardry” coming out of Japan, It’s hard to settle on one rod anyway. In a land of specialization and variety, the choices are endless. And that doesn’t help my cause. The concept of “perfection” is very subjective anyway.

And as I learn more about JDM fishing rods, the wider and deeper the “rabbit hole” gets. Area Trout, Native Trout, Ajing, Mebaru, Rockfish, Light Game etc etc equals more options, more decisions. Factor in lanquage translation and videos, for an outsider, it appears to be an obsession.

I plan on doing a group photo of all all the JDM rods we have, which might be a bit disconcerting once we actually have them layed out. The plus side is that we do use every single one of them. And we haven’t bought a bad rod yet, which is nice. How’s that for rationalization?

And I will state emphatically that this gear has definitely made our fishing better both in catch-rate and fun. And I haven’t even started looking at Japanese made fly rods! Hmm…Beware the Rabbit Hole!

What We Use for Navigation…

Orienteering/Land Navigation is a valuable skill for us. Being able to determine exactly where we are on a map is critical. Also, it is a perishable skill and requires practice and repeated use to maintain proficiency.

For trip planning, we rely on topographical maps, Google Earth satellite images, county maps and even real estate maps sometimes. When traveling in our vehicle we rely on GaiaGPS because of its offline capabilities. We have the paid upgraded subscription for the added benefits we need. It takes some time to learn any new navigation system and this was no different. I use a Lenovo M10 FHD Plus since it has built-in GPS. That’s the main point when using a tablet for navigation: BUILT-IN GPS. My new Chuwi Hi 10X doesn’t have it.

My current land navigation system of choice is a map, a compass and a GPS utilizing the UTM format and a slot tool. UTM stands for Universal Transverse Mercator which basically means the Earth has been sectioned into grids of roughly 1000 meters square.

Using the tick lines along the edge of the map, I used a ruler and drew the gridlines onto this McKenzie map of the Boundary Waters.

The GPS gives me coordinates in a UTM format. I take those coordinates and apply them to the map with a UTM Slot Tool. It sounds complicated but it is not. Once you understand the concept of using UTM it becomes really fast and accurate.

One form of slot tool that is available.

There is a company that I purchase my slot tools from called MapTools and their website is http://www.maptools.com

There are several options when it comes to slot tools and they also depend on your brand of map and map-scale. The prices are reasonable and I usually buy several.

I do not 100% rely on a GPS since batteries can fail or electronics can fizzle out, so having basic Orienteering skills is a must. Rather, I try to use all of the tools available at my disposal to get the job done.

This method comes in handy when locating backcountry camp sites, marking fishing hotspots, points of interest and even general location as well as time management. We always carry Gazeteers or topographical maps of the areas we are camping/fishing in.

Smallest, functional GPS I could find at the time: Garmin Foretrex 401.

My compass of choice for taking a bearing is the USGI Cammenga. Pricey, but rugged and the easiest I have found to shoot an azimuth. Baseplate compasses such as Suunto or Silva are great too for using in conjunction with a map. I carry a Suunto as a backup.

MapTools has a kit for beginners who want to use the UTM system and a slot tool. It is very thorough and helpful in explaining and putting to use the concept of UTM.

This might sound like overkill for fishing but something to consider is that backcountry forest roads are notorious for always changing or not showing up on maps. Logging roads are even worse. When getting turned around or temporarily confused, it’s a simple matter of reading the GPS coordinates, pulling out a map and a slot tool, and fixing your current position. You can make informed decisions from there and decide what to do next.

There are many benefits to the UTM system and it might be worth exploring. Thanks for reading and I hope this post was useful.

NOTE: UTM or Universal Transverse Mercator is made up of 3 components.

-A Zone Identifier

-East/West location

-North/South location

JDM Fishing Gear One Year Later…

I did a blog post about using JDM (Japanese Domestic Market) fishing tackle about a year ago and I thought I’d do a follow up post.

I find the Japanese fishing industry very interesting. The gear, the specialization and the sheer mass of tackle at their disposal is fascinating. The cutting edge equipment and ever-evolving techniques is something to keep an eye on.

So when the wife and I made the plunge into JDM gear, we were clueless and taking big risks. Sure we had done some preliminary research, but there wasn’t a whole lot out there on our specific fishing style. Not saying that we are unique in any way, but that there appeared to be a gap between Trout fishing and Bass fishing, our style tended to blur the lines between the two.

The emphasis out there seemed to be on SUL, XUL and UL rods and then over to M,MH and H rods. We were looking at L (light) to ML (medium light) rods. Our plans were to fish rivers and streams with current yet the fish would generally be 3 pounds or less. We would just have to buy and try and hope for the best.

If you’ve read my blog then you have seen all of the rods and reels we have purchased so I won’t go into depth in regards to those.

What I will tell you is that these rods and reels took our fishing to the next level. Sensitivity was better, construction quality was better, they were lighter and smoother as well. The main thing was that they increased our enjoyment of fishing and it is hard to put a price on that.

I am NOT badmouthing any of the rods and reels you can purchase locally. I’ve fished with them for years and years. I just wanted something a bit more…a bit better.

And we found them! The Major Craft brand has been excellent in price vs performance. The TenRyu rods are true Japanese made rods and are outstanding, yet pricey. Tailwalk rods have great aesthetics and functionality. None of our rods are classified as high-end JDM rods by a long shot.

The pure joy of using these rods has made fishing truly fun again for us. Even the wife noticed and commented that she hadn’t seen me smile that much in a long time. Keep in mind that we are not wealthy by any means. I was forced to work overtime for months and we opted to use some of that income to purchase the items you see on the blog. But in hindsight, I would have no qualms about buying any of the rods we have with whatever money we had available. To me, they were worth the expenditure.

It was never about “snobbery” or being trendy. It was about finding joy and filling a niche in our style of fishing. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.

Legg Calve Perthes Disease…

In 1977 when I was around 7 and half years old, I began to have severe pain in my right hip. It got to the point where I didn’t even want to walk. My parents scheduled a doctors appointment and after careful inspection and several x-rays…it was determined that I had Legg Calve Perthes Disease in my right hip.

Basically, LCPD stems from blood supply to the femoral head of the femur/hip joint being cutoff resulting in the bone dying.

Not me! But a close representation

The femoral head becomes misshapen causing pain and makes walking difficult. I remember over-hearing my parents discussing treatment options with the doctors. My choices as I understood them were: amputation, hip replacement surgery once or twice and eventual amputation or an experimental orthotic brace.

I know my parents still wonder if they made the right choice…but I’m going to wholeheartedly say that they did. I’m still not sure what caused the condition. Maybe it was genetic…who knows.

We were sent to a Shriners Hospital in Alexandria Virginia if I can remember right. There, I was fitted with a prototype leg brace. I remember how heavy they were (approximately 30 pounds) and they were made of leather and steel. They had a metal bar between my knees to force my hips apart. This was supposed to reduce pressure on the joint and hopefully allow it to heal and regenerate.

Me at Jamestown Virginia 1978

I was told I would need to wear these at all times, even when sleeping. I remember my father coming into my room on the second night and carefully removing the braces to allow me to sleep better. That was awesome.

Over the course of 2 years (1978-1980) the braces went through 3 prototypes with each subsequent model getting better and more user friendly. I did things just like any other kid despite these leg braces being so damn heavy. But when I needed a rest, I had to use a wheelchair, especially when out doing things in public.

Now you know where Chuck-E-Cheese came from!

Besides the pain and the weight, what I remember most was how people treated me. It seemed as if there were 4 categories…A) I was a freak, B) they had sympathy, C) they understood and treated me as normal or D) they avoided me. Believe me…you learn to get used to people staring at you.

In school, the teachers strictly forbid me from doing anything at recess and went so far as to assign someone to stay inside with me and play board games or something. I have always been an outdoors orientated person so this was torture to me lol.

That 70’s style!

Fortunately, they don’t use this form of treatment anymore and just reduce activity and let it heal on its own.

I was born with a strong will. And I credit that and my family for carrying me through situations such as LCPD. I refused to be seen as handicapped and instead figured out ways to work around it. I didn’t let this condition define me. Thankfully most children are resilient and with support can go through stuff like this without too many lasting scars.

So if anyone noticed me standing kind of funny in any of the pictures on this blog…now you know why. One leg is shorter than the other and still causes some pain. I’m sure I could use a hip replacement but I’m not ready for that yet.

I guess for me, the key take-aways are that just because a persons body isn’t 100% doesn’t mean their mind is handicapped too. Staring and pointing makes YOU Captain Obvious! Duh, we know we’re different lol. Save your pity…we’ll figure it out and cope with it in our own way.

And a big THANK YOU to my Dad. He was my rock and was always there for me. He let me help out with splitting and stacking firewood and all of the other chores and projects. He treated me like a normal kid and introduced me to fishing as well. Sometimes just being present is enough to encourage people to keep moving forward.

Life is good so keep going.

Chuwi Hi10X Windows Tablet Powered by a Baseus Battery Pack…

This post isn’t exactly fishing related, but I am toying with the idea of moving my fishing journals and notes over to a digital format and this tablet would work.

I needed a Windows tablet for my Amateur Radio hobby and also because I was looking for something portable for field use. Possibly to do blog posts or edit photos as well. Unfortunately, so many SDR (software defined radio) apps are Windows based and several of my Amateur Radio programs are Windows only. I’m not a programmer so I have to play the game.

This little tablet is surprisingly well built with an aluminum shell and it came with a nice keyboard and stylus. The specs weren’t too bad either…6GB of RAM and a 128GB eMMC drive. Not a Ferarri…but a family sedan has its uses too.

I have a laptop that I use a lot but it is large and also a power hog and I was hoping for something more efficient. Tablets are always a compromise solution since the processors aren’t that great. And true to form, this Chinese tablet threw me a curveball with the included power cable. It’s an AC wall wart that terminates in a USB-C cable outputting 12VDC @ 2Amps. I had never seen a USB-C pushing 12 volts.

Great for home use but useless when out in the field. I don’t like using inverters because it seems ridiculous to go from DC to AC and back to DC voltages. NOT efficient.

So after doing some research I found a thread where people were experimenting with various componentry to get it to charge from a battery pack. They recommended the Baseus 65W 30,000mAH battery and a Voltage Trigger assembly of some sort. It seemed simple enough so I searched on Amazon and ordered one as it was relatively cheap and I can always use another battery pack.

the USB-C port can output 5V, 9V, 12V, 15V and 20V, Nice!

Next up was locating a Voltage Trigger that tells the battery pack to go from the standard 5 volts to whatever voltage is selected via the push button on the board…in my case 12 volts. I always head over to eBay for stuff like this and for good reason. There is an abundance of choices.

Think I paid $6.85 plus shipping for this particular Voltage Trigger. I opted for the USB-A to USB-C version.
These numbers might be helpful.

And as they say…”the proof is in the pudding”

I connected a UGreen USB-C to USB-C cable from the Baseus battery pack to the Voltage Trigger board. And from the other end I connected a USB-A to USB-C cable to the Chuwi tablet.

A note of caution here! The Voltage Trigger has multiple voltage outputs so you need to select the appropriate one for your device. Otherwise BAD THINGS COULD HAPPEN. The LED is right next to the push button switch and is color coded to correspond with the voltage settings. In my case: Green = 12VDC. And voila! The tablet started to charge.

Charging Icon.
Display showing 12VDC output.
Everything is working as it should.

The best feature of the Baseus battery pack is that the display will show ouputs of 5 volts, 9 volts, 12 volts, 15 volts or 20 volts when you push the button. I cycled through the Voltage Trigger settings (LED colors) BEFORE connecting to my tablet just to make sure I had the correct voltage output.

It works! A bit convoluted but it’s functional. A protective housing for the Voltage Trigger would have been nice and I will probably try to sort that out. But now I am not tethered to the grid and can take it with me everywhere.

Project complete! A relatively cheap and cost-effective way to lighten my load and still have some functionality. It works and does what I needed it to do.

Why I Don’t Do Rod and Reel Reviews…

I used to do reviews when I had my YouTube fishing channel. And invariably the “experts” would appear in the comment section to hold court with their superiority. It became tedious and annoying. Constructive criticism is fine, but everyone hates Trolls. Perhaps I just sucked at it?

I have a full-time job with accompanying commute, a family, commitments and everything else that goes with being an adult. And honestly, I don’t think I could do justice to the subject with the skills I have.

I am not the CEO or CTO of a Hollywood production company with the best and brightest graphic designers, visual artists and photographers on staff.

Have you ever tried to photograph a fishing rod??? It’s not easy!

Besides, there are plenty of YouTube channels who specialize in that sort of thing already. And fishing tackle is subjective to begin with. People may not like the same things that I do…the horror! All joking aside, we are all different and have varying needs and tastes. That’s OK.

Factor in budget restraints and the target audience shrinks drastically. Rods and reels marketed towards the Japanese fishermen/women are different. The Japanese admire quality over quantity. They have no qualms about buying a top tier rod or reel to enrich their fishing experience. They completely ignore cheaply made gear. They don’t mind fishing all day to catch one good fish as opposed to lots of little fish one after another. It’s about the entire experience…not just the catch.

Quality gear costs money. Sometimes a lot of money! If it’s within your budget then get it. If not, don’t. FACT: I fished the Cossatot River with a $15 rod. Sensitivity was almost non-existent and build quality left a lot to be desired. But I caught fish.

Fishing tackle built to a price point doesn’t do much for me anymore. I’m not looking down my nose at anyone…rather, I prefer quality gear. I’ve experienced “the Dark Side”…and I LIKE IT!

Also, with a little bit of effort and “Google-fu”, you can find out all of the information about a particular rod or reel. I don’t mind providing links and pointing the way.

Most importantly…I don’t want to be obligated to a production schedule or script. Or trying to stay trendy by buying every new fishing item that hits the market. Relevance only matters when on the water. Sure I could have done an “unboxing video” with my 2021 Daiwa Presso LT standing mid-stream. YAWN! But I’d rather put that time to use by actually fishing.

I don’t have a clue as to how many fishermen/women actually like JDM fishing tackle. I just enjoy fishing and using decent gear while being non-judgmental about it all. I just share what I’ve learned and if any of my images trip your trigger and starts you on the path…Great! If it doesn’t…that’s fine too. Believe me, I’ve read blog posts where guys are fishing with a $2000+ setup and I click out because I probably will never be able to afford something like that. Obviously I’m not in that target audience LOL.

Now…on a serious note…I know it is sometimes hard to find pictures of JDM fishing rods. You occasionally have to open multiple pages on your browser as well as language translation apps. But the best site I have found to view pictures of any rod that you might be interested in is:

https://fishing.asian-portal.shop/category/select/cid/39

I am amazed by two things on that site, the sheer quantity and the complete lack of inventory. In some respects, both could be construed as good things. With COVID, everything changed and perhaps more fishermen/women are on the water or getting into the sport. Maybe not, but I try to stay positive.

With all that being said…my blog is an enjoyable hobby for me. What you see and read is 100% ME. No script, no timetable, no commitments to sponsors or affiliates, everything purchased by me and for me. If one other person gets some enjoyment out of the content…THAT’S AWESOME!

P.S> You probably can’t tell…but I started writing on the Blog this morning at 0318. In regards to Zip(our puppy), I’m not sure about who is training who anymore.

The Puzzle…

I’ve stated before that fishing is a puzzle that I like to put together.

Unfortunately, this jigsaw puzzle doesn’t come with a picture on a box, or even a box. We have a vague idea of what it could look like but we don’t even know how many pieces we are dealing with.

For me, the puzzle pieces begin with an idea and a plan. Those are the “edge pieces.” The more planning I do, the more the edge pieces appear and begin to form a frame or border. Maps and fishing reports gleaned from as many sources as I am able to locate help make additional pieces of the puzzle begin to appear. Colors begin to show and a pattern starts to develop.

Likewise, further research and planned expenses as well as reconnaisance trips add yet more pieces. Drive times and mileage. Stream gauges. Weather reports and forecasts. All pieces to the puzzle.

Out of nothing, a shape begins to form upon a blank canvas. Gathering momentum and rapidly taking shape.

But we are not even close to completing the puzzle!

Even when I pull up in the car along the stream…I am still missing an incredible number of pieces.

Gear selection, time of day, water temperature, water clarity, flow rate, stream condition, timing of hatches, season, month, day, hour, seconds…yet more pieces for the puzzle. It’s ephemeral, conditions sometimes lasting minutes to hours at best. But the challenge beckons and so we go forth.

With each cast our confidence builds and the understanding that we are filling in the blanks by slotting puzzle pieces into position encourages us.

What depth, what speed, what color? Testing our theory and trying to find more pieces with each step forward. Always probing for clues and asking questions we deem important to our goal of completing this puzzle.

We catch a fish…another piece falls into place. We are almost finished. We continue forward and try to develop a pattern. More fish come to hand and we know that the puzzle is almost entirely filled in.

We dig deeper still and strive to understand the “why” of it all. Why this color? Why this exact time? Questions, questions…ad infinitum.

Do we ever actually complete the entire puzzle? I don’t. Even after a successful outing, I am left with many unanswered questions. And I love that! It tells me I need to work harder and find the last few remaining pieces. But I rarely do that. Sometimes my puzzle is “good enough” and the last few pieces are left to fate and adventure. Sometimes I leave out clues in my fishing journals so if anyone else reads them long after I’m gone, they will have to work hard to solve the puzzle. In other words, they will have to earn it just like I did and hopefully experience it on the same plane as me.

I enjoy reading stories about fishermen/women who have a similar thought process. As well as interacting with like-minded individuals while out on the water. It is easy to cast lures while hoping for a fish. Yet this form of fishing is complex and requires effort and thought. Refinement through experience and wisdom.

The puzzle might have 10 pieces or 10,000. It is entirely up to us to decide. Personally, I like the challenging ones. It’s about “the Puzzle” and any fish caught are always a bonus!

Thanks for reading…