The Reel Arrived…

So the reel (Daiwa Presso LTD 1025) finally arrived yesterday. In fact, Friday turned out to be a great day, despite a 4.2 earthquake, and with everything else going on. Now we can move on and stop the trivialities…we have more important things to do.

The coldest temperature I registered here without wind chill was -13F which was on a Wednesday if I recall. And next week by Tuesday we’ll be up to 66F. I’m ready for Spring as I’m sure many people are.

We have plans to make, reconnaissance trips to consider and map explorations to do. We’ll have to purchase licenses and get gear and tackle ready. All of which comes from wanting to fish new waters.

Sometimes I sit back and think, “how absurd all of this is.” All of this energy and focus and expense for a fish that rarely grows to 3 pounds! But I can assure you that we earn every single fish we catch. Just getting to these waters takes planning and effort.

We would much rather listen to the river churning and bubbling than to the mindless drivel pouring from a TV. A brief excursion to escape the outside world.

I am reminded of a quote from Charles Bukowski…”We have nothing to lose, But ourselves.”

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 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.

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!

Fish Farts?

No, this is not a dissertation about piscatorial bowel movements. Nor am I trying to be crude. It’s just an observation.

Many times when I’m fishing one of our local streams/rivers, I’ll be wading along and from behind me I hear something akin to flatulence. ( No, its not coming from me!) It’s not a “barn burner” or anything like that. It’s much more subtle.

Just a little “brrrrrrtt”. I am really curious by nature and often times I will sit on the riverbank and just observe things for awhile. So as I was sitting there one day, I happened to catch a smallmouth fingerling rocket out of the water while making that sound. Aha! That’s what it is…the sound of the tail smacking the water in extremely rapid succession as it breaches the surface while chasing some insect. If you’ve ever caught a fingerling you’ll know exactly how “wiggly” they really are.

Several times the wife and I have quietly approached a shallow bend in the river only to be greeted by a cacophany of “fish farts.” It’s really quite funny but it is also encouraging. We’re staring at the future!

It does our hearts good to know that our rivers and streams are healthy and that the native smallmouth bass ( the Velox ) are doing well and reproducing in meaningful numbers. With concerns of pollution, genetic inbreeding from introduced species etc etc. it gives us hope. And in this day and age, with everything going on…we need that.

Stay safe out there.


Not long ago, had you called me a Twinkie we would’ve been trading punches.

But age has a way of mellowing a man and forces them to see things differently.

The wife and I are now Twinkies. We have accepted the moniker and embrace it. It started off innocently enough through fishing rods. I had one she really liked so I bought her one. Next came the reels…same thing. Following that came the Patagonia Stormsurge/Stormfront Sling Pack. I bought us each one since it was perfect for our fishing style. Next up was the wading boots. She tried mine on and fell in love with them…yep, I ordered her a pair.

I bought a high-end Japan made spinning reel recently…”my Precious!” I’d catch her casting sidelong glances at it. I’d notice her playing with it. The Smeagol reference is perfect since that’s how she was looking at my reel. “She Wants It!” So what does any self-respecting husband do…order her one as well!

The irony of it all comes from the actual packaging of the Twinkies. I’m pushing 50 and have gained 10 pounds (who am I kidding…more like 15!) So the spongy, goo filled snack seems fitting. I guess I AM a Twinkie!

I just hope the myth is true. They never go stale or expire!

Let’s Talk About Etiquette…

YES! There are informal rules to fishing. It’s sort of a Gentleman’s agreement rather than being written in stone. I won’t cover them all, just the two I see way too often.

The first is referred to as “Camping.” It’s when people stay in one spot and fish that section to death while people are waiting their turn. Nobody likes to feel pressured or hurried when fishing…but come on! You can clearly see that people are waiting so fish the top spots and move on.

The second is called “High-holing” and is basically similar to jumping line. Everybody hates it and YOU know it. However, if you’re camping and get high-holed…you deserve it.

Uncommon sense dictates that if you have the river to yourself then the rules are shelved. Pretty simple.

It’s not that difficult to start a conversation. Keep it non-aggressive and casual and if there’s a section you want to fish several miles up-river just let them know.

For example, I got to the river really early one day and was gearing up to begin fishing. I’m standing on the riverbank fastening my waders when a car pulls up and two guys get out and start hurrying past me to fish the river. I caught up to them a few minutes later and asked how they were doing. (the weather is always a safe topic) I asked their permission if I could move past them because I wanted to fish a section of the river several miles upstream. I told them that I didn’t want to high-hole them and thought it best to inform them of my plans. They were somewhat perplexed and I explained the term “high-holing” to them. The light bulb clicked on and they sheepishly looked at one another. I wished them success and began my walk upstream.

I created dialogue in a non-aggressive manner, I informed them that I was not a threat to their fishing plans so I eliminated any pretense of competition or one-upmanship. It worked out and there was enough distance between us that we never saw each other until later that evening when we were all leaving.

It’s not that difficult to have a good time on the river/stream where everyone benefits. Now, if anyone can get through to the jet skiers…have at it.

It’s in my Gene’s…

This picture is of my Great-grandfather on a Canadian fishing trip circa 1928. That’s him on the right. And correct me if I’m wrong, but those sure look like pre-Chuck Taylor Converse sneakers that he’s wearing. It’s definitely a different era!

I could make this blog post about over-harvesting and things like that, but I won’t.

Instead it will be about what could quite possibly be genetic encoding. I am not a geneticist and this is pure speculation on my part…but I believe that fishing the North is in our genomic composition.

I know that my Grandfather and Father were fishing up there in 1953 or 1954. I’ve been up there 25 or so times. My wife and children have been up there as well…so that’s 5 generations that have fished the North.

I have taken my Father up there fishing with me twice and it was a memorable experience for both of us. And I know all four of my kids are wanting to go back. Three of them have already made multiple trips up there.

I have been to very few places that felt like “home.” As soon as I place the canoe in the water and make the first paddle stroke…it feels like a homecoming. I paddle in silence and just “feel” my way along the rivers and lakes. I feel the embrace of the trees as I make a portage. The smile and laughter of the wind on my face. It seems surreal sometimes and I dare not make a noise that breaks the reverie. I want it to last forever.

I’ve enjoyed sitting on a rock in the middle of the night staring intently at the Northern Lights. The green shimmer waving in and out and side to side. I was told by a First Nations gentleman that what I was seeing was the Ancestors dancing around their sacred fire in the next life. If you stare long enough you can see them. It’s incredible.

I never really knew my Great-grandfather because I was too young. All I remember was him being taken by dementia. I knew my Grandfather and loved hearing him tell stories and showing me things. I only fished with him twice that I can remember…but he enjoyed listening to me tell him about my latest trip up North. My Dad knows…he’s been there and experienced it. Hell, he lives in Canada!

So yah, I like to believe that it is encoded in my DNA and I sure hope I pass it along.

May the wind always be at your back and the sun on your face….

What’s the Connection?

So what is the connection to some of the stories I share and what my blog is about? The answer is the Smallmouth Bass (Micropterus dolomieu). It’s my favorite fish to go after. I have made many trips up North to fish for these guys and so I try to share a few of the trip highlights. Be they humorous or fishing related.

Pound for pound, this fish is a great fighter and a scrappy one at that! I have read that a Neosho-strain Smallmouth Bass that is between 12 and 14 inches long could be as a old as ten years of age. As its name implies (Micropterus dolomieu velox) “Velox” in Latin means swift or rapid. Research shows that they mainly inhabit swift flowing streams and have not been known to establish themselves in lakes.

The Northern Smallmouth Bass does quite well in lakes and is highly sought after. At least in the Lower 48. I’ve encountered numerous Canadians that consider it a trash fish and much prefer catching walleye or even crappie. To each their own!

I don’t mind catching either to be honest. I tend to over-glorify the smallmouth bass and definitely place it on a pedestal. Even to the point where I don’t keep them, instead, releasing them immediately.

When I’m up North I tend to target the Smallies almost exclusively. Sure I’ll keep a walleye if the opportunity presents itself, but the Smallies go back. A long time ago I read something about how old a trophy Smallmouth would be…(if I recall correctly) it was around the 15-20 year mark! To me that’s incredible…but I’m not a Fish Biologist. Knowing how many other toothy fish are swimming in the same lakes…living to that age says a lot!

And that’s yet another reason why I have such respect and reverence for the Smallmouth. In my mind, it is a worthy opponent that deserves my best efforts. And I’m grateful for each and every one I catch…dink OR donkey! Thanks for reading.

One Of The Best Men I’ve Ever Known…

My friend Dennis is a humble guy with a big heart and more patience than the law allows. He’s older than me, old enough to be my father in fact, but we’ve had a pile of adventures together. I’m truly blessed to know him and consider him a true friend. By his definition…”a true friend is someone you call for bail money in the middle of the night, a true friend asks ‘how much’ NOT ‘what did you do’?” He has a way with words that makes a guy think.

I was in the middle of a divorce and whining about how I never drank, didn’t do drugs, went to work everyday etc. And BAM! He dropped a wisdom bomb on me…he said, “those are things you’re supposed to do, you don’t get extra credit for THAT!” So true.

When it comes to politics we are diametrically opposed. And boy have we had some humdingers for arguments! But no matter what, I respect him and we end up realizing (somewhere in the political middle) that we’re really not that far apart.

I count my true friends on one hand…people I would take a bullet for…he’s one of them. Maybe in some weird way its a “Fishing Mafia” and since I’ll take a bullet for you…that extends to your whole family. Weird I know. But that’s how it is.

He and I have paddled all over the BWCA (Boundary Waters Canoe Area) and had a blast during all of it. He was right next to me when I was handed a whiskey bottle and “you betcha” he took a long pull too.

I have no idea what he saw in me and it was fate that brought us into contact. But I count my lucky stars. He has a way of reading people better than anyone I’ve ever seen.

How he put up with my youthful arrogance I’ll never know. He wanted to take everyone to the Boundary Waters. I wanted to seal it off and only allow certain people in. I was one of them of course. Youth! He didn’t understand the depth of my reverence for the area. It was hallowed ground to me and I only wanted to share it with like-minded people. It wasn’t a trip to Disneyland like most people acted…I thought it was akin to visiting one of the Great Cathedrals and demanded they show respect.

Over the decades that we’ve been friends he has begun to understand my thought process on the subject. And for that matter I’ve accepted his position as well. I’ve taken all four of my kids and my wife up there so they could get a glimpse of the splendor and quite possibly a peek into how I think and operate.

Dennis and I had talked about a trip together, just the two of us for 20 some odd years. We finally pulled it off and it was amazing. One of the all-time best trips ever. We boated in, set up a base camp and explored new waters for the first time. No schedule, no itinerary…just an actual vacation. We finally felt that we didn’t have to “earn it” by only paddling our way in.

There is not another soul that I would hunker down with in the woods. A storm so fierce that it flooded our camp and forced us to seek shelter under the tree canopy. Cold rain water pouring down my spine from a defective rain jacket…laughing like mad men and passing a whiskey bottle back and forth among the lightning and thunder claps, and daring the storm to get worse!

Good Times with True Friends!