Centerpin Reel Practice…

We managed to get all of our morning chores done by 0630 and decided that after coffee, we would run down to one of the local lakes so she could fish while I practiced casting the centerpin reel.

We are so sick of this wind and there is nothing we can do about it. Day after day of 20+ mph winds gets really old. And it didn’t help with me trying to learn the Wallis cast and the BC Swing cast. I’ll have to wait for a calm day or drive 2 hours to the river to practice.

My original plan was to just cast lead weight to get a feel for this centerpin reel but I opted to rig up a float, some weight and a hook baited with earthworms and go fishing.

First cast and I hooked into a very healthy Bluegill that put up a great fight. The only rod I had that was close to a float rod was a 10ft Crappie jigging rod which didn’t work out too well, but I managed to catch 11 fish on it.

Mrs. Velox Seeker caught 8 Crappie and 1 Largemouth bass on her spinning setup. We were both constantly battling the wind as well as weeds. I managed to catch 6 Largemouth bass and 5 Perch, all of which were fun on the rod and centerpin reel. After the wind picked up with gusts over 30 mph, I switched to a spinning setup but couldn’t catch a cold. Zilch, zero.

All in all, I was impressed with the potential of the centerpin reel and the ability to make long, controlled drifts. With a legit centerpin rod I think this will be a highly effective method to fish a river for Smallmouth bass.

Happy Memorial Day Weekend…

It has been a hectic week for us and we were looking forward to the weekend holiday. We had 3 full days of rain earlier in the week which killed any chance of us getting out to fish.

We celebrated our 14th wedding anniversary as well as my 25th anniversary at work. We also had family in town for a few days. The calendar was full.

Saturday looked promising but we awoke to thunder, some rain showers as well as high winds.

The video doesn’t do it justice because this went on all day long.

On a side note, I got a wild hair and decided to get a centerpin reel for float fishing the rivers. I fondly remember beginning this fishing journey by using a bobber on a small pond with my father and catching crappie, perch and eels.

From all that I have read, centerpin reels provide the absolute best drift possible while using a float. As is typical, I will have to configure this method for catching smallmouth even though the gear available in the US is predominantly designed for salmon and steelhead.

Raven Matrix centerpin reel.

I like learning and as such, this should be fun and will add “another tool to the toolbox” in regards to fishing skills. I guess anything that has to do with fishing has my attention. But there are far worse addictions other than angling!

Take care and thanks for reading.

Loop Opti K2 9ft 4wt rod and a Loop Opti Creek reel…

I have wanted a 4wt fly rod to fill a gap in my fly rod collection. Sometimes a 3wt rod isn’t enough to cast certain flies and a 5wt is too much. I firmly believe in having the right tool for the job.

I found this rod and reel on sale over at the Loop US website and decided to get them. I like the fact that the Loop Opti Creek is a silent reel. There are times when I don’t want to hear a reel clicking away all day and that’s why I chose this one.

I have been impressed with Loop Tackle from a function and aesthetic standpoint. To date, I have only been able to wave this rod around in the yard and I really like it. As I’ve stated before, a Medium Fast action such as this rod has, suits my casting style well. Once the weather clears I will definitely take it to a local pond or lake to test it out fully.

Excellent balance as you would expect.

I plan on using this rod to fish the Cossatot River soon and can hardly wait. We are in the process of finalizing our itinerary and accomodations and the excitement is running high. Stay tuned for more and have a great weekend.

River Trip 15MAY2022…

We were awakened last night by a strong thunderstorm and a heavy downpour. We debated about continuing with our plans to fish the river on Sunday. Needless to say, we headed to the river a little later than normal. As much to fish it, as to see how much it had changed from the recent flooding.

This gravel bar is new!
It narrowed some areas whilst widening others.

I took my Loop XACT 9ft 5wt MF fly rod and the Loop Opti Dryfly reel. I caught 5 fish on a #6 grey and olive squirrel tail Bunny Leech with a 3mm bead head. The rest I caught on my Tailwalk Troutia 55L spinning rod. Zip was really curious about the fly rod and I was afraid of hooking him since he tried chasing the fly.

Mrs. Velox Seeker hard at it.
The river level was around 7.25 feet so MVS felt comfortable wading across at the same spots I did.

The whole time I was fishing, my phone, which was stowed in the backpack, kept announcing a Thunderstorm Watch was in effect til later this evening. So we kept an eye towards the sky as we fished.

I did manage to figure out two river crossings but will need a full day to figure out the main stretch. Hopefully we can get that done soon. And Zip actually swam one crossing which was something new. I’m glad he’s becoming more comfortable around the river. It’s no fun wading across while carrying him.

If you remember in my last post from this river, you might recall the picture of the tree that had been washed out. Well, it’s completely gone now and more than likely several miles down stream.

Watching Mrs. Velox Seeker fish.
Worn out pup.

I guess we had two milestones on this trip, Zip crossing the river on his own and also, not getting car sick on the ride! Although we caught 19 fish, the above mentioned milestones were the highlights of the trip.

It has gotten hot here quite a bit earlier than normal. It was 70F when we arrived at 0815 and by the time we left at 1300, it was 91F. It was actually too hot to wear waders as we were both soaked with sweat. And that’s fine by me as I prefer to wet wade.

All of the practice that I’ve put into my fly casting has paid off. It was really fun today and I hope to keep improving and learning. Have a Great Day and we’ll catch you on the next one.

Sentimentality and Fishing…

I honestly believe that the sentimental aspect of fishing is what keeps me going. Sure, there are social media posts that have the “wow factor” that lights a fire in the imagination, but equally important is the memories of times and places and people I have fished with in the past. Trips with my father to fish for trout in Colorado, or walleye and smallmouth bass in Minnesota and Canada. Local trips with my family and friends. All are special and memorable in some way.

I sit here surrounded by the technical marvels of fishing gear. I don’t do “ugly” and as such, all of my fishing gear has an aesthetic aspect that appeals to my soul. I have reels that are almost 100 years old and some that are fresh off the line. None of them are displeasing to the eye. Some are a perfect blend of current technology and classic design while others are true classics.

It is left up to us to imbue these technological wonders and craftsmanship with mind, body, spirit and ethics to accomplish our individual goals and ideals. And I know that I’ve done it right when time slips away and 5 hours of fishing have passed, yet I feel like I just stepped into the river mere minutes ago.

The gratitude I feel for each fish I catch and the respect given to the quarry. The shared moments of success or failure with companions. The river is a metaphor of life, yet I tap into it to recharge my essence, time slows just a bit and the rat-race is forgotten. Memories are all that are left and it’s enough for me. Unlike Maclean who was “haunted by waters,” I find that I am healed by waters. And I relish every second of it.

Dometic Go Water Jug 11L…

While we were over in Fayetteville last weekend, we stopped into Pack Rat Outdoor Store. While wandering around the store we came upon a Dometic display containing 12VDC refrigerators, chairs, blankets and a water jug. We kind of liked the design philosophy of the water jug. On the ride home we talked in depth about the jug.

We ended up ordering one and it arrived today. Our reasoning behind this purchase was that our 6 gallon water jug that we currently use is a bit too heavy for us to carry any distance. It also takes up a lot of room in the vehicle due to its shape.

The Dometic is listed at 11 liters or approximately 3 gallons of capacity. It seems really well built and functional.

Top of container.
Nalgene sized opening with a good seal.
Main opening. It’s big enough to get your hand inside so you can clean the inside of the container.
Air vent on Left, quick disconnect fitting on Right.

This particular model has a quick disconnect fitting that is designed to work in conjunction with their new battery operated faucet system. What I saw was a quick disconnect fitting that works with our Katadyn Hiker Pro water filter pump. We can plug straight in and refill the jug from an available water source.

Built-in handle on the bottom to help pour the contents if necessary.
It does come with a pour spout too.

The handles are made of nylon webbing and are removable, not sure why I would remove them but everyones needs are different. This unit is compact enough that it will easily fit behind the driver or passenger seat of the vehicle. I tested it and can confirm that it does not leak at any angle. We have high hopes for this addition to our gear and look forward to using it soon.

We probably won’t buy the faucet system but we really like the design of this jug. Dometic seems to be serious about producing thoughtful, useful gear. Thanks for reading.

DirtCom Trail Swing Spare Tire Carrier…

I have needed a way to carry a full size spare tire on my Subaru for quite awhile and decided on this particular carrier.

I chose this model due to the fact that it was constructed of Chrome Alloy steel tubing so in theory should be very durable. I wish I could carry a full size spare inside the vehicle but our after-market rims and tires will not fit the factory made space. I have been lugging the spare tire around inside the rear hatch which drastically reduced my cargo capacity.

I like that it swings out of the way of the rear hatch so loading and unloading the vehicle will not be impeded. It has 4 settings: 90 degrees, 120 degrees, 180 degrees and free swing. There are accessories available such as a fold down table or RotoPax holders for spare fuel jugs or water jugs. As you can see from the pictures, it has a Class 3 tow hitch built in so I can still tow a trailer.

What makes this hitch unique is that it is angled so it doesn’t drastically reduce my departure angle going up hills. As I’ve said before: sometimes it’s the little things that make a product stand out.

Installation took me about 45 minutes. The unit weighs 70 pounds and is rock solid. Zero wobble or bouncing. It even comes with a beefy license plate holder that is pre-wired with a light. I still need to permanently wire the license plate light and make the wiring look neater, but it’s my daily driver so I needed a quick solution to keep from getting pulled over.

This should make a great addition to our fishing vehicle due to where we go and some of the roads we drive on. Having a full-size spare gives me peace of mind. And it’s nice to have my full cargo area back.

Mrs. Velox Seeker…on Mother’s Day

I wanted to take a moment and thank my wife for being an awesome fishing partner and more importantly, for being the backbone of our endeavours. She is the glue that binds the family and keeps things running smoothly.

She is a very capable fisherwoman and is not afraid to bait her own hooks, handle her own fish and tie her own knots. She has a critical eye when it comes to her personal fishing equipment and enjoys fishing just as much as I do. In short, she is a very capable angler.

Not enough mention has been made about how much effort she puts into our trips. She handles a lot of the logistics and navigation duties. She is the one who takes the majority of the pictures on this blog. We have a dynamic and effective team in large part due to her.

None of my hare-brained schemes are too much for her, especially after we hash out the details together and formulate a plan. Generally it turns out to be a better plan after her input and observations. The result is great fishing and beautiful scenery.

Being able to spend time on the road or water, camping, fishing, canoeing, laughing and forming a deeper bond is truly incredible.

So here’s to you…Mrs. Velox Seeker…none of this would be possible without you and you have my eternal devotion and love. Happy Mother’s Day!

Road Trip 07May2022…

My local area does not have a fly fishing shop so we decided to drive over to Fayetteville Arkansas on Saturday morning to check out one we found online. With all of the rain we’ve had lately we knew the rivers would be un-fishable so this was our “Plan B.”

The name of the establishment is McLellan’s Fly Shop and is run by a husband and wife team. When it comes to niche items, the wife and I prefer to shop local and support small businesses. So off we went on a 2 hour drive.

We also planned to visit a store called Pack Rat which is one of our favorites for various camping/outdoors gear. And along the way, I had dropped map pins of likely river access points for fishing.

Our first stop was the Chambers Springs Road Access Point but as soon as we turned off the highway we noticed a repair crew working on the washed out bridge. Without being able to continue further, that kind of squashed our river recon plans. Arkansas has experienced the same flooding that we have and there was high water, standing water and damage everywhere.

Eventually we made it to McLellan’s Fly Shop and proceeded inside. It was refreshing to see a legitimate fly shop after not having access to one for so long.

I was a bit gobsmacked at all of the stuff in there. When you don’t have a store like this and go inside a legitimate fly shop, it’s awesome. The co-owner who we will call Mrs. McLellan was full of knowledge and very helpful. And since they had recently got a puppy, we had a lengthy discussion about that. We also talked about supply chain issues, river conditions, fly selections and various other topics. It was a great visit. And I will say that their customer service is excellent.

Simms Flyweight Access Boots.

This boot was my main purchase. I had been looking at these online but being able to feel them in-hand and to try them on was the deal clincher and they ended up going home with me. I also bought a small Fishpond landing net, a few flies and a fly box and a couple of hats and extraneous items.

We also stopped in to look around at Pack Rat Outdoors Store but didn’t find anything we wanted or needed so we began the drive home. It was a long day but a fun day and we will definitely return to McLellan’s soon.

I apologize for not taking more pictures, especially of the flooded out access areas, but I was keen to get to the fly shop. Thanks for reading and Happy Mother’s Day.

The River is Rising…

With all of the recent storms, tornados and rain we’ve had, we’ve been keeping an eye on the river levels. Some parts of the area were receiving 5 inches of rainfall per hour from a slow moving storm system. The pictures below will tell the story better than I can.

Fortunately, as fast as this river floods, it also drains just as fast. As I’ve stated many times before, these Neosho-strain smallmouth have some tough conditions to deal with throughout the year.

And just when you think you have a river figured out, something like this happens and when you return, you’re starting all over from square one. I’m looking forward to getting back down there to see what changed but it will be awhile since there has been a lot of flooding in the surrounding areas.

See ya soon…

First Attempt at European Style Nymphing…was a Fail.

We got up early and drove to the river, arriving by 0700. It was 46F and we could see our breath as we geared up to fish. We started the outing surrounded by cows and a curious bull. After several attempts to run them off, we finally succeeded.

The river was a foot higher than last weekend due to the rains. It crested at a little over 14 feet on Wednesday and was at 8.25 feet when we stepped in.

This wasn’t there last weekend.

I decided to only take my Syndicate P2 ESN rod and give that method a solid go. After 3.5 hours and losing two smallmouth I needed a break. I felt like I failed at Euro nymphing even after trying multiple configurations and flies. I definitely have some homework to do.

I tied up a leader late last night and it worked OK. I was able to cast pretty well after about 15 minutes with me untangling my flies twice before I figured it out. I just never felt that I could get my nymphs/jigs down deep enough so I need to do more research. The current was much stronger than last weekend for sure.

Mrs. Velox Seeker opted not to wade across because she felt it was outside her comfort level so she stayed close to shore which limited her fishing. If I’m being honest, I don’t blame her. Wading back upstream was a struggle for me and I was out of breath when I came ashore.

Fishing some pools

After a quick snack and sip of water, I grabbed her spinning rod and put on one of those new 4.5 gram jigheads we just bought and waded across the river. First cast and I hooked a decent smallmouth. They were hugging the bottom near the edges of the gravel bars and would attack from there. It was cool to see them surge up and hit the lure. That’s why I wanted to increase the weight of the jigs we were using. I needed something to drop deep in current and these worked. After Euro nymphing for 3.5 hours and not bringing anything to hand…this was a nice confidence boost. I caught 3 more good smallmouth before handing the rod back over to my wife and returning to the Euro nymphing rod. She attempted to wade out to that spot but the current repulsed her and she came back. It is a combination of the flow rate and the gravel under your feet being swept away with each step. It can be a little unnerving to those who don’t wade a lot. Not to mention, she doesn’t weigh as much as I do.

Yes, I cheated.

We each fished for another hour or so and decided to call it a day. Total catch for the day was 6 with three of them being decent. I love testing theories and trying new things. It helps when you’re proven right 😉 We both got a good workout and are already feeling the results of the exertion. But it’s a good kind of pain.

And of course, we have more storms coming tonight and tomorrow. May is always a rainy month in Oklahoma so we are not optimistic about our chances for going fishing.

Thanks for reading!

Biding My Time…

With the weather being what it is…I decided to get a couple of projects done. First up was to upgrade the bushings/bearing on my Shimano Stradic C3000. Again, I ordered hybrid ceramic bearings from Plaig Bearings out of Australia.

My Largemouth Bass Finesse reel
Top to bottom: Replaced the spool support bushing, the rear oscillation gear bushing and the line roller bearing.

Next up was new jig heads. After fishing last weekend, I decided to try and find some heavier jig heads to get down into the deeper pools. I still wanted a short shank hook since these fish (Neosho strain smallmouth bass) don’t get very big. I found the Owner Cultiva JH-89 4.5gram jig heads and ordered some. I also picked up a few packages of the Owner Cultiva JH-86’s in 3.0grams. We normally fish 2.2gram jig heads.

Heavier weight!
Trying out a new method to carry my jig heads.

I enjoy fly fishing but some days the wind is really bad so I switch to conventional spinning gear. Being relegated now to fishing on the weekends, I like to maximize my time on the water. It isn’t a big deal to throw a pack rod and reel into my pack just in case.

I had planned on getting these projects done yesterday but when my Dad sent me a message about our local weather alert, I rushed out to get all of the mowing done before the rains came. So I got up early this morning to get some of these done.

Next project on the list was leaders. Store bought tapered leaders are great…I just don’t like paying their asking price. So I generally tie my own. Years ago I bought this Mangrove Leader Wallet and have never looked back. This has been one of the best additions to my fly fishing gear and I use it all the time.

It has a zipper on the end that accesses a section that goes the full length of the leader wallet. That’s where I keep my cheat sheets, sighter materials, mucilin, nippers etc etc. I love this thing!

If I could be a Super Hero, I think I would choose the name…”the Piddler” since I quite often find myself “piddling” around with my fishing gear. Tweaking this or modifying that. Countless hours are spent doing just that, in the hopes of creating something better or more effective. And I know I’m not alone!

See you on the next one…