How it began, How it continues…

Jan 29, 2015

It all began growing up in Upstate New York, Schoharie, NY to be specific, a very special place. My grandparents owned a camp on a small lake in the foothills of the Catskill Mountains where we would spend summers fishing and doing all of the other things people do where they’re not fishing.
Fishing at that point began to be the passion in my life.

My grandfather handed me a fly rod, after I asked him what was in the metal tube in the corner of the camp, which he gave to me. It was a 1950s Orvis 2 piece 5wt bamboo fly rod he had probably purchased at LL Bean. After he showed me the “10-2″ cast (for the record I actually never recall seeing my grandfather catch a fish on fly) I began to cast the buggy whip, hoping for a smallmouth to bite the black wooly bugger. He told me on the end of the dock, that there is “catching fish” and then there is “catching fish on fly!” (in his stern Marine tone). I am forever grateful for my grandfather, and for introducing me to fishing and the passion, fly fishing. Whether it is offshore or inshore, freshwater or saltwater, through the ice, with your hands, with a spear, with light spinning tackle, with heavy tackle, it all interests me, but at the end of the day…I’m always saying to myself… “Imagine this fish on fly! Imagine watching this fish eat your fly!”

Tilapia on a 1950s Orvis.

Big Hooters tilapia on a 1950’s Orvis.

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Fishing 4 Work

Jan 27, 2015

Most of my fishing revolves around the clock. That being said, I work a “Monday to Friday” job and I don’t have to go in until noon-ish. I always hear people saying that they don’t have time to fish due to work, kids, or simply just a financial thing. Trust me, I completely understand were everyone is coming from and my situation my be totally different from yours. Some how, I always believe everyone can fit a little bit of fishing in their everyday schedule. Even if its casting at a pond on your way home from work can make your “Everyday Mundane” things to a very satisfying day knowing that you got to cast a rod.

(Some recent pics, fishing before or after work)FISH4Work-4

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Rainer and Noel’s Excellent Camping Adventure 2015

Jan 26, 2015

This past weekend was the Annual Camping trip hosted by Rainer and Noel Schaels. This was the 7th straight year they have hosted this awesome event. I was an attendee last year for the very first time and I had a blast, this year was no different. The anticipation has been building up to this trip for the last month or so. I had called one of our really good friends, Alex “The Grizz” who recently moved back to Tampa, to see if he was gonna join us. Couldn’t have been more happy to have him being part of the trip. Finally, it was time to pack up our gear and head to the beautiful Everglades.

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Going Way Back (Part 1)

Jan 24, 2015

I was able to get a weekday off with Hard Core Fly Tying (HCFT) ambassador, Dustin Pack, to go explore a local creek that we have been eyeballing on Google Earth for a while.

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Global Imaging Systems and Google Earth have drastically changed the face of exploratory hunting and fishing.  As a kid we would spend long days exploring where “that” creek ends and what’s along the way.  I have spent hours looking at paper topographical maps.  In college, I started overlaying transparencies on a projector until I was introduced to the internet and taught how to use it in relation to fishing.  Today Google Earth makes satellite images readily available to everyone.  The secret is out.

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An Australian Native

Jan 23, 2015

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My wife and I are currently on a 15 000 km adventure driving across Australia from the West to the East and then back again. This was never going to be a fishing packed adventure, rather a chance to slow down and relax the pace of what has been an enormous year for us both. Our aim was to pack as minimal as possible, live simply and not have to pay for accommodation, with camping in the bush our personal preference.

 

With a broad range of ‘friends’ around the continent getting detailed information on locations worth checking out and scoring places to stay for free was as easy as a querying post here or a personal message sent there. With the tally at 12 of actual nights slept in the tent the generosity of everyone we have stayed with has been incredibly appreciated.

 

These ‘friends’ I mention are real people, some I have known for years and some I have actually never met. It certainly shines on a positive side of social media being able to connect with people with the passion and fly-fishing lifestyles just like ourselves, all over the world. Our daily feed of pages overflowing with fish and amazing photography is the norm and sooner or later you have your mental bucket list of people that you’d love to hang out with for a day.

 

With an offer of an opportunity I couldn’t refuse with one such person I hit the road for a weekend of fishing for an almighty Australian native, the Murray Cod. Living in freshwater these things are known to slurp down whole families of ducklings and grow to well over 50 kilograms. With a late afternoon hike into a gorge we fished well into the night. We threw big chunky poppers with half a hen hanging off them hoping that the ambient light from the big full moon would entice an eat. With only a few boofs between the group of us and no hooks set headed home and got a few hours of sleep.

 

We hit the road ridiculously early the following morning and drove deep into the Australian bush. Parking the 4WD we hiked further into the gorge which contained a long string of pools divided by all sorts of shallow rock bars. With the sun just about to pop over the range the next hour or so was going to be our best chance to entice one of these monsters to eat a surface fly so we set off fishing the eddies and runs flowing between each pool. Josh and I fished a very attractive looking pool with a deep hole shadowed by a row of overhanging trees. We had made half a dozen casts each with no response so last cast was called. At that moment the call was made to move Josh spotted a Cod swimming up the run we had been casting at and put his ridiculously oversized cube headed fly right in its path. This thing scoffed it off the surface and after a very ‘easy-does-it-cause-I-don’t-want-to-loose-it’ fight there in the net was a Murray Cod. It wasn’t the big one that we wanted but it didn’t matter, we were stoked.

 

We fished and hiked for kilometers up the river casting and blooping as hard and as much as we possibly could but did not see or get another hookup. After lunch and after a bit of a scare with a snake we fished the last big hole and picked the best of the spots to have a cast at on the way back to the car. With a bunch of stacks between us and a fair few bruises and blisters we were actually content with a ‘one fish’ day.

 

In the end, it could have been quite easy for Josh to have said ‘maybe another time’ or ‘not today’ but he didn’t, and because of that and without trying to sound too corny, I had a days fishing that will stay etched in my mind for a long time to come. If you see that there is someone in your area that’s looking for a few tips or you can fit them on the boat or in your car, take them for a fish. I know there will be sacrifices that you’ll have to make but think of the experience that they have had.

 

Cheers,

Paul

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Last Minute Mission Pt.1

Jan 23, 2015

What is the meaning to life ? according to sources found elsewhere among the catacomb’s of this place we call the internet, its defined as ; Significance, Origin, purpose, and ultimate fate. I can agree with that for the most part however, I can’t help but wonder what the “old timers” might offer forward. Maybe a swift smack on the back of the head with an explanation of how good we have it causing us to open our eyes wider than that wonderful surprise in the early morning walking around the backside of your truck. I have found sometimes its best just to go with it, grin and bare the pain in that moment and remember it would be short lived.

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Indiana Jones Chronicles- Post Spawn Browns

Jan 21, 2015

 

Sometimes i get sick of swingin and indicating for chromers. it usually happens about mid way through the winter when the fish start goin through their change. I just dont like catchin colored up steelhead. it doesnt float my boat at all. when i do catch them its usually a bycatch while strippin some of my favorite spring creeks for residential browns. The other morning i woke up and there was a break in the weather. it went from being 9 degrees every morning to like 33 at 8 am. peering out my window i could see water trickling down from the gutter I had failed to clean before the freeze.  This running water lets me know that the upper river has some more water in it and in turn helps melt some of that ice over. So i got out my cabelas 5 wt. i bought last week as a back up until my orvis gets fixed, cleaned the salt grime off of it and strung it up with a cabelas floating line with attached sink tip. This rod was my back up but i think it has become my favorite rod and for the 39.99 price tag it really cant be beat. they even gave me a 2 year warranty for an extra 4 bux, no brainer there. I like to use my Nautilus Fwx 7/8 on my 5 wt for trout it balances perfect and i dont know why everyone doesnt use this setup for trout. a bigger arbor helps me control larger fish when they bonk out in the small spring creek setting. It also helps when i hook a rogue steelhead hunkered down in one of my brown holes.
If you are into trout fishing you need to understand the geographic importance of where you want to fish. i am blessed to live on the ridge of the continental divide. To the north of me all water flows north into lake michigan and to the south of me all the water flows down into the kankakee and tippicanoe rivers and eventually all the way to the gulf of mexico. Hidden limestone creeks and springs dot the area and only the real trailblazers find fish. Most of Indiana is private and with very few waters navigable by boat permission to fish these waters is necessary because the land owner not only owns the land on either side of the creek but also the ground underneath it. so if you think you are safe cause you are standing in the water think again before you are hit with a warning ticket or a court date depending on which DNR officer sites you.

So i drive out along the ridge and head north. I get to a narrow deep cut in the creek with about 2 feet of shelf ice on either side. Staying low i duck my back cast between bare tree branches and under a bridge, keep my haul low to shoot it under the canopy  and into a slit of slow water right next to a deep eddy. i let the fly sink and strip strip strip…up out the dark rolls a large colored up brownie; a swing and a miss. “Holy shit!” I think to myself.  No worries and long as my hook doesnt sting these bastards they will come back for more. so i make about 5 more casts and strip… strip… set!!!! This 16 inch Buck put up a fun fight in close quarters. I  constantly tried to keep him out of the root line where they love to run and get you hung. Finally tired out i slid him up onto the ice to hand. a few snaps with the iphone and i slid him on his belly back into the drink. What a beautiful fish. I cannot get enough of these Indiana spring creek browns. No matter where i go, and i’ve lived in the mountains of colorado, I have not caught prettier trout.IMG_1370_2

 

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Fat Guys in Little Boats

Jan 18, 2015

Currently on the way to the Florida Keys for a day of fishing. I writing this blog on behalf of Derek Rust, Jason Fernandez, and Joe Mirrione. For the past couple of weeks we have been mentioning about a tandem canoe with with four us. Yesterday we finally made it happen. We have been wanting to take out Derek for quiet some time and show him the canoe struggle. Since he has taken us out multiple times in his neck of the woods it is only fair to show him how do in the canoe. Another reason why we wanted to go out was because our friend Joe, who is in town for work related reasons, wanted to get on some fish. Joe, a Tampa native, who’s limited to daytime fishing wanted to attempt to catch his first daytime redfish on fly. The night before, in lengthy 45 minute bitchin’ group chat, we decided to meet up at my house. 0400 hours Saturday morning my phone goes off with Joe trying to get in my compound. Not long after that Derek and Jason showed up while I was trying to get rid off some unwanted weigh. We rigged up, loaded the canoes, and headed to Dion’s in Florida City for a day full of adventure.

First light and we were the first group of people out on the water. Cold winds and wet ride did not stop our spirits. It was Joe and Jason in canoe and Derek and myself in the other.

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RSW to Indiana

Jan 17, 2015

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So i got back from Florida to the frozen tundra of chicago and spent as much time on the tarmac as in the air; fml, still pretty stoked about stickin some baby tarpon on my 5 wt., I drive through dead stopped traffic from ohare through chicago and back to valparaiso indiana, my home town. If you are ever on Sanibel island drive through the ding darling preserve and cast the bridges also stop into Norm Zieglers fly shop at about the island midpoint he is willing to give great local info.  I spent a few days back in there and had a great time with snook and tarpon. I caught my fish using Phoenix minnows and schminnows.

The cold means a few things to me. Time to snowboard and time to fish for steelhead so upon arriving back home i strip my reels of their tropical line and put back on the airflo ridged running line and compact skagit. My mornings are spent getting weird and tying last minute flies. I wake up way the hell before i really want to lookin out the window, checkin temps, wind, etc. Nobody in their right mind answers my texts about fishin this early. The tribs this time of year are frozen over but a few of them flow strong and steam in the winter air, powered by all the mills and plants. I am into swinging flies but when it doesn’t pan out i go to other methods to get it done. My home water is the Little Calumet River located about 35 minutes south east of chicago. Many People confuse my section of the calumet river with west branch that flows through a heavily urbanized industrial area, but the east branch is quite the opposite. With spring head waters starting as far back as Laporte the Cal Gains steam in Chesterton and flows through burns harbor and out into lake michigan at Riverwalk Park in Portage. The river was named after a peace pipe. A Calumet is an elaborate pipe that served as a universal sign of peace for the Illiniwek, local indians, and was presented to Pere Marquette in 1673 for a good old school puff session. I love the correlation between the names because the Pere Marquette River up near Baldwin Michigan is also one of my favorite rivers to fish.  If you plan on fishing the lower regions of the cal be careful dont hit the peace pipe too hard before you go. There are steep slick clay banks and quick drop offs. A rope is recommended in most places to decend down into the river this time of year.

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What really matters

Jan 16, 2015

Hello all, I’ve done one or two posts already, I’ve kept it pretty simple and about the fishing so far. However, being  inspired by Riley’s most recent post I figure I would write a little more than just the boring old report and pictures, and tell you all a little more about who I am. I was born and raised in the mountains of Pennsylvania for the first 18 years of my life. I then moved down to Tampa Bay area and 11 years later it was the best decision I have made! I’m in a fishing paradise after all!

Life is a crazy ride, with bills to pay. Working our lives away to balance stuff we want with modern day “needs”.  I started working for PepsiCo 7 years ago, as a warehouse loader. I busted my hump, worked my way up to the top, it was brutal, we would work 60-70-80 hour weeks on sales and holidays. I was banking!  As a young man in his early to mid twenty-somethings, I was on top of the world from finance standpoint. However I kept a secret deep inside, I was miserable, got online and seen all these people out on the water, catching fish. All I wanted was to fish, not for a living, just for the chance to go once in a while! I decided, well if I’m working 70-80 hour weeks, I just have to sleep less. I did, I’d go straight from a 17 hour shift, to the water, did this for a few years as a bachelor. I got to fish, despite passing out on the kayak and being awoken by hitting into the mangroves from to time. Even though I was fishing, and working, I still had a void inside, I was mad at the world I was physically and mentally drained trying to keep up with making all that money, and perusing my passion to fly fish.

It wasn’t until I met my current girlfriend Kirsten, that “what really matters” hit me.  I needed to make time in my life for important things like family, friends, and living life.  I had to make a change, but I had so much built up with PepsiCo, I wouldn’t dare leave. I spent countless hours looking online for something else. Finally, a position with Aquifina water, in the same building I worked at already. I literally had no clue what I was getting myself into, however, the schedule was a fisherman’s DREAM COME TRUE!!!!!  I would work two days, have 3 days off, then work 3 days and have two days off, a rotating schedule, 12 hour shifts, I bid! I then seen the pay, much less income than I was currently making,  but I was so tired, and in the year I was with Kirsten, I became a dad figure to two beautiful kids, and the father thing, I really was starting to enjoy it all, I didn’t care about the $150 up to $300 a week at times pay cut. I wanted time, time that I missed out on s0 much!

I ended up with the position and a year later, I’m happier than I have ever been, I chased the money, and was miserable, now I chase “what really matters” Having fun, and pursuing what I love!

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