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You have just landed the fish of a lifetime and you want more than just a picture to remember it by. Taxidermy is the first thing that comes to mind. You would love to see a mount of the fish on the wall.  The question is who do you take it to.  This is where it can get complicated.

If you already know someone who does taxidermy and you like the work they do then your choice is easy. However, if you are out of town or don’t know any taxidermists then you need to make a decision.  The first decision is do you want a skin mount or a reproduction. The big plus to the reproduction is with a few good pictures and measurements you can release or eat the fish and still put it on the wall.  Once that is decided now where do you go.

If you are fishing with a guide there is a good chance they will have someone they recommend. Personally I recommend people to Anglers Choice Fish Mounts as he does excellent work. I have not seen a fish he has done that didn’t look good.  His prices aren’t the cheapest but also not the most expensive and you get what you pay for. Actually sometimes you don’t get what you paid for and that will leave you with an ugly fish on the wall ruining the whole memory of the catch.  The last thing you want is to pay top dollar for a mount and be unhappy with it. This brings me to my next point.

If you aren’t with a guide ask your fishing friends or a local tackle shop for a recommendation. Many tackle shops are drop off locations for taxidermist.

Even if you have been recommended to someone look at their work first.  Make sure the fish they do look good. Everyone has different tastes when it comes to fish mounts. Make sure the work they do matches what you like. If possible go to the shop in person and look at the fish they have there.  DO NOT just agree to have your fish mounted with out seeing work first. I know of multiple people who have had fish mounted and were unhappy with the results. You want the fish to look like it did when it was caught.

Price is normally a concern when it comes to taxidermy. I am all about shopping around and comparing prices but only if you are happy with the quality of multiple peoples work. DO NOT compromise quality to save a couple bucks an inch.  Remember most likely you aren’t getting fish mounted that often and it is going to be hanging on your wall. You want to be proud to show it off to your friends.

Everyone has different levels of experience and abilities.  There is no getting around that. When planning an outdoor adventure you need to remember this and be honest about it.  You also need to remember you might not be as good as you once were.  This is true for many aspects of your trip.

When you set up a trip with a guide they may ask you questions trying to judge your abilities. Based on the answers you give them they then plan out said trip.  This is why honesty is important.  Any good guide is going to have a plan b and probably a plan c. However, if you weren’t honest on the phone plan b and c might not be any better than the original plan.

This is especially important if your trip includes fishing back country out of the way waters and you have to hike to get to them.  You might have had no problem hiking for miles fishing in your younger or lighter years.  If those days have gone by and you don’t have time to get back into shape be honest. Tell your guide if you have trouble getting around or if you have knee problems.  Ask them if they can still put you on fish with out long walks to the water. If you don’t you may arrive and quickly find out you are not up for what the guide has planned.

This recently happened to me. I was told by a gentleman that him and his sons were used to hiking 3 to 6 miles in search of wild trout.  They wanted to fish somewhat remote areas where they wouldn’t see many people if any at all.  I was excited to book this trip as it is one of my favorites.  I started planning months before they trip and had 4 streams mapped out for the two days they would be fishing with me.  One of these streams required some bushwacking as there are no worn down trails and the other included a half mile walk from the truck followed by multiple waterfall climbs.  After fishing these two spots on day one I knew that my plans for day two were out the window and it was time to scramble and come up with a plan d.

The original stream for day two involved a few miles of step grade and big boulders.  This left me scratching my head as I needed easy walking wilderness fishing.  As you probably already know those don’t go together that often.  I scraped together a plan and we did our best on day 2 actually landing the biggest wild brook trout and wild brown trout of the weekend.  At the end of the day I was left feeling like two of my four guests weren’t happy with the results of the day.  I don’t like that feeling at all and of course went home and tried to figure out what I could have done different.

The answer was nothing. If had taken them any where that was easier walking it would have involved stocked fish and/or an urban environment.  Two things they didn’t want. In the end given correct knowledge of their ability I could have planned out the days a bit different as to not beat them up so much on the first day. I could have also explained ahead of time that I could put them on some big fish with easy walking on day two but we would be fishing in the middle of town. If they were honest with themselves that might have been alright with the idea.

Here is a list of some of things you should be upfront about when talking to your guide before the trip.

  1. What time you are willing to get out of bed. – Many guides want to be on the water before sun up.
  2. Your physical ability – Can you hike all day or would a boat be a better option.
  3. Your fishing ability – Don’t say you can cast an indicator rig 70 feet unless you can. This will come out very quickly.  A good guide will put you within your casting range of the fish.
  4. What you are expecting to catch. Make sure your expectations align with what the guide is planning to fish for. If you want 20 inch wild brook trout in a small stream it’s probably not going to happen.
  5. Any food allergies. Especially if the guide is providing food.

 

Just be honest with yourself and your guide. It will make for a much more enjoyable trip.

Most years I hope for a wet spring. A wet spring normally extends the good fishing by a few weeks or more. However, this is getting ridiculous. 

The lake is flooding and people are losing lots of money. Businesses that habe been waiting all winter to start making money are under water. Even worse are the memories lost when a family camp or home is washed into the lake or flooded beyond repair. My heart goes out to these people.  

Enough with the doom and gloom. Let’s get to the good points of all this rain

  1. Trout were stocked in many places just before it started. This means those fish were able to spread out in the streams before the poachers got them.
  2. We will have good flows and cool water through June and maybe into July for the Tug Hill trout streams. Trout fishing on Tug Hill is going to be good this year. 
  3. Steelhead fishing on the Salmon River will extend well into mid May. 
  4. Back country bass ponds should remain full of water and fish we’ll through the entire summer this year. 

Now let’s all just hope the rain stops soon. While you are sitting at home hoping make sure your gear is ready. When the water receeds it’s going to be on in a big way. 

Going back

I have been doing a lot of thinking lately about fishing and how I got started. I think back to the days spend rowing the wooden row boat in front of camp from sunrise until I heard the call that breakfast was ready or the days spent fishing for whatever would bite in the creek next to the house.  Those were simpler slower times.  I didn’t have a truck so I had to fish wherever I could walk or ride my bike to.

Most days were spent fishing the creek by the house.  These days I live on the other side of that same creek but rarely fish it. To tell the truth fishing the creek took a big down turn when I got my drivers license. There was no longer a reason to fish that little creek. I could drive to bigger “better” waters.  Never mind the fact that I had caught bass, pike, fall fish, chubs, suckers, bullhead, rockbass, and steelhead from that creek. Now I could drive and I was going to fish other places.

One place I spent a lot of time even before I could drive was Mexico Point. We fished from the break walls mostly. That was except the nights my friends and I camped out in the yard so we could sneak out and ride our bikes down there to fish at night. Yup we snuck out to go fishing and there wasn’t even any beer involved. I am not sure why we thought the fishing was going to be better at night. We never really caught much. I do remember catching a large eel one night though. Man that thing put up a fight.

Today I took a drive to Mexico Point to look for some perch but mostly to enjoy this warm afternoon before tomorrow’s cold gets here. I remembered spending hours out on the break wall casting lures into the lake and dropping curly tail grubs down in between the rocks. I am going to slow things down a bit this summer and go do exactly that a few days. We always caught fish back then so there is no reason why I wouldn’t now.

I am also going to spend more time on my creek. I know the fish are there.  I see them when I walk along it yet I am always rushing off to fish some place else.  I only have an hour and it’s a half hour drive but away I go. That is going to change this year. If I have a hour to fish I can spend 55 minutes of it on the creek rather than 30 some place else.  I am looking forward to teaching my oldest son to fish too. The creek is a perfect spot for kids.

I feel the world has become so fast pace that we don’t even escape it on our fishing adventures most of the time. I know I don’t at least. It’s always rush to the spot, fish later than I should, and rush back home.  People need to slow down and get back to where they started once in awhile. This summer that is exactly what I am going to do. Don’t get me wrong I have a whole list of new places to try and new people to fish with. However, at least a few days are going to be spent on the waters I fished as a kid and at least one day a week will be right on my own property.

Do yourself a favor. Slow down a few days this summer and relax fishing for sunfish, creek chubs, or whatever it was that got you started. 20170301_161036

I am going to start off by saying if you like reading fishing stories just scroll right to the bottom of this post click on one of the links and buy the book. I’d say that sums up how I feel about this book and I probably could end the review right now but i’ll dig a little deeper.

For years I have enjoyed the writings of John Gierach. I own almost all of his books and at one time did own all of them. Now I am not going to say Mark is the next John Gierach, He would have to get a lot better at fly fishing to do that.  What I will say is that if you enjoy John’s work you will definitely enjoy this book.  Mark doesn’t an excellent job of telling the stories of his fishing adventures along with adding in a little hidden message here and there.  Somehow he can even take a bad day fishing and turn it into a great story. Well there is no such thing as a bad day of fishing but you know what I mean.

Someone told Mark that he enjoyed his stories because they were just the right length to read in the bathroom each morning. I am going to disagree with this book being brought into the bathroom. My reason why is that you will likely find yourself sitting there on an uncomfortable seat surrounded by a less than pleasant smell much longer that you need too be. I also would not try to read one of the chapters of the book quick while you have your coffee before work. More that one morning I was late leaving the house because one quick chapter turned into three.  For those of you that might not be good at picking up on subtle hints this book is very hard to put down once your start.

The stories are very easy to relate to on many levels. If you are from New York or fish in New York you will likely enjoy the fact that most of the stories take place on New York waters.  Unlike many fly fishing books that the author only focuses on fishing for trout Mark chases anything that swims.

Now for the bad parts. After reading this book I really want to quit my job, buy JP Ross out of fly rods, and just fish.  I can’t remember why any of that was bad. Oh yeah I have a family to take care of and if I quit my job I won’t be able to afford JP Ross rods. If you don’t already own a JP Ross rod you might after reading this book. I have one being delivered this week and I have a feeling it will not be the last. All kidding aside there was not one part of this book I didn’t enjoy reading. If you have a fishing book collection this is a must add.

I have a feeling there will be more great books in the future from Mark and I am looking forward to adding them to my collection.

Here are some places you can buy Reflections of a Fly Rod by Mark Usyk. Now click one of the links and spend the $15 bucks. You will be glad you did.

https://www.createspace.com/6680094

Reflections of a fly rod by Mark Usyk

https://www.amazon.com/Reflections-Fly-Rod-Mark-Usyk/dp/1540779289

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/reflections-of-a-fly-rod-mark-j-usyk/1125422100?ean=9781540779281&st=PLA&sid=BNB_DRS_Core+Shopping+Books_00000000&2sid=Google_&sourceId=PLGoP62465

 

My First Guide Trip

It was a cool fall morning when we launched the boats in the dark.  This was my first time rowing down the river in the dark and to say I was nervous would be an understatement. I wasn’t going to let me first ever customers know that though. I was lucky enough to have a veteran guide let me follow him down river.  We were the first ones in the river so we had our choice of spots.

At 5:15 am we dropped anchor at tail of the School House Pool. We only had about a hour and a half to sit in the dark and wait for legal fishing hours.  We hadn’t been sitting there 5 minutes when one of my guests cracked his first beer.  They had brought a 30 pack with them so this had me concerned.  I started rigging up the plug rods we would put out at daylight. Once the plug rods were set I made sure our bottom bouncing rods were ready then I drank my coffee while they drank their beer.

When I put out the plug rods at day light there were at least 6 empty beer cans in the bottom of the boat and fish all around us. I was praying we would hit a few fish on the plugs and get them to the net first thing. That was not the case. We had 3 hard hits that doubled the rod over but never hooked up. At that time you couldn’t run bead chains unless you had a special lures permit and being new I didn’t have one.

Now it was plenty light out and we could see the fish constantly moving through the current around us. You could also now see at least 10 empty beer cans in the front of the boat. I pulled in the plug rods and hand them the bottom bouncers. I am not going to lie and tell you we were trying to get the fish to bite. We were trying to line them just like almost everyone else on the river at that time.  I explained to them how to cast just up stream of the fish so as not to spook them and then drift the line back into them. They kept casting right at the fish. I would tell them to cast ahead of the fish and they would cast way upstream and get snagged. I retied and they cast directly at the fish again. I was in trouble and I knew it. After about 2 hours of this and a few more beers the fish were gone and it was time to pull anchor.

When we dropped anchor again there were about 50 in the current right along side the boat. I though we were safe because it was a bit deeper water so they could get away with casting a little too far upstream. They were having trouble seeing the fish so their casts were even farther off target. It seemed no matter what I told them they did the opposite. It wasn’t long before another guide came through saw the fish and purposely splashed his oars through the hole sending them fleeing. I was not happy and never forgot this moment. I didn’t say a word as I was the new guy on the river and I had customers with me. I let them cast for a few more minutes while I regrouped and made a plan. I knew something had to change if I was going to get these guys at least one fish.

We made a big move down stream where I could pull plugs in some deeper water. I knew this was our only chance as they were never going to get one casting.  We fished through the first hole with out a strike. There were a few shots from a liquor bottle taken though. As I was setting rods in the second hole I noticed there were at least 20 empty beer cans in the bottom of the boat. I could tell the guys were far from sober. The second hole was money or at least it should have been. I watched the right rod double over and saw the fish thrashing on the surface. As I yelled “right rod right rod right rod” I rowed upstream as hard as I could to keep the line tight. Of course both guys tried to grab the left rod. By the time they got to the right rod the fish got slack line and came off.

There was only one spot left to try plugging before the boat launch. It was now or never and I was far from optimistic. I put the lures out again and started working them in the current. We were almost to the tail of the pool when the middle rod slammed down into the bow of the boat. I pulled hard on the oars and yelled “middle rod get it and reel”. I told them in the beginning you don’t have to set the hook, the fish will do it for you, just keep the line tight.  When he grabbed the rod out of the holder not only did he set the hook like Bill Dance but he dropped the rod right back down giving the fish the slack it needed. The fish was gone and so was all hope of saving the day.

Back at the lodge they told a bit different story to the owner who they had booked the trip through. They were not happy to pay all that money and not catch a fish. I was given the chance to tell my side  of the story when I stopped in later that evening. I learned a lot in that first trip. First and foremost I needed a special lure permit. Second there would be a limit on how much alcohol was allowed on my boat from there on out. This was when I decided if someone is just looking to catch a buzz they can hire someone else.

 

 

Today I finally was able to fish one of the Echo rods I purchased a couple months ago. The rod has been fished by multiple customers and I have made some demonstration casts with it but never had time to fish it myself. 

This morning that changed when I decided to head to the river for a couple hours. As I hiked to a couple holes that I have only fished by drift boat I imeaditly noticed how light it felt to carry. I have it paired with an Echo Ion reel and Airflo line.

The rod fished very well. I was casting a 1″ Air Lock indicator four size b split shot and an egg pattern with no problem. I was able to cast overhand, roll cast, and single hand spey cast this rod with no issues. The 10 foot rod makes mending line a breeze. It was a typical steelhead day so I was fishing in rain, sleet, and snow all just two hours. Oh and add wind gusts of 20 mph which made casting tough but the Ion got the job done. 

Unfortunately I didn’t find a steelhead that wanted what I had to offer so I still haven’t fought a fish on it. However, my customers tell me it handles fish very well. At around $160 I think it’s a top choice for someone who wants a high end performing rod without the high end price tag. Pair it with an Ion reel for another $100 and you have a killer combo for under $300.