Sunday, January 4, 2015

Book Review - My Life in Fishing: Favorite Long Stories Told Short

With this cold weather and some time off for the holidays, the evenings have been great to catch up on some reading.  A couple nights ago I picked up a new book from Stonefly Press called 'My Life in Fishing: Favorite Long Stories Told Short' by Stu Apte.  

I have never met Stu and living in the heart of the Ozarks, we don't have many tarpon!  But I love reading about legends such as Stu.  I have found over the years that some of these guys have met some great people and have even better stories to tell about these people and the experiences that they have had.  This book is just that and is a great read for anyone who shares a passion for the sport and the stories that surround it.
After reading the foreword, acknowledgments, back cover, and looking at the pictures, I started in on Chapter One.  The next thing I knew I was 20 chapters into the book.  The short stories are perfect for Stu to reflect the trips he has taken, the records, the fish, and of course the people that he has met through fishing.  The stories are the right length with numerous material to keep your attention and be fully entertained.  As I read the stories, I found myself pausing and gazing out the window in thought of similar great experiences I have had that some of Stu's short stories reminded me of.  No, I have not met many of the great people that Stu has met but my experiences of meeting many people through fly fishing are just as great in my mind and I thoroughly enjoyed the 'reminders' of some of my great times that I had an opportunity to reflect on and times that I will never forget.
I guess I never really stopped to think about it but many of the numerous books I own are short story format.  I guess it is one of my favorite formats. 
As I write this review, I have a couple chapters remaining.  Something Stu mentioned just a moment ago in one of the last chapters made me think about an experience I had earlier in my life.  As I gazed out the window, I caught a great glimpse of a full moon rising low on the horizon on this 15 degree night.  Full moon on a 15 degree night....I have seen this moon before and it too reminds me of past experiences.
I personally would like to thank Stu Apte for taking the time to relive these short stories and share them with us.    He truly is one of the great people in the fishing industry.  Reading this book was a pleasure and an added benefit of bringing back some great memories of my own.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Doug's Ijuin Yomogi Series Rod Build

I just finished this rod for my nephew Doug.  This is the Ijuin Yomigi Series fly rod.

  • Rod - Ijuin Yomigi 7'3", 4 weight, 3 piece
  • Reel Seat - Lemke
  • Cork - Custom full wells
  • Guides - Snake Brand Original
  • Stripping Guide - J.E. Arguello
  • Thread - YLI silk
This is the custom decal that I put on the rod at the 20" mark.  This 'Nice 20"' is an exact replica of the fish measuring scale on the side of the boat we were fishing in Alaska where the 'Chasin' Alice' story and name was derived.  I actually put this decal on Doug's rod at around 19.5".  He will never know it and since he rarely ever catches a 20" fish, his chances just improved!!  
Can't wait to hit the stream with Doug to watch an awesome kid with an awesome rod.  He will always be a kid to me. 
I have two more Ijuin 4 weight 7'6" blanks if anyone is interested

Tuesday, December 23, 2014


If you follow along, you quickly realize how much I enjoy our Ozark streams.  I think one of the reasons that I enjoy them is the respect for the resiliency that they continue to amaze me with.   This past weekend, I had another example of this resiliency. 
I visited one of these Ozark streams on a great day for fishing.  It was around 40 degrees, mist, fog, low know those days.  I love these types of days to get outdoors.  These days are always so quiet outside and you're almost assured of having the river to yourself.  In addition, the wildlife seem to be very active as these types of days are usually a sign that the weather is changing.
Ok, back to the resiliency story.  The day was great for exploring the river as a few heavy rains this fall have changed a few things.  They always do and change is great for rejuvenating the flows and the river.  I took my time as there has been some spawning activity and I wanted to be sure and avoid any of these areas.  The fishing itself was not anything to write home about.  I caught a fish on my very first cast, lost a nice trout in the next hole, and then went a couple hours without any action. This does not bother me at all as the next corner can change everything in these small waters.
After a gourmet lunch break watching a few small trout hit a few BWO's, I moved back to searching for something quality. 
I approached a small tailout that on occasion will hold a 12-13 inch trout and scanned the water for any movement.  There was nothing spotted in the typical holding water, but a fairly large swirl caught my eye.  As I explored the area, it came again.  I spotted the fish and saw what was going on.  The nice fish was laying next to the undercut bank in a deeper run and then moving into the shallow, faster water when a meal presented itself.  I watched a few more eats and this was a nice, nice fish.  As I moved in, I realized I probably had one cast at this fish if I could even get close enough without spooking him. 
I dropped to my knees and crawled across the stream (no pictures of that).   I got within decent casting range and laid a nymph upstream so it would drift into the feeding lane that I had been watching this fish feed.  An aggressive swirl, hook set, and the fight was on.  I jumped to my feet and we took off jogging downstream like a dog leading his owner.  Luckily he swam through the shallow water and dropped into a larger deep hole that was fairly clean from brush.  Perfect situation.  He dug for the bottom rolling sideways on the rocks in attempt to dislodge the hook.  I have seen this many times and unfortunately witnessed it working.  As long as the rocks did not dislodge it, I felt good about landing it as the area was fairly clean.  A short fight later, and I had him in my net.  This was a super nice trout and as I moved to quickly get him back in the water, I immediately recognized this old friend.  There was no mistaking this fish as the same fish that I had landed around two years ago.   The tell tale sign was the growth on the fish lower lip.  It had to be the same fish as it also had a yellow color to the body just like the fish from two years back.  I snapped this photo of the fish but as I was getting ready to get a lip shot, he decided he was done.  If you look close, you may be able to see the growth on his lower lip under the water.
Here are a couple photos from two years ago.  Same growth, same rosey cheeks, exact same fish. 

This is the undercut bank where this fish was laying.  The deeper trough up next to the bank was plenty deep as he waited for a meal to float by in the faster seam.  Some of the undercuts are much larger than what they look like. 
After a couple of years, floods, drought, heat, etc., I had assumed this fish had probably perished but again, the resiliency of these Ozark fish is awesome.
In addition, I have done this before. I posted a blog story in 2013 titled 'DNA Evidence' of the very same thing that happened on yet a different fish.  Pretty Cool!!  I love the Ozarks.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Brotherhood Fiberglass Fly Rod

Rod built as a memento to our 20th annual family fly fishing trip.
  • 7'3" fiberglass blank 
  • 4 weight
  • 3 piece
  • Ray Lee custom real seat
  • Custom cork
  • Pearsall Gossamer Silk - Candy Apple Red
  • J Stockard guides


Twenty years ago, the oldest brother coordinated a trip to the Missouri / Arkansas Ozarks for some family time and fly fishing.  I think at the time we didn't do much fly fishing.  We were probably drifting power bait and whatever else we could coax a trout into hitting.  This one time trip caught on and last week we celebrated our 20th year of our family fall fly fishing trip. 
Over the years we have migrated from a streamside condo, to tents, to RV's, etc.  We have also migrated from power bait to size 18 midges, streamers, dry flies, etc.  If you join us, we won't frown on your method of fishing, but before the end of the week you will probably own your own fly fishing outfit.  Just last week a family member joined us for the first time and left with a complete outfit.  Let's just say, we had extras!
Our oldest brother who started this is no longer with us, but each year we remember him and celebrate his life.  He was a great man, a hoot on the stream, and always had a grin on his face when the fly rod was bent.  You would like him and quickly become a friend.
We look forward to the trip.  We don't plan much, but simply show up and everything always falls into place. We don't fish that hard, but instead make sure we take time to enjoy each others company and fireside chats.  No, you don't get any details of the fireside chats!
We have told the same stories countless times and continue to laugh like its the first time.  Most people that join us for the first time shake their head and wonder about most of the tales.  I can't blame them.    With my 7 brothers growing up, we had plenty of opportunities.
We see each other throughout the year, but this trip is our bond.  When we meet throughout the year, we usually talk in anticipation of the next trip.  We are lucky to have this closeness and take it for granted.  I do believe we have a special family and not all families experience the brotherhood that we do.  Let's just say if somebody needs something, we know who is there to help us. 
As I write this article, I really don't have a ton of words.  I can't really explain what we experience or give you all the details.  I do wish everyone could experience what we do and have the family that I belong to.  If you do, that's awesome.   If you don't, join us sometime.  Needless to say, I am proud of my family.
This year, I took the opportunity to create a 20th year memento that someone would take home.  This custom fly rod titled 'Brotherhood' was given away on Thursday of our trip.  This 7'3" 4 weight fiberglass rod is a small token of my appreciation for my brothers.  They are all great men and encompass the meaning of 'Brotherhood'.

Miscellaneous photos from the week:

Monday, September 29, 2014

20th Year - Sausage Bean Chowder

I am in final preparation to head out early tomorrow for a full week of camping and fly fishing with my brothers.  In this, our 20th year, we have developed some yearly rituals.  Most of them involve food and one of the meals is a dish of 'Sausage Bean Chowder'.  Thought I would share the recipe after preparing a triple recipe for one of our evening meals.

This is a great meal on a camp trip, a fall day, Sunday afternoon football,  or about anytime.  It's a hearty meal with a great taste.  Give it a try ... you won't be disappointed.
  • 1 lb. pork sausage
  • 1 can red kidney beans
  • 1 lb. can tomatoes
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 med onion - diced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 T salt
  • 1 t garlic salt
  • 1/4 t pepper
  • 3 medium potatoes - diced
  • 1 green pepper - diced
Brown sausage and onion.  Add rest of ingredients. Cover and simmer for one hour.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Alway's A Good Day

I learned a long time ago to not pay too much attention to the temperature, wind, water conditions, clouds, etc., when deciding whether to go fishing. I have had numerous days when I was glad I did not use all the reasons that it would not be worth my time to hit the river.  I think too many people wait for the perfect day only to be disappointed when they finally get on the river.  They most likely missed many good days waiting for the right condition. 
I recently had one of those days when there were many reasons that I should not waste my time hitting the river.  It has been a dry late winter and spring in some areas of the Ozarks and my favorite stream is very low right now. Low water means very spooky and elusive fish.  Getting to some of the spots means walking through some very weedy areas full of ticks and snakes.    Why waste my time?  I knew this would be a tough day but I also had a chance to go wet a line and enjoy the sun on my back.  I have learned that is good enough reason for me.  Let's fish!
As I hit the river on this great spring Ozark day, the water was even lower than I thought and very clear.  Very nice for a picture but very tough for fishing. 
I took my time and approached each hole very slow knowing that I would probably get only one shot.  Each hole proved my theory was right as conditions were very tough.   My mind wandered to the thought that this may be a fishless day.  It happens.
As the temperature warmed and the sun broke through the tree tops, I started noticing a few bugs coming off. Not just one variety but there were 2 or 3 different hatches in early stages with the warming weather. One of the bugs appeared to be a small tan caddis.  This was the most prevalent  but was very small.  The other two I recognized as a black caddis and a yellow sulphur mayfly.   These are both common on this stream in the spring.  The black caddis appeared about normal but the sulphur was much larger than normal. 
As I moved around and the air warmed with the sun, the bugs got thicker.  I really enjoyed watching the large sulphur's coming off.  With their forked tail, they are awesome to watch as they move slowly about the stream.  About the time I was gazing around at the hatch, I caught something out of the corner of my eye.  The hatch was getting strong enough that some trout had began focusing on the hatch in the tailouts.  I don't need many swirls on top to get me to tie on a dry fly.  These trout are not too picky so I tied on a larger Adams.  I had black caddis flies but the sulphur's were thick and my thought was the fish were focusing on them.  The Adams was the closest thing I had...or should I say the largest dry I had in this fly box.   My first cast to the rising trout proved how picky these fish are as a nice rainbow slammed the dry.  As I admired the catch, I heard another rise...and another.   On my 2nd cast, another trout aggressively attacked my dry only to come off on the hook set.  
 Long story short, this went on for the rest of the day.  I fished dries at every tailout and actually went back to some of the water I fished early in the day prior to the hatch starting.  None of the fish were overly large but were all very aggressive and a blast to catch on a dry fly. 
What a great day in the Ozarks.
You just never know when a day with less than ideal conditions will turn into a day that you were glad you didn't stay home.  Get out and enjoy.