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An Ozarks Heritage Lives On

“Tradition is not the worship of ashes, but the preservation of fire.”
― Gustav Mahler

If you take a look around at any grocery store, waiting room, classroom, cubicle, you name it, it is unavoidable.  Human progress is rolling forward and we’re more efficient than we’ve ever been.  Accomplishing more with technology than our forefathers would have ever thought possible.

In the face of this progress there have been some casualties.  Consumerism makes it perfectly acceptable to trash something your grandpa would have repurposed 3 different ways before ever dreaming of discarding.  Along with the disposable nature of things purchased, the desire, interest, and often work ethic required to physically create something new is almost lost.  Is there anything more appealing some days than to return to a simpler way of life?  What follows is one example to capture a piece of that if you’re willing to commit some time and effort.

While I’ve had interest in reading the work of author Larry Dablemount of Lightnin’ Ridge Publications I have not had time to really pursue recreational reading lately.  An old friend from high school, Bob Schwab brought his works to my attention and his books look like a perfect winter holdover reading.  What fascinated me most however was when Bob let me know he was planning on building his own wooden john boat.  Not being the handy type myself, I was definitely inclined to see someone else try this first. What follows is a simple photographic journal that illustrates what the process of building your own wooden john boat might look like.  

June 14, 2019

“Book says it’s a 16-20 hour job, start to finish. I think that is BS. Kids and I may give it a try. 2 weekends and evenings should get it done.”

June 20, 2019

“Already gathered up some scrap we had laying around and started on our forms.”

June 27, 2019

“Need to fit the front and rear. Then the bottom. Been slow going.”

July 5, 2019

“She is laying out the spacing for screw holes.”

July 17, 2019

“First time flipped upright”

July 28, 2019

“First coat inside and sides.”

July 31, 2019

“100% done.”

August 10, 2019

“In it now.  Paddled upstream from a low water bridge about 1/2 mile. Float back down. No leaks.”

There are some treasures in life that you don’t appreciate enough until they are gone.  Old men and women’s stories of sacrifice that are unthinkable in today’s era of ultra convenience.  Summers with your kids while they’re little and they still like you.  The simplicity of time in nature, without electronic devices, and teaching your kids about things unthinkable in today’s world.  A time when you would and could build your own stuff.  When a scarcity complex was not a psychological condition but just reality.  Living near the river, camping, and catching your dinner.

Our lives have become more complicated but some things lost on the path to progress should not be forgotten.  Efforts like that of Bob Schwab and his family have made to create this wooden john boat are a prime example that we should all look for something we see falling behind.  A tradition or practice of value from days gone past that still has enduring value.  This blog is all about fishing and it’s a tradition in my family that I intend to carry on for generations.  That love and respect for nature will be an enduring tradition to keep close and pass on to others.  Whatever you’re passionate about, whatever you love, find that equivalent in your world.  Then go do more of it!   Whatever you value, hold on to it, teach others, so they may carry it on to others. 

 

 

 

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All things beautiful with Jamie Sandford

There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion. -Francis Bacon

It’s a great thing in life to find friends that are as excited as you are about a shared interest.  It’s even better to find people that have not only a couple of things in common with you but several.  Then it’s a very peculiar, almost strange thing to find someone who lives in another country you’ve never met in person with so many of the same interests, you wonder if perhaps you’ve been seperated at birth.  Jamie Sandford is a friend I’ve known at least a year as another Carp on the fly enthusiast.

Though we live on different continents, Facebook allows us to keep in touch and his updates via Carp Champions are how I first got to know Jamie.  Over time I became interested in his other posts on things I really enjoy too: travel, metal music, good beer, fly tying, etc.  While I’m not rehabbing an English cottage and not much of a biking enthusiast, just about everything else about Jamie’s into has been interesting to follow.  Plus I think we all should have a good variety of pursuits to help us continue learning and avoid becoming a bore.

With that in mind, I hope you find the following anything but boring.  This piece is about what I call all things beautiful.  The small things in life that can be enjoyed in minutes but are truly big things.  These little moments can easily make your day, week, month, or whole year more memorable.  The critics say one of the major risks of social media is that it breeds envy.  That we only see the sanitized version of people’s lives and therefore it’s deceptive.  It makes others feel left out or prone to compare circumstances with others.

All I know for sure is that I’m happy to see others enjoy what I love to enjoy.  I get the elation that is bringing a freight train of a carp to hand on the fly.  There are few things better to hear than some old school metal on the am drive to work.  And a good quality beer is about the best way to wrap up a long day of anything (but of course fishing is naturally included).  So if you also enjoy fishing, beer, travel, metal, etc., prove the critics wrong, appreciate this piece minus the envy, and take in all this beauty Jamie’s got to share.

 

My summer fishing: Carp, Trout, Beers and Metal!

As the seasons change here in the U.K. I look back on the summer I’ve had in 2018, And what a summer its been!

Fishing here in England and abroad in places such as the EBRO in Spain and the flats of Portugal have been very successful making for a really fun and exciting summer.

I was very lucky to have one of my best trips yet in Portugal this year catching over 100 carp, sight-fishing the flats using head-stand flies, And as I’ve previously written my annual trip to Spain lure fishing for Black Bass, Zander and Perch was yet again a trip of a lifetime with some great fish caught on a variety of lures including surface walkers, poppers, jigs and crank-baits.

Once back home I have had some great captures at my local fisheries using all manner of floating patterns for Carp and I have been rewarded with some stunning looking mirrors and commons on the fly.

From funky looking beetles to more natural style terrestrials the possibilities are endless when you let your imagination be free at the fly tying vice and as the go to pattern in the U.K. tends to be ‘Pellet flies’ its exciting catching on creatures & critters that are multi-colored with various legs and appendages!

Now with the weather turning colder in the U.K. I have started getting my ‘Trout’ head on.  With lots of local ‘stocked ‘ fisheries all within driving distance I am lucky to have fishing on my doorstep.  These stocked waters contain Rainbows, Browns and the odd bonus TIGER and BROOK trout and although these fish are stocked they always put a smile on my face.

Having taken up fly tying over the last few years I have really enjoyed tying up various coloured lures and a favourite pattern of mine at present is the classic ‘CATS WHISKER’ in white and chartreuse, This really seems to be working really well stripped back fast on an intermediate line creating a ‘WHAT’S THAT’ attitude from the trout.

After a good days fishing there’s nothing better in my opinion than coming home and kicking back with a beer and some music…Now I might be wrong here but most lure anglers I know and speak too are metalheads, So I’ve included a pic of my desert island records along with my favourite beers at present! (I’d really recommend the ADNAMS ‘BROADSIDE’)

 

I think metal music sums up my lure fishing….Its loud, fast, hard and aggressive…And when you get a take from a Carp, Trout or Bass the echoes of Mastodons ‘BLOOD AND THUNDER’ ring through my head!

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The Practitioner’s Edge: Dan Burr Illustration

Fishing

The beauty, the wonder, and the discovery in nature is a well that never runs dry.  An angler appreciates this and is underlying the drive to get outdoors.  Each outing is another opportunity to take it in, observe the minute details of your catch, and uncover new treasures where you fish.  It’s beyond amazing to me personally and a pursuit that will see me through to my last days provided in this life.

Today we can readily view this through the eyes of other anglers.  The internet captures much through shared photos on social media but when you see the beauty, the wonder, and the discovery from the perspective of a talented artist, it brings a depth you will miss, even in your own experiences.  Beyond the fact many can’t cover all the locations and species available on this planet in one life, we’re all viewing it from a different perspective.  A talented, experienced angler will see the finite details.

When an artist is also an angler, fly tier, guide, and lifelong outdoorsman, it shines through.  This is the edge of Dan Burr’s incredible artwork.  It’s clear Dan’s not an artist who draws fish but instead a true practitioner and lover of nature, bringing his real world knowledge and experience to breathe life into his work. That makes all the difference.  To learn more about all the depth that Dan brings to his work, I took some time to learn more about his story in the interview that follows.

How did you get started as an artist and what kind of fishing do you do?  

I was raised in Mt Green, Utah.  My father is an artist so I grew up watching him paint and sculpt.  He taught me and encouraged me to draw and paint from a very early age. I studied illustration in college and earned a BFA in Illustration from Utah State University and a Masters Degree in Illustration from Syracuse University.

My grand father was a fly fisherman and so was my dad.  My dad tied his own flies and I can remember watching him tie when I was young.
I can’t remember a time in my life when fishing was not part of our family life.  We camped, hunted and fished.  That is what we did as a family.
Now as an adult, I fish as often as I can, usually several times a week.  I tie the patterns that I use and I’m a licensed fly fishing guide in Idaho as well.  I only guide a day or two during the week so I have time to paint and draw.

I think my art is unique because I fish a lot.  I know what the water should look like.  I know the anatomy of the fish I am painting.  I know how a fisherman should be holding the rod or rowing the boat.   I’ve lived it so I know in my mind what makes the work authentic and genuine. Its pretty easy to tell if an artist who paints fishing scenes or fish, has fished enough to know what he is doing… I see bad examples of it all the time…

What’s a favorite fishing story that inspires your work?  Do you have any tips or recommendations for readers?

I don’t think I have a favorite fishing story but once when my son was about 8 or 9, we were fishing the Teton river.  We were floating and for some reason he thought the spinning rod was the way to go.  He wasn’t catching many fish so I threw a fly down stream from the boat and handed him the rod.  I said to him, “now when that big rainbow eats that fly, you set the hook” seconds later a nice rainbow ate the fly and he set the hook… we landed it and he has been hooked ever since. My son who is now 21 is a guide as well.  He is studying fisheries biology at USU in Logan Utah.

As for a tip I would give any fly fisherman, fish with confidence and choose a fly for the right reasons.  Fish it with confidence and you will catch more fish.  You will cast it to better spots in the river, you will make sure its floating or drifting well, and the fish will eat it more often than not. Confidence and purpose equal strikes.

Tell us more about your art and how you work with anglers?  

I do a lot of commissions for fisherman.  They usually want a painting from a trip or their favorite place or a big fish that they caught in some exotic land.  I once did a portrait of a 27 1/2” New Zealand brown trout that was huge.  When I drew it to the measurements, I couldn’t believe how big it was!

As an illustrator, I do a lot of work for a bunch of different publishers.  I have to create an image that helps tell the story. I’ve learned over that past nearly 30 years how to create images that capture the narrative. When someone hires me to do a painting, I bring all of those years to the table, all of my fishing and hunting experiences as well. I don’t think I have ever had a client say “ I don’t like it”.  Usually they love the work they have hired me to do. I learned along time ago that if I don’t like the work that I’m doing, I keep working on it until I do.   Any painting that leaves my studio has to satisfy me first and it has to fulfill the assignment, be designed well and painted well. If it does that, I hand it off to the client.

My work can be found on my site, www.danburr.com as well as my Facebook page @DanBurrIllustration and Instagram page danburrillustration.


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How the Missouri bronzeback opportunity is golden year-round

Fishing

Missouri is the Show Me State. Geographically we’re in the middle of the country but we also rarely make the best or worst of many rankings.  According to U.S. News and World Report rankings, we land at #25 for education, #33 for economy #20 for infrastructure and surprisingly #45 for crime & corrections.  Our #21 ranking for opportunity certainly does not factor in our natural resources.  We have absolutely been blessed in this state.  One shining star is the multitude of Ozark streams that are not only fantastic for a variety of outdoor activities like floating, kayaking, camping, swimming, and hiking but of course fishing.

The smallmouth bass is native to and a part of Missouri.  They can be caught readily in their gorgeous natural surroundings and are fantastic sport fish to be pursued.  Smallies are aggressive, athletic, and known for their exceptional leaping ability.  Both fly and conventional anglers love them and while you can catch smallmouth in lakes and reservoirs, the wild stream smallmouth experience is set apart.  Almost a separate species to be pursued from their lake dwelling brethren.  To get just a sliver of the heritage and the opportunity Ozark stream smallmouths provide, take a look at Water & Blood, featuring the Niangua River with Nathaniel Maddux and Jeff Trigg.

Water & Blood // The Niangua River Smallmouth

Nathaniel floats his home river, the Niangua, with Jeff Trigg and explores his family history, rooted deep in the surrounding hills.

Posted by UNDIVIDED on Sunday, August 19, 2018

To be completely transparent writing this, I’ve done myself a personal disservice by not getting out on the streams within a short drive of my home and have only caught a handful of these fighters in my life.  I plan to change this soon so in the meantime to inform this article and help me plan my fishing calendar, Max Turner with The Ozarks Smallmouth Alliance who agreed to share his knowledge on catching Missouri smallies year round.

Can you tell me a little bit about some of the opportunities Ozarks anglers have to catch smallmouth bass?

This is probably one of the questions I get more than any other. Luckily, here in Missouri we have more opportunities to fish for smallmouth than most anglers would be able to fish for in a lifetime. Ryan Walker and I compiled a list of some of our favorite waters here, but there are over 3,500 miles of rivers, streams and creeks that hold smallies in this state so chances are, unless you live in Northwest Missouri if you open an atlas, and throw a dart at a little blue line you can mine some Missouri bronze.

Fishing

Depending on the season where would you go fishing for smallmouth?

So this isn’t really smallmouth specific but I think the first thing any angler should do when they get to the water is take a minute to, and its a super hacky saying at this point, but “think like a fish”. What are they looking for at this time of year and how can you use that information? In winter they are going to be looking for stable water temperatures so springs and deep wintering holes are going to be the key. In spring areas with a good forage base close to winter staging areas and pre spawn staging areas are going to be absolutely loaded with fish. Once the dog days of summer are in full swing fish are going to be moving from the cooler, oxygenated water of riffles to shaded areas with submerged cover. For fall fishing I have one rule: Follow the forage. Crawdads activity slows down significantly as water temps cool and baitfish will start moving towards deeper water for winter. Follow the food. Find the bass.

So now that we have the where what are some of your favorite techniques to catch bass year round?

In winter subtlety is the key for me. On the colder winter days, fish are suspended in deep pools and not wanting to move much so the ability to dang near bonk a fish on the nose is key. My most effective technique is actually the classic “float and fly” where I will suspend a black or white marabou jig under a strike indicator (that’s fly fishermen for bobber) and work it through a hole and around any structure I can see. Pre spawn is where it starts to get fun again. Fish are feeding aggressively after a long winter of just hanging out and I’m assuming being super bored. I tend to fish larger baitfish streamers and anything with a LOT of tinsel. Spring is a tricky time to fish because I am vehemently against fishing for spawning and bedding bass. Once I see fish spawning or guarding nests my bass fishing slows considerably (temporarily) and when I do fish I’m avoiding beds and using fast moving flies that are either topwater or high in the water column. I cannot stress enough how harmful to a bass population pulling fish off of nests can be. An entire nest can get stripped by sunfish or any other number of fish in minutes. Summer is the best. Summer means poppers. It probably isn’t the most effective method all the time but it will always be the most fun. Since Ross is reading this I’ll say you should also 100% be fishing crayfish flies come summer. Smallies love crayfish almost as much as I love Chinese buffet. Fall is back to baitfish. I love chucking giant streamers on the outskirts of any schools of baitfish I see. Chances are if you see them the fish are watching and waiting too.

Why smallmouth?

I love fishing. For really any species. If it has fins and will eat a fly I’m down to catch it. But for some reason I keep coming back to smallmouth and it’s for a few reasons. I think they are a fish that was built to be an almost perfect fly rod quarry. They are vicious fighters, they eat readily, (but not too readily) and in the Ozarks they tend to live in places that easily rival the most beautiful trout water. There is also something so wonderful to me about fishing for a fish that has been in the Ozarks as long as the Ozarks as we know them have existed. Since long before men came here these fish have been in this water doing exactly what they are doing now. As long as people have been here they have been fishing for these fish. It’s a tradition I think is important and I think our most critical job is to protect these fish and the opportunity to chase them for those that come after us.

To learn more about smallmouth fishing resources in the area, checkout the OSA mainpage or come check out Bronzefest to celebrate all things Smallmouth Bass on September 8-9th at Hootentown campground.

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Retirement number crunching with River King Dave Bureau

You meet people throughout life that you hope you end up like someday.  In my day job, I’ve been able to meet a lot of people over the years planning their financial futures.  They often want to know what money they need to save or if they have already saved enough to live the life they want when they are done working.  They want to know if they’ve reached “their number” or need someone to run the numbers to affirm their decision to stop working, buy a lake house, or maybe gift to their grandchildrens’ education funds.

Seeing this enough times has served as inspiration for starting this blog.  Rather than waiting until I’m done working to experience and then write about the fishing, travel, and nature experiences I’ve always wanted to do, I attempt to squeeze in 5 hours a week to get a preview of that retirement dream now without neglecting the key responsibilities of today.  Through this blog I get to meet and profile people in the world of fishing I find interesting.  Dave Bureau is no exception, basically living today the retirement I someday dream about.  He picked a great name for his Instagram (@river_king) and we’ve followed each other the past few months.  Dave is not fishing the Seychelles, Iceland, or Patagonia every year but he’s got access to a dozen plus species in his backyard that provide plenty of variety.   Plus he’s not just getting numbers but also hauling in the big movers from Catfish, Drum, and Buffalo, to Stripers, Bass, and Bluegill, on to Brook, Brown, and Rainbow trout.

What I love about Dave and his retirement is that he’s a numbers guy through and through.  The numbers involved in his plan for retirement however are all about the fish to catch.  4,000 being the goal for this year alone, he’s had some challenges you’ll learn about in this piece but he’s still moving towards that goal (if not this year, he may be “burdened” with trying again next).  It’s an admirable feat to shoot for and is what has been missing in many people I’ve met over the years.  Even if you have the time and money, you need to have a passion once you are work-life independent to drive you out of bed each day and keep you active.  Dave’s story should not only inspire you but also give you a few tips to try on your own waterways!

Tell us about yourself. How did you get started fishing? I’m a husband, Dad, Brother, Grandfather, Vietnam Vet, Marine Corp helicopter pilot, Dawg Fan and retired High School Science Teacher with a fishing addiction.
Of all the things I’ve done, fishing has always been the one constant throughout my life. No one in my family ever fished, and I really don’t know where this passion came from, but I can’t ever remember not fishing. Also, I wasn’t very good at it for my first 50 years. I just struggled along, and accidentally caught fish. I drifted into tournament fishing, and I can confirm that dragging a Carolina Rig for 5 bass a day is really boring. I remember one particular episode that was a tipping point in my fishing. During a tournament, my partner and I stumbled onto a school of big stripers feeding up a river, and we were catching 20 pounders, one after the other. When I heard the boat motor start and my partner told me to break off the fish I had on because he was tired of wasting his time. That was the end of bassing for me, and the beginning of my multi-species fishing.
I sold my bass boat, bought a 16 foot aluminum jon boat and started fishing rivers and catching fish. I went after anything that would tug on my line ….. gar, bream, Skipjack, mudfish, catfish, hybrids, trout, white bass, yellow bass, drum, stripers… it didn’t make any difference, if it was swimming in a river that fish was on my list. I quickly understood that fish are not hard to catch, but you have to be there when they are, so catching than becomes a timing issue. This is where a Fishing Log comes into play. I record notes on every trip I make which includes the weather and water conditions, the lures, and the fish caught. Over time, patterns begin to emerge, and I learned when to be at certain locations to catch. Over the years, this resulted in a 12 month Fishing Calendar to keep me on biting fish all year around. Each of these specific species and timing events, I call a program.


Every species of fish is different in its requirements. They seek cold and warm water refuges at different times, they feed at certain times, they inhabit different environments, and they spawn at different times. In particular, it is the spawning activity that I key in on, because fish are most vulnerable when they swim up rivers in mass and create target rich environments behind dams and Shoals for the angler. The striped fish do it in the Spring, and the salmon and trout do it in the Fall. Many spawning areas are famous and common knowledge. Others have to be sought out through word of mouth, fishing boards, and magazine articles. I always say the best tool I have for catching fish is my I-Phone because I’m always using it to read fishing articles, check fishing boards and look at U-Tube videos, which are all great sources of fishing locations and techniques.
All fisheries are not created equal. Many are great for only 2 months of the year. Others are great year around. Also, fisheries come and fisheries go. I try to put my self on great fisheries year around, but most of the programs I currently fish weren’t on my itinerary five years ago. Floods wash hybrids over dams and create new fisheries, drought reduces river flows and destroys the spawn, invasive species move in and kill or create new opportunities, dams that provide cold water for trout have problems and the cold water is lost and the fishery is destroyed, and on and on. So part of my fishing strategy every year is researching new programs to replace old ones that are failing. It’s extremely difficult to show up at an unknown fishery and catch. Timing is critical along with baits, and fish locations. It is so true that 90% of the fish occupy only 10% of the water. For example, I have a program that is only available for two weeks in April, the fish are stacked behind a discharge manifold on the river bottom spawning, and they are keyed in on green jigs, it’s 100+,3 pound fish a day and it’s been happening like clockwork for the last 7 years. It’s a very tiny area that I found just by accident, and I feel fortunate it has lasted this long. Secrecy is important in fishing.

Can you elaborate on the numbers caught goal for this year and what’s with the counter?

Every year, I try to challenge myself to keep my fishing interesting to me. Last year my goal was a big Brown Trout, and I caught one that was 29” and 14lbs 6ozs. Before that, I decided to move from jerkbaits to jigs. Another year, it was fishing 125 days. This year, my goal is to catch 4000 fish and I’m having a tough time. All the rain this Spring really hurt my white bass and trout programs with high muddy water. Also, my summer striper program has had 3 consecutive years of poor spawning, and the the daily catch rate is way down. I was hoping to have caught about 3000 fish by now, but I’ve only touched 2300 so far. In the Fall, I spend a lot of time fishing for trophy Browns, and my catch rate per trip goes way down. So, I’m going to have to change my Fall fishing programs this year if I’m going to make 4000 fish.  Also, the numbers of fish that I catch are only relevant to me and my programs. There are people that catch a lot more fish than I do, and anglers that catch a lot less. I typically touch 3000 to 3500 fish a year, and I knew if I set a goal of 4000, that would push me to become better at catching fish, so that’s where that number comes from.


The counter that I use to keep up with my catches is essential to insure accuracy. I have several, and on days I’m catching multi-species, I’ll have one devoted to each species. I don’t trust my old brain with numbers anymore.

My goal every time I go fishing is to catch 100 fish. It happens a lot in the Spring, but it’s tough to do in the Summer and the Fall. Another goal I try to accomplish at least once a year is the 1000 pound day, which I have done several times over the years behind dams. That last time I did it, I had 631lbs on 71 drum, 283lbs on 227 Skipjack, 42lbs on 11 hybrids, 78lbs on 6 striper, and 27lbs on 3 catfish. This is fishing craziness. After 100 fish, it gets to be work…work …. work, but if you like catching, it’s memorable, and you get really good with hook sets, drag settings, and playing fish.

What are the unique fishing opportunities near you, favorite kind of fishing to do, tackle tips or tricks?

My favorite fish to catch are trout because they live in beautiful places. In particular, I have a fetish for big Brown Trout. Also, I’m not a fly fisherman. I love my spinning rods and Ci4 Striadic reels, and I feel they are the most efficient fish catching tool available to river anglers. I typically set up my rods with yellow Fireline as my main line attached to a fluorocarbon leader with Duo Snap clip to attach the bait. Fireline, like braid, gives me a feel for the bait that I don’t get with monofilament. Also, it handles well, it’s strong, it will cast a long way, and it gives excellent long distance hook sets. In addition, I like using yellow because I can frequently see bites before I feel them. Also this year, I’ve been fishing a lot without a leader because of problems with the connection between the main line and the fluorocarbon. All leader knots take a beating going through the guides and must be constantly retied before it breaks. Also, I color the yellow Fireline with a black magic marker when I don’t use a leader, and I haven’t noticed any change In catch rates, even in clear water.



That’s a quick outline of what I do. I hope it helps others that enjoy the bite as much as I do. I really feel that catching fish comes down to exposure. It sounds trite, but the more you fish, the more you catch because you have a greater chance of being on the water when the bite is happening. Also, It’s hard to get into depth on so many topics in a short article like this, so If I can answer any questions, please contact me on Instagram.

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Fly fishing is elevated in the work of Andrej Krysov

 

If I fished only to capture fish, my fishing trips would have ended long ago.”
Zane Grey

Fishing can sometimes look like a foolish pursuit.  In the mind of many, it’s just drowning worms by the bank to pass the time, an excuse to day drink, or a honey-do list escape.  There is great enjoyment and an element of skill in all types of angling but fly fishing is not only renown but a case can be made that it’s the closest to an art form that fishing gets.  Simply watching others’ casting technique can be a therapeutic experience.  Like many aspects of the sport, it looks deceptively simple to perform.  There countless varieties of rods, line, and reel choices paired for presenting the right flies, targeting chosen species, or to address a specific condition you’re fishing.

Not only fly selection but fly tying is another element of fly fishing that demand an artist’s touch.  An attention to detail so specific is required within your current surroundings and then in your approach to replicating their forage with chenille, hackle, and more.  The entire sport of fly fishing is something which requires a lifetime to develop competence, not expertise.  There are plenty of experts in their chosen waters, species, and conditions but there really aren’t fly fishing experts that can be dropped anywhere on the globe simply knowing what to do.

This rich pursuit of fly fishing is understood by many artists.  Some are anglers themselves and that brings a depth to their work that is not easily replicated.  A favorite artist of mine who understands this is Andrej Krysov.  If fly fishing is an art form already, his work certainly elevates it.  I had a chance to learn more about his own fishing and work in the following interview.  I hope you enjoy learning more about the artist and certainly take in the many samples included here.

 

How did you get started as an artist and angler?

I’ve been drawing and fishing my whole life. Specifically fly fishing 15 years. Four years ago, I decided to combine these two of my hobbies, and started to take pictures on a theme of fly fishing. I graduated from the Academy of graphic arts in Moscow and professionally engaged in the illustration of children’s books.



 

What is your “why” when it comes to creating your artworks?

Work on the pictures about fly fishing brings me more moral pleasure than material, I do completely different in technique and execution of the work, it’s drawings and watercolors and calligraphy and cartoons on the topic of fly fishing.

Where can those interested find more of your work samples?

I have a portfolio on behans website and I exhibit my works on Facebook page. I am grateful to all who are interested in my work and will answer the letter including about the purchase of my pictures. A big thank you to my friends.

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From Fry to Angler: Bringing Together Family and Fishing Gear

Family

“What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”

 Jane Goodall

Take a moment and remember being a kid.  Before we became jaded by the real world and when the smallest of surprises would just make your week.  That element of surprise and accompanying joy definitely gets numbed, even lost in adulthood.  One of those pure joys of childhood luckily stuck with me and still provides so much joy and that’s fishing.  I can still remember the lake by my house where countless bluegill and an occasional yellow belly catfish would just as well have been an Amazon adventure to this 6 year old Missouri boy. Family

For some fishing is just a hobby.  A way to kill some time and get away for a bit.  For many of us however, we got our start fishing because of someone important.  Someone took the time to show us we were important to them.  They took us for a walk to the lake or creek, showed us how to cast, bait a hook, and maybe even clean and cook our catch.  Even if it was a bore and you never went fishing again, it was a multi-hour investment of time that many quite frankly are not willing to make in the life of a child in today’s busy world.  That same feeling of being important enough that someone thought of us what From Fry to Angler delivers right to kid’s doorsteps nationwide.  The brainchild of Patrick McAnear, From Fry to Angler provides a Lucky Kid Tackle Box weekly to children all over the country.  Patrick is a passionate angler who wanted to do more.  He’s decided to make a difference with his non-profit that will hopefully play a pivotal role in the development of our nation’s future fishermen!  Always curious to learn more, we had a chance to catch up with Patrick McAnear to learn more.

Tell us about yourself?  Have you always been a fisherman or has that been an interest that’s developed over time? What’s your average day of fishing like? What fish do you target, preferred techniques, flies, etc. ?

I’m Patrick McAnear founder of From Fry To Angler a nonprofit that sends fishing tackle to kids all across America to get more kids involved in fishing. Also put on kids fishing tournament possible doing the worlds first online kids fishing tournament. From the time I was a kid my grandpa, mom, dad and uncle would always take me fishing. Some of my greatest memories are fishing with them when I was a kid. When I’m fishing I target bass I use jigs, drop shot and crankbaits for the most part.


Tells us the story how the nonprofit was started? 

I always fish with my little nephews and little brother when I get the chance.  My little brothers are just as crazy about fishing as I am and I always give them stuff I don’t use or was not planning on using and they love that. That’s when I came up with the idea to give that joy to others and I put together a box with tackle and started a Facebook page to find a kid to send it to Every week I kept making another box and sending it out.  The first few kids where local in Lubbock and then it started to spread across Texas and then New Mexico and just kept going into other states.  Now I’m sending boxes all over the US every week and it just keeps growing. The giveaway keep getting bigger and bigger.  We went from 1 box a week to 4 and I plan on getting as much out as I can. I want to give these kids fishing memories to last a lifetime as well as a reason to just get out of the house. The most touching box I have ever sent out was to a kid whose grandfather had always fished with him.  His grandfather passed away and the day of the funeral he put his favorite lure in his grandfather’s casket. That same day he got his Lucky Kid Tackle Box and some how I put that same lure in the box that he put in his grandfather’s casket!

How can others support your mission and help provide these kits to more kids?

Everyone is welcome to send in Tackle and lures to our P.O. Box that is found on the Facebook page they can also donate via PayPal or even just like and share the page also they can take a kid fishing.

If you had that one person take you fishing as a child, pay that forward!  A small donation of some tackle could not only make a difference in this child’s week but also start a lifelong love of fishing, the outdoors, nature, and more!



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The love of fishing and art run deep in Erik Schmidt’s work

Fishing Gear

Who and what we love is deep. It’s a part of who we are. In a 20 year study done at Cornell University, it was found that experiences rather than things have a lasting impact. An enduring happiness that far outweighed the happiness found in purchasing stuff like homes and cars. Experiences and the stories generated become our identity. They enrich us far beyond anything that can be purchased in an attempt to make us more interesting, appear smarter or more attractive.

Fishing Gear

The love of fishing shared by billions on planet earth runs deep for many. Like a lot of other endeavors, it’s importance in our life can be seen with a quick look at our calendars and checkbooks.  For some anglers however, that love runs deep enough to eventually physically become a part of you. Tattoo art is a truly amazing way to rep your love of all things fishing and if there’s anyone who knows this it’s Erik Schmidt. He “gets it” as an angler himself as well as a professional tattoo artist. We had a chance to learn more about his artwork and how he got started in a recent interview.

Tell us about yourself. How did you get started as an artist and angler?

I have always loved to draw and be creative within the visual arts world. I was an art major in college and during that period is when I started getting tattooed. I loved tattoos and I would try to draw my own tattoo designs. Fast forward and I have been a professional tattoo artist for over a decade at Neptune Tattooville in Neptune, New Jersey. This is where my “fish art” was born. I was asked to do a Snook fish tattoo on a friend who gave me the artistic freedom to create the design however I wanted. After I did the tattoo I was inspired to recreate the image on paper using watercolor paints in a “Tattoo Flash” style. Oddly enough, the tattoo inspired my art instead of the art inspiring the tattoo! My fish paintings have a lot of tattoo qualities. Bold, hyper-graphic, saturated images that are simplified and exaggerated to depict certain features of the fish species. So far I have done over thirty species and plan to keep adding new ones.

I began fishing as a young child with my dad and friends, mostly fishing in freshwater rivers and streams in central Vermont where I grew up. We would usually spin-cast on the White River and a few small brooks by my house. I especially loved fishing with light gear on a very small brook right behind the house, we would simply lob a worm or spinner into the small pools and catch brook trout. It amazed me that these fish could survive in such a small environment. 

After moving to the New Jersey shore fifteen years ago I have become an avid surfer. I feel at home by the ocean and connected to the way of life that revolves around it. After catching a large striped bass off of a friends boat I was amazed by the power and beauty these fish possess. I now surf-cast locally in Bradley Beach, Avon by the Sea and in Shark River Inlet when I have the time. Fishing is a very personal thing to me and I enjoy the solitude it provides.


Tell me about your favorite fishing experience?

My favorite story would have to be fishing on Marthas Vineyard with my dad in Lobsterville. He had never caught a Striped Bass “keeper” and we were scheduled to be on a ferry home that afternoon. It was our last chance to fish before we left and he was out at the end of the jetty methodically casting into the outgoing tide current with a little pink eel bait. Just before we were going to pack it up, he hooked into a really nice one! We landed it, got a photo for him and released the fish back quickly. The experience made the trip highlight for us both!

Where can folks learn more about your work?  

To see my paintings and other artwork, I’m on Etsy at Offshore Artwork.  My tattoo artwork can be seen on my Instagram page @erikcschmidt and erikschmidttattoos.com.

This may not be your cup of tea as an angler. Maybe you never intend to tattoo your body, much less with a fish image of all things. Regardless, what can be agreed upon is that Erik’s talent as an artist is strong. He’s skilled and appreciates the specimens that ultimately adorn the bodies of his clients. It shows in his work and that breathes life into the designs. The experiences and memories made fishing can bring last happiness. Erik’s work can bring that back for you every time you view his designs permanently made a part of you.


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Fishing for Gar on the Fly with Michael Bishop

This week I have the joy of stepping aside for a guest post about a topic gaining attention online pretty rapidly.  There a fewer fish species more despised than the Gar.  They are one of the most resilient creatures on earth, with fossils dating back to the Jurassic period onward.  So love them or hate them, they will likely be in rivers or lakes near you for many years to come.  Their physiology, specifically their swim bladder, allows them to stay out of water longer, inhabit waters with minimal oxygen, and even pollution yet they still thrive.  Michael Bishop is into a lot of things including an upcoming blog at Flyoholics.com but another interest he has is Gar on the Fly, a Facebook page full of fun pics, giveaways, and other good stuff.  I invited Michael to share more about his experience and provide some tips to both fly fishing novice and veteran get started with gar fishing on the fly.

When I tell my friends I went fly fishing for gar; their response is a ‘mixed reaction.’ Some of them look at me like I’m an alien that was dropped off by a UFO passing by planet earth. Others will get a big smile on their face, nod at me, and then begin to think of a way to call in sick to work. Most folks I know who fish for gar in this neck of the woods do so with the traditional method of live bait. When I tell my fishing friends I love fly fishing for the gar, they’ll say to me in utter disbelief ‘I can’t even begin to imagine what that’s like.’ I have to say, there’s a lot of truth to that statement. There are no words to describe what it’s like to catch a big, hungry, trophy gar on a fly rod.

My first encounter with Gar on the Fly was a complete accident. To be honest with you, fly fishing for Gar was the last thing on my mind. I was fishing for bass on a metropolitan lake, and I noticed quite a bit of commotion at the surface of the water. At first glance, it looked as if largemouths had moved into the shallows to feed on the spawning sunfish. With my inflatable boat in position, I quietly dropped the anchor down. The suspense of targeting these shallow-water largemouths was starting to eat away at me, or so I thought it was largemouth bass. The size of fish I saw made my jaw drop! Those weren’t largemouths attacking the schools of sunfish; they were Longnose Gar. And I do mean lots of Longnose Gar—some of them were absolute giants.

My family and I were new to the Ozarks, and I heard a great deal about Longnose Gar. However, this was the first time to see Gar. Knowing nothing to the contrary, I cast my bass-size streamers at the Gar. My frustration mounted as I hooked many gar, only to have them come off the hook and lose them.

I went home that night and searched for as much information as possible on fly fishing for Gar. The articles I found had one element in common: The writers spoke about using rope flies for Longnose Gar. Using rope flies, with no hooks, really sounded strange to me. But I decided to take the plunge and give the recommended rope fly a try.

Armed with my rope flies, I went back to the lake in search of the Gar. In 3 hours of fishing, I hooked over 15 longnose gar! The largest Gar maxed out at 40 inches long, and I missed some gar that was over 50 inches. The power and stamina of these gars were unbelievable! To say I became addicted to Gar on the Fly is an understatement, and the experience set me on the path to ‘Garmania’ and becoming the ‘Garoholic’ that I am today.

WHY FLY FISH FOR GAR?

Humans have persecuted few species of fish with such brutality to the extent that Gar has endured. During the 1800s, people used to blow Gar up with dynamite. They believed Gar would destroy the resident populations of game fish. Sadly, the myths and misinformation of the past have led some anglers to think the Gar is nothing more than a nuisance species.

Why do I I fly fish for Gar? To me, the mystique of fly fishing for Gar is very appealing. The Gar is a beautiful fish! Traditionally, anglers who fish for Gar use the conventional method of live bait and lures. Anglers who pursue Gar with regularity are a minority, and there are even fewer anglers who fly fish for Gar. Fly fishers who pursue Gar are a rare breed! There’s very little information published on fly fishing for Gar, and misinformation from the past may influence the writings that are available. Fly fishing for Gar is starting to become very popular with adventurous anglers who have a taste for different things. In fact, there’s even a new Facebook group ‘Gar on the Fly.’

Gar is the perfect fish for the beginning fly fisherman. Introduce someone who’s new to fly fishing for Gar, and I can almost guarantee you they’ll be fly fishermen for the rest of their lives. For the novice fly fisherman, the thrill of catching panfish is great fun. However, the experience of seeing a 40-inch fish strike your fly with the power of a freight train will etch itself into the memory of an ANY angler for years to come!

Fly fishers dream of taking exotic trips in search of the fish of a lifetime. Fly fishing for Gar offers one of the best opportunities for the angler to land your dream fish, right in your backyard. When I say Gar can provide you with the chance to land a real trophy fish, I mean that in a genuine way. I have access to 5 bodies of water where I regularly pursue Gar, all of which are close to home. Some of these fisheries hold outstanding numbers of enormous Gar. I’ve lost Gar on the fly rod that 55 inches long, and I’ve spotted some fish that were over 60-inches in length!

Gar is a great ‘stepping stone’ for the novice fly fisherman. Fly fishing for largemouth bass, pike and muskies require casting large flies tied on 3/0 to 6/0 saltwater hooks. New anglers can’t cast these larger patterns. The majority of flies we use for Longnose Gar are constructed from nylon rope, and they don’t require the use of hooks. The novice angler can get comfortable with casting larger flies without the fear of dealing with larger hooks, and this can help them to make the transition to casting large streamers gradually. Let’s get one thing straight: Casting 50 feet of fly line, in the wind, with a 6-to-12 inch long fly that tied at the end of your leader/tippet is not something to take lightly.

People who refer to the Gar as a ‘trash fish’ have never taken the time to study the facts. The great news is that anglers & fisheries managers both have seen the need to change this way of thinking. On a variety of lakes and river in our state, I’ve seen signs our Game and Fish Department have posted which show anglers how to tell the difference between the various species of gar. Here in my home state, fishers who are desirous to fish for alligator gar are required to have a special permit, and report catches of alligator gar to the Department of Game and Fish.

BASIC TACTICS

When it comes to fly fishing for gar, you need to think in terms of the gar’s preference for warmer
water. The months of July and August can be some of the best months to fly fish for gar, and we heartily encourage you to take advantage of this peak season. Fly fishing for Gar during the ‘dog days’ of summer is a bonus to the fishing season. Many of the game fish we love to catch will often be in a neutral/negative mood during the hot, daytime hours.

The angler who understands how gar responds to seasonal changes can pursue Gar throughout the calendar year. To this day, I hooked-and-lost my biggest longnose gar, ever, while fly fishing for walleyes in a local river during November. I spotted the gar sitting stationary at the bottom of a pool in the crystal-clear water. I cast the fly ahead of the gar, retrieved it, and let it sink down towards the gar’s mouth. The large female moved a few inches, inhaled the fly, and the battle was on. I left all of my gar flies/equipment at home because gar was the last fish on my mind in November. After a 15 min fight, I brought the gar close to my boat and had taken a section of rope from my anchor that I could use to land the fish. The hook fell out of the gar’s mouth, and I watched it swim off before I had a chance to bring it in for a picture. This longnose gar was easily over 55-inches long. It was a very painful lesson!

GAR LOCATION

We’ve all heard the old saying “90% of the fish hold in 10% of the water”. This statement certainly holds true for gar. In fact, gar are the very personification of the general rule! So before you plan a day’s outing in search of gar in a new body of water, spend some time exploring the waters that you intend to fish for gar. Not all watersheds are created equal, meaning that some rivers/lakes will naturally hold higher numbers of gar than other bodies of water do. A call to your local Game & Fish Dept, local bait shops, research on google/google earth, etc.. can all be excellent starting points to put you in the right direction. From my own experience, local Game and Fish officials love to hear from anglers who are wanting to pursue gar–especially when you tell them that you’re fly fishing for gar. After you’ve done some research and have located some perspective gar waters, you can then start exploring those waters.

While you’ll find the occasional gar swimming & surfacing throughout the water, the largest Gar will reside in areas of river/lake that meet their needs for food, shelter, and safety from the current. One of the most common patterns I have found in fly fishing for gar is a pattern of seeing a staggering number of gar found together in ‘wolf packs.’ Prime locations for aggregated gar are river bends, long pools & deep holes that hold schools of threadfin shad. Some of these holes are home to not only incredible numbers of gar, but will also hold some absolute giants. I’ve seen longnose gar in these prime areas that were easily over 60 inches long.

When you find these prime areas, take note of where those areas are located and mark them on your map. You can be sure that gar will be there from 1 season to the next season. And be alert as to what’s going on around you. Don’t make the mistake I’ve made on numerous occasions of paddling down the river and admiring the plant/animal life along the river bank–only to turn around and see that a 48-inch Gar was swimming alongside my boat. In August of 2017, I was startled by a 50+ inch longnose gar that was swimming alongside my boat. The Gar drifted back into the river depths before I had the chance to cast my fly out to it. It’s enough to drive you to mental insanity!

GEARING UP FOR GAR

When it comes to tying flies for gar, I’ll use downsized patterns early in the year. Other times to use smaller flies is when casting to gar that is in an inactive-to-neutral mood. A perfect example of this is the experience I mentioned earlier of missing my largest-ever longnose gar in cold water that was holding tight to the bottom of the pool. I will also use downsized flies when I see a longnose gar that is swimming about by itself. I’ll cast the fly slightly in front of the gar and let it pause, which will get the gar’s attention. They’ll move closer to inspect the fly. Once the gar is close to the fly, I’ll strip in about 1 inch of fly line to twitch the fly just a little bit, which often results with the gar inhaling the fly and the fight is on!

As previously mentioned, flies made out of nylon rope are prevalent for longnose gar fishing. Not only do these types of flies have great hooking percentages, but nylon rope also takes pen markings very well. Casting large flies for gar is very safe because gar flies do not require the use of hooks, which is advantageous for the angler that is new to fly fishing. In contrast to materials like zonker strips or rabbit strip hides, nylon rope flies don’t get water-logged. Even large gar flies can be relatively easy to cast with a balanced rod/reel. The peak summer months usually calls for fishing with larger patterns, or when dealing with hungry, aggressive gar. Fishing for gar in murky or stained water will also require the use of larger flies. It’s rare that I’ll fish with anything smaller than 7 inches long during the peak of the gar season.

Ideal rods for casting larger gar flies are in the 7- to 9 wt range. I carry two fly rods with me in the boat. Both of my rods have fighting butts on them; which helps provide some extra leverage when dealing with large gar. One of my reels contains a weight forward floating bass bug tapered fly line. The large taper of these fly lines does a great job to help you to cast larger gar flies.

My 2nd rod & reel is spooled with a wet-tip fly line that I can use when I need to get the fly down deeper. Fishing topwater gar flies with a wet-tip fly line results in a suspended or ‘jerk bait’ style of presentation, which has proven to be a very effective technique. You can add a little bit of weight to the hook shank to slow down the rate at which the fly will rise back to the surface. Slow-rising ‘jerk bait’ style of gar flies seems to trigger gar to strike more often than flies with a faster rate of descent do. Believe me when I tell you this: seeing a gar attack a diver/jerk bait style of fly that is slowly rising back to the surface is an incredible experience.

My topwater gar flies will often consist of nothing but nylon rope and diving heads made out of foam or cork. For both surface and subsurface fishing, I prefer to attach my flies to the leader with the traditional non-slip mono loop. I have not found wire leaders to be necessary for gar. The gar will eat the nylon rope fly, which results with a tangled fly in the gar’s teeth. It’s essential to carry a good pair of sharp scissors with you, which makes the job of cutting the fly from the gar’s mouth an easy task to do.

Various types of retrieves work well on gar, which is dictated by the mood and behavior of the fish. Most giant gar seems to prefer big, bulky flies that are stripped slowly at various depths. There are many times when the strike from a large gar is very subtle. These subtle takes will feel like mere bumps or taps. Anytime you think a fish is biting at the end of our lines; our natural reaction is to set the hook. Trying to hook the fish when you feel those bumps and taps will result in the fly pulled out of the gar’s mouth. When you get these little ‘bumps’ of a strike (and it’s very often a big fish on the end of your line that’s striking very subtly), let the fish go with the fly for about 10-to-15 feet. Don’t make the mistake I’ve made of immediately setting the hook in these moments. Let the gar take some line so that your nylon rope fly has a chance to get tangled up in the gar’s teeth. When this happens, you’ll often feel some ‘head shakes’ from the gar….that’s the time to set the hook. When you set the hook on them, tighten up on the fly line with your hand vs. setting the hook with the rod, and hold on! Once hooked, a big gar will make wild runs and leaps like few other fish do.

SAFETY IS VERY IMPORTANT

Be very careful when you do get the Gar close to the boat. Wild, thrashing, leaping gar have been known to jump right into your boat. Trust me when I tell you: an angry 40-inch fish won’t do be doing your legs any favors. Even their scales can cut your legs. Because of this, I always prefer fishing in my chest waders. I also love drifting and getting out of the boat to fish in the river as I’ll also be in search of smallmouths, largemouths, and panfish.

I’m personally in favor of wearing the gar down a little bit before trying to bring it in the boat with me. Gar will often be calmer and more manageable to catch-and-release. Leaving the gar in the water, I’ll tie a slip knot with some extra rope that I keep with me to put over the gar’s mouth. Just tighten the slip knot up and then bring the gar into the boat. Take along with you a sharp pair of scissors to help you cut the nylon rope from the gar’s teeth. A stiff brush should then be used to help you remove any remaining nylon rope fibers that may still be lingering on the gar’s teeth. A yardstick is a great help in holding the gar’s mouth open. Fish handling gloves, such as Lindy’s fish handling gloves, can go a long way in helping to protect your hands while removing your rope fly from the gar’s mouth. Keep a firm grip on the back of the gar’s head while extracting your rope fly. Be cautious as you remove the fly, as gar can explode on you when you least it.

Of all of the fish I love to pursue with a fly rod, gar is unquestionably near the top of the list. Prejudice and misgivings have kept many anglers from intentionally pursuing gar. However, I can assure you the first time you experience hand-to-hand combat with a trophy longnose gar; you will be suitably impressed.


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