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A mixed bag of big catch potential with Tailers & Chasers Guide Service

Nothing beats the experience of traveling to new destinations in pursuit of fishing adventure.  When I can’t do that first hand, being able to write about it is a close second.  Learning more about the species caught, methods used, and the big fish potential of new waters is one aspect of fishing that keeps anglers continually searching for their next conquest.

What’s great fun about this month’s feature is that Scott Smith is also a carp on the fly enthusiast.  While he has a plethora of opportunity in Ontario to pursue trophy smallmouth, largemouth, salmon, pike, walleye, and so many more, he’s got a real soft spot in his heart for the scaled whale.  We took some time to learn more about him, his guide service, Tailers and Chasers, and what their seasons and fishing opportunities look like for those interested in heading north (at least north from where I am) to try their hand at a mixed bag of big fish potential.

How did you get into guiding and why do you do it?

My father got me into fishing at around 3 or 4 years old, catching bass, walleye and muskie. It then grew from there, my fishing expanded from fishing with my father to fishing as much as possible with my friends from high school. Every winter/spring we would go to all the fishing shows to see what was new and the next big thing. I began to get excited for the upcoming season. Spring time, this also means steelhead. We traveled to the nearest tributaries to attempt to catch some steel. We had no idea what we were doing, but it was chance to get out and for the first time to fish, meet some people and connect. The obsession continued into college, meeting some more fellow fishermen. They also shared that same passion. I got introduced to fishing the tributaries of the great lakes year-round, by fisherman that knew what they were doing. I found the next best thing, for me. I travelled all over southern Ontario to catch migratory fish. I then made the switch to fly fishing and travelled to all the same places to catch migratory on the fly. I had found my niche.

I then moved to the city for work and my obsession for fishing the tributaries turned into a life style, but what to do in the summer months? Work was busy, not always time to travel to fish. So, I began researching carp, they were big, in every tributary, marsh and in the area that I lived in, so I joined a fishing club, MACO (match angling club of Ontario) & C.C.C. (Canadian Carp Club). My fishing repertoire was evolving from bait casting to spinning rod for warm water species and then float fishing, for everything, the obvious, Steelhead, Salmon and then Carp, yes Carp. Traveling to all the places, sometimes up to 3 hours away to fish these events and meeting new people to learn as much as possible to catch them in my area.  As much as I loved sitting, chumming and prepping bait, it wasn’t enough to feed the obsession. So, I began the quest to catch them on the fly, with little to no information on them doing this at the time. It took some time, but I finally managed to get one, two, and well now some almost fifteen years later, they are my obsession.


A few years ago, I took a job at a lodge in Northern Ontario and it was amazing! I set the Ontario fly fishing record for a walleye and got to meet a lot of awesome people. It was an unforgettable experience. It was then, that I knew I was meant to do this. I love to share my passion, help others teach and educate people to catch fish on the fly, while adapting, developing and to keep pushing the fly fishing limits.

What’s been my favorite experience/fish story I’ve seen first-hand as a guide?

It still amazes me how many people still are surprised that 1) I’m fishing for carp and 2) that I’m doing it on a fly rod. I just keep spreading the “CARPY” word and educating others that it is possible to catch a carp on a fly rod. My favorite first-hand experience, it is hard to pick just one, but to sum it up it’s got to be someone’s first fish of any kind but especially carp, as it’s such a visual thing. It’s you against the fish, you are on their turf.


Sight fishing for carp is not for the faint of heart, but it is definitely a thrill, a challenge and a rewarding feeling to have. It’s the ultimate rush, seeing fish, getting refused, spooking fish, but when you finally get it right, “the take” and the fight, man that fight! The satisfaction! Especially on the great lakes fish and big rivers. The carp definitely makes you a better fly angler, it tests every aspect of your game and your equipment, from persistence, stealth, patience, casting and ability to hook and land big fish. Man, I love carp on the fly.

What are the fishing opportunities where you guide & best times to hire me for a given species?

The main fish that I guide for are carp in the early spring, depending on snow and such it can be around mid-April. This is some of the greatest fly fishing you will see, as they are putting feed bags on before the spawn. After the spawn (around June) is also fantastic time to get them, as the water is warming up and so is their metabolism, they are active and feeding. They can be great in the big Lake “O” (Lake Ontario). I also have the option of chasing them in large river if the lake doesn’t cooperate. We fish them till September/October. All carp on the fly days are spot and stalk in shallow water. Canadian sight fishing at its finest.


South Central Ontario is blessed with so many opportunities, so muskie and bass (smallmouth and largemouth) days are also an option. Some days we do all three in one day. (carp, bass, muskie). We also have some unique catches as well such as suckers, walleye, perch, crappie and more.
In the fall, usually around September, salmon (Chinook & Coho) on the fly, and some lake run browns mixed in. Nothing pulls quit like a 20lbs fresh run salmon in a small creek. The fall is a mixed bag with carp, salmon, muskie, walleye and then steelhead, the fall is the toughest time, to choose a species, lots of options. Steelhead, as well as muskie is great in fall (October to November). Some winters (December to February) are fishable for steelhead, depending on snow and ice. Spring (March and April) is primetime for steelhead, again. Then the seasons start over again.

To learn more about Scott’s guide service and to book a trip to catch your own beast, his link and contact information is below!

944 Colonel Sam drive
Oshawa, Ontario
Get Directions

m.me/1332148830227971

Call +1 905-922-5153

tailers.chasers@gmail.com

Instagram: @tailers.chasers

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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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Fly Fishing the City: A sewer runs through it

“Discovery consists not in seeking new lands, but in seeing with new eyes” – Marcel Proust

 

It’s a part of our human nature that we long for adventure.  Being a fisherman means you are first an explorer. This need for new experiences is really part of our DNA. Fishing travel provides just a multitude of ways you can scratch this itch.  Tarpon on the Fly in Mexico, Giant Catfish in Spain, and an innumerable number of other adventures abound on earth to fill your bucket list.

For most, our job and home life precludes us from searching the four corners of the globe for new fish.  What the travel blogging community accomplishes is truly awesome for those who can swing it but for the rest of us, it’s about all we can practically manage to take a vacation each year or a short weekend out of town to satiate this need. While that is the reality for millions of anglers, one of the best aspects of this sport is that you can still accomplish plenty of new fishing experiences without stamping the passport.  Fishing firsts can be achieved in your own backyard if you’re willing to challenge your perception of a good catch or a good spot.  This year I’ve invested more time in uncovering spots to fish close to home.  Some are within reach of a short bike ride!  I’ve been amazed by what I’ve discovered.

After our CARPSTL group was formed earlier this year, I’ve met some really great guys that are in to Carp fishing and also know some interesting places about town to try.  I’ve found in recent years that the overlooked, undesirable fish species located in overlooked, undesirable locales can provide your most unexpected fishing adventures.  Joe Oelke from our group offered to show me around River Des Peres to see what we could catch on the fly.

The river Des Peres meets the Mississippi in south St. Louis. It’s known for one thing in particular; the smell. “The River of the Fathers” was named after the Catholic missionary efforts here in the 1700s. Floods here have inflicted damage to property, even taken lives and has led to efforts to channel the flow of water.  This is when the concrete “banks” were constructed.  It’s actually a mixed use sewer and storm drainage facility for thousands of residents. While it’s improved in water quality a lot over the decades, it’s not your picturesque Colorado trout stream. There are trophy smallmouth bass and trout waters just a couple hours away. So why bother fishing in this literal shithole? (just being presidential in my choice of descriptors here)

Guides and other serious anglers have discovered these opportunities in other cities.  A great example can be found in Houston with Danny Scarborough of Houston Fly Fishing Guide Service.  Running right through downtown is a drainage facility (the “concrete flats”) where a smorgasbord of fish species can be caught on the fly.  Tilapia, eels, Common and Grass Carp, Koi, bowfin, catfish, buffalo, mullet, redfish, bass, you name it.  Another great example is the LA River that has been the scene for famous movie scenes including Grease, Transformers, and more.  These aren’t just random anglers but sometimes professional fishing guides building their careers in what could be considered unconventional urban sport fishing.


Joe and I set out to ring in the Memorial Day weekend at sunrise Saturday morning. A short jaunt from the Walgreens parking lot and we were on the water. We’re seeking carp mostly, fly rod in hand. I have 6wt Berkeley Stinger rod I’ve had 25 years. Fly fishing has only recently become an obsession, brought on primarily in the pursuit of Carp on the fly. I’ve had some great fun landing carp on ultralight gear so fly fishing seemed to be the next curious step in this pursuit.

We were looking more than odd with our fly fishing rods and packs crossing Carondelet.  The bikers, runners, and random residents going about life were not stopping to ask what we’re doing and we were definitely the only ones fishing.  No worries there at all.  Undesirable species + undesirable locales=unexpected fishing adventures.

As we approach the shoreline, it’s clear (not the water) that there are no shortage of fish and activity in this river.  We spot gar near the surface, carp tailing and leaving bubble trails.  It’s maybe 10 minutes before we have our first fish – a short nose gar.  While some may throw them back on the shore, a gar is a great deal of fun on the fly.  They give good chase to most any offering.  For a newer fly fisherman, they are excellent practice.  Casting to targets you can make out regularly just below the surface greatly help in both accuracy and they also provide you some chances at long casts that can generate a catch.

We continue catching gar as the early morning quickly disappears.  Time is always evasive once you get fishing.  We cast to dozens of bubble trails and spot at least 50 carp but not one had interest.  The water clarity was too dark to ID them so our best guess was they were bighead or black carp or perhaps spawning with no interest in taking a fly.  Some grass carp were also evident near shore, feeding on and below random vegetation.

The landscape provided no shortage of views while we casted away.  Post-war bungalows and ranch homes from the 50s and 60s still line these streets.  The blocks untouched by modern home renovation standards like that seen in areas like Kirkwood or Brentwood where homes like this are leveled for a modern, more luxurious structures.  Much of the area still retains the charm of a bygone era.  Much like the fishing opportunity that is River Des Peres, this area has a peculiar beauty to be appreciated.

So yes, you are free to turn up your nose or plug it altogether if you won’t fish the River Des Peres but it’s your loss. There are a wide variety of species and in good numbers in select parts of this body of water.  You’ll get some crazy looks but you’ll also find some adventure.  This area is not unique to St. Louis by any means.  Get out and explore your local waterways.  Many teem with fishing opportunities to be enjoyed for those “seeing with new eyes”.



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A trip across the pond: Fishing gear for a variety of European Species with Jamie Sandford

Life is short and the fish to be caught are many! There are so many places to fish throughout this planet.  It’s a fact that has only become more and more apparent in recent years as the global reach of the internet empowers anglers to not just pursue new places to catch the fish they love but to also introduce them to new species of fish that reside in countries far from their own home waters.  With the goal in mind to continue expanding our angling borders here on River King Fishing, I sought out one of my Facebook friends in England to shed some light on what’s available there. We love Carp fishing here and that also applies to my buddy Jamie Sandford.  I came to know Jamie and others through one of my favorite Facebook pages, Carp Champions.  Jamie’s even recently designed a new line of ‘bespoke/alternative’ Carp patterns available on the U.K. market from Barbless Flies.  To learn more about Jamie, I included the below bio on Jamie straight from their page for it’s succinct background provided.

Jamie Sandford is 28 and lives in the North-West of England. He has fished from a very early age and in particular loves Lure fishing. Jamie enjoys fishing for a variety of species both in the U.K. and Abroad and has been lucky enough to catch some very special fish from Flats in Portugal, Rivers in Spain and Lakes in France. In recent years he has taken a real interest (and become a leading light) in one particular method – CARP ON THE FLY.

While we both love and spend so much time on Carp, we also wanted to learn more about the other species and techniques used in Europe to catch them. Jamie was kind enough to share his views and experiences.

Tell me more about your favorite fishing when you’re not pursuing Carp on a fly rod?  A big part of my fishing has primarily been lures. I have been lucky to fish abroad for the last ten years and mostly in Europe. Countries such as France, Spain and Portugal. One of my favourite places in particular is the RIVER EBRO in Spain. Here I target:

PERCH
CATFISH
BLACK BASS
ZANDER


I often take a guided trip towards the end of the year (September) with PRO PREDATOR FISHING ADVENTURES, Run and owned by British angler ‘Lee Carpenter’ who’s details can be found on Facebook.

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Intrigued by Jamie’s mention, I had to find out what exactly is a Zander.  Turns out it’s a member of the Perch family and while not of the same family of fish, Walleye are part of the same Genus (Sander) so they do have a resemblance to Walleye.  Perch happen to be the most represented fish species in Europe and the Zander even has some representation in the United States.  Less foreign of a species is of course Black Bass.  Americans might take offense at their prized gamefish being known as a “coarse fish” in parts of Europe.  Per Wikipedia, it’s not a scientifically based designation but more a perception that developed among anglers from the past.  Much like how Americans perceive Carp as “trash fish”while Europeans hold them in high regard as a sport fish.

“The distinction between coarse fish and game fish has no taxonomic basis.[2] It originated in the United Kingdom in the early 19th century. Prior to that time, recreational fishing was a sport of the gentry, who angled for salmon and trout and called them game fish. There was a view that other fish did not make as good eating, and they were disdained as coarse fish.[3][4] Coarse fish have scales that are generally larger than the scales of game fish,[2] and they tend to inhabit warmer and stiller waters.”

In stark contrast to the above opinions which diverge greatly as you cross the Atlantic, fishing for Black Bass in Spain pretty much mirrors what we do here in the United States surprisingly.  I enjoyed this excerpt from The Essential Guide to Coarse Fishing, titled American Style Freshwater Black Bass Fishing and a Recipe for Success

“Normally a pair of anglers share a small fibreglass boat, which they manoeuvre, using an electric trolling motor to steer them silently near to the bank where they cast to shore using favourite blue or gold Yensen and woodchopper spinning lures. Or they may prefer to troll up and down the reservoir to locate fish using rubber worm wrigglers. This is an exciting way to fish, the bites are frantic and the fight explosive.

After a successful morning, the catch is filleted and barbequed: with the rest of the family lunch is served by the shore with a glass or two of local wine. Angling in Spain at its best is a reflection of Spanish way of life in general and is very much to do with friends and family.”

That last line goes a long way in underlining the universal appeal of fishing.  You don’t need to be in Alabama or Washington to enjoy catching bass, grilling what you caught, and then washing it down with your beverage of choice.  Be it a full-bodied English Ale or an American lager that could be described as beer-flavored water, at the end of the day fishing is a great pastime and avocation to share with those you love.

Back to Jamie’s own experiences in Spain on the River Ebro.  Below is a quick video summarizing some of the Bass they caught there.

Fishing Gear

What does fishing look like on the River Ebro in Spain?  

A weeks fishing from a boat often includes fishing deeper sections of the river as well as shallow, Clear backwaters where bass and perch can be found amongst structure. Drop-Shotting softplastics and jigging weighted shads often scores Zander and Catfish in the deeper water, However, On my most recent trip (Sep 2017) Fishing Crankbaits in water up to 50ft scores many takes from a variety of species – Including a Perch, Zander and a bonus Carp, Which I lost in the snags of a sunken tree!  The picture of the lures above show the style of medium to deep diving lures used by myself and these are brands such as ‘Molix’ and ‘ILLEX’.

As you can gather from my interview, there are a variety of similarities and some differences in our fishing techniques and experiences.  A unifier for sure however is the love of the catch.  The pursuit  and strategy involved as well as the challenge to catch greater numbers and of course sizes of fish.  Much like runners seeking their new PB, we anglers pursue new records as well.  It’s great fun and a fantastic way to enjoy the outdoors whether you’re fishing the Thames, the Ebro, or the Missouri!


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Nocturnal Natives: Travel to Maine for Brook Trout Fishing at night

Our next featured guide offers a fishing experience you may not have tried before. For the avid fly fisherman, a challenge for both your senses and your angling skill. The opportunity to bring native Brook Trout to hand is a blast on the fly to begin with. Getting into some larger ones, even better. Now picture yourself at midnight on a gorgeous Maine river in the summertime. The light of the moon and the sound of the water captivate your senses until an 18” Brookie makes this experience euphoric.

It’s one of several unique guided offerings with Brandon Bichrest at Maine Fly Guide service. With 22 years of experience in the Rangeley region, Moosehead region, upper Penobscot, Androscrogin River, much more, he’s helped fishermen catch anything from Northern Pike and Smallies to lake fishing for Browns and Rainbow Trout.  Brandon has also traveled internationally, collecting an impressive variety of fly fishing firsts in his personal fishing pursuits. We had a chance to learn more about him and the opportunities available in Maine.

Tell us your story.  How did you get into the profession and why do it?  I grew up in a family of not so serious fishermen. When I was 5 or so I started to show a strong interest in fishing. My father learned more about it and taught me what he could. He made sure to get me to the water one way or another.  From the age of 10, I became obsessed. My family had a camp on a great bass and pike fishing lake.  I would fish all day and some times all night off the docks and in my canoe around the cove.  I remember breaking fishing poles almost every week. During those years I realized my love for fishing. When I was 17 I started fly fishing. I was a self taught fly fisherman for many years. I began fly fishing because of all the big native brook trout and salmon I would see pictures of that were caught in Rangeley Lakes region had my attention. I would drive up there and fish all day several times a week. I had a tough time catching fish in the beginning but knowing the quality of the fish in those waters drove me to keep trying. After many trips and failed attempts, I started to put the pieces together and began to find sucess. I became obsessed with fly fishing! I am now 30 and I have not slowed down with my learning of fly fishing.  I fish or guide for Brook Trout, landlocked Salmon, Northern Pike, and Smallmouth Bass, Largemouth Bass, Brown and Rainbow Trout. I have many repeat customers, with some that have hired me 30+ times.

I guide because I love to fish.  If I had a different job I would always be looking out the window wishing I was fishing. I have traveled and fly fished for Tarpon, Snook, Redfish, Jack Crevalle, Sea Trout, Sharks, King Salmon, Peacock Bass, Oscars, other Cichlids, and Alligator Gar.
As a guide I truly enjoy putting clients on to fish of any type. Even more so I enjoy putting clients on their first fish of a given species.
Do you recall any memorable stories from your first hand experiences with clients? 
My favorite type of trip is guiding someone who has never fished before or maybe have not tried fly fishing before. Some times first time fly fishing clients simply enjoy wearing waders and learning how to safely walk in the water.  A particular trip that stands out in my mind was when I was guiding two women on their first fly fishing experience. I talked them through buying their waders before our trip and I supplied them the rest of the gear. They had never walked in the water with waders on. I had a safe approach to a scenic pool in a narrow river of crystal clear water planned in mid-May. We walked in to the water and I instructed them on the very basics of how to cast, we were casting anywhere from 2′-5′ as any new fly fisher knows it can be a real challenge to learn. I situated Pam in as afe casting spot and set her to practice casting as I got Kristin to another safe casting spot about 20′ downstream.  We no more than turned our back before Pam began yelling “I think I have one!”.

I thought ‘no way she must be hooked on bottom’ then her line pulled across the pool! I quickly realized she had a nice fish on the line. I ran up her way while the fish and the line were both going crazy. We had not got to the part to teach her about line control yet, the line is everywhere and so is the fish. The line is tangled in the reel, the fish is up near the shore getting tangled in some sticks, then the fish makes it’s way out of the sticks. The line, the reel, and Pam are doing the best they can but the rod tip is bouncing faster than I had ever seen. We had strong pressure on the fish, then a lot of slack line so it was amazing to me the fish stayed hooked. The fish finally came close enough to be netted and we beheld the 18″ Brown Trout.  I shared proper fish handling technique, snapped a photo, unhooked the streamer, and quickly revived the fish.  We all then watched it swim off into that crystal clear pool.

For clients who are avid fisherman, I love guiding fly fishing trips in the dark! We fish throughout the night 9pm-5am. To fly fish in the dark hours you need to know exactly where you are going and exactly what your tactics will be when you get there. A typical night time trophy Native Brook Trout hunt would consist of meeting at 9pm after we meet and equip our selfs for the night we will hike about a 1/2 mile through the woods to the first pool we would fish and further as we move through the night. A typical night would consist of catchin 3-8 Brook Trout from 14″-22″ on average. These are aggressive, strong fighting fish. We will cast large flies and always practice catch and release of these native Brook Trout. Some of our catches encountered are among the finest Brook Trout you’ll find in the country.

As much as I enjoy fly fishing in the dark, I still enjoy fly fishing during the day too.  A spring time float trip down a narrow river on a very under-fished section casting large flies at large Brook Trout is a past time that I will always thoroughly enjoy! Also sight fishing for Northern Pike in the springtime during their spawn, throwing huge flies to massive fish is as exciting as any fishing you’ll find in Maine. Then if you are looking for fast action, a smallmouth bass float trip on the Androscoggin River during mid summer we can expect to land 40-60 smallmouth bass up to 20″.

 

 

What are the best fishing opportunities where you guide? When are the best times for a given species?
Native Brook Trout – any time May through Sept 30th via Float and Fish or Wade and Fish
Landlocked Salmon – April 15 through November 30th Float and Fish or Wade and Fish
Northern Pike – April 20 through June 15 Float and Fish or Wade and Fish
Smallmouth Bass river float trips – July 15 through October 30, 5 mile float trip
Brown Trout – October 20 through November 30 Float and Fish on a small mountain pond

The below accommodation options will help get you started if Rangeley is your home base but take a look at the Booking.com search box below for more locations and availability. According to TripAdvisor.com, these are the Best Value for Traveler Ranked ratings in town:

  1.  The Rangeley Inn
  2. Rangeley Saddleback Inn
  3. Town and Lake Motel

Make a lifelong memory this summer accomplishing a fishing first. A big Native Brook Trout at night is a great place to start!

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An adventure of a lifetime: The Wels Catfish of Mequininza

For many anglers there’s a goal. It’s a reoccurring dream of catching the fish of a lifetime. A massive Swordfish, Halibut, or perhaps a Goliath Grouper. Another fish species that grows to giant proportions is the Wels Catfish. Known for not only their size but also their fierce nature and impressive strength, the Wels reigns supreme in many European waterways.  Anglers also seek out the Wels for the pure physical challenge that is fighting and bringing them to hand. The below video Dino Ferrari's exceptional catch from the Po River in Italy, tells an amazing story. More than an hour was spent to get this truly amazing photo opportunity.

At first glance it may appear that this is a truly rare feat. To break a record yes, however if you want a triple digit photo opportunity of your own with a Wels Catfish, it’s a regular occurrence on Spain’s Ebro River in Mequininza. Catmaster Tours is the guide service to make this happen.  If you’re also hesitant thinking the long trip maybe for naught, the odds are strongly in your favor of landing a truly massive Cat.  Per the Catmaster site:

"The size of Catfish you can expect to catch on our tours would be in the 70-250lb range with the majority of anglers catching Catfish over the magical 100lb mark. Normally you can expect one in three Catfish you catch to be over 100lb in weight.”

I had the chance to interview with John Deakin who has been a guide with Catmasters for over 15 years.  He's had the opportunity to guide for anglers from all over the globe and has helped land record fish in Spain.  The great fishing and beautiful landscape draws travelers looking for a unique travel adventure.  "We have had several American and Canadian customers over the years and we have also been filmed for Canadian TV”  

How did you get started and why do you guide? I went for a family holiday in Spain in about 16 years ago at the same time my friend Glen Patterson was fishing on the river Ebro in Spain with www.catmastertours.com he did very well and caught the new Spanish record Wels Catfish weighing 192 pounds (see photo) Colin Bunn recognized Glen was a good fisherman and offered him a job as a guide for his company unfortunately Glen had too many commitments in England so he recommended that Colin spoke to me l came to visit Glen while he was fishing in Spain and spoke to Colin and after some negotiations Colin offered me a job as a Catfish guide with Catmasters.  We have had several American and Canadian customers over the years and we have also been filmed for Canadian TV
Travel

Your favorite memory or story from guiding?
I have caught THOUSANDS of Wels Catfish for my customers at an average of 400 per year during my 15 years as a guide on the River Ebro and l have had many memorable moments during that time  l think my most memorable moment would possibly be when l pulled the river record fish into my sling l looked at the fish and my breath was taken away the fish was laying on its side and it was over 3 feet wide from the top of it,s head to the base of its belly i told the customers it was the biggest fish l had ever seen and they where all very excited we zeroed the sling and scales and weighed the fish what an incredible fish it was weighing in at 235 pounds a record for the river at that time (see photo) we photographed the fish and released it to fight another day.

If you truly have luck on your side, you could break a record. Breaking a record has more incentive than just bragging rights by the way. Per the Catmasters site:
“We at CatMaster Tours have held the unofficial Spanish record for Catfish for a number of years for both normal and albino Catfish. If you beat one of our records you will be entitled to a free trip back with us.”


When is the best time to seek out and catch these Wels Catfish?

When the weather conditions suit you best, as we catch plenty of Catfish from March until December. We have caught 200lb+ Catfish every month from February until December.  June to October are the best months to catch numbers of Catfish as the weather is most stable.  The best chance to catch a 200 lb+ Catfish?  We have caught 200 lb+ Catfish in every month except for January, But the best times are March/April and September to November.

Wondering what’s included for this expedition to Mequininza? You can fish from 6am to midnight included. Accommodations and food can be delivered to you right on the shoreline. Bait is additional and not a negligible cost averaging around 100-150 pounds.

If it's your dream as well to land a Wels Catfish of a lifetime, take a look at Catmasters for an international adventure you will never forget!

Carp and Catfish fishing in Spain

Facebook: @catmastertours

Paul Duhig

paul@catmastertours.com



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A Traveler’s Perspective: Cypress stands and Crappie slabs at Reelfoot Lake

While it's great fun to research, interview, and ultimately write about great fishing travel opportunities for the entire family, when you get to instead do the catching firsthand, well that's of course much better.  I was lucky enough in March to get to fish Reelfoot Lake in Tennessee.  A short 3+ hour drive from St. Louis, Reelfoot provides a variety of outdoor opportunities for anglers. Big Crappie, Catfish, duck hunting, and eagle watching are synonymous with Reelfoot Lake.  The Crappie are especially the draw during the spring season so I was grateful to try it out with my friend Hosea Bartlett.

Reelfoot Lake

Another draw to this area is the unique natural beauty that surrounds you.  Reelfoot was formed in the earthquake that ravaged this part of the country in 1811.  An earthquake so significant, the Mississippi River flowed backwards for hours due to the violent shift of the landscape starting near New Madrid.  The United States Geological Survey describes the event like this:

The earthquakes caused the ground to rise and fall - bending the trees until their branches intertwined and opening deep cracks in the ground. Deep seated landslides occurred along the steeper bluffs and hillslides; large areas of land were uplifted permanently; and still larger areas sank and were covered with water that erupted through fissures or craterlets. Huge waves on the Mississippi River overwhelmed many boats and washed others high onto the shore. High banks caved and collapsed into the river; sand bars and points of islands gave way; whole islands disappeared. The region most seriously affected was characterized by raised or sunken lands, fissures, sinks, sand blows, and large landslides that covered an area of 78,000 - 129,000 square kilometers, extending from Cairo, Illinois, to Memphis, Tennessee, and from Crowley's Ridge in northeastern Arkansas to Chickasaw Bluffs, Tennessee. Only one life was lost in falling buildings at New Madrid, but chimneys were toppled and log cabins were thrown down as far distant as Cincinnati, Ohio, St. Louis, Missouri, and in many places in Kentucky, Missouri, and Tennessee.

A notable area of subsidence that formed during the February 7, 1812, earthquake is Reelfoot Lake in Tennessee, just east of Tiptonville dome on the downdropped side of the Reelfoot scarp. Subsidence there ranged from 1.5 to 6 meters, although larger amounts were reported.


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Visitors today take in the view of a lake that is punctuated with stands of Cypress trees throughout.  The bald eagles make their nests in these trees and make for some great viewing while you wait for the fish.  The lake is mostly shallow, averaging about 5 feet with the deepest part of the lake not even 20 feet deep.

Cypress Point Resort

Our package included a two night stay, boat use, minnows and crickets for bait.  You can't forget the all important free coffee in the morning too!  The room was perfect for two guys just looking for a comfortable place to sleep between fishing and eating.  What stands out at Cypress Point is the great service and attentiveness to your needs.  The staff are full of energy and always happy to help you get setup for fishing.  They usually have what you need before you remember you need it. The lures, gear, and of course the boat ready to go when you are. An all around great service experience here.

David Blakely's Guide Service

We booked an outing with David Blakely who Hosea had hired before.  We got plenty of rain Friday so on Saturday morning the lake did not look good.  David was actually concerned we might not be happy with the result and offered to take us out Sunday instead.  We chose to still give it a go and while it was still raining on the way to the lake, this was our view setting up at the first spot.

This fishing experience was much more than I expected. Crappie don’t grow to 10-20lbs. They’re not known for their leaping ability. They don’t particularly fight hard and don’t take you along for the ride on 25 yard runs. We weren’t wielding ultralight gear but extra long baitcasters, pulling these fish straight up from a depth of only a few feet.


The challenge showed up however in the ebbs and flows of the bite. 10 minutes, maybe 30 go by with nothing. Suddenly there’s 3 rods bent with Crappie totaling 5 lbs. You have seconds to respond or they’re gone as the hooks will pop out or tear through their paper mouths.

David thrives as a guide in this environment. He’s got a net under your fish by the time you react to a bite. He’s as committed to you getting these slabs in the boat as humanly possible. Quickly moving from Port to Starboard and in between the 3 seats on the bow, he keeps the keeps the lines rigged, at the productive depth, and off the timber. It’s quite an operation!

While the fight is short bringing in these fish, keeping up with the action on the bow will undoubtedly keep you entertained. Hosea and I just had a blast. To boot, the end result of 24 Crappie totaling 39.7lbs was far beyond our expectations.

Later we had a true southern style lunch at Boyette's Dining Room. I considered the frog legs and quail before going with the fried shrimp po boy. While the fishing is of key importance, the food is up there in priority too!


After our early day on the water with David, we took out a boat ourselves, already included in our package. David even helped us get started with mapping out a locatiuron and an approach to use to catch Crappie. Cypress Point provided the minnows and we were off. We found a quiet cove in an about 20 minute boat ride. Fishing was slow and we only had a drum to show for our efforts but the lake was just gorgeous!

Cypress Point has staff on hand who will filet your catch. That day the going rate was $.50 a fish so for about $10 we enjoyed a beer that evening and outsourced the mess. Hosea shared some lively conversation with the team there while I grabbed a hot shower.
We grabbed dinner at Blue Bank Resort and enjoyed a great variety of appetizers, including some deep fried pickles and chicken wings. The strawberry spread on the free rolls are just killer too!


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The next morning we repeated the process taking out a boat on our own, this time trying a spillway. The temperature had dropped almost 20 degrees overnight so the fish were not cooperating. We were grateful for having gone out Saturday while the getting was good! The experience of 2 trips with really no success helped underline how essential the expertise of a fishing guide can be. That is especially true of Reelfoot Lake. The boat ride between the ramp and our spots was a labyrinth where a newbie could quickly get lost. Your guide can literally be the difference between catching the largest poundage of Crappie you’ve seen and getting skunked entirely. We’d gladly recommend David if you’re considering a trip to Reelfoot Lake.

The experience was one that any angler would appreciate. I admit I’m only lukewarm on Crappie fishing but wanted to try something different. I was really impressed by the great time I had. My family really enjoyed the Crappie bake that Sunday night too. It really changed the minds of 3/4 of us about keeping and eating fish. I’ll always be a CPR (Catch-Picture-Release) practitioner primarily but on rare occasion, keeping a good eating fish is highly rewarding. Crappie are hard to beat in this regard!

If you already love Crappie fishing and are looking for a great opportunity to get into some big ones or some solid numbers in a beautiful setting, Reelfoot Lake is hard to beat. You may have some time left in this spring season but even if not, there's plenty of other great fishing there year round that's worth a look. You'll be impressed. I know I was!

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Big Oklahoma Paddlefish, Catfish, Bass, and more with BZ Guide Service

The variety of fishing available in this country is seemingly endless. So far we have profiled professional guides that specialize in species as varied as Musky to Carp, Crappie to Trout, Tarpon to Bass, Walleye, and more. Our next feature, BZ Guide Service in Grove, Oklahoma is no exception.
Starting out as a tournament bass angler, Zack Rumple has gone on to guide on Grand Lake utilizing a variety of approaches. This reservoir has a lot to offer anglers and has a healthy population of many species but BZ is known for catching Paddlefish. Much like Gar and Sturgeon, Paddlefish are a fish once seen, are not forgotten. Resembling a creature that likely swam with the dinosaurs, Paddlefish can grow very large and can make for a unique angling experience. We sought out Zach to learn more about Grand Lake and what fish his guide service can help put you on.


Tell us your story. How did you get into this profession and why do you do it? I started bass fishing tournaments with my father (Mike Rumple) at the age of 6 years old and we won many local bass tournaments as a father-son duo. Once reaching the age of 19, I bought my own bass boat and began fishing tournaments locally with some sponsorship help. In 2009 I sold dang near all my fishing equipment besides just enough to pond fish. I moved away from Grand Lake chasing a welding career until 2012 when I finally moved back to Grand Lake and bought a home.


An older gentleman named Hank Souders was a local guide and he was a good friend to my father. I asked him one day if he'd teach me about Paddlefish. The date was set Hank and I went out not once but time and time again. I ended up asking Hank about guiding his and response was, "I'm getting to old to pick up these big fish". He offered to sell me everything which is how I got started. BZ Guide Service then became the name of my business by combining the first name initials from my son Brennan and myself, Zach.


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What's been your favorite experience/fish story you've seen first-hand as a guide? In 5 years of offering the public guided fishing trips, I have too many to list as favorites. A couple that stand out include monster fish though. The first trip was in 2016 with a man named Donald from Minnesota. Donald and I along with 2 other buddies went out on a rainy cold Oklahoma spring day targeting Paddlefish. We did not get on a lot of fish but boy the 9 fish we boated were anywhere from 20lbs to 92lbs. We put 485lbs of live fish in the bottom of the boat in 4hrs!

The other one that stands out was a time with some friends. It was a catfish trip where we had a monster 44lb BlueCat come into the boat along with two other fish at 20lbs a piece. All these fish came out of 4ft of water along with getting into other lines as well as the anchor ropes multiple times. We literally had a 3 ring circus on board and how we managed to land these fish is still beyond me!

What are the fishing opportunities where you guide? When are the best times for a given species? BZ Guide Service in NE Oklahoma offers mulitple fishing trips for all types of anglers. Some specialties include Paddlefish, Catfish, Crappie, Whitebass, and Bowfishing.
Paddlefish trips begin in December and go through 1st of May.
Catfishing trips run best through November until 1st of May.
Crappie fishing is great all year round besides the hot months of July, August, and September.
Whitebass typically begin March through July.
Bowfishing begins June and wraps up in September.


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If you are looking accommodations lakefront and especially for groups, the Bunk House and the Boat House are a couple of cozy options right on Grand Lake. Pair either option with a unique angling experience in the heart of the Midwest by booking BZ Guide Service in Grove, Oklahoma.
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A traveler’s perspective: Tarpon on the fly with Brandon Janosky

There are few images more iconic in the world of sport fishing than when your catch dances across the water on their tailfin. It’s the distinctive draw of trout and bass for millions. Their strong fighting ability and leaps from the water; it’s what turns many avid fishermen into fanatical anglers. While bass and trout garner much of the popularity, for acrobatics the Tarpon is truly king.

While this experience is still on my bucket list, Brandon Janosky is a fellow angler and St. Louisan that has just recently experienced their fighting ability first-hand. Between a demanding career, family life, writing a book, and a variety of other hobbies, Brandon is an angler with the goal to catch a variety of species with his fly rod. In this installment of Adventure Finder, we’re profiling from the traveler’s point of view, catching Tarpon on the fly in Mexico.

Can you share a bit about yourself: Along with my partners, I run a sports-tech focused venture capital fund and business development accelerator in St. Louis. When I’m not managing a portfolio of 25 early stage sports technology companies, I’m probably plotting my next chance to get on the water. Of course, that’s between keeping up with my 3 kids and all their activities. Athletically, I’ve focused on everything from triathlon (Ironman) to 100 mile trail races (sub-24 hrs), to the dog mile, when my vizsla and I ran a 4:35 mile. I have carved my own pipes out of briar, brewed my own cider, and even written my own children’ picture book. Needless to say, I’ll try anything.

What does your “normal” fishing look like? Lately, I have become fanatical about fishing, always looking for the next adventure and opportunity to get a line wet. Around St. Louis, I’m a fairly dedicated bass fisherman because it’s what I know. I’m trying to gain more skills and understanding around other species from catfish and crappie, to carp and gar. Catching all of these on a fly, is a goal I have set for 2018. But it’s what’s outside my region that excites me most. Places off the beaten path. Locales that have high adventure written all over them.


Where did you get the interest to fly fish for Tarpon? An email from an avid angler friend of mine immediately had me watching YouTube videos of tarpon. The hook this time? Volume. Tons of them. Baby and juvenile tarpon in numbers you couldn’t even hope to count. I had spent a couple days on guided trips in Florida being skunked, without even the chance to throw bait in front of a tarpon, so this was a warmly welcome trip. And warm it was!

How was your trip? Villahermosa, MX in the Tabasco region in November was spectacular. This is a highly underappreciated fishery. Little to no pressure makes for spectacular fishing. Everything about the logistics from airport transfers to lodging and meals is rolled into one quite reasonable fee for an international all-inclusive trip. Staying at a local Marriott, yet feeling like it was a customized trip, was a very pleasant surprise. My group could eat anything from the menu, or order something special. Gar ceviche! Snook! You name it! We also ate at several local restaurants, all with the company of our bi-lingual guide. We even had a special breakfast prepared for us before heading out early to fish each day. Quatro huevos revueltos, por favor.


The only thing not included at the hotel ($45/nt by the way) was alcohol – which was cheap! We took a 6 day trip that packed 4 full days of fishing in the middle. The river along which we fished was loaded with tarpon, and at other times of the year will have an abundance of Snook.

But the end of that yellow brick road, a large lagoon, is literally teeming with tarpon at times. Pods of 10, 50, or 100 were all over! So many fish it’s overwhelming because… where do you cast!? And it wore me out! On my “worst day,” I only brought 6 tarpon to hand, of the dozens that I hooked. On my best, 40 tarpon to hand and too many misses, spits, takes, shakes, drops, and breaks to count.

I split my time between fly fishing and spinning gear depending on the exhaustion level of my hand/shoulder, the wind, and the necessary cast distance. This was warmly welcomed by the guides. NO judgement there. Just people who want to put you on fish all day long.


What was your favorite memories from the trip? Taking a break around noon for a homemade lunch under the branches of exotic looking mangroves, the only sound was the screeching and roaring of howler monkeys. Spine tingling and relaxing at the same time! You’re instantly reminded that you’re in the wild. A jungle atmosphere, a cold Corona, and a seemingly endless supply of acrobatic tarpon ranging from a few pounds, to a solid 25. Sounds luxurious, sure, but it has a gritty feel from time to time that may put you out of your comfort zone. That’s actually right where I want to be.

I had a guide one day that literally spoke no English. Not. A. Word. I cobbled together a few phrase I could remember from sophomore year of high school to get me by. It was amazing that we were able to communicate still. We bonded over music that we both liked, and a shared passion for keeping the line in the water. “Uno mas” or, one more, became our go-to phrase. That was an experience I did not expect, but I am glad I embraced it. My guides the other three days spoke either good, or fluent English. The hospitality and amenities at the hotel were awesome. The staff, guides, van driver… everybody we met, was friendly. And the baby tarpon are ferocious.

They don’t do anything half-assed and they won’t go easy on you. Imagine trying to land steelhead, but they’ve got harder mouths, and like to jump more. Oh, and instead of freezing near-to-death in Michigan, your concern is keeping enough sunscreen on!  I can’t recommend this trip to Fly Fishing Tabasco, enough.

Whether you’re a fly fisherman looking to get your first Tarpon on the fly, love to travel outside your comfort zone, or are just looking for a warm escape, check out Fly Fishing Tabasco to learn more about this experience. Another accommodation option is the Hyatt Regency Villahermosa.
In addition to this trip, Brandon published his illustrated children’s book, Daddy Tries, on Amazon in 2017. This book aims to help bridge the gap between the edgy side of multisport and the side that makes health and fitness seem achievable to the youngest generation of athletes.

 



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Fishing fun for the whole family at Kentucky Lake

Fishing fun for the whole family at Kentucky Lake

Kick'n Bass Kentucky Lake Crappie

Our first Adventure Finder location to feature is Kentucky Lake.  Kentucky Lake is known for it's fishing.  Smallmouth, Spotted, Largemouth, White (5lb state record was caught here), and Yellow Bass, Crappie, Sauger, Catfish, you name it.  It's 250 square miles of solid outdoor recreation and is about 200 miles/3 hour drive from St. Louis.

Rich Bay from Kick'n Bass has ran his guide service in Benton, Kentucky for years like his grandfather before him.  He welcomes visitors to come enjoy all that this lake has to offer.  What I noticed about Rich's guide service was the appeal for the entire family.  A variety of fish to catch, comfortable accommodations, and an experienced, knowledgeable guide.  I reached out to Rich to learn more about why he chose to become a fishing guide and learn more about his story.

 1) Tell us your story.  How you got into the profession and why you do it?  

I love to fish and meet new friends! I have fished my whole life. My goal is to share my lake knowledge and fishing techniques with other fishermen to make your day on the water both fun and rewarding. My greatest satisfaction is seeing happy fishermen and women with a big smile on his or her face.

After 20+ years as a fireman I was blessed enough to retire to my favorite place in the world, Kentucky Lake. Following in my Grandfathers footsteps as a fishing guide is a dream I’ve had since I was a boy and now I’m living my dream!!! And now my grandkids are learning. My goal is to share my lake knowledge and fishing techniques with other fishermen to make your day on the water both fun and rewarding.

 

2) What's been your favorite experience/fish story you've seen first hand as guide?  I'm on the water a lot whether guiding or not, searching for those special areas that attract game fish and finding out the best baits and patterns that work here on Kentucky Lake. I am in the fishing business to pass on things I have learned to you, the angler. Not only will I put you where the fish are, but I will also teach you how and where to use lures and techniques that you may have only read about. Everyday I learn something new, which helps keep my excitement of fishing going.

My favorite story was a family from Louisville, Ky. The dad was a Child head and neck oncologist...tough job. He brought his four children along for a catch whatever bites trip. We fished in a steady rain most of the day. Those kids smiled and laughed and hollered in joy for every fish we caught.  One of the most rewarding trips I've ever had! 

 

3) What are the fishing opportunities where you guide on Kentucky Lake? When are the best times for a given species? In March I start spider rigging for Crappies until the water reaches to 50+ degrees. At that temp, I start pulling crankbaits for crappies in the deeper bays.   I made this video with Kentucky Afield TV awhile back as an example.

Once May rolls around it's Redear/Bluegill time. When found on their beds there is no better fighting fish...and tasty too! Once June comes in I start casting Steelshad Bladebaits and Ken's Hybrid Spinners for Whitebass and Yellowbass. Then near end of August and beginning of September I switch back to pulling cranks for Crappies. Of course, during all of this fishing, a mixed bag of fish species will be caught. Largemouth, Catfish, Sauger etc.

Paducah, Kentucky is a short 35 minutes or so from Benton where Rich is located.  There is plenty to do in town as part of spring break or an extended weekend trip.  The kids might enjoy the River Discovery Center where they can learn about the importance of rivers to everyday life, especially in the Midwest.

http://www.riverdiscoverycenter.org/

There's plenty of shopping, dining, and a variety of activities in town for the kids between bowling, paintball, roller skating, movies, equestrian sports and more.

https://www.paducah.travel/things-to-do/recreation-and-sports/family-fun/

There are plenty of great accommodation options for the whole family in Paducah.  A great place to start would be the Holiday Inn.  With a very high Traveler Rank on TripAdvisor and their solid reputation, this is a strong one to consider.

Another highly rated option for consideration in Paducah is the Candlewood Suites.

If you want stay in town near Rich, a simple, low-cost option in Benton for a guys-only fishing trip could be the Benton Inn.

To book Captain Rich for your trip to Kentucky Lake, his contact details are below.

Captain Rich

270-205-7603

http://www.kicknbass.net/

Facebook: @kicknbassguideservice

 

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