Sunday, July 27, 2014

Sunday Funday

HD said he was heading out to the big river in his new (to him) Roughneck and asked if I wanted to find a boat mate and tow mine down as well.  Sounded good to me.  The river was low and the fishing was tough but MK was a sport on front gunner's nest and kept firing flies to likely locations.  I wish we'd have seen as many smallmouth as we did canoes...

Photo from MK

In addition to eating MK's fly...

...It had previously eaten this.

Poling platform or coffee table.  Your Choice.

MK connected

Not big, but...

MK working the wall

Boat Show tearin' it up.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Pole Clips

It took a little trial and error but I was able to come up with some DIY pole clips for the boat that
1. Hold the pole in place while motoring or trailering.
2. Don't interfere with the option to row
3. Don't cause a line snagging issue from for the bow caster.

Here is how it went...

1 1/4" Schedule 40 PVC...

...worked out well but I was a little concerned with the strength of the bolt hole area.

UHMW - great stuff

2 identical for the bow and stern and a mirrored version for the midline

snapped tight...and doesn't mar the pole

Sturdy with just enough spring to POP the pole in.

Good clearance so it doesn't rattle on the road.

Revised Bow version...

...snaps down when fishing and doesn't grab line.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Platforms On

I'll just shut up and show you the pretty pictures...

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Making Good (From Brother Bill's Lens)....

Brother Bill sent along some shots and he was kind enough to allow me to post them here.  The boy knows his way around a camera.

Making Good

Last January or February (although I think it was January) while the temps were hovering at -30, I sat at a bar with my "colleagues' and painted a rosy picture.  All of us on a stream, fishing, happy....

And then, spring is gone, and summer moves in and winter's fables lack the urgency and the definiteness of the cold weather version.  The imagination and the off season have a way of over-dosing us on the summer will ever hold the capacity that deep winter's daydreaming prescribes...

But tonight, I find myself astream with 3 of these guys.  All of them (and a few more) heard the January battle cry, but these 3...these 3,  followed through, cashed in, made good.
The January battle cry of night fishing on a June or July evening...they heard it, and they enlisted, no draft required.

We hit the gas station 3/4's of the way there, and the attempt to buy and eat something that resembles healthy, gave way to two brats and a bag of sour cream and onion chips.  We drove up and down a good portion of the river, taking mental notes before turning around and selecting the best of the available water.  Most of us packed a couple rods.  We were on a nocturnal EAT hunt and what happens at 6:00 PM on a midwest spring creek is a couple of line weights different from what happens after 10 PM.

The bridge pull off, once we unloaded and started to gear up, looked like a fly shop exploded or perhaps that the local Trout Unlimited Chapter was having a gear swap.  Heaps of waders and boots, and boxes and rod tubes.  It is likely that we alone kept the economy afloat these past few years. 

Eventually the task of preparing for an evening and a night of fishing were completed and MK and Brother Bill headed upstream while Mr. T and I headed down.  We walked the corn rows and discussed the merits of not rolling in wild parsnip.  We broke through the corn to greet a few pastured horses and then dropped into the creek.  In the shaded banks the mosquitoes converged on us but two steps into the cool spring creek water and air temps dropped enough to keep them at bay.  We exchanged shots at likely runs and Mr. T pointed to a spot where he'd seen a nose break up a meeting of fluttering caddis.  He offered me the shot and I blew it on the second drift when the trout tilted up to my terrestrial.  Luckily secured him on the dropper 7 or 8 casts later. And it went on like this until it was nearly 8:30 and I lingered at a run while he moved up to the next pool and promptly extracted a beautiful brown. 

At the bridge pool we met up with MK and Brother Bill and each took a few casts at rising fish before climbing up the bank to the vehicle to prepare for the after dark portion of the night's show.

A short drive from the evening fishing stretch we pulled over in the darkness and hopped out of the rig, throwing on packs and testing headlamps.  It was a regular obstacle course dodging barbed wire, cowpies and electric fencing as we crossed the fields to the stream.  It pays to keep headlamps off to retain night vision but in this case Mr T, lead the charge with his red lamp on to save us all from taking on excess voltage.

A creek crossing and a short hike later and we stood streamside, the four of us, lowering our cap brims in the inky night to block out the light glare from a distant farmhouse.  We spread out and stepped in, the swishing of lines in the air followed by the scratch of fly lines against guides as we all hoped to come tight to a leviathan. 

In the dark your are reduced to whatever senses you have that can give a sense of place or direction.  I could just make out the far bank with two eyes that are months away from requiring reading glasses.  With my vision compromised the wild mint on the bankside floaded my olfactory receptors to the point of overload...such a fine smell.  But my ears were on high alert.  I could tell whether my fly landed on the bank or in the water, whether the others were moving downstream, casting or even retrieving their flies.   So, with the stage set, vision impaired and hearing acute, I heard the explosive splashing downstream as if an anvil had been dropped in the very tub I was bathing in.  My pulse quickened and I started downstream, reeling in line and fumbling with my camera, to see which of my lucky comrades had connected with what was certainly a large trout.

Quuuuaaaaaack!...quaaack! quack! quack! quack! (splashing subsides).

"What was THAT?", someone asked knowing the answer but needing verification.
To which MK replied, "I think I dropped my fly on a duck."

And so he had.

It was generally decided that though catching big fish after dark is not easy, it is certainly easier than hitting a stealthy, camouflaged duck in the pitch blackness with a fly at distance of fifty feet.  It seemed that MK had raised the bar and I continued on fishing, hoping for a trout, or a duck, of my own.

It was after midnight when the moon broke through the clouds in a notch of the valley as we hiked back to the truck, secured our rods, shared a beer and decided to stop and fish another river before heading home.  

This plan, this trip,  discussed over beers months ago as the snow piled up on the bar's windows seemed like an eternity ago, but I was keenly aware that the summer doesn't last forever and that night fishing with 3 good guys on a cool summer night doesn't happen every day. When we stopped again beside the next river, grabbed our rods, our headlamps and our packs, I remember feeling wide awake and ready to go fishing.   The short days and snowy nights of next winter would be here before we knew it and 3 of us had still not hooked a duck.

Thursday, July 10, 2014


If you've ever been in a flats skiff on the casting deck in front of a seasoned guide with a push pole, it's akin to hunting over a good dog.  Let me clarify this a little because I am in no way suggesting that the guide is a fact since they are in back it would seem that perhaps the angler, out front on the casting deck, is the dog.  Which is probably more accurate except that the angler has the rod which is like the dog carrying the gun.  Hmmm. Never mind.  My point, now that I have taken this paragraph so far afield, is that there is a symbiosis between guide and angler, hunter and dog, that when done right, is just damn magical.

This past spring as I stood on the casting deck of a skiff in the Bahamas under the watchful eye and ninja-like push pole skills of a seasoned flats guide,  I was in awe at the ease by which three people in a boat could approach a bonefish in 10 inches of water and present a fly.  I decided right then that I would learn to pole a boat.

I've mucked around with it a little in the past, standing on a cooler with an aluminum telescoping pole trying to figure out how to make a boat turn, go straight and stop.  It was cool, but I wasn't handling the boat like my Bahamian guide did. Not. Even. Close.

When I got back to the bonefish lodge I started looking at platform designs on the boats there and snapped a few pictures.  And then, upon my return home, I scoured the internet, took measurements on my boat, built a few wood/pvc models and drew up some designs.  I continued to look online for designs that I liked and vacillated between transom mount and gunwale mount.  Before long I realized that tiller arm swing and cowling removal had to be figured in to the plan.  More changes.

I sent designs to metal shops, fabricators, the local technical college's welding department, anybody that might be able to help.  The overwhelming response was, "you want what?", "we don't do anodized welding", "can you use square tube",  "we can't get anodized aluminum", and my favorite, "No problem, for $2400...".

Even though it wasn't what I really wanted I even considered going with a powder coated version and spent some time trying to match the paint on my battleskiff.

I just about threw in the towel and ordered a prefab powder coated platform from Seamount.

I hit a wall and dug into the push pole part of the project.  I settled on a TFO Mangrove 4 pc carbon fiber pole 19' 6" long and pulled the trigger.  Progress.

When it arrived I followed the instructions to the T, using JB Weld to adhere the internal ferrules.  I'd read somewhere that keeping the sections straight when epoxying was a little tricky so I borrowed from my rod building knowledge and built up a very tight tolerance shim system sewing thread.  It worked like a charm.

Meanwhile, I found a really cool poling platform that I liked online.  It seemed to have all of the things I was looking for...and a clean design.  I tracked the guy that owned the boat back to an email address by googling his username on one of the forums.  I sent him an email, but never heard back.  Next I tracked down an email address for the boat company that the poling platform was mounted to and sent them an email with a picture of he boat, the platform and a request to order a platform from them.

Kevin from East Cape Skiffs sent me a reply is a snapshot of the thread that ensued:

K:   We do not sell loose parts anymore.

Me: Thanks for the quick reply.  Feel free to send me the CAD drawings of that sweet platform if you are so inclined!  Great Boats BTW!

K:    I wish we had some we did that and all our stuff right off the boat as each is different.

Me:  Well at least you guys know what a poling platform is...The fab guys up here have no idea what I am talking about.

K:    That sucks and I can only imagine how hard it must be to get it made.

Me:   Understatement...thanks for the info all the same.

K:      Let me see if i can find a buddy of mine to weld you one.  Will that work?

Me:    Yes sir!

And then I got an email from Jo at JC Welding and Fabrication who looked at my drawings and said sure thing.  

Two days ago I got pictures on my phone and I think he nailed it.
The platform should be here by next week.

Quite a process...
Simple transom mount platform on dry dock in the Bahamas

Push Pole Construction

Thread Shims on carbon fiber push pole ferrules

The platform design I was ogling and emailed to East Cape Skiffs

My Drawing, 3 pc so it can ship UPS

The pics Jo sent of his work on my platform #1



#4 - Fiberglass platform deck included!