When Things Don't Go Right 2015

     Last year I did a quick look back at the times when things didn't work out right while on the water.  It got a lot response and I've decided to keep this going as an annual post.  I've picked my favorite pictures from the 2015 season.  Because we can all relate to the times when things just don't go right. 
If you've got to fall on the ice, at least fall with company. 

When you tell your daughter that the river bank isn't that steep.

Lost again...it's a Driftless Area tradition.

You lose a lot of gear fishing with kids, but it's worth it.

This rod only lasted 4 hours, it was broke by a small pike.

When you get to the water and the client doesn't show up.

This little guy blocked me from hooking the largest carp I've ever seen.

Seriously, fishing with children is a blast.

Don't forget the drain plug in your Versaboard unless you've got friends on the water.

Took a treble hook in the hand, it hurt like crazy!!!

Got diagnosed with a temporary nerve disorder that cost me 3 weeks of fishing this summer .

Took  a hook in the back this year too.  

Let a nice older gentleman try out my Revo.  This is how it was returned to me.
     So far it's been a great season even if things haven't always gone right.

     Tight Lines.

I Actually Only Want to Catch Fish

Caught...then released to fight again.
     I know it sounds bad, but somebody had to say it eventually.  I am not one of those, "I love the experience" type of anglers.  I don't relish the calm and tranquility of the outdoors.  I don't enjoy driving hours to chase fish, only to come home empty handed.  I want results!!!  Lots of results, in the form of selfies, selfies with large fish.  I can't think of anything worse than coming home with my tail between my legs after planning a fishing trip.  I realize that this isn't the popular thing to say...but hear me out.

"There is a fine line between fishing and just standing on the shore like an idiot." -Steven Wright

     Every angler I know actually wants to catch to fish.  Don't believe me?  What's the first thing you get asked by other anglers on the water?  "Having any luck?"  Maybe, "Seen anything today?"  Why do we ask?  Because we want to catch fish!  Of course we would never admit that to other people.  If we get skunked, well, we just quote Thoreau.

"Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after." -Thoreau

     That's a true statement at times, I often go fishing to explore a new area.  Or maybe I'm testing out a new idea, presentation, or product.  But why am I doing it?  Because I want to catch a fish!  We can't tell people that of course, since we fear being seen as uncaring or shallow.  It's true though, otherwise I wouldn't bother bringing along a fishing pole.  I would just go walk around aimlessly by a body of water.  You know for the experience.
The dreaded sunset aka, I got skunked today picture.
     Sounds horrible doesn't it?  I want to catch fish, actual fish, every time I go fishing.  I don't want to get up at 2am, drive 3 hours, pay cash to enter a tournament, paddle around all day, load up my gear, and drive back empty handed.  In fact I can't think of a single time I've got skunked and thought, "Man I love not catching fish."  Would I ever admit it?  Nope, as soon as I walk in the door I talk about the beauty of my surroundings, how great the kayak paddled on the water, or even show off the dreaded I got skunked today sunset photograph.  Of course it could be worse than a sunset picture, you could get told.

"A bad day fishing, is better than a good day at work." -Unknown

     I call bullshit on this one.  I've had days on the water that were so bad I would rather pretend that I hadn't went fishing at all (Canada).  Conversely, I've had amazing days at work that would rival any day on the water.  A bad day of fishing is just that, a bad day.  Whenever I hear people say this I struggle to actually hide my true emotion.  I know when a bad day is bad, fishing or otherwise.  I realize having a bad day on the water or getting skunked is part of the process, but I make no attempts to sugar coat it.
Fishing with friends, with the goal of catching fish.
     Now before the hate mail starts up, let me tell you that I fish for a lot of different reasons.  For fellowship with friends, nature, teaching youth, satisfying sponsor agreements, the list goes on and on.  I also fish for bragging rights, goal achievement, and glory.  Being known as the guy that catches fish is awesome.  I'm very much goal oriented in all aspects of life, so my fishing follows suit.  I don't tie flies because I like doing it.  I tie flies because I need something that isn't available locally.  I don't enjoy freezing to death on the ice all winter or getting horribly sun burnt in the heat of the summer.  I do however enjoy catching fish.  So I tolerate the side effects, as long I have something to show for it.
PBR of course I took a picture.
     You may be thinking to yourself, "Wow, this guy is fishing for all the wrong reasons."  Am I?  How many times have you hired a guide hoping to just get out on the water.  It doesn't mater if you get a chance at any fish, you just want the experience?  How many huge fish have you never told anybody about?  How many times have you had a personal best and decided not to take a picture?  You see, you want to catch fish too.  It sounds bad right?  Or does it?  What if going fishing because you want to catch fish is perfectly fine?

"The idea of fishing is to catch a big fish.  If you just caught small ones, what would be the point." -Mark Metzger

     Try this the next you go fishing.  Don't cast at all and just stand there for 3-4 hours and see if it's as much fun as normal.  I bet it isn't, in fact you may even find yourself wishing you were doing something else.  When you go fishing whether in the ocean, a lake, a river, or a pond, you want to catch fish.  If you're lucky it will be a big fish.  That's why we all do it.  You don't buy new gear to not try and catch a fish.  I bet you also don't plan big fishing trips in the hope of not catching anything.  We all go fishing because we want to catch fish, and I honestly believe, their is nothing wrong with that.
Believe it or not, I wanted to catch this fish that morning.
     Tight Lines.

Orvis Mirage Reel Review

Mirage V 
     I've learned over time that quality gear can really make a difference in your fishing.  It used to be that I bought whatever was cheapest and might be able to get the job done.  Once I wandered into the world of musky fishing I quickly found that cheap usually meant lost fish.  When I started fly fishing last season I decided that I wouldn't allow history to repeat itself.  I bought what I thought was a good middle of the line reel and soon found that when pursuing larger fish the drag just couldn't keep up.  That's when I noticed the gold reels in the videos I watched on YouTube.  The same reel kept showing up in video after video.  All of these videos had one thing in common, big fish.  I just had to own that gold fly reel.
     It didn't take me long to figure out what the reel was called.  What did take me a while was raising the funds to purchase it.  I must admit that I had a little bit of sticker shock when I first saw the price of the Mirage reel.  At $515.00 for the size V model it really didn't seem worth it.  Still it was one of those sure things, I couldn't find a bad review anywhere online.  I spent a couple weeks selling extra gear, drinking less energy drinks, and being extremely helpful around the house (needed spousal approval).  Once I got the okay to make the purchase I headed over to Orvis of Madison and placed my order for a Mirage V and a spare spool.  Total cost? $765.00, I had buyers remorse before I even left the parking lot.  "It better be as good as they say" I muttered to myself, "I could have bought a lot a gear for that amount of money."  I tried to reassure myself over the next few days that I had made a good decision and must say that I was nothing but smiles when the package arrived at my door.
     The first thing I noticed right out of the box was how sturdy this reel felt.  It has a nice quality feel and the finish is flawless.  I put it on my TFO 10 weight and just stared at it for a while.  The Mirage reel just looks stunning in person.  After waving it around like an idiot for a bit I started to daydream about big fish and distant waters.  I'm not one to normally wax on poetically about inanimate objects, but this reels beauty is deserving of such praise.  The precision machining, engraved logos, and anodized finish are truly remarkable.  You really should check one out sometime in person, they are gorgeous.  Let's face it though, beauty doesn't always equal great performance.  Let's take a look at the some of the features. 

     The Mirage Reel is available in 8 different sizes and 3 different finishes.  The size V is a true large arbor for fast line retrieval.  It's milled from 6061 T6 anodized aluminum and is extremely strong for its weight.  The reel has a clickable drag that uses carbon and stainless steel discs and the knurled drag knob is diamond cut for a sure grip.  Even the reel handle is specially designed to help prevent the line from tangling when a fish heads for the horizon.  The Mirage is a really well thought out fly reel.  For more information on the features of this reel follow the link here.
     The real question is, How well does it fish?  So far it has performed flawlessly.  I've used this reel on multiple rods while chasing many species of fish.  Whether I have had it on a 7 weight for bass, an 8 weight for carp, or a 10 weight for muskies, this reel has handled them all.  The large arbor makes line management a breeze and the handle is easy to find when fighting fish on the reel.  The clickable drag makes finding the sweet spot quick and it stays consistent even during prolonged fights with large carp or Great Lakes king salmon.  All in all it's a great reel, but it's not perfect.
     The biggest complaint I have with this reel is the spool knob.  It's pretty common for me to have to tighten down the spool multiple times during a full day of fishing.  I'm not sure what causes it to loosen up, but it does and it drives me a little crazy.  The other issue is the clicking sound the reel makes when retrieving line.  In the past I always removed the clicker on my fly reels so I wasn't advertising to other anglers that I was fighting a fish.  As best as I can tell you can't remove the clicker on the Mirage V.  In areas with a lot of anglers I've found that the sound of a reel clicking kind of draws attention and I soon find myself surrounded by other anglers.  It may not be a big deal in your area, but I thought it worth mentioning since it bothers me.  The only other possible issue I can think of is the price, it's a rather expensive purchase if you're on a budget.
Big or small it can land them all.
     Final thoughts?  I love this reel and am happy to recommend it to my fellow anglers.  It performs as advertised and has worked flawlessly in a variety of situations.  I constantly find myself impressed with it and am sure you will too.  I also recommend the purchase of a spare spool.  I use mine to carry a sinking line or different weight lines all the time.  The Mirage reel from Orvis is a true performer in the world of fly fishing.  After using it almost exclusively this last season I can see why I wasn't able to find a bad review online, it really is that good.  To check one out in person head over to your local Orvis retail store or visit www.Orvis.com.
     Tight Lines.

SBH Egg Sucking Leech

     I openly admit that I don't enjoy tying flies, but lately I've spent a lot of time fishing different patterns for various Salmonids on the Great Lakes.  I've been using time tested and proven Egg Sucking Leech patterns that I've purchased from Orvis of Madison and have had some success.  However, I have also found a few things that I would like the fly to do differently.
     The first issue I had was with the weight of the patterns.  I really need my flies to sink faster.  Using Tenkara rods (fixed line) doesn't allow me to fire off a long cast and let the fly slowly sink down to the strike zone.  I need the flies to drop like a subtle rock through the water column.  I've also had issues with the bead color and size on many of the patterns.  My past experiences fishing with spawn sacks along the harbor walls and through the ice have proven that smaller eggs seem to get picked up more readily.  So in my mind the large beads on many patterns just didn't make sense.  Also I noticed that I'm having a hard time getting a solid hookset.  To be honest I have even had a few hooks straighten while fighting fish.  I wanted a fly tied on a EWG hook to help with my hook up ratio.  Finally, I needed a pattern with a good side profile and some flash.  The urban areas I fish both from shore and while wading don't always mimic those clear beautiful rivers and streams of the Pacific Northwest.  I needed a fly that the fish could find in murky to almost muddy conditions along the shores of Lake Michigan.
     With all of these things in mind I came up with a simple Egg Sucking Leech pattern.  It's by no means a new pattern, just a conglomeration of my favorite things from multiple patterns that I've either fished, tied, or researched online.
SBH Egg Sucking Leech

Hook: Size 5 Gamakatsu EWG Offset Worm Hook
Thread: Orange floss (under bead)
Thread: 6/0 Black 140 Denier (body)
Bead: 5mm Orange Pucci Pearl
Tail: Black UV Marabou, Flashabou Fine Black Holographic
Body: Medium Pearl Black Chenille
Hackle: Black Rooster (gloss)
Wire: .25 Lead Free

     The construction is really simple, but I thought I would add a few tips to help the first time tier.  Wrap a small amount of similar colored thread onto the hook under the bead.  This really helps pump up the color since the beads have an almost translucent appearance.  Also I've found that 12 wraps of wire (secured with thread) gives it the required amount of weight for a rapid descent.  Lastly, finish off the fly with a decent cement or super glue.  This really adds to the life span of the fly when subjecting it to the rocky shorelines of the Midwest's lakes and rivers.
     Hopefully this will prove to be a useful pattern in your own fly box.  If you end up tying a couple for yourself let me know if there's anything you would do to improve it.  I'm always interested in your feedback on this or any of my how-to posts. Just leave a comment in the section below.  Until next time...
A beautiful Lake Michigan brown trout.
     Tight Lines.