Fishing with Richard.

I recently started fly tying. Its a complete blast. Its satisfying, frustrating, a creative outlet and yet another good reason to settle in with a few beers.

This is my third attempt at tying flys. The others suffered due to lack of patience and understanding. I decided adding Beer to the process would most likely aid in my endeavor and I was right. ( I’m amazing..)

I fired up a few videos on Youtube, set up my Fly Tying gear ( virtually untouched from buying it all almost 2 years ago ) and tied up a few traditional flies. They didn’t come out great. They DID resemble the fly I was after however. Kind of. It was at that point, as most undisciplined Fly Tyers can relate, I tied up a custom fly. Actually three.

The first two were like inbred children that are to be locked in a basement, never to feel the warmth of the midday sun. When I was complete I uttered “Have I learned nothing?” I was hasty and excited and just wrapping thread around whatever I could. layer upon layer of craft crap. I realized I was too excited, too electric. I needed another beer. I watched a few more videos that concentrated on techniques ( does NO ONE do a SLO-MO vid anymore?!!!) I drank them and my beer in. I had a few AHA! moments and got back to the vise.

I present to you my first complete “I would totally use this!” Fly.




Marabou is great. Its life like and flutters gracefully and is easy to use. Wrapping feathers to get that spikey body is also easy. Using Red is a must. There is a little Flash under the white Marabous as well and I probably should have added a bit more to the back or the body but it came out great in my eyes. When Fly Fishing for anything its about depth and profile for me.

  • “Am I deep enough? Am I too deep?”
  • “Is it big enough? Is it too big?”
  • “Should I switch to something larger? Smaller? Lighter? Darker?”

These are thoughts I have on the river or stream bank when I cant seem to find fish. I alternate between nymphs and weightless, Light to dark, big to small. I decided to attempt to tie all options into one fly. White, Black, size 12 hook with a size 6 profile. Tiny beadhead for weight, but light enough to be pulled just below the surface.

Lacking any kind of confidence, even with my well thought out fly, I hit the creek yesterday in search of Smallies. I waded upstream for about an hour with not even a hit. Alternating between Craw Flies, weighted buggers and Black Leech articulated patterns, nothing seemed to work. I invited Richard fishing.


He was pretty jazzed to give this creek a shot. I tied him on and casted him in front of a boulder Ive been working. Really active riffles being blocked and calmed by a large boulder. There HAS to be a smallie in front of that boulder! I took off a weighted craw pattern and gave Richard a shot.

He dove right in just above the boulder, rode the riffles down in front of the boulder and was chased by a leaping Smallie. It was a miss but Richard was determined! I flung him in the same path again and he nailed him!



We continued to have fun until the rain was too hard to continue and we spent a good 45mins to an hour trying to stay dry under a bridge. Richard got into 7 more nice Smallies in that run before I retired him for the day.

In the pouring rain on the wade back to the car I thought of how I could improve the fly. Different materials, more of this, less of this etc. Its a great feeling knowing you can create whatever you want in minutes. Its also inspiring to know the patterns you search for and are proven can be duplicated by YOU which is a greater investment when your on the creek flinging your own fly. Its one step closer to diving in and catching the fish with your bare hands. But still removed well enough to keep you dry..

I walked back to the car at a hurried pace and I actually said -out lout- ( which Im known to do..)

“Hilarious! My waders are leaking and my feet are soaking wet, its pouring rain and my shirt is soaking wet! The only thing my waders are doing is keeping my shorts dry!”

It was LITERALLY at that moment I tripped over  a boulder in 3′ of water.

I fell, headfirst mind you, into the flow. My entire body submerged. I struggled to stand back up but my legs were up across the boulder still and my torso was well BELOW the boulder and waterline. My arms flailing and my body twisting I scrambled to get my head above water.

With a knee now below me I could start to try and stand and as I did, arms still flailing around to get my torso above the water I looked up at the bridge to see a car passing by. I little dark haired kid had his face plastered against the passenger seat window and saw me. I saw his face explode with a “HOLY CRAP!!!” expression as the car zoomed by.

I finally stood upright and half expected that car to turn back because Im sure it looked like I was drowning.

Nope. Humanity = 0.

I walked back to the car with my waders full up to my waist. What an odd feeling! It was like walking in a fat suit.

Waders tip #1.

  • Always bring a change of clothes.

I stripped out of my waders, dumped the water out and sat on a blanket in my car. I had a windbreaker that I put on instead of my soaking wet shirt. All was well.

Still, a great day, a great wade and some great smallies caught by Richard and I. Cant wait to fish with him again, he taught me a lot.


Driftless Area, Grant County: Trouting with the son!

I myself have only been to the Driftless Area of Wisconsin twice. One trip less then stellar, another one a scandalous trout-a-palooza.  My son, now 9, wants to catch a trout. My son wants to go to the Driftless Area and net his OWN trout this summer. It was decided a few weeks prior that we would head up before he went back to school and camp out one night with designs on just that.

For those that have read every post on this blog ( pretty much just me..) you’ll know while I love fishing with my son, I have a small very small very tiny almost minuscule amount of patience. I decided this past trip it might have more to do with my desire for him to be happy and fulfilled and not what I previously thought. I’m an asshole.

This trip would test that.

We left Sunday morning to head to the BlackHawk Lake recreation area to set up camp. We arrived around 3pm after a long construction filled drive and lunch and put the tent in place. After that it was off to the Blue!

The Blue River was where I had my best luck a few months prior and I thought it a great start for him. We arrived and suited up in our waders, grabbed our Fly Rods and hit the water. Two anglers from Duluth where already on site and heading upstream, exactly where I wanted to take Spence. We headed downstream instead and found a nice little pocket of Large Browns. They weren’t to be had. At all.

Nymphs, Dries, Hoppers, Terrestrials of all kinds produced nothing. I was patient, didn’t even have my Fly Rod with me, and just let him feel his way. As we walked the banks countless Cricket jumped and skittered into the stream struggling to get back to shore. A few were nabbed from the depths by a large hungry brown. But not ours.

Casting at Blue River


We packed up and shot over to Big Springs. I had horrible luck there earlier in the year but the Trout were everywhere. We pulled up  and from the bridge alone spotted a few huge browns quickly dart under the bridge. Scampering down, my Fly Rod now in hand, we worked a small stretch of stream. It wasn’t to be.

We cruised back to camp around 8pm and were fast asleep by 9:30. I was crazy disappointed. I felt bad. Its a long trek for a kid with Trout on the brain. I also couldn’t help to NOT appreciate the environment and experience. I was focused on my son hooking up. I realized towards the end my patience was wearing thin. His casting was atrocious, not at all as good as he can cast and worst of all he didn’t seek to improve. We tried to fine tune his cast in the weeks leading up but it just seems it didn’t stick. Where I pointed to for him to cast he was also off by a good 5′.

“Cast into that riffle and just let the nymph travel down.”- Casts into the tail water.

Blue River, Driftless Wisconsin


The next morning we hit Blue again and headed upstream. It was Monday morning and not a soul to be seen. We spotted trout left and right, darting from undercuts and shooting downstream as we approached. We walked a good chunk of the Blue and came across a lot of nice riffles and bends, deep pools and boulders, current breaks. Nothing doing. Were we too late? We didn’t arrive stream side until about 9am. Did I blow it? No rises, no boils. Nymhps to dries to terrestrials again.

We sat and had an early lunch while Spence contemplated his Fly selection.

Lunch stream side in Driftless


Heading on, my mind raced. The day before and right now, are carbon copies. What are we doing wrong? Weather was great, two different times of day. Different approaches. It just wasn’t happening.

Fly fishing at Drifless


We headed back to the car and after hitting Blue and Big Spring, 6 mile etc.. I decided to head to a whole different water system. Maybe it was this “section” of Driftless Area streams? Something was turned off. Something wasn’t working..

We headed to The Green River. 40 mins later we were pulled up to a bridge and unloading. I could see in his face he was disappointed. It was almost a chore for him to get out of the car and grab his rod one more time. What for? Casting for what? What is the point? I decided to fish a bit more aggressively. I stood back earlier and let him do his thing, not really trying too hard to get into trout myself but at this point, this kid needed a trout in his hand. From my fly or his, it didn’t matter to me.

We scampered under the bridge and casted a bit as we saw a few rises under there. My first cast I hooked into a nice sized brown. Hooked into and lost.. but hooked into none the less! He quickly perked up.

“Thats a good sign buddy! Maybe we are finally on em!”

“Yeah!” he said, determined.

A few casts later and I was able to land him. I asked Spence to hold him, to release him and he wouldn’t. I think it was a pride thing. Im not sure. He wanted to catch his own and I understood that. But with the past 24hrs… who is to say there are more to come?

We worked that area for another 10mins and headed downstream. The first bend and riffle I came to I casted in a nymph and just let if travel down the riffle. I felt a tug and saw a flash of a nice big Brown. I pulled my line out of  the water and called Spence over. He tried and tried and couldn’t get him. I walked on down another 30′ into the tailwater and casted in again. 2 casts later and the same thing. I pulled my line out and called Spence to this section now. He still couldnt get into them but at least he was excited as we new this stream was much more active then the mornings.

Diftless Area, Wisconsin


We walked on down to a great riffle that spills into a nice deep pool with a few bends to boot. Nothing. He wasn’t casting where I needed him to and wasn’t hitting as far as I needed him to. I had given up on technique and just tried to put him as close to a spot as he could get.

We waded on down hopping on and off of the banks as we went. The water and scenery was gorgeous. After another 40 mins of nothing we decided to call it. There was a Hardees in Fennimore couldn’t get out of my mind! On the way back, flys in their keeper we came back to the riffles and the deep pool in the picture above.

“Hey buddy, lets just hit this for a few minutes, it would be INSANE for their not to be Trout in here..”


Driftless Area, Wisconsin


We both casted in and around the pool. I tried to get him to cast past the riffles and let it naturally proceed down into the tailwater. He just couldn’t get it going. I saw Trout hitting surface bugs just in between the tailwater and riffles. I casted into the riffle myself, let it glide down and the 3wt dropped down as my rod bent.  A nice small brown. I felt better.

I moved my rod over by him so he could unhook and release it. He did. He held it for a minute. He felt the fins and the sides. He looked at it, but not too long and I could tell he was happy.

Driftless Brown Trout


In the end however, it wasn’t his. He didn’t earn it. I think he felt that and within a few minutes of walking back upstream after fruitlessly trying for that 2nd trout that kept hitting in the tailwater as we wrestled with this one.. he became quiet.

Its a long drive and a long few days of fishing for a 9 year old. I forgot that a few times. When I fish I bring a small bottle of water at best. I have to remind myself to drink it to boot! Im focused, Im maddened and full of zeal and passion. He is 9.

We got back to the car and both resigned to start heading back home ( via Hardees! ) We talked some on the ride. Talked about the day as we ate our burgers and wondered which one of us smelled worse. When we hit the expressway back to Chicago it was quiet. I looked back and saw a 9 year old that was perfectly content. Eating a Blizzard from the Oasis, watching Star Wars ( THE ORIGINAL!) on my IPOD and just enjoying himself. I hope he enjoyed the whole trip even though we didn’t accomplish our goal. I tried to tell him of my first trip to Driftless and the 10 hr day I spent NOT catching trout let alone even seeing one. I do not think it mattered much to him. This time though, it mattered to me and I hope I did OK as a Dad, as a guide and as a fishing buddy.


I cant help but feel I failed him as a guide but only hope he will give me a 2nd chance down the road. Because I plan on fishing with this kid for the rest of my life.

Who the hell else is going to wheel me into a river?

13 Habits of Highly Effective Anglers

Highly Effective?I wont copy word for word but instead direct you to the article. While its a quick two minute scan from point to point they will get you thinking. Thinking about how you approach a run. Thinking about how you set up your gear, thinking about your general Angling Attitude.

13 Habits of Highly Effective Anglers goes through a few common scenarios we might come across and how our handeling of them can increase or decrease your chance of hooking up.

Keep your fly in the water by minimizing false casts and re-casts. You’re only fishing when your fly is in the water. False casting and re-doing slightly sub-par casts wastes time and increases the chances that you tangle your line, snag your buddy, etc. A fly in the air catches no fish – keep it in the water, even if it wasn’t the best cast you ever made in your life.


Fish the near water first. Anglers who catch a lot of fish always make some short casts into the near water first. If you tromp right into the run and launch one out to 70 feet, your chances of catching that fish right on the bank are exactly zero.

Those are golden rules and ones I live by. When I take my son fishing and I can tell he is getting upset because I am catching fish and he isn’t I simply ask him how many cast have I made and how much time has he spent looking through his tackle bag or just dangling his fly in the water.
I generally do not cast into near water. Ill change this immediately as its the easiest habit to change. The rest will come!

Take a minute to read through the list then come up with your own list of habits. 13 seems pretty high and not a mental checklist I can keep up with. I can probably pop out 5 solid Habits that might help me stay on fish or at least up my likelihood of a hook up!

Check out the Article at Deneki!

Always in Search

When it comes to fishing I have a bit of a disorder. I cant go to the same place again and again. I cant fish the same water over and over. I get it, there are Bass in there. You can catch them. Some are big and some are small. Repeat, repeat.

Ive been fishing an area in Illinois called Mazonia. It is a series of Strip Mine Lakes. Some with access, some without access. Some with Bass, some with Bass and Gar and Pike and Crappie and … who knows what. The Mazon river runs right along it and spills in time and again which keeps some of the lakes more diverse then others from what I’m finding. Just this past weekend a buddy and I hit this area up with an eye to a small pocket lake that would include some hill climbing, bushwhacking and hill sliding to access. All with fully loaded Kayaks in tow.

Challenge accepted.

These texts between 4:30 and 5:30am say it all.



Luckily we didnt need a Machete. We arrived and unloaded at a boat ramp and paddled out a bit until our GPS said “Your here!” We looked at the shore and were pleasantly surprised to find out the little tiny line in Google Maps was indeed a nice access into the unknown. It looked to be the best place to try and get through. And it was.

Pulling the Kayak in wasnt hard, hauling it straight up was.

Kayak Fishing


photo (20)


Once at the top we dragged the kayaks through the brush to the next lake then had to drop them down another shorter, steeper bank to get in. But once there it was worth it. Bass on.

photo (17)


We paddled to our seperate areas of this new water and got busy. I was traveling lite. I had two main rods and one smaller rod to troll off the back. ( no hits on it the whole trip aside from some Gills.) I also had a small lunch cooler and a small tackle bag. That was it. I was stealthy and nimble and was having a blast.

Until the storm.

Right after I caught the above Bass a few rains drops starting hitting, winds picked up and I started worrying. Ive never been so far and deep off the grid with the yak when weather broke bad. I immediately  recalled a small Duck Blind that I saw with canoe access right in the middle of this lake. ( thanks to the Duck Hunters that wore down the initial path we found to this lake!) I paddled as fast as I could to get to it as the rains started slamming the lake and the winds made maneuvering almost impossible. It was as good a time as any for a Summer Storm as both of my main rods had tangled lines beyond quick maintenance and now I had some time to work them out. :)

I pulled into the Duck Blind and unloaded my lunch, rods and thermos into the shack and climbed on up.

DuckBlind VIP Parking.

Duck Blind VIP Parking.

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I put my lunch on the small bench and starting digging in to a Bratwurst with Mustard! YUM! I downed a coke and then pulled out my coffee. I stood there for a good while watching the rain hit and putting off untangling my lines. Never being in a Duck Blind before I started poking around. In one corner there was a small Burlap covering with some shot gun shells and garbage around it. I bent over and lifted it up.

photo (12)


I shouldnt have. photo (27)

The snake started rattling. Im told it couldnt have been a rattlesnake this far north in Illinois.. but it rattled and continued to none the less. I moved to the other side of the Blind and mouthed a mutual agreement between us. You stay there, Ill stay here.

I untaglend the lines and stood at the railing waiting for the rain to stop.

photo (29)


I had previously texted my buddy to meet me at the Duck Blind. Turns out he was off the water as soon as the first rain drops hit. I was a man alone in the middle of a lake in the middle of no where in the middle of a storm. With a snake.


Not horrible. Not great. I had shelter and waited it out. 30 mins later after lunch, detangling and a cup of coffee, the storm had passed. I hopped back into the Yak and headed back out!


photo (25)


10 mins later I was cleaning up again! The largest Bass I caught all day was 16”. A few 14” and the rest were smaller 10-12” Bass. No monsters and no other species caught. I was a little disappointed but I couldn’t beat the area and it wasn’t a Skunk by a long shot.

photo (24)


After another hour or so I decided to brave the trek back and hit another one of these strip mine lakes. I headed to an entirely different section and unloaded again. The yak felt a lot heavier this time and I was a bit fatigued. This launch included the Trolling Motor. I wasnt up to paddling anymore.

photo (23)


I launched and trolled out to a nice section. Water was gin clear and visibility was about 10′ or more in some sections. I motored out to one of the furthest points and stopped to set up my gear. I poured the last of my coffee and started digging through my tackle plano for a Jig. One fumble later and half of my tray dumped into the kayak. UG!

I picked up all the hooks and jigs and put them back in their respective compartments. I grabbed my cup of coffee and went to drink only to see a slight reflection in it. I poured the coffee out with my fingers as a strainer.


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MAN! That sucked. Better then taking a huge gulp of Jigs and hooks though.. Classic.

I was skunked beyond belief. I covered a lot of water, shallows and deeps and only came across a few small and large Gills and some tiny bass. I took to exploring and screwing around though.

I scampered up the front deck of the Ascend FS128T and decided to try paddeling from up front. Worked out great! The view was AMAZING. I was coasting over beautiful water and the stability from up front was actually better then standing on the main deck. I can attribute this to the 40lb battery in the back. Ill have to try it again without the rear load.





After an hour or so of just exploring I made my way out of the maze of Strip Mines and came back to the shore. I backed the Sante Fe up to the ramp and loaded the Yak back on. I was exhausted, sweaty, a little crisp but had an AMAZING day on the water. I was out from about 6am to 3pm. Cant wait to do it all again..

Of course next time, new-ER water..

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Ascend FS128T Silent Traction Install

 Ascend FS128T Silent Traction System Install

Ascend FS128T Silent Traction System

This isn’t meant to be a dig at the fine makers of the original Silent Traction System. If  I’m not mistaken I think Harmony made the kit widely available first. I recall it was an idea born on a forum and a member took the idea and went to a fabricator who developed a one off kit. Harmony took the ball and ran and have been producing templates for the more popular Kayaks and Flat Sheet Systems to cut your own patterns.

That being said, its pricey. The quality is there however and you get what you pay for.


In the short time Ive had my Yak Ive noticed a desire to install the same system for a slightly different purpose. Most install the system throughout the yak padding any part of the yak that would usually bang and clack. Where you put your paddles up, where you rest your rod, where you stand, anywhere that might cause a loud underwater BAWOOOONNNGGGGG when you dropped something or latched something on your yak.

The less fish  you spook off, the more fish you catch. That’s angling science right?

The Ascend FS128T has a nice big Ole flat deck. I like to scamper around this deck, kneel on it, sit Indian style, take my shoes off etc. This is rough on the knees and ankles though against the hard Yak surface. Also when I put a hook or lure or knife down, 5 mins later it ends up under my seat,  sliding all over. Add to that the water I bring in the yak from getting in and from paddling. The little pools of water in the corner that turn to mud pools, swiped all over the deck of the yak..

This is my solution.

A Google search for alternatives led me to a post about using a Sears Shop Mat instead.

Instead of getting two 20×12 squares for $30.00 I got a 46×93” section of the same “EVA FOAM” used by Harmony for $22.50.

 Lets compare the two?

Harmony $29.00

Includes 2 large 20 x 12 in.rectangles
Remain undetected
Easily cut to customize
Material(s): EVA Foam

Sears $22.50

Includes 1 large 46 x 93 in.rectangle
Remain undetected
Easily cut to customize
Material(s): EVA Foam

The trade off? The Sears Mat is a bit thicker ( from the Harmony pictures, Im assuming ) and it does not have an adhesive backing. I did have to buy a can of Spray Adhesive for $8.00. After working on it and standing on it, the thicker material is a plus for my application.

I made a template with some paper and Painters Tape and mapped out what I wanted to cover and not cover. Pretty much just the main Deck for now. I didn’t take “progress pictures” because that’s been done and why not credit the idea?

My first go at it produced a decent Silent Traction Pad for my deck. Since I had close to 3x over the material left, I decided to use my finished product as a total Template and recut it again for a more exact and “finished” result.

Ascend FS128T Silent Traction System


It turned out great! The difference of kneeling on the deck mapping and cutting this, then kneeling on the pads while I finished it was night and day!


Ascend FS128T Silent Traction System


I used the two cut outs from the Deck Hatch to just put under the front and rear decks for putting gear on and resting the paddle. Nothing is glued down yet. I will be applying the spray adhesive tonight and securing all of it.

I have a long day of Yakking planned tomorrow and will see how it holds up and also where I might be able to install some more of it.


Any questions or comments put them here or as a topic reply in the rigging section of the RiverSnobs forum!


Ascend FS128T Silent Traction System

Its all about access.

My son and I visited the Kane County Flea Market on Saturday and then quickly headed across the river to a little lake I knew of but never had a chance to fish.

We arrived at about 3pm and hopped on the Yak. This was also a nice still water test of the responsiveness of the Trolling Motor mounted to the side. We cruised around the lake a bit testing the turning radius and speed of the little Endura 30 and were pretty jazzed.

We surveyed the lake and noticed less than 20% of this water was actually accessible by boat. There were two Bass Boats trolling around but the other 80% of the lake was covered THICK with Lilly pads and Weeds.

A kayak Anglers Dream.

My son and I paddled across the Lilly Pads and weeds to access small open pockets of water and had decent success. We then got to the other side of the lake and were able to fish the reeds and small waterways branching out from this lake.



We fished all the edges and screwed around until the sun started to set. The Yak worked out great. We saw Bass Boats come and go onto the open water with no success. We knew we were on the fish and as they trolled around the weed and Lilly Pad line we paddled right through it to parts unexplored.

Spence spent the whole time on the generous deck of the Ascend FS128T and at some points even hung over the front edge and cleared the Lilly Pads out of the way for easier paddling. He even got to paddle himself and troll. He had a blast. I wish I would have taken more pictures because for a Dad and Son.. this was truly an awesome outing.

There were many times we paddled right up to a weed line, held the boat parallel to it anchored on top of some Lilly Pads and weeds. Spence sat on the front deck and casted in, I turned my seat sideways facing the weed line and casted in.

Fish were caught. Smile and laughs were plenty. Cant wait to do it again!


When we hit land again I began to breakdown the Kayak. An angler on the shore mentioned that he had seen the new Ascend at Bass Pro Shops and asked how I liked it. I told him the good and the bad and said I would buy it again. He smiled and lazily casted his line back in. “I don’t know why I come here anymore. I never catch anything.. I dont even think there are any fish in here anymore..”

“They are in there…” I said smiling. “They just aren’t THERE…”I laughed pointing to where he casted out to.