Friday, September 12, 2014

Tiger Trout T-Shirt Design

Grab the Tiger by the tail and hang on.  Very few people outside the trout fishing community even know about the Tiger Trout and even fewer have had the opportunity to fight one of these beauties.
  This design is a hexfishing original and is only available at my T-Shirt shop.
http://hexfishing.spreadshirt.com/tiger-trout-A18124566/customize/color/16
Click over and check this sweet shirt out and many more designs for the trout and bass fishermen in you.
Not available in any store or swanky Orvis boutique, this shirt is an original by yours truly and I bet you will be asked where you got it by any fisherman than sees you wearing it.
  Show your love of hunting rare and unique trout with this Tiger trout graphic.

Enough of the hard sell???  Buy it - don't buy it, I don't really care.  I just love designing creative fishing shirts mostly for me and honestly make little if any profit off the few that I do sell.  Just like my fishing my flies, I just love designing and wearing them.



Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Pumpkin Seed Sunfish


  Not much to say other than I love these little sunfish.  Their colors always bring a smile even when
I'm frustrated that they took my fly before the monster bass.
  The river species of these beauties, even if rather small, are as brightly colored as any I have ever come across.

Pumpkinseed Sunfish
-  Pencil on Toned Paper
- 8in x 8in.
-Email of Facebook P.M. for purchasing cheap.


Friday, September 5, 2014

Sketching Birds

Blue Jay - 5x5in - ink, pencil, on toned paper.
    Sketching birds is not one of my usual pursuits but when one ties flies with their feathers it is hard not to occasionally pass the time finding beauty in their color.  Last week it looked like a few Blue Jays got into a fight in my front yard so being the fly tier I am, I took the tail feathers as future tools of the trade.  They also serve as a good inspiration for a sketch.

   I also enjoy watching the great Blue Heron troll the waters of my mountain streams.  They are ultimate masters in finding fish and a stocked stream I frequent is a perfect place for a few of these majestic birds to set up shop.  I will tell you that having one of these massive birds dive bomb you in the middle of a back cast is not an event you will appreciate.  In fact it scares the junk out of you if you are unlucky enough not to see it coming.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Finding Nature While Fishing In SC

Yesterday I took my Tenkara rod up to the foothills for a little trout chasing and found more than I was looking for.
  I enjoy all types of fishing as most of you know, whether it is fly fishing, spin fishing, and if the situation calls for it - even bait fishing, but as a rule I tend to enjoy casting a fly more than all the others.  Tenkara fishing is just another way for me to be connected to the fly in a more direct way and for fishing small streams it is, in my opinion, the best tool in the box to catch fish.  It allows ease of travel, with simplicity and a direct contact with the fly that a traditional fly rod and reel rarely can duplicate.
  So when I headed to the hills to search for trout, I was expecting to catch a number of browns - due to water temp - and maybe if I was lucky, a rainbow or two.  What I was not expecting was to get a hat trick of species completely disconnected from each other.
  Just after sunrise I hooked into a number of browns that eagerly took a Killer Bug made from my wife's knitting yarn but after the heat began to hit the water I hooked into a few sunfish and even an eager river bass that had some stunningly sharp coloring.
  The Sunfish however was the winner of the day for color.  As many of you can attest, a river/stream sunfish is one of the most brilliantly colored fish in fresh water.  They are by no means a big fish or one you want to brag about but they are magnificently colored.  Pictures rarely do them justice but if you appreciate beauty in nature than you must give the little guy his due.

   Another added bonus I discovered was the amount of wildlife that joined me on the river.  Below are just a few examples of the other colors in nature that astound me.
This Marbled Orb Weaver - that is its real name, I looked it up - almost became real close friends when I came inches away from planting my face in its web.  Only his bright coloring made me check my steps and for that I am thankful.
Countless butterflies refused to sit still for a photo but this guy - probably near the end of his life - cooperated.
By far one of the largest caterpillars I have ever seen.  I haven't looked it up yet but would love to hear your thoughts on what it would be.  I was thinking a Luna Moth but that is only because it is so big.  Any Ideas?
  Overall it was a good morning and as the heat took hold around noon, I packed up and headed home.  I love nature and all it has to offer.  Getting out to fish is only part of the experience and if you don't take advantage of all the beauty that surrounds your time in the woods than you are doing yourself a real disservice.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Spanish Mackerel Painting


  Its a random departure from my usual trout paintings but its not the first time I have ventured to the salt for inspiration. Besides, If it has fins it is fair game in my book.  I love painting fish no mater what their habitat. This Spanish Mackerel is part of a special collection I am working on for the annual Tampa Bay BCN Gators Fishing Tournament.
  Last year they raised a ton of money for charity and I am stoked that they chose me to once again contribute the top prize paintings for their competitors.
  This Mackerel will be a top prize for one of the winning boats but don't be dismayed.  After October you too can own a gallery quality print of this beautiful fish to hang at you coastal retreat.
  These cellphone photos hardly do this painting justice but once they are sent over to my guy who does my gallery quality giclee prints he will be able to make even the lightest colors and shades pop just like the original.
  Next up will be a staple of the Florida coastal fishing scene - The famed Florida Snook.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

A Chattooga River Brown


    A few days ago I finished up a commission for a Kyle as a present to his dad.  Last year his dad reeled in this beautiful brown trout on the Chattooga river in Northern GA/SC and wanted a memento to remember the day and the fish.  With a single cell phone pic hardly doing the trout justice, Kyle asked if I could paint him up a nice representation of the wonderful fish.
Kyle also reports that this fish is back swimming around the cool waters of that river and if anyone is interested it likes to chew on Tellico Nymphs.  I think I am going to have to go hunting for him next week.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

World Record Coho Salmon

 
    After having this on my project list for some time I finally got the finishing touches done on this world record Coho (silver inland) Salmon for angler Greg Raymond.  Caught in the chilly waters of Lake Michigan this fish is a certified beast weighing in at exactly 18lbs.
  Last October Greg hauled this monster in on standard rod and reel just off the coast of Wisconsin.  In doing so he sealed his place in the record books for the largest coho caught in Lake Michigan for its class.
  A little while ago Greg contacted me and asked if I would be interested in painting this fish for him.  As you can imagine I eagerly jumped on the opportunity to paint such an important catch.  Its not every day that a record holding fish comes across the table of my studio.
   
    Congratulations to Greg and his beautiful fish.
I can only hope that I have done your world record Coho Salmon justice.  May it hang on you wall for years to come and may you remember that day every time you look at it.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Quick Montana Fishing Trip


   I was lucky enough to have a few days off and so with the blessing from my wife I packed up my new 6w rod and set off for the mecca of fly fishing - Montana.  Connecting through Salt Lake at 10 am I boarded a plane that had no less than 30 other heavily armed fly fisherman in search for those fantastic summer waters of the Madison and Yellowstone.  With a destination such as that one cant help to smile as you circle the valley of Bozeman while the plane lines up for a landing.
  For me it was a two part trip.  Not only was it a chance for me to angle for wild Montana trout but it was also a chance to spend some quality time on the river with my father, who is just in the beginning stages of learning how to cast a fly.  He had always been a fisherman but since he has moved to a place with such legendary waters and devoted fly fishing community he has picked up a good fly rod outfit and began the frustrating and rewarding pursuit of fly fishing.  As he puts it 'The trout give him just enough to keep him coming back, but that's about it'.  Last winter in a frozen section of the Madison he hooked into a rainbow of a lifetime and I sure wish I could have been there to see him pull it in.
  My goal was to simply hook fish.  I didn't dare to dream of big fish or legendary battles.  All I wanted was a few days on the river with eager fish to battle.
  So when the plane landed at 1pm and I met my dad the first thing we did was to head over to the Fin & Feather fly shop at Four Corners right next to the Gallatin River for a few flies and a licence.  By 3 we were on the river which has to be one of the quickest airport to river times in history.  The following pics are just a taste of the great fish and scenes I had on the trip.







On my last day we took to the Upper Madison where we were told that the fishing was hot and heavy.  As it turns out we must have missed the big fishing because after six hours all we had show for our effort was a few very small cutthroat and a sunburn.  Of all the other fisherman on the river with us we only saw one other guy and his guide hook into a six inch trout so we moved to another local slightly down stream.

  It was there that I hooked into one of the better trout in my life.  The size is surely not the biggest and the picture does it mo justice but this guy fought me hard for the better part of fifteen minutes in a stretch of very fast and powerful water.  Of all the fish that I have hooked into in my career I have put not more than two trout on the reel and only one of those tested my drag.  This guy hit my rubber legged stone with a fierceness of any eastern trout three times his size.  Immediately after hooking him he ran and made my Abel reel buzz until I had to chase him down river.  With my backing threatening to show he held up in a little eddy where I was able to gain on him.  He made a total of four more runs just like the first and by the time I actually had a net on him he had dragged me down river more than 75 yards.  After letting him rest I gently released his tail and he swam away to do battle again.  It might not have been a record rainbow but it was surely a memorable fight with the prettiest and most powerful fish of the trip.

  For me it was my last fish of the trip and a good one to end on.  With a fierce hail storm and thunder echoing through the valley, we packed up and headed home tired but elated.
A day later I was back at work but the memory of those few days with my dad and Montana trout will last for a lifetime.  If you have never been lucky enough to see the beauty of the big skies of our country, then do yourself a favor and book your trip now.  It truly is one of Gods masterpieces...

Monday, August 4, 2014

Outfished By A Kid And Fishing With Cheap Rods

Last week I packed up the family and left the unseasonably cool south for a visit to my hometown on the banks of the Mississippi in northern Illinois.  Its a pilgrimage we make less than we would like to and one that always brings back a wave of memories.
   Before I left however I took time to construct an outside home for our old girl.  Our dog - affectionately known as Nonna by our kids - has been acting up lately when she is left in the house for even short amounts of time so she was relocated outside while we are on our trip.  With a helpfull neighbor offering to care for her while we were away, it was up to me to create a suitable, and dry place for her to sleep.  This 4x3foot shed was built out of 2x2s and fencing cedars and from what I understand Nonna rarely left its comfortable bed.
  With our old girl secure we boarded a plane a lit out for the north.  The upper Mississippi river has held a special place for me since I was a kid.  I explored its muddy banks every summer as a kid and once even built a driftwood raft just like Huck Fin with the intention of sailing it down to the next town.  Luckily for me it broke up a foot off shore but ever since, that search for adventure has never left me.  Like the riverboat captains of old, I share their drive to do something very few people have done.  I credit a childhood of freedoms in a small town for that.
   I also credit my love of fishing to the summers I spent on the banks of the Mississippi.  I caught so many fish from its banks that it was inevitable that I would grow up to love fishing.
  I now nearly exclusively fish with a fly rod and even as I get odd looks from the bass anglers cruising the river banks in their flat bottom boats, I continue to try the muddy waters for a cruising fin to take my fly.  Unfortunately this trip I was limited to what I could bring and the fly outfit just couldn't make it, so when I got there I went to the only outdoor sports shop in the area and started my search for a fly rod and reel setup I could purchase and leave as a permanent fixture at my in-laws house.
  I knew it was going to be a task to find a fly rod in an area of the country where spin casting is king and Fly fishing is seen as some exotic form of behavior akin to a trying to surf on the river.  What I didn't expect was only one fly rod on the shelf.  Its was a $20 Eagle Claw combo #7/8 - great weight for the Mississippi but.... what the heck - the price is right.  I brushed what looked like fifteen years of dust off it and grabbed the only 7w line they had in stock (they also had one 5w) the only fly leader they had, and a dozen $1 flies tied a decade ago.  Add in the only fly line backing they had and a pound of dust and I left the store with a $90 river fly fishing setup.  The most expensive part of my entire outfit was the $26 fly line.
  Shortly after stringing it up and casting it into the muddy water I hooked this little bass proving that you don't have to have the most expensive outfit out there to catch fish.  I was actually surprised at how good it casts.  I rarely if ever use the reel on fish but this eagle claw - even though housed in plastic - also performed admirably with smooth action .  I wouldn't take this outfit out west for salmon fishing but for the banks of the Mississippi it is more than suitable.  I was expecting a willowy, unresponsive stick and what I got is a tough simple rod that flings small flies and big streamers with relative ease.  For a cheap outfit I'd say B+ and I know all you out there are saying - Its an Eagle Claw?!!  But I say for the only outfit in town, it has done its job and I was glad to have purchased it.

  Despite my efforts at fly fishing, it was my little boy who won.  Its hard to beat a worm on the bottom in a muddy murky river.  Besides the great looking bass he is holding to the right, he also caught a large catfish, a blugill, and a few more bass putting both myself and my father-in-laws meager catch's to shame.  Yes, you can say I left a the river a proud dad.  My boy out-fished me and he did it legitimately.  Well done.... well done.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Twitchy Trout

Not much to say about this one.  Just me having a bit of fun doodling and messing around with the computer.  I figured that it looked like a good label for a brand of beer.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Drawing Abstracts & Learning About Our History

I have had a few days off but with the cool weather sweeping in from the north bringing with it rain and gloomy weather, I have resigned myself to hanging around the house with the kids and doodling a few ink drawings on paper.  The top one is titled simply 'Abstract Trout'.  The bottom one is aptly named 'Abstract Mayfly'

  For the mayfly I decided to add it to my list of shirts available at my tee shirt shop at www.hexfishing.spreadshirt.com . If you wanted a print then why not get it on a shirt for $21. Choose your color and size and show your love for these great little bugs.
  If owning the drawings is more your speed then shoot me an email and we will work it out.  They will be available on a first come first serve basis.

Learning About History
Before the rain came however, the family and I decided to hit the road for a little bit and explore our great state and in the process learn a bit more about the history of our country.
  Our first stop was the Revolutionary War site of Ole Ninety Six.  A key stone to the Carolina back country around the 1770, Ninety Six was the site of numerous skirmishes and confrontations throughout the war culminating with its eventual demise near the end of the war.
  Teaching the kids about such important sites is an important step in helping them realize just what our countrymen sacrificed in the name of freedom.  It also is a great way to spend an afternoon and get a little fresh air away from all the computer games and technical distractions in this day and age.

   If you haven't explored the history around your area then I strongly encourage you to get out and do a learning yourself.  If you have kids, bring them along.  I think it will surprise you just how fascinated they will be with the real life history of this great country.


 

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Painting Bass


  I painted this last week as I was watching my kids mess around in the small 2 foot deep pool that has occupied a corner of my yard for the last two months.  It was a typical warm day with the kind of weather that makes bass run for deep water so painting them leaping for a streamer was about as close as I was going to come to catching one.
  This is not the first bass I have painted nor will it be the last but it is one of the better ones.  I'm not there completely but I could pick apart my own work for days and point out all the little things that I would have liked to do different.  Unfortunately, or more appropriately, due to the fact watercolors are a very unforgiving medium, I have come to the realization that to try to control it to much is to loose the essence that makes a watercolor painting .... well, a watercolor.  I've adopted the feeling that the little nuances of watercolor is what makes the painting a piece of art and not a photograph.
   Unlike trout, I find bass a much harder species to paint.  The colors are more muted and the variation in tones make shading and detailing the bass a rather daunting task for me. Try doing it all outside with 90 degree heat that dries out wet paper faster than the IRS can loose important emails and you have quite a challenge on your hands.        
    Typically I see the popular bass portraits out there being more about the surrounding scenery than about the actual fish.  You always see a bass guy with a big sporty boat yanking on a bent rod in the the background with a leaping bass breaking the surface.  The bass usually is secondary in the piece even though rightfully it should be first.
  I'm not saying that they aren't Really well done, because often they are masterpieces, but for me I love the main, if not only, focus to be on the fish.
 
I call this:

July Bass
(original right?)
roughly 9x12ish
watercolor on paper
FOR SALE

Feel free to email or shoot me a message on Facebook for purchasing information.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Red Cheek Rainbow Trout

  Painting trout has a special attraction to me an its not only because I also love to catch them.  They are some of the most picturesque fish in nature and it is a joy to capture their unique beauty in translucent pigments that make the colors pop.  The color of a brilliant red cheeked rainbow is like a painting so it is only natural that I would want to capture a hint of that beauty in my work.

  Truth be told, I am playing a little bit of catch up with these blog posts.  I actually painted this piece last week and just haven't taken the time to post it here on the blog.  Time has been at a premium as of late and taking the time to paint a work like this and then turn around a do a write up on it right after it is done amounts to a long day at the kitchen table that could have been spent playing with the kiddos.
 
    Now with the patriotic weekend in the rear-view mirror and still ten digits to show after setting our street ablaze with fireworks I'm back to the blog.

"Red Cheek Rainbow Trout"
Watercolor on Paper
14in x 11in
For Sale

.  A lot of you have already see this over on the facebook page which has been getting a quite a workout lately.  For you that are not yet a member of my HexFishing page on Facebook and want to see my paintings before they hit the blog I encourage you to click on over and join.  
  If your wall space is limited but you still want to own a piece of this painting then check out my tees HERE or on the button at the top of this blog.  Its a trout anglers alternative to all the Guy Harvey shirts out there.