Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Tenkara Jam 2015

I just put the finishing touches on this years poster for the 2015 Tenkara Jam!!!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Are You Missing Strikes In Your Caddis Box?

  How diverse is your Caddis pattern box?  Does it just have a few elk hairs or is it stacked with a wide range of flies of all colors and material?  Well if it doesn't have a wide range of different patterns and sizes of these abundant flies then you could be missing out on even more fish.
   The truth is that Caddis flies populate the earth with more than 12,000 known species providing an abundant food resource for trout and other smaller fish.  The adult form of this varied species resembles more of a moth but has fine hairs that coat their wings instead of the scales.  Like moths, not all caddis flies are made the same.  They range in size, shape, and color and for trout fishing it matters.
  A few years ago I met fished with a buddy that had come down to fish trout in the hidden streams of the southeast.  We stumbled across this beautiful,yet small, bend in the river with rises all through the edge of a deep pool.  We took turns casting into the bend with a dry elkhair caddis, both the same size and shape but mine was just a slightly darker clay color than his.  The difference was almost undetectable but to the fish it made all the difference.  One after another I hooked up while he struggled to get a second look.  Our casts were identical, his presentation flawless, but it was color that made the difference.
  A few years later he got his revenge when he out fished me on his home waters of the Driftless waters in Southern Wisconsin but that event solidified in mind that a varied caddis box was essential if I was to have a successful dry fly outing.
  This winter I spent a good amount of time organizing and restocking a dedicated Caddis box with as many examples of caddis patterns as I could tie.  Deer hair in various colors, caribou hair (a favorite natural looking sedge wing material), and a few colors of elk hair all are important in a diverse caddis box.
  If you are worried that your caddis tying is lacking in quality, I can offer this advice; Don't. Through years of fishing them I have discovered that the rougher they look the better the trout like them.  Color and size seem to be more important to the fish than the exactness of a well stacked elk hair.  I seldom buy my flies anymore but when I do come across a store bough caddis I rub it in the mud and rough it up before I fish it. If you doubt the sense in this than I point you to the fly itself.  There is nothing pretty about a caddis struggling in the water film.  To put it another way, if a mayfly is the Porsche 911 of dry flies then the Caddis is the Ford Escort.  It may not be the best looking thing in your box but it will reliably get you form point A to point B.
And don't forget to tie up a number of good larvae patterns to compliment the dry fly.  Caddis flies also make excellent strike indicators for fish feeding on the larvae of these, and other underwater insects.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Back At The Art Thing With Dots

  The other day my little girls asked if I could sketch a butterfly for her so I got out the pad and started inking out a monarch using nothing but ink dots.  Its a technique called stippling and I had only dabbled in using it in the past.  It had always struck me that, although beautiful in the end, it was tedious and time consuming form of illustration.  For this subject I decided it was more of a challenge so I dove in head first and started to dot up the paper like a manic telegraph operator.
  Not a bad way to ease myself back into an artistic mindset especially after such a long absence.

  Of course I have to ask, Does anyone have proof that Trout eat butterflies?  I am sure it happens but I'd love to see any fly patterns people have used successfully.
If it worked on a butterfly, why not a trout?
Have a good week.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Bassmasters 2015 Swag (this ain't about trout) and I Meet Guy Harvey

  Its not about trout but its fishing and if involves hooking into any type of fish and getting some free swag - count me in.  I of course am talking about the Bassmasters Classic.
  I literally own only two poles for spin fishing. One is a salt water rod that I bought for pier fishing 10 years ago for $20 and the other is a 4.5 foot light weight trout spin rod I got before I started fly fishing and haven't used in over ten years.  This fact however does not prohibit me from attending one of the largest fishing events known to mankind.  Especially when it is only a few miles from my front door.
  So yesterday, with the temperatures below the freezing mark, a buddy of mine (who is strictly a spin fishing guy) and I went to check out the expo.
  After a few minutes of walking around I was stunned to see an icon in the fishing art world.  A personal inspiration to me and my artwork as well as a marketing genius when it comes to selling his artwork, Guy Harvey is known the world over for stunning portraits of fish.
  That there was enough to make the entire day worth it for me.  His art is by far one of the most recognizable of any fish artist, I dare say in history, and graces the backs of many a fisherman searching for ocean going fish.  Originals of his work can run you quite a few thousand dollars and they are worth it.  The quality in his work is fantastic.  The marketing of his work might be a bit overwhelming (you honestly can't walk around a sporting good store or fishing pier without seeing his shirts) but you can't argue with success.

  Another plus of the expo was the amount of toys both big and small.  Toyota had a huge booth I spent a good deal of time at - and had a bit of fun with.  Big trucks, and enough bling on boats that Snoop Dog might look under dressed.  The only thing that was missing was a party barge... wait,, I think I saw one of those as well.

St. Croix was the only manufacture with a fly rod at the booth so it was no wonder that I spent a good deal of time talking fly fishing with one of their marketing guys.  I happen to own a St. Croix 7w strictly for my bass fishing and love it but after looking over a few of their other new bass setups, I might be looking at an upgrade.  Specifically a fly rod called 'The Bank Robber'. this strong backed rod would kill some bass and I even like the name.

  An of course I hit the Simms booth - notice the bass on the logo in place of the standard trout.  I took a turn in the their GORE-TEX rain suit and a wet booth set up to test the use of the gear.  After five minutes of getting drenched, I was still completely dry.  I will on the lookout for these.  As one would expect from Simms - another quality product.

In all I came home with a tone more stuff than I can talk about in a short blog post and a load of free swag - including some Old Milwaukee shirts which are sure to be worn.
With all these sponsors throwing money and gear around like confetti I wonder - could a fly angler break into the Bassmasters Tournament and come out on top???  I might have a new mission. :-)

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Its Been A While

I wont go into why its been so long since my last post except to say, occasionally a few things in life are more important than fishing and art.  Of course I haven't been all idle in my absence from the web so here is just a few doodles and pics I have done recently to pass the very few idle moments.
.Sketching goofy fish...
A random streamer illustration
An illustration for a friend that is a big Auburn fan but stuck in the frozen tundra.
yes.. I know this has nothing to do with fishing but I am a big fan of old movies and Grace Kelly inspired me.

Hopefully I can break out of this frozen cycle of winter and get to a trout stream soon.  Here are just a few more pics of my recent activities relating to fishing.

I even found time to sneak in a movie... or two.  Ironically I caught up with the Fly Fishing Film Tour in Billings Montana... Don't ask how or why I was there, unfortunately I was not there for fishing but this find was a much needed break from a rough schedule.

And now you are caught up.  Come spring I hope to get in more fishing and even more art.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

The Greenback Cutthroat Trout

One of Americas true national treasures, the Greenback Cutthroat Trout was once thought to be extinct but after being rediscovered in some isolated streams around the 1950's, the Greenback is on its way to reclaiming much of its native habitat.
The Cutthroat is a beautiful trout and as any angle can attest, it is also a joy to hook into one.  The Greenback is just one segment of a variety of Cutthroat species that once dominated the American Rockies.
I love painting these beautiful fish and so it is not by chance that I chose this fish for my subject the other day.  Its bright colors and distinct red cheeks make it a fish just asking to have a portrait done.

Greenback Cut
Aprx size - 10x14in
Watercolor on paper
for sale

Check out new prints available at extremely affordable prices HERE on my Watercolor PRINTS PAGE.  The Cutthroat is not up yet but it will be soon.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

At the Desk Tying Trash Flies

  The other day I was looking over a few fly tying books at a book store and came across one called Fly Patterns by Fishing Guides.  With 200 flies used by guides all over the world I thought that this would be a great addition to my collection of interesting books on fly tying and promptly bought it.
   The first one that caught my attention was the Foam Emerger by Masamitsu Kasuya.  Just my speed - easy to tie and simple enough to work. Tied these up on a #16 scud hook.  Now I can't wait to try it out - I bet the Tenkara Sunfish will kill them!

From there I went into tying up a few flies I had to replenish my box.  The beetle has long been a favorite of mine so it is no wonder why I am always re-stocking them in my small fly box.  With the creeks and tiny mountain streams I go to searching out the brookies, the small terrestrials are always a viable option to tie.  A passing trout cant help to give these little guys a look.  The only problem I have had with them is when fishing them I find it hard to see them at distance.  They are usually tied in #14 or #16 sizes and with a black body, I usually just fish a rise in the area of where I think my fly is drifting.  To solve this problem I have began to add a little white nail polish to the back of these stellar bugs.
I first start off with a cut section closed cell foam wrapped to the back of the hook.  This builds a thick body for the fly and I find gives the beetle a realistic appearance. I also do not use black thread.  I tend to go to a deep purple 6/0 thread because if you look carefully at the underside of a small beetle you will notice that it is not a true black but a varying shades of deep colors that make it look to us as simply black.
I then tie in some ostrich hurls for the under body.  These are excellent to give the fly a little life as it sits on the water.  The fish sees them move and they cant help themselves.
And then finally I bring the foam forward and finish the fly off with a little of my wife's nail polish.  Its a great fly and one sure to get a few looks on a small stream or on the pond.  Not technically a Tenkara fly but it has the same result when fished as a top water Tenkara style.
Messing a bit more with the closed cell foam I whipped up a few quick wingless wasp patterns.  You can count numerous way this is not remotely like a wasp but will the fish be so discerning? I bet when they see this rushing past them on a drift they will rush it like a linebacker.  The four or five wasps I pulled from a trouts stomach last year tells me that they do dine on the stinging insects so I am betting that these will be a winner.  Thoughts?

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Orange Tenkara Kebari - Painting and Fly

I missed the Tenkara conference out west a week or so ago and much to my dismay I will unfortunately miss the Appalachian Tenkara Jam next weekend in North Carolina.  Thanks to a brutal work schedule, my fall fishing has been curbed as well as any hunting activities I had planned.
I may be missing all these great activities but it doesn't mean my mind isn't actively thinking about them so the other day I took a little time to release some of that pent up energy to sketch and tie up a few Tenkara fly.  This little Kebari style fly - painted with a bead and tied with a dubbing sack - sports the orange and yellows that brookies love.  More than any other color, I have found that brook trout seek and aggressively hit on an orange colored fly.  Even in a stream system where blacks, olives, and muddy brown bugs are the only colors of native food, the orange is the color that always hits.
  Whether you tie it with a glass or tungsten bead or go with a dubbing clutch, this fly is sure to please in any brook trout stream you visit.
  For those of you interested in owning this original Yellow Kebari painting, shoot me a message.  It will be well within your price range and will look good over your desk.
  Also take the time to visit the Appalachian Tenkara Anglers for info on the Jam happening on the 11th &12th. and suit up with a shirt at my shop HERE.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Life Rolls and A Little Brook Trout Watercolor To Relax

Small Brook Tout On Blue

My life has been so busy lately that when my wife asked when was the last time I had done a blog post I actually couldn't remember.  Of course that doesn't mean that I have been idle in the fishing or painting department.  Not only have I been wetting flies in search of lazy black bass but I have been working on a variety of painting projects including a collection of salt water species for a fund raising tournament in Tampa Bay.
  But for today I found a small amount of time to finish up a colorful Brook Trout on Blue watercolor.  As many know, the eastern bred brookie is one of my favorite fresh water species not only for its unbelievable colors but also for their aggressive takes and the remote hill streams in which they thrive.  Painting them is a way for me to remember their beauty and relax after a tough few days on the road for work.
Painted area 11x9in. - watercolor on paper
  This particular brook trout is modeled off a secluded native species I caught in the northern boarders of Greenville county in South Carolina.  The stream in which they live takes an effort to reach and I would bet sees not more that a few dedicated fisherman each year.  Choked by brush and countless ways to loose your flies, its native waters is the perfect habitat for the large amount of brook trout that call it home.  The fly I used all day was a simple black caddis in size 16 and for the brookies it was irresistible.
  This particular painting is available for purchase to the first art collector that contacts me.
  As for the other paintings that I have been working on, I will be posting the availability of these prints in the coming months on my site.  The Spanish Mackerel, Permit, and Snook are staples of the saltwater fishing community and these prints represent three of the top prizes for the boat crews in the Annual Tampa Bay BCN Gators Inshore Tournament.  If you fish the salt, keep a weathered eye out in the future for these.
  For the top prize in the tournament I have created a one of kind piece.
  This large painting is only available to the one person who hauls in the biggest fish of the day.  No prints are available there is no other way to have this original watercolor on your walls than to enter the tournament on October 10th 2014.
  If you would like to enter then click over to the registration site HERE quickly and get in on the great day of fishing.  Besides the paintings, there will be a whole lot of other prizes and swag for the participants.  So far I am told over 40 boat crews have signed up and it is shaping up to be a memorable and worthy day on the water.

  Besides the vast amount of paintings I have been doing, I have also managed to squeeze in a bit of hunting between the work load of my day job.  So far the deer are all safe and I am sure they are all laughing at me from their beds.  With any luck I will yet gather a bit of meat for the winter the old fashion way but I am not holding my breath.
  Besides the hunting I have also been able to wet a few flies in search for the lazy bass that are around this time of year.  Luckily me skills as a fly fisherman are much better than my hunting skills so I have managed to land quite a few nice fish.  Maybe soon I will be able to make the journey back to my trout waters.
  And of course, before I even think about heading to satisfy me needs to get out in nature I spend as much time as I can with my family.  Sometimes they come with me to hunt fish and sometimes as the rain washes out gullies it is just best if we settle down with a bit of Robert Earl Keen on the speakers and a little game of chess to pass the time.

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.
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.