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.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Southern Trout Magazine Interview + More Great News


  I wanted to share this exciting news that happened to me during my brief hiatus from the blogging world.  A lot of you that follow my facebook page or read Southern Trout have no doubt already seen this but for the rest of you that missed it I'll recap.
  A few months ago I was contacted by Don Kirk, the chief editor and architect of Southern Trout Magazine, about doing a profile on me and my art in his magazine.  Luckily I was sitting down when I received this humbling news.  For a guy like me that started to paint fish for the simple reason that I wanted a few nice trout paintings to hang around the house, the realization that other people I didn't even know wanted to see my work is still a bit surreal.  Its one thing to have your friends and family say that my paintings are good but its a whole other animal when strangers want to interview me about my art.
   After doing the interview I was soon after contacted again, this time by Leah, and asked if they could use a photo of mine for the cover.  Of course I promptly agreed.  The photo they chose was one I shot earlier in the year of my beautiful Abel Fly Reel on a slab of granite on my beloved Chattooga River.
    My Abel fly reel is by far one of the best reels I have ever owned or fished with.  Its one of those pieces of equipment you just cant help to take a photo of.  I relate it to a car guy and his prized Cuda or vintage Model T roadster, give it a good backdrop and its a picture worthy piece of art.  Put the Abel Reel on a hand crafted bamboo fly rod from Fall River Fly Rods and its the complete package.  Fantastic!
  But wait, there is more.  They also asked me if they could use one of my Tenkara articles of a technique known as the Normal Drift with subsequent articles to follow relating to Tenkara.  In short, you are now looking at a regular contributor to Southern Trout Magazine.
  Wow is all I can say.  I would have never thought I could parlay my love of outdoor art and fly fishing into a pursuit that other people would want to hear about.  The fact that most of my paintings now only stay in my studio for short amounts of time before being shipped off to new owners is still amazing to me.
   
   If you haven't taken a look at Southern Trout Magazine yet, I strongly recommend that you click over a enjoy this free read.  Its the perfect thing to read on the back deck with a tall glass of sweet tea and a bit of Old Crow Medicine Show playing in the background.
Enjoy!


Monday, June 30, 2014

No, I'm Not Dead...yet


  Rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated.
    Yes, I am back after taking over a month off from blogging.  For those that have faithfully followed this blog for years and for those just discovering me, I send you my apologies.  Sometimes life just throws a lot at you all at once and you need to prioritize what is important.  As you can imagine, blogging is one of those commitments that comes in last in a long list of priorities.
    Despite my absence from the blog, I have not remained idle not have I stopped painting.  In fact A lot of things have happened over the last month that are really quite exciting.  I wont go into all the boring things that have been happening with my day job but I will say that the next twelve months are going to be a very exciting time for me.
    On the home front, I spent some quality time with the family on a great camping trip to the beach.  Collecting shark teeth and roasting smores over a campfire was just the remedy for a stress filled few weeks at work.  The camping trip came right after a very painful biking crash that took the better part of two weeks to recover from.  Luckily nothing was broken but I was missing a lot of skin and received a few deep boon bruises that have slowed me down a bit.

    After that, my brother-inlaw and a buddy of mine took a backpacking trip up to do a little trout fishing in
the hills of South Carolina and Georgia.  With the scabs of the bike accident still healing, the lugging of a forty pound pack wasn't the best thing to do but once we got to fishing it all just kind of melted away.
    For those that enjoy packing all you need in a pack that can fit on your back, setting off into the wild, and loosing all cell phone coverage, you know just how great the adventure can be.  In the end, you hurt, you stink, and it may take a good ten minutes to scrub the dirt off but you always leave with a smile on your face.  I caught more trout in two days than I could keep track of and for the first time in over two years I didn't care about taking pictures.  It was a bit freeing to not have to think about taking pictures of my catches but when I got home I began to wish I would have at least taken a few shots of the beautiful trout I had hooked.
    I did a lot more stuff (including fishing) over the past few weeks but I am not going to go into it and bore you all with the details more than I already have.  From here on its all looking forward.
  Yesterday I picked up my paints for the first time in quite a while to paint a few fins.  My wife love the look of bluegills and frankly I enjoy painting them.  Unfortunately for her, the bream never stay in our house for very long.  The past three bluegill paintings I have done have been quickly snatched up by eager customers and every time my wife lets out a deep groan and pout followed quickly after by the statement, 'Awe shoot, I loved that one.'.
    If you follow my facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/hexfishing then you have no doubt already seen this work.  To my surprise I received four messages inquiring about this piece within hours of posting it.  As of right now it has not sold but the amount of interest shows me just how many people love the little bluegills as much as I do.  You might not want to brag to your buddies about the mess of bluegills you caught the other day but for a simple fun afternoon there is not much better than hooking a school of these aggressive bream on a fly rod.
Two Bluegills On Blue
overall measurements (including wash) 11inx14in.
For Sale

  And since this is a blog that has a long history of trout photos, here is a rainbow I took a photo of the other day at our new Cabelas trout tank that just recently opened right down the street.  I don't know how much I will actually buy there (I still love local small businesses) but the trout and bass tanks are a pretty cool thing to look at.


Thursday, May 15, 2014

Splashing Paint For Trout

  I did a little splashing of the paint today as more of a stress relieving practice than anything else.  I had a few things in mind to paint but when it really came down to it I painted what I enjoy painting the most.  Big surprise - Its a trout.
  Here is how it started an a few quick brush strokes and a bit of drying time later we had a finished piece.
As a stress reliever this did the trick and it felt good to finally have a small bit of time to sit down and do it.  My work schedule has been killing me and finding time to spend with the family, much less paint for fun, has been at a premium lately.  Unfortunately it looks as if the coming months will only get worse so if you are a devoted follower of this blog then I apologize in advance for the lack of posts that are bound to happen.
 If you would like to purchase this original trout watercolor just shoot me an email.  It will go relatively cheap to the first good home that wants it.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Tenkara Revolution

  That's right, its another Tenkara Post.  I was asked to go fishing the other day by my little boy and I thought it high time I taught them how to cast and handle a fly rod on their own so with a little coaching and demonstration I handed him the rod and he let loose.
  I have been extremely busy lately with various projects and my day job so creating art for the sake of art has taken a bit of a backseat.  However as I sit on a rare amount of free time I decided it was high time to create my own little Tenkara Revolution Poster.  Tenkara has developed into a cult like obsession for the true believers and a zen type of fly fishing for others but one thing holds true for all those that do it - they all have a little renegade in them.  Embracing that inner revolutionary is a part of the experience.
 Now about a little recent fishing I've done lately.  Last weekend I took the rod to the pond. I know its no monster but boy was he proud of it and to hook and catch a bass on his own was a big thing.  If you are looking to get kids into fly fishing and want a setup that has style that is easy to grasp then join the revolution and go get yourself a Tenkara rod and forget the reel.  However For you older folks who might think the Tenkara thing is a simple thing below your skill level you might be surprised with the wide rang of skills it takes to master this eastern style of stream fishing.  It is best described as fly fishing boiled down to its simplest form that takes a few minutes to learn and a lifetime to master.
 I absolutely love taking mine on trips and backpacking adventures.  Its simplicity and light load allows one to be free from all the trappings of fly fishing gear.  If you haven't don it yet - what are you waiting for?

For those of you wanting this design for yourself then check out my tee shirt shop
Hexfishing Designs
Choose your color, and size tee and show your inner revolutionary.