Sunday, March 31, 2013

Spring Sunfish With The Kids

    Finally I got a chance to wet a line and as an added bonus I got to take my kids out to reel in a few sunfish.  After all the Saturday chores were done and the water was warmed, I packed up the car loaded the kids and picked up me brother in-law for a few hours on a hidden pond.
  After a few missed opportunities of my boy hooking into some fish on a worm and bobber I tossed out a olive bugger in size #10 and let him do the res of the work.  Happily he spun the handle on my new Abel Reel and took only a few seconds to bring the fighting fish into his hands. 
   Of course after seeing her brother spool in a sunfish my little girl need her shot.  After unhooking the fish and tossing it back I tossed out the bugger and immediately hooked into another fish.  My daughter couldn't get it reeled in fast enough.  Happily she told me to the beautiful fish needed its picture taken just like her brothers.
  Immediately after hooking into the pair of fish my little ones decided to forgo the fishing and do what they really had come to the pond to do - throw rocks into the pond.  I sent them to the far corner, away from the fish, and then had my fun.  Hooking into another good half a dozen of these eager fish, I wore out the olive bugger till not a hackle remained, hung it in a tree limb and then packed it in.  All in all not a bad way to spend a few hours.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Random Bass Bug - Back To The Roots Of The Blog

Its just a random fly I sketched out a the other day that I then digitally messed with a bit.  Its the type of quick fly sketch that got this whole blog thing going.   Its a fly that gets me thinking about the monster bass that could hit it if I could just get out and fish it.  Its the quick type of painting that keeps my mind thinking in that artistic mode of thinking.  Its the type of fly that makes me wish this colder weather would finally give way to full on spring..... Man I need to go fishing!!!!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Sweet Sounds As Spring Slowly Springs

  Maybe not as early as last year but slowly spring is creeping up on us....very VERY slowly.  Down in the south the Bradford Pear trees are blooming, the oaks are sprouting new growth and the grass is greening up.  It might still be too early to plant a garden (last year my tomatoes were already calf high by this time) but slowly I can see spring coming my way.  As I passed over Ohio the other day however I felt sorry for the Mid-westerners   For miles upon miles all I saw is fields covered with the white stuff.
  Just from personal observations I can tell you that the spring song birds of the south are starting their migration back north and with their slow flight to their summer homes they bring with them their songs.  The yellow song bird above (poorly photographed with a cell-phone) is my response to the sweet chirping sounds of spring.  May all you up north soon hear it as well.

    On another topic, some of you might remember my painting of a pumkinseed blugill a few weeks back.  Well after I posted this particular painting on net I had a flood of emails with requests to purchase it.  I'll save you the details except to say that this painting is obviously no longer available.  Why I bring it up is to show you what it looks like in the custom cut mat.  I have had this done on a few other original paintings and love the finished look with a cutout to place a favorite fly.  The pictures don't do it justice but let me tell you that once I had it in the mat and brought it home I was tempted to send out a refund and keep the painting for myself.  Sometimes I feel this way and it may sound corny but often I get attached to works I have created.  I am told that this painting will end up as a gift from a son to his father- a dedicated angler- and I cant think of a better home for it.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Mayfly Ink Graphic

Mayfly On Ink

    What do I do with a few free hours in the morning and not enough time to go fishing or break out the paints?  I ink up an original Mayfly dry fly.  I didn't set out to ink this great looking fly smack dab in the middle of a ink spot but it quickly evolved into this great contrast of black and white.
    So why sketch this?  Why not?  I was bored, I already read the paper (which was depressing), and I needed another topic to post about.  I also needed a new image to toy with in my fancy new design software.  After I sketched this out on a simple 6x8 sheet of design paper using sharpies and my imagination I digitizes it.  But an image like this needs something else to add to it so from there I messed with it some more.
   Add in some squiggle designs,  a good looking text, and some other modifications and you got a fly  graphic. I could continue to expand on the process but you wouldn't read it and frankly it bores me to talk about it so I'll just leave it at that and let you see the finished product.

   And after I did all that I decided to see what an image like that would look like on some apparel.  Before you ask, I am not showing you this to try and sell you something.  I am only showing you this to show you what I can do with these simple sketches.  That being said, I might just find a way to add something like these articles to my wardrobe.  Who doesn't need a new stream side fishing hat?

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Going Native With A Tribal Trout Plus A Trout Logo

   For this weeks art post I felt a little like going back to the pen and ink illustrations mostly because of time constraints.  This Tribal Trout drawing was a product of me learning a new computer program.
   This past week I ran into some real problems with my computer and its inability to do what I wanted it too.  The problem arose when a client of mine needed a certain type of file and size for a few images he had commissioned me to do.  I had completed them and he loved them but the printing company he had doing his tee-shirts and sticker printing discovered some flaws in the digital files that prevented them from printed them.  I'll save you the details since they are quite uninteresting.  In the end the good news is that I now have a computer platform and design software equal to the quality of art I believe I can produce.  The only problem now is I need to learn the ins and outs of this complicated software and as a guy that only really learns by trial and error I set out to use it.  The result is this sweet looking tribal trout.  Hand drawn then fed into the software program for me to tweek till I am satisfied.
    I know what your thinking - What does this have to do with fish?  My answer - Nothing.  But when your fishing trip is trumped by my commitment customer satisfaction, a Tribal Trout is what you get.  If you clicked over here to read about fishing then just keep reading.

    Now the image above does have something to do with fishing.  A month or so ago I was contacted by fellow blogging Hunter/FlyFisherman Steven of  His request might seem odd to some of those out there (including my wife) but to a guy like me that enjoys both FlyFishing and bow hunting it was a perfect fit.  "Can you put antlers on a trout?  You know, make it like a TroutAlope." Steven asked.
    My answer - heck yeh!  After a few weeks of emails back and forth and a few renderings of ideas in the sketch book and this is what you get.  Click on over and check it out.  I can promise you this - this is an up and coming website that you will see around a lot more.  And when you do remember that original Brown Trout with Antlers logo was created right here.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Announcing The Big Winner

   Well the time has finally arrived.  Time to announce the Winners of the little contest I began last month.  I want to thank all of you for your support and entries into the contest and if I could afford it I would give all of you a little something but unfortunately, just as in life, there are winners and loosers.
Today we hold a celebration to the winners.

    After writing up all the names of the people that entered the contest and adding in all the extras for the additional re-posts and sharing of the contest, I had around 70-80 slips of paper to toss into the hat.  (Actually it was my computer bag)  Mixing it around and stirring it up I reached into the bag and pulled out three names.

    From third to first the winners were drawn.
3rd Place - Winner of the 'Brown In Hand Print'
    Jason Tinling
2nd Place - Winner of the Hex Fishing Tee & 'Apache Trout' Print
    Gardening Boots 
1st Place - Winner of the original Cutthroat Trout Painting
    Brian from Fishing Journal

Congrats to the winners.  I will be contacting you over the next few days to get the details on shipping your items.  For the rest of you, thanks again.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Weekend Trout Fishing With A Buddy

    This past weekend a buddy and I took to the river and hooked up with a whole lot of trout.  Okay, to be honest - My buddy hooked into a bunch, I was more of an observer barely holding my own.
    We had planned to head up into the North Carolina mountains and hit some of those storied waters that are loaded with fish but looking at the regs we realized that a whole lot of the accessible water was closed for the month of march.   So with North Carolina out of the running I began looking for plan B.
    My buddy is a spin fisherman more accustom to bass than trout.  Even with the constant encouragement to give the fly a try he remains a die-hard spin man.  Unfortunately that limits some of the water he is able to fish so I went flipping through at a few books I had on the fly tying desk on SC waters looking for a good stream to fish.  Eventually I came across a section of river I had never fished.
    Truth is I never even knew that there was trout in it but after researching it I soon found that the section is heavily stocked in the winter months and during the HOT summer months a few even hold over in the very deep pools.  Occasionally anglers have even found natural trout in the more isolated sections tucked far away from the corn chuckers that never venture far from the road.  In short this was perfect for my non-trout fishing buddy.  We didn't want to stay near the road but I wanted to make sure he was going to catch fish.  I also wanted to have the opportunity to catch native fish.

Throughout the day my buddy was hooking into a whole lot of stocked fish while I watched with slight envy but still happy we were catching fish.  I eventually found a hole and hooked into a handful of very clean brooktrout on deep midges, SanJauns, and Killer Bugs.
    After hiking up the stream and working the water along the way, we finally came to a deep hole that had been funneled between two cliff faces.  Scaling the rocks and clinging to the side of moss covered granite we mad our way into a section of the river I am sure few anglers have ever gone.
We stood on top of a rock that looked into the depths of the deep pool below and the monsters we saw down there were enough to get your hear pumping.  Dropping enough weight on the line to sink the Titanic I began to sink flies as deep as they would go.  My buddy did the same and in the next hour we caught a bunch of fish.  Of course the spin rod and salmon eggs won over the stockies but occasionally we would hook into a native or hold over trout.  My buddy was amazed at the noticeable  power that native fish had.  After pulling in a nice 13-14 inch stock trout he then hooked into a native rainbow and thought he had a whale.  It turned out to be only 9-10 inches but the power it had and its aggressive nature had both of us fooled.  Lesson for the day - nothing beats a stream raised trout!
    In the end we left the stream happy and dehydrated.  On the way back to the jeep we even managed to grab a few beat-up stocked trout for supper.  At home, over beers and broiled trout, we reminisced with our family and friends over a great day on the water.
   Good by winter blues and hello Spring Fishing!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Painting The Pumpkin Seed Bluegill On Lilly Pads

Pumpkin Seed Bluegill On Lilly Pads
    I got home the other day from a very long stretch on the road and needed a quiet day at home.  I had thought I would be hitting the water but with the frontal system that rolled through the area yesterday and this morning I was certain that the river would be blown out.  So with a quiet house and warm water dreams on the mind I set to work painting another bluegill.

  Starting out I had in mind to paint a standard bluegill but as soon as I opened the pad I knew that this painting needed something else.  I sketched out the bluegill and then added a few lilly pads and then added something I have never attempted before.  By sketching out a lilly pad flower just over the pads and fish it not only added an element of beauty but a great contrast for the dark colors of the painting.

  After sketching out the fish and dropping in a base coat of color I then add detailed washes of color to add depth and character.  Dropping color and using gradients of pigment to build up the body of the fish I gradually began to see the finished blugill emerge off the paper.  In the early days of painting I used a masking fluid to save the white paper from over paint but as I grow as an  artist I find myself having much better control over the flow of the water and pigments.  Now I rarely ever use a masking component and rely on my hand to save the white on the paper like on the flower pedals of this painting.
  After painting the majority of the pumpkinseed bluegill I then begin working on the lillypads. After the lillypads I then finished up the fish and began working on the soft white lilly pad flower.  There are many color varieties of lilly flowers but I chose to paint mine with a standard white outside bright yellow interior.  This combination gives the painting a much needed splash of white to to contrast the colors of the fish and has the added benefit of bringing out the yellows of the belly.
    I love spending the summer hours fishing these aggressive little fish with a fly rod.  Often you will find them in pockets feeding on anything that hits the water while other time you need to choose your flies carefully.  I once had a #2 bass popper on and was jerking it across the top of an old farm pond when I had one of these bluegill hit it.  The bluegill was much bigger than the normal gills one sees but still the body of the popper was twice as big as the mouth of this fish.  How he expected to get such a meal down is beyond me but he gave it a try.  It fought like a champ on my 4W rod and it wasn't until I got it in that I realized it was not a bass.  What I learned that day was not undervalue these fish.  I have always appreciated the color variety they poses but as a game fish most people toss them in the junk pile of bait stealing fish.
  I however - along with a growing amount of fly anglers - often go out to target these fish.  I once read a book that was written around the end of the 1800's that described the bluegill as the perfect warm water fish for dry fly fishing. The book was written in a time when catch and release fishing was not even a thought.  Anglers and fly fishermen kept everything they caught and used it to supplement their food supply.  After spending the last few years often fishing along side a spin caster I can see just how much better the fly is when targeting these fish.  They truly are a dry fly anglers perfect warm water fish.  I only wish they would get much bigger.

"Pumpkin Seed On Lilly Pads"
Watercolor On Paper
Size - @ 11"X 14"


Email For Pricing

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Whats Your Favorite Trout Fly

  Its a simple question but the possible answers are limitless.  What is your favorite fly for trout?  Is it a streamer or dry?  Is it a nymph, a midge, a beetle?
  Most of us will start to answer this question with the standard answer - it depends - but lets be honest, that a cop out.  Regardless of water conditions, temps, and flow rate we all have those one or two flies that our saving grace.  They are our crutch, the flies we retreat to when everything else has failed to produce.  They are the flies we never leave home without and if we ever did there is bound to be and extra pinned to the headliner of our truck.  They are the hail marry pass to save the day and we all have a special connection to them.
  For me its the simple Black Nose Dace.  Extremely simple to tie and it works on almost every predatory fish in the water but in the end the reason I go to it is because I have confidence in it.  Have I ever been skunked while using it?  Heck ya but I still go to it when times are tough.  I have it sizes 16 through 4 and frequently wish I had tied more of them.  They might not always be the best fly (Streamer) for the conditions but I still toss it out there because I trust in it.
    So I ask you, What is your favorite fly?  What is the fly you think about when you sit down at the tying vise and go through the flies you lost last time out on the river?