Friday, December 28, 2012

Fly Friday - Snook & a Thanks to Fall River Flyrods & the OBN

    Its Fly Friday again and that means another post.  This morning I got up and had a few moments free so went to go get my coffee and that is when I realized I needed to do a post today.  Okay... I didn't need to do a post, after all this is just a hobby, but I decided to stick with my commitment to this blog thing and do one anyway.  Sketching out this Snook took only a little bit of time but it allowed my daughter and me to enjoy some quality time at the kitchen table; she with her sketch pad and me with mine.  Unfortunately after this I am off yet again to my day job and a schedule that will beat the life out of me in the next month.
    Also I will take this time to formally thank both Fall River Flyrods and the Outdoor Blogger Network for providing the opportunity to not only fish with a one of kind masterpiece but for this LUCKY angler to actually own it.
    I have been telling everyone I know (whether they wanted to hear about it or not) about how lucky I was to win this rod.  I just cant wait for it to get here and for me to take it out on the river and hook into some sweet gills.  Last year I fished this same rod on a few stretches of Chattooga river system but with the high reaching over 100 degrees it was a tough time.  For you that follow this humble anglers blog, look forward to a year of posts involving this fly rod because I plan on fishing it a lot.  My only hope is that I don't break it on the first trip out.  That would kill me.
    Please take the time to visit this great rod manufacturing team at Fall River Flyrods and see all they have going on.  It you are looking for QUALITY, and we all are, then check them out.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

I WON!!!!!!

Just a quick moble post to announce that I am the winner of the Fall River Fly rod contest!  Are you kidding me!!!! sponsored this fantastic traveling piece of bamboo around the country and somehow I ended up as the winner!  I'm actually to excited to think clearly right now so another post will be required to add the details but right now I'm just bragging.  Merry Freekin Christmas to me!  Thankyou , thankyou, thankyou!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Busy For The Holidays: Tattos, Signs, Drawings, and no Fishing

    A few of you out there might have noticed that I skipped the Fly Friday post yesterday.  Truth is I completely forgot about it.  With the Christmas holiday right around the corner I have busy working on projects and gifts for family and friends.  For example, this wood sign above was created for a friend that is a retired Submariner. (don't worry - he gets the suprise tonight and wont see this till then.)  For this post its about a fishy as it gets because the other sign I created was for a big car guy with an obsession for the Cadillac.
This friend even has a Cadillac tattoo and his huge garage is packed with Cadillac stuff.
    Speaking about Tattoos I thought I would give you an update on the Tatt I helped create for a fellow angler up in the North East.  A while ago I did a post on a the life cycle of the mayfly.
  This dedicated angler wanted a bunch of images for a sleeve he was creating.  Of course my response to such a request was "Hells Ya!  Where is my pen?"  After creating the images I shipped them off to him and in less than two days he had a freakishly SWEET tattoo on the life cycle of the Mayfly.  I was pumped when he sent me the images of the finished product and immediately showed my wife.
  Unfortunately her response was less than excited about it.  I simply told her that you need to be fly fisherman to understand it.  Its ok because she also doesn't understand why I get up at 4am to go fishing in a driving rain or go hiking 8 miles just to chase small trout in the mountains during a chance snow storm.  Its an obsession and to steal a phrase from the Jeep owners out there: "Its a Fly fishing thing - You wouldn't understand."
If you want to check out more images click on over to the Swamp Yankee site.

 I am not sure when the next post will be coming, mostly due to a massive amount of work that has been added to my load, so I wanted to wish all of you a very merry Christmas.  I hope your year has been a blessed one and you get to spend some quality time with the family to celebrate the birth of our Lord.  Have a Great Holiday!

Monday, December 17, 2012

(Updated)Art Clearance - All Under $45, Tenkara - Sketches - Flies

"Patrol" 8x10 Watercolor Charcoal Pencil Sketch - $45
    As I mentioned in the past, I am stocked full of sketches and paintings and with the holidays just around the corner I thought this might be a chance to clear out a few from my cluttered studio.  What this means for you is that these are priced to sell.  The sketch above - titled "Patrol" is a favorite of mine but it has been wasting away in a folder for years and it is time to let somebody else enjoy it.
   If you would like to purchase any of these works just shoot me and email and I'll send out a paypal invoice for you.  As always -Paypal invoices can be payed via a paypal account or any major credit card.
"Horse & Cowboy" 8x6 Watercolor Charcoal Pencil - $14
"Bamboo" 4x5 in Watercolor - $20
"Fujiaka Kabari" Tenkara Fly  4x5 Watercolor - $10
"Sakasa Guj Kebari" Tenkara Fly 4x5 Watercolor -$10
"Purple & Orange" Tenkara Fly 4x5 Watercolor - $9
"Ginger Quill" 8x6 Watercolor -$10
"Beaded Nymph" 4x5 Watercolor - $10
"Feather & Three Flies" 8x10 Watercolor - $14
"Poor Sally" 5x7 Scratched Black Clayboard - $8
    If you are interested in any of the above pieces - Shoot me an EMAIL HERE and I will get an invoice out to you as soon as I can.  Once the payment is made I will then be shipping it out ASAP.
    After a few days I will be re-posting this sale on a separate page but after the 1st of January this deal will end.  Prices do not include a S&H charge of $5.65 which will be included on the final invoice.  Some of the paintings will come in their own mat while a few are just naked art.  Thanks for your support over the past year and may the coming Christmas holiday bring you and yours peace and joy.

Page Updated 12/22/2012

Friday, December 14, 2012

Fly Friday - Illustrating The Mayfly Life Cycle

    Its that time of the week again and time for a Fly Friday post.  A week or so ago I was contacted by a dedicated angler who wanted me to do a set of drawings for a tattoo he was working on.  The subject of this tatt - The life cycle of the ever important Mayfly.  My response:  Are You KIDDING - Where is my pen and paper!  Of course the image above is not actually one of his tatt. Its just my fancy way of compiling all the drawings into a blog friendly presentation.
    Never one to waste an opportunity  I thought it might be a good way to present the life cycle of an insect so important to us fly anglers.
 The Mayfly is one the worlds most interesting species of semi-aquatic insects and their population health is a great litmus test to how a streams ecosystem is doing.
  Starting life as a nymph, the mayfly can live under water for as little as a few weeks on up to a year or more depending on the species.  Some species (BWO for example) are apt to swim during this stage, while others such as the PMD or the the nymph illustrated to the right, are clingers or crawlers, and a few others - the Hex being the prime example - are burrowers.  Regardless of this, the one thing they all have in common is that during this stage they all form a hard exoskeleton that protects them from the harsh underwater environment.  What it doesn't protect them from is the hungry trout that readily feed on them.
  Once the nymph has reached the end of this first growth cycle it makes its way to the surface to shed the hard exoskeleton.  Either triggered by water temps, time of day, or any number of other conditions, the mayfly does not make this move alone.  With the right time and conditions hundreds if not millions of these tiny bugs make their move all at once. It is during this transition that the little bug is the most vulnerable to attack.  Unable to evade or hide from the predators below or above, the Mayfly is easy pickings for trout and birds with a taste for the juicy insects.  This stage of development is known to fly anglers as a dun and is a key opportunity for hooking into large amounts of trout.  Once free from the nymph form, the mayfly needs time to dry their delicate wings before they take flight to live out the rest of the sort life.

 As a full grown adult the Mayfly's life is a relatively short lived experience.  It is fare to say that the life blood of the Mayfly is the water system in which it has grown up and they tend to stay fairly near that source.  It is during this stage that they need to find a mate as quickly as possible before they die.  Some species such as the Hexagenia - or Hex - fly of the Midwest often does not live longer than a single night while others can linger on for a week or so.  Simple put, these flies live out their short lives like a Monty Brewster (Classic 80's movie reference there!).  They have only a short time to spend all they got or they will have nothing.

  Once they have mated the females then use their last bit of energy to complete the life cycle and drop their eggs on the waters surface.  Anytime these insects hit the water they are potential food and in this vulnerable state the mayfly is yet again in real danger.  Fly fisherman have taken advantage of the trouts love for the mayfly laying caviar by producing some highly effective patterns with flies dropping eggs.  For the mayfly however this is really their last hurrah since shortly after they drop their eggs, they will die.
    Often they will simply lack the energy to fly again.  Their wings relax and they begin to struggle in the surface tension of the water.  Of course trout never waste a good meal and they feed heavily on these flies as well.  When you look at it from the trouts point of few, the mayfly only exists to provide food for them.  At all stages they are a tasty treat for the fish and without whom our streams ecosystems would be in a sorry state.
   So for this Fly Friday take the time to appreciate the lowly mayfly who provides us with an endless supply of inspiration for fantastic fly patterns to catch trout.
                                              Have a GREAT WEEKEND!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Sketching & A Early Christmas

  It seems that those little buggers that have infected nearly everyone I know over the previous weeks have finally caught up with me.  A massive head cold is never fun and I have spent the last two days with a head full of gunk but as I try to look on the bright side, it has allowed me more time to spend with the family instead of being on the road for work.
  It also has allowed me to complete some online testing for my job that I have been putting off.  Unfortunately, as I sit down in quiet studio to work I find myself doodling and reading the fly fishing news from around the interweb instead doing of what I should be doing. I believe that the quote is: "Never do today what you can put off till tomorrow".  Its not a lesson I encourage anyone to live by but occasionally I find myself doing just that.
  This morning I was dreaming of watching trout rise on that placid stretch of river my brother and I fished last year in northern Idaho.  A simple sketch and color pencil shading had to do to satisfy my urge to wet a fly because with the cold I am battling there was no way I was going to get waste deep in a chilly mountain stream.  Not by of my choice - I'll fish through just about anything - and have - but if my wife found out then there would be hell to pay.

    One more benefit of staying home with a box of tissues is that I get to greet the FedEx truck.  This time of season he usually brings packages for the kiddos from long distance relatives but today he dropped off something for me.
   Christmas came early for me and I wasn't going to wait to open it.   Thanks once again to the OBN, I was the privileged enough to be picked to test out a new product.  The boys over at Jetflow Hydration Systems sent me this sweet looking pack to try out.  This Tomahawk pack is unique because of the no-bladder system which eliminated the tedious cleaning of a that enclosed bladder.  Instead it uses everyday bottles one can get in any store.  For a guy like me that loves to trek into the farthest reaches of trout streams - this pack is fantastic.  Load up with a single bottle of water - add a few purification tablets in the pocket to refill the bottle on the stream - stuff my spare fly box in the perfectly sized pouch, and hit the trail.
  Now if I can only shake this cold so I can test it out!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Fly Friday - Its All About The Streamers (Big and Juicy)

  Its like a fine aged wine (any Cabernet will do) compared to a stout highball of good old fashion Irish or American Whiskey (May I suggest Knob Creek).  The dry fly is great when you are feeling a bit cultured and refined but when you are looking for a good time while going a few rounds with a the resident beef necked bully, you shuck the tiny dry and go with a fist full of feathers and hair.   
I love the dry fly as much as the next guy but sometimes I need the drug of the tug and the winter is the perfect time for that.  So for this Fly Friday I give You some un-solicited advice:  Forget the dry fly and go swing some streamers.

  As far as the art goes - I know I have been phoning it in a lot lately with the inked sketches but the list of things to do before the holidays just doesn't seem to get any smaller and time is at a premium.  The paint will just have to wait for a bit.
  But if you would like the Original of this 6x6.5in ink and colored pencil sketch it can be yours for the low price of $20 - Its on high quality Bristol Acid free paper with archival inks so it will last a Very Long time.  Honestly I am running out of room to store all the art I have created for this blog.

    One more thing - I only have a few sets of these Holiday Cards remaining and time is running out before the holiday so quit procrastinating and Email me to get yours today.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

The Greenback Trout (painting under the influence)

  So what happens when I have a flash of inspiration after a few to many seasonal Blue Moons from the great state of Colorado... I go crazy and paint up a Greenback (cutthroat) Trout.
  The Greenback -in case you don't already know - was once considered an extinct species until a few surviving groups of these fish were found in small secluded streams in the Rocky Mountain National Park.  Through careful re-introduction and the lengthy efforts of a few dedicated fly fishing groups like Trout Unlimited and the Greenbacks, this native fish has rebounded from the brink to become a poster child for native trout population conservation.  In 1994 the Greenback Trout became the official fish of the state of Colorado and solidified its status in American Fly Fishing lore.
   I took a very different approach than I usually do when painting this particular fish.  Normally I have a fairly controlled style of brush stroke; clean lines and smooth blending.  But for this I had a bit of the Blue Moon rising in me and I went a bit crazy - tossing paint around and whipping the colors together until the desk and my shirt where also covered with a splattering of the bright pigments.  I must say that I liked the finish effect and although I have used a similar style of painting on other works - I find myself wondering why I don't let the paint flow freely more often. I suspect the beer helps...

   The Greenback Trout
- Watercolor and Gouache on Paper
- Size - @ 9in x 6in.
- Status - Available
Email Me for Purchasing

Friday, November 30, 2012

Fly Friday - A Few Inked Flies

  I've been doing a bit of traveling this past week and spent most of my free time doodling on a pad of paper.  The results were a few mayflies, fishing flies, and fish (you saw the bass on Wednesdays post).  Here is a fly whose name caught my eye while surfing the net.  It comes from Classic Trout and inspired by a fly from the vise of J.B. Martin.

The Irish Whiskey
Hook Size: 8 - 14 2x 
Thread: Black
Tag: Flat Gold Tinsel.
Tail: Duck Quill of Orange, White and Green.
Butt: Green Peacock Herl.
Body: Flat Gold Tinsel with mid-point of black ostrich herl.
Ribbing: Fine Oval Gold Tinsel.
Throat: Green Peacock herl with Claret, Green, Black and White hackle fibers as beard. 

Wing: Lemon Wood Duck fibers with Claret , Green, Black and White hackle fibers.
    Anyone that loves the history of fly fishing has got to love the look of these wet flies.  Even if the success of wet flies for me is a checkered affair, I respect the look and heritage behind them.

    And then there is the classic streamers. Beautifully simple and effective, flies like this Jungle Cock cheeked Rainbow Trout streamer have proven time and time again that for hooking aggressive trout, the streamer is king.  I leave it to you to decide how to create this beauty.

Have a great weekend...

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Sketching Bass

    Today I found myself on the road and stuck in a hotel room so what else am I going to do but think about fishing and break out the pen and paper for a bit of bass sketching.  I rarely ink much now a-days and I'm not sure why.  I really enjoy the simple process of black and white sketching.  High contrasts images always have a clarity that I can appreciate.  Its also relaxing to just pick up a pen and not worry about color choices.  Another good thing about inking out images is if I ever decide to write a book about fishing I at least have the skills to illustrate it myself.  Whats a good fishing book without pictures and illustrations right?
    I went out bass fishing a few days ago and got skunked.  That was a big disappointment since I had some big old bass flies I tied up using a new batch of Clear Cure Glue I had received in the mail.  Dreaming of big bass like this one, I had sat down and tied up a good dozen heavy swimmers and couldn't wait to test them out.  Unfortunately I only had a limited time and the day turned out to be cold and breezy.  After giving it the ol' college try for three hours, I packed it in and resigned myself to to the fact that the fish just were not going to bite my beautiful flies.
    Am I the only one that is starting to wish spring would come soon?

 Anyway, with some more time to kill, I loaded the bass image into the computer and began toying with it.  I have no real purpose for the image other than I was just board.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Cyber Sale - Holiday Cards, Prints, & Original Art

    Jumping on the after Turkey Day band wagon of cyber sales, I have caved in and had my art put on greeting cards.  I have received a number of requests for this but until now thought the cost out weighed the benefit.  Truth be told it still does but I have decided to offer a limited quantity of these cards to readers at the cost I had to have them printed.  Right now I am offering only SIX sets of these cards for sale at the low rate of $13.50 per pack + FREE SHIPPING.  That's a price equal to or below any card you'll get at a Hallmark store.
    Each pack has five cards (envelopes included) featuring my newest painting - the beautiful Winter Brook Trout.  Printed on heavy card stock paper with a brilliant gloss finish, these are the perfect holiday cards for the fisherman to send out.  Inside is a grey-scale image of the same Brook Trout with the greeting - Seasons Greeting - May your New Year be filled with beautiful things -.
    When painting this fish it hit me that the deep colors of greens, reds, and white (snow like) tipped fins of the Brookie was the perfect colored fish for the holidays.  Wrap a wreath around its neck and you have a trout (Char) that screams Christmas so why not put him on a card.
    You can purchase a set of these cards by EMAILING ME HERE.  Each set is $13.50 (FREE SHIPPING) and I will email you a PayPal invoice which can be paid via paypal account or ANY major credit card.  As I said before, Quantities are VERY limited so don't delay.  Once they are gone you will be out of luck.
    For those that would like a 8x10 matted PRINT of this painting, shoot me an email and I will send you out a paypal invoice at the cost listed on my BUY A PRINT page.  Hopefully I will get some time to actually list this painting on that page but until then...
    And finally, for the ones interested in purchasing the ORIGINAL painting, it is still available!  I have set the price at $130 - a real steal for any original piece of art.  Truth be told, I would love to hang this on my own wall but if I put any more fish in my house I think my wife will go nuts.  Shoot me an email if you are interested.  This baby would be a perfect present for yourself... or the fisherman/woman in your life.
Let the holiday madness begin!

Fly Friday - A Guest Post By My Little Girl

  So I was all set to do a 'Fly Friday' post of a the ' Little Rainbow' buck-tail streamer but my little girl trumped me.  In the time it took me to do the research, draw the fly, and upload it to my computer my little artist had seven top notch flies put to paper.  Pretty soon I may have to hand off this blog to her.
  Somehow she managed to cover the spectrum of flies as well.  Roughly from top to bottom - A Popsicle, a Blacknose Dace, the salt water Crab (Center), the Drake Edison Tiger (top right), The Telico, a Red and White Bass Hair Bug, and finally Lefty's Bug.  I truly am a proud papa.
  I hope you all had a great turkey day and may you all enjoy the rest of the long weekend.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Fly (Fish) Friday - The Brook Trout

    I took the morning the other day to put a little paint to paper and made a portrait of one of my favorite fish.  Because of that I have substituted my 'Fly Friday' post with a Fish Friday' post.  I hope you don't mind but if you do... deal with it.
    I absolutely LOVE the look of these beauties.   The brook trout is one of the most brilliant and varied of nearly all the char species.
   The Salvelinus fontinalis - the scientific name of the Brook Trout - is not actually a trout.  A member of the Salmon Family, the Brookie is a close relative to other char species like the Lake and Bull Trout, the Arctic Char, and the Dolly Varden.  I believe the 'fontinalis' in its name indicates that that unlike other members of this family, the Brook Trout resides mostly in cool spring fed streams which is yet another reason I love this fish.  What better place to hunt a beautiful fish than in a beautiful remote habitat?
   To paint this fish I start off like I normally do, with a detailed drawing.  I sketch this out very lightly because I don't want the pencil marks to show through the paint and if I want to erase them later, it is much easier to get rid of a light pencil mark then a thick black one.  
    Once the blueprint is laid out I start to put down the color.  Layer by layer I build up color, careful to blend the right mixes of dark and light pigment.  Of course the photos are not that great since they are with my cell phone camera - and the script below the fish is just a later addition not on the original- but you get the idea. I could go on about the process but you don't want to hear about that.  You just want to look at a great looking fish. 

Winter Brook Trout
Watercolor and Gouache on Paper
@ 11 in. x 7 in.
Status of Original Art - AVAILABLE
Prints soon available
  Also I am working on printing up some Holiday cards.  I have received a few requests to have my art put on a greeting card so for this year I decided to cave in and have some cards professionally printed.  The one you see here is a mock up and the actual ones are currently at the printers.  When they get here next week I will do a post and let you know how you can get your own set just in time for Holiday Season.  There will be only a very limited quantity of these cards printed, priced at a rate to cover the cost of printing.  
   Have a great weekend. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

What Do Trout Eat, & Educating Kids

   When my little boys school teacher found out that I was an avid fisherman as well as a hunter she got very excited.  I was soon recruited for the special task of supplying food for a class full of four and five year old kids.  WHAT, you ask?  Feeding school kids deer meat and fresh fish.  Has the world gone completely nuts? Well.... yes it has but that's beside the point.  The truth is that this teacher takes her job very seriously and when she teaches kids about stuff, she wants it to be as authentic as possible and I respect her for it.
  Now before you get all up in arms about killing fish, let me clear the air.  95% of the time I am a catch and release angler and always try to keep the natives populations of trout in the rivers.  That being said, occasionally I do enjoy a fresh caught trout.  There just isn't much better than fresh trout over an open flame covered in butter, onions, and lemon juice and if you haven't had fresh fish then you are missing out.
   However, when that desire to have fresh caught trout hits I do not raid the native streams.  I instead head right for the put and take stream that is stocked in season nearly once a week.  These fish rarely will survive the winter and are put there just for that purpose.  I could get into the ethics behind it but that for another post.  Today I am talking about supplying fish for pre-K children.

   So anyway, as I was saying, my kids teacher wanted deer meat and fresh trout for an example of what the Native Americans ate.  The feast was going to be the culmination of a long course on Native American Indians and Eskimos and she wanted me to supply the food.  The deer meat was not a problem since I had a freezer full of it and the trout... well what better excuse is there to go fishing.
    After an enjoyable few hours on the 'put and take' stream full of stocked trout I had three nice fish to serve up.  Two of them were caught on size #16 dry midges while a third was hooked on an ugly looking BWO.  I hooked a few more but let them go on their way.  I had enough for my purpose and there is no need to get greedy.  Immediately I headed back home and began to clean them.
    I am never one to miss an opportunity to educate the kids so I asked them to pull up a chair and watch me clean then.  Eagerly they watch as I gutted and cleaned them, then I took it one step further and emptied all three trouts stomach contents for the kids to analyze.  As we sifted through the first (and smallest trouts stomach contents) we began to see things the kids recognized like a millipede, an ant, and of course a ladybug.
    The rest was a mixture of wings, insect casings, and legs.   Next was the second and slightly bigger trout.  I had a lot less bugs but they were bigger insects.  the ant to the left was one of only a few bugs we found in that one.  It was about this time that I noticed my little boy was missing in action.  I left my seven year old girl to look for more bugs in the mess and soon found my boy on the couch.  His stomach wasn't feeling 'to well'.  I guess decomposed bugs were just to much for him.  I turned on Phineous and Ferb (Its a Disney cartoon) for him and returned to help my little girl sift through the last and biggest trouts meal for the day.
    The last trout had nearly nothing in his belly but what he did have was amazing.  Besides a few large wings from some sort of beetle, he had a wasp.  As you can see from the pic to the right, trout are apparently not to effected by stings.  This amazed my daughter.  She couldn't believe that a fish would eat a wasp.  Bugs, Yes.. but a wasp?  It was too much.
    I finished cleaning the fish and cleaned up the bug guts before my wife saw them on her kitchen counter.    As for the kids special Indian feast, I am told that it was a mega hit.  There is only about twelve kids in the class and they finished off three whole trout and a pound of deer meat.  My boy was star and the only complaint I heard of was from one other little boy that was real angry that his daddy didn't fish or hunt.
    The moral of the story, take your kids out into the great outdoors and teach them about the world in which we live.  They will thank you for it for the rest of your life.