Take a dog fishing

When Finn came to live with us about a year and a half ago I was determined to have a dog that could go fish with me. At 8 months, he was a holy terror on the water. That’s not hyperbole. He sucked in the boat. He sucked while I was wading. He just plain and simply sucked at listening. He saw action and had to get to it. I was at my wits end with him but then something happened and now he’s actually pretty cool to be around. It’s fun to watch his giant dog body and his still a puppy brain fight it out daily and friends even sometimes comment on his awesomeness. He might act like a horse with rollerskates on sometimes, but he’s getting there. If I’m truly honest, that makes me feel pretty damned good. I don’t really want much out of life. I already have an amazing and very understanding wife, a job that allows me to pay my bills, a nice house in a great area, a truck, and two great dogs. One loves water and one feels the same way about water as I do about stubbed toes. If you’re not greedy that’s all it takes. Your mileage may vary but a good dog can make everything great.

So, take a dog fishing. I did that. It was pretty awesome. I’ll let the pictures do that talking.

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Let’s go home, dude.

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Check out the June 2015 Field and Stream issue

Back in April I got a message from my homie Joe Cermele at Field & Stream with this image attached. I’d sent Joe some poppers over the winter and when the art team asked for some poppers for a photo shoot, he gave them a box, and they chose one of mine. Pretty damned stoked on that. Check out page 40 of the June 2015 Field and Stream magazine for the real deal. Happy is an understatement. I’ve been reading Field and Stream since I was a child and to have one of my flies in a popper article is so cool.

June2015 Field and Stream

The jig sets for these predator sized poppers will soon be available from River Road Creations so stay tuned.

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All My Rowdy Friends Have Settled Down

There’s a simple formula for having a good life. Surround yourself with awesome people, go fishing when you can, and have a good dog or two at your side.

tippetowee

towee rain

sawyer

buffalo

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Frickaseed Photos

I spend a lot of time rowing. I don’t mind. I like taking people fishing. I also like taking pictures. When rowing I can pick up the camera and shoot. Life works itself out.

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Fishing with the Tippecanoe Fly Fishers

This past weekend my fishing club had it’s annual outing at a private lake. Lots of fun was had, some fish were caught, then my wife brought the dogs out so I stopped fished to take pictures of the monsters.
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Hardly Strictly Musky 2015

There’s a few places on the map that feel like old friends and McMinnville, Tennessee is one of them in my little world. Driving down back roads that I shouldn’t know but do and knowing what’s around those areas make it feel like a funky home away from home. I definitely have a soft spot in my heart for the Home of Southern Musky as the Tennessee State Senate just proclaimed McMinnville and Warren Country, Tennessee to be. This year the Hardly, Strictly Musky event kicked off at the Foglight Foodhouse, an awesome little food spot right on the river. If you’re in the area you need to stop by. I hear the etouffee is amazing. Before dinner, Todd Gregory of Towee Boats gave a quick run down of the rules for the event. The last rule is always the most important rule anywhere you fish; Don’t Be An Asshole. It’s the simplest rule people love to ignore. If you’re an asshole, stay home.
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Here’s where I should say that this year for me was a bit different. My boat partner had to bail. Work called and he had to answer. An aside here, a lot of folks think working in the fly fishing world is glorious. It can be I guess, but it’s still a job and sometimes that job can get in the way of fishing. Luckily my friend Tom decided to come down from Minnesota and my friend Jeff came in from Missouri. We’d decided we were going to spend the weekend helping Todd out as much as we could, fish when it felt fishy, and just have fun taking pictures. No serious faces, no stress, just fun with friends. Team Ozark Pile Voyageur was all about volunteering.
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Watching Buddy McMahon’s musky mural coming together was my favorite part of the weekend. Buddy has some serious skill and it was put on display for all McMinnvillians to see. Friday night we met up at the Collins River Bbq and Cafe for dinner and beers after a long day on the water. The Pig Farm crew showed off some of the bounty from the Get Trashed event. Get Trashed is where people fishing take a few minutes from their day and fill a bag with trash from the river. Pretty damned cool idea from the Farmers. Stories were shared and after a few drinks everyone headed to their cabins or tents to get back to the water in the morning. Some of these diehards were sleeping in their vehicles in the parking lots of boat launches to secure a spot. That’s dedication.

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On Saturday morning, Jeff, Tom, and I headed out to do a little fishing. We saw three fish but none came to hand. The fishing was tough that day. Blue bird skies and the fish seemed to get lockjaw. We floated a good section and then ran up a section to see if there were any fish. In case you haven’t figured it out yet, there weren’t. Well, there probably were but they were laughing at us. We decided then that we should just spend the rest of the day cleaning the river. Our plan was to load my boat and truck with tires. I called Greg Morgan who organized it and said where can we get rid of the tires if we pull say 50 of them out? After much back and forth, we found out the problem with tires. No one wants them. You get charged to dispose of them. So if we cleaned them out of the river, we couldn’t afford to pay for disposal. So we filled 6 bags with trash. As an aside, next year I hear there will be a dumpster where we can get rid of tires! That’s huge for the river! We get that nastiness out of it and everyone will benefit.

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We bounced off the river and headed back over to Collins River BBQ for the final night of Hardly, Strictly Musky 2015. The trash bags were unloaded and we were greeted by an incredibly happy Todd Gregory. He’d just gotten a message that Alan Broyhill had landed a 49 1/2″ musky. That was the only fish caught that day. Alan hit a homerun in the bottom of the ninth inning. Crazy how that works out some times. Congrats to Alan on the well deserved fish.
(photo credit: Peter Taylor http://www.ptpix.com/)

After dinner the swag was handed out. This year there was a mountain of swag from sponsors Towee Boats, Costa Del Mar, Scientific Anglers, Cohutta Fishing Company, TFO Fly Rods, Southern Culture on the Fly, Hunter Banks Company, 3 Rivers Angler, Vedavoo, Flymen Fishing Company, Wetfly, Clutch Tactical Fly Rods, SMITHFLY, SIMMS, Mayfly Coffee, SP3 Lubricants, MYSTIC Fly Rods, and the best prize of all, a custom guitar painted by Brad McMinn.

The winners of Get Trashed? Team Ozark Pile Voyageur. We scored some nice Patagonia gear, a rod, and random swag packed in the bags. Next year, we’re pulling tires til we’re tired..

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And then as soon as it began, it was over. That’s really the only bad part about the Hardly, Strictly Musky event. It ends way too fast. Everyone packed up Sunday, some fished, and some like me, hit the highway as the sun was coming up for a long drive home. 2016 Hardly, Strictly Musky looks like it’s going to be even bigger and better so make sure you tell work you’re busy and sign up when more info is released this winter.

I want to especially thank Todd Gregory and his Towee crew for putting on this awesome event. The sponsors and the anglers for showing up. 80 anglers from 17 states is no joke for a fly fishing tournament that’s not really a tournament in the dictionary sense. The musky tribe keeps growing and that’s a good thing.

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Lastly, thank you to Eric, Mark, and Matt Grajewski, Chris Willen, and Mike Schultz for letting Tom and I sleep on the most damned comfortable couches in the McMinnville area.

Until next year, friends…

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Boat dog, some wipers, and a Walter.

A good boat dog. That’s what we all dream about when we pick that little ball of fur out from it’s litter mates. We hope and plan and scheme that this dog will be the dog of all dogs. The dog to make all of our friends jealous of his relaxed demeanor that speaks volumes about your proficiency as a trainer. Then comes the first time out and you’re a frazzled mess. The dog is too but his mess is more literal. He’s rolling in dead shit on the shore, chewing on discarded food, chasing down poppers, and blowing spots for a mile in every direction. Reality really is a bitch. You’re done you say. Done with taking him. Done with trying. You tried and it sucked. If wading with him nearby was awful, being in a boat with him was the seventh level of Dante’s Inferno. Your inability to train him to be a dog version of a beatific angel while in the boat makes you start questioning everything you’re doing with him. Time passes. A winter goes by and that dog that couldn’t stand still for a few seconds gets a year and a few months under his belt. He feels different. He looks like a dog now. He’s filled out and there’s a confident look in his eye. He’s still full of that puppy playfulness but you start to see something else in him. He’s almost saying, “I get it now.”

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Don’t get me wrong, he’s still an asshole part of the time but he’s your asshole. You’d walk through fire and fight a bear for him and he’d do the same for you. One night you decide to take him out with you in the boat. Alone. It’s a gamble but you’re willing to roll dice and hope against snake eyes. The pay off is real. Where did this new dog come from? You correct him a few times and he picks it up. It’s amazing. You start thinking maybe you do know what your doing or at least the act was convincing enough for a dog. Suddenly you have a boat dog. He’s relaxed and makes no noise while watching people on the bank drowning chicken gizzards for catfish. He watches them with an intense interest just as he does your casting.

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A fish is on and moments later a wiper in the net. You brace yourself and wait for all hell to break loose. You stop wincing and open your eyes to see him watching you and the net. He hasn’t destroyed the boat and you’re not swimming. He’s rewarded with much praise and a few rubs on his chin. You’d almost swear he was smiling. Soon another fish is on then another and another. Back to casting a bit, watching him from the corner of your eye, and this time it’s an unexpected by-catch. A walleye. You start thinking good eating; he probably is as well. As a reward he gets a sniff and a lick. That walleye quickly goes back into the river to swim another day. The sun is setting and it’s getting dark as you head downstream to the take out. It’s been one of the best days you’ve had in a long time. That hard work has paid off in dividends as hard work usually does. The fishing was cool but the reward your boat dog gave you was the real prize.

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Things and whatnots

When I’m not fishing or tying dumb flies that fish hate I tinker. I’m a natural ripper-apart-er-put-er-back-together-er-er and I get really anxious if I don’t have projects to keep me busy. I’d try music but I’ve got the rhythm of a drunk and I’d try modeling but I’m a card carrying member of Ugly and Proud. I like seeing how mechanical objects work and I like even more when they’re not what you’d expect which is why I’m pretty excited to get tearing into a motor from my 1973 Honda CB450. The coolest thing? It has torsion bars instead of valve springs. Gonna be interesting to break this thing apart.
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The next step is making sure the frame is good, a powdercoating, parts sourcing, and then maybe in a year or so this thing will have a new life.
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There’s always something fun happening when your friends have that tinkering bug too. My buddy had some engine problems in his Subaru WRX so it got pulled. Ringland failure on 2. Time for expensive fun.
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And of course there’s The Derp being his usual self.
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Spring Adventures

Yesterday we went to a really cool property in the middle of nowhere. We were lucky enough to be able to bring the dogs along to play on the acreage and in the pond. The fish were sleeping so I took a bunch of photos of the beasts doing their thing. It was a pretty proud moment yesterday when Fritz swam. I was told he wasn’t much of a water dog and that’s pretty much been the case over the past two years. He’d stand in water in lakes and creeks but never swim and I’m pretty sure he didn’t even like standing there getting his feet wet. Yesterday he threw all caution to the wind and dove right in. Andrew and I were in a jon boat fishing for largemouth and Fritz decided to come swim to the boat. Pretty damned impressed.

In my world a happy dog is a tired dog and these dogs were dog tired by the end of the day. The second they loaded into the truck there were down and out. They ate their dinner and then slept right through the night. I could use more of that in my life.

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Find Your Water – A new series from Redington

The folks at Redington have something cooking and it’s smelling good. I can’t wait to see what the rest of the season brings.

Find Your Water: Season 1, Episode 1: Our Backyard

In the first episode of Find Your Water, follow along with Redington employees as they highlight the incredible test facility located right in their own backyard–the Washington Coast. Steelhead season is integral to Redington’s culture, and this short film makes it easy to see why fly anglers spend entire lifetimes chasing this elusive species.

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