Scott over at Vedavoo always has some cool things going on but this one takes the cake. Check out http://www.vedavoo.com/product-category/reel-service/. Some of the best fly fishing artists have handpainted bags, boxes, and a gear set and a raffle will raise money for Project Healing Waters. The goal is to raise over $10,000 for Project Healing Waters. The artists include A.D Maddox, Paul Puckett, Andrea Larko, Jeff Kennedy, Eric Hornung, Josh Udesen, Jonathan Marquardt, Ty Hallock, and Derek DeYoung. That’s a lot of talent right there. Tickets are $10 per ticket, 6 for $50, or 12 for $100 until the event ends.
In June the Wabash was out of it’s banks in places. In September we’re wiggling the boat through channels we usually float through in search of big gar. That boat can get through some small water but this adventure tested it. The silt at our feet was three feet deep and it would suck you down and hold you in place. Not a fun feeling when you’re pulling a boat loaded with gear and a kid who is wearing his Jordans and talking smack to you as you wrench a boat that’s suction cupping to mud through a channel it doesn’t want to go through. The Towee impressed us because I can’t think of another boat that we could have snaked through that channel as easily. A wider boat would have never made it and a heavier boat would have had to have stayed on the main river. It’s nice to still be impressed by a boat after two years of ownership.
We could see a whole slew of gar busting surface in the little lake off the channel. Breathing air using their swim bladder as a lung. Gotta love a dinosaur. The gar didn’t want to play ball but we kept at it. Saw some really good sized ones but the cold front and storms seems to have put the bite off. The kid decided he wanted to learn to row the boat. I could get used to that. All he’s gotta learn is how to avoid rocks and we’ll have a rowing slave. That’s like winning the lotto.
Until next time..
I turned 36 this weekend. I used to think that people in their 30’s were old. How wrong I was. With age comes wisdom but I know I don’t know shit from Shinola. Maybe when I’m 80 I’ll have a clue but I have a feeling I still won’t know shit.
My friends and family treated me to an excellent weekend full of fishing, shooting, amazing food, and great laughs. I felt spoiled.
Got to check out the new location for The Tattooed Heart in Lafayette, Indiana. It’s killer. It’s an old building full of character and hell there’s even an old bank vault in the basement for those whiny customers to spend some time out in. My buddy Dan was getting his first tattoo by Paul Meadows last night and being that I turn 36 on Sunday I figured I’d get two small new pieces to commemorate another year on this spinning ball of dirt that’s hurtling through space at 67,000 miles per hour.
Here’s a couple shots I randomly took during the night. Big congrats to the guys at The Tattooed Heart on their new shop! If you want to make an appointment click the link here, stop by the new shop, or give them a call.
The Tattooed Heart
125 N 4th st.
Nate had never caught a fish in Indiana. He also had never caught a gar. Saturday he checked those boxes on the old bucket list. It was a baby gar but it was still really cool to see. We got into a whole slew of gar who couldn’t stay on the rope. That’s a blast, even when they’re only on the line for a few seconds. I finally cracked a good smallie on that river and it reminded me why I always keep a hook on my gar flies. Til next time..
This October we’ll see the launch of the newest Towee fishing platform and it’s going to be a game changer. The newest addition to the Towee Boats line up will be a drift boat that will do to the drift boat world what the Towee skiffs have done to the skiff world. A 16′ drift boat made from the lightest, strongest materials without sacrificing fishability and style while remaining affordable.
The Towee drift boat will come with a newly designed trailer as well as oars and everything needed to get right on the water. This new boat will have some very interesting features that every fly fisherman will find useful but streamer junkies will love. I can’t get into all the details just yet so stay tuned over the next few months for more information on the Towee drift boat
I’ve always loved night fishing. When I was a kid I remember sneaking off and drowning worms under a bobber at a local pond when respectable citizens were sleeping. I don’t remember really catching anything in that pond. A catfish or a crappie here and there but that was about it. I’m pretty sure it had to do with the tons of lead shot in the water from the pond’s former life as a trap shooting area. Growing up in an area where the environment has been wrecked for progress – you take what you can get.
There’s something about being on the water as the sun goes down, watching that last sliver of light winking out like a snuffed candle. You truly feel a little smaller in stature as the darkness sets in around you. Your cocksure attitude on the river turns a bit more cautious when your vision is limited to a few feet around your boat. The rocks seem a little taller and a bit sharper in the dark. I like to think of it as nature telling you that she’s still the boss. Summer floats on the river sometimes provide the best fishing you’ll see until the fall feedbags are strapped on. The big fish move from their holes and start cruising for food. The mayfly hatch is so thick you take smaller breaths so you’re not choking on them. You squint a bit to keep them out of your eyes. The bzzzzzz of a bug in your ear becomes common. These damned bugs are everywhere and on everything and if you’re like me, you don’t have dry flies in your fly box. Hell, you don’t even have a nymph, a scud, or hell anything tied on a hook smaller than size 2. Fuck it. We planned on poppers at night. We’re going to fish poppers at night.
This float is around 5 hours under normal circumstances. That’s fishing fairly quickly with little backrowing except to keep the boat aligned. I’ve stretched it into 14 hours and I’ve made it as short as 3 hours. It really depends on the fish. At night, 5 hours can seem like an eternity. At 10pm it’s starting to get really dark. River dark. You come up on houses and they might have a light on, some have parties going on, some really have parties going on. You get cat called from the ladies who love to “WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO” when drunk. The same ladies who have smoked since ’78 and sound like they gargle gravel. Their husbands are sitting in plastic chairs near the fire tipping back some cheap watered down beer and calling it the best damned thing to happen to America since John Wayne. They yell out encouragement if they see you. Sometimes you hear the random comment about “oooh they’re fly fishing, that’s so weird.” and then it’s back to black. The moon and the sounds of the night close in. You see eyes on the banks as the raccoons, deer, and who knows what else come down to the river to drink in relative safety. The raccoons don’t seem to be bothered too much by the river rats in Poison ’85 tour shirts.
A fish is picked up here and there. They can come from anywhere at this time. Lots of cruisers over the rocks. The beasts do indeed hunt at night. There’s another type of beast to be aware of at night on any river. The drunk river rat. These types of beast are usually a white male, 30 to 60 years old, who has knocked back a few too many and gets the idea into his head that running his river jon at full speed with no lights on is a smart thing to do. I’ve encountered this subspecies of man a few times on the water. They’re definitely not as rare a sighting as a sascrotch or a double breasted canoe flasher. A drunk river rat is surprisingly dense and does not seem to learn from previous mistakes. Lower units are not a drunk river rat’s best friend.
The history of drunk river rats can be traced back to the dawn of alcohol, boating, and stupidity. They followed the trails blazed by humanity’s best and brightest throughout our species’ journey out of Africa and across the plains of the world. Their progeny hopped ships bound for the new world and after much breeding, in and out, we’re left with today’s version of the drunk river rat. A curious creature who sees no harm in flying down a dark river with no regard for anyone else’s lives. We had a run in this weekend with two of these creatures. They were running flat out around 11pm at night. They had no navigation lights on and they were motoring straight at us. We started screaming at them. I started rowing for the shore to get to some sort of safety. They change course and head towards the shore. We’re still screaming when they finally come to a stop not far from us. They seem confused. It’s eerily reminiscent of watching an ape charging a primate researcher only to check themselves right before the collision. They didn’t respond to our very easy questions from our boat. They started with “WHAT?!?!” and ended with “THE FUCK?!?!” The drunk river rats continue on down the river. The motor is cranked back up and the navigational lights are still not on. The drunk sitting on the bow of the boat would be rocketed off the front if they do indeed hit a rock. We kind of hope they do hit something and disable their boat but luck seems to smile on people like the drunk river rat.
The sound of their motor slowly disappears around the next bend. Our adrenaline is pumping and all the peacefulness of the night float is gone. We’re on edge waiting for more drunks to come down the river at us. We’d seen them heading upstream earlier in the day, it only makes sense they have to come back down. Thirty minutes or so later we come upon a gathering of drunk river rats and the boat that almost hit us is tethered at their dock. We hear their drunk babbling, we hear the drunk river rat women “WOOOOOO’ing” every time Freebird comes on. A dog barks. My buddy and I look at each other and shake our heads. Every damned trip is an adventure on this river. He goes back to casting and picks up another fish or two before we call it a night.
I’m a half pot of coffee in and I’m looking at pictures I took this past weekend. If you saw them they’d show you that the fishing was okay but there’s more dog photos than fish so it must have slowed down at some point. I know exactly when it slowed on one river. It was about 8:30am Saturday when the aluminum river boats running jets across the rock gardens at 30mph started showing up in their usual droves. We were floating a very productive section when we’re passed by multiple boats in rapid succession, all heading towards the dam. Now, for the folks who don’t fish my local haunts, this is not a wide body of water in the least. In some places barely a few hundred feet across. It’s shallow, it’s rocky, and in the minds of some folks it’s a NASCAR track.
When you run up and down a small river at high speeds you are bound to create wakes. Those wakes smash the banks of the river. After a day of this, the water looks like chocolate milk 5 feet out from the shore. I’m no scientist but I’m guessing it doesn’t help erosion in most cases. I know sure as hell that it turns the fish off until the water clears. This brings me to common courtesy and river etiquette. What happened to it? Did it ever exist or have people always been assholes? When I was a kid my grandfather would take me out fishing and he’d slow down when passing a boat that was moving slow or anchored. He said, “respect their space.” and “treat other people on the water like you want to be treated.” He’s a smart man.
From my grandfather I learned never to fly past a person who is anchored, who is floating, or hell even bank fishing. Slowing down your boat takes seconds and it’s the courteous thing to do. I’ve seen fights on the river, I’ve been involved in yelling matches, and it’s solved nothing. I’ll ask an inconsiderate asshole to slow down and most times they’ll look the other way as they continue on their way. Sometimes they flip me off. Sometimes we exchange words. I keep a running count of people who do slow down and don’t pass at full throttle within 30 feet of my boat and it’s 1. 1 single guy passed me last summer and slowed down. His son asked, “Daddy why did you slow down?” and he responded, “Because it’s the nice thing to do for people on the water.” I thanked him and he smiled and waved. It was a nice encounter that is almost non existent these days.
In this day and age where entitlement runs high it’s an easy thing to forget about other people’s feelings. I’m a really easy going guy, especially on the river where I try to find some balance in life. I hate leaving the river hating humanity more than when I launched my boat.We seem to live in a me-me-me world and think nothing of our fellow humans. If you’re guilty of flying past fisherman on a float just think about how you’d feel in their shoes. You’re slowly working that section of river and suddenly a boat roars past causing wakes and scares the fish for hundreds of feet. That turns the bite off. I hear people say, “Oh the fish are used to the sounds of the motor.” No. No they’re not. If they were fishing would not shut off at sun up as the Dale Jr’s of the river start their engines. Next time you’re flying down the river enjoying your time on the water make sure you’re not wrecking someone else’s time on the water. It’s not new math and it’ll make you a better person at the end of the day. I’ll give you a thumbs up and hell, might even buy you a beer if I see you off the water.
Don’t be a dick should be everyone’s mantra. It would go a long way in solving a lot of problems we face in this world.