First float of the year

It’s spring. Sort of. It’s been a kind of bi-polar spring which should be expected in Indiana, I guess. I recently spent a day on the water with my buddy Scott. The water was still cold, hovering right in the high forties. The smallies are waking up from their winter vacation. I brought three to hand and this early in the year, I consider that a win.

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We floated all day on water I’d waded small sections of but this was eye opening to the beauty of this central Indiana watershed. Bald eagles, waterfalls, rock gardens, and high bluffs all make for one amazing trip. It’s easily some of the best looking water in the state for smallmouth habitat. Everything looks fishy.

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I can’t wait to float this water again. It’s not far from Indianapolis so if you’re in the area and need a smallie fix, look Scott up. You can find him through Wildcat Creek Outfitters. He runs trips down this river from spring through fall.

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Winter Park Forge

A few weeks ago my friend Larry posted a photo on his facebook about a handmade knife he’d just received from a friend of his. I asked about it and he put me in contact with Kevin from Winter Park Forge. For those folks who know me, they know I’m a huge fan of handmade knifes and hell just about anything where you can see the craftsmanship that went into it. I’m in love with the processes that lead to a finished product. When I was a child, my grandfather gave me a few handmade carving knives. Looking back, I’m amazed I was trusted with these tiny little blades that you could shave with. I remember sitting at my desk in my room and staring at the metal of the blade, the grain of the wood handle, and the way it all came together to allow me to hack out carvings as I mimicked my grandfather’s beautiful woodworking skills. I still own those knives and they’re still as sharp as a shaving razor. I’ve bought manufactured carving knives in the past but they don’t work like those handmade ones. They’re missing the soul. It’s as simple as that.

So, this new tanto neck knife. It’s awesome. That’s not hyperbole either. It fits in the palm of your hand but it’s size to weight is deceiving. This thing is solid. I dig solid. My plans for the knife were to have a nice blade I could carry in my boat bag or around my neck while on the water. It’s not made it there yet. I’ve been showing it off too much to friends so it sits on my mantle waiting for the local rivers to not look like chocolate milk.

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Here’s a few words from Kevin:

The process: Trace the pattern on 52100 ball bearing steel. Rough cut the knife profile. Clean up the shape and grind the bevels. Trace out the handle scales. Cut them out on scroll saw. Then it’s heat treatment time. Triple normalizing relieves stress points in the molecular structure of the steel and refines the grain. Then the hardening… Heat to 1950F then quench in warm oil. The knife is then tempered in an oven at 350F for two, one hour cycles. The scales are glued and pinned, shaped and polished. The sheath is pressed from thermoformed plastic and finished.

You can follow along with these pics.
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If you’d like to get a badass custom knife made, make sure to contact Kevin at Winter Park Forge. I’m glad I did and now I’m trying to decide what other knives I’d like to have made.

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Life won’t wait

It’s been a busy few weeks. I can finally sort of catch my breath and relax a bit. Spring is here. Rivers are blown. The weather is slowly warming. My patience with this winter broke. I’m ready for smallmouth bass, long nights by a campfire with friends, and waking up to the sound of birds in the trees.

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Learning to dog

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Finn has been with us a week now and what a week it’s been. He’s settling in quite well in his home and with Fritz. He thinks the cats are toys but he’s slowly learning that chewing on them is a bad thing. We’ve had the usual puppy issues but he’s honestly picked up very quick on what he needs to do to make his life easy. He’s had a few accidents in the house and there’s been some lost sleep but it’s getting better every day. I can’t get anything done when my wife isn’t home but who cares about fly tying when there’s a goofy puppy who defies physics just waiting for you to play with him. In his first week he’s learned to come to me, to sit, leave it, and how to tell us he needs to go outside. He stays close outside while off leash and is sort of taking to being on a leash. Little steps and we’ll be leash walking soon.

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Today we went for Finn’s first long walk with some friends and he did awesome. He’s learning the subtleties of dogdom so he can grow up to be a productive member of the family. After a few hours of following the big dogs around as best he could he was done for the day. We loaded the dogs up in the car and it wasn’t two minutes later, he was fast asleep. Those few hours he slept were glorious. The best kind of puppy is a sleeping puppy.

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Spring sprang

Yesterday was the spring equinox! Finally, after a long and seemingly endless winter, I heard birds chirping and saw some early hatches off the creek behind the house. Soon the waters will warm, the Towee will come out of hibernation, and the fishing will be on fire.

The dogs enjoyed this weather by playing in the yard. Fritz is teaching Finn the niceties of dog life. One of my favorite shots from yesterday is the third photo. Finn tried to grab the lens and missed. Puppy balance is awesomely bad. The closed eyes falling backwards capture looks almost serene. The expressiveness of a dog’s face is something I love photographing. The gamut of emotions seem to play out on their goofy mugs.

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Finn

Back in January a friend’s dogs had a litter. The dad is a chocolate and the mom is a black lab. Six puppies were born. Two died, one right after birth, the other three days later. Two chocolate and two black labs were left. The two blacks were picked quickly by other friends. The two chocolates needed homes and I wanted a lab. Fast forward ten weeks and Finn showed up. I got to choose between him and his brother. That’s a tough choice, but I think I chose correctly, at least I want to tell myself that. It’s always a crap shoot.
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My neighbor called a friend who was also looking for a lab and he came over after I’d made my decision. He spent about an hour with the dog and he left with his new puppy as well. That ended well because I’ll be able to see Finn’s litter mate and see how he’s doing. Finn took to Fritz right after everyone had left. I pulled out my camera and shot some pictures to capture his first weekend with our family.
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He sleeps and takes all meals in his crate. Last night, he whined for a few minutes but went right to sleep. We were lucky and he slept until about 5:30am. Fritz usually wakes us up at 6:30am to go to the bathroom so I’m hoping after some time we’ll all get on the same schedule. So far he’s taken to his crate and hasn’t chewed any bedding. We do keep teething toys in there with him and I did have two towels to rub on both the mother and litter mate in there with him. I wanted to make sure his transition to our family was as smooth as possible for everyone involved.
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Today he’s gotten a bit more comfortable and is letting the puppy out. It’s been a long time since I’ve had a puppy and I’d forgotten how one track minded they can be. The giant feet and the floppy ears make up for the tiny little puppy teeth though. Today we’ve done some work with a few commands, he’s even done “come” at over fifty feet which really impressed me. He’s already retrieving balls way too big for his little mouth. I can’t wait to experience training him and with Fritz by my side, I’ll have an incredibly smart training partner.
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Today has been full of “oww oww oww” “leave it”, and “no, Finn”. In fact I just heard my wife correcting him. He probably just went after our 14 year old cat for the hundredth time today. She’s stubborn and wants to sit at the back door. He thinks she’s a toy. No one is going to win that one. Obedience classes begin soon and I’ll be working with him daily. This dude won’t get a break and hopefully by summer we’ll have a dog on his way to becoming the next Fritz, but one that actually will go into water.
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Tie One On at People’s 3-10-14 was a great time!

If you’re in the Lafayette, Indiana area on Monday nights you need to stop by People’s Brewing Company for a beer and some fly tying. We’re there from 6pm until 8pm tying flies and telling a whole bunch of lies. Spring is going to be here soon so get those smallie patterns ready!

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I bought a boat

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A couple of years ago I started seeing talk about a boat that was made in Tennessee that could do it all. I started seeing guides using these boats and the water they were fishing looked like what I fish. Shallow and rocky Midwestern rivers. I started researching them and really liked what I saw. They went on the short list of boats I’d contemplate purchasing. I finally got to see one last year at the Southern Culture on the Fly Tie-One-On-Athon. That sealed the deal. If you can fish musky one day and salt inshore the next from the same skiff, sign me up. I kept tabs on Towee all year, keeping up with their new offerings and the cool things they were doing. Last summer I bought a house. Suddenly I had a lot of room to park a boat. Having a very understanding wife, she gave me the green light this winter to put in my order on a custom Towee Calusa. I got every option I could. I got the rowing frame, forward casting deck, electrical, pro trailer with tilt and swing tongue, and a bunch of other accessories.

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My order went in and the wait began. I’m only patient when I fish. Waiting for my boat, well, that damn near drove me nuts. All I could do was think about it. Night and day I thought about it. This was going to be my first nice boat and I was like a kid on Christmas. Todd Gregory, the owner of Towee, kept me in the loop during the entire process. From our long talks about what I wanted in my Calusa, to giving me time to really mull over my decisions to make sure I was actually sure, he went above and beyond for me. I had planned on going crazy with some wild color but in the end I went with white. They just look so damned good in white.

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This boat is going to do everything I need and more. The amount of water that it will open up to me locally is going to be incredible. My plans are to pick up a 25hp motor for it, a trolling motor, and a power pole at some point. When I went down this weekend to pick it up I got to hang out with some of my favorite Southerners, catch a musky on a popper, and bring a new boat home. You can’t beat that at all. I can’t wait to get back there in May for the Hardly, Strictly Musky – The Southern Classic.

To find out more about Towee Boats, check out http://toweemarine.com/ and like their facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/ToweeSkiffs

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Revive Fly Fish Journal

The new Revive is out. I have a little piece in it. It’s got me dreaming of warmer weather and longer days on the water.
http://www.joomag.com/magazine/revive—a-quarterly-fly-fishing-journal-volume-1-issue-4-spring-2014/0594411001388785401
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Check out Jake Keeler Art on Midcurrent!

You might remember a few weeks back I posted a painting Jake did of my last musky. He’s being featured on Midcurrent. Check it out

http://midcurrent.com/art/jake-keeler/
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Click here to buy a print!
http://society6.com/JakeKeeler/Pilecastius-the-Dragon-Slayer-Necromancer-2#1=45

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