Thursday, December 31, 2015

Good to the Last Fish

I like ice fishing alright, but for the past few years I've tried to end the year with a fly fishing trip. I'm no purist, ask anyone, but I do enjoy fishing with a fly rod more than any other method I've tried. There's just something about the casting, flies, fly tying, and, of course, the fish. Speaking of tying flies, I received a new fly box for Christmas that made it very clear that I've been slacking on my tying. 

I like to use these as a dropper off the back of my streamer
With some new flies in the box (still not full...) the plans were laid for a cast and blast trip with my brothers. After my drive up to the big city and a short night on the couch we set out on the long drive to where we hoped to find some big, willing trout. What we found was deep snow cutting off our access and ice helping to limit our options. Wes and I threw streamers while Jeff had more success fishing nymphs under an indicator.

Jeff playing a bow to the net

Wes with a nice tiger
With fishing not being quite what we'd hoped for we headed to our next destination for the blast portion of the trip. There were a few jack rabbits taken, but the highlight was when Jeff put the hurt on a coyote. I've never even shot at one of these dogs but Jeff has shot quite a few of them and is really into the predator hunting. I guess we all have our thing...

Jeff with his 'yote
It was a long couple of days, with a horrible night spent in the truck included, but a great way to round out the year. It was a good year with lots of new adventures and time well spent with family and friends. 2016 promises to be even better with Atley getting to deer and elk hunt for the first time and the possibility of more camping and fishing trips. Hope you can get out, be safe, and enjoy nature.

- Kidder

When I got home my boy Caden drew me my last fish of the year. 

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Hard Water

One of the things we always try to get out and do this time of year is a little bit of ice fishing.  When it's good ice fishing can be a lot of fun. When it's not so good it's pretty much awful. I think I'm the only one in the family that really enjoys spending time out on the ice, but my family puts up with so many of my oddities one more isn't that big of a deal, right?

Once on the ice, we enjoyed the nice morning and tried out a few different depths trying to find the fish. With only 5" of clear ice moving wasn't a big deal so I kept trying out different spots hoping to find some active fish. 

Once the storm started moving in we drilled some holes closer together and set up the shack. Just in time! Once the storm hit the snow and wind hit so hard we couldn't see more than about 10 yards and it would've driven us right off the ice had we been out in it. It's nice being in the shack for a lot of reasons, but it's nice to keep an eye on the boys' rods too. Seems like Caden had more hits than all of us combined but didn't notice. Luckily Deli was paying attention and hooked into a fish that seemed intent on stealing all of her line. Unfortunately, with all of us being in one shack the running fish it meant that tangles were unavoidable and the fish got off before we could get a good look. That was it for Deli and the boys so they helped pack things up and went to the truck for an attempt at a nap. I was left on the ice alone with the promise that I wouldn't be too long. I decided to move again but this time the move paid off on my first drop bringing a nice rainbow that got off just after peeking above the ice. I figured this was the spot and quickly moved my gear over to take advantage (Deli saw me running around on the ice and would later make fun of my goofy run). With the stuff all moved I made quick work of actually catching a fish.

A few minutes later I was fighting another fish of about the same size when I thought I had lost her at the hole. I could plainly see my lower jig disconnected from the fish, yet could still feel the fighting bow. Once I landed the fish the mystery was solved. I had somehow hooked a swivel from someone else's rig that had hooked the fish. Just about the weirdest way to catch a fish I've ever seen. 

With enough success and a weird story to tell I loaded up and headed back to the truck. Miraculously, Deli had gotten a little sleep despite the boys' best efforts at keeping her awake. Hope you can get out, be safe, and enjoy nature.

Merry Christmas!
- Kidder

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

New Rod

I don't actually need a new rod (don't tell the wife). I do like building them though, and the idea of having a new rod for still water or anywhere else I might need to cast a little further/fight a little bigger fish made me want a new one. I decided to go with a blank that I've built two rods on already (both were 8 weights, one for my Dad and one for me) in a 9', 4pc, 5wt. I like the black blank and the price is nice. The only hesitation I have is the lack of any type of warranty or replacement tip. (see the blank here)

This rod was going to be for me to keep, so I figured a little extra bling would be more than okay. I decided to do a crosswrap just above the signature that ends at 17" and a decorative wrap that is at 22" to help with fish measurements where there is a slot, a flip up hook keep (the juries still out on whether I like this or not), and a custom handle that I turned. 

The decisions that go into building a rod for myself take more time than actually building the rod and I'm always on the lookout for new ideas (Pinterest actually has some really good stuff here). While there was plenty that I was unsure about the rod turned out pretty cool looking and after a quick tryout on the back lawn I really think this is the best rod I've built so far. 

Hope you can get out, be safe, and enjoy nature.
- Kidder

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Too Busy

If you're too busy to fish, you're too busy. With that in mind I decided to slip away with a buddy of mine for a few minutes on a local stream. Even in this week with 3 performances and attending my son's first concert (he did a great job playing clarinet) I still had a window after school but before pep band on Friday. Once we arrived I knew exactly where I wanted to spend the small amount of time that we had, and headed to one of the most productive holes. His nymph rig wasn't getting love so I tossed in my Simi-Seal Leech to see if I could get a reaction. I missed the first bump but made the connection on the second and a healthy brown came to hand. With the sun going down, and temperatures following suit, we declared it a success. One more week and I'll have time to chase some fin....

Yeah, I was pretty happy to find this one

Hope you can get out, be safe, and enjoy nature.
- Kidder

Thursday, December 3, 2015

A Bit Cold Out

Every trip begins at the vice trying to anticipate what flies will work and tying up some other patterns just in case the first bit of inspiration doesn't pan out. The trip in question was going to be an over-nighter for the two days after Thanksgiving. I think about a lot of different things when I tie flies and since this session was heavy on Simi-Seal Leeches and a little soft hackle pattern I've been tying for the past 20 years, so I could afford to let my mind wander. Obviously, I have much to be thankful for including the most wonderful wife a guy could ever hope for, two amazing kids, and a life we've created that allows me to run off and spend a couple of days fishing with my Dad and brothers whenever we can wangle it.

Once the flies were tied and the equipment packed I received the call that I was dreading. My dad was on the line explaining how if we went tomorrow my brother Jeff wouldn't be able to come with us. Being the generous types that we undoubtedly are, we decided to postpone for a day so that Jeff would be available. So black Friday saw me hanging around the house until mid-day when I finally headed up to my Dad's for the short night on the couch. Before I turned in I tied everyone up a new leader and replaced a couple of fly lines for my Dad. Of course Jeff texted us in the morning letting us know that he was sick and wouldn't be coming.

Lots of deer acting dumb during the rut

It was a long drive, but with an early start and no surprises we made it just after first light. Getting out of the truck brought the reality of how cold it was. With quickly numbing hands and iced up guides we brought the first fish to hand (which of course made them colder). Whenever we come fishing here it seems like all we catch are rainbows, but once we made that comment the tigers came out in force to prove us wrong. I love catching rainbows, but having another fish in the mix definitely keeps things interesting.

Awesome color on one of Weston's many fish

Cool hooked jaw on this one

Tigers sure can be pretty
After fishing for a short while my Dad told me he was having some trouble with his 5 wt. I built this rod for him a few years ago (looking at it shows how far I've come) so I'm a little protective. Turns out part of the reel seat came off of the main part of the rod. I'm not sure if this has more to do with the weight of the automatic reel he insists on using, the cold, or if I did something wrong on the initial build (I'll let you know how the repair goes). Luckily, this was to be the maiden voyage for the 8 wt I built for him over the summer (check it out here). On only the 2nd cast he'd ever made with the rod he pulled in a decent tiger, talk about a good start.

Should be an easy fix, just wondering why it happened

Pretty good way to break in a new rod

Seems like everywhere we wet a line there were fish willing to eat. At one spot my brother Weston and I probably caught twenty or more small fish before something larger came to play. I instantly knew that the fish that had taken my Simi-Seal Leech was quite a bit bigger than anything else I'd caught that day. After a quick fight I brought the hog to the net for a quick pic and release.

She's a chunk
The cold followed us all day, but the last spot we fished seemed to be slightly warmer and we spotted several nicer fish out cruising. I tried adding a soft-hackle behind my leech but continued to only attract the attention of the smaller fish. On went a chironomid under an indicator which brought some looks and close calls but no better fish. The day was starting to run out and Weston wanted to look for some coyotes before we had to head back home so we packed it up long before I was ready to call it quits. I was sure glad to make it back home the next day but the fish that got away are still keeping me awake at night! Hope you can get out, be safe, and enjoy nature.
- Kidder