It Ain’t Much But It’s A Lot

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This little fish is a big deal to me.

Here’s something I haven’t said in quite a while. I went fishing this weekend. That’s right, for the first time since my bonefish trip in June I picked up a fly rod and fished. It wasn’t anything to write your mother about. A buddy took me to his private pond and I sat on a boat for a couple of hours and caught crappy and a couple of bass. The one in the photo was easily the smallest but it was my first fish since my surgery and that makes him huge.

I had not verbalized it but I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to do it. I’m still very week and have no balance. My vision is a mess and hitting myself with the fly could have serious consequences. I was also simply out of practice. Fortunately, all the worry was for nothing. The hardest part was getting in and out of the boat but I stayed dry and I caught fish.

I do have quite a bit of work to do. My cast is pretty good, with a nice clean loop, out to about sixty feet. After that, it falls apart pretty quickly. I’m not spotting any fish, that’s for sure but my buddy Peter Crowe at Smith Optics is working on some glasses to get my left eye working at it’s best. That should make a big difference.

I feel bad writing so much about myself lately. Honestly, my world has been pretty small lately. There is some good stuff on the way though. In the mean time, I’ll give you a fishing tip for catching small crappy on cold windy days. Try a Woolly Bugger. They can’t resist it!

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The Scott Sector Saltwater Fly Rod: Video

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Why discontinue one of the best selling fly rods ever made?

If you’re Jim Bartschi, the answer is, because you can make it better. A lot of anglers were stunned when they learned that the Scott Meridian was being discontinued, myself among them. The Meridian was such a leap forward in fly rod design that it seemed destined to be with us for many years. Scott is not quick to rush new rods to market, so I knew there had to be a reason the new Sectoe was being fast-tracked.

By all accounts, I was right. I have to be honest, because of my recent illness, I have not touched a fly rod since June so I have not cast a Sector. Justin Pickett has though and he can’t stop talking about it. The Sector has two new design features. One is new components and the other new materials. Both bring new technology to the world of rod design.


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Streamer Retrieves For Different Current Speeds

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I’ve talked in great detail about streamer fishing since I began writing articles for Gink & Gasoline. Most of my time has been spent talking about color and pattern choice, streamer gear/rigging for both big and small water and how to locate and target prime trout water with streamers. One area of streamer fishing I’ve yet to talk about in detail is retrieve speed and candor with streamers.

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Eye Surgery Update, Good News!

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I’m two months past my last surgery and I have a lot to be thankful for.

First, I should tell you that I have lost what little sense of time I had to begin with. It feels like way more than two months, but Sept 26 was the date of my last surgery. I saw my doctor this morning and he is very happy with how I am healing. There is still some ground to cover and a bit of uncertainty, but for those who are following, here’s where I am.

I do have some PVR scar tissue from my last surgery but it is far less severe than what formed after the previous surgery. It has caused some small tears in my retina, but both the tears and the scar tissue are outside of my field of vision. That is itself unusual and a function of the size of my eyes. I have learned that my eyes are exactly twice the size of a normal eye. You know what they say? Big eyes, thick glasses.

The good news is that the laser work done in the last surgery is holding well and containing the problem. My doctor does not think I am at risk of my macula detaching again. That is great news! Keeping the macula attached is the real goal of all of this. My vision will not be good, maybe 20/200, in my right eye but if the macula we not to stay attached, the eye would have to be removed. The odds seem very high that we are winning that battle. Please knock wood with me!

The plan is to let the eye continue to heal and the scar tissue mature for about another sixty days. At that point I will have a laser procedure, which will not involve an incision, to reinforce the area where the tears have occurred. We will then monitor the healing, and if everything goes really well, I will have one more surgery to remove the oil put in my eye to support the retina, and clean up some issues left over from my first retina surgery. Both minor issues, but real surgery with real recovery time.

If all of that goes perfectly, I could be done as early as spring and move on with my life. I know that sounds like a lot but the average number of surgeries for my condition is more like six to eight. That puts me way below average, again, if all goes well. That’s the best news we’ve had and Kathy and I are both thrilled. 

I have saved the best news for last.

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Popping The Ball, Why Guides Release Fish

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By Brian Kozminski

If you popped a basketball every time you make a basket, you might be missing the point.

It’s a burning issue, and hot topic across the midwest right now. Nothing new for me, really. I received a call from a potential client the other day, I was just getting done washing off the mud and cedar debris from the Adipose in the drive-thru car wash, so I decided to take the call. The kind lady first asked if I was Catch & Release?

“Well, of course I am, ma’am.”

“But we want to fish up there next week when we are up for vacation. Can’t we keep the fish we catch?” replied the lady.

I had to take the opportunity to explain myself. I am an advocate for C&R, but also believe there is a time and place for selective harvest—meaning taking out certain sized fish in a population that is self sustaining in order to ensure future healthy size class, whether warm water or cold water species.

“I would gladly take you fishing, but if I let you keep fish, that would not only deter the quality of guide trips next week, month and next year, but also, if the word got out that True North Trout catches and kills trout, I could quickly gain a negative reputation and lose potential clients. It works like this: if you popped a basketball every time you make a basket, you might be missing the point. The relaxation, the art of tying and fooling a fish on a fly, therein lies the reward and why we chase eight-inch brook trout with a three-weight rod. Fly fishing is about the peace, the serenity and the enjoyment of seeing the beauty in nature around us.”

“But what if we let the females go?” she retorted. “My husband and I would like to learn to fly fish.”

She was relentless. I felt backed into a corner. How can I turn around a possible learning situation for these anglers and for myself?

“I would be more than happy to take and show you how beautiful the river is and some fly fishing technique, but I won’t purposefully kill or take a fish home. Simply put, if you catch a nice 18-20″ trout, I know where he lives, and perhaps have the opportunity and chance to share catching that mature fish with future anglers, even a couple more times in a year, and next year, he is a 22-24″ fish. If we take him out of the ecosystem, there is zero percent chance of catching him again or that he will be a two-foot streamer crashing trophy next season.” the best I could come up with.

“Well, maybe. Let me talk with my husband, we would like to learn how to fly fish. Do you know any other guides that will let us keep our catch?” She is not giving up easily.

“I am sorry, I do not, sounds like you are looking more for a charter boat captain and would enjoy a trip on Lake Michigan trolling for salmon or lake trout.”

“Thank you. We will get back with you. Good Bye.”

“Thank you. I am sorry. I hope you understand. If we as guides killed every fish we catch, we wouldn’t have a job in a few short years, similar to a restaurant that gives away a lot of free drinks, they don’t manage the resource very well and end up dry.”

Scenario phone calls like this seem to pop up every other week or so. Kind of crazy when I think about it. What is driving this customer my way? Google Search shows TNT at top ten? Most of these anglers are from out of state. I understand the need to bring a fish home, a bit of a keepsake from Michigan, and understandable with our of state license fees. But these fees are exactly what helps keep Michigan an often sought fishing destination. What about where they are from? I see a trend in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and even Georgia residents seeking a piece of our northern Michigan heaven. So I looked into these states and why the popularity.

First, The PURE MICHIGAN campaign. Laugh a little. I did. But a considerable

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Bonefishing: Getting Ready to Fish: Video

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By Louis Cahill

Effective bone fishing is about making a clean shot every time.

You can’t do that unless you are methodical about the details. I can tell you, almost to an angler, who is going to catch fish and who isn’t. just by watching them get ready to fish. The preparations you make when you step onto the bow, more than anything else, will dictate your success, or failure. It’s worth taking the time to get it right, every time.


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Just When You Think Your Dialed In

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Flies are tied in the truck on the drive up. The color and size that worked last year but with upgraded hooks. Rods and reels have been selected. New lines have been spooled up. Waders patched, hats, gloves, down vests all packed. We’re on the river less than an hour when the first big male brown goes in the net, followed by a nice steelhead. High fives and smiles all around, followed by a toast. We are dialed in, or so it seems.

The next morning we are reminded of a lesson we have learned time and time again. Fish are fickle, conditions change, you always work for your fish. We had gotten to feeling pretty good about ourselves that first day on the river, and why not, it had been awesome. We had come a long way from our home waters, to a very different river and we had fished like champs. The next day we got back to the business of being humble and figuring it out. By the end of the second day we had a few more fish in the net, but they didn’t come easy.

That’s the game isn’t it? Figuring it out. How long would we

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Fly Rod Grip – Keep it Consistent

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A common mistake that I see with many of my first timers is they fail to keep a consistent fly rod grip when they’re first learning how to cast a fly rod.

Without notice, they often shuffle their rod hand around on the cork, which ends up altering their grip slightly from one cast to the next. Probably the most common grip movement I see with my students is they reposition the thumb during the casting stroke. To be more specific, they slide their thumb off the top of the cork to the side of the cork, and it causes problems with casting form, makes it more difficult to abruptly stop the rod at the end of the back cast and forward cast, it seems to make it harder for anglers to feel the fly rod loading, and direct a cast to a designated target.

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Absolute Leader and Tippet From Scientific Anglers: Video

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New SA Absolute leader and tippet boasts the best wet knot strength in the business. The new Absolute leader and tippet from SA is more than new material. It’s material plus information, working together to make a positive connection to your next trophy. Jeff McGawan, of Scientific Anglers, helps explain what’s new and how to use the new color coded packaging. Watch the video for all the details on the new Absolute leader and tippet from SA. Louis Cahill Gink & Gasoline   Sign Up For Our Weekly Newsletter!  

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Expressionist Brown

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Study the stream bed, brown and green.

Through ripples and reflections, we find rocks and wood, maybe a shining piece of metal someone has left behind. Even the flash of a flake of mica in the sand, no bigger than a fishes scale. How is it that we miss the trout.

Gliding above the mud and stone he is emerald and gold, vermillion and azure, violet and blaze. He is metallic, kinetic, aesthetic. Perfect in his camouflage, he is at once breathtaking and invisible.

Look closer, he is abstract. He is pointillism, he is impressionism, he is surrealism. He is cubist, fauvist, and expressionist, he is Monet, Van Gogh and Miro. He is Blake’s world In a grain of sand. Infinity in the palm of your hand.

He is beauty, and like all beauty, he vanishes into the mundane. It is a failing of the human eye, or maybe of the heart. He is truth, and like all truth he is

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