Wednesday, June 29, 2011

RipCor Blog Contest Updates

Yes, I said it--"updates." I have concocted a second contest to run concurrently with the BlogRod, and it should be a really good one. First, though, let me update everyone on rod contest.

BlogRod Contest
While 7wt isn't exactly running away with the votes, it is in the lead ahead of 5wt. I have to say that I'm a little surprised; I thought I'd be building a 3wt for sure. It's all the same to me, and building heavier rods is, to be honest, a little easier than skinny stuff.

I've already got a list of three blanks that fit the profile, and I think just about anyone would be please with each one. The exact blank, though, is up to all you voters. After this voting cycle ends, I'll post on the blank options with personal reviews and information about each one.

I realize that this voting cycle has been long, and I appreciate everyone's patience with it. I made it long so that I would have time to devote to a few other things baby-related, like finishing a nursery for my son who is officially now overdue. The rest of the cycles voting on each option (blank, seat, grip, guides and wraps) will be shorter. They'll be just long enough for me to complete them and post pictures of progress before the next cycle begins. So...things will be picking up speed very soon.

Second Contest
I have decided to do another contest that relates to conservation of your own local water. This will be starting in the next two weeks or so and run for a full 30 days, with two giveaways at the end. Here are the basic details:

  • To be entered in the contest, you must send me 5 flies of your choice. If you tie your own, that's great--send me 5 of your favorite patters; if you don't tie, just grab 5 of your favorites from wherever you buy them and send those. Any 5, it doesn't really matter.
  • There will be two winners
  • The contest will consist of who can collect the most pounds of garbage/trash from their local water. This is an open-ended deal--you can collect from as many places as you want around you, but you have to send photos of your trash and be able to weigh it (hand scale, bathroom scale, whatever). As we go through the contest, as I get photos and weights of trash collected by contestants, I'll keep a posted, running tab going. That should keep the competition alive, nervous and stressful enough to make everyone collect MORE! The bottom line is, the person who collects the most pounds of trash by the end of the contest wins.
  • Since not everyone has the time to devote to collecting trash for hours a day, and since some are blessed with unusually clean waterways, I've made this a two-headed contest. The one winner, described above, will be meritorious. The second winner will be randomly selected. Since everyone is doing their part to clean up their water, this allows everyone to equally have a chance at winning something.
  • The prizes will be two divided lots of the flies everyone sends in. So if 10 people send in flies, the two winners will get 25 flies each. If there are 40 contestants, each winner will get 100 flies each. Not a bad haul for just picking up trash! It's an especially good deal when you consider the long and short-term benefits to the wildlife and other people who enjoy that water. I think anyone will be able to take pride in actively participating in a real conservation effort on their home water(s).
  • The dates for this contest are July 15 through August 15. That means that any trash collected during those dates officially counts for the contest.
  • For this contest I'd appreciate if you'd "Follow" the blog officially (which will help you keep tuned to updates about the contest).
  • To enter, send an email with your name, address (in case you win!), email address and blog/website to and I will give you the address for fly mailing.

More details to follow!!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Two quick Sunday Notes

I have been getting a hankerin' (that's a technical term in these parts) to do some "real" photography out on the water. With the arrival of my first child now imminent, I was given the order by Mrs. Corridor to get "some good shots of the baby" in the hospital. That meant setting aside my Sony Cybershot that I use for fishing and hauling out the big guns--an RB67. For you digitites, this will shoot at the equivalent of 100+ megapixels. That is some quality.

So, having gotten out the RB and gone over it fairly well, it's renewed my fever to get it out on some water for fishing duty. Obviously with a camera this size, cost, etc. I won't be shoulder-slinging it and wading with all my damn fly gear. My plan is to just get some good fish-catchers and follow them around. Any volunteers?

On another, though still fishing, note, there is a second contest in the works. This one will run along side the BlogRod and rely on reader's work in their local waterways. I won't give too many details yet, but keep an eye on the blog and the Facebook page for details. This one will be fun!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Fishing Updates

I'm still hunting trash and I think I found the honey hole for it. ...real trash, not the finned sort that I was really after. It gets pretty frustrating by the end of each summer seeing all the fisherman-brought trash that the wildlife have to live with afterward. I've lost count of how many baseballs, softballs, tennis balls and every other sort of ball I've seen washed up at my closest carp spot. Very disappointing.

My buddy Chris and I tore off after some little known, little visited and little fished water we found via Google Earth. It's accessed by a gravel road up the side of a bluff right off the interstate. Pretty wild to just rip right off the highway and up a hill.

We were rewarded with a really promising-looking bit of water--a quarry lake of unknown depth and unknown inhabitants. Very exciting. We were hoping for a structure-laden bluegill pond, but this was interesting in its own way.

In the hour or two we spent there, we saw gar, carp, bluegill and green sunfish. I can only imagine what else calls this home. I have a feeling some very large fish swim in here.... I cast to a single carp almost the entire time while Chris was hooking up with 'gills and a 24" gar.

I couldn't help but to appreciate the secludedness of the place, even though it was really close to the highway. It seemed like a little harbor of wildness amidst a world that didn't care to notice. I'll go back, I just don't know when. (There are a LOT of ticks out there, a lot even by my standards!).

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Stumped (Update--just figured it out)

Walking along stalking for Carpies, I spotted this just ahead of me. "Hey look at that, that's a water snake eating a leech! A big leech!"

I chased and watched for a few minutes and realized that there is no way that's a leech--way to big. So if not a leech, what's getting eaten here?

You can see here the distinctive seven gill "holes" on the side of the body and the fin-like top and tail. Eyes are possibly visible just to the left of the holes and a bit higher on the body. It's a fish of some sort...

Here's another look at the gills and an awful look at it's mouth, a semi-round soft mouth on the bottom near the front of the head. This is one odd little creature that, by now, is no longer among us.

Any ideas on what this is? It's from a freshwater, warmwater lake that is fed by a large creek and empties eventually into a major trib of the Missouri River.

It is a lamprey!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Trash Talk

Some of you know that I have gone to the dark side of fly fishing recently. I found a local hole that holds Buffalo, Carp and Drum...along with Gar. It's a trashfishing quadfecta that had me at "hello." Well, not really, but it does sort of have my attention for the moment.

I wouldn't go down alone, so roped a buddy into it. He hooked this Freshwater Drum his first time out. He's lucky in trash. I still say these are darn cool-looking fish, and they almost have a saltwater look about them. I was jealous...still am.

He nailed it on a Headstand off an Orvis 3wt. Not bad. Fat cicada tummy!

After getting a couple of Grass Carp on previous outings, I was ready for some new kind of trash. Seeing his Drum, I took over Chris' spot when he vacated it. I almost immediately hooked into something which I figured was a Common from it's profile in the water.

That's one thing I am really enjoying about these trashy guys--sight fishing. See-Cast-Catch. ...Or that's how its supposed to go. It did for this fella', a Smallmouth Buffalo. Apparently they are really good eating, but it killed my appetite for three days because of the fish smell it left on me. Yes, I did shower; it just didn't matter. Gross, but fun; alluringly fun on 3wts. *grin*

I could hear it saying, "Nooooo!"

BlogRod Update

So far I have nine votes in for opinions on what weight it ought to be. Now nine votes are great, but I'm up to 41 if you haven't voted yet (maybe you're coming late to the start of this), go ahead and let your voice be heard.

So far, the 5wt is winning out, but 7wt is close behind. I'm a little surprised, but with a lot of votes left to chime in, things could go any which way. Fun stuff. That being said, I've got some fun options for either a 5wt or 7wt big-gun.

Thanks for voting!

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Trip of a Lifetime

From its conception, we figured we were in for the best trip of our lives. In the end, that trip changed us. It changed us unexpectedly, and it changed us for the better.

My best fishing buddy, Chris, and I had planned the trip weeks ahead, and talked about it no fewer than once a day during those weeks of waiting. We set up camp on Sunday night, having left earlier than our days-off officially began and arriving late that night. As usual, the dark made navigation on basically unmarked roads in no-signal territory interesting. We found it despite the area's best efforts to hide the campground. Per tradition and universally understood rules, we checked the water immediately after setting up house. Seeing this-and-that and being close to water again made us both ready for morning light which would bring a better view and, hopefully, wild trout.

We quickly identified a cream #24 Mayfly hatch, and I switched to a matching pattern; a few casts later I was connected to wild McCloud rainbow. The joy of the moment surged through me, and barely being able to concentrate and contain myself, I stripped in a modest rainbow. This was one of two highlights of the trip for me; I stood in awe of this little fish who had come to make Missouri his home.

The small Mayfly hatch came and went throughout the day, but clearly peaked around eleven in the morning. Multiple large clouds of the hatch worked their way over our heads and downstream. Surprisingly, the fish were not highly selective on dries and seemed to take anything light-colored, regardless of size. I was happy to tie on larger flies and had great fun watching trout hammer my #16 yellow Humpy.

We moved downstream for a full 8 hours and through a section that stretched our wading abilities and mettle. I was sure I was going to get my leg chomped by something, or get a foot stuck and go for a bath—Chris did draw some blood on a boulder—but we successfully passed a deep section via a hell-walk on land and death-wade in water. I told Chris several times that this had better become worth that travail, and I was getting seriously discouraged that it may not. It did promise to take us into even wilder territory, and should wild trout live there, we couldn't help but wonder what lay ahead.

As we rounded a bend, we were met with a glorious riffle and an equally gorgeous run above it. After missing a few fish in the riffle, I worked downstream and found a small slot beside the bank. A mid-length cast and a short drift ended with a small splash, and my fly was instantly traveling faster than the current. And much faster. The fish gave a quick and cumbersome leap to show its head and size, and then took off downstream like Rocketman. I had about 20' of line stripped out for the cast and drift, and that was quickly pulled from the water and through my fingers as the fish put himself on the reel. A shout for Chris got him wading toward me from the riffle where I later learned he caught nearly 40 trout.

He arrived on scene to see the back and forth battle with this fish who seemed determined to teach me what “wild” meant in this territory. A handful of runs and a few long standoffs downstream all passed and we were both ready to bring the fight to an end. He gracefully let me bring him to hand, raise him for release and photo, and be rod-measured. That, I knew, was the scaled, gilled embodiment of “wild.”

I gave him some spa time, and while I still think he was being a little over-dramatic, took off strongly after a few minutes rest, cradled in my hand all the while. I've now had a few of these moments of reviving a large trout after a real battle; it has proven every time to be an experience of indescribable happiness, satisfaction, and even romance of nature. The world is blinked away in an instant when a big fish is hooked, seems to irrevocably vanish during the fight, yet somehow returns in a new, refreshed, and rewritten way during release.

Not all the fish I caught were big; I enjoyed the vibrant beauty of countless 5-7" fish that faded in photography. Outside of the moment, everything is faded off-stream that was once brilliant while there.

At the end of the second day—the last day—we were satiated. We had fished the majority of the good sections of the stream and seen more than our active imaginations prepared us for pre-trip. We were exhausted from being surrounded by the scenery that, at its core, held truly wild trout. By fishing and catching in that stream, we had enjoyed an honor, being ourselves a rare presence on water that is both wild and admirably refined at once. As tolerated intruders we tried to take it all in, but so much is unavoidably left behind, and found again only when our line falls back to the water.

Driving home, we continually reflected on the moments, now memories, that passed before us on the water. A change began to settle into our fibers. I understand now it is an inevitable change that is one you are found by, never the other way around. That change, or at least its beginnings, is the realignment of yourself to the stream. You begin to view your own life as relative to the water, those inhabitants, that passion. What was once merely a part of life becomes life itself, and all water becomes “home water.” You feel, at every re-approach to the water, that you are coming home. You are changed to one who comes fishing, never again one who goes.

All this, and yet still this trip is not my best trip. There are, in some sense, trips that are higher quality than others, whether that be in the number of fish, the size of them, the company (or lack thereof), the setting, or whatever one trip's distinguishing features are. No doubt, some trips are better. This trip during which we were changed was a better trip, a very better trip. Best, though, it was not.

The best trout trip is ahead. It is always ahead, luring you forward into the next trip. And while the “best trip” remains locked in the future, just out of reach, it never lies. Every trip has that moment where you know it's fading, having lived its life and about to be over. Once a trip begins to languish, hopefully gracefully, the next trip is born. Possibilities are suggested. Rumors are aired. Old hankerings are brought up. In that intermediate period, the next trip speaks and you hear, “I am the Best Trip, come find me.” And we go looking.

At this point, one cannot help but begin to see the tangible significance of conservation. The “next trip” depends entirely on it. Organizations, such as Trout Unlimited, work and speak for the preserving the habitat of the trout and for the trout itself. No doubt, the effort in itself is worthy; they are both beautiful things which instill humility, appreciation and responsibility. There is more, though, to conservation; there is the preservation of all “next trips” that, otherwise, would vanish as quickly as the trout. Conservation is the air that next trips breathe in, and is later let out as a softly spoken invitation.

We go on that next trip not because we are gullible, not because we are foolish, but because we have been changed into one who knows that best trip will come. It won't be the trip of a movie or even a great book. Standing wearily, maybe even frailly—but comfortably—as old men in water we call home, in a way beyond what we care to understand, a life of trips will be woven together into a single story--one long and brilliantly faceted trip. It becomes, in the realest sense possible, the Best Trip, for it is the trip of a lifetime.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Fish on the Brain, Technology...not

I dramatically underestimated the complexity of mobile-use of my favorite social network--good ole Facebook. I regularly update my status via my phone, and get updates/comments/whatever else notifications on that phone. I updated twice yesterday afternoon following two momentous events.

After getting my second grass carp on the fly yesterday afternoon, I posted to the world immediately. A few minutes later, I got a notification on my phone telling me someone had commented on my status, "Can't wait to see him!" The frustration of having my camera miles away with my wife, I responded via text message, "The only photos were taken by the wide-eyed kid next to me. [My wife] had the camera."

I realized a moment later that the status comment I had just re-commented on wasn't the one about my carp, but about my in-utero son. An hour earlier, I had posted, "Ultrasound measures Trip to be 6lbs 6oz..."

I guess my mind defaults to fishing-mode. Ooops.


The time has come to start the BlogRod build and giveaway! I've reached 35 followers, and am ready to start finding out what you guys want.

I made a poll that appears on the top right of the blog with some questions--weigh in and on July 2 I'll take it down and put up the next one.

The next question will relate to what blank to build on, so be thinking now about what type of action/feel you'd love to add to your arsenal.

Vote and have fun!

Oh and one vote per person...please.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Finally, a Carp!

I wasn't the only fish-stalker out that day sight-fishing.

My first carp came at the peak of the Cicada hatch, and NOT on a Cicada fly. I noticed that while they were going for the 'cada flies, they were not getting hooked up; so I tied on a small #12 hopper pattern and made it act like a Cicada. I spotted this ghost about 40' out, made a single cast, and no more than a second after dropping it on its nose....VOOMPH! A ten minute battle on bringing it in and running back out ensued before it was in my net and ready for photos.

I'm not going to go all roughfisher, but I did really enjoy this fish. A fun and surprisingly technical diversion from Browns. I have a feeling these are going to get a LOT harder to catch after these 'cadas disappear. Fun morning!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Stickered-up Fish Rides

I've always loved stickers, even when I was too sophisticated to call them "stickers" and only said "decals." For the most part, I sticker up everything, and my truck is no different. There is something about making your ride your own with a simple, sticky-backed piece of vinyl that feels right.

So, send me a photo of your stickered ride you use to get to fishy waters and maybe even a little story about it, and I'll feature it in a future post.

Send photos to me at

A Blog Worth Reading

I don't have as much time as I used to for reading other people's blogs, much less for finding new ones. I took a break this morning and ran across this one, and I'm really glad I did. ...hopefully, I'll have time to read it again!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

A Night's Tale

I had to get away. I did get away. I took the afternoon after a workday, drove down to my favorite water and camped out. I've been dying to nightfish this river again for weeks, and too many "almost went but didn't" were piling up. The decision to camp came at an odd combination of times: 1) fit perfectly with my exhaustion level and likely inability to stay awake on the drive back after an all-nighter on the water and 2) Memorial Day weekend. I headed out Monday afternoon, hoping to catch the river and campground in mass desertion. Basically, I did, but I was still nervous about finding an open campsite. I figured if I didn't, I'd either sleep in my car or drive down to the Eleven Point and camp on a gravel bar. Thankfully, I ran into very helpful campground Hosts (those people are always the coolest) who directed me to Site #128--an available, Basic Walk-in site.

Host: "Go get #128--it's open and definitely the best one. It backs right up to water."
Me: "That's great, sounds perfect! Thank you!"

I was a little suspicious when the road that took me to #128 turned continually away from the river, but I figured he was the host and I was the camper. Finding #128, I found it was a road over and away from the river. Oh well, it's open...I'll take it! The old host was nice and helpful, but clearly he's a little confused....

Later that night, as I was drinking some coffee, I happened to look up in just the right direction and see this water spigot. A huge "Ohhh!" moment dawned, and I felt like a real idiot. So that's the "water!" Well, I still hold him responsible--you can't throw the word "water" around like that in a campground that backs up to prime Ozark trout water. It was a clarifying moment for me in more ways than one, but certainly I know now that I consider fish-water more important than potable-water.

I parked the 4Runner triumphantly in the drive, quickly unloaded my tent, pad and bag and went to work setting up home. I arrived on-site about 7pm, with just enough time to get out on the water afterward to wade up in the light. After the recent flooding, I'd heard the river had changed a lot, and that's dangerous for a solo fisherman in the dark. I was previously very familiar with it and could wade it with my eyes glued shut--now, though, there were new holes, deeps and hazards. I figured I'd better see 'em once and remember where they were for the dark wade back.

The campsite became increasingly less scenic the more I looked (and smelled) around. I definitely felt like a fireman--running straight into where everyone else is running out of. I completely confused the check-in lady by...well, checking-in. The looks I got from the few holdovers in the surrounding sites confirmed that I was going against the acceptable norm. They looked at me like I needed a calendar. I looked back like they needed a clue.

A team of yahoo canoers with coolers is not what I wanted to see pull up.

I fished almost through the night, having waded quickly upstream in the fading light of a clear sky. Rather than casting, I spent more time making mental notes of "OK, at this tree, wade left" and "Everything's OK through here until I get to that plastic bag in the tree." Though I didn't throw much line in the light, I did have the chance to stop and talk to a few old timers who were still fishing. They didn't care that the holiday was over, and I think they appreciated that I didn't either. I had some of the best on-water conversations I've ever enjoyed; they were all bar-like in honesty and warmth...not the more typical operating-room coldness. No one likes to see another fisherman on the water, but sometimes, under perfect conditions (i.e. one is leaving), it works out that two guys meet for the first time and pick up on a conversation that never really was begun. There is a "you're like me" tone that old fisherman offer to a few lucky souls, and they usually offer good advice right after. One yelled back to me from downstream, "Will! Fish the tailouts!" With those words he gave a knowing nod, like he'd just given me the keycode to the bank's safe. "You're like me...aintcha?"

I didn't throw down any mad domination on the trout that night, in fact...I didn't hook a thing. I had some interesting companions the following morning and day, though. This friendly otter was pretty badly injured, missing an Oreo-sized piece of fur ripped off his back. He seemed generally ok, but was saddeningly unafraid of me. I don't pray for animals too often, but this guy got a streamside prayer.

Night fishing is weird. Guys who do it are even weirder, I'll admit that. We excuse or try to hide the nonsense of the endeavor by claiming we do it in the name of better fishing and bigger fish. Maybe that's true, but to be honest, I've never had better fishing or bigger fish at night. I guess that means I'm just weird. Apparently, they are also the subject of myths, shared between daytimers; I was asked by one, as I headed upstream, "Are you the guy who throws mice here at night?" Huh, there's someone else who fishes this at night--I thought I was the only one, and I'm no mouser, so there's at least two of us. Damn.

There is something about it though, especially alone, that draws me out there. It depends how you take the dark, being surrounded by the current and surprisingly unfamiliar sounds of nighttime on the river. ...Nighttime in the river. When it get's to be real night, really dark, your entire world shrinks to the few cubic yards that are illuminated dimly by your headlamp. The water diffuses and steals that light, making seeing the bottom sometimes impossible. The reflection off the surface of the water beams upward, showing you the undersides of tree limbs and banksides--these suddenly flash into existence without warning or intention, seeming to appear out of nowhere. Eyes glow and glare curiously from you out of the blackness in the corridor along the water, and sometimes from the water itself.

Danger is there; it is one of the more hazardous ways to fish, but when you collect your mind together into a little ball of clarity, refusing to let it wander, and gather it into a cast beyond your light, you are rewarded with the greatest feeling of anticipation possible. Casting in the dark, sensing the drift rather than seeing it, it feels like you're fishing off the end of the world--and who knows what might be caught there.

So I fished through much of the night's dark, and finally called it quits when the caddis and skeeters were so intense that I couldn't walk forward with my headlamp on. Besides the obvious frustration of being swarmed by hundreds of little buzzing bugs, they are just big enough to reflect back a blinding amount of light when they fly in front of the headlamp. It was like waving a sparkler in front of my face in otherwise total darkness...and it brought a new meaning to "I can't see shit." Figuring that as time wore on I'd be forgetting my mental notes about trees, holes and plastic bags and would have to make most of the wade back without my headlamp on...I started back. So, in the dark I slowly retraced my steps, occasionally forgetting a crosspoint or crossing too early and wading deeper where I thought I'd be ok. It's a bit like closing your eyes and trying to walk down a highway, but you figure out ways to make it work. At least the holes don't move. I made it back, exhausted and dripping with DEET, and de-wadered.

I returned to camp, slept for a few hours and got up to fish again. The night repeated itself, with more conversations with old timers and not good fishing for me, but it was a lot brighter. I waded up, fished, and waded back. My world was bigger then, too big to cast off the end of.