Wednesday, May 23, 2012

On-Line Stillwater Fly Shop is Now Open

For a number of years now people have always been asking good friend Brian Chan and I about where they can find stillwater specific products.  Well, Brian and I are pleased to announce that our new online Stillwater Fly Shop is now open.

Brian and I invite you to visit Our On Line Stillwater Store for Your Stillwater Fly Fishing Needs

Presently, you can find all of our books, DVD's, Quick Release Indicators, jig hooks for balanced flies along with a complete selection of our favorite Stillwater Solutions patterns.

We will also be adding new products on a regular basis so please check back often.  If you have a specific stillwater product need please let us know.  Chances are others will be interested in it too and we can perhaps add it to our store.

Your feedback is always welcome and appreciated so please enjoy.  You can access the store directly through the 'on-line' store link located along the left margin of my website or proceed directly to the store website.

A direct link to the store will soon be available through Brian's website too.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Messing About in Boats-Part 1

In Kenneth Grahame’s classic book, The Wind in the Willows, Ratty said to Mole, "There is nothing--absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats."  In lieu of my recent activities I am inclined to agree.

Gathering the tools and equipment to mess around with my boat

This past Easter I took delivery of a Yamaha G3 1756 VBW complete with a 40HP four stroke Yamaha motor from John and his fantastic staff at River City Marine.  My latest boat is 17 feet long and 56 inches wide providing a stable presentation platform, not only for myself but for my family, clients and students alike.  The 56-inch width provides added security over my previous 14’ jon boat for those who don’t have the best sense of balance or ‘sea legs’.  I can’t wait to use it to chase stillwater trout, pike, walleye and lake whitefish.

There is nothing as frustrating as inadequate or poorly prepared equipment.  This is true with watercraft and boats in particular.  If your equipment, or lack thereof, dominates your thoughts it limits your ability to focus on fishing and impacts your success. 

With this thought front and center I set about preparing my new boat for the upcoming season. Taking the time and do the job right as I installed decals, anchor cleats, carpeting and pedestal seats.  Outfitting a boat is blend of your personality and the realities of your boat.  So what I do to my boat my not necessarily work for you.  But, I am often asked about how I set my boat up and why.  Here are the details.

License numbers in place

My first step involved the installation of my pleasure craft license numbers.  As my new craft has a motor in excess of 10hp Transport Canada requires a pleasure craft license.  I must clearly display the license numbers on the sides of the boat above the waterline as close to the bow as possible.  The license numbers must be at least 7.5 centimeters (3 inches) high; and of a color that contrasts with the color of the boat.  Since my base color is olive I contacted a local printer and $20 later I was the proud owner of a set of white decals.  As my new boat was clean and new I easily installed the numbers along both sides of the boat.

I used a Scotty Anchor Lock for my rear anchor

Next, I installed my anchor cleats.  In my opinion anchor cleats are a must.  Deploying anchors should be a safe simple operation.  Fumbling around with cleats or tying knots to some part of the boat makes anchoring a challenge and should a fish decide to carry the fight around the anchors you will be hard pressed to raise them out of the way.

Removing the front access cover

I prefer pyramid anchors as they hold well on soft bottoms common to most lakes.  When guiding and instructing I often anchor broadside so 30 pound anchors fore and aft would be needed.  Anything less and I risked having the boat become an annoying distraction if it swayed or shifted in the wind.

Drilling the holes for the bow anchor

For the rear cleat I used one of Scotty’s indestructible anchor locks.  During the destructive testing phase of their development Scotty’s composite locks supported casting molds up to 200 pounds!  My 30 pound pyramid would not be a problem.  The Scotty Anchor Lock is probably the best on the market today.  I use them whenever possible on my boats and pontoon boats. 

Front anchor system in place

For the bow anchor I needed extension out from the boat so when moving from one spot to another the swinging anchor would not batter the boat.  John at River City Marine offers an excellent aluminum anchor system that easily removes for storage or covering the boat for transport.

On my new G3 access to the upper bow area is through a small access cover.  My youngest son, Sean still has long skinny arms.  I was able to con and coerce him to reach through the access hole to attach the stainless steel nuts and lock washers.  He did a wonderful job and didn’t drop one nut or lock washer.  I took over for the final nut and promptly dropped a washer into the bowels of the boat, so much for age and experience.

With the anchors installed I turned my attention to the bow seat.  The comfortable padded bow seat would be mounted on a 15-inch pedestal complete with recessed base.  The base required me to drill a 3.5-inch hole using a bi-metal hole saw through the upper aluminum deck.  Good friend Brian Chan has the same boat so I had a template to work from.  Brian provided me with the measurements from his boat which I transferred to mine.  Prior to drilling I did a test hole on a scrap of plywood to make sure the hole was wide enough to accommodate the recess of the pedestal base.  If it had been too small it would have been nearly impossible to make a 3.5-inch hole larger.  An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!

The moment of truth, drilling the 3.5" hole for the front pedestal seat

I must have measured six times to be certain before committing to the drill.  I held my breath as the pilot drill of the hole saw began to turn and burrow through the deck.  If you have never drilled a large hole hold on tight to the drill.  When a large hole saws first bites into the aluminum deck the drill feels like it is going to be wrenched from your arms. Surviving the initial shock the first hole went perfectly.  I then had to drill a second hole through a support gusset directly below the first hole in the deck plate.  The pedestal base slipped into both holes.  Flush to the deck as advertised.
Prior to bolting the pedestal base in place I cut and fit a piece of black carpet runner to the upper deck.  I recommend carpeting all horizontal surfaces.  Carpet protects the boat from scratches and chips but more importantly it protects fly lines from being ground under feet and provides an element of stealth by muffling noise.  Water is denser medium than air, any clanging and banging about travels through the water alerting any nearby fish of your presence.

Melting the frayed ends of the front carpet

On my previous boats I glued the carpet down.  This time I wanted to be able to remove the carpet for easy cleaning.  Carpet runner has a heavy backing providing weight to ensure the carpet doesn’t blow away when the boat is running at top speed.  I cut a hole in the middle of the carpet section for the pedestal base and then melted the frayed ends using a barbeque lighter.

My son Sean sitting on the installed bow seat

My G3 came with a factory installed vinyl floor which at first glance seems quite fly line friendly.  If the boat hadn’t come with the floor I would have been fashioning a plywood floor and covering it with carpet as I had done for previous boats.  A plywood sub floor prolongs boat life, particularly riveted boats, by distributing weight and avoiding ‘oil canning’ issues.  Oil canning stresses rivets and leads to a never ending parade of leaks that always need attention.  On a traditional V hulled boat floor boards provide a flat comfortable base to stand on, both fore and aft.  Carpeted floorboards are a welcome addition to anyone who has spent any time in the bow area of a traditional V hull boat.

Measure twice, no five times, before drilling.

The last step for the day involved installing the rear pedestal.  As with the bow pedestal it required a 3.5-inch hole.  This time through the vinyl floor and the 1.5 inches of Styrofoam underneath the floor but obviously not though the hull.  All went well.  As I couldn’t bolt the pedestal base through the aluminum floor due to access issues I had to secure it to a 1/4-inch thick section of aluminum plate.  This plate was in turn secured to the floor and into the support gussets that run underneath the floor board.  I used #14 self-tapping stainless steel sheet metal screws.  As with the front seat I was working from a proven template from a friend’s boat.  The rear pedestal base is rock solid.

Phase one complete, now just the sounder and rear carpet left

By days end all was done.  I was sore, tired and a little sunburn in a few spots.  I still have to put the rear carpet, build a cover for the battery and engine compartment and install my new Hummingbird sounder.  Stay tuned for part two detailing these procedures.

By days end all was done.  I was sore, tired and a little sunburn in a few spots.  I still have to put the rear carpet, build a cover for the battery and engine compartment and install my new Hummingbird sounder.  Stay tuned for part two detailing these procedures.

Friday, May 4, 2012

3211Km and a Round Trip Airfare

During a two week portion of April I managed one round trip flight to Boise from my Edmonton area home followed a few days later by a 3211 Km (1995 miles) trip back down to Idaho to attend the East Idaho Tying Expo in Idaho Falls.  If you are wondering why I didn’t stay in Boise and then drive to Idaho Falls you are not alone.  Unfortunately sometimes how things come together isn’t always as neat and tidy as how it should have looked in hind sight.

If you like fly tying then the East Idaho Tying Expo is the place to be

The first part of my tale came together after the plans had been made and airfares purchased for the East Idaho Tying Expo.  Good friend Pete Erickson and I put together our first Fish Fest weekend in Boise.  Our Fish Feast concept broke away from the traditional workshop weekends where one has to typically invest their entire weekend to participate.  In today’s world this investment is not always possible. 

We offered a series of small half day seminars limited to just 10 students.  Pete provided hands on instruction in the art of long line Spanish/French nymphing and short line Polish and Czech nymphing. I provided a similar style program, Conquering Chironomids along with a hands on chironomid fly tying session. 

Pete Erickson at play!

On the Friday evening prior to the weekend’s events we kicked the event off with an informal get together.  Our mutual friend and world traveller Jeff Currier provided his Fly Fishing in the Presence of a Man Eater presentation.  Jeff is an excellent presenter and he had the audience on the edge of their seats as he told of his face to face encounter with a tiger while chasing mahseer in India a number of years ago.  I have heard Jeff’s tale a number of times and I still get a chill down my spine every time I hear it.

Chironomids were hatching, and lots of them!

Feedback was extremely positive from the event and the presentation format we chose. We are already making plans for 2013 including expansion outside of Boise to other states and provinces. 
As with most of my trips I managed to squeeze in some fishing.  Jeff, Pete and I were fortunate to be invited for some fishing on a private lake known for its large rainbows.  Chironomids were hatching, in impressive numbers.  Although we were in float tubes we didn’t have an anchor system.  It was tough to fish our imitations properly and it really limited how we could take advantage of hatch. Pete managed some nice fish using a type V sinking line to get his flies down quickly to compensate for the wind which proved brisk at times. I am a firm believer that you must have complete control of your presentation when chironomid fishing in order to be successful and this means fishing from an anchored position.  I did manage one nice fish using a floating line and a team of chironomids fished from shore.  A quick throat pump confirmed my suspicions, chironomids!  Based on my experience I made a note to myself for future trips to bring a portable anchor system.  I felt like a kid locked out from his favorite candy shop!

Average size rainbow

Within days of returning from Boise I was heading south once again, this time in my truck for the East Idaho Tying Expo.  Long-time friend Brian Chan was joining me. I picked up Brian from the Calgary International Airport on my way south.  Brian had made his flight bookings prior to my Boise trip so I had to return home in order for our plans to work out.  Together we headed south through Montana on I-15 as it snaked along the banks of the Missouri River, crossing the Bighorn and then the Beaverhead near the town of Dhillon.  On the return trip home, Brian and I stopped in Craig Montana on the banks of the Missouri and poked around the three impressive fly shops there.  We made a point of promising to set aside a day to try our luck there next year.  By 9:30pm we were in Idaho Falls.

Brian and I enjoyed ourselves at the Tying Expo.  It was well attended and we bumped into a number of friends including John Rohmer from Arizona Fly Fishing, authors Jim Schollmeyer and Dave Hughes.  Jim and Dave were on their way to the Bighorn and used the tying expo as a stop to catch their breath.  Their trip to the Bighorn would take them 24 hour s from Portland.  It seemed like everyone wanted to cover some distance in April.

While at the expo, Brian and I provided two separate four hour tying seminars where we provided hands on instruction on how to tie some of our favorite lake patterns.  We also provided a couple of on camera tying demos and seminars.  The Snake River Cutthroats club did an excellent job organizing and hosting the event.  Brian and I are hoping to return next year.

Foot in the Henry's Fork, another river off my bucket list.

During our stay we were fortunate to fish one of the waters on my bucket list, the world famous Henry’s Fork.  John Harder, President of Rio Fly Lines was our host. We fished the region upstream from the famed Harriman Ranch section, which was closed, near the small town of Last Chance.  I stood knee deep in the Henry’s Fork within eye shot of Rene Harrop’s Trout Predator and Mike Lawson’s Henry’s Fork Angler.  Two fly shops synonymous with the Henry’s Fork.  Unfortunately the river flow had been increased from 900 cubic feet per second (CFS) a few days earlier to roughly 1200 CFS and the fishing was off.  I hooked, and lost, one good rainbow while managing to land two whitefish.  It didn’t matter to me.  John was a wonderful host pointing out different features and aspects of the region.  I was just happy to be on the water drifting nymphs through the flows of one of the world’s most famous streams.

Looking downstream toward Harriman Ranch

Our trip culminated with a day on Chesterfield reservoir near the town of Pocatello, Idaho.  Chesterfield is one of Idaho’s best stillwaters, known for producing large rainbows.  Upon our arrival we were greeted by a chorus of yellow headed blackbirds, a beautiful sunny day, high clouds and light winds.  Brian and I were there with Simon Gawesworth and Zack Dalton from Rio.  While we were there we focused on some website content for Rio. Brian and I are both on Rio's Advisory Team.  As a result, we didn’t really get focused on fishing until later in the day.  When we did hook a fish a quick throat sample revealed heavy feeding on chironomid pupa.  One fish I pumped had a leech, one damsel fly nymph and at least 75 active, wriggling chironomid pupa.  Brian and I were impressed with what we saw at Chesterfield and hope to return soon.

Brian, Simon and Zack preparing for the day on Chesterfield Reservoir.

Although long and tiring at times, I thoroughly enjoyed my Idaho experience.  I look forward to returning for a stillwater seminar planned for July 13-14.  We will be based out of Island Park Lodge and targeting Henrys’ Lake, possibly Island Park Reservoir and we will have one day’s access to Sheridan Lake.  Sheridan is a private trophy lake.  Last year the damsels were coming off in staggering numbers.  You can check out last year’s blog entry to get an idea.  Seminar size is limited to just 10 people to ensure the best learning environment.  If this seminar is of interest to you please let me know and I can pass along the course info.

Brian at play on Chesterfield Reservoir.

I am now busy getting my new 1756 VBW Yamaha G3 all primed and ready for the new season.  Watch for some future entries dealing with how I customize my new boat for stillwaters.