BLUEGILL TO BASS – A Martial Arts Based Fishing Strategy

21 Sep

I thoroughly enjoy fishing for a variety of species of fish. In my opinion, the freshwater king of the hot, hazy, humid, dry and long summer is the largemouth bass. I whole heartedly enjoy pursuing this prize fighter of fresh water lakes, rivers and streams. For a brief time I was also a competitive bass fisherman. I often fished in the now defunct Bassin’ America Tournament Circuit on the east coast.

Here in Arizona summer is a brutal, challenging season. Fishing provides a respite from the dry heat of the arid desert known as “The Valley Of The Sun.”  It is a great pleasure to fish in the early hours as the sun rises over your favorite water and the temperatures are “only” in the ninety degree range. While being on-the-water, in nature provides a welcome diversion from the heat, it does not provide a guarantee of success on the water. Bass can be especially finicky at such times. To add to the frustration of casting spurned flies to these finicky bass is the fact that you can often see them cruising in the shallows. After observing the behavior of these fish, especially their aggressive and territorial nature, I devised a strategy for fly fishing for them. “Bluegill To Bass” is a fly fishing strategy that I employ on days when you can usually see bass but catching them is slow. This strategy will apply to fish of any species that are categorized by a symbiotic relationship of predator and prey. Further, while my “Bluegill To Bass” strategy is discussed in terms of fly fishing from the shoreline, with a little imagination, it can be applied to casting artificial lures from either the shoreline or a bass boat. It can even be extended to saltwater fishing and any other fishing that involves an aggressive or territorial predator fish in search of prey.

The “Bluegill to Bass” strategy finds its roots in the ideology of the martial arts. In a famous work entitled Go Rin No Sho (A Book Of Five Rings) the legendary sword master, Miyamoto Musashi defines and analyzes the strategy of the sword.

Miyamoto Mushashi, "Ken-Sei", "Sword-Saint"

His strategic analysis is a defining work of martial arts strategy and ideology. The strategies of Musashi have been extended into ventures that transcend the martial arts, including sports and business. Now, it can be used to apply to specific instances of fishing. In fact, one such strategy described by Musashi is the cornerstone of the Bluegill To Bass strategy for fly fishing for bass.

Musashi described a strategy he termed “To Move The Shade.” “To move the shade”, in the martial arts genre, is used when you cannot see the enemy’s spirit. In single combat this means that when the enemy takes up a position so that you cannot see his intent, you make a feint attack, and the enemy will show his spirit thinking he has seen yours. (See Endnote # 1).

I extended the strategy of “To move the shade” to fly fishing for bass. This strategy is used when you can see fish that the bass prey on or otherwise exhibit aggressive behavior towards, namely panfish and specifically, bluegill. You may or may not necessarily see bass when you begin to fish; however, employing this strategy is meant to flush out bass by targeting and tempting their predatory, territorial and aggressive instincts. The targeting of the prey species represents the feint attack described by Musashi. This feint is meant to draw out the hiding predator (the “hidden spirit” in Musashi’s description). Since I use this strategy to target the prey species, the bluegill, with the hope of drawing out the predator species of bass, I call this application of Musashi’s “To Move The Shade”, the “Bluegill To Bass” strategy.

Before employing this strategy on your favorite water, you will need a little advance preparation. I prepare two fly rods that I will use during my bass fishing. The first fly rod is used to target the prey species, in this case panfish. To this end, I prefer an ultra-light fly rod in the six to seven foot range, a four weight floating line and usually a nine foot leader ending in a 6X tippet. Unless there is an indication of dry fly action on the water, I start by fishing with two subsurface flies, tied in-line, one about 5 inches behind the other. For the head fly, I favor a small streamer or larger nymph, usually about size 10 or 12. For the tail fly, I favor a small nymph or wet fly in the size range of size 14 to 18. This light weight outfit makes catching the panfish fun and enjoyable. It is the actual hooking and catching of the prey species that acts as a catalyst to catching the predator species of largemouth bass.

My second fly rod is ready and rigged to target the bass. I prefer a larger, longer fly rod; usually an eight or nine foot fly rod with a six weight floating fly line, seven and a half foot leader with a 4X tippet. Again, unless there is an indication of dry fly action, I will have two sub-surface flies tied onto leader. For the head fly, I prefer a big, usually “flashy” streamer or even a salt water fly. This fly should resemble the prey species as much as possible. The tail fly is streamer, wet fly or nymph in a size range of size 10 to size 16. While targeting the predator species of bass, these flies will continue to interest the prey species. Thus, bluegill may still pursue these flies. In the midst of the bluegill’s interest in the pair of flies, the bass may be lured out from its cover to pursue the flies. The head fly is meant to target the bass’ desire to pursue the prey species and the tail fly is what I call a second-chance fly. In the event the bass misses or turns away from the head fly, it may be interested in the tail fly.

The above tackle is what I prefer when I fish for largemouth bass using this strategy. Again, depending upon the species of predator and prey fish you are targeting, you should adjust your specific tackle accordingly.

Once “on-the-water”, the “bluegill to bass” strategy begins like so many other fishing strategies; to wit: working water quickly and efficiently to locate and catch fish. I employ this strategy while walking a shoreline casting flies in areas that I know from experience to be productive or casting flies in the most productive looking water (on water that I have not fished before). The point of departure from other strategies to find fish is that in the bluegill to bass strategy, during this exploratory phase, I am specifically targeting prey species while looking for lurking predators. When hoping to catch and release a few bass, my initial target species are panfish, bluegill, crappie and the like. I use my most productive fly patterns to target these fish as a means of luring and seducing a predatory or territorial bass from its safe and secure hiding place. Naturally, I am excited to catch and release a few of the larger members of the species; however, with each hook-up, I purposefully play the fish so as to infuse its immediate environment with the”tension of being hooked.” I pay particular attention to the water so as to be able to see any quick rush, turn or other sign of a bass that is attracted to the tension of the hooked prey fish.

In the event that a bass makes its presence known, I immediately land and release the prey fish in a manner so as not to disturb the immediate environment. I then pick-up my bass fly rod and cast my bass flies into the tension-filled water in the hopes that the bass will still be excited so as to strike. More often than not, the bass is excited by the tension in the water and can be induced to strike. I find that you can usually cast two to three times during this phase of excitement. Once the tension dissipates, the bass may once again return to its lair. If so, then I once again change fly rods in favor of the lighter rod and again begin to target the bluegills. Once I feel that the potential of a particular section of water has diminished and is exhausted; usually indicated by fewer catches of the prey species (the bluegill), then I move on to another stretch of water.

Here is a “Rogues Gallery” of bucket-mouths caught using my “Bluegill To Bass” strategy.

The PREY (including a Double!)

      

The PREDATOR:

      

If you find yourself fishing for a predatory species during the “dog days of summer” with less than favorable results, then remember the sword master Miyamoto Musashi. Try the strategy of “To move the Shade” and target the prey species. Do not simply locate the prey and hope that a predator is lurking near by. Affirmatively fish for the prey species and hook a few. The tension of a fish trying to escape the taste of a hook in it’s mouth may sufficiently infuse the water with sufficient energy and excitement to spark the interest of  the predator species. If so, land and release the prey and immediately target the aroused predator. You may just be surprised at the results. At the least, you should have a fund day on the water catching and releasing a species that would otherwise be dinner for a larger, more aggressive and hungrier fish.

For your viewing pleasure, there are links to several bass & panfishing videos on the “VIDEO & MEDIA” page tab above.

Until the next article, I remain, “moving the shade”,

Sensei John

ENDNOTES:

1. Musashi, Miyamoto, Go Rin No Sho (A Book Of Five Rings), Translated by Victor Harris, (The Overlook Press, Woodstock, NY 1974) p. 76.

Sensei John is available for lectures on the interrelationship of fly fishing and martial arts protocol, ideology and philosophy. Please see the “LECTURES & LESSONS” Page tab above for more information.

Follow FLY FISHING DOJO on FACEBOOK, please send a friend request on Facebook; see our “Video & Media” Page for more information.

You are also invited to read my martial arts protocol, philosophy and ideology weblog for non-martial artists at WWW.SenseiJohn.Wordpress.Com.

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AUGUST, 2011 – FLY FISHING JOURNAL

9 Sep

Arizona, Valley Of The Sun, August, 2011, a record-breaking month for the State of Arizona. No, the largest fish wasn’t caught. August was the hottest month ever in the history of Arizona; there were 33 days all summer with temperatures exceeding 110 degrees. Reminds me of a quote by the literary and fishing master, Ernest Hemingway.

No one can work everyday in the hot months without going stale. To break up the pattern of work, we fish . . .  (See Endnote # 1).

For my part I mixed fishing pleasure with the business of filming my Sanchin Kata for non-martial artists DVD. I used various locations in Tonto National Forest, and my favorite fishing locations at the Lower Salt River, Canyon Lake and Saguaro Lake, as background for the videos. Here is a link to a free promotional video on You-Tube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J-pC-tPUrYE

Well, with cooler months in the near future, let’s proceed with the “hot” fishing report.

PLEASE NOTE: Unless otherwise indicated, all fish were safely released after being photographed.

LOWER SALT RIVER, Tonto National Forest, AZ

I fished several locations on the Lower Salt River that were not readily intruded upon by float tubers. These areas included up river from the Water Users Recreation Area and down river from Phon D. Sutton Recreation Area. Fly fishing produced small to mid-size largemouth bass, mostly on # 12 muddler minnows and a few on # 12 sparkle shad streamer. In both instances, I fished a nymph behind the streamer. The top producer for the month was a # 14 bloody mary nymph and a # 16 red serendipity nymph. There was definitely something about the color red provoking strikes in the bass.

Small bass on a Rebel Pop-R - up river from Water Users Rec Area

In addition, during filming of the DVD, the videographer had caught a few carp drifting a hook baited with corn kernels downstream. Something different to break up shooting video footage in one-hundred degree plus temperatures.

Filming video for the DVD at Phon Sutton. 106 Degrees but the river was cool.

Without a doubt, I am looking forward to being on the Lower Salt in cooler temperatures with decreased water flows and the return of rainbow trout stockings.

Di with another bass taken on a muddler minnow

Below is the water flow chart for the Lower Salt River for the month from WWW.Watershedmonitor.Com.

CANYON LAKE, Tonto National Forest, AZ

I fished my preferred locations, including Boulder Recreation Area, roadside locations along Highway 88 and the shoreline around the first one lane bridge with moderate success. Moderately sized panfish were prevalent with respectable catches of largemouth bass.

I even hooked into one catfish that, for whatever reason, known only to the fish itself was induced to strike at a # 12 apache lady wet fly. The whiskered fish eventually ducked under a log and broke my 5X tippet.

SAGUARO LAKE, Tonto National Forest, AZ

Due to the time constraints of shooting video, my only visits to Saguaro Lake were for filming purposes. Many a morning I looked longingly at the shoreline wishing I could flick a fly or two; but, alas, duty and responsibility called, and so, the task of the day was performing Sanchin for the video camera. Now that the DVD is completed and available to the public, my “irresponsible” self can again settle down to the task of fishing at this lake.

Tough fishing? Try the FFD STUNT FISH!

URBAN LAKE FISHING – GENERAL COMMENTS

With the hectic video shooting schedule, I was only able to visit two of my favorite Urban Lakes. I’m anticipating cooler temperatures and the stocking of catfish starting in the middle of September by Arizona Fish and Game.

VETERAN’S OASIS PARK LAKE, Chandler, AZ

I feel I neglected regularly visiting my favorite lake in the Urban Lake system as I only fished it about twice. The best time was early morning when, in addition to bluegill, bass could be caught and released on a fly.

The most productive pattern proved to be a # 16 black serendipity tied in line behind a # 12 apache lady wet fly.

WATER RANCH LAKE, Gilbert, AZ

This lake seems to be recuperating from the harshness of July. Bluegill and small bass could be taken on various nymph and wet fly combinations. This seems to be a good indication of promising fishing to come in the cooler months.

FEATURED VIDEOS:

BLOODY MARY BASS, a nice sized largemouth that decided to sample a bite of a # 14 bloody mary nymph. Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8COsXhjoKTc

SANCHIN KATA FOR FLY FISHERMAN: Filmed at Water Ranch Lake in Gilbert, AZ, this video was designed for the fly fisherman prior to the release of my Sanchin Kata DVD. Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ncZJ0s0HNI

FISHERMAN AS WARRIORS: For a very unique look at a historical aspect of fishing, you may wish to view “Fisherman As Warriors” by clicking this convenient link, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-cMRW503DbY

This months featured FFD logo product is shown below. With cooler temperatures forecasted for the coming months, I thought you may find a need to “heat things up.”

Until the next submission, I remain,

Sensei John

ENDNOTES:

  1. Ernest Hemingway from:Lyons, Nick, Hemingway On Fishing, (Nick Lyons Press, New York, NY, 2000) p. 153, originally published as “As Situation Report” in Look magazine, September 4, 1956.

Sensei John is available for lectures on the interrelationship of fly fishing and martial arts protocol, ideology and philosophy. Please see the “LECTURES & LESSONS” Page tab above for more information.

You can now arrange for either a fly fishing lecture or lesson with Sensei John, please see the “LESSONS & LECTURES” Page tab above.

You can follow the DAILY adventures of FLY FISHING DOJO on FACEBOOK, See the Video & Media Page for details.

Please feel free to shop unique Fly Fishing Dojo products wear by clicking on the “SHOP” tab at the top of this page. This months new product  FFD LOGO CLASSIC THONG

– only $ 9.99 plus delivery.

Here’s a convenient link: http://www.cafepress.com/flyfishing_dojo.459914580#

Please feel free to view my other weblog dedicated to exploring martial arts ideology and concepts as they can be applied to daily life. You may visit the weblog at WWW.SENSEIJOHN.WORDPRESS.COM.

PRACTICE DOES NOT MAKE PERFECT

23 Aug

I was watching a few instructional fly casting videos submitted by a friend I have on Facebook. Watching my friend practice his fly casting spurred me to search the internet for similar instructional videos. My search yielded a cornucopia of instructional videos related to various fishing topics. You can watch and emulate through practice almost any aspect of fishing, including, though not limited to, the basics of casting (spin casting, bait casting and, fly casting), various techniques for rigging lures, “finesse” techniques such as specific fly casting techniques, flipping and jigging for bass and the like.

Quite frankly, I found the number of people who desired to practice their fishing skills, on and off the water, captivating. The sincerity with which people practiced their fishing skills compelled me to submit the following thoughts on practice derived from my martial arts experience.

We have all had teachers, instructors, coaches, and similar mentors repeatedly tell us that “Practice makes perfect.“ Such mentors uttered this phrase as a form of axiomatic inspiration whereby we were encouraged to reach the unknown height of perfection.  In the past, whenever this phrase was chanted like a mantra, all those under the tutelage of their mentor would try harder, sweat abundantly, study more and otherwise reach into their inner most self to produce a level of achievement which they believed was incapable of manifesting. The time has finally come to rebel against this axiomatic dogma. It is time for every one that reads the within to firmly stand their ground. The next time some one tells you that “practice makes perfect”, look them directly in the eye and tell them they are wrong.

That is correct, look the dogmatic mentor in the eye and tell them to stop universally uttering such nonsense. After your mentor recovers his or her composure, inform them that their concept of practice is not only incomplete, but also lacks intuition. Practice does not make perfect. Rather PERFECT practice makes perfect. Imperfect or half-hearted practice only nurtures and fosters complacency and imperfection.

The Results Of Perfect Practice:

    

Keep this idea the next time you set about to practice a certain aspect of your fishing. Set time aside to devote to your practice without interruption, be of a positive state of mind for your practice. Most importantly, practice truly and with a pure heart; no half-hearted practice. Remember this well the next time you set out to practice fishing or are on-the-water fishing. In fact, remember it well as it also applies to life in general. PERFECT PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT. (See Endnote # 1).

As part of my practice, I practice a Kata using a fishing oar, called a “Eaku” used by the ancient fisherman of Okinawa to defend themselves.

Until the next article, I remain attempting always to perfectly practice.

Sensei John

ENDNOTES:

1. I wish to make it abundantly clear that the concept that “Perfect practice makes perfect” is in no way my own. I have heard it many times in the Dojo of both Shihan Thomas DeFelice, Ku-Dan (9th Degree Black Belt), Menkyo Kaiden, Goshin-Do Karate-Do  and Shihan Wayne Norlander, Ku-Dan (9th Degree Black Belt), Menkyo Kaiden, USA Goshin-Ryu Karate-Do, R.I.P.  Their oral tradition attributes this concept to the late Karate Pioneer, Shihan Peter Urban, Ju-Dan (10th Degree Black Belt) USA Goju-Ryu, who was a friend to them both.

Sensei John is available for lectures on the interrelationship of fly fishing and martial arts protocol, ideology and philosophy. Please see the “LECTURES & LESSONS” Page tab above for more information.

Follow FLY FISHING DOJO on FACEBOOK, please send a friend request on Facebook; see our “Video & Media” Page for more information.

Please feel free to “window shop” our unique logo products by clicking on the “SHOP” page tab above. FEATURED PRODUCT:

You are also invited to read my martial arts protocol, philosophy and ideology weblog for non-martial artists at WWW.SenseiJohn.Wordpress.Com.

JULY, 2011 – FLY FISHING JOURNAL

4 Aug

Arizona, Valley Of The Sun, July, 2011, Monsoon season is officially underway. So far this has meant mostly dust storms and very little rain.

Superstition Mountains "Flatiron" the morning after a record-setting dust storm

Please remember that during the summer month’s it is extremely important that you carry enough water for you and all members of your fishing party. Suffice to say that dehydration and heat-related illnesses will quickly spoil an otherwise enjoyable day of fishing. Failure to carry enough water and exercise caution when hiking the shoreline has unpleasant consequences; there’s always a few residents of the waters that wait for you to make a mistake.

                   

PLEASE NOTE: Unless otherwise indicated, all fish were safely released after being photographed.

LOWER SALT RIVER, Tonto National Forest, AZ

Success on the Lower Salt River was sporadic and highly influenced by the amount of pressure from float tubers. As such, I started exploring areas up river from the Water Users Recreation Area and down river from Phon D. Sutton Recreation Area.  These areas are outside the boundaries of commercial tubing operations. Fishing often involved casting in and about tight places, off of rock ledges and sometimes more hiking than casting flies.

There were catches of trout and small bass, but not as exciting as the quantity and size of fish to be found in the cooler months.

         

Water flows remained high, but started to settle down to normal summer flows.

Below is the water flow chart for the Lower Salt River for the month from WWW.Watershedmonitor.Com.

CANYON LAKE, Tonto National Forest, AZ

Canyon Lake proved, again, to be a go-to place for the month. Regular catches of bluegill and fair sized bass could be found in several areas, including both sides of the first one lane bridge on highway 88, all around Boulder Recreation Area (fishing the bridge was good, but also try hiking all around the area, there are many fine locations to be found) and several areas located off highway 88.

Best of all in the mid-morning, usually between eight o’clock and ten o’clock, there was great top water action to be had. For bass, deer hair poppers worked best twitched, “popped” and paused along the surface. For the bluegill and crappy, a small # 16 grasshopper and # 16 foam ant delicately twitched and paused on the surface could not be beat. For non-fly fisherman, rebel “Pop-R” lures worked best during this time.

This nice bass was the result of top water action courtesy of a deer hair popper.

In addition to the top of the water action, once again, several sub-surface combinations proved effective, including a # 14 apache lady wet fly with a # 16 red serendipity nymph tied behind it, # 12 muddler minnow with either a # 16 rainbow warrior nymph or a # 16 peacock lady tied behind it. Fishing the apache lady and red serendipity combination off the fishing bridge at Boulder Recreation produced fun largemouth bass action when the bass came out from under the bridge to take the little # 16 red serendipity.

 a video link is below  

We were able to capture some of the action on video, here is a convenient link to our video entitled “Serendipity Bass.”  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mlYgmOSpbts

                   

SAGUARO LAKE, Tonto National Forest, AZ

With favorable results at Canyon Lake, we decided to see how the action at Saguaro Lake was. We found several good locations both on the two fishing bridges and along the shoreline adjacent to and between the bridges. Use extreme caution when hiking down from the parking lot to the shoreline when fishing in between and adjacent to the bridges themselves.

The successful fly patterns were the same as Canyon Lake for both top water and sub-surface fishing. Di also had top water success again with the Rebel Pop-R’s and sub-surface action on small “Swimmin’ Squirt” tube baits on a 1/32 ounce jig head by Bass Pro Shops.

    Bass – and – More Bass   

URBAN LAKE FISHING – GENERAL COMMENTS

The Urban lakes System is one of the best means of introducing a child to fishing. Unlike the larger bodies of water, where you may have to hike to a good fishing location, contend with natural inhabitants, bees, and snakes, to name a few the Urban Lake System provides a “user-friendly” environment for a child take catch their first fish.

My grandson, Stratton, age 2, practices his fishing skills

VETERAN’S OASIS PARK LAKE, Chandler, AZ

Fly fishing was slow, but I did notice a few bait fisherman with respectable catfish catches. I also once again noticed quite a few bass cruising the shoreline. These cruising bass were easily spooked and hard to catch using flies.

WATER RANCH LAKE, Gilbert, AZ

As I indicated in my June fishing report, this lake was once inundated with algae. I am very happy to report that when I revisited the lake on July 16th, water clarity was greatly improved. Small largemouth bass and bluegill could been seen from shore.

Given these positive signs, I look forward to anticipated good fishing in August.

RED MOUNTAIN LAKE, Mesa, AZ

Walking the shoreline and fishing as I do allowed me to regularly see respectable sized catfish and largemouth bass; sometimes within inches of the shoreline. In addition bluegill were regularly seen. Water quality was very clear and care had to be exercised in approaching these fish as they were easily spooked.

Good bass fishing could be found along the reed laden sides of the off-shore islands. Due to limited fly casting opportunities caused by the shoreline vegetation, I opted for a bait-casting bass pole and had good success with a top water Rebel Pop-R cast very close to the reeds and “popped” along the surface. Watch for a ravenous attack when the lure is paused prior to the net pop. Here’s a photograph of one bass caught using the Rebel Pop-R in this fashion

We were also able to get some video footage of two bass; the video is entitled “Red Mountain Bass.” Here is a convenient link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wqiMVWBkNLg

OTHER:

DISCOVERY LAKE, Gilbert, AZ

I paid an exploratory visit to this lake on July 13th. There were several small bass fry that were interested in taking a # 16 wire caddis tied behind a # 14 claret wooly bugger. While I was elated by the prospects of good bass fishing in the fall, after the fry have had a chance to grow, I was disappointed to find a dead bass which must have been caught and carelessly discarded into the water flow from the upper lake to the lower lake.

I can not emphasize enough that in order for this small lake to produce quality fishing, care must be exercised in catching and releasing fish. Any negligence will result in fishing decreasing faster than the Dow Jones Average on Wall Street.

NEW VIDEOS:

SERENDIPITY BASS, Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mlYgmOSpbts

BLOODY MARY BASS, Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8COsXhjoKTc

RED MOUNTAIN BASS, Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wqiMVWBkNLg

For a very unique look at a historical aspect of fishing, you may wish to view “Fisherman As Warriors” by clicking this convenient link, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-cMRW503DbY

Until the next submission, I remain, fishing the Arizona desert known as “The Valley Of The Sun”,

Sensei John

Sensei John is available for lectures on the interrelationship of fly fishing and martial arts protocol, ideology and philosophy. Please see the “LECTURES & LESSONS” Page tab above for more information. You can now arrange for either a fly fishing lecture or lesson with Sensei John, please see the “LESSONS & LECTURES” Page tab above.

You can follow the DAILY adventures of FLY FISHING DOJO on FACEBOOK, See the Video & Media Page for details.

Please feel free to shop unique Fly Fishing Dojo products wear by clicking on the “SHOP” tab at the top of this page. This months new product – FLY FISHING DOJO Coffee Mug –

     Convenient link: http://www.cafepress.com/FLYFISHING_DOJO.459912522

Please feel free to view my other weblog dedicated to exploring martial arts ideology and concepts as they can be applied to daily life. You may visit the weblog at WWW.SENSEIJOHN.WORDPRESS.COM.

MAKE FISHING MISTAKES CORRECTLY

20 Jul

How does one improve fishing productivity and enjoyment? The answer is to learn to make fishing mistakes correctly.

It is inevitable that we will make mistakes. This is true not only when we fish, but also in life itself. We are human and thus, by definition, fallible. The key to mistakes is to make mistakes correctly and learn from them. If you make mistakes correctly and learn from mistakes, you will be on a path of continuously improving your fishing productivity and enjoyment.

At Canyon Lake, AZ, an observer waits for me to make a mistake while fishing

Training in Shihan Thomas DeFelice’s Goshin-Do Karate Dojo taught me many life lessons. Here is a story from Goshin-Do Karate oral tradition that will illustrate the need to make mistakes correctly.

In ancient Japan, the elephant was an unknown animal. The Shogun had heard tales of this mythical creature that lived in a far off land. Naturally, the Shogun wished to learn of this creature. He chose his three wisest ministers and dispatched them to find the animal and return to the kingdom with a description of this elephant. He instructed his ministers that time was of the essence. They should swiftly complete their task and report back to him. In a mythological twist of fate, the three wisest ministers were all blind.

The ministers arrived in the land of the elephant. Being blind, they began to feel this creature with their hands so as be able to describe it to the Shogun. The first blind minister touched the elephant’s ear and concluded that an elephant was a wide, thin and flat creature, much like an aquatic stingray. The second blind minister touched the elephant’s leg an concluded that an elephant was like a giant tree. The last blind minister touched the elephant’s trunk and describe the elephant as long and snake-like. They immediately returned to Japan and reported their descriptions to him. The Shogun was confounded by the differing reports and ordered the “incompetent” ministers to commit Seppuku (ritual suicide).

A depiction of Samurai seppuku

The point of this Goshin-Do Karate fable is, if the Shogun would have only allowed the ministers sufficient time to continue touching and describing the elephant, they would have made enough “mistakes” until they finally would have accurately described the magnificent elephant.

When we fish, whether on the water, or at home reflecting on the day’s fishing, we understand that mistakes are inevitable. In fact, sometimes mistakes are a signpost to great learning. It has been observed that, “A general of merit should be said to be a man who has one great defeat.” (See Endnote #1). So, don’t get frustrated when you are fishing and make a mistake. Take a moment, understand the mistake and learn from it.

In closing, I be out on the water once again making mistakes and learning from them as I pursue the next fish that is hiding around the next rock.

Sensei John

UNIQUE VIDEO: See an ancient fighting Kata translated within the context of a historical Okinawa fisherman – FISHERMAN AS WARRIORS, click this convenient link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-cMRW503DbY

ENDNOTES:

  1. Asakura Norikage (1474-1555), fromWilson, William Scott, Ideals Of The Samurai, (O’Hara Publications, Santa Clarita, CA 1982), p.81.

Sensei John is available for lectures on the interrelationship of fly fishing and martial arts protocol, ideology and philosophy. Please see the “LECTURES & LESSONS” Page tab above for more information.

Follow FLY FISHING DOJO on FACEBOOK, please send a friend request on Facebook; see our “Video & Media” Page for more information.

Please feel free to “window shop” our unique logo products by clicking on the “SHOP” page tab above.

You are also invited to read my martial arts protocol, philosophy and ideology weblog for non-martial artists at WWW.SenseiJohn.Wordpress.Com.

JUNE, 2011 – FLY FISHING JOURNAL

8 Jul

Arizona, Valley Of The Sun, June, 2011, with summer rising upon us like the dawning sun, fishing in the Arizona desert crept along at an arduous pace. By the end of the month triple digit temperatures, more often than not exceeding 105 degrees, became the norm. The were a few consistent days that exceeded 110 degrees. This made for hot fishing, not necessarily meaning fast, consistent catches.

All species of fish, including, bass, perch, catfish, bluegill, crappy and trout,  could readily be seen cruising shallow waters or rising to the surface to feed. Some of the fish were of legendary proportion; at least large enough to brag about over a cold drink. Being seen is one thing being hooked another. Bluebird skies, and clear, calm water often made for difficult fishing that emphasized delicate presentation to the finicky feeders. When all factors converged, there was a reward at the end of the line that provided a respite from the heat. A joining of man and fish at the end of a line for a moment or two until each returned to their natural environment; the fish to the water and the man to the shore.

It’s too hot for more literary metaphors, so onto this month’s report

PLEASE NOTE: Unless otherwise indicated, all fish were safely released after being photographed.

LOWER SALT RIVER, Tonto National Forest, AZ

With the Salt River Tubing season in full swing, I fished certain sections of the river early in the morning and moved on to more remote (and not open to tubing) sections after nine o’clock when tubing gets under way. For areas unaffected by tubing, please consult one of the many online map resources. Also exercise caution as many of these areas involve varying degrees of hiking. Make sure you have an ample supply of drinking water.

I would note that the week of June 20th was the last stocking of rainbow trout for the summer.

At the Phon D. Sutton Recreation area I found small bass and trout that were willing to take a fly. That is until morning temperature soared and it was time to put down the fly rod and take a swim.

While wooly buggers and various nymphs produced with satisfactory results, the best combination I found was a # 16 tan scud tied behind a # 14 bead head (bh) rooks blueberry nymph.

At Water Users Recreation area, the same combination produced well. Occasionally, I had action on a dry fly with a # 16 foam ant, #16 foam beetle and # 16 bee. For my non-fly fishing readers, I note that Di had a few medium bluegill on a white swimmin’ squirt tied on a 1/32 ounce jig head.

With the fast water flow, I preferred to fish the lower salt river with my two longest fly rods, an 8 foot, Fenwick Ferrulite Rod and my monster-caster, a 9 foot, Sumo Distance XS fly rod.

Below is the water flow chart for the Lower Salt River for the month from WWW.Watershedmonitor.Com.

CANYON LAKE, Tonto National Forest, AZ

Fishing at Canyon Lake provided a regular opportunity to catch largemouth bass and panfish of various species on flies.  Depending on water conditions, depth, wind and temperature, these species regularly roamed from deep water to shallow water to almost hugging the shoreline. As such, the best locations were those where a shallow shelf fell off to deep water. I have several of these type of locations in my geographic arsenal. These location range from the area surrounding Boulder Recreation area to various locations along State Highway 88. When fishing these roadside locations, caution must be exercised when hiking down to the lake. Remember that hiking down to the shoreline is easier than hiking up from the shoreline. Also remember the natural invasive inhabitants, bees, snakes, and such, along the path and keep a watchful eye for them.

My fly rod of choice for fishing Canyon Lake and targeting pan fish is my ultra-light 6 foot Fenwick Ferrulite fly rod. I also fished the 9 foot Sumo Distance XS to throw larger flies in and around bass locations.

The most productive fly patterns were determined by adaptability. Conditions changed often with the increasing heat. However, it seemed that in the morning hours, a nymph tied behind a streamer and fished from deep water to shallow, twitched and paused, produced the best. The most popular patterns were a # 14 or 16 bead head (bh) tan caddis nymph tied behind a # 10 bh claret wooly bugger, a # 16 bh rainbow warrior nymph tied behind a # 10 apache lady wet fly and a small wet or nymph (# 16 red serendipity nymph, # 16 juju bee nymph or a # 16 red ass wet fly) tied behind a # 10 sparkle shad streamer. The sparkle shad seemed to get the attention of the fish who then took the smaller trailing fly.

              

On June 10th, I was fortunate to hook two panfish at once on my 6 foot Fenwick Ferrulite fly rod using a #16 wired caddis black/pink nymph tied behind a # 12 claret wooly bugger. There is a link to the video entitled “Double panfish” below and on the VIDEO & MEDIA page tab above.

As morning progressed and temperatures warmed, dry fly action could be fast and furious. I had the most success wit # 16 and # 18 foam ants. Again, I fished the dry flies with my 6 foot ultra-light Fenwick Ferrulite fly rod, a 9 foot leader with a 7X or 8X tippet.

              

I began to experiment using large saltwater flies to catch the many large bass I could see cruising the shoreline.

The bass would often chase these flies but not take them. I began to tie on a smaller trailer fly and was very surprise that while the bass would flash and chase the large fly, they ultimately took the smaller fly. I was able to get video and photos of one such bass that flashed on a # 10 sparkle shad streamer but took a small # 14 bh bloody mary nymph that was the trailer fly.

I saw this bass cruising the shoreline (in the area of the first one lane bridge on Highway 88). He was only in about 5 inches of water! I slowly twitched the flies with long pauses to allow fly to sink. I saw the bass turn and take the nymph off the rocky bottom.Below is a photo and there is a link to the video entitled “Bloody Mary Bass” at the end of this report and on the VIDEO & MEDIA page tab.

For those readers who are not fly fisherman, Di was able to regularly catch all species of panfish on either Gulp maggots or Bass Pro Shops’ “Swimmin’ Squirt” soft plastic tube in red/sparkle and sparkle colors on a 1/32 painted jig head.

URBAN LAKE FISHING – GENERAL COMMENTS

This month saw the last stocking of catfish into the Urban Lake System until September.  My fly rod of choice for the urban lake system is my versatile 7 1/2 foot Cortland Pro Crest fly rod. It is light enough to make pan fishing enjoyable and sturdy enough to handle the occasional bass.

VETERAN’S OASIS PARK LAKE, Chandler, AZ

Maybe it was the great fishing on the big waters, but my experiences at this lake in June often were not slow, but, S-L-O-W. I often wondered, “Where are the fish?” This has left me more determined to fish this lake more frequently in July.

Based upon last summer, when I had many memorable mornings at this lake, I anticipate better fishing.

WATER RANCH LAKE, Gilbert, AZ

I fished Water Ranch on June 8th and was shocked to have other fisherman give me reports of dead catfish from a recent stocking and green algae.

I walked the shoreline casting about and fished my preferred spots with some determination, but there was nothing to be seen or enticed. When I was leaving, I saw a clean-up boat arriving. The crew was going to prowl the vegetation and remove any remaining dead fish and otherwise clean the lake.

After seeing the above, I had not fished this lake for the remainder of the month. Given my fond memories of fishing this lake last summer, I will make a point of making a few trips to the lake in July.

RED MOUNTAIN LAKE, Mesa, AZ

Fishing Red Mountain was somewhat slow although several large bass was seen very close to shore. Several smaller bass were caught on various nymphs and streamers that had some sparkle to their pattern. Di also had success with the Gulp maggots.

NEW VIDEOS:

BLOODY MARY BASS, Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8COsXhjoKTc

DOUBLE BLUEGILL (2Flies – 2 Fish), Link:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NVZlgyR1zb8

IMPROVE YOUR HEALTH – check out the “Sanchin Kata For Fisherman” Video, link:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ncZJ0s0HNI

July teaser, without jinxing future success, largemouth bass action has been hot in July. As of this posting several nice-sized bass and one over five pounds, have been caught on various flies.

While you will have to wait for the full July report, you can preview a video of a bucket mouth caught on a small, size 26 red serendipity nymph at Canyon Lake, by clicking the following link, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mlYgmOSpbts

Until the next article, I hope you continue to enjoy reading FLY FISHING DOJO and may your lines be tight. I remain,

Sensei John

Sensei John is available for lectures on the interrelationship of fly fishing and martial arts protocol, ideology and philosophy. Please see the “LECTURES & LESSONS” Page tab above for more information.

You can now arrange for either a fly fishing lecture or lesson with Sensei John, please see the “LESSONS & LECTURES” Page tab above.

You can follow the DAILY adventures of FLY FISHING DOJO on FACEBOOK, See the Video & Media Page for details.

Please feel free to shop unique Fly Fishing Dojo products wear by clicking on the “SHOP” tab at the top of this page.

This months featured product — FFD LOGO MOUSEPAD

Here is a convenient link to purchase http://www.cafepress.com/FLYFISHING_DOJO.459912527

Please feel free to view my other weblog dedicated to exploring martial arts ideology and concepts as they can be applied to daily life. You may visit the weblog at WWW.SENSEIJOHN.WORDPRESS.COM.

CITY LIMITS BASS FISHING – NEW JERSEY

5 Jul

Fishing is where, when and how you find it. You take what Mother Nature gives you rather than attempt to make her conform to your wishes. Fly Fishing Dojo’s New Jersey correspondent Sensei Bob knows this maxim well. He is often required to draw upon his extensive martial arts training to tap into his abilities to persevere and adapt so as to find fishing opportunity.

Recently, Sensei discovered that big bass can again be found in the midst of New Jersey’s most populated county. Big bass are again on the prowl at the man-made lake at Hudson County Park. Admittedly, the location, set against the New York City skyline and nestled in amongst condominiums of various size and shape, is not the most pristine of natural environments.

              

But, as much as “Home is where the heart is”, I say, “Nature and beauty is to be found all around you, if you open your eyes to it.”

Sensei Bob, reports that while fly fishing for these nice-sized urban largemouth bass is presently slow, they are eager to take a well presented Gulp worm.

             

Sensei Bob also advises that when fishing for these bass with a Gulp worm, don’t be surprised if you happen to hook one of the monster sized carp call this lake home. He has already caught and released two of these monster sized city-carp. Photographs of future catches of these huge carp to follow. Good luck Sensei Bob!

SENSEI JOHN

You can follow the DAILY adventures of FLY FISHING DOJO on FACEBOOK, See the Video & Media Page for details.

Please feel free to “window shop” our unique logo products by clicking on the “SHOP” page tab above.

You are also invited to read my martial arts protocol, philosophy and ideology weblog for non-martial artists at WWW.SenseiJohn.Wordpress.Com.

ZANSHIN FOR FISHERMAN

18 Jun

Whether one is a casual fisherman, a competitive angler, or a “weekend-warrior”, one’s state of mind is an all important element of successful fishing. The various states of mind experienced and cultivated by the martial artist can uniquely improve one’s success on the water and also one’s enjoyment of the entire fishing experience.

I had previously explored an omnipresent state of mind within the martial arts known as Mushin (pronounced “Moo-shin”) and how maintaining Mushin can enhance the fly fishing experience. (here is a convenient link to the article: https://flyfishingdojo.com/2010/10/10/fly-fishing-using-the-mushin-state-of-mind-2/) (See endnote # 1)

There is an additional state of mind derived from the martial arts that can increase the productivity of a day spent fly fishing. This state of mind is known as Zanshin (pronounced “Zahn-shin”). The kanji (Japanese writing) of Zanshin translates as the “remaining mind”.

Kanji for ZANSHIN

Within the martial arts, Zanshin refers to a mental state whereby the mind “remains in the battle”. A very simple example of martial arts based Zanshin is as follows. One may strike or disable one’s opponent and victory may appear to be at hand. Although seemingly victorious, one’s mind must remain in the battle so that one is not lured into complacency by a wily opponent.

Zanshin applies equally to fishing. At the moment a fish strikes your lure or your fly, or takes your bait, invariably, one’s mind flashes thoughts of excitement and jubilation. It is at this most jubilant of times that Zanshin is called for. One’s mind must remain attentive to the circumstances that led to the successful encounter. What was different from every other cast? Was it a difference in specific location that led to success, or as it the manner in which the fly drifted or was retrieved. If retrieved, was the retrieve steady or was it paused? If paused, did the fish strike the fly or lure on the retrieve or the pause. If the fly  or lure is fished below the surface, at what depth in the water column did the fish take the fly?

Zanshin can foster a greater productivity when on the water and enhance your overall fishing experience.

Largemouth Bass caught with a #14 Bloody Mary Nymph

For the competitive fisherman understanding and using Zanshin means more fish in the live-well, which means more money earned. For the weekend fisherman, this means a more enhanced fishing experience. By being attentive to the circumstances that led to success, one can replicate the successful technique so as to hopefully once again be productive and lure a fish to the fly.

Until the next article I (and my mind) remain,

Sensei John

NEW VIDEOS:

BLOODY MARY BASS, Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8COsXhjoKTc

DOUBLE BLUEGILL (2Flies – 2 Fish), Link:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NVZlgyR1zb8

ENDNOTES:

  1. For those interested in a more detailed exploration of the Mushin state of mind, here is a link to a four part article that I had previously posted on my Sensei John weblog: http://senseijohn.wordpress.com/2009/12/21/mushin1/

Sensei John is available for lectures on the interrelationship of fly fishing and martial arts protocol, ideology and philosophy. Please see the “LECTURES & LESSONS” Page tab above for more information.

You can follow the DAILY adventures of FLY FISHING DOJO on FACEBOOK, See the Video & Media Page for details.

Please feel free to “window shop” our unique logo products by clicking on the “SHOP” page tab above.

You are also invited to read my martial arts protocol, philosophy and ideology weblog for non-martial artists at WWW.SenseiJohn.Wordpress.Com.

MAY, 2011 – FLY FISHING JOURNAL

8 Jun

Arizona, Valley Of The Sun –  May, 2011, turned out to be a difficult month on many fronts, including an unexpected return to New Jersey to attend the memorial and funeral for a very dear friend. For purposes of this fishing journal, time spent on the water was less than I would have preferred. Hopefully, things will turn around in June.

Having said that, the majority of species that could be lured to take a fly were a plethora of panfish, including crappie and bluegill. Although several large bass were seen, catches were of the smaller variety. There was an occasional rainbow or two. and small bass. I hope you enjoy reading about your favorite fishing waters.

PLEASE NOTE: Unless otherwise indicated, all fish were safely released after being photographed.

LOWER SALT RIVER, Tonto National Forest, AZ

Given the unusual circumstances of this month, I was only able to fish the Lower Salt a few times. After water flows increased to summer levels, I concentrated my fishing at the Water Users Recreation Area. This area is above river from where float tubers launch and thus can provide extended fishing time in the morning hours. The fly rods I tend to use on the river (summer flows) are a 9 foot Sumo XS and 8 foot Fenwick Ferrulite. Longer rods for longer casts and fishing Czech-style nymphs.

At Water Users Recreation Area

The beginning of the month (after flow levels increased) was a bit inconsistent. One day, catches of largemouth bass were reasonable with catches of bluegill plentiful (best pattern was a # 14 rooks blueberry nymph tied behind a # 12 claret wooly bugger). The next day would be nothing. But such are the foibles of fly fishing.

Below is the water flow chart for the Lower Salt River for the month from WWW.Watershedmonitor.Com.

CANYON LAKE, Tonto National Forest, AZ

I fished several areas of shoreline on Canyon Lake with consistent catches of small bass and plentiful panfish.  Given the steady stream of panfish, crappie & bluegill that would take a fly, I downsized my equipment to my 6 foot Fenwick Ferrulite fly rod, throwing a four weight line and ending in a 7x or 8X tippet.  The result was often some heart-stopping action provided by light tackle connected to some nice-sized panfish.

The areas that I primarily fished are:

The shoreline adjacent to and surrounding the fishing bridge at Boulder Recreation Area,

  

the rock ledge on the far shoreline from the bridge (use caution hiking down the rocks)

Di & a bluegill from the rock ledge

and the shoreline surrounding the first one lane bridge on highway 88 (use caution hiking down from the road to the shoreline).

                 

The most productive patterns this month were the following: # 14 BH rooks blueberry nymph behind a # 12 BH claret wooly bugger, # 16 red serendipity nymph behind a # 12 sparkle shad streamer and a # 16 wire caddis nymph tied behind a # 10 apache lady wet fly. These flies were fished with a twitch and pause retrieve. As morning temperatures inched steadily to the triple digit range, there was fast and furious dry fly action to be found courtesy of a # 16 black/pink foam ant or a # 16 chartreuse/black ant.  I fished the ants drifting with surface wind currents with an occasional twitch. There were times that almost every other cast resulted resulted in a fish; every sixth cast or so in one that was nice size.

Chloe inspects a bluegill from the rock ledge before release

After a long morning at Canyon Lake, one tends to develop an appetite. To quell the hunger derived from a morning of flicking flies at the aquatic citizens of the lake, the FLY FISHING DOJO crew often stops at Los Favritos Restaurant on Apache Trail in Apache Junction for the biggest, best tasting and economical Burritos in Pinal County. Give them a try the next time you are in “AJ”.

Los Favritos Restaurant, Apache Trail, Apache Junction

URBAN LAKE FISHING – GENERAL COMMENTS

Success on the Urban Lake system this month was somewhat inconsistent. Catfish were (and still are) being stocked by AZ Fish and Game. These fish are reluctant to take a fly, but were caught using various baits, including hot dogs reported by one fisherman I spoke with. It seems to me that during the stocking of the catfish, the other resident summer species of bass and bluegill bury themselves deep into the cover.

VETERAN’S OASIS PARK LAKE, Chandler, AZ

Small bass and bluegill were inconsistent but could be found with wet flies and nymphs that had some sparkle to them. Such patterns included: # 14-16 BH rooks blueberry, # 16 wire caddis nymph, # 14-16 rainbow warrior nymphs, # 16 red serendipity nymph, # 14 alexandria and # 14 apache lady wet fly.

WATER RANCH LAKE, Gilbert, AZ

Results that I experienced were generally the same as at Veterans Oasis Lake, including the productive fly patters. I did have one heart stopping moment when a large carp chased and was briefly hooked on a # 14 pink san juan worm pattern. I hope to explore this pattern on the resident carps more in June.

FEATURED VIDEOS:

Fisherman As Warriors –  link:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-cMRW503DbY

Sanchin Kata For Fisherman –  link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ncZJ0s0HNI

Until my next submission, I hope you continue to enjoy the articles I post on this weblog. Tight lines.

Sensei John

Sensei John is available for lectures on the interrelationship of fly fishing and martial arts protocol, ideology and philosophy. Please see the “LECTURES & LESSONS” Page tab above for more information.

You can now arrange for either a fly fishing lecture or lesson with Sensei John, please see the “LESSONS & LECTURES” Page.

You can follow the DAILY adventures of FLY FISHING DOJO on FACEBOOK, See the Video & Media Page for details.

Please feel free to shop unique Fly Fishing Dojo products wear by clicking on the “SHOP” tab at the top of this page. This months new product

FEATURED PRODUCT - FFD SHOT GLASS

Please feel free to view my other weblog dedicated to exploring martial arts ideology and concepts as they can be applied to daily life. You may visit the weblog at WWW.SENSEIJOHN.WORDPRESS.COM.

Guest Speaker

31 May

EXCITING ANNOUNCEMENT

In response to your many inquiries, Sensei John is pleased to announce his availability for guest speaking engagements. Presently, in-person lectures and lessons are available only in Arizona.

Whether you are a competitive tournament angler looking for an unequaled competitive edge, a fly fisherman looking to improve your fly fishing, or a weekend fisherman looking to enhance your fishing experience, Sensei John’s lectures (and forthcoming video series) and Sanchin For Fisherman Video are for you!

          

Your club or organization may schedule a lecture or demonstration with Sensei John. For more information, please click the new “GUEST SPEAKER” page tab above.

APRIL 2011 – FLY FISHING JOURNAL

11 May

Arizona, Valley Of The Sun, April, 2011, after three months away, it was good to once again return home on April 18th. My first day of fishing Arizona waters was April 20th, so what follows is a somewhat abbreviated report. PLEASE NOTE: Unless otherwise indicated, all fish were safely released after being photographed.

LOWER SALT RIVER, Tonto National Forest, AZ

I was able to fish the Lower Salt on April 23rd at the Water Users Recreation Area, Blue Point and Sheep Crossing. Results were slow, but unusually interesting. To my surprise, several carp were located. I managed to hook three of them using a # 14 San Juan Worm weighted with a split shot. These fish put up a real nice fight resulting in two of the three escaping.

Look for improved results with the scheduled stocking of rainbow trout in the coming weeks by Arizona Game & Fish

Below is the water flow chart for the Lower Salt River for the month from WWW.Watershedmonitor.Com.

As of the date of publication, water flows on the Lower Salt surged to summer levels.

CANYON LAKE, Tonto National Forest, AZ

I fished waters in and around the Boulder Recreation Area for two days with spectacular catches of various panfish eager to take a fly.

          

So spectaculr was the panfishing that I dedicated a separate report and video entitled “Panfish Party Heat At Canyon Lake” to these two days.

Here is a link to the report https://flyfishingdojo.com/2011/05/01/panfish-party-heat-at-canyon-lake/

and video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R0Fi5JcuJVs.

URBAN LAKE FISHING – GENERAL COMMENTS


Once again, I fished the Urban Lakes system on days that I only had two to three hours to dedicate to fishing. The lakes are presently being stocked with catfish by Fish and Game. These fish are difficult to catch using a fly. Notwithstanding my lack of luring catfish to my feathery offerings, I was able to catch a few small largemouth bass and bluegill of various sizes. Some days were good and some slow, a few were even S-L-O-W.

PLEASE dispose of bait containers properly

VETERAN’S OASIS PARK LAKE, Chandler, AZ

Veterans Oasis Lake was the first Arizona water that I was able to fish upon my return. My first day on the water was April 20th and it was great. I saw two of my fishing fiends that I hadn’t seen since I left for work in New Jersey. I was also able to shake off the cold New Jersey winter by catching quite a few bluegill and small bass.

For this auspicious occasion, I chose to fish with my favorite fly rod from my teenage years, a Fenwick Ferrulite 6 foot rod. I fished a light, ten foot leader with a 7 X tippet and had a blast with the plentiful palm sized bluegill. The flies of choice this day were a combination of a # 14 Alexandria wet fly with a # 16 Red Ass wet fly on the tail and a # 14 Zug Bug nymph with a # 16 BH Red Serendipity nymph on the tail end.

WATER RANCH LAKE, Gilbert, AZ

I was able to fish this urban lake once on April 28th. The results of this day were a few small bass & several bluegill on a # 14 Alexandria with a # 16 Red Ass as a dropper.

I had also caught and released several bluegill on a # 14 March Brown with a # 16 Scrambled Egg drew the attention of a great blue heron looking for an easy meal. This beautiful bird came closer and closer each time I caught and released a bluegill. At one point in time, it was only about eight feet away as you can see in the photo below. For perspective, the fly rod I am holding tucked under my arm was only six feet long. Eventually, the heron flew off.

RED MOUNTAIN LAKE, Mesa, AZ

I fished this lake twice with reliable catches of bluegill, some nice sized. The best pattern again seems to generally be a large dark nymph in front of a red nymph on the tail end.

The most productive pattern proved to be a # 14 Zug Bug nymph with a # 16 BH Red Serendipity nymph on the tail. Both were readily taken but the red pattern more than the dark pattern.

Chloe inspects a bluegill prior to release

At this urban lake, Di also caught her first catfish of the season.

OTHER COMMENTS:

I made a few brief and uneventful trips to Discovery Park Lake and the ponds at Cosmo Dog Park. Except for a few bluegill and one small carp, these trips were lack luster.

Until my next submission, I hope you continue to enjoy the articles I post on this weblog. Keep your flies in the water.

NEW VIDEOS:

Great Blue Heron at Water Ranch Lake link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YRgw1oPVYw4

Panfish Party at Canyon Lake link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R0Fi5JcuJVs

Sensei John

You can follow the DAILY adventures of FLY FISHING DOJO on FACEBOOK, See the Video & Media Page for details.

Please feel free to shop unique Fly Fishing Dojo products wear by clicking on the “SHOP” tab at the top of this page.

This months new product – FFD LOGO MAGNET

See the "SHOP" page for link to our online store

Please feel free to view my other weblog dedicated to exploring martial arts ideology and concepts as they can be applied to daily life. You may visit the weblog at WWW.SENSEIJOHN.WORDPRESS.COM.

PANFISH PARTY HEAT AT CANYON LAKE

1 May

Di, our dog, Chloe & I arrived at the Boulder Recreation Area of Canyon Lake early the morning of Friday, April 29th anticipating a morning of good fishing, enjoying the natural environment and a quiet day away from work. What we found was an phenomenon that I call “Panfish Party Heat”. The catches (and releases) of feisty, bluegill and crappie was so fulfilling they we were compelled to return on Saturday the 30th. Here is our story experiencing the Panfish Party Heat phenomenon at Canyon Lake.

Day One:

We arrived at Canyon Lake, Boulder Recreation Area around 7:30 in the morning. The plan was to target panfish and search for a few bass. With this in mind, I had taken along two of my oldest (and most treasured) fly rods from my youth. Both rods, purchased over thirty-five years ago, were Fenwick Ferrulite fly rods; one six foot, weighing 2 5/8 ounces I planned to use on the native bluegill and crappie population. The other, an eight foot rod I intended to use for largemouth bass when the opportunity presented itself. Di planned to use a variety of spinners and artificial bait. She also wanted to hone her fly casting skills a bit.

On the six foot fly rod I had tied a tandem of nymphs onto a 7X tippet. The combination of choice was a # 16 rainbow warrior tied behind a # 14 BH bloody mary.  On the eight foot rod I tied a # 14 ju-ju bee nymph tied behind a # 12 BH claret wooly bugger on a 5X tippet.

We began to walk the shoreline and cast to promising locations, rocky drop-offs, reed banks, and the like. Our casts were unanswered. As we walked we came upon the area adjacent to the fishing bridge. Along the shallow rocky ledges which sloped to deep water we immediately noticed several large bass on spawning beds. Coexisting with the bass were several panfish secreting themselves amongst the rocks. We stealthily approached and began to fish in earnest. Though the bass, preoccupied by nature’s urge to spawn, were not interested in my flies, the bluegill and crappie were more than happy to munch on my feathery offerings. These nice-sized panfish simply could not resist the flies. Seeing the urgency with which these panfish gobbled feathery hooks, Di thought it best to stop fishing with spinners and “practice” her fly casting. She was soon into the panfish as well.

          

We fished for about three more hours along the shoreline within thirty feet of the bridge with consistent results. Each cast produced a steady stream of smiles from Di and I and excited barks from Chloe as she “inspected” each catch before its release.

On a previous outing, Chloe inspects a fish

I was even able to hook-up with a big largemouth that took the claret woolly bugger. As Di was getting the video camera, the big ‘ole bucket-mouth pulled my line into a pile of reeds and submerged tree limbs and was gone. All that remained of my rod-bending, heart-thumping experience was a memory, smile and eight seconds of video – damn good if you are a PBR bull-rider, but not good enough for a fisherman.

On the way home, we mentally checked our schedules for the next day and concluded that, “Yes, there would be time to return again tomorrow morning.”

Day Two:

Knowing that the lake in general, and the area surrounding the fishing bridge in particular, would be more crowded on the weekend, we woke early Saturday morning and were on the lake by seven. We immediately went to the area that was so productive the day before, and looked again into the water. With large anticipatory eyes, we saw – nothing. The bass and panfish were no where to be found. Buoyed by the hope that as the sun continued to rise and warm the water, the fish would again come in to the shallows, we committed our flies to the choppy waters. After two hours and two panfish, we decided it was time for a change.

          

Like dejected wall flowers returning home from a high school prom, I returned yesterdays productive flies to their home and tied a # 14 BH rooks blueberry nymph behind a # 12 BH sparkle chartreuse wooly bugger on the eight foot rod. On the six foot rod, I tied on a # 14 BH red serendipity nymph behind a # 14 BH hare’s ear nymph. We donned our backpacks and decided to look for deep water. On the far shore across from the fishing bridge is an escarpment that cascades down to a rock ledge. From the ledge, the water plummets straight down to dark murky depths. We felt that in the depths of this cove must dwell our desired quarry; if only we could hike down. We walked up to the road and were able to locate a precarious path down to the rock ledge. We carefully picked our way to the ledge, and set down our packs. I cast the eight foot rod out so the brace of flies fell right next to the reeds and counted to ten so as to allow the beadheads to sink the flies down into the dark waters. Using a twitch and pause retrieve, I pulled the flies back. After no more than a half dozens twitches, the rod bent and a fish was on. But what was it? Surely there were bass in those depths and with the eight foot rod bent and the amount of resistance on the line, it could be a bass. After fighting the fish for a few minutes, slowly raising it from the depths so as not to break the 5X tippet, a palm-plus size crappie broke the surface of the water. The next hour and a half produced reliable catches of crappie and bluegill, all in a respectable size range.

         

We drove home sated from having partied with so many panfish, desires fulfilled, a few heart-stopping moments, pictures and video and somewhat hung-over from a great two day “Panfish Party” experience in a treasure of nature simply called Canyon Lake.

For your enjoyment, there is a brief companion video called: “Fly Fishing Dojo – Panfish Party At Canyon Lake on you tube. Here is a convenient link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R0Fi5JcuJVs

A few words of caution when thinking about hiking down the rocky escarpments of Canyon Lake are appropriate. First and foremost, make sure you are physically fit for the challenge and bear in mind that what looks easy hiking down is a lot harder to hike up. Second, be aware of “inglorious indigent interlopers” that can ruin a fishing trip, to wit: rattle snakes, scorpions, spiders, bees and fire ants to name a few. Lastly, remember the elements. The rock ledge we fished from was totally exposed to the sun (temperatures were “only” about 85, with a uv index of about 10). Make sure you have water,snack items, sun-block (we even wore uv protection clothing) and more water. Also, please clean-up after your visit; hike it in, hike it out.

Until the next cast, I remain,

Sensei John

You can find FLY FISHING DOJO on FACEBOOK, and send a friend request; see the “Video & Media” page for more information.

Please feel free to “window shop” our unique logo products by clicking on the “SHOP” page tab above. You may also find discounted items on E-Bay by searching “Fly Fishing Dojo.

You are also invited to read my martial arts protocol, philosophy and ideology weblog for non-martial artists at WWW.SenseiJohn.Wordpress.Com.

FFD “DRY HEAT-CREW” RETURNS TO ARIZONA

22 Apr

Three months of steady work in New Jersey have come to an end.  The Fly Fishing Dojo “Dry-Heat Crew” is now back home in Arizona, getting unpacked and settling in. As we do so, I would like to reflect a bit on the past few months in New Jersey.

It was a good time on many levels. I was able to again see family, including my dad, mom, daughters, Jess and Kim and especially my grandson Stratton. At 19 months, the little guy is turning into quite a handful and a bit of a daredevil. With his Mom, Jess, he even took his first ride in a cherry-picker!

                    

I was able to spend time with my Sensei, Shihan Thomas DeFelice, Ku-Dan (9th degree black belt) and hone my physical, mental and spiritual skills.

With great pleasure, I attended weekly training sessions at the USA Goshin-Ryu Karate Dojo of Shihan Wayne Norlander, Ku-Dan (9th degree black belt) in Bogota, NJ.

Shihan Norlander graciously allowed me to use his Dojo to produce a unique video entitled “Fisherman As Warriors”. Here is a convenient link to the video which is archived on the “Video & Media” Page – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-cMRW503DbY

I was especially honored to have attended the senior black belt promotion of Sensei Pablo Peneque, Roku-dan (6th degree black belt) and Sensei Scott Zamora, Yon-dan (4th degree black belt).

The promotion ceremony was a forum for a reunion of several of Shihan DeFelice’s Goshin-Do Karate-Do Yudansha (black belts).

After three and a half days on the road, we arrived back home in Arizona on April 18th.

Di, Chloe and I were able to be on the water for the first time on April 20th. A great morning was spent at Veterans Oasis Lake in Chandler; even Chloe got a chance to “savor” a few bluegill.

And thus, begins another segment of the Fly Fishing Dojo weblog. The “Dry Heat Crew”, including Sensei John, will continue to provide Arizona Fishing Reports, while our New Jersey correspondent, Sensei Bob, will continue to submit reports from the Garden State.

Much more to follow. I remain,

Sensei John

Fly Fishing Dojo can be found on Facebook; please see the “Video & Media” page tab above.

Please feel free to “window shop” our unique logo products by clicking on the “SHOP” page tab above.

You are also invited to read my martial arts protocol, philosophy and ideology weblog for non-martial artists at WWW.SenseiJohn.Wordpress.Com.

FEBRUARY, 2011 – NJ SUPPLEMENT

6 Apr

Fly fishing is where and when you find it. To be sure there are those that plan and save for an exotic fly fishing adventure in a far off land casting to “promised as advertised” finned beauties. For me, I want to fish each and everyday as often as possible. When I am home in Arizona, my daily fly fishing desire manifests itself at one of several lakes in Arizona’s Urban Fishing Program. I recently had the opportunity of several weeks of steady work that took be back to my roots in northern New Jersey. During my stay, I was able to flick a few flies on the gloried, pristine trout waters of my youth.  To my (stress) relief and pleasure, I was also able to find consistent “Big-city limits fishing” within a twenty minute drive from work.

My big city fishing was at the lake at Hudson County Park. This man-made lake is set in one of New Jersey’s most densely populated areas; to wit: Hudson County, New Jersey.  Admittedly, the location, set against the New York City skyline and nestled in amongst condominiums of various size and shape, is not the most pristine of natural environments. But, as much as “Home is where the heart is”, I say, “Nature and beauty is to be found all around you, if you open your eyes to it.”

I often left the hectic pace of a day at work,  drove east on State Highway 46 into Cliffside Park, cut across Anderson Avenue to neighboring Weehauken and North Bergen and found my solitude amongst the several hundred visitors to the park. I stood on its concrete shoreline and cast my sharp feathery flies into the depths of its “citified” water.

A fisherman hooked this rainbow on a black Mepps in-line spinner.

Every now and then, I hooked a leaf, twig, even a plastic bag and a discarded fast-food-seller’s soft drink cup. More to my liking, I hooked the sporadic finned citizen of the lake. Such are the basis of urban legends.

I caught & released this rainbow using a # 14 Ju-Ju Bee Nymph fished behind a # 12 Black Wooly Bugger.

It is my understanding from the local fisherman that the rainbow trout caught during February are hold-overs from a stocking that took place in November, 2010. The next time you find yourself yearning to fish, give an urban lake a try. You may not be disappointed. A word of caution though (courtesy of the Parks Department):

Until the next submission, I remain,

Sensei John

Follow FLY FISHING DOJO on Facebook, see our Video & Media Page.

Please feel free to “window shop” our unique logo products by clicking on the “SHOP” page tab above.

You are also invited to read my martial arts protocol, philosophy and ideology weblog for non-martial artists at WWW.SenseiJohn.Wordpress.Com.

FISHERMAN AS WARRIORS

20 Mar

FLY FISHING DOJO is a weblog that combines martial arts protocol, philosophy and ideology with fishing. Some of you have wondered, “Is this a new idea?” The short answer is “No.” Fisherman as warriors have existed since the time of feudal Japan.

On a remote, small chain of islands known as the “Ryukyu’s” (of which Okinawa is one island), determined groups of peasants faced the onslaught of a Japanese occupation. The Japanese invaders were composed of the elite fighting force of the era; the infamous and deadly Samurai. The Ryukyu peasants faced the cold shiver of death from the Samurai warrior’s mythic, steel katana (sword) with nothing but their tenacity, ferocity and farm tools to save them. Farmers and fisherman held their heads high as they faced the Shogun’s Samurai.

Unlike the fisherman of today, who pursue the sport for recreation, for the Ryukyu fisherman, life was difficult. He spent long hours each day on the mighty ocean fishing for  a meager subsistence. He paddled and steered his simple boat with a hand-crafted oar. The oar was not only a tool, but also proved to be an invaluable weapon. The humble peasant fisherman was capable of defending himself against marauding bands of mighty Samurai with nothing but his courage, tenacity, spirit and, his oar. Thus, the low-born peasant became a legendary warrior in his own right.

Sensei John wielding the Eaku (oar) of the ancient Okinawa fisherman

From this historical tradition of fisherman as warriors, the idea for FLY FISHING DOJO was born. To pay homage to the humble Ryukyu fisherman-warriors, I have prepared a video showing an example of a Kata (martial arts protocol) of the fighting technique of these ancient fisherman-warriors.

Please feel free to take a look back into a past era by clicking on this convenient link.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-cMRW503DbY

For additional fishing videos, please click on the “VIDEO & MEDIA” page tab above.

In closing I remain, committed to presenting you with a unique fly fishing weblog and experience.

Sensei John

You are invited to follow FLY FISHING DOJO on Facebook; please fee the “VIDEO & MEDIA” page tab above for more details.

Please feel free to “window shop” our unique logo products by clicking on the “SHOP” page tab above.

You are also invited to read my martial arts protocol, philosophy and ideology weblog for non-martial artists at WWW.SenseiJohn.Wordpress.Com.

NEW FFD LOGO PRODUCTS

13 Mar

Announcing two exciting new FFD Logo products to make the trip to your favorite fly fishing water in FFD style.

The official FFD Logo aluminum key chain.

The official FFD Logo Aluminum Front License Plate.

Your fly fishing vehicle says it all, so while you are on the water flicking flies at magnificent denizens of the deep, let those around you know, you are a fan of FLY FISHING DOJO.

To see these products and more, visit the “SHOP” page above, or click tis convenient link.

http://www.cafepress.com/FLYFISHING_DOJO

Thank-you for your support.

Sensei John

You are also invited to read my martial arts protocol, philosophy and ideology weblog for non-martial artists at WWW.SenseiJohn.Wordpress.Com.

MARCH MADNESS: Road To The Final Fish

10 Mar

I just received information pertaining to an innovative, fun and worthy contest. It is the “March Madness: Road To The Final Fish” contest sponsored by the good folks at Cheeky Fly Fishing.  Ted Upton of Cheeky Fly Fishing describes the contest as follows:

It is basically a march madness style bracket tournament, except game fish are substituted for basketball teams.  Thirty-two fish have been seeded in a bracket (which you will find on the site), and over the course of a number of matchups, one will be crowned champion based on fly fishermen’s votes.  Individuals fill out brackets by selecting which fish they prefer in each matchup.  The fishermen that pick the most winners will receive great prizes from Cheeky Fly Fishing, Manhattan Fly, Fishpond, The Fly Shop, Montana Fly, Jim Teeny, Fishage, Muddog Flies, Free Fly, Skinny Water Culter and more.

Best of all, 100% of proceeds are donated to Casting for Recovery, Stripers Forever and the Bonefish & Tarpon Trust.

You can read more and enter at: www.cheekyflyfishing.com/news.

I completed my form, what are you waiting for? Support various worthy causes, have fun and maybe win a few prizes, a “win-win” situation.

Sensei John

Please feel free to “window shop” our unique logo products by clicking on the “SHOP” page tab above.

You are also invited to read my martial arts protocol, philosophy and ideology weblog for non-martial artists at WWW.SenseiJohn.Wordpress.Com.

FEBRUARY, 2011 – NJ SUPPLEMENT

6 Mar

Well, I survived my first month visiting and temporarily working in New Jersey. It was difficult to say the least. Weather may best be summarized as snow – snow and more snow. Work demanded six days a week of my time; but, I am very grateful to have the work. I was able to go out fly fishing on Sunday March,  20th with Sensei Bob, the FFD New Jersey correspondent.

The day was clear, crisp and cold. We fished the Raritan River at Ken Lockwood Gorge. This stretch of the Raritan is a trout conservation area. While there are certain restrictions as to tackle, bait and harvest requirements, this conservation area is open all year long. There is no closed season.

The area we fished was beautiful and had promising water. In my mind’s eye, I envisioned many large rainbow holding behind various rocks, in the depths of deep pools and otherwise lurking in the swirling water. In actuality, it was a slow day for Sensei Bob and I. Despite casting flies that were sure to seduce a trout or two, no such finned beautify fell prey to our feathery offerings. Such is fishing; notwithstanding results, it was a pure joy to be out in the cold, crisp fresh air, in nature, alone with one’s thoughts, or lack thereof. All, in all, a great day.

Here are a few pictures which I hope you enjoy.

Sensei Bob fly fishes under a railroad bridge.

A handicapped access ramp above a deep pool.

Thank-you to Meltzer's Sporting Goods, Garfield, NJ for helping me with my NJ Non-Resident fishing license.

Until the next submission, I remain,

Sensei John

Follow FLY FISHING DOJO on Facebook, see our Video & Media Page.

Please feel free to “window shop” our unique logo products by clicking on the “SHOP” page tab above.

You are also invited to read my marital arts protocol, philosophy and ideology weblog for non-martial artists at WWW.SenseiJohn.Wordpress.Com.

JANUARY, 2011 – FLY FISHING JOURNAL

4 Feb

VIDEO RELEASES:

I will be using the Dojo of Shihan Wayne Norlander as a studio for filming the “Sanchin Kata For Fly Fisherman Technical Series.”  I will post updates as each video is released on You-tube. In the meantime, here is a link to the introductory video filmed at Water Ranch Lake in Gilbert, AZ. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ncZJ0s0HNI

At Shihan Norlander's (black uniform) Dojo, Bogota, NJ

Arizona, Valley Of The Sun, January, 2011, unfortunately, due to a need for me to be on the East Coast, I only fished Arizona waters for a few precious days in January. I was on the road driving along I-40 the week of January 10th when Arizona Game & Fish conducted their “incentive stocking”. You can check out their website for photographs of some fantastic catches.

I arrived in New Jersey and was “warmly” welcomed by a continually renewing blanket of snow and ice.

At the NJ home of Shihan Thomas DeFelice, sparring with Mother Nature

I am sure at some point, I will be able to cast a few flies into the rivers and streams of my youth in before returning home to Arizona and look forward to that time. Eventually, the snow must melt, the streams will flow wildly and the trout will beckon. For now, I simply think about an anonymous haiku:

  • Snow melting,
  • With my stick, I guided
  • This mighty river.

Well enough daydreaming, on with the fly fishing journal for January, at least the first nine days.

PLEASE NOTE: Unless otherwise indicated, all fish were safely released after being photographed.

LOWER SALT RIVER, Tonto National Forest

Given my unexpectedly early departure, I was unable to fish the Lower Salt. I hope all that were able to journey into Tonto National Forest to fish these waters had good fishing and memorable experiences. Below is the water flow chart for the Lower Salt River for the month of October from WWW.Watershedmonitor.Com.

VETERAN’S OASIS PARK LAKE, Chandler, AZ

To the early morning crew at Veterans Oasis, I hope your days are filled with beautiful, cool, crisp sunrises, and magnificent rainbows at the end of your line. I sit thinking about the several mornings, in the dark, predawn hours, that I stood on the shore casting my flies on what seemed like an etherial, ghostly battlefield. The sound of shotgun blasts filling the air from the distant fields. My eyes following traces of light that pierce and flicker through the pre-dawn dark sky. The flashing light traces eventually coming to rest on the surface of the lake. Military tracer rounds that accompany the shotgun blasts? Some type of meteor? No, rather a unique invention for the bait fisherman that brave the dark to fish upon the waters – lighted bobbers. Besides being a unique fishing tool, they make for a spectacular light show.

WATER RANCH LAKE, Gilbert, AZ

Knowing I would have to leave earlier than anticipated, I made one trip to this lake. My morning there, as always, was well spent.

Harvested one for a "farewell AZ" dinner

The memories of that morning should get me through the coming (snow-filled?) weeks.

Clearing snow off the official FFD truck.

OTHER COMMENTS:

Arizona Game and Fish had a news release pertaining to a first-ever season on Gila Trout. For your convenience, here is a copy of that release.

PHOENIX – The Arizona Game and Fish Commission on Feb. 4 is being asked to create the first-ever season on native Gila trout at Frye Mesa Reservoir on the Pinaleño Mountains in southern Arizona.

“Arizona has never had an open season on Gila trout. They were thought to have been extirpated from the state before we had regulated fishing seasons,” said Fisheries Chief Kirk Young.

The Gila trout proposal is possible because the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Mora National Fish Hatchery in New Mexico has surplus Gila trout available. The department is asking the commission to establish an open season for Gila trout with a one-fish bag and possession limit for Frye Mesa Reservoir.

“We would like to stock those surplus Gila trout into Frye Mesa Reservoir, which is located below Mt. Graham in the Pinaleño Mountains, to provide a unique angling opportunity,” Young said.

That’s not the only unique angling aspect to the proposal. “If the commission approves the proposal, we would create another unique possibility for anglers – fishing for five species of trout on the same mountain – Gila trout, Apache trout, brown trout, rainbow trout and brook trout,” said Don Mitchell, Tucson regional fisheries program manager.

In fact, Mitchell said, Mt. Graham would become the only mountain on earth where anglers could fish for both Gila and Apache trout.

Gila trout were reintroduced to Frye Creek on the mountain above Frye Mesa in the fall of 2009. Frye Creek is closed to fishing while the population establishes.  From Frye Mesa, you can look down upon the town of Safford.

In closing, I will note that the cold has inspired me to add two new products to the FLY FISHING DOJO Logo Line, the “official” FFD logo Thermal Food Jar and the FUNtainer Thermal Bottle.

FFD Logo Thermal Food Jar

You can check them and all FFD Logo products out at: http://www.cafepress.com/FLYFISHING_DOJO

Until my next submission, I hope you continue to enjoy the articles I post on this weblog. Keep your flies in the water.

Sensei John

You can follow the DAILY adventures of FLY FISHING DOJO on FACEBOOK, See the Video & Media Page for details.

Please feel free to shop unique Fly Fishing Dojo products wear by clicking on the “SHOP” tab at the top of this page.

Please feel free to view my other weblog dedicated to exploring martial arts ideology and concepts as they can be applied to daily life. You may visit the weblog at WWW.SENSEIJOHN.WORDPRESS.COM.

THE FLY FISHING EXPO, Somerset, NJ

26 Jan

RATING:

Black Belt – 5 out of 5 – A Must See

Friday, January 21st dawned cold and with snow falling. For most people, the day foretold a cold gloomy weekend. For most that is except for those consumed by the passion called “fly-fishing”.  For those driven by a passion to flick feather and hook, at the denizens of the deep, there was a warming respite from the cold, gloomy, snowy weekend; as warming as a steeping cup of coffee laced with a good Irish whisky (for medicinal purposes, of course). That warm respite was The 19th Annual Fly Fishing Expo held at the Garden State Exhibit Center in Somerset, New Jersey.

As I post this article, the snow continues to fall on the Garden State, so grab yourself a cup of java; better still grab a mug of java in the official FFD logo mug (http://www.cafepress.com/FLYFISHING_DOJO.459912522) and allow me to tell you about this magnificent exhibition.

A shameless plug - I know

Over the course of many years, I have attended a cornucopia of expositions, to wit: fishing expos, hunting expos, gun shows, motorcycle shows, model railroad shows and the like. In evaluating any exposition, one must inevitably critique the promoter’s choice of venue. The Fly Fishing Expo’s choice of the Garden State Exhibit Center must be commended. The venue served to enhance the pleasant experience in attending this event. The Garden State Exhibit Venter is conveniently located and has sufficient parking for the anticipated number of attendees. Further, the parking is free. The venue provided readily available food, drink and refreshment. The floor plan for the exposition allowed for steady traffic flow, accessible lectures, and two well situated fly casting pools.

The next consideration I look at in evaluating an exposition is the quality of the “featured celebrities”. The Fly Fishing Expo provided access to a great many celebrities of every genre: authors, lecturers, fly tiers, artists, guides, lodges and even a master and a living legend. In fact, there were far too many celebrities to name each and every one of them here. That said, my two favorite dignitaries were a “Master” a “Legend”; both to be named hereinafter.

Due to my schedule I was not able to attend the exposition on “opening-day”, Friday, the 21st. I awakened Saturday morning, picked up my New Jersey comrade, Sensei Bob, and we ventured out. With each mile we drove down the NJ Turnpike, our anticipation grew. We arrived at the venue and were smoothly guided through the admission process and entered the vast exhibit hall.

Sensei Bob and I were soon standing aside the casting pool witnessing a stirring Kata performance by the Master, Lefty Kreh. What, you did not know that Lefty knows Karate Kata? Frankly, I do not believe that Lefty ever studied Karate. His Kata is the Kata of fly casting. There is a plaque in our Goshin-Do Karate Dojo which reads, “Only Through Man Does Technique Become Art.” Lefty is a living embodiment of this maxim. I will not divulge Lefty’s secrets in this article; it is not my province to do so. Having said that, I am sure his books, DVD’s and seminars will help everyone that just read these words become a more efficient fly caster. http://www.leftykreh.com/

My personal “must-stop-at” booth was the Cortland booth. I have fly fished with Cortland line since I first saved and saved and saved (that is pre-credit card days for you younger readers) to be able to by their 444 line when I was a boy of 14. Since then, Cortland line is always spooled on my reel.

Due to an overwhelming popularity of the event, during our stay, crowds were impressive. Sensei Bob and I negotiated the aisles as if they were swift rapids in a stream and went about the task of perusing vendors displays, watching the various fly tiers execute their craft and chatting with the various manufacturer representatives. As to the fly tiers, they all executed their craft magnificently. There were two talented and innovated tiers that stood out in my mind on this particular day.

This is not to say that the other tiers I witnessed on Saturday were less than talented; rather,  Pat and Steven’s skills and innovation with feathers and deer hair, simply struck a colorful cord in the dark recesses of my mind.

Steven Wascher holds one of his creations

 

Pat Cohen:

Pat Cohen

Pat's creations

After a few hours, Sensei Bob and I decided to take our leave.

I returned early Sunday morning. Given that it was early, the crowd was smaller than Saturday which allowed for a more direct and intimate contact with exhibitors.

My first stop was the booth of the local chapter of Project Healing Waters. I first learned of this organization, that assists our veterans in finding solace and enjoyment in the fly fishing experience, on a television episode of Curtis Fleming’s Fly Rod Chronicles. David Bucko was at the booth and gave freely of his time to further acquaint me with this organization. Take a moment and check out their website and Facebook pages (http://www.projecthealingwaters.org).

The Project Healing Waters Booth

The highlight this day was stopping by the booth of a living legend. I have known his name since the first time I purchased one of his books and tied one of his innovative fly patterns. The legend is, the distinct, Dave Whitlock (www.davewhitlock.com). In Karate there is a saying,  “It was my mother who bore me, but my Sensei who made me a man.” Well, since Sensei made me a man, Dave got me playing with feathers, hair and hooks – and – I am the better man for it.

The Legend, Dave Whitlock's, Booth

I very much enjoyed all of the people I spoke with. Several of them even greatly assisted me in purchasing a few Valentine’s gifts for my charming wife. Now, since this article will post well in advance of that most heartfelt of days, I cannot divulge certain facts that pertain to these vendors, less my spouse gain advance knowledge of the gifts that I will rain down upon her. I will, nonetheless, give a special “shout-out” (to use the modern vernacular) to: Scott Cesari (WWW.ScottCesariFlyTying.Com), Fish Pimp Co. (WWW.FishPimpCo.Com) and Bill Black (WWW.OTETackle.Com). Thanks in advance for helping to make February 14th great.

While shopping for gifts, I was intrigued by the use of flies as jewelry as displayed by Shawn Davis. His designs and jewelry are magnificent. They can be seen at WWW.Davisflydesigns.com

In addition, I spent a delightful time chatting with a talented artist who deserves a mention. She absolutely sparkles and her artwork is inspiring. She is Anne Dixon.

Before leaving the exhibition, I was treated to a glimpse into the very near future. Cheeky Fly Fishing will soon be debuting a new light-weight, technologically advanced fly fishing reel. I spent a few minutes with Ted Upton enraptured in a discussion about the technological marvel that this reel is. Look for it in the near future. Perhaps I will post a review of the reel upon its debut. www.Cheekyflyfishing.com.

And, thus, my visit to the exhibit drew to a close. It is impossible for me to mention all the people I spoke with or encapsulate the great time I had at the exhibit in this short article. As such, if you are not mentioned directly, please forgive me.

Until the next article, I remain,

Sensei John

If you have a minute, check out my “Sanchin Kata For Fly Fisherman” video. Proper breathing will help, not only your fly fishing, but every aspect of your life. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ncZJ0s0HNI

Please feel free to “window shop” our unique logo products by clicking on the “SHOP” page tab above.

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