Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Fat Lady has Sung

Well...what can I say? Fate and Mother Nature have played their cards and I came up short. The fat lady has sung and the 2008 extended season here in Ontario is officially over for me. I was holding on tight to a flicker of hope that the tribs would come into shape for one last outing before Dec 31. As it turns out the major thaw that unlocked the once frozen tribs was epic. So epic that old timers are commenting on these rivers peeking higher then they had ever seen in their many years. Ironic isn't it? Ironic in that a season filled with so much precipitation and elevated river levels would end on this note. It's an irony that I can live without. It seems like the fall/winter season just started yesterday and here I am typing of it's demise. If there is one lesson to be learned from this year it is to cherish those special days on the water. Do not take them for granted and savour every drift.

2008 was a different year for our rivers but nothing short of spectacular by any means. The fish were there if you put in the leg work and the river has never been in better shape. The fishing was exactly how it should be..."fishing". It's not supposed to be easy. It's supposed to be a challenge and this year was just that. It made us reevaluate our approach and pushed us to explore outside of our comfort zone. We are better for it. I will miss that little river...

A special thanks to Norland for sharing some amazing days on the water with me and being part of the memories. Gene you are a class act and thanks for putting up with me! Friggin HOMO!

At this time I'd like to leave you all with a pictorial sampling of the 08 fall/winter season. Enjoy and stay tuned for some very soon to be 2009 adventures ;0)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Merry Ho Ho

I'd like to take this opportunity to wish all of you Ho Ho Homo's a Merry Christmas and all the best throughout the festive season. It's been a terrific run for Norland and I this season and I'm not giving up hope for a Christmas Miracle and that one last kick at the can before the seasons demise.

all the best,


Monday, December 22, 2008

The Scream

Expressionist Edvard Munch arrives to his local trib circa 1893 only to realize the true wrath of winter. His trib is frozen... I share his pain.

Friday, December 19, 2008


Sometimes reason has no play in my decision making. Sometimes pure logic and fact are ignored. A blatant disregard for the obvious is overcome by pure desire and passion. Sometimes we walk a slippery slope. Today was one of those days. With the threat of what the media had billed as "Snowmageddon" rapidly encroaching on Southwestern Ontario we decided to go fishing. How bad could it be? Honestly...
How about -19 with the wind chill, and snow laden winds gusting upwards of 50 km/hr.
As Gene put it...we are Cock-a-roaches...we can't be killed! Nice...we are the Cock-a-roaches of the shire.
I set the alarm earlier than normal this morning fully expecting to wake and look out the window to find a fresh blanket of snow covering the landscape. Much to my surprise the snow was not there. I rushed to the computer to check the radar imagery and was surprised to see the storm had wrapped around the southern Lake Huron basin. Having commitments later that evening I was feeling pretty good about our chances of actually making it back if we did indeed make the journey up the lake. On the drive to Norlands I tuned in to FM 96 to catch the morning show. Tucker and Taz were commenting on the fact that it just started snowing in London and "S-N-O-W-Mageddon" had arrived. With all of the media hype and scare tactics this system was falling short of threatening.
Arriving at Norland's we proceeded to load up the Tercel when one of us throw out the disclaimer... "We can always turn around if it gets too bad" to set ourselves at ease. For the most part the ride up was uneventful. The roads were dry. The snow had started and was driving right into our faces. Nothing out of the ordinary for winter and really posing no threat. Arriving to our access point the phone rang. My wife informed me that snow was falling hard and accumulating rapidly at home. We decided to hike in and have a quick morning fish and book on out early in hopes that the highway would be open. By this time the winds were picking up and we sought the refuge of the forest. The morning was bitterly cold. A far cry from the -1 projections of earlier in the week. The wind and driving snow only compounded the effects on the body. Once in the forest the much welcomed cover made the journey somewhat bearable. Arriving to the Wintering Hole we could tell we were in for some extreme winter steelheading. By now the winds were howling above us. Being down in the valley we were afforded some cover from them but the snow had now increased. I began to second guess myself for being there but the water looked spectacular. Anticipating great things I slid into the tail out and started to float a preferred line. The wind was driving downriver and was not affecting my drift at all and the toque Norland lent me was keeping me quite content. The river was slush free but the guides were icing up severely. Guide de-icing operations were being completed every 10 or so drifts and line and float buildup was also a problem. We fished this hole long and hard to no avail. Norland blew a fish above the hole in the slot and managed a shaker shortly after but other than that things were looking dismal. The storm was intensifying and so were our concerns for getting home. We decided to slip up to the "New Run" and give it a quick fish then jet out of the shire and attempt to make it home before all hope was lost. By now the wind was driving down river harder. The drifts were difficult and the driving snow severely impaired our vision but the water looked spectacular. There had to be fish in this run I thought to myself. After a few drifts on the top end I opted to slide down to the tail out. With the wind being a major factor I was forced to drop into the run and wade out to my waist. This allowed me the opportunity to drift the line I wanted with some manner of control. The first few drifts were wasted as the wind scurried the float rapidly across the surface. About 5 drifts in the float disappeared and instinctively I set the hook. Confirmation was instant and I proclaimed "Fish" to notify Norland. By now my hands are cold and hurting and this is a good fish. The snow was driving into my face and at times I lost sight of where the fish was. For as cold as the water was this fish was a handful and I was glad I had the big stick to offer some forgiveness. With luck on my side I managed to put the fish on the bank. A big winter buck in full colour. Truly a reward for perseverance and confirmation that we weren't total idiots for embarking on this journey today. After a few photos the fish was released unharmed and I slide back into the run to see if I could persuade another participant. I diligently started picking away at the same line in hopes that a pretty lady may await my offering. Another 5 or so drifts and the float disappears again. I set up on another fish. Initial flashes of chrome are realized as the fish surfaces and then seeks the depths of the run. After a worthy battle and the grace of God I managed to swing another buck into the grass. By now my hands are smashed. My fingers are cold and sore and the zippers on my wading jacket are frozen. I struggled to get the camera from it's pocket then proceeded to gather a few quick pics before releasing the fish back into the run. This was more than I could have asked for and I break down the stick in anticipation of the hike out in hopes that I may warm up while Gene slides down to give the tailout a try. Struggling with the wind, ice, snow and the nasty feeling of what may lie ahead of us on the way home we decide to make the call and hike out. By now the wind is literally screaming above the valley and we make short time of the hike out. Once at the car we don't even gear down in hopes that every minute saved my be needed to get home. The roads were in fair condition considering the nature of the storm and visibility was in and out for the most part. The lack of traffic made the journey somewhat stress free and we arrived home surprisingly early and unscathed. As I drove from Gene's driveway my cel phone rang. It was my brother-in-law. He had to work a night shift up at the Bruce and was asking my how the ride home down 21 was. I told him not too bad considering and he quickly informed me that we just made it out in time. They had shut down 21 completely and the inland routes as well. I had a little chuckle to myself..."the Cock-a-Roaches...they can't be stopped" I whispered.

Today we took it to another level. We pushed our bodies, abilities, and luck and put it all on the line for that one shot. I don't know what that says for us but I'm glad we did it...

Thursday, December 18, 2008


As I sit here at work burning the remaining hours before my Christmas vacation I find my mind wandering…

Sunday, December 14, 2008

After Midnight

I hadn't planned on fishing today...It was not until well after midnight that I made the call and scrambled to get my gear in order. A few hours of sleep and I'm on a river all to myself. Well for a little bit anyways. It was nice while it lasted...

The fishin was tough but once again persistence paid off. The river is in beautiful shape. Today I lost feeling in my feet for the first time this year. I had forgotten just how painful that feels when they start to thaw out. I must fix those leaks!

Friday, December 12, 2008

We Bulldozed em!

Sounds good but not entirely true as you will soon find out...

Once again Norland and myself had the opportunity to spend a day up the lake chasing Steelhead. Jonesing really bad to fish some new water we decided to break from routine, throw caution to the wind, and check out a recommended locale. Arriving early and not being familiar with the area we opted to stay in the warmth of the Tercel and do a little country driving in search of other options for future endeavours. The country side in this area is extremely beautiful with it's rolling terrain and mixed hardwood forests. It really got me thinking how nice it would be to own a country property here. A place to go and relax and forget about everything that is routine and normal in life. A place where there would be no distractions with exception to stoking the fire or slipping out to fish. Perhaps my age is becoming more apparent but it is the simplicity and isolation that appeals to me more and more each year. And to own a retreat in an area as beautiful as this within proximity to home waters would be priceless.

Having snooped around enough we thought we better get to our access point and don our attire for the trek back to the river. It was a crisp morning with the threat of flurries in the forecast and a true winter sky hanging over our heads. The kind of sky that makes you shiver just looking at it. Being unfamiliar with the area we followed the directions as best as we could but ended up missing a turn and bushwhacking through thick brush and deep snow. This took its toll and had us second guessing our decision early in the outing. Perseverance paid off and we found ourselves back on track and arriving at the river. As expected the river was running strong but the colour was a magical emerald green. Our inside scoop had us crossing the river and fishing down stream. This was not going to happen with this flow this morning so we opted to head up river in search of fishable water or an easy crossing point. Arriving at the next bend we found some flat water with a tributary dumping into the main flow. Gene hooked a fish on his first drift while I fumbled around retying my hook. This fish was uncharacteristically hot for December and rocketed down stream breaching the surface. After a short tussle this fish managed to get the better of Norland. Gene retied a fresh hook and lobbed in another offering. Instantly as he nicely mended his slack line the float shot down and he was into yet another hot December chromer yelling down to me to get my butt up there as the fish must be stacked in that location. After a formidable battle I managed to tail the fish for Gene. A beautiful hen in winter colours. This fish had fresh lesions on it's body conducive to those of a large raptor. After a few photos she disappeared onto the emerald abyss. With grand expectations I made my way up to the top of the run and casted my offering into the swift flow slowly mending it back to my preferred line of approach. Drift after drift seemed futile. The run had shutdown and we were forced to look for another option. We found a shallow flat spot that afforded us easy crossing just above the trib and took advantage of it. Now being on the opposite side we started to make our way down stream. We arrived at some fast water in a slight bend in the river that had a current break on our side. We had tried to fish this line from the other side on the way up but could not do so properly. Gene was retying so I took the top and lobbed one into the swift flow. I trotted the offering slightly back until I had my desired line. Part way down the drift my flow plummets and I instinctively setup to a thumping reply and an explosive run into the fast water. Fish I exclaimed as line screamed from my reel. Another hot fish! I had the feeling this was a large fish but in the fast water it's sometimes hard to tell. The fish took numerous runs until a chase was inevitable. Part way down I managed to slow her up and thought that I had a chance to beach her. Until now we had yet to see this fish and if you know my luck at any moment that little hook was sure to come flying back at us. She made her way to the undercut at my feet and I managed to get her up to the surface for a look. She was definitely a nice fish but instantly had a look at us and once again peeled down river. Just below me was an extended willow and immediately below that another. These trees were in the water and an impassible barrier to me in the high flow conditions. We talked over our options but the fish made a break for the second tree catching my line in the process on the first tree. Gene immediately shot for the water and managed to free my line. I passed my rod under the tree to him and hopped over. While looking up I could see my float caught in the second tree just floating slack by the mess of grass and wood caught in it. I notified Gene that the fish was gone and had snagged me in the tree. As I reeled in the slack the fish gave a tug and jetted downstream. The fish was still on!!! An act of kindness and lunacy. The chase was once again on but this time with bursts of laughter and disbelief. We managed to beach the big girl into the grass. She was awesome sporting her big belly, tail and winter colours. After a few pics she was on her way with only her pride hurt. A wave of relief warmed my body and I stood in awe for a moment collecting my thoughts as the snow pelted down upon me. Sometimes one fish can change your day. Sometimes you only get one shot and when it all comes together it can truly be a special moment. Today I had that moment and was left with a story I will never forget. We fished this line a little while longer and worked our way down river to the run that was recommended to us. We fished the river hard to no avail. There were no obvious lines or slack water downstream in this flow and the appealing water we did fish was void of willing participants. By now it was noon and we knew we had a fair hike back in the snow to the crossing so we doubled back. Stopping for a break and to fish a piece of water I looked down stream to see G up to his waist at he edge of the river. I recast upstream and watched my float pass me and start to make it's way down river. As my head reached 2 o-clock I noticed Gene in the middle of the river up to his armpits flailing his hands in a swimming motion. I watched in awe as he bounced from the bottom and paddled past the center of the swift flow reaching the other side. Breaching the bank he let out a sigh of relief and communicated just how cold the water really was. He then went on to instruct me not to cross there as it is very deep. I sternly agreed and continued upriver to the feeder creek. Once there I opted to fish the inside bend that we couldn't reach from the other side earlier in the morning. Gene appeared from around the bend and set up nicely on the spot he fished in the morning. A few drifts in and Norland hooks yet another hot fish from the same line as earlier. Being on the far bank I was unable to assist so I started to make my way to the other side of the river as Gene disappeared around the bend in hot pursuit. A little while later I managed to get to the other side and Gene appeared around the bend holding a titanium bullet. After a few photo ops she was on her way back into the depths. A few more drifts for me and my day started to resemble a comedy act. I went from ice ups to tree snag to birds nest until finally deciding to pull the plug. We already had a successful outing and with the looming hike out ahead of use it was time to go. Let me tell you...Deep snow with a crusty layer on top sucks! Every third step we would break through to our knees. We took our time and stopped for many breaks. Arriving at the car we geared down and settled in for the ride home. Gene discovered that his camera no longer works nor does his cel phone. I guess when you submerge them in near freezing water they tend to do that.
It was nice to stretch our legs and get out of our comfort zone for a change. The pressure on the river today was nonexistent in this stretch. The river was stellar. The colour was hypnotising. The flow was big. The forest was beautiful and the snow and winter sky ominous. Winter Steelheading has a special place in my heart. Today was a classic winter outing with memories that will last a lifetime.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Science of Steelheading

Back in the day it was easy. You loaded your gear in the car and drove up the lake praying like an Alter Boy that the river would be in shape when you arrived. Funny thing is... I really don't recall being shut down that much by dirty blown rivers but then again I didn't fish as much as I do now. Fast forward to today and I cannot live without my real time radar site, long range forecast and the ever so important Hydrological Data site. As of recent I have struggled with accepting the fact that this site has become somewhat unreliable with it's reporting. So much so that I had done the leg work to get in contact with the people who own and maintain the stations and express my disappointment and dissatisfaction with their performance. I have become somewhat of a thorn in the Field Technicians side that maintains the station to the point that she put me in contact with her boss. Don't get me wrong...I was never rude but let's say more of a constant reminder that "the public" do in fact use these tools in their everyday lives. Struggling to understand why in this day and age we cannot simply fix something as simple as a automatic dialer I made the phone call to the manager in charge. During our conversation i learned that the unit will make several attempts at contacting the station via the public phone system. If there is any reason that the signal conditions are not met the call will be aborted and bypassed until the next slot comes available in the rotation. There are so many stations that the rotation is very large. This explains why the station only updated every 8 hrs or so when it worked properly. He also informed me that a new software system has been purchased but is in the beta testing phase. The earliest we could expect to see it put in use would be a year to a year and a half's time frame. So for now the Steelheading public will have to rely on country phone lines and manual data collection. I don't know if I can live with that! LOL!! But I'm gonna have to learn. By the way Norland has informed me that I am now on the Goverment's list and to expect great complication in my life. LOL!!! He is a POS...I may just call his Boss!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

The river was perfect...

With the threat of a major meltdown on our hands and an incredible need to drift some decent water after Sunday's slush fest we planned on a Tuesday escape up the lake. Some time the night prior life interjected and threw the proverbial monkey wrench into our plans. Norland was out as the kids were sick. At around 11:30 pm I had just nicely drifted off to sleep when the phone rang. I was certain it was work trying to hurtle that monkey wrench but it proved the contrary...Norland! No worries I told him and drifted back to sleep relieved that I didn't have to go save the day at "Plastic World".
The following morning the alarm came way too early as it often does but without obligation to meet Gene I seriously contemplated staying in bed. Instead I thought I owed it to myself to look for a legitimate out as not to feel guilty for staying home. Down to the computer I went to check the Hydro site, Exeter radar station, and the Ontario road reports. Surprisingly, all reports were somewhat favourable and there really was no substantial evidence that would allow me to live with myself for missing the opportunity. However, not having to meet Norland at 5:30 I decided to slip back into my warm bed and re-set the alarm for a little later start time. Today I felt no urgency to get to the river. It would still be there when I arrived and odds were that there would be little pressure. My heart wasn't 100% into it but still I felt the need to go and give it a shot. In all honestly it was a crap shoot. The water site once again wasn't updated and I had no proof as to the severity of the rain and thaw but my heart said go check it out. Some times these are the days that prove to me most memorable and sometimes they are just long car rides.
It was nice driving up in the daylight for a change and the hike back to the river was nice having the ability to actually see. It really is a nice place. I opted to take the path less traveled and was afforded a panoramic view of the beaver pond under a blanket of white.
The river was perfect and void of slush. The water had finally subsided a bit and taken on the familiarity of previous years. Aside from myself there was nobody in the Shire this morning. It had the makings of a stellar outing except the fish didn't get the memo. I fished prime water hard and I hiked what seemed like miles through wet snow to find a willing player. It was not until I doubled back and stopped once again at Sausage that I found redemption. Some days you can't do anything wrong and some days you can't buy a fish. Today I earned that encounter and was proud to claim the first Chromer on the new Adcock Stanton reel.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

But Seriously...

After four days of negative temps, 24 hours of lake effect squalls, every indication the river was high, and the inevitable possibility of a hi way closure...we "went fishin"
After a brief discussion with Norland the night prior we agreed to embark on a futile mission. If for nothing more than good company and a well needed road trip I honestly looked forward to the outing. I guess deep down inside we both new our chances were as good as none but we agreed to a late 6 am departure. I should have known we were in over our heads when I slid 75 feet past my turnoff for Norlands. The roar coming off the lake was deafening as I transferred my gear to the awaiting Tercel and I could only imagine what lay before us. The drive was exactly as the radar had indicated with narrow bands of white out conditions spread out the entire length of the trip. At times we would lose the road entirely only to drive out of it as if someone flicked a switch and turned the snow off. Along the way between panic we joked frequently about how slim our chances were and if we should even bother with the hike back to the Shire. Arriving we opted for an alternate game plan and drove up to the next side road for a look see over the bridge. This proved unsuccessful as conditions deteriorated and we feared we may not be able to drive out of the valley. Doubling back we decided to bite the bullet and make the hike. Gearing up was bitterly cold and for the first time ever we sat in the car warming up prior to the hike in. Once inside the forest we were afforded protection from the ravaging winds and the morning was quite nice. Arriving to the banks we were greeted with Slush. We knew it would be slush but had to see it with our own eyes to actually believe it. Figuring we could punch through it we gave it a go but it really wasn't meant to be. The slush coupled with the -9 temps played havoc on our nerves for all of a half hour before we pulled the plug and made the hike out. As we crested the valley and made our way towards the edge of cover the weather once again became harsh and violent. Gearing down was impossible as our boots and wading attire were frozen. We had to thaw our the gear in the car on our way to the restaurant. A short time down the road we came upon the road closure sign. This forced us to cut inland and parallel our preferred route home. After a relaxing and enjoyable lunch we finished off the ride home uneventfully. The day proved to be quite enjoyable. We shared many laughs and quality conversation. Had a nice hike in the bush and witnessed water that would have been killer minus the slush. I actually felt no disappointment at all today. I guess it's because I had no expectations going in. I knew the roads were going to be nasty. I knew the river was going to be slush. I even wondered about the possibility of road closures. I also knew Norland wondered about all of the above as well but we still agreed to go. Arriving home and settling in I turned on my PC to check my email. In my inbox there was an awaiting message from Wallace. It simply read "Did you crazy MF'ers go out today?" I chuckled to myself as I typed the reply.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Stanton Nostalgia

Cliff Adcock in his shop with a batch of Stanton's. Late 80's to Early 90's.

Some early press the reels received in the UK.



Recent Press


Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The Package

I had a rough day at work today. Not certain exactly what it was but I was off my game and kinda running on the edge. It may have been the fact that I couldn't fish and missed out on an opportunity to with Norland or just the fact that I didn't want to be there but nonetheless I was looking for the day to end and fast. When I arrived home I reached in the mailbox to see what bills had arrived and was pleasantly surprised to see I had a notice of a parcel delivery. I rushed over to the local postal outlet and there it was. Direct from the United Kingdom. The New Adcock Stanton Centre Pin reel had arrived. The first one in North America. I rushed home and opened the package. Being somewhat of a perfectionist and having had involvement in this project my expectations were very high. I can honestly say they have been met. The new reel is very handsome. I chose to go with the Bronze anodizing in a 5" model. The tolerances are exact. The reel starts up with a single breathe of air and when spun she spins forever. The clicker operates effortlessly and when engaged is strong. The aluminum one piece reel seat is perfect and the quick release feature is brilliant. The brass handle screws, label, and clicker knob add a touch of class to an already eloquent frame. My pictures do this reel no justice it truly is a work of art. Out of the box my general overall impression is we have a winner on our hands. Mr Ray Hyland has outdone himself. Congrats Ray! Job well done.
One of the initial team members that Ray assembled was Colin Clark. Mr Clark is a championship wood carver and old world artisan. Colin took the liberty of hand crafting me a wooden display case specifically for my reel made from English Oak and Spalted Beech. Colin's work is outstanding!
Along with the reel Ray sent me some of the neoprene pouches and a leather and canvas case. Very nice touches and of the highest quality.
I can't wait to get the reel out on the river and put her through the paces. Stay tuned for the first field report.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Working for the Man

I haven’t fished for a few days. Actually 9 to be exact and there seems to be no end in sight. I am relegated to whoring myself out to the man all week and the weekend seems like it is weeks if not months away. Apparently I am useful and needed at work. It is nice to be recognized as a contributor but this time of the year it can really sting. I thought I was going to be alright with it but as the minutes pass the desire to escape proliferates.