Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Rapala R-Type Float Series

I’ve been busy behind the scenes lately prepping for the  Yakutat Alaska trip.  There is no shortage of considerations for an adventure like this and I really don’t want to go in unprepared.  One of the items that has really been of concern to me has been my Float Rod selection.  I am fairly confident that my home water Great Lakes  sticks will meet the mark but stories of fish from the salt have me marginally concerned. 
I really didn’t want to invest a great deal of money in rod that might not see as much use upon my return home so  I reached out to some industry contacts for some assistance.  The fine folks at Rapala came to my rescue with their R-type series of float rods.  A while back I had posted a video of Mark Pendlington fighting some Skeena Trib giants while Heli-fishing the remote waters of the Copper River in BC for his new show West Coast Sporting Journal
In this episode Mark was promoting Rapala’s new line of Float fishing products…namely the R-Type series of Float Rods and the R-type series of Float Reels.  The stick  looked very sweet for a high volume production rod and although initially designed for the Great Lakes made short work of the Skeena Chromers with little to no issue.  This got me thinking it would certainly fit the bill and round out my needs nicely.  After a half dozen or so emails back and forth with Rapala I arrived home from the 4 day Norland trip to an awaiting package.  Inside were two R-Type float rods.  The 3 piece 13’ and a 3 piece 15’ offering. 
I have to say my initial impressions exceeded my expectations.  These rods are very well built and as equally appealing to the eye.  They encompass a unique split grip design and have been engineered with balance and weight as a foremost consideration.    As to be expected the 15’ offering is on the heavy side but anyone that runs the big sticks knows it’s a tradeoff for the inherent benefits of a longer rod.  They even thought to forego the typical rod tip with a #7 guide for winter fishing scenerios.  I’m headed to the cottage for a 3 day stint over the Easter Weekend and plan on running the 13‘ hard. 
I hope to have a detailed review upon my return.  Hopefully the conditions hold, the stars align and I get to put a few bends in the R-Type.  Until then here are some specs as listed on their site.
Also check out Rapala Canada's full line of products CLICK HERE. I had no ideal just how involved Rapala has become in the rod and reel segment.  Amazing product offerings! 


Model               Pcs. Len    Rod   Pwr      Action    Lure Wt    Line Rate    Guides   Handle

RT45FD13ML3   3pc   13’   Spin    ML    ModFast   1/32-5/8       4-12         12+Tip      21"

RT45FD15ML3   3pc   15’   Spin    ML    ModFast   1/32-5/8       4-12         14+Tip      21”  


• High modulus HM-45 graphite blank provides
extreme sensitivity, lightness, strength and durability
• RCT3 Rapala® custom taper actions. Fast action custom tapers
generate higher line speeds, longer casts and hook setting power.
• High Density Dark Synthetic Cork handle and Advanced
Split-Grip Design handle with exclusive X-Grip™ provides
balance and comfort
• Rapala® Maximum Guide System offers minimum weight,
improved rod balance and optimum load distribution.
• Premium PacBay® Minima™ Guides. The thin, lightweight high-frame structure of the guide provides exceptional
strength. Alconite ring inserts are extremely smooth anddurable and provide virtually frictionless casting.
• Blank through handle construction. Gives the rodstrength, balance and sensitivity.
• Custom Hook Keeper.
• Each R-Type™ rod comes with a protective silk screened bag.


Saturday, March 23, 2013

Considerations of a Successful Steelheader OOD April 2013

A while back I was lucky enough to be approached by Ontario Out of Doors Magazine with a photo need they had for an article on the Rivers of Ontario's West Coast.  I was caught off guard and quite honoured to be able to assist them .  Well as luck would have it one assignment lead to another and I have been very fortunate to have been able to provide them and their readership with small glimpses into my world and passion.  Every so often one of my images grace the pages of this top notch publication and I still find myself in disbelief that I am working with them. 
Over the past year through conversation and some writing guidance I ended up submitting a small interest piece on what makes a successful steelheader.  I surprisingly received some positive feedback on the piece and left it at that.  Earlier this week while I was at the cabin with Norland I received a text from a steelheader friend Harv congratulating me on the article.  Well as it turns out they ran the piece in the April edition complimented with another image I had submitted.
It's my first article for OOD and hopefully a precursor to many.  It's nothing too heavy but once again a step towards future prospects.  Baby steps they say... 
Check it out on page 24 of the April edition in "The Opener" section.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

OOD 2013 Fishing Annual

I have been really fortunate as of late to have the opportunity to work with Ontario Out of Doors Magazine.  Each effort seems to be gaining momentum towards my ultimate goal of a cover. I was really pleased when I got the "Bead" assignment and extremely pleased when I seen my efforts in print.
 I still get excited when I see the full page image in this issue.  For anyone interested its on page 61 of the 2013 Fishing Annual.  The assignment was fun and it really forced my hand to run the beads.  Also, Stay tuned for the  April issue on shelves shortly...:0)

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Weekend with Norland Day 4

I awoke early Tuesday morning with great anticipation of fishing the big river.  Monday afternoon’s unexpected success up at the damn rekindled my spirit.  This coupled with the fact that the river conditions were improving exponentially as the hours passed had me awake before any bone rattling screams permeated from the alarm clock.  The cabin was cool but nothing like the morning prior and I took this as a positive sign of great things to come.  I threw on my slippers and made my way towards the kitchen to get the morning Java brewing when I saw it…Everything outside was covered in 6-7” of white.  The snow was still falling and the wind was blowing.   Every so often the gusts would blow large amounts from the snow laden trees resulting in whiteout conditions. 
It caught me off guard and for a brief moment I was speechless.  “That’s it for this trip” I exclaimed to myself as I filled the coffee maker with water.  I notified Norland and got little to no surprise response.  “Of course it did!” he proclaimed as if he knew there would be some form of giant disappointment lurking around a corner awaiting a small window of opportunity to crush his spirit once again.  We settled down in the great room sipping our coffee’s and watching the wood stove recuperate from an evening reprieve.  I worked on the Mondays photo’s while WFN ran via the satellite dish on the TV.  Over the course of an hour or so the winds seem to diminish and my desire to fish seemed to intensify as it often does while going through my photography.  The snow accumulation was nearing 8” now and still falling.  I could see it was of the giant fluffy variety that is so much more manageable than the heavy wet disappointment we typically get back home. 
I stood up from my seat and proclaimed I was going to make a run for the river and give her one last shot.  I fully expected Norland to tell me to go fornicate myself as a look of unsettled horror came across his face.  Perhaps he was still somewhat unconscious or perhaps just totally ill prepared for what he heard but he hesitantly stated he would join me.  I’m certain it was something like “Whatever…I’ll go” but certainly nothing like “Man that is a great, great idea!”  We geared up in the cottage and hit the garage to grab the rods and clear off the truck. 
My standard window brush wasn’t going to cut it so I grabbed the push broom from the garage and made short work of the mountain of snow blanketing the truck.  Looking at all the accumulation on the ground had me thinking about Sunday’s 2-3hr snow pile mitigation exercise and how ironic it was that the piles were going to return once the avalanche comes off the garage roof.  I decided it would be wise to pull it all off with the roof rake and shovel it all out while it was still light and fluffy versus next weekend when it’s all compacted ,heavy, and ice laden.   
We made short work of that effort while the truck warmed up. We then made a b-line for the access.  I was certain under the now blizzard conditions that there would not be a single soul on the river but those sentiments were nothing more than wishful thinking as we arrived to one vehicle leaving and one still present  in the parking lot.  We quickly made the descent only to witness two individuals parked directly in our favored run.  “Par for the course!” Norland proclaimed…”This is my life!” 

We shook it off and I set Gene up lower in the river  on the bar.  I gave him the play by play of this section of water and within 5 mins his rod was loaded up and the surface of the river exploded with a large fish.  It was a great moment as the winds continued to scream pelting us with giant snowflakes.  After a worthy battle with some nail biting drama and some illicit threats Norland swung the giant Buck into my awaiting grasp.  It was a big deal for him and I was very happy that it all worked out.  It was a big deal to me as well.  It’s nice to see people win once in a while and he deserved this fish more than anyone on the river this morning.  We gathered our necessary photos and bid our fond farewells.  I waded out on the bar and made a short throw to the bucket slightly down stream.  My float dropped and I set up to a fish but quickly had the door slammed in my face. 
I continued on picking away at the lines to no avail while I progressed further and further out onto the bar.  I then made a long throw into the slack towards the far side of the river.  The float dropped and I set up on a small 2 lb Jack.  We continued to hunt for some more players over the course of the next couple of hours but found no reward. 

It didn’t matter as the morning was already complete with Norland’s fish.  We hiked out of the river valley and headed back to the cabin to warm up, have some lunch, and pack up for the long ride home. 

It was a great trip and it never ceases to amaze me just how quickly time flies when you are having fun.  Four days of quality Steelheading under extreme conditions...  We put a few fish on the bank, told some lies, shared some laughs and had an overall outstanding good time.  Can’t ask for anything more than that…Ultimately, that’s what it all about!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Weekend with Norland Day 3

Day three was primarily the reason for the trip.  Aside from the typical camaraderie that goes along with a guys weekend the business day was going to be day 3 as the weather was forecast to be plus 5 and fair weather skies.  We awoke to a moderately cold morning and took our time before hooking up the Hyde and making our way towards the Bear Creek Launch.  As previously mentioned the  weather prediction for the day was into the positives and we were very much looking forward to a comfortable day on the lower river. 
We pulled into the access and began to prep the Hyde for launch.  And then it happened... as if a switch were thrown,  the skies began to transition from blue to grey, the winds picked up and the temps started to drop.  We kept a positive outlook and began to float down the river stopping at every fishy looking locale.  The further we floated down river the more the weather intensified.  Each time we found reprieve from the cold winds they managed to sniff us out and once again remind us of their presence.  
By the time we had floated a mile or so of river we were in the midst of an unforecasted spring snowstorm.  A true weather anomaly...A true Norland event!  The wind was driving the snow almost parallel to the river surface and prospect of a decent drift was pretty much null and void.  By now we had made an honest effort and anything we mustered up failed to elicit  any finned response.  It was time to surrender to the Norland Curse.  A day that was forecast to be very comfortable some how turned to the polar opposite. 
Its getting harder and harder to dispel the Gene's syndrome.  I have now come to realize it is greater than any effort I could possibly put forth to challenge it.  We actually felt compelled to apologize to a crew of fellow anglers on the water.
Finally the anchor was pulled and the outboard started.  We made the turn and headed back to the launch in the driving snow all the while laughing at our misfortune. 
On our way we passed a boat that was set up in a run we had fished hours earlier.  As we approached the boat one of the gentlemen fishing at the stern set up on a big fish deep into the drift as if to throw salt into our already frozen wounds.  We carried on to the launch and pulled the boat out for the day and made our way back to the cabin.  It was approaching 3:30.  I was not ready to completly accept defeat and asked Norland if he was interested in dropping the Hyde at the cabin and hitting the dam for some vindication. 
I fully expected him to opt out for the warmth of the cabin and the couch but he took the offer readily.  We backed the boat into the garage and made our way to access.  When we arrived there was only one vehicle in the parking lot.  We quickly made the descent and arrived to a lonely river bank.  The river visibility had notably improved from the day prior and flow was still very proud.  We dropped in and began to pick away at our favoured lines. 
Within 3 or 4 drifts we simultaneously set up on a pair of fish.  My leader quickly reminded me I needed to retie while Gene continued to fight his first fish of the trip.  It wasn't long before a pristine chrome slab lay at his feet.  The ear to ear grin spoke the tale of accomplishment and i quickly captured the moment digitally.  For the next hour or two under driving snow and bitter cold we continued to persuade fish from the swift center lines.  We battled frozen guides and hands but were rewarded heavily for the efforts.  There was a mixture of  beautifully colored winter fish and some new dime bright chrome.   Timing is everything and sometimes its all about location...being in the right place at the right time.  One certainty I have learned over the years is it really isn't over until the rods are back in the truck.  Anything can happen when the floats are in the water and if there are options one is best to persue them if willing. It certainly is nice to win once in a while...
One more Day left...

Norland Day 3 Slide show...

Weekend with Norland Day 2

Friends...What would you do without them.  Day 2 of the trip was extremely cold.  We awoke to temps well into the negative and Norland's curse can be thanked once again reared its ugly head. 
The US military may want to draft Norland as a means to control the weather patterns.  When they need to take out some unfavourable misfit resistance they could just send Norland in on a  fishing trip and the weather would wipe everything off the map. 

The forecast was still looking favourable for a Monday float and there was only one obsticle in our way...a mountainous pile of snow and ice infront of the garage door.  The sun poked through the clouds and we hit the pile with some ole fashioned elbow grease. 
It was actually a nice change of pace and over the course of a few hours we beat the beast and cleared the garage door.  Now there was nothing standing in our way.  As a reward we took the sleds for a ride through the property back to the Hydro Cut. 
It was Norlands first time on a snowmobile and I think he is hooked.  Later we fished up near the damn but struggled with iced guides and a flow on the edge. 
The river vis in perfect but the fish just couldn't be located.  Hopefully a float in the Hyde lower in the river is the ticket.  Stay tuned...

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Weekend with Norland Day1

It's been some time since Gene and myself have had the opportunity to wet a line together.  The spring fishery is on the verge of popping over here on the West side so we decided we better take advantage of some mutual time off and hit the road for a few days of laughs on the water.  Norland's curse puffed it's chest and we awoke to snow this morning and bone chilling temps. 
We arrived at the cabin late in the afternoon and decided to hit the river for a few hours to see how things were shaping up.  The traffic was up a bit but there seemed to be a few fish kicking around judging by the stringers lining the bank.  The unexpected cold reeked havoc on our bodies along with the added frustration of iced up guides.  We managed to tough it out and even bring one to the bank. 
The remainder of our trip looks promising as the forecast has the weather making a turns for the better.  The river is in amazing shape and should only improve over the coming days.  Looking forward to Sun, Mon, and Tues.  Stay tuned...

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Stormy Kromer

A while back I ran across a very cool product while travelling up to the cabin.  We had stopped for some fuel and a bite to eat and while in line at the restaurant I noticed an older gentleman wearing a hat that caught my attention.  After some minor discussion with my wife she approached the older fellow and complimented him on his head apparel.  He was very proud of it and quick to tell her what it was.  She rejoined me in the line and notified me it was a Stormy Kromer hat.  The name seemed to ring a bell with me and later than evening I Googled  it at the cabin.  I was soon to learn this intriguing cap was more than just a hat but a piece of Americana boasting a 110 year tradition.   Similarly to all things great it had an intriguing story and history with recent Michigan ties.  It is no wonder it has become somewhat of a Michigan Icon.  Stormy Kromer products are 100% American made with manufacturing roots in the Upper Peninsula`s Ironwood Michigan. 
As the story goes one George “Stormy” Kromer invented the hat out of necessity.  Mr Kromer,  known as “Stormy” to his friends mainly due in part to his short fuse and quick temper,  played semi pro baseball for some 30 or so teams throughout the mid west in the early 1900`s.  He had a promising career ahead of him until he met the love of his life and future bride Ida.  Before Ida’s father would allow her hand in marriage he insisted that her husband have an honest and secure income.  Stormy’s  love for Ida eventually lead to him accepting a  position with the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad as an Engineer.  This new career meant long cold trips across the plains and as part of his Engineer function George frequently found himself sticking his head out of the Locomotive window in search of a decent view. 
Occasionally this effort resulted in  losing his cap to the wind and as the story goes a legend was born.   George’s wife Ida was an excellent seamstress and George informed her of his need to have a hat that would keep his head warm and stay on his head while performing his job.  George presented her with an old baseball cap for reference and asked her if she could make it stay affixed.   Ida set out to create what is now known as the Stormy Kromer Blizzard cap.  The six panel design with pull down ear warming band stayed put when worn and proved to be a great success .  Soon George’s peers were requesting Ida’s creation and when demand exceeded supply a small company was born.  The year was 1903. 

Fast forward to 2001…One Bob Jacquart of Jacquart Fabric products in Ironwood, Michigan had gotten wind that the Kromer Cap Company of Milwaukee was going to discontinue production of it’s legendary Blizzard Cap.  Bob started deliberations with the Milwaukee company and after a month or so brought the Stormy Kromer name home to Ironwood Michigan where they are still hand stitched true to the original design to this very day.  Not a lot has changed with the Stormy Kromer Cap aside from fabric choices and a multitude of colours but the Kromer family of products has grown all the while holding true to the hand stitched made in the USA quality promise.  You can read the full story here at www.stormykromer.com

The more I learned of the History behind the hat the more the story intrigued me and I soon set out to purchase my own.  One Friday night, on a trip up to the cabin,  I stopped in at Jay’s Sporting Goods in Clare Michigan.  While picking up some fishing related items I thought I would check out their apparel section and see if they happened to have any of the Stormy Kromer line.  I was pleased to see a fairly large selection of products with a handsome selection of hat colours and sizes.  While trying them on a nice Jays’ attendant came over and a conversation broke out about these caps and their overwhelming popularity.  She went on to tell me how the entire display sells out every year and luckily for me was just recently restocked.  She was also quick to tell me that she had 4 Kromer caps of her own and was certain that I would love my first. 
She assisted me with the fit and color selection and I left the store a proud new Kromer owner.  The custom fit feature is nice and once the hat settles in and self-adjusts it fits like a glove.  The wool outer and cotton liner construction keeps your head warm in the most extreme of temperatures while still allowing it to breathe.  Also, Ida’s ingenious ear flap design conveniently covers those quirky extremities most prone to the cold.  The ear flap easily drops down to cover the ears when needed and effortlessly pulls back up and out of the way when indoors or away from the elements.   Aside from a classic look  wool inherently has the wonderful characteristic of retaining warmth while wet and can absorb as much as 30% of it’s own weight in moisture before any adverse effects can be noted. 
More than not wools evaporation characteristics mitigate any adverse effects caused by the water.   So far I have fished my Kromer in driving snow, heavy wet snow and light misty rain and can boast that it truly kept my knoggin warm, my head dry, and my ears protected.  The stylish lines and rich history accompanied by the strong Michigan roots and 100% handmade in the USA stature have me longing for more quality Kromer products.  I already own two hats and plan on a third.  It`s hard to beat the comfort and function of wool.   I fish at the worst times of the year and in the worst of conditions and can proudly say that form truly meets function with this hat.    If you want something truly unique and well versed in Americana you owe it to yourself to get a Kromer. Each hat is guaranteed for life and when purchased you register your garment online with its own unique serial number.  If anything should ever happen to your Kromer they send you another.  You can see the full line of products and read the history behind the name at www.stormykromer.com

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Spring is in the Air

An unfamiliar white noise set over the cottage early Saturday evening.  At first I wasn't certain what it was but then it hit me...it was the sound of Rain hitting the metal roof.  I grabbed my shoes and headed for the Garage to confirm my suspicion.  Rain it was and I scrambled out to the driveway to bring the snowmobiles in out of the down pour.  For the better part of the night I was awoken on and off by the falling rain as it varied in intensity. 
At one point somewhere around 3:30ish I wrote off any chance of fishing the Big River on Sunday as it would most certainly be spilling over its banks whilst being chock full of mud.  Ahhhh the 3am pessimist...
Somewhere around 5 am or so I convinced myself I had slept in and it was pushing 11 am and any chance at fishing today, if the river hadn't already blow out, was lost to sleeping in. Ahhhh sleep deprivation...  Then it all came together when our old lab dog Cody abruptly reminded me he wanted to be fed and needed out for a piss.
It was 8 am and the rain was still falling.  After feeding the dog and tending to the fire I sat down to my morning coffee and eagerly called up the USGS water site.  I was pleased to learn the rains affect was very minor and fishing this morning was a certain reality.  Before long I was on my way to the access.  I was pleased to see only a handful of vehicles already there but had a gut feeling the water I wanted to prowl would be occupied.  My suspicions were correct but the two gentlemen that were there were very polite and invited me to join them.
 I popped on a fresh peach bag that I had tied the evening prior and started to dissect the upper section.  The one fellow was new to centerpinning and had lots of questions as to my technique.  I answered all his queries but stressed the importance of not over thinking it.  There seems to be a faction lately that needs to over complicate this method...the deep thinkers if you will! 
It was a  hot fish and I don't know who was more excited about the fact that I had hooked up...the young fellow I had been talking to or myself!  I took my time and played the fish down river and eventually to the bank.  I could tell these two gentlemen desperately wanted a fish to take home when they asked me what I was going to do with it but they caught me off guard when one of them asked me how much I would sell him the fish for.  It was a 5-6lb male and a prime candidate for the table.  
I smiled at the young fellow and told him no thank you to the offer but he was welcomed to have this fish if he wanted it.  I wish I had a picture of the smile on his face because it was clearly apparent I had made his day.  I don't keep very many fish over the course of a year.  Actually if I had to give someone a number it would probably be 2  total and they are typically for my father. 
I don't mind harvesting the right fish now and again if it is going to be enjoyed and this fish was pay back for their kind gesture of sharing the run.
I turned 4 more fish for a total of 5 over the course of my 2 hr stint.  All fish were taken on peach and white Chinook roe.
The evening priors rains certainly shook things up and its only going to get better from here on in.  The extended forecast is favourable and the river should keep her shape for the time being.
Spring is in the Air and life is good!