Monday, July 6, 2015

Reuse and Repurpose

My company is the leader in sustainability and green practices in our industry.  We have prided ourselves of this accomplishment since the late 60's when the company was established.  Recently, my OPC's were featured in our newsletter highlighting our sustainability and how the employees incorporate these practices in their personal lives.

This is a short write-up of the flies I tie using re-purposed wine corks.


Monday, May 18, 2015

Fishing Report 5/3/13

Let's compare this fishing report from 2013 to the same week 2015.  That'll come in tomorrow's post.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Saturday, April 25, 2015

LaCrosse Teal Waders- Review

Make and Model- LaCrosse Teal Waders (not the Teal II available now)
Color/Camo- Advantage Max-4 HD
3.5mm Neoprene
600 grams of Thinsulate
Top-loading front pocket
Velcro Straps
Steel Shank
Trac-Lite Outsole

What I Like-

Durability:  These waders have been through everything I have thrown at them without springing a single leak or crack.  I have used these in warm, early season conditions as well as January hunts on big water.  I have folded them up and put them in the bottom of my kayak and left them in the bed of my truck for weeks upon weeks.  They have not faltered at all and still prove to be as warm as they were day 1.  

Camouflage:  The Realtree Advantage Max-4 HD pattern on these waders is crisp and clear.  Sure, they've been muddied up over the years, but the durability of the neoprene has kept the pattern consistent and allows me to stay hidden. 

Versatility:  I can comfortably wear these waders from early September through the later part of December (this may vary in different parts of the country).  I can go without any layers when its 70 degrees or dress with up to 3 layers on underneath when the temperatures drop.  The 600 grams of Thinsulate does it's job up to a certain point.  

What I Don't Like-

Sizing: As a "plus-sized" man, these waders fit me like a pair of skinny jeans would.  Now, I'm not talking from experience, but I've seen how those jeans are cut and these waders look like that when I wear them (it gets worse with more layers).  Luckily the ducks don't care what I look like.  The important thing is that they don't know I'm there.  This is entirely my fault.  When I bought these, I was unaware that there were Tall or Big (Stout) options, so don't take that as a negative.  These are just my observations.  

Straps:  While I like the comfort and safety benefits of the Velcro straps, they are not intended for anybody over 6' tall.  Along with the skinny jeans look, I now have the crotch riding up like Steve Urkel from Family Matters when I try and get them tight.  Again, I don't know if the straps are longer on the other models, so just be wary if you are a tall person.  


For the past 4 duck seasons here in Maryland, these waders have accompanied me on every trip.  They are very versatile, however they don't withstand those deep temperature drops that come in January.  I have been able to make these work, especially given the budget I had when I purchased these.  I will be adding a second pair of heavier (1000-1600g Thinsulate) waders to my collection this fall to ensure total comfort on those bone chilling days, but these will stay with me until the day they decide to give out.  These are a great option for all-season wear if you live further south or if you are just starting out.  They have a price tag of about half of the heavy duty models and will give you a real idea of what you can wear in your area.  Also, if you are a larger person, make sure you look into the additional sizing options when purchasing any pair of waders.  


Friday, April 24, 2015

Fly-Tying Fridays

I found this guy after watching many videos of fly-tying on YouTube.  He has a ton of both educational and instructional videos.  I subscribed to him through my Sky Angler YouTube page and he has yet to disappoint.


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Fly Fishing Video

This is a great video I found from The Sportsman's Channel.  Pretty much what I love to do except from a kayak rather than a bass boat.  I always like looking for these movies because you can learn a new technique or see something you want to try.  I just happened to see two new patterns of flies I'd like to start tying.  I'll post those later, but for now enjoy...


Sunday, April 19, 2015

Gun Review- Thompson Center Impact

Here's another weekend gun review from Ryan.  This time, he reviews the Thompson Center Impact muzzle-loader rifle.  Please note that Ryan has owned and or fired all of the guns he has reviewed to provide accurate and unbiased data.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Fishing Report 4/17/13

I really enjoy looking back over old fishing reports and sharing them on the same dates because it gives me a real sense of the fish staging periods and water conditions compared to other years.  Here is one from the Monocacy in 2013.  Notice how a change in weather temps slowed down the bite of the bigger fish.  With these week's temperatures, you might want to take that into consideration when choosing a spot to fish this weekend.


Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Often Overlooked Frog

Normally when a person thinks about fishing frogs, it's summertime, the weather is hot and there are usually lily pads grown in all over the lake.  While this is usually a great time to use this technique, there are many other times throughout the year where these baits can be very effective.

The fishing industry has provided so many different variations of the "frog" bait over the past few years due to this reason.  There are solid frogs that can be "Texas-rigged" to stay weedless.  There are numerous sizes and shapes of hollow-bodied frogs as well as "walk-the-dog" style frogs now.  While most of these designs are weedless and meant to be thrown in the thickest stuff possible, I like the addition of the popper style frog and the "walk-the-dog" style.  Frogs are still primarily a warm-weather bait due to the fact that actual frogs are cold-blooded, however these new designs allow a fisherman to fish under a variety of conditions and still remain effective.  No more are the days where you have to pull countless grasses and weeds off your line after every cast. Both largemouth and smallmouth are aggressive feeders and have a knack for taking frogs when given the chance.

Here are a few designs that I have fished with and how I believe they are most effective:

Solid-Body Frogs (one piece)-

I like to Texas-Rig these baits with a #2 EWG hook, much like I would a worm or creature.  This will give it the added benefit of being mostly weedless.  The legs on these baits create a tailing ripple effect on the water when retrieved.   These baits are best fished in summer months when bass tend to be more aggressive.  The weight of these frogs is a little more than a hollow-body style and create more of a splash when they hit the water.  I feel that the bass are less frightened by the splash during months when they are accustomed to feeding along the shore.  Either mono or braided line will work just fine.  The action with this style is achieved on the retrieve.  The faster those legs get going, the better the commotion will be.  I like these in more open waters. Lake Fork Trophy Lures Fork Frog (LFT)

Hollow-Bodied Frogs-

This design, like the Live Target frogs I use, don't create as much of a commotion when hitting the water or lily pads.  The hook is already part of the lure, so there is no need to rig it.  Just tie it on and fish.  These are the frogs I like to toss with a MH 7' or 8' rod with braid anywhere from 30-50lbs.  These are the most weedless style I have found and I like to take advantage of that.  Find the thickest, nastiest grasses and lily pad cover and throw it in.  A slight pause after the strike will help ensure a solid hook-set.

Popper Frogs-

Baits like the Spro Bronzeye 60 will float and act like a normal popper style lure.  Like the one-piece soft plastic design, I like to use this in more open water.  The indentation of the popper will create more of a gurgle in open water, than on or near lily pads.  I will still fish this lure parallel to the shore or retrieving away from good cover.  I will primarily use a reel rigged with mono to give it a little more side to side action and flexibility.  A loop knot is also beneficial in adding to the action of the lure.

"Walk the Dog Frogs"-

This style is new to me, and I believe the market in general.  This lure provides the effectiveness of the frog with the side to side action of a top-water stick bait.  Again, fish this lure in open water situations similar to the popper.  I like a MH rod with a strong backbone spooled with 17lb mono to enhance the "walking" motion.  Twitch the rod back and forth with short jerks and add a pause.  This will drive the bass crazy.  A loop knot is almost imperative for this lure.  I prefer the Live Target Frog (Walking) lure.

These lures come in almost any color imaginable from natural patterns like brown/black to orange/red and neon.  Before purchasing one of these, I would recommend taking a walk around your favorite fishing holes to see what color frogs are native to your area.  This "match the hatch" technique will further ensure your success.  Many people are hesitant to throw a frog, however if you use the tactics mentioned above, you will get hit, and usually with the sort of aggressive strike that'll make you grin from ear to ear.  There is a reason why major retail stores display frogs on almost every end-cap heading into the warmer months.


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Wild Turkey | Maryland Hunting & Trapping Guide |

2015 Spring Turkey Regulations- Mid-Atlantic

With the Maryland season coming up this weekend, I thought a refresher course on the regulations would be fitting.  The Virginia and Delaware seasons started this past weekend, so please make sure you are following all the rules and regulations.  If you travel between states to hunt, you need to know the laws when crossing state lines.  We are responsible for hunting ethically and within the boundaries provided by each state. 

Wild Turkey | Maryland Hunting & Trapping Guide |

Virginia Hunting Regulations- Turkey

Wild Turkey | Delaware Hunting & Trapping Guide |

Pennsylvania Hunting Regulations- Turkey


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

2014-2015 Hunting Season Recap- Spring Turkey

After any season comes to an end, I like to reflect back and think about the things I could have improved upon, tactics I could have changed or mistakes that I made due to any one of a number of reasons.  As previously mentioned, this website is to help other hunters and fishermen in their journeys.  There are people reading this who may be beginning, some that have a similar skill set to me, and some that could probably do this entire thing much better than me.  The point is, as you read these posts, just remember that no matter what skill level you are at, we make mistakes and there is always room for improvement.  If you find just one thing that you can improve upon after reading through my successes and failures, I will feel that I made an impact and helped someone get better at what we love to do.

 I will update a different season over the next week or so to keep the posts simple and fairly short.  I will also provide a brief grading system on how well I thought I had prepared and executed during each season along with an explanation to the grade.

Spring Turkey 2014

 This was my first season hunting turkeys.  I was only able to make it out once, however my buddy and I made the most of our opportunity.  We were at one of our leases on the Eastern Shore.  The email chain between the members of our lease wasn't looking promising as group after group failed to put a bird down.  My buddy and I decided to give it a shot.  I researched decoy combinations, calls and tactics which I thought would help us out.  I purchased a mouth call about 2 months before the season started and kept it in my truck.  I would watch videos at home and practice every time I got in my truck to drive to work.  By the way, I would recommend this method to learn for any call and for any species.  It is a great time to practice, even if you do get the weird glances at stop lights.  We got down to our lease before sunrise and set up with a jake and a hen decoy, hoping for the best.  After about 20 minutes, we decided that my calling sounded slightly better than his and I would take the lead.  Several hours passed and we had halfway given up.  We decided to put out some trail cams and slowly make our way back to the truck.  A few clucks here and a few more purrs there, we heard that sound I'll never forget.  A gobbler screaming his head off at about 100 yards away.  Both of us looked at each other, grinning like kids on Christmas morning.  This look could also be confused with a look of "I can't believe something actually answered us".

As we crept through the woods, we could tell the gobbler was out in the field.  At first, we couldn't tell why or explain the reasoning behind him answering every call I made, but not entering the woods to find us.  Eventually, we were able to get eyes on him and saw he had a hen with him.  He wanted a chance at whatever he heard in the woods, but was not willing to leave his hen alone in the field.  Now, everything we had done up to this point and what we were about to do, was a complete shot in the dark.  Our next step was to try to cut him off along the field line.  We moved slowly at a 45 degree angle through the woods and set up our decoys along the edge just as we saw his bright red head turn the corner.  He had been answering every time I called out to him.  Still at about 75 yards when he turned the corner, he saw our crude decoy setup and made a beeline straight towards it with his hen in tow.  Matt had a great angle and when the gobbler got to 30 yards, he made the shot.  The gobbler back-flipped as the hen went screaming into the woods.  Those few moments seemed to blur by, however, as I write this post, I can relive the entire thing crystal clear.  We had succeeded!   After a few "trophy" shots and a selfie with the turkey (you did read that correctly),  we called our friends and headed home.

Preparation- B.  I felt that I had prepared just enough to be considered "dangerous" to a turkey.  Heading into the season, I had watched a ton of videos, read various articles on the National Wild Turkey Federation website and practiced calling as much as I could without annoying my wife too much.

Execution- A.  While I was not the one who made the shot, I feel that our first attempt could not have gone any better.  We were somewhat confident, although not to the point where there would be any disappointment had it not gone the way it did.  We also had a great attitude heading into the hunt and anybody that has ever spent time outdoors knows this is an easy feeling to have.

Our "selfie".

Matt with his first bird.


Monday, April 13, 2015

Rockhouse Motion- Smoke and Feathers

I have been caught up watching these videos from Rockhouse Motion recently.  Their filmography and story-telling abilities are unbelievable.  This one is for the duck hunting enthusiasts.  Do you think you could be successful with a black powder shotgun?

SITKA: Smoke & Feathers from Rockhouse Motion on Vimeo.


Sunday, April 12, 2015

Fishing Report 4/12/13


This is a fishing report from 2 years ago that I wanted to share with you today. Using Google Earth to find neighborhood ponds this time of year can be a great alternative when the rivers are still high and muddy.  Notice the weather was a little warmer though!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Apps I Use- Mossy Oak Hunting Weather App, powered by Scoutlook

-Description from iTunes
"The map-based weather, solunar and popular ScentCone wind tool that helps hunters decide where, when and how to hunt..."

For a free app, this one is very useful and it only requires an active email address to log in.  This app features the ScentCone wind tool which is useful for stand placement if you know the predominant wind on your hunting grounds.  You can also flip it around and it'll display the landing zone for waterfowl (called SetZone).  It is easy to mark locations on the map where your stands or blinds are, label that spot and have it for easy access info every time you open it up.  Additionally, it provides weather and radar- a useful tool if you hear thunder in the distance or if you need motivation to stay in bed and sleep in!  

The features I like and use the most are the sunrise and sunset times as well as the ScentCone.  It is important to know that the ScentCone/SetZone features are not guaranteed to be exact and wind continuously shifts.  It is a good idea to continuously check the wind in person if you sense the deer are smelling you or the birds are pitching in to another spot.  It is by no means a "fail-proof" option, just meant to be used as a guide.  


Friday, April 10, 2015

Thursday, April 9, 2015

5 Spring Baits/Lures for Smallmouth

The spring fishing season on the rivers can be extremely challenging at times.  There are a multitude of issues that can arise that will make those days on the river seem extra long.  You can always find a list of baits I use on the "Reports" page, but I wanted to take the time now and give you a list of my 5 favorite baits to use when the water is still +/- 50 degrees.

In no particular order-

1) Booyah Baits Pond Magic-  I like this bait to fish in deeper waters.  It is effective from both a kayak and fishing the banks this time of year.  I prefer the "Shad" color and to fish it slow and low.

2a) Terminator Lures Weedless Football Jig- This is a great option for half of the "pig and jig" technique which I really have had great success with in lakes and reservoirs this time of year.  I like it in the Pumpkin Brown Black pattern and is great when fished along steep drop-offs and banks.

2b) Gary Yamamoto Flappin' Hog-  This is the soft plastic creature bait I use in tandem with the weedless football jig.  The action on it is aggressive and irritates the heck out of smallmouth.  It is extremely soft and pliable with a good overall durability to withstand multiple strikes.  The black blue flake pairs great with the jig I suggested above.  (pack of 7)

3) Lucky Craft Pointer 100SP-  This is a great crank bait that is versatile enough to fish long after the water warms up.  I like this model for the rivers I fish because it swims at a depth of 4-5 feet.  I like the Pointer 78SD for larger bodies of water like Prettyboy Reservoir where you might be required to fish deeper drop-offs.  This time of year, I still like a slower retrieve because it gets that side to side motion going. Ghost and Sexy Chartreuse patterns work well.

4) Case Plastics Jack's Worm-  When the water is calm and clear, these plastics have produced year in and year out for me.  I rig them wacky style on a straight worm hook size 2.  This is one of the most active baits I've seen in the water and smallmouth love these.  I cast at a 45 degree angle upstream and let them drift in the current.  A little jerk here and there when you are in "the zone" doesn't hurt.  Green Pumpkin Flake

5) Rapala Skitter Prop-  I like this lure when the sun starts going down.  This time of year fish are hungry, but are still looking for an easy meal.  Topwater action might not be what it is in mid-August, but you can still catch them using this tactic if you use the right lure.  This lure isn't as aggressive as a popper and imitates a frightened baitfish trying to evade another fish.  Cast along the shore and retrieve slowly for best results.  The Shad color works well.

I hope you found these tips useful in planning an upcoming trip, or perhaps you've even had success with the same products.  The bottom line is, when fishing this time of year, fish slower than you would in the next few months.


Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Rockhouse Motion- Game of Inches

I came across this video a few months ago on one of the hunting forums I frequent. These guys are really putting out some great stuff! Watch the video below as two hunters from different hunting backgrounds share a season together.
GAME OF INCHES from Rockhouse Motion on Vimeo.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Savage Model 11 Hog Hunter- Review

Hey Everyone, hope you enjoyed your Easter weekend!  We took a day off from posting yesterday, but are back at it with another rifle review from Ryan.

Make & Model: Savage Model 11 Hog Hunter
Caliber: 223Rem, 308Win, 338Win
Weight: 7.25 lbs
Overall Length: 40.5”
Capacity: 4+1
Rate of Twist: 1-9

Features: Adjustable Accu-trigger, Medium-Contour Bull Barrel, Threaded muzzle, drilled and tapped receiver, factory fiber optic sights, OD green stock.

Review: If you are in the market for a do-all style rifle, then perhaps the Savage Model 11 Hog Hunter is something that should be on your radar. While the name denotes a specific animal, this rifle is far more capable and can be a practical rifle for anything from coyotes up to elk. The model tested for this write up was chambered in .223 Remington and put up remarkable results when grouped at 100 yards. Savage leads the market with their out of the box rifles, and this one is another winner. The Model 11 features their adjustable Accu-trigger which for my purposes was set down to 2.5 lbs. This specific model also comes standard with their medium-contour carbon steel bull barrel that is finished off with a threaded muzzle for your class 3 sound suppressors (where legal). The action is remarkably smooth and it comes with an over-sized bolt handle for easy and firm cycles. Additionally, one of the many features that are no longer available on today’s hunting rifles is a set of “iron” sights. This rifle comes standard with a very nice set of fully adjustable fiber optic sights for those that want to hunt in brush or at closer distances.

Results: For the range day with this rifle, we took it to a local range on a foggy, rainy day with about a 5 mph wind. After firing a few test shots to season the barrel, we cleaned it and loaded the 4 round internal magazine with some Black Hills 52 gr Match Ammo. It was fitted with a set of weaver bases, weaver medium height rings and a CenterPoint 4-16x40 scope (please stay tuned for a review of this scope coming soon). At 100 yards the rifle grouped 3 shots in a clover shape the size of a dime. The actual size of the group was sub .5 MOA.

Negatives: Savage really hit the nail on the head with this rifle. With that being said, there are a few things to consider before purchasing this rifle. The weight is certainly something to keep in mind. The factory weight of this rifle is 7.25 lbs before you add optics to it, so a long hike may leave you feeling more fatigued. One thing to remember about this rifle is it is not chambered for the NATO cartridges. Therefore, in the .223 model you cannot shoot 5.56 and in the .308 model, you cannot shoot the 7.62x51 round.

Final Thoughts: If you are in the market for a multi-purpose rifle that comes standard with features commonly found on rifles over the $1,000 mark, then this is the rifle for you. This rifle, with its smooth action, nice trigger and match grade accuracy make it ideal for hunters or precision target shooters that demand excellence. 


Sunday, April 5, 2015

7 Tips for Pattern Perfection

With only 13 days until the 2015 turkey season here in MD, I wanted to share an article from the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) about patterning your gun.  These helpful tips will give you the confidence you need when taking the shot and making the most of the opportunity.

7 Tips for Pattern Perfection


Saturday, April 4, 2015

Quick Intro to Ryan and the Reason Behind his Passion...

People always ask me the question "What got you into shooting and your love of firearms?"  For me, it's never been a power thing, the intimidation aspect or the "bad ass" mentality.  I enjoy it because it's a family tradition.  I grew up going to our grandparent's house in Virginia and having my grandpa, my dad and my uncle take my brother and I down to the shooting bench with a single shot .22 and a box full of Remington ammo.  While I enjoyed the actual art of shooting that was taught to me by several generations of excellent riflemen, it was more about the environment and company in which it was happening.

As we grew up, I remember the excitement I would feel knowing we had a farm trip coming up and I'd be able to see my family and shoot the .22.  Over time, we progressed and my dad bought a Mossberg 500, which much like the .22, was the gun we learned on.  Nothing fancy, just a functional piece of steel and wood.

Shortly after my 19th birthday, I went to the local Walmart and bought my very first rifle.  My interest grew from there.  Up until the day my grandfather passed away, I'd always look forward to taking whatever new firearm I had recently purchased down to the farm to show him.  All of us would take turns shooting it at the random targets we had set up in the back field.

As I grew older, I started to appreciate the science and talent that went into making these weapons into what they were.  I was intrigued by the stories behind them.  Holding a historic relic and thinking to myself, "Can you imagine having 1000 soldiers firing all around you, standing up for what they believe in?"

Now with a family of my own, and my oldest child being a boy, I get to experience the excitement of being able to share the same things with him as he gets older.  I got so excited that, before his second birthday, I had searched high and low to find the perfect first shotgun for him.

My time now is limited due to responsibilities, so I don't get to shoot as much as I once did, however the passion is certainly still there.  Even if I can't get to the range, I'll still make sure to open up the safe, oil some of my favorites and put them back in the safe for another day.


Friday, April 3, 2015

Jackson Kayak "Coosa"

I started looking around for kayak options when I decided I wanted more from a boat.  In 2005 I purchased a sit-in style "angler" kayak that was only about 10 ft in length.  It had a rod holder and that was about it.  I bought a paddle and a life jacket and thought I was set.  I used that little kayak many times and for many years.  Eventually,  I got fed up with being uncomfortable after about an hour and I got tired of folding my 6'5" frame in and out of the sit-in style.  There had to be a better option.  A friend of mine turned me on to the Jackson Kayak lineup and after reading many reviews and watching the walk-through videos on their site, I purchased the Coosa from Delaware Paddlesports in 2012.

What can I say?  The Coosa from Jackson Kayak acts as my "all-in-one" transportation to many different hunting and fishing destinations.  I have used it duck hunting on public waters.  I have used it in local fishing tournaments on the reservoirs in the area.  I have also fly fished from it drifting along my favorite rivers.  For me, it covers about as much as I can ask for in a single boat.  Jackson Kayak's website refers to it as "the answer to the evolving needs of the river and small water kayak fisherman".  I have the original Coosa in desert camo, which is what I will be talking about in this review.  This kayak was designed by their fishing pro Drew Gregory.  Here is the video with him doing the walk-through.

A few specs- from

Length- 11'2"
Width- 32"
Hi-Lo Seat- Yes
Paddle Stager- Yes
Material- Linear Poly
Total Capacity- 375 lbs
Weight- 70 lbs (64 w/out the seat)

Stability-  As mentioned before, I am a large human being.  I am 6'5" and weigh over 225 lbs. After I flipped it (and lost an expensive rod) on its maiden voyage, I have become accustomed to it and have not fallen out of it since.  It is extremely stable.  I have not mastered the standing part that they so often mention on their website, but I think I'm slightly larger than the guys demonstrating it.  I trust this kayak while duck hunting the cold waters of the Potomac as well as paddling through low class rapids in a smaller river.  The versatility of the two position Hi-Lo seat helps out.  I personally like the low position when traveling longer distances or if I am taking it duck hunting.  It sits slightly forward of the Hi position and with the weight shift, allows for more of the bow to come in contact with the water.  For fly fishing or drifting, I like to move it to the Hi position so I have a better view of the water.  I especially like this position when fly fishing as it allows more room and freedom to cast.

Tracking-  The Coosa is meant for river fishing.  I have paddled upwards of 2 miles upstream to get to a certain destination and while it is by no means the fastest kayak, it glides over the current fairly well.  I really like the overall weight of the boat.  It is not heavy compared to similar kayaks and even with my added weight, I can get it moving well.  Additionally the Hi-Lo seat provides options to increase maneuverability.

Durability-  I have pushed this kayak to its limits in terms of weather conditions, skinny water and submerged boulders.  It has the usual scratches and dings from boat ramps and submerged boulders, but the structural integrity of the boat is as good as it was on day 1.  The paint does not scratch or chip away because it is actually molded into the body.

Fishability-  This kayak is truly set up to provide many advantages when fishing on the water.  Multiple rod staging features as well as dual rod holders shooting out behind the seat provide the option to A) bring multiple rods and B) have multiple rods available at any given time.  This is a huge advantage when fishing unknown waters or when you are trying to locate fish.  I can keep a baitcaster with a swimbait in one of the back rod holders.  I can also keep a spinning rod with a jerk bait in one of the staging areas while fishing a rod with a spinnerbait.  The rods I am not using are secure and out of the way in case I need to grab the paddle or fight a fish.

Additonal Features I Like-  The front hatch and rear storage hatches are lockable.  The front hatch is the perfect size for a half dozen mallard decoys while the back hatch is big enough to put a pair of waders and blind bag in.  When empty, both hatches are completely open and connect under the kayak, which allows additional storage for rods.

Cons-  While not really a con because of the river kayak design, this boat is not meant for large, open bodies of water.  I have used it on reservoirs and lakes under calm conditions.  It does just fine.  When the wind picks up or if you are using it in tidal waters, it is easy to get pushed off course (minimally).  It just requires a little extra "oomph" when paddling to stay on track.  This is by no means a design flaw and if your fishing or hunting adventures require larger bodies of water and better tracking capabilities, be sure to check out their other fishing kayaks.

*I have since added an action cam mount that fits in one of the rear rod holders which offers an over-the-shoulder camera perspective that I really like.  Additionally, I added the drag chain (a quick YouTube search will show you how) which is really great when you want to slow down and fish a specific section of river.

Conclusion/Afterthought-  Since its inception, the Coosa has provided an answer for those anglers and hunters looking for a "utility" vessel.  It's overall versatility is important to me and for the money, cannot be matched.  I can confidently recommend this kayak to both hunters and fishermen looking to get into the sport or upgrade from their current kayak.

Jackson Kayak has since upgraded many features on the original Coosa, as well as introduced the Coosa HD (MSRP $1699).  The Coosa HD would probably be the only kayak on the market to draw me away from my original.  It adds additional length and width (perfect for bigger guys) and it's slightly longer hull design allows for better tracking.  Jackson Kayak has also partnered with a number of companies to provide options such as Ram and GoPro inserts, YakAttack Boomstick, and a new Elite Seat 3.0.  I'd be beyond thrilled to get my hands on this new bad boy.


Thursday, April 2, 2015

"Original Popperhead Colemans"

Anybody that has fly fished for bass knows the excitement and anticipation of fishing with poppers in the summer months.  The weather is warm, the sun is sinking and the sunburn on the back of your neck is only an afterthought.  You start noticing ripples and top-water explosions across the lake or downstream from where you are on the river.  Its time.  Time to tie on the popper and chase those fish rising to feed on the surface.  To me, there isn't much better than fishing the surface.  Both smallmouth and largemouth are ferocious predators with big appetites and when they decide to attack, it is awesome.  

This post is the first of my articles talking about my journey into tying my own flies.  The first poppers that I made were dubbed "OPC's" for Original Popperhead Coleman.  When deciding which flies I would start with, poppers seemed logical for many reasons.  First off, I work for a California winery as a Regional Manager in the mid-Atlantic.  I have an abundance of corks leftover from presentations, trade shows and of course personal consumption.  Second, the company I work for prides itself on sustainability and its commitment to organic vineyards.  I thought it would be fitting if I reused those corks in the next chapter of my fishing journey.  The final reason is pretty much what the first paragraph of this post illustrates.  It is my favorite type of fishing!

The picture on the top right shows the first cork design that I really liked.  The bottom left hand picture shows three corks that I designed and tested.  They didn't make the first cut, however I will certainly circle back around after some trial and error on the water.  I used a Dremel tool to carve and eventually sand the body to its final shape.  Also shown are two of the corks before I began.

After deciding which design I liked, I went and bought epoxy.  I went with the Gorilla Glue Epoxy to set the body on the hook and also to cover the paint once I was finished.  This provides durability to both the paint and the body of the fly.  

For paint, I just used an acrylic paint that my wife had in her office.  It is inexpensive, but with a few coats, provides a great color to the body. 

Below is the first "OPC" I ever tied.  Go big or go home right?


Here are my first 3 finished products.

In sticking with the "sustainability" theme here, I used a different material for the eyes on one of the poppers.  The eyes on the orange fly are from the foil capsule found on a wine bottle.  I just used a Sharpie marker for the finishing touches. 

I hope you enjoyed reading through this post.  I am working on getting better on the tying aspect of the flies.  Luckily for me, in the right conditions, bass don't necessarily care if the fly imitates an actual creature!  

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Weatherby Vanguard II

I wanted to share with you a review that my brother wrote for the Weatherby Vanguard II chambered in 30.06.  It was published about a year ago on our other page and also on our Facebook Page.  To access all of our reviews, you can click here.  I will be working on providing many new reports throughout the year.  Also, please feel free to email me with any inquiries or suggestions of products to review.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Orvis Video Series- Lessons

I recently stumbled upon this great resource from Orvis.  They have created a fantastic video series on How to Fly Fish.  Learn from their pro anglers about everything from Roll Casting and Nymphs to fishing the Saltwater Flats, as well as targeting specific species.  I was very impressed with the amount of videos available.  The other great thing is that most of them are under 5 minutes long so you can whip through them all or watch them multiple times to master a certain technique.  I will certainly be watching many of these videos again while I wait for the weather to break.  Remember, if you can't get out on the water, tie the pop tab off a soda can onto your tippet and practice in your yard.  There is very little pressure when fishing in your yard and you can focus on the techniques you learn in their video series.  There is also a link to it here.

Orvis Fly Fishing Learning Center

One of the reasons I love fishing in the Mid-Atlantic is that we have the luxury of experiencing all sorts of different bodies of water.  If you can deal with the traffic getting to your destination in and around the area, we have great opportunities to chase many species of game fish in almost every condition possible.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Properties Change

When I got my first sales job out of college, my manager gave me a book to read.  It was called Who Moved My Cheese by Dr. Spencer Johnson.  The book describes how variables change in ones personal and professional life and how four (characters) adapt or don't adapt to those changes. Two of the characters in the book adapt to the changes and are successful in finding a new cheese source, while the other two "Hem" and "Haw" argue with themselves and demand to know "Who Moved My Cheese".  I am thankful that he gave me this resource because it taught me life lessons that I still utilize to this day.  I was a young "know-it-all" out of college and quickly realized that my cheese would get moved many times.  I recommend that you read this book.  It is well worth it.

This hunting off-season is proving to be full of change for me.  One of the properties I have access to is an 8 acre parcel.  The lady who owns it has it zoned agricultural and needs to have livestock on it this year to keep her in good standing.  Now 8 acres is fairly small and livestock need room to roam and feed.  She plans on putting up an electric fence around the property and in front of the tree where my stand is, leaving only a small space available to bow hunt.  The property is basically a large field with one cedar tree large enough for my stand.  Another property (50 acres) that I bow hunt on is being logged commercially this spring.  It has been marked for logging roads and basically any tree bigger than 24 inches around has been targeted.  As hunters we know that these are two huge changes.  I remembered the book my manager had give me 12 years earlier and thought about it a lot.  What characters would I resemble as the things around me changed?  Would I just give up on the 8 acre property where I had great luck in the past?  Would the deer still travel on the same trails across the larger property without the safety and security of large trees?  If you read the "Spring is Here"  post, you'd know that I like to use this time to reflect and plan.  I've been giving these two scenarios a lot of thought the past couple weeks upon hearing the news and I am going to adapt rather than settle.

Things can change for the better or for worse in both your personal or professional lives.  As summed up in the book, it is important to remember the following things:

Change Happens
Anticipate Change
Monitor Change
Adapt to Change Quickly
Enjoy Change!
Be Ready to Change Quickly and Enjoy it Again

Please stay tuned because I will be posting updates on here of how I react and adapt to these two scenarios and hopefully provide some insight for those that have experienced situations.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Oh, The Weather Outside...

It's funny how weather can change from year to year.  I just started this blog style format and was reading through the old fishing reports as I switched them over from the last website to this one.  From year to year, weather can change somewhat drastically on the same date.  Below is a fishing report from March 29th, 2013.  As you can see, it was over 50 degrees and pleasant.  The water levels were somewhat high, and the water was stained, but we were still able to fish.  Last year and this year have been quite the opposite.  A late snow storm in 2014  added runoff and turned the rivers into chocolate milk until mid-April and this year looks to be about the same.  I distinctly remember fishing the Monocacy two years ago and the success we had finding fish in deeper holes.  With light snow showers throughout the day yesterday and a high temp of 42 degrees today, I know for certain I won't be repeating those same successes.

One thing is for certain, sooner or later Old Man Winter will release his grasp and I will be out fishing the waters I love so much.  With forecast temperatures in the upper 50's for most of next week, the fish will continue on to their normal business.  The only undecided factor is if the fish will cooperate when I get out there.


Saturday, March 28, 2015

Introduction to Fly Fishing

First off, don't let the title fool you.  I'm not here to try and teach you anything about fly fishing....yet.  At this point, if you've ever picked up a fly rod, you're probably as advanced as I am or possibly more.  I just wanted to share with you how I got started in the sport.  15 years ago when I was in college in Western MD, I was given a fly rod along with a DVD copy of "A River Runs Through It" for a birthday present.  I had no idea what kind it was, what weight it was or how to cast.  All I knew was that I had every intention of figuring out how to use it effectively enough to catch fish. Somebody at a local fly shop had told me to tie a soda can tab onto the end of the tippet so I could practice casting without hurting our pet ducks, friends or myself.  It worked and yes we had pet ducks in college.  While my fraternity brothers were playing horseshoes on a Saturday morning and drinking beer, I found myself out in the parking lot practicing casting to designated areas (while drinking beer).  Slowly but surely I was actually able to hit what I was aiming for.  Now, being new to the sport, I thought fly fishing was only for trout and I could only use the rod when I was out there.  After college, I went back to bass fishing with traditional tackle in rivers, ponds and reservoirs where I lived in the central part of the state.  The fly rod and the DVD both collected dust.

Many years later, after getting married and getting more traditional pets, I was out in the garage arranging my hunting gear after the season ended and saw my fly rod laying there.  Sure, I knew that trout fishing was little more than an afterthought at that time, but I started to wonder if I could take the little I knew and target a different species of fish on larger waters.  After a quick YouTube tour and reading several articles online, I knew how I was going to revive my fly fishing hobby.  I found a gently used Orvis Clearwater Rod and Reel combo at their outlet store in Rehoboth Beach, DE while I was there on a work trip.  I added the bass bug line from Scientific Anglers and I set out on my first adventure.  With a handful of poppers and streamers, I headed to a small lake down the street from where I grew up. Almost every fly I threw was lost in the trees behind me.  Luckily the only thing that was hurt was my pride.  Fishing from a a bank was way different then wading out into a stream in Garrett County.

I have come a long way since that first day with my new "bass rig" and now chase bass from my kayak where I know I only have open water behind me.  As mentioned in the "About Me" tab, I just started tying my own poppers and streamer patterns ( I will have more about that at another time.  This is the next phase in my fishing life and I'm excited for what lies ahead.  I am looking forward to learning new fly patterns, learning to fish for new species and trying new waters.  I hope you visit again to follow along with the successes and failures.

Whatever your choice of gear may be, or whatever you enjoy fishing for, it's always important to remember how you got there and where your own journey started.


Friday, March 27, 2015

Spring is Here

"October Lull versus "Late Winter Lull"

Spring is finally here in MD.  The weather is becoming more tolerable, the snow has been gone for more than a week now and the sun is warming up the waters.  With this transition, wildlife is staging for the next period.  Many outdoor enthusiasts refer to the October Lull in deer hunting as the slowest time of the season.  This is a period where the deer have moved away from their summer patterns but haven't quite started the rutting phase.  Deer sightings are often few and far between and bucks seem to go nocturnal.  The October Lull provides hunters with time to wander into the wetlands and shoot ducks or check trail cams to see if there are any newcomers before the rut takes off.  The Winter Lull doesn't provide many opportunities in the field, but does allow for an individual to focus on this years upcoming goals or food plot improvements.  It provides a time for me to relax, rejuvenate and prepare for whatever comes next.  Whether its chasing turkeys on a brisk spring morning with weapon in hand or dusting off the kayak to go after pre-spawn smallmouth bass, the upcoming season provides excitement and anticipation of a new year.

Both of these time periods provide a chance to focus on what you want to accomplish in the upcoming weeks or months.  Of course, you could also use it to knock off a few "honey-do" list items or spend quality time with family and friends before its time to disappear into the woods again.


Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Eastern Shore

Last night I drove down to the beach for a work trade show.  When I was growing up, I always remembered my dad saying that when he crossed the Bay Bridge, he could almost feel his heart rate go down and a feeling of calm would overwhelm him.  I travel across the bridge many times throughout the year either for work or play and I have to say, I get the same feeling.  Something about Maryland's Eastern Shore is just relaxing.  When I was younger it was probably due to the fact that I knew I was going to the beach for a week and I'd have the sand, sun, family and friends to keep me company.  Nowadays, vacation is only one reason to cross the bridge and it only happens once a summer.  The other reasons are for hunting, fishing or work...

Work...Crossing the Bay Bridge can be relaxing and exciting this time of year for many reasons.  It might start with the rafts of divers floating on the big Chesapeake still hanging around from the winter.  It might start with the boats on the water and the promise of warmer weather and water.  Driving along Route 50 provides lots of sights and allows the imagination to wander.  Shiny new center consoles stand alongside long abandoned crabbing vessels in the boat yards along the way.  Miles and miles of fields with plenty of views of deer and turkeys feeding at dusk.  Cruising along at 55 mph with minimal traffic, I saw over 100 turkeys in 5-6 different flocks along the way.  I look at farms and wonder what's going on at my lease and instantly become transported to a few weeks from now chasing turkeys at first light or to the fall with anticipation that a whitetail buck will make the wrong move within bow range.  I wonder what is lurking through the wood line staring at the does feeding in the field.  I wonder what stories could be told by those commercial fishermen and the abandoned fishing vessels.  All of this makes the travel away from my family a little bit easier.

Hunting/Fishing....If you're reading this blog, the paragraph above explains every reason why we as outdoor enthusiasts love driving to the other side of the bridge.

Wherever your mind takes you or whatever your reason for traveling is, enjoy your surroundings, enjoy the peace and quiet and allow your heart rate to settle while you breathe in the Eastern Shore air.


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Ducks Unlimited Film Series

Great new video series from Ducks Unlimited!  First two episodes are available now.

DU Conservation Class

Improved Sky Angler format and Introduction.

Hey everyone!  Welcome to my new blog site.  I have changed some things around in the way will now be run.  I wanted to provide better pictures/videos and more detailed descriptions of the trips I take.  Please bear with me while I try to make the transition.  I work full-time and have a wife, a 3-month old son and a 15 month old Doberman "puppy" that also require my attention.  

If this is your first time discovering Sky Angler, let me tell you a little bit about me and what I try to do.  My name is Sean and I am a native of Maryland.  I grew up fishing all over Maryland and Virginia.  As I got older I got bit by the hunting bug as well and have several leases throughout MD and family property in VA where I enjoy chasing turkeys, whitetail and waterfowl.  I have a ton of hobbies that keep me busy along with my personal life, however I really enjoy getting after river bass with my kayak and fly rod.  I just started tying my own streamer patterns and poppers (stay tuned for further updates on that).  The old website had fishing reports and gear reviews.  I wasn't quite happy with the format of the reports because it limited the details/data/information I could add in a limited space.  With this new blog-style website, I can provide more information as well as ideas and thoughts that pop up in my head (hopefully you will also find them interesting).  During this transition, I am attempting to switch over all the old reviews and reports to a new style while keeping a similar format.  

Thanks for stopping by!