The Functioning Fishaholics

Mar 172012
 

Do you like sports?  A little March Madness Basketball perhaps?

Basketball...  Via Wikipedia

Basketball... Via Wikipedia

Well, if you are looking for that thing called “NCAA Tournament 2012” or some such nonsense you might be in the wrong place.

I mean…  The title of this blog is The Functioning FISHaholics…

Now on to some REAL March Madness

Fish the size of basketballs...

Oh yes, the Bassmaster Elite Series Tournament is in full force and the action is heating up!

March is the beginning of the Elite Series so stop watching college kids dribble pigskin and tune in to some awesome fishing action!

Here are some links to get you started:

Please fishing friends, let’s tune in and give this great sport the attention it deserves! 

So what do you think?  Is the Elite Series better than a bunch of punks chasing a ball?  Will you be glued to this coverage?  Are we crazy?  Let us know in the comments below!

 

Mar 132012
 

After spending a day fishing Valley Creek and watching the Fly Fishing Film tour it was hard to imagine my weekend could get any better.

Then, there was Sunday.

Turns out fellow Functioning Fishaholic Jeff has one HECK of a father in law.  While I’m not 100% sure how much of his soul he had to sell to make this happen, somehow we ended up with a new boat!

Now before you go and get all excited, remember our last new boat was “Old Iron Sides” which during her time (circa 1970) was one heck of a canoe.

Our new boat is real purdy… A real, honest to goodness, arrives on a trailer, type of boat.  Not a canoe, not a kayak, but not quite a Ranger…

the funcfish crew has a new boat!

Our New Ride!

I fell in love with this boat the moment my eyes laid upon her speckled, crimson hull.  The essence of The Functioning Fishaholics flows deep within this one.

The Funcfish culture isn’t to go out and buy a $30,000 boat.  No.  We are a crew that believes in the joys of DIY and making the most of what we have.  This boat may be a hand me down but to the Funcfish crew she’s a real lady!

No standing in the boat

Myth debunked

Jeff’s father in law didn’t think we’d be able  to stand, balance, and fish in this boat due to its V shaped hull.  What he didn’t realize is spending two whole years fishing from a top heavy canoe has conditioned us to be able to balance on  anything and fish.

The image above is of Jeff on the phone with his FIL shortly after launch.  Not only could we stand and fish, we could stand and fish with one foot waves and high wind!

spoiled

Spoiled

Padded seats, rod holders, electric motor, depth finder, bilge pump, room for tackle, the ability to stand and fish.  Coming from a few years of fishing from various canoes this boat was QUITE the treat!

While we didn’t catch anything on Sunday, we did get to take the boat for a tour of Marsh Creek and throw some casts.  She’s going to need a little work but she floats and performed flawlessly on a rough and windy day.

Do you have a boat?  Did you have to work your way up the used boat ranks before you landed a new top tier Bass boat?  Let us know in the comments below!

 

 

Mar 122012
 

Ooh a 2 part series?  Yes…  My fishing weekend was that good.

Before I get started, if you’d like to read a really well written account of the Saturday’s events please check out this post.

For those of you who didn’t click the link above, here’s my version of Saturday’s events.

F3T was in town...

The F3T was in town last Saturday and Southeastern PA’s bloggers had to represent.  (F3T stands for Fly Fishing Film Tour)

How do you make a day out of the F3T?

A big sucker caught on Valley Creek

YOU FISH SUCKA!

And fish we did.  Originally it was going to be yours truly, Mike from Dub the Thorax, and Troutrageous! Mike.  Mike #1 couldn’t make the outing but Troutrageous! Mike could and 1 out of 2 Mikes ain’t bad.

The sucker you see above was a glorious specimen caught on Valley Creek under the strict guidance of Troutrageous! Mike.

Mike is an awesome host and gave me first shot at all of the good runs.  In fact, the very first cast I made got me into a nice Valley Creek wild Brown Trout.

Valley creek pa wild brown trout

Valley Creek Brown Trout

This was the only Trout I would hook into for the day but I still had a great time.  With all of the fishing pressure on this creek coupled with extremely spooky fish I’m happy with my catch.  For the record Mike caught 3.

Valley Creek is famous for skunking even seasoned fly fishermen so a little Brown Trout and a big fat amorous  Sucker (explained here) made for a great day of fishing.

T! Mike likes Ketchup

After a few good hours of fishing T! Mike took me to Gino’s in King of Prussia.  While I’m not quite sure what went down in the picture above, I believe it laid a firm foundation for the rest of the evening’s events.

After our glorious meal we made our way over to The Sporting Gentleman fly shop.  The pre-party was in full effect, beer and pizza were flowing (does pizza flow?).  Elbow to elbow, we anxiously awaited the drawing for the evening’s door prizes.

party at the Sporting Gentleman

Party at The Sporting Gentleman

I’ve never been to The Sporting Gentleman in Media before but I could tell that the guys that ran the shop had a great selection of gear and were very hospitable to their guests.  We weren’t there long but even though I was a stranger in a strange new fly shop I felt like I belonged.  I’ll have to visit this shop again.

Although we didn’t win any door prizes, what happened next made up for it.

fly fishing film tour in media pa

Ahh... Fish porn.

After a long day of fishing it was finally time to sit down and enjoy the F3T.  As you can see from the grainy bootleg image above, the actors in these films enjoyed their beer and their fish (both elements of great film).

All of the videos screened at the F3T were breathtaking, fun, and filled with giant fish.  There was even a giant Tarpon that almost bit a dog’s head off.

With all of the excitement it’s hard to believe I could actually sleep.  As my day drew to a close I slept soundly knowing that Sunday would hold another adventure of its very own…  Keep your eyes peeled for part 2!

Did you get to the Fly Fishing Film Tour this year?  Are you going to make it next year?  Do you like catching amorous Suckers on Valley Creek?  Let us know in the comments below!

 

 

 

Mar 082012
 

Back in January I brought up the subject of fishing knives and the fact that I was in need of a new sharp companion to accompany me on my fishing journeys.

I did some research on custom knives and even built a Pinterest board full of shiny sharp things I couldn’t afford.

I spent countless hours obsessing over knives at the local sporting goods stores but most of the blades out there were either too expensive or were mass produced pieces of plastic junk.

While at the Greater Philadelphia Outdoor Sportshow in Oaks PA last month I decided that I would try to find something to meet my slightly disturbing tastes.  There were a few booths with knives at the show.  Most of the knives were cheap plastic, too small, too big, too weird, too army, etc.

The second day of the show I found a few knives from a company called Elk Ridge that I thought might fit my need.  I compared three or four models and settled on the knife below.

elk ridge hunting knife review

Elk Ridge

The other side of the knife reads “USA design handcrafted in China”.  Ok, so I’m not a huge fan of that but for less than $20 I found a 5″ fix blade knife that has the looks of a custom knife.

elk ridge hunting fishing knife

Not bad

I’m still pretty new to sharpening and caring for a knife so I’m going to call this one my “starter knife”.  I figure it will be more than I need for out in the field and when I win the lottery (or get the ok from wifey) I can have Chris from Williams Knife http://williamsknife.com/ design me something so custom and special that I’ll never want to take it out of the house.

elk ridge fishing knife

Till then this will work...

So don’t consider this a review.  I fully plan on using and abusing this new piece of cutlery.  If I don’t lose it (or chuck it in the lake) I’ll make sure to take more pictures and show you the progression of how this blade handles in the field.

If you are like me and think a knife for less than $20 bucks is too good to pass up please check out Elk Ridge on Amazon.  If you use this link and buy something, you’ll be donating a few pennies to our cause (and the custom knife fund).

 

So what do you think?  Did I sell out our country for a cheap blade?  Will this knife fall apart in the field?  If you can forgive me for not buying “Made In the USA” please leave your comments below!

 

 

 

Mar 072012
 

What started as a simple DIY woodworking project turned into a full blown piece of furniture.  I use the term DIY but be warned this project may require some of the skills your learned in high school shop class.


Before I dig in here, I want to share a link from Pinterest.  My fly tying desks board was a great source of inspiration for this project.  Keep an eye on my Pinterest page, it’s a great research tool and should give away some of my future blog posts.

laying out a fly tying desk

It started so simple…

It started so simple…  A thin piece of junk board.  It was sitting in my garage collecting dust and I thought, “Why not turn it into a fancy fly tying desk?”

measuring holes for a fly tying desk

Just a quick Saturday project

Just a quick Saturday project…  A few pill caps to trace some 1 1/2″ and 2″ holes for supplies.  Maybe a few 2x4s for sides and tool holders…

What started as a quick sketch on a junk board suddenly got more complex.  I pulled out a notebook and a ruler…  Suddenly a small door opened in my brain, a door to the past…  It was like I was back in Mr. Moyer’s 7th grade shop class.

For the first time in my life I realized all of the designs I had drawn inspiration from were within my abilities.  I could do this!  (or at least hack my way through it)

After what seemed like hours of planning and layout, I made a trip to the local Lowes to purchase some supplies.  Plans were on paper…  This project was too real for scrap wood.

While the selection of wood at Lowes leaves MUCH to be desired, I was able to pick up some usable supplies on the cheap.  My project would be born from a pre-glued panel and some 1×3.  Throw in a little trim and suddenly…  you have furniture potential…

Laying out the parts of a fly tying desk

Dry fitting parts

Skipping a few steps here.  I will tell you that I made the cutout on this piece with a hand saw.  Yea…  I said I would be hacking my way through this.  The picture above shows the profiled panel as well as the modular 1×3″ bases that will become the tool and material holders of the fly tying desk.

The nice thing about using “modular” blocks is that if you screw one up you can easily throw it away and cut a new piece.  Lucky for me I got these right on the first try (there is a first for everything).

Forming the side rails of the fly tying desk

Ghetto forming holes

Here’s where you seasoned woodworkers will have a good laugh.  To cut the cubby holes in the side rails of this fly tying desk a seasoned woodworker would use a tool called a Forstner bit.  This special drill bit drills a round hole but also cleans out the bottom of the hole to make it flat.

I didn’t have a Forstner bit…

But that didn’t stop me.  Using a combination of hole saws, a small chisel, and (lots of) elbow grease, I drilled the holes and hand carved out the bottoms.  This part took FOREVER.  Lesson:  Buy the right tools!

Drilling holes for the tool caddy for a fly tying desk

Tool caddy

For my tool caddy I decided a block with a bank of drill holes would fit the bill.  To determine the proper hole diameter I drilled a few holes of various sizes and tested them with my fly tying tools.  After a little trial and error I found one size that would work well for all of my tools.  (No I didn’t bother to write it down)

Dowels hold thread on the fly tying desk

Dowels for the back

My design idea called for dowels in the back to hold thread, wire, and anything else that comes on a spool.  I decided that I wanted shorter dowels up front and longer ones in the back.  I cut the dowels you see above and rounded the tips to make placing the spools easier.

Cut and drilled fly desk parts

Cut and drilled

I staggered the dowel holes in the back so that when you are looking straight on at the thread you will be able to see all of the colors at once.  While purely functional, it also adds a nice design touch.  (note: measuring for these holes was the hardest part of the project)

Fly desk with dowels assembled

With dowels

After what seemed like 30 years of sanding, the parts were done.  Using the sandpaper I also softened all of the corners of the blocks.  Cleaning up the corners makes the project look better and should keep me from getting bruises while using the desk.

I glued and screwed the blocks to the desktop from below, making sure to countersink the screws so that they would not scratch whatever surface this fly tying desk would be used on.

A piece of decorative trim was fixed to the front and side using miter joints.  This was my first time cutting trim with miter angles but after a little trial and error I had it perfectly laid out.

adding a finish to the fly tying desk

Finishing time

At this point I decided to add a little finish to the project.  Again, seasoned woodworkers may laugh but I used Thompson’s water seal to stain and seal my fly tying desk.  Given the choice again, I most likely would not use a product for finishing decks on an indoor piece of furniture.

After the first coat I gave the piece a light sanding to knock down the wood grain that was raised from absorbing the sealer.  I attempted a light 2nd coat but Thompsons is designed to be a one coat finish and my attempt at a 2nd coat was futile.

After waiting a few days I decided to add a few coats of Polycrylic finish to further waterproof the piece.  This finish also gives the fly tying desk a nice bar top shine.  I had to lightly sand inbetween these coats.  Placing this finish on top of the Thompsons water seal was fairly difficult.

finished wooden fly tying desk

Finished and stocked

Finished and stocked with materials and tools this desk is almost a work of art.  From design, to construction, to finishing this was the first woodworking project I’ve done where I felt like I had my act together.  Sure, there are things I’ll do differently next time, but I’m actually proud of the  final result.  A piece of furniture.  I’m hoping the sturdy construction lasts through the years and I can eventually pass this down along with fly tying lessons through future generations of my family.

Until then I’m going to use it to sling some sick bugs together…

 

What do  you think?  Would you tie on one of these?  Do you have your own fly tying desk design you’d like to share?  Let us know in the comments below!

 

Mar 062012
 

No fishing?  What?!

If you aren’t familar with the term “Approved Trout Water” please allow me to provide an explanation:

 These waters are closed to all fishing (including taking of minnows) from March 1 to 8 a.m. on the opening day of the trout season. Some of these waters have been included in the Early Season Trout-Stocked Waters Program and are open from March 1 through March 31. A person shall be deemed to be fishing if he or she has in possession any fishing line, rod or other device that can be used for fishing while on or in any water or on the banks within 25 feet of any water where fishing is prohibited. Via fishandboat.com

Approved Trout Water in Montgomery County PA

Approved Trout Water

The map above is an approximate view of the Approved Trout Water in Montgomery County PA (orange lines).  For a detailed look at Southeastern PA’s Approved Trout Water click here

What is the point of approved trout water?

Great question.  While I still need to track down the official answer from the PA Fish and Boat Commission, I will venture a guess.  Most of these approved waters are heavily stocked with trout in preparation for the opening day of Pennsylvania’s Trout season.  Closing the water to all fishing for a month allows these hatchery fish to acclimate to the water, move around a bit, and try to find natural food.

Mom & I, Opening day haul 2011

Truth be told, hatchery fish are kinda dumb, probably won’t move much, and have a burning desire to eat orange Powerbait…  But hey, the least we can do is give them ONE month of freedom!

It's not cheating on opening day!

While I rarely keep fish for the table, I will say Trout caught on opening day are going to be eaten.  Many of these Trout would have a seriously difficult time making it through a Summer in Southeastern PA and are generally not savvy enough to survive in the local streams for a long period of time.

A healthy stocked Rainbow Trout

A few points to keep in mind:

  • “Trout Season” doesn’t mean “fishing season”.  If it isn’t Approved Trout Water, you are allowed to fish there all year long.
  • Trout season starts at 8am on March 31 in Southeastern PA and April 14th in the rest of PA
  • You can buy your 2012 PA fishing license right now ONLINE
  • The lovely people of the PA Fish & Boat Commission aren’t being mean.  They are doing this to give the Trout a fighting chance and hopefully add a little more challenge to your fishing.
  • If you haven’t been to The PA Fish and Boat Commission homepage yet you are missing out!

Are you excited about the opening day of Trout season?  Are you bummed that you live farther north and have to wait a few more weeks?  Let us know in the comments below!

 

 

 

Feb 202012
 

Every single day of this short weekend was jam packed full of outdoor fun.  Spring is quickly arriving and with it comes a torrent of outdoor opportunities.

I could easily spend an entire week writing about the experiences I had in just this weekend alone.  While I’m pretty sure I will do just that, I thought I’d share today’s fun first.

Mike from Dubthethorax.com and I decided earlier in the week that even though the weather forecast was calling for a wintry mix, we would throw caution to the wind and  plan to fish on Sunday.

Fishin' wit' dub'

As the week progressed the likelyhood of a snowstorm grew less and less.   This morning I woke and experienced the sun shining with no hint of foul weather.  At 9am the temperature was already above 40 degrees.  A warm smile crossed my face as I realized we would be heading to the Little Lehigh for some Trout fishing on the fly.

I like fishing with Mike because he knows the water and he speaks trout.  Mike also has super human eyesight and always sees the Trout first.  I swear he was a  blue heron in his past life.  I actually went out and bought better polarized clipons so I could keep up!

FACT – If you are fishing with Mike from Dub The Thorax you need small flies

Size #20s frantically tied this morning

Mike LOVES size #20 and below flies.  I did my best to whip up some midges and Griffith’s gnats in the hour or so before I left this morning.  A few broken hackles, some snapped herl, and one flaring temper later, I was able to add nine new flies to the box.

My sickness – My flies…

I have this weird thing about only fishing with my own flies even if they aren’t perfect.  Fly fishing for me is defined by tricking a fish with something I tied by my own hand.  I almost feel as if I’m cheating if I buy a fly or “borrow” flies from a friend.  My belief is that if I don’t tie good flies I don’t deserve to catch fish.  When my tying improves so will the fish I catch.

Conditions at the Little Lehigh were perfect for a mid-March afternoon.  Yes, I typed that right.  Spring has officially sprung early.

We began the day thinking we were going to only see midges on the water.  By the end of our few hours on the water we saw midges, some kind of small Caddis, and I even pulled a big black Stonefly off the back of my neck.  Bugs were everywhere.

Mike keyed in to a little stretch of the river and we pretty much fished the heck out of it.  There were rises and actively feeding fish everywhere.

Matt Finds a Fishy Friend!

Even though my #20 Griffith’s Gnat wannabe had brown hackle it did the trick.  (Later in the day when we started seeing the small Caddis I realized that my brown hackle may have been the perfect match.)

I hooked into a nice 10-12″ wild Brown Trout.  It put up a pretty decent fight and made a few good dashes once it saw the net.  This was the first Trout I’ve caught on a dry fly.  It was also my first fish for 2012.  I gotta say, landing a fish this nice in February brings a HUGE smile to my face!

Ooh! A glow fish!

Sorry for the overly artsy pic.  The sun was to our backs and made the lighting really tough.   The original picture makes my head look like a giant glowing ball of cheese.

As the day went on I think Mike hooked into three fish overall.  I could have landed a few more but my hooksetting skills need some work for dry fly fishing.  My timing is WAY too early.  I guess I get anxious when I see a big beautiful Trout smashing my itty bitty fly on the top of the water (go figure).

Our three hour tour of the Little Lehigh was an awesome end to one of the best outdoor themed weekends of my life.  I can’t wait till Spring comes in full force and the fishing starts heating up!  Keep your eyes out for more posts this week.  There were a ton of really cool moments this weekend that I can’t wait to share!

Did you get out for any fishing this weekend?  Do you fish with other people’s bugs?  Let us know in the comments below!

 

 

Feb 192012
 

Today was my second day at the Greater Philadelphia Outdoor Sportshow in Oaks PA.  There were a few purchases made but more importantly, I had the  honor of meeting some new fishing buddies and scoring this blogs first big time interview.

For those who have never been to their site, Delaware Valley Outdoors is a treasure trove of amazing, local, fishing videos.  These videos are created by some of the friendliest and most down to earth guys I’ve met so far in the fishing world.

The Functioning Fishaholics get interviewed by Delaware Valley Outdoors

Matt with Steve and Bob from DVO

Delaware Valley Outdoors (DVO) always has an amazing booth at the Sportshow and this year I think they took things up a notch.  Throughout the event DVO conducts interviews with the prominent fishing personalities that are at the show.  All of their interviews are pumped through a live web feed to their website and are later saved to their YouTube page.

My 2nd favorite video from this year happened on Thursday when they did the Gary Loomis Interview.  I mean, how often do you get to see an interview with a rod building legend?  In this video Gary Looms talks about the rods he’s making for Temple Fork Outfitters.

YouTube Preview Image


What was my favorite interview from DVO this year?
 Why, it was the one where they interviewed…  ME!  

Don’t let anyone ever tell you that Twitter is a waste of time!  After some tactical retweeting on my part, Mike from DVO was kind enough to arrange this interview for me to answer a few questions about how social media can benifit fishermen and fishing brands.

I really enjoyed talking with Steve Horvath.  Even though he feels like he doesn’t know much about social media he’s giving it a try and he had some really great questions.

What an AWESOME day!  I think this interview will end up on my list of favorite moments from 2012.

I’d like to thank Mike, Steve, Bob, and the rest of the Delaware Valley Outdoors guys for lavishing attention on this humble fishing blog.  Today was a lot of fun!

Did you go to the Sportshow in Oaks PA this weekend?  Do you use Twitter to stalk your favorite fishing celebrities?  Let us know in the comments below!

 

Feb 152012
 

I saw this on (soon to be pro Bass fisherman) Jody White’s Twitter feed today (@vtbasser)

This video is all about removing the Swanton Dam on the Missisquoi River.  It goes into some great history of why dams were put on rivers and why we might be better off without them.

A dam in disrepair on the East Branch of the Perkiomen Creek

A dam in disrepair on the East Branch of the Perkiomen Creek

The video does a fantastic job of explaining the benefits of dam removal and showing the before and after impact of this project.  There are also some great shots of fish!

YouTube Preview Image

After watching this video take a moment and leave your thoughts:

Do you believe that dam removal is worth it?  Are old dams better to fish from than whatever is left behind after removal?  The trend is pushing for the removal of all private dams, do you think landowner rights outweigh the rights of a few smelly fish?   Let us know in the comments below!

 

Feb 112012
 

Lately the internet has  been buzzing about foam popper flies.  

It seems every other day I’m seeing a new video on tying foam bodied flies.  Since I have my new, pretty, Sage Bass rod and plenty of time to wait till warm water fishing heats up, I figure the cold months are perfect for tying up a few summertime foam patterns.

This is a foam frog I tied up tonight.  It is the first foam bodied popper I’ve ever made.  I used 7 cut discs of foam for the body which I glued together and carved to get a round body.

Foam bodied bleeding frog fly

My first try at a bleeding frog popper

I couldn’t get a perfectly round cut on the foam but I think leaving it a little rough gives it more of an organic look.  I added the red maribou up front to simulate blood.  I figure, if a frog is good…  a bleeding frog has to be AWESOME!

foam bodied frog popper fly

front view - Basstastic

Cabela’s #1 Saddle hackle for the legs with a puff of green marabou to separate.  A little more olive hackle for the rump.  Under the foam I used a piece of backing to thicken up the hook shank and give the glue and foam something to stick to.

Foam frog fly belly

Frog belly

I decided to use some white paint for the frog’s belly.  I was lucky enough to also have white rubber legs which should look great in the water.  I also used some green Sharpie markers to add spots to the frog.

I probably could have saved a lot of time on this fly if I would have bought a pre-made popper body.  Then again, I wouldn’t have had as much fun!

This is an awesome pattern as it involves some engineering to get the foam right.  I’m by no means a pro tyer so if you have the materials give ita shot!  The Bass will LOVE this one!

 

Do you tie frog poppers on your vice?  Does your pattern use any other materials?  Do you have any tips for me?  Let us know in the comments below!

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