Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Shooting Skeet at the San Joaquin Rod and Gun Club

DSC_0796_E
My Christmas present
          It is no secret that water is becoming more and more scarce in California. Seeing that I would not be able to fish the river, the closest body of water from our house, my amazing wife bought me a Bernelli Nova for Christmas as an attempt to keep me outdoors. I had been researching shotguns for sometime but was unwilling to pull the trigger on one because it was a larger purchase and I have never hunted before so I did not want to buy the wrong gun. My friends who grew up hunting had a real advantage over me. Hunting is expensive, has many rules and seasons, and involves firearms making it daunting to a beginner, but I am determined to learn and get in on the hunt.

         Hank Shaw of Honest Food.net was a huge inspiration. I chose the Bernelli because it has a great reputation of reliability, was priced right, and seemed to suit all my needs. The 28" barrel allows for long shots and allows for 2 3/4 to 3 1/2 inch shells. I took it down to the San Joaquin Rod and Gun Club for a few rounds of skeet already. 
  

I have been getting more comfortable with it on the range. It is so much fun taking down doubles with a pump shotgun. 

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Skeet is a great way to learn how to handle a shot gun for beginner shooters.

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Even my buddy, a Marine combat instructor who teaches Marines how to handle a rifle every day, thought of skeet as a fun challenging activity. We played four rounds, sending 100 shots down range and left smiling. One of the guys we shot with shoots for the Navy team. His advice really improved my shot.

I can't wait for dove season this year. I feel a little more confident with the shotgun each round and hope it translates to the field and the dinner plate.

Thanks for reading,

Dan

The San Joaquin Rod and Gun Club is a volunteer run skeet range located at NAS Lemoore.
The are open Thursdays after 5PM (depending on if there is sunlight) and Saturdays at 9AM.

$5 a round, more if you rent a gun and need shells

Check them out on Facebook
https://www.facebook.com/pages/San-Joaquin-Valley-Rod-and-Gun-Club/143175959117081?fref=ts

 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Congratulations Joe!

Check out that WSB


             Well my buddy's Kickstarter did not only get fully funded ahead of schedule,  the streatch goal was reached allowing Joe to print his next album in vinyl. I love to see a good plan gome together. There is still a chance to jump on the bandwagon, he also has tee shirts, beer koozies, and onsies for your favorite infant.

Less than 40 hours to go.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1584836931/joe-koenigs-new-album-bleed-like-you-bleed

      Joe, you rock and this album happening is proof of that. I hope we get a chance to spend some time on the water together and get some time with our families time around the campfire as well.

Thanks for reading, sharing, and donating,

Dan

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1584836931/joe-koenigs-new-album-bleed-like-you-bleed
Fisher would rock this thing.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

An Ode to Kayak Fishing

The editor of Kayak Angler Magazine issued a challenge to list the things its readers love about kayak fishing from A to Z back in August. Apparently they were looking for gear and more elaborated ideas--I thought they were looking for personal lists and took on the challenge head on.  Here is what I came up with.

I love kayak fishing because of the…
Addictive feeling of hooking into a fish while sitting in a little plastic boat.
Bliss of quietly gliding through the water while the other boats sit at the dock.
Confidence built after coming out on top after a rough surf launch.
Difficult to get to places only kayak and fish can go.
Efficiency of fishing on a kayak.
Fish that run so hard it turns the whole kayak around.
Grin on the face of a friend who just caught his first fish in a kayak.
Happiness it brings me.   
Innovations kayaks bring to the sport of fishing.
Journeys it leads me to.
Kind people you meet on forums and at the water’s edge at five AM just to go enjoy the sport.
Love of fishing.
Meet-ups and gatherings local kayak anglers have.
New Friends I made becoming an active kayak fishermen.
Old Friends I have introduced to the sport.
Plethora of rigging options available. It never ends...   
Quality it adds to my fishing experience. So quiet without a motor. 
Rewards that come with being passionate about something.  
Stable platform a kayak provides for fishing.
Time spent doing what I love.
Utter excitement of crashing through the waves on a launch and coasting in on the landing.
View of the land as it drifts further and further away.
Water--whether it is clear, stained, muddy, fresh or brackish I love it all just the same.
Xmas morning feeling I get the day of a big trip. It can be hard to fall asleep the night before.   
Yank at the end of the line after the first cast to a spot I feel is fishy.
Zany things that only happen to kayak fishermen (ask any kayak fishermen about something weird that happened on the water. I haven't met a kayak angler without at least one crazy story yet.) 


If this doesn't make sense to you than you have not caught a fish off a little plastic boat. Only one more month and rockfish season opens up on California's central coast!

Thanks for reading. 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

April Fools

To everybody posting April fools jokes on Facebook.
 
 
But Lucid Fishing is offering $10 off a set of grips today, no joke.
Nothing wrong with that.

https://www.lucidfishing.com/
 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

200,000 Hits!

I am sure it is mostly spam-bots but 200,000 hits is still a milestone. 

200,000!

Considering I just hit 100k back in July, I don't think my blog is doing too bad traffic wise. I try to not put importance in numbers but it is still exciting to see that the numbers continue to grow. 

Thanks for stopping by. leave a comment so I know who is reading. 

Dan

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Joe Koenig "Bleed Like You Bleed" Kickstarter

 Left to Right: Ryan Howell of CCKF and Joe Koenig showing off two nice Pacific white sea bass. Photo via Ryan Howell.
Joe and his son Les
       Last year I wrote about Joe Koenig. The man has to be one of the nicest most open people I have ever met. He is a devoted father, great fishermen, one hell of a guitar player, a great vocalist, and he'd do just about anything for a friend--or a stranger for that. He gave me his first album, Somethin' Concrete, back in May of 2013 and it stayed in my CD player on repeat for almost three months before I decided to give it a rest. "Attack of the Hand" is one of my favorite songs, period. His voice has a rough edge that is balanced perfectly by his guitar playing. More of a soulful singer songwriter than a country singer or rock artist, his style is what it is--real and raw. He is currently in the studio recording a new album and recording is not cheap.
 
       For those of you not familure with Kickstarter, it is home for everything from films, games, and music to art, design, and technology. Kickstarter is full of projects, big and small, that are brought to life through the direct support of people like you. Since our launch in 2009,5.8 million people have pledged $1 billion, funding58,000 creative projects. Thousands of creative projects are raising funds on Kickstarter right now. Kickstarter allows the people who make stuff fund their projects straight from the public. 

       
           
            The best part of this process is you can donate a lot and get some cool perks, like a private concert, or you can just donate $10 and get a digitel copy of the album when it is ready. There are other perks like seats at a private release party, tee-shirts, and even beer coozies. But the cool part abotu this is every little bit helps. I'm not getting paid to write this, I already donated to I could get the physical album. I think Jo is a great guy that writes great tunes and that is something I want to support and promote. Even if you aren't going to donate, check out one of the new tracks, "Wheels."

        
Joe with a pair of big reds
      

           Thanks for reading this. I hope you liked the music. I really want to see this album get made the way Joe wants it to get made. $10 is not that much for an album. I have heard a few of songs that are going to be on the album while sitting around the camp fire and can tell you they are something special.  Plus once he gets it made he should have some open time to go fishing with me. Even if you decided not to donate thanks for reading and checking out Joe's music.

Dan

The Kickstarter Link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1584836931/joe-koenigs-new-album-bleed-like-you-bleed

Buy Somethin' Concrete on iTunes:
https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/somethin-concrete/id288596792

Joe's website:
http://www.texas-soul.com/

Joe on Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/joekoenigmusic

Opening weekend with Joe: http://www.theimpracticalfishermen.com/2013/05/more-from-opening-weekend-campfires-and.html

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Winter Storm Surge Damages California Piers


Source: http://rebeccaharringtonphotography.blogspot.com/
           Growing up in the Midwest my first fishing experience was bluegill fishing with crickets in a pond, but for kids growing up on the California coast their first experience is usually a public fishing pier. My first salt water experience was on a Washington state pier crabbing and catching fish off the wooden deck. California public piers are massive by comparison. They stretch hundreds of feet into the water past the breakers and suspend high above the water. Most are open twenty-four hours a day and do not require a fishermen to have a license. They let you get the first taste for free. Many people who never were afforded the opportunity to fish as kids, unwilling to pay fifty dollars for a license, fish for the first time as adults on public piers. 
The first saltwater fish I caught as a non military California Resident on Cayucos Pier 
            In July last year I was saddened to hear Cayucos pier was found to be unstable and closed indefinitely. When I moved to Central California in 2011 Cayucos pier was the first spot on the coast I fished, and the first place I caught fish as a California resident. I spent a month and a half shore fishing San Diego four years before that, but this was special because it indicated things to come. In my short year as a foster parent I got all three of my foster children to catch fish on Cayucos and San Simeon pier. In the short time I have lived here I have made some good memories there. With an estimated $2,000,000 to rebuild the pier it is not going to be open for fishing anytime soon.  A charity has been setup at http://www.savecayucospier.org/ in attempt to raise the funds to help save the pier. 

               When piers are damaged it can take some time for them to be repaired. “Gaviota Pier, a 529-foot pier, dates back to 1943 when the Navy first built it as a 420-foot crash boat pier. El NiƱo storms in 1998 damaged the pier, and it was not reopened fully until May 2000”. Which is why it is so tragic to hear about Gaviota Pier being severely damaged by the storm surge we had last week. 
Recent storms that damaged the Goleta Pier, above, and other facilities are likely to be part of the discussion of Goleta Beach Park’s future when the county Board of Supervisors discusses the matter on March 18. (Gina Potthoff / Noozhawk photo)
        To give you an idea of how powerful this storm was check out this footage taken by Andrew Harmer at Pismo Beach. It is amazing more people did not get hurt.   



           Goleta and Avila piers were also damaged but the must harm came to Gaviota pier in Santa Barbra County.
Source: http://www.ksby.com/i


At least not that many people were hurt. Let's hope the remaining piers stay stong and are hear long enough for others to enjoy.

Thanks for reading.

Dan

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Winter San Joaquin River Fishing

        My buddy Caleb messaged me on Facebook before I was about to head home on Friday. He wanted to go fishing and wanted company. Between school, a new baby, and work fishing has really taken a back seat. We agreed on a time and place, a mid day trip to the river in north Fresno, California. The worst part about this launch is the half mile hill you have to take the kayaks down to get to the river, and as you can guess the downhill portion is not the bad part of the trip. The water was cool and clear. We could see a few rainbow trout that seemed to be uninterested in my spinner baits and carp that spook easy leaving muddy puffs in their place.  

I got to play with my new camera mount a bit but did not have much luck with the fish. I lost two small bass in the few hours I was on the water.
A guy on a bike told us he saw two guys take four spotted bass over four pounds that morning but I don't know how much I believe his story. No one else we ran into were catching anything, but it was a beautiful day.
Caleb managed one decent fish on a black jig. It was tagged but we didn't have a tape measure to get any data about it. I saw a few more smaller bass in the shallows with tags in them as well. I'll have to look more into that.

Thanks for getting me out of the house Caleb.

And thank you for reading,

Dan

Friday, February 7, 2014

What's a Tumblr?

 
   


        Photos at times can say more than words. An interesting photo can share an experience, catch someone's interest, and even invoke deep emotion. Photos have the power to condense chapters into paragraphs, and say some things without words at all. Taking photos of nature is a hobby of mine that drew me into blogging. I started out on fishing forums and realized I could share a blog with more people than just the folks on the forum. The problem was I still had photos I couldn't find room for int he blog that I wanted to share. Some went to Facebook, but posting old photos seemed to it undermine what I was posting about my blog. The solution ended up being Tumblr.


            I want to get it out of the way and say I am not sponsored, paid, or otherwise associated with Tumblr in any way and am writing this to share a web site I use and enjoy. Tumblr is a micro blogging site where a user can subscribes to as many blogs as they wish.The posts show up in the user's feed. The Feed is infinite, meaning there is no page navigation, you can just scroll down for hours viewing, commenting, and even reblogging other user's posts. Some blogs focus on specific genres like vintage fishing pictures
http://oldfishingphotos.com/
Some blogs focus on ocean life.


Some bloggers you might already follow have blogs on Tumblr Like Arizona Wondering.  

http://azwanderings.tumblr.com/
     Chris of CB Fishes has two blogs

             Now just so you are not shocked Tumblr is on the internet and there is porn on the site, but that does not make it a porn site. I personally choose to not follow blogs that post porn because there is enough of that on the internet as it is. Tumblr has very little regulation (unlike other popular social media sites) and only chooses to regulate cyber bullying. The fact is for that little bad there is on the site there is a lot of good. 

            As a blogger I like sharing my photos with people who want to see original outdoor photos. I also like the chance to spread the word about my blog, and stumble upon other blogs that interest me. If any of this interests you get signed up for a free account, check out my tumblr blog and the others I mentioned and see how you like it. Even if you don't want to sign up you can still look at the blog pages and check them out, so there is nothing to loose. If you have a Tumblr leave the address in the comments so I can check it out. 

Thanks for reading,

Dan

http://theimpracticalfisherman.tumblr.com/

Monday, February 3, 2014

Guest Post: Brookfield Angler Fly Fishing From A Kayak

Nick Doumel "The Brookfield AnglerFly Fishing From A Kayak - The Greatest Inefficiency

What do you get when you combine a kayak and a fly rod? If you guessed an exercise in combined inefficiency, then you guessed right but I’ll be damned if it isn't an awesome one!!

Now, arguments could definitely be made that fly fishing is incredibly efficient in some scenarios and that a kayak is more efficient than a boat for some reason or another but overall, neither one are generally considered the best tool for the job. Let’s face it, tossing some bait on a spinning rod is not only easier than casting a fly rod, but it also catches fish! Likewise, kayaks will definitely get you from one point to another, but a boat sure does it a lot faster. Plus your arms won't be exhausted when you finally get there. However, just because something is easier doesn't mean it's more fun. As a matter of fact, most of my life has been spent taking the harder of two roads and, truth be told, I've loved every moment of it. Perhaps that tendency to take the hard road is why I enjoy kayak fly fishing so much.
Most of the time, I can be found floating down some small river or creek here in the Midwest. Chance are that I will be throwing a clouser minnow or deer-hair popper to one of my favorite freshwater fish, the smallmouth bass.  Something about floating down a river just as the sun is peeking its way above the horizon on a warm summer morning is next to impossible to beat....or so I thought.

A lot of you California coast fisherman might not understand this next part but here in the Midwest, we fisherman tend to get this feeling towards the end of winter. There are a million different names for it but no matter what you call it, it’s always the same. A feeling of anxiety, being trapped, and a longing to feel some warm sun on your face as you double haul a fly in hopes of feeding the drug known as the tug. You've been cooped up for most of the winter and have probably resorted to things like deer hunting or this weird thing they call “ice fishing” just to keep from going crazy. Still, to no avail, you still have the “itch”.
This is what I was dealing with when I left for Florida
Normally, I don’t get the “itch” until the end of February or early March but this year it hit me hard and early! Winter set its sights on us early this year and by early December I was starting to feel a bit claustrophobic. I wanted nothing more than to be in my kayak with a fly rod in my hand as I floated down a river. Since most of the rivers were frozen and the air temps were a mere fifteen degrees below zero (yes that actually happens), that desire had to be itched some other way. That "other way" came in the form of a strange and mystical place called Florida.

It was the morning after Christmas when I, and good friend Teddy from Lucid Fishing, loaded up our kayaks in the back of my truck and started the drive down to the Sunshine State - Sanibel Island to be exact.  The drive was long but the moment I smelled that amazingly refreshing ocean air, I knew it was worth it.

We did some fishing along the beaches for snook with some mild success on the first day and even paddled along some little channels before grabbing a much needed dinner and a good night’s sleep.  As we got going the next morning, I was beyond excited. I have read about this sort of thing in magazines and watched it on TV but never had I the opportunity to do it before. As we arrived to a place called Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge, I knew that I had just ruined fishing back at home. We hadn't even launched the yaks yet and I was on cloud nine. I could not get on the water fast enough and once I pushed off the bank, it was pure serenity. Mangroves lined every bank you could see. Various channels led to various openings and bays. Somewhere in the distance, I could hear the sound of the open ocean crashing into the mangrove shores so I followed my ears. As I exited the mouth of a narrow channel, I knew that I had gone to the right spot! At least four flats boats were back here doing exactly what I wanted to do with my kayak. I quickly paddled to the main inlet, put the paddle down, stood up and started casting. It wasn't long before I hooked up with a little mangrove snapper. It’s amazing how hard these fish hit a fly! If I didn't know better, I would have thought that a three pound smallie had just hit my fly but nope...it was a hand sized snapper. 

"Stalking some snook"
 
Despite being protected by all of these mangroves, the wind was still able to push me along the bank quite well. I used that to my advantage by basically setting up a drift and just going where the wind pushed me. Every five minutes, or so, I’d have to reach down for the paddle and reposition myself a bit in order to keep myself from getting too close to the shore, but aside from that, the wind was my trolling motor. Every few casts would result in at least a strike and not knowing what species was at the end of the line was extremely exciting. Snapper, pompano, and snook were the most plentiful but who knows what I missed! Unfortunately, with exception of one heart breaker, I just didn't hook up with anything big so I decided to paddle through the final channel that connected to Gulf of Mexico.

I swear to Gumbi….as I exited this channel, I was in heaven. I quickly jumped up for a better view into the water and for as far as I could see, various weed patches dotted flats that were no more than waist deep.  I also realized that the winds were quite a bit stronger out here and the waves were rather big when compared to the calm protected bays that I had just exited. Still, I found myself just standing and casting as I blew over various weed patches. The kayak was steady as could be and never felt unstable. A variety of fish made their way to the end of my line including a puffer fish which was pretty neat. Still, nothing big, had been landed. In all honesty though, at this point, I just didn't care. I knew before this trip even began that this was far from the prime fishing season down there and we didn't want to hire a guide. With exception of fuel for the truck and some food, this trip was costing us nothing. 

This, to me at least, is what kayak fly fishing is all about. Would it have been more efficient and productive to hire a guide and throw a baited hook from one of those flats fishing boats that were out there? Absolutely! I can pretty much guarantee that we would have caught some really nice fish that way. However, as I stood on a kayak that’s only around twelve feet long and about two and a half feet wide in this enormous body of water called the Gulf of Mexico, I really didn't care about efficiency. What I felt instead was much better than ultimate efficiency. I felt free. I felt vulnerable. I felt a sense of adventure that I never would have felt if I had chosen the efficient way.

"Found one!"
 
As the sun started to go down that day, Teddy and I had probably ended up about two miles from the entrance of the mangrove backwaters that ultimately lead us back to the truck. We were now sitting in water that was about ten to fifteen deep and could no longer see the ocean floor. Our kayaks were about fifty yards from one another when an amazing reminder of how small and vulnerable we really were came to the surface not more than twenty feet from my tiny and inefficient kayak. As a massive grey body with blunt head full of teeth took a bite of something right near the surface, I knew that my exercise in inefficiency was worth the effort. It was in that moment of culmination that I knew floating down a river in the Midwest on a summer morning would never be the same. I also knew that taking the inefficient route proved to be the right one for me.  

~ Nick Doumel
BrookFieldAngler.com


Thursday, January 30, 2014

Fish Kill on the Kings


We are finally getting a sprinkling of rain but the effects of the drought are still noticeable. Carp are one of the first fish to die off with low oxygen. Hopefully we get some flow before the bass are affected. 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Surf Fishing San Simeon


          My mother in law is in town and my wife wanted to show her the coast. My wife figured I'd be happy fishing leaving her and her mother to wonder beaches and coastal gift shops. The tide was low which is bad for surf fishing but it was not about catching. It was about enjoying the beach and relaxing. Lucky for me my friend Willy was able to drive out and join me on the water. 
Before Willy got there I found my first ever sand dollar. I was surprised it was there because it wasn't hidden or anything and about ten people walked right past it beach combing.
We were using Gulp sand worms with an ounce of weight. It was hard getting the bait past the breakers with the low tide. We got sick of fighting the surf and headed to the pier for some more comfort.  I ended the day with a break off. Willy ended up with two barred surf perch. Hopefully the next time I am able to get out the tide cooperates.
Not the best day on the water ever, but it was a welcome break from the normal routine. The best part of the day was I got to fish with my friend and catch up on what is going on.

Thanks for reading,

Dan

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Kings River Report January 2014

                 I hadn't driven down near the weir I used to fish in almost a year. I knew the water on the Kings river was low but I figured there would be a pool towards the end of the stretch that runs through Lemoore. Driving down the dirt road to along the river it became apparent it was not going to be a good trip. I was told the fish would be concentrated, but it was not so. The water was clear and about a foot deep. The mud bottom was visible and there were no fish to be found, not even a dead carp. The birds must have had their fill.  
South Branch Kings River January 2014
To give you an idea of how bad things are this next photo was taken February two years ago about twenty yards down river and twenty feet closer to the bank.
Kings River February 2012
Even the mistletoe in the trees is dead, none of the plants are active. This is a part of the country where it is greener in the winter then in the summer.
The weir back when there was water
The structure I was stepping over to get ten yards closer to the shallow fish-less water held bass. It is hard to believe the fishery will bounce back any time in the next year even if we start to get snow in the mountains and rain in the foot hills.
At this point the wood slats are pointless
We Fished the water on the other side of the weir, but quit after an hour because we didn't get a nibble. The water was on lower than normal on the other side, but there was still some. So hopefully the fish were able to make it through.
Will this guy get to grow any bigger? 
The whole place seemed dead. The tules were brittle and breaking off and even the trees seemed to be suffering. I just hope the larger fish somehow found their way to safe water and did not end up on a plate or ripped apart by birds and other scavengers.
Six pound bass caught on the Kings River March 2012
But for now at least I can see the structure on the river bed...
Kings river bed

Thanks for reading, please pray fro rain.

Dan

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Slow Day on the Delta Near Stockton, California

              My father came all the way from Illinois where the snow was falling and the river behind the house was frozen. Needless to say he was eager to do some fishing. I called my buddy Ed of bigedfishing.com to see if he was up for taking us out to the Delta. A few days before we planned to head up we got word the bite was dead. All of the reports were bleak, but we were determined to make the most of it.  Some battery issues kept us off the water until around eleven. The current was fast and the bite was slow. The fish seemed to stick back in the tules (the reeds that make up most of the structure in the Delta) away from the pull of the tide. The bite was so light it was hard to tell you had one until it was half way to the boat.
I was glad I was able to get my dad out, I just wish the bite had been a little hotter. One thing that got me really excited is I got one on a new three inch dropshot bait I started pouring.
The weather was beautiful. the skies were clear and it was a fairly quiet day until this giant barge came steaming past us. I was so glad I was not in a kayak because it took most of what the trolling motor had to keep us from getting sucked into the ship.
Judging from the tules the water dropped almost a foot in the matter of a few minutes and came rushing back in. At least now I know if I see a ship that big near me while I am in my kayak I am going to make for land and beach myself because it doesn't look worth fighting. 
Ed had some luck with a purple Pro Worm dropshot bait and a small green swimbait. My last fish of the day came on a sexy shad colored crank bait near some boat docks as we were putting in. We ran into some striper fishermen who only caught one keeper and two shorts in the same time we were out. It was a tough day on the Delta for sure. 
For me the highlights were being able to fish with my dad and catching a fish on a lure I poured. It just does not get old. It was worth the six hours of driving to get there and back as well as the flack from my wife about being out all day.

Dad thanks for making this possible, and Ed  thanks for taking us out.

Dan