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7
Jul

Fishy Dude/Dudet?


I just wrote this blog post for International Angler and I thought some of you who might not follow their blog might enjoy it as well…..  Stay Fishy My Friends!

http://blog.internationalangler.com/if-you-you-just-might-be-a-fishy-dudedudet/

Tight Lines and Loose Pants,

MBL

20
Jun

The Butt Muncher


Ok….. I suppose most flies are just variations of existing patterns.   Here is a pretty cool variation of John Montana’sHybrid” carp fly.   The differences are subtle to the point where I am not sure it deserves it’s own name but a cool tie never the less.

Tight Lines and Loose Pants,

MBL

19
Jun

Someone Put a Hex on my Skiff!


OK… with all of the weather challenges, newbie mistakes, budget constraints, etc…. One might read this and wonder if that is true.  But seriously….. no joke…. Literally…. Someone put a HEX on my boat!  Last night CW and I went out to the garage to start drilling holes in the transom and this is what I found hanging out in the flotation foam of the bow.

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Being that I live not a quarter mile from the banks of the Ohio River I suppose this is no grand shock but it still made me smile…. Even though it might technically be a Hex (assuming my absolutely crappy entomology skills identifying this bug correctly as a Hexagenia Limbata) I will instead consider it a good omen and a harbinger of things to come.

Now if only I can finish this boat before the first snow.   Ughhhh!

12
Jun

Microskiff Build Progress


IMG_1586So building a boat is not as hard as it looks….. However, building a boat is more time consuming that it looks!  I thought for sure I could get her done 3 weeks ago.   Ummmmm… NO.  I still have a good two weeks of solid work to go and that is being optimistic.  I have also spent about twice what I originally thought I would.  Some of this can be chalked up to total rookie status mistakes.  Some of it is allowing myself to stray from my budget for things that I really wanted (maybe not needed) to have in the boat.  The rest of it is truly a story of how a bunch of little things can add up to a lot.

So, do you have any regrets you ask?  Heck No!  I could not be any more pumped about how she is turning out.  My only real regret is waiting this long to do this.  The really fantastic part of the experience that CW and I have shared so far is truly crafting her to be exactly what we wanted her to be and nothing that we didn’t.  That is hard to get from a stock boat off the lot.  The pride of craftsmanship is much the same as catching a fish on a fly you tied or designed but in a much larger scale.  If you have ever thought about building a canoe, jon boat, drift boat, skiff, etc…. The only thing I can tell you is GO DO IT!

I will keep you all posted as things move along.  We will be flipping her this week so things should start to look pretty different.

Tight Lines and Loose Pants,

MBL

10
Jun

Mortality, Dad, and Bass Fishing


So the last couple weeks were a bit crazy.  My father was taken in for an unexpected triple bypass surgery.  There was no massive heart attack, no stroke, no drama.  Just the worry of watching your father face the fact that at 70 plus, certain parts need some repair work.  I am not a tremendous sky is falling worry kind of person by nature but I’d be a liar if the thoughts of my father laying there with his chest cut open as they used veins harvested from his leg to fix his heart didn’t scare me.

My brother and I both made arrangements to go down and stay with him for a few days to help out.  My dad called me a few days before my departure and tells me that he has arranged for his friend Barry to take me out Bass fishing for a few hours on Sunday morning.  At first I argued a bit but he was firm about having already arranged the plans.  Perhaps I could have argued harder but I could tell it made him as happy as it made me to be on the water.

I am sure it bothered him not to be able to be there…. truthfully it bothered me.  Fishing was the glue that held my father and I together through many years where we didn’t see eye to eye on much else.  As Barry and I walked the shoreline of multiple Boca Raton water hazards my mind wandered through many of the fishing adventures that my father and I had been on through the years.   Hail storms in the middle of Raystown Lake…. Busting bronze and pike in the Georgian Bay….. Watching my bobber disappear  as my dad helped me get the tiny hook out of the 100th bluegill we caught on Lake Arthur.

My trip down amnesia lane was rudely interrupted as my black wooly bugger came tight and the dance was on.  It was far from the largest bass we have ever pulled out of these waters but it put a smile on my face.  I am not much of a religious guy but I found myself giving a nod to the fish gods for the gift and a nod to the man upstairs for the gift of time with my dad.

Dad, get well… get strong…. and keep fishing.  You wouldn’t want your kid to show you up with a fly rod next time I am in Florida.

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Tight Lines and Loose Pants,

MBL

29
May

Presque Isle on the FLY!


CW and I just got back from our annual trip to Presque Isle Bay on Lake Erie.  To say the trip was anything short of epic was an understatement.  Despite cold water temps and a crowded lake, we managed to carve out a bunch of sweet fish, cool takes, and even scratched a few things off the bucket list!  I will do a full write up on the weekend shortly but here is a video with some of the highlights.

Tight Lines and Loose Pants,

MBL

30
Apr

So It’s Starting to Look Like a Skiff!


Well damn!  I must admit I had a few nervous moments as the pieces were being prepped and cut but if my eyes don’t deceive me this looks a bit like a boat.   OK, maybe I was only a little worried but it was super exciting seeing it start to take shape.  Yeah, I know the photography sucks on this but the only thing I had with me was my iPhone as my brother had borrowed my SLR for a conference he was attending so hopefully you get the idea.

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Big time thanks to my buddies Bob and Rich because this part is most definitely not a one person operation.  After running out of wire and having to strip out some scrap romex, we managed to get it basically stitched together.  Now that things are in one piece and my tiny garage space isn’t as much as an issue I am excited to see things start to accelerate quickly.

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It is pretty amazing how much the properties of the wood start to change once you have a few layers of glass and epoxy soaked in.  You can already feel it begin to take on the rigidity and durability that comes along with it.  The next step is to put spreaders into the hull and give her some shape.  Once that is set we can fillet the seams and go to town.  Keep your fingers crossed folks as this will be coming down to the wire for our trip out to Presque Isle this month.

Tight Lines and Loose Pants,

MBL

22
Apr

Fly in the Ointment…. Bee in the Epoxy


So the truth of the matter is that the early stages of boat building are not all that exciting to watch.  Pieces are cut, fiberglass is wet, sanding is…. well sanding.  Until the day comes when you start stitching things together and they actually look like a boat it is truly hard to show a ton of progress.

As would be par for the course this year, mother nature has made things a bit more difficult than I would like.  Skiff Central…. I mean my garage…. is not heated or air conditioned and in order for epoxy to cure correctly, temperatures need to be within a certain window.  Needless to say with our most recent snow in April fiasco they were not in said window.  This really slowed things down for a week so I am not trying to play catch up.

Last night I began glassing my last side panel and sandwiching together my transom.  I came out to look and there was the proverbial fly in the ointment… or in this case a bee in the epoxy.  Sadly for him he will meet an even worse face as he will soon be sanded into oblivion.  Goodbye cruel world.

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If all goes well, I should have things ready to stitch together this weekend!

Tight Lines and Loose Pants,

MBL

9
Apr

Wheels!


So when I started this project I purchased an old Evinrude and a trailer from my neighbor that had been rotting away in their back yard.  The trailer is for a small boat or PWC and has wheels just about the size of the ones on my kids Matchbox car.  I stopped in at a local boat yard and they had a set of used 12″ wheels in decent condition for $40…… SOLD!  One can of white spray paint later and we have new wheels!

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As this build moves along it is amazing the lessons that you learn… some cheap, some expensive.  For example, last night I learned that you can’t let epoxy cure when the temperature in your garage drops down to freezing over night….  Looks like I have some sanding work to do.

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Tonight we will be finishing the hull pieces and hopefully be starting to stitch by the weekend!

MBL

7
Apr

So You Want to Build a Skiff?


I have been told that I am just a hair on the crazy side on more than one occasion.  The tendency to take the path less traveled somehow seems to find me even when I am not actively searching for it.  So began this journey.   If you knew me as a kid, you would know that I grew up chucking plugs from an 18′ Lund V Hull that my fathers employees aptly named “The Master Baiter”.  (mom was so proud)  My father ended up selling the boat as I got older and have been a walk and wade fly fisher for over 20 years.  Deep down I have always missed having the boat and would often lament to my wife about the day that the kids grow up and I can buy my dream boat.

Long long long story short, I decided that that time was now.  No… the kids are not grown up.  No I don’t have the budget for the boat I had my eye on…. and I truly had no clue what I was going to do.  As luck would have it, my friend Dale Fogg is a pretty handy guy and makes beautiful hand crafted fly tying stations.  He turned me on to J and J Dream Boats (https://www.facebook.com/JJDreamBoatsImagineThat on FB) up in Union City, PA.  Jim and Joan are truly amazing folks and not only do they sell beautiful hand crafted drift boats, but they offer classes for the novice (like me) who would like to build their own.

Now, if you have read any of my previous posts you’d know that I had purchased a small hull with the notion of rehabbing it.  After some sense was talked into my head by Mark Sikora up at International Angler, I realized that the boat did not have enough displacement to carry the weight of what I wanted to do….  So at that fateful moment, a skiff was born!  I found a perfect set of plans for what I wanted to build on Bateau for a fair price but if you look hard enough, there are plenty of free plans available in books or on the web.

My journey started with a FaceBook message and then a phone conversation with Jim and Joan.  They were not only helpful and insightful, but they agreed to schedule a class to accommodate my crazy schedule.   In a full day, Jim walked me though each and every step with hands on experience and patient explanation.

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Not only did I walk away with knowledge, confidence, and excitement, but Jim fed me a lunch of some of the best deep fried blue gill fillets I have ever had!  According to Jim, Joan caught most of them and is deadly with light tackle.

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J and J have sold boats to all different kinds of folks, including some of the most well known guides in Pennsylvania.

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So building a 16′ boat is at times not a one man operation so I recruited my good buddy CW and my neighbor Rich to give me some much needed help.  (I pay in beer, but always really really good beer!)  So this week it began with the goal to have the boat in the water for our late May pilgrimage to Presque Isle Bay.

 

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Yes… I know, I know… It doesn’t look like a boat yet.  The early stages are a ton of prep and joining of boards.  Stay tuned for more to come as things take shape.  We are still searching for a fishy name so if any of you have some cool ideas, let us know!

Tight Lines and Loose Pants,

MBL

 

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