Sunday, March 19, 2017

Catches & Catch-Up

There's no denying it. I've been woeful with this blog. The gap since the last post is the longest since I began the Jeff Samsel Fishing blog. I won't make excuses. I'll just move on. I also won't make any big promises, except that I'll try to do a better job of keeping things fresh.

That stuff acknowledged, I've gotten to do some good fishing since the last post. Not much local stuff, but trips to Texas, Florida and Alabama. The Florida trip in particular put a charge in the new year's species count because we did both freshwater and saltwater stuff and because a couple of the days produced a good mix of panfish species. The species tally through mid-March is at 21.

My most surprising catch of 2017 is pictured above. While fishing in Florida's Santa Fe River, I caught a mullet on a Rebel Crawfish, and the fish was hooked inside the mouth. Despite having grown up in Florida and having spent a lot of time around coastal waters over the years, I'd never before seen a mullet caught on an artificial lure, so when I realized what I had, I was pretty surprised.

My favorite fish this year has to go to big speckled trout I'll caught from a kayak in Texas. It took a YUM Swurm fished on a Bomber Shad-Head Jig-Head.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Bass Tours Back

Although my current writing priorities don't include much coverage of tour-level professional bass fishing, I'm still a fan of the sport and miss it during the offseason. Adding to that, I have quite a few friends who fish the Bassmaster Elite Series or FLW Tour, and I enjoy tracking their travels and following their seasons.

FLW got things started last week on Lake Guntersville, and the Elites are currently practicing on Tennessee's Cherokee Lake. The competition starts tomorrow. Both tours had unusual season openers simply based on the fact that they did not start in Florida. It's also a bit of a departure from the norm for the Elites to begin before the Bassmaster Classic.

Cherokee in February could have been brutal, weather wise, but it doesn't appear that will be the case. Tomorrow is supposed to be cold, with a fairly strong northwest wind that will make it feel even colder, but highs are supposed to hit the 60s on Saturday and Sunday. It also has been mild enough overall that it shouldn't be a total winter event, pattern wise. Word has it the bite has been tough, but the pros often say that, and someone (sometimes, a bunch of someones) almost invariably figures out something really good.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

To TJ, with Love


TJ - I wish I'd told you how much I appreciate you last week. But I didn't. And now I can't. At least not now. Not here, in person.

I also wish I could write something beautiful and inspiring and a fitting tribute to the friend you always were to me and to Nathaniel and to so many others. Words won't do that job, though. Plus, it's hard to write with a lovely flow when your mind and emotions are going in so many direction.

Pictures from trips together and memories from those trips make me laugh and cry at the same time. I'll always laugh about banana pudding milkshakes, an odd cackle from behind us at the Nantahala Outdoor Center, your ever-reliable way of bringing out a smile in photos, and so many other things. But it's still hard for me to grasp that we'll never again stand side by side on riverbank admiring a mountain landscape God crafted, have dinner together at a writer's event, or even just stand together trading stories.

I know you're where there's no sickness or sadness, and that thrills me, but I'll miss you so, and it saddens me to think about Kathy and Ron and other friends and coworkers who are used to having you in their lives on a daily basis.

You always took time to say thank you, asked how you could help me, showed genuine concern for me and my family, made me smile (made everyone smile), represented your company exceptionally well... The list could go on and on.

I guess what I'm trying to say -- and what I wish I'd said before -- is that I'm very thankful for your friendship and that I love you.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Fishing in Paris

My daughter and I are traveling to Paris in a couple of months (late March), and if it's a viable option, we hope to try a bit of "street fishing" in the city. Reports I've read so far are mixed. While there does seem to be some opportunity right in the middle of the city and for a good variety of species, I haven't found anything specific to likely river conditions that early in the year or about the best approaches.

Fishing sounds fun to us, but it's far from our main priority. We are going to see the city. For the sake of packing space, it would have to be fishing we could do with a couple of small pack rods and a fairly small box of lures. Also, we'd consider a day trip to an outlying area if there were practical transportation options, especially if it was another area we wanted to see anyway. However, the biggest interest would be trying to catch a fish or two from the Seine River or canals that run right through Paris.

If anyone who reads this has suggestions about locations, approaches or resources for learning more, I'd love to hear from you. If we do end up fishing, you can count on a Paris fishing report!

Sunday, January 29, 2017

'Gill Needed

Two species on the catch list two days from the end of January is just plain pitiful and means that I haven't been fishing nearly enough. I enjoyed great trout fishing at the White River a couple of weeks back and caught a bunch of rainbows and browns, and I'm thank for that trip. That's it, though. No ice adventures or trips to the coast, both of which are types of outings that commonly get the fishing year off to a quick start.

Beyond the bigger trips, though, I haven't even done any afternoon pond fishing this month and therefore don't even have a largemouth bass or a bluegill on my list. That's the part that must be fixed soon. I need to grab one or more of the little people who live in this house and head for a local pond so we can at least catch a few bluegills.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Big Brown Kind of Day

We couldn't have scripted it better for what we wanted to do. Late winter is prime time for big browns on Arkansas' White River, and we had heavy cloud cover and plenty of current, with four of eight turbines in Bull Shoals Dam turning. We wanted to throw Rogues and had an excellent jerkbait flow. We also were fishing with Cranor's Guide Service, which specializes in targeting big trout on the White and Norfork rivers.

Jumping straight to the outcome, nothing about the day disappointed. Throwing nothing but Smithwick Rogues, we caught at least a dozen browns in the 16- to 24-inch range, plus two that would have stretched past the 25-inch mark on a measuring tape. The two biggest fish, which both came late in the day, probably weighed 5 and 6 pounds, and both were males with beautiful color and big crazy-looking hookjaws. We also caught a couple dozen stocker rainbows and smaller browns.

The top-producing color, without question, was Avocado Shad, which, as the name suggests, is sort of an avocado green on the back with opaque white sides. It looks an awful lot like a stocker rainbow in the rainbow, which certainly might help explain the appeal to the big brown trout.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Kenneth & Barbie

As I suspect is prone to happen occasionally in homes where children reside, someone at my house recently decided that a Barbie doll needed a haircut. Actually, I think it was a Barbie head that had lost it's body. Either way, the haircut resulted in a nice little cluster of straight, black synthetic hair strands, and it wasn't long before Barbie's clippings were in a little bag on my tying table.

I've played with a few designs with different lengths of Barbie's hair, buy my favorite so far combined it with a cluster of fur from our dog Kenneth, along it a few peacock quills and a bit of peacock dubbing. Barbie's hair, which I cut to a about twice the length of Kenneth's fur, is in the middle. Kenneth's contribution is frizzy, so it flares nicely around the straight tail. I haven't seen the Kenneth & Barbie bug in the water yet, but I like the way it looks in the vice.