Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Hobies on the Niagara

Morgan Promnitz of Hobie Cat
I've wanted to try out Hobie Cat's line of fisherman friendly kayaks for ages.  My devastating knee injury prevented me from getting into one last September at the AGLOW Fall conference but when the opportunity arose again this spring, I made sure that I got my chance to try one out. 
Niagara USA along with Hobie Cat's own Morgan Promnitz and Ingrid Niehaus gave the membership of AGLOW the opportunity to try out this unique equipment on the Niagara River.  

I spent the morning fishing Ontario for salmon.  We were chased from the lake by an incoming storm so I had my doubts as to whether or not I would get my opportunity to try out the Hobie equipment.
The afternoon was breezy and there was a healthy chop on the waters of the Niagara River.  It would be a bit of a challenge to maneuver the small craft along the shore line and be able to cast.  It started rocky for me.  The wind wanted to push us into the shoreline and I was not comfortable with the small craft.  

Maneuvering out of the dock and away from larger craft had me flustered.  What was I thinking?  Ingrid encouraged me to pedal faster into the calmer waters along the shore line away from the bustle of the dock.  I over corrected the steering and managed to run into the dock but no worries I was easily back into the path along the shore line.  
My maiden voyage in a Hobie
Getting into the rhythm of steering with one hand and pedaling was the key to becoming comfortable, I'm a Mom so I'm a natural multitasker. It's seat and peddles are adjustable, which meant that my 5'4" frame was comfortable and Mark's 6'5" frame was comfortable in the same boat.

As our small group put the docks behind us we all tested out maneuvering the boats.  The small size of the boats did not compromise the stability, which surprised me.  Never once on the river did I feel like I was going to tip over, which I thought would be the case, I liked being wrong.  I even felt stable in the wake of much larger craft.  I have spent many hours river fishing and the constant current can pose issues even in a motor powered boat, however, the Hobie allowed me to hug the shoreline and soon I became comfortable enough to cast into the fertile waters under structure. 

No motor also provided the advantage of stealth.  I wasn't disturbing the fish that were congregating in the shallows, bonus!  I could see the applications unfolding in my fertile fishing fantasies.  I thought about running into the reeds after big large mouth Bass back home or chasing after those big pike as they feed in the shallows.  Yes, this was definitely something that I would be adventuring out in the future.

While compact and lightweight it was big on storage.  Rod compartments and additional storage within easy reach meant that I could stay out fishing all day. Peddling back wasn't as much fun as peddling out, I was tired. Getting the Hobie out of the water was easy though.  The peddles lift out and the rudder retracts with just one lever.  It was lightweight so even I could take care of my own gear.  In the near future I see a ladies fishing weekend with Hobies, take note ladies!  Then I plan to head to the northern lakes of Minnesota to test out the stealth of the Hobie on those northern Pike, oh yes Hobie I have big plans for you!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Over the Falls

I had several preconceived notions in regard to New York.  I had never been to New York, I had heard many excellent fishing reports from other anglers, but I was hesitant.  I thought urban sprawl, I was more than thrilled to find out I was completely wrong.

We coordinated our visit with the folks at Niagara USA and they pointed us in the right direction for fishing all of the waters accessible from Lewiston, New York.  Literally right out of the doors of our hotel, The Barton Hill Hotel and Spa, was the Lewiston landing boat launch.  Add to that the convenience of trailer parking for boats and it was the best combination of luxury and accessibility.

I sampled the bounties of the area, fishing Lake Erie for smallies on a bright and sunny morning.  Going out with  Darrin Schwenkbeck of Shipwreck Schwenk's Angling Adventures, we worked the break wall and shoreline for smallies.
Darrin Schwenkbeck holding a smallie with Buffalo, NY in the background

I knew I was in good hands if I wanted to catch fish.  Darrin has won a Bassmasters Northern Tour event and has finished in the money in several Elite Series tournaments, he knows how to catch fish.
Better yet, Darrin is a runner (like myself) and a guide not only on the lakes around Niagara but also on the legendary Lake Champlain-the other Great Lake situated in the Adirondack mountains.   It's great to have a guide that knows where the fish are, it's even better to have a guide that is well rounded and interesting between the bites.

We didn't have much down time between the bites, Darrin kept me on the fish.  We fished with both a jerk bait technique, which is one of Darrin's secret weapons, and a tube bait set up.  Casting and catching and talking about marathons made for a one of the most enjoyable mornings on the water I've ever had.
Cross training for fishing and hunting makes the difference in the ability to endure adverse conditions and less than ideal situations yet still harvest animals and catch fish when others fatigue and have to go in.
The more hours that are logged in the field, the greater the chance of success is, it's simple.  It was great to find another angler that shared the love of endurance sports and translated those skills into angling.
Fishing the edges produced 3+ pound smallmouth

The icing on the cake was to find out that we caught more fish than most others fishing that day.  The crystal clear waters of Lake Erie made for some exciting visuals of the smallies as they took the bait and we were able to land them.  New York is a surprise.  Crystal clear waters abundant in a variety of fish species, friendly and knowledgeable people, and a short drive from many Midwestern cities. New York is many things, chief among them-it is now my "go to", destination for fishing in the Great Lakes.

Monday, May 7, 2012

1st Annual Curves in Camo Ladies Weekend

Boy-I needed that!  Most weekends are welcome but last weekend was a whole lot more than just welcome.  During the long trade show season I arranged for the ladies from Hercamoshop.com -Sarah, Shelly and Stacy- to come up to our farm to hunt long beards.
I thought it would be a fun weekend especially getting to hunt with other women. I took my turkey the day before the group was to arrive so my mission was to see some other ladies harvest birds.  Though all three are skilled hunters none of them had harvested a turkey before.
Turkey hunting can be tedious and tricky.  Most of our set ups are on the ground with out a blind,  which means that movements have to be kept to a minimum and camouflage is head to toe.  That was no problem for us, we looked like walking ads for Hercamoshop.com / Prois.
Stacy from Hercamoshop.com with her jake

Stacy was the first to strike feathered gold with a nice jake Saturday morning.  As a bonus to her hunt Sarah and I got some footage in the same field of a big boss Tom mating a hen, it was like National Geographic!!
The afternoon hunt produced a bird for Sarah.  I took Sarah out to a farm that had yet to produce a turkey harvest this season.  I was sure we would get birds in as the day waned.  Sure enough, three jakes came in to our Zink Avian X decoy affectionately named 'Rosie'.  We got two of the jakes mounting Rosie on film and Sarah took out the biggest of the decoy assaulters.
All four ladies with Sarah's jake. 
The best part was the stories that night around the fire under the super moon.  We laughed and talked and relaxed, which in the busy world we all live in is a rarity.  We had some deep fried wild turkey and alligator to go with our hunting stories.  The whole weekend was more relaxing than a week at a spa.  I can't wait to host another.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Turkey Tracks Wrap up

Turkey Tracks 2012 was a huge success.  31 hunters took to the field this year and 21 birds were harvested through the weekend.  Saturday evening at the Landowner's appreciation dinner, emotions were high.  16 birds had been harvested by dinner time with one double beard making his grand appearance just after dinner.  

Two Turkeys down for Turkey Tracks Hunter
 Jerry and his Guide Mark
This was the first Turkey Tracks event since Eric Corey passed away and his absence was felt by all.  I don't think we all realized the magnitude of Eric's foresight when he first came up with the Turkey Tracks concept.  It was an incredible tribute to see all the hunters enjoying themselves and the joy that those that guided them also felt.
Carol Corey, Eric's Mom had some awesome surprises for some of the younger hunters, Erin Martin was selected to go on another hunt to Texas.  Also a hunting organization out of Michigan gave hunts to those of the hunters under 21 that met their organizations guidelines.  So many of the young hunters came for one hunt and left having the opportunity to take part in another.
I personally loved hearing our hunter, Jerry's story of taking his Tom.  He passed up a couple of jakes early.  I wondered if a Tom would present an opportunity for him. It had been a difficult turkey season so far and opportunities were slim.   Not only did Jerry take a Tom he was so excited he passed his gun to Mark and told him to take the other Tom, since he knew Mark hadn't had an opportunity to take a Indiana bird yet.
What a great double to capture on film.  It was Jerry's first Tom, and I hope not his last.  Providing land and guiding hunters through Turkey Tracks, is an incredible experience.  Seeing the joy and camaraderie shared though the weekend, just cemented the certainty that programs like this are needed through out the outdoor community.