Monday, November 23, 2015

Haley's letter

On Thanksgiving morning I'll take my daughter to catch a flight to Big Sky ski resort in Montana. She's accepted a job that will last until April...

Leaving home and everything that is comfortable is hard, it'll be the hardest thing youll probably ever do. You won't have me to point out the briar patches or the thick mud like I did on our fishing and camping adventures. This is all you and I'm confident that you'll be fine. This may a bit cliché but its in your can groom this urge for further adventure or put it on a shelf.

Fear will tell you to quit. Don't listen. Be hard headed and prove to yourself just how tough you are.

You are going to change but it will be good change...some people call it a soul search...this is a time that you realize just how strong you are, when you understand things that you've been clueless about in the past. You'll realize how smart you are and just how ignorant you've been. It's OK, learn from it...this will only make a better "you".

You'll realize that what scared you in the past was silly and that the real fear is not have a ticket to live large, to see beauty that others only see in books. Take it all in and thank god for the opportunity and courage to go on this adventure.

This is the time in your life that you go with the flow... you'll see that Rome awesome as it is has its faults...Have an open mind and embrace what every single person you meet brings into your life, whether it's positive or negative, tuck those observations back in your mind because 20 years from now what information you gathered will be nuggets of wisdom. It will make life much easier down the road.

Never turn down a chance to see the country side...especially with a local. It could be a river, a ski run or a restaurant. Go check it out. They don't call it Big Sky country for nothing.

Don't worry about home...I've got this. It'll be here when you return.

If you need anything... Call me. I have been exactly where your mind is right now. I've felt the same fears and anxiety that you'll feel. I've also skied down an 10,000 foot mountain, dove in to local culture and had the time of my life. It changed me too...

So, these tears that you may see flowing down my face on Thursday may alarm you...don't let them. Not one of them will be sad tears...they're simply tears of pride and happiness. You see, I see some of me in you. I want you, my daughter, my teammate to live life like its an ongoing adventure.

Make friends...

Work hard...

Play harder...

This is all you...kick some ass.
I love you

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

"My First Ultimate Adventure "

    My friend Bill Clifton's mom, very bluntly said, "you're 19, school or the service."

Those words hit home...not what I wanted to hear but definitely something I needed.
I had never folded, ironed or washed clothes, hell, I'd only shaved a couple of times but I went to see the recruiter and I chose the United States Air Force Security Police.

On 28 November 1988 I flew to San Antonio Tx for basic training...I was green, scared and the prototypical Mamma's boy. After 14 weeks in San Antonio and  4 weeks of training at Fort Dix NJ I emerged a changed man and could iron the hell out of some clothes and could put a sweet shine on a pair of jungle boots.

My first duty station was Carswell AFB (aka...CarsHELL) in Fort Worth Tx. The duty was less than desired but I have some great memories and made some great friends...Joeseph G. Schmauss III, Ali Turon, Andreas Liss, Bob DeLeon were some of the best people I'd ever met.

Word got around our dormitory that a pile of orders were at headquarters and they thought I was going to Turkey...oh hell naw! I had requested Germany, Guam, the Azore's, Italy and Japan...something had to be wrong but then again I hadn't requested Fort Worth Texas in the previous "dream sheet" either.

When I arrived at headquarters I found that I indeed had orders but to my surprise, they were orders to an fairly unknown base in Germany....Buchel Air Base.

 Buchel was actually a German Base known as Fliegerhorst Buchel with a small US detachment of about 100 Americans. It was on top of a mountain surrounded by agriculture fields, farms and small villages. In the valley below was the Mosel River and wine country. It was some of the most beautiful country I'd ever seen with it's castles, vineyards and cobblestone streets.

I left a sunny 70 degree Atlanta day knowing  that this leg of my military service was the adventure that I had sought. I landed 12 hours later in a rainy cold Frankfurt Germany and was met at by fellow airmen Dave Torok and Mike Fluck at my gate. I remember thinking on the ride to Buchel, "Hoss, I'm a long long way from home." While that was true, everybody else was a long way from home too.  I made friends with David Towler, Dan Smith,  Eric Nollman, Don "Ski" Swiatkowski, Paul Flaherty, Dave Mapus, Jeff Richardson, Bill Haldeman, Wolf Shiedel, John Cunningham, Cephus Sturdivant and Greg Murphy (RIP)...we were all in the same boat. We partied hard, worked hard and played hard. We won best USAF small unit and in our off time went to numerous wine fests and skied in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

While I'm much different now than I was then, those 4 short years were the single most educational, mind opening piece of my life. It was a pleasure to serve and a blessing to have served with the quality of men that I did.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

"We All Need a Playground "

Every kid needs a playground...playgrounds come in different flavors. You've got your usual ones with it's swing sets and slides, others have baseball fields and basketball courts and some are simply just a patch of woods.

As a kid I was bored on a traditional playground and the only thing interesting was when I'd take the flexible rubber seat of the swing and wrap it around my head, lean back until the chains were taught and press the seat tightly to my ears. When I did that it made almost the same sound as the scuba gear that Jacques Cousteau used in his underwater shows. I would listen to that sound and imagine I was one of the crew of the Calypso swimming alongside Cousteau looking for lost treasure or studying a distant coral reef. I'm sure if an adult would've noticed they'd wondered what the heck I was doing but a bored kid with a vivid imagination can have fun anywhere. Also, if you don't believe me about that sound give it a try next time you're at a playground... Just be sure to wipe it down with that antibacterial stuff because obviously there are some nasty germs floating around now that weren't here in the 70's.

Sports, I didn't like playing sports all that much...I hated losing (still do), I'm not a great team player and I was a chubby kid so the playground with the basketball courts weren't my idea of a barrel of fun. I did play a few seasons of football and in a youth church basketball league where I got ejected a couple of times for "profanity", it just wasn't my game.

The playground I enjoyed was a swamp located across the road from my house that we called " the ponds" and the entire length of Silver Creek. I could explore, build traps, hunt, fish and put my imagination to work. I noticed what birds were in and out of the area with the seasons, I'd then look them up in my Audubon bird book, a favorite was the Cedar Waxwing. I noticed how the fish I caught out of the tanic water at "the ponds" were almost black and differed from the brightly colored fish I caught in Silver creek. I noticed, observed and actually went home or to the library at school to research what I'd seen.

(*note*I do realize you can't hunt or trap on city property*)

Now days a kid doesn't have wild places to roam, everything is private and unless the kid is privileged enough to have parents or family members that own property then they're out of luck. I have no idea what I would've done if I didn't have land to roam on but I am thankful that I did. I didn't turn out perfect, I've had low points just like others but I do like who I am. I still have that same imagination and spirit that those woods I roamed help propagate.

That is why Burwell Creek Wetlands is so important to our community. In my opinion, if one kid gets a spark of imagination from seeing seasonal birds, frogs, odd plants or neat animals then it is worth saving. The truth's not gonna be one kid but many kids and adults that will benefit from this place being kept a park area. Can you imagine walking a board walk over a working beaver swamp, seeing great blue herons and their little cousins the green heron stalking minnows, wood ducks, mallards, maybe even a mink; if you are quiet, you may see a whitetail doe and her fawn ease out of the privet and cross the trail front of you...this isn't my overactive imagination at work, this is one hundred percent possible.

This place is owned by the taxpayers and citizens of Rome, it's sitting there right across the street from Starbucks for heaven's sake. It's ours and ALL of the incumbent Commisioners on the ballot don't give a rip, literally. All that has to happen for this to be reality is ...

if you are a Rome city resident

1. Vote the incumbents out, to do this only cast your votes for the newcomers. *All three of the newcomers are for nixing the sale of Burwell Creek Wetlands to Ledbetter Properties and keeping it as public green space. That's it!

2. Spread the word that this is an important city election...a lot of citizens aren't interested in a boardwalk over a swamp, others aren't gonna go walk on our public trail system BUT I guarantee you that most city residents could care less about a "luxury" apartment complex or another cookie cutter "strip" mall. This may seem like small beans but it's actually huge in the sense of keeping Rome on its progressive path to a more beautiful and family friendly city for future generations.

3. If you are not a resident but like our neat little town, come to the First Friday concerts, chili cook off, walk our trails, fish our rivers, simply love nature and I might add because of it's relevance in this situation... Dislike "the man".  Please, share anything you see about saving Burwell Creek Wetlands. Talk to your city resident friends about this situation, be vocal and help us to defeat this ill conceived plan. Help us to do the right thing.

Sometime this month, when you pull out of the drive thru at Starbucks with your delicious lattè or venti dark roast with 12 cubes of ice (my drink). Pull over at the " lane to nowhere" on the right side of Riverside Parkway at the bridge over that little Creek, yes, that's Burwell Creek, step up on the sidewalk and find you a clear view down into that beautiful beaver swamp. Try to conjure up that imagination from your childhood and envision the trails, a boardwalk leading to an outdoor classroom sitting on stilts. I bet you would've loved a field trip to a place like that when you were in the fourth grade...lets make it happen, we've only got a few weeks!

                                                  Peace, Jim Ware

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Blitzkrieg on the Flats

pr. bliss-kreeg
German for "lightning war"

I recently spent a week alone on the gulf coast of Florida. My reason for being there was an inshore fishing tournament that I didn't do so well in but the pre-fishing days leading up to it was full of many awesomely unique experiences. I saw manatee, eagles, sharks and...tarpon.

Tarpon were not a target species in the tournament so I really wasn't geared up to tackle the "Silver King" of the flats but when you're fishing and you see one of these bruisers surface, well, you're gonna try and catch it.

This particular day, I had launched my kayak before daylight, paddled a mile down the shore then a mile out in the bay...twice, fishing the whole time with very little luck. On my paddle back through the mangroves that evening some ibis' had flown in to roost ,so I eased over, admired them and took some pictures then continued my paddle in. As I entered a small bay like area I noticed some surface activity, it looked to be a small snook feeding on finger mullet then I saw it...the back of a fish breached the water. At first I didn't know what it was but another one breached showing the unmistakable dorsal fin of a tarpon.

The peaceful float back to camp just got put on hold. You see, I've grown up reading about or watching folks like Lefty Kreh, Stu Apte, Flip Pallot and later José Wejebè chase these fish on TV and in magazines. It would be an understatement to say that catching one would be anything less than a dream come true and here was my chance. I knew immediately that I was severely under gunned with my inshore rigs spooled with 15 pound test but I wasn't going to pass up this opportunity.

First, I tossed a jig, then a jerk bait with no takers. I then grabbed my rod that had a mirro-lure walk the dog type topwater plug on it and made a long cast. Walk the dog refers to the action the lure makes when you twitch the bait while reeling. When done properly the lure will dart from side to side mimicking a wounded baitfish. I want to add that I've caught bass and striped bass on topwater lures before and they both possess the ability to create an impressive strike but what I was about to experience makes those strikes look like pure amateur stuff...after 6 or 8 twitches I was about to be baptized into big boy fishing. The hit was so violent that it startled me. I set the hook and the lure came wizzing by my head. The fish disappeared for a few minutes then I saw one breach again...same as before...long cast, twitch twitch twitch and wrooosh!!!! The fish rolled on my bait without a hook up. 3's a charm right? When I saw another breach, I made the cast and started my retrieve...twitch, twitch, twitch. This time the fish came from several yards behind my lure. I watched it's wake  and anticipated the strike...WROOOSH!!! This strike had all of the anger, attitude and precision of a blitzkrieg. I set the hook and I had him. It probably lasted only a few seconds but the fish stripped line like my reel was on free spool then it did what tarpon are so famous jumped, twice! It looked to be in the 20-30 lb range and eventually threw the hook, this creek chub fisherman from the hills of North Georgia raised his first tarpon all by himself while in a kayak. It was the most intense bit of raw nature I'd ever witnessed on the other end of my line. It made up for my poor showing in that Sunday's tournament and while I may not enter another saltwater tourney, I will most definitely go back to E.G. Simmon's park with a plan...not to raise a "Silver King" but to get my hands on one. Peace

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

"Enter Sandman"

I'm a forty six year old man, I'm supposed to be past the age of excitement, I'm definitely past my prime and with one foot in the grave but there are a few things get me fired up...Georgia Tech Football, my annual backpacking bow hunt to Swallow Creek WMA and kayak fishing. The latter, Kayak Fishing really stokes that fire. I love the quietness of paddling, the skill test of catching finicky fish, the challenge of battling  behemoth saltwater fish and fishing tournaments...I really love the competition of a fishing tournament.

There are a few things I'm above average at...being a father and a husband but they don't have competitions for that but I am also a decent fisherman and fortunately there are fishing tournaments.

Fishing tournaments are a non-contact sport and at the captains meetings or at weigh in we are a brotherhood but that time on the water in between is when the competitor is uncaged. Most contestants have prepared religiously... Map study, countless hours reading about the water to be fished, fish patterns, we then pre-fish the area which is no less than a scrimmage. We time to the ramp, ramp to the weigh in, ramp to point A, A to B etc... It's not just about catching fish, you have to be efficient, you have to take the wind and weather into count...its as much about strategy as it is about the actual fish. Granted, you're not going to win if you don't get on fish but odds are you're not gonna win if you paddle out without any sort of plan.

I love the preparation almost as much as my time on the water. Twice this year I've taken a weeks vacation just for a fishing tournament. I did all of my research about the fish and the fishing area in the months leading up to tournament week, I travel to the location and test my theories. I rule out each one, I'll paddle miles each day, make hundreds of casts, tie on countless lures until it looks good. Sometimes "good" isn't really good though. Sometimes the plan ends up being one that arises from the pre-fishing failures instead of sucesses. I've went into more than one tournament only knowing what the fish weren't biting and where they were not at. I actually won a tournament with only that information. So trial and error plays a big part but gut instinct is also important. That gut instinct comes from experience fishing, knowing what they're probably eating, where the bait is at and when they'll be feeding on said bait.

As you can see, a lot of time is put into preparing for a fishing tournament so the potential prize must be large...not hardly! A weekend club tourney will pay out according to the number of entries. On average, at least in my area, we'll have 15-25 fisherman with the winner getting 150 bucks...definitely not enough to pay the bills but this year there is a bigger picture. Chad Hoover and the guys at HOOK1/Kayak Bass Fishing have organized a tournament series that pays off in a big way. Four tournaments that will net the winners somewhere around 85 grand combined, maybe more. Then the mother of them all...the  KBF National Championship which is only open to people who've qualified through the open tournaments or through their local club. If you're good enough to win that there is a $20,000 check with your name on it.

That's why I fish tournament's, I like seeing where I stand amongst the ever growing field of competition. I like the idea of being able to pay my house off by fishing, I like having a I said earlier, I'm forty isn't supposed to be exciting anymore but this puts a spring in my step as well as many other kayak fisherman across the country. It turns our beloved hobby into a something spectacular several weekends out of the year. It is attempting to put what I consider the greatest outdoor hobby on a much needed pedestal.

I'm lucky...I have a wife that gets it. She see's my passion, she knows she is married to a fisherman.

I'm leaving for a week to go fish a tournament in Florida, alone. If I place in the top ten it'll greatly improve my chances for that National Championship ticket. You may think she would have some animosity towards me going to "the beach" for a week without her

She's only said, "Kick some ass."

 She gets it!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Nomad, Gypsy,Wanderer...the Soul of the Fisherman

Not all who wander are lost.  JRR Tolkien

In two weeks I will wander. Nothing new to me...I've been wandering since I was a kid. I like it...with or without company...with or without a goal.

This trip will have a goal and that's to win the Hobie/IFA redfish tour stop in Ruskin Fl...steep odds for a creek chubb fisherman from Silver Creek Ga. I'll have 8 days to find an area that has big reds and trout. The greatest combined length of your biggest red and trout take the trophy...and the money. I feel confident about finding fish but its gonna take some luck to outfish the locals, it always does.

I'll pack my Subaru with my camping gear, load my Jackson Big Rig with more fishing gear than I could ever need, kiss my lady and head south.

Ruskin Florida is just south of Tampa and Tampa bay holds loads of big trout and redfish but it also holds snook, tarpon, jacks and mangrove snapper...just to name a few.

My plan is to "wander" from North to South on the bay searching for my tournament day fishing spot, when I find the trout and reds, I'll shift gears. Tarpon under dock lights, snook in the mangroves...snapper, pompano, I'm not going to be picky. Heck, Miami is only 4 hours and the Everglades are even closer than that...maybe one overnight down there to try the flats for a bone fish or the Miami canals for a peacock bass...all from my kayak, fishing hole to fishing hole, all by myself. Living a week according to the tides and the bite...Yea, I'll take some of that.

I thank God for my wife that urges me to chase my passion, a brain that hasn't changed very much since age 13 and for the guy that prayed for a direction and God told him ... "Make a little plastic boat."   Peace

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Jackson Kayak Fishing Blog: Paddle to your Island Paradise 25 Aug2015

...just the thought of paddling out to an island to camp and fish would put a smile on most faces.

The latest article that I wrote for the Jackson Kayak Fishing Blog . This is what I'm most passionate about and I hope you enjoy it. Peace


Sunday, August 23, 2015

Jackson Kayak Blog Entry

This is an article I wrote for the Jackson Kayak Fishing Blog. It covers a local fishing tournament I participated in.


Jackson Kayak Blog: "Big Bass in the Most Obvious Places "

This is a link to my blog entry published on the Jackson  Kayak fishing blog.
The topic is about small local lakes that often get overlooked but hold large Bass...

Link:  "Big Bass in the Most Obvious Places"

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Georgia's Grand Cathedrals pt1

This series will feature some of Georgia's most beautiful places, at least that I've seen. I hope you enjoy them.

Georgia is a hot bed for outdoorsman. It doesn't matter if you paddle, hike, fish or hunt...this state has the finest to offer in some of the most pristine areas around. I'll start this with my favorite place in the state...Little Tybee Island. The fishing is good, there are clams to dig and the island is virtually untouched by civilization. It has a vast maritime forest to explore that looks straight out of an old Tarzan movie. The beach, besides the little bit of trash, looks no different than it did when the Yamassee indians  fished and hunted there 500 years ago.
If you like to camp, fish and wish to visit a truly magical place, you have to give this place a visit.
Do your homework... I planned every trip through information I got off of the internet. I called local paddle shops for shuttle information.(fyi:parking on Tybee Island is outrageous but its free outside the city limits and the paddle shop will have info on that) You'll need to take enough water and food for the trip. Bug repellent is a good, great idea to take along and make sure you have suitable camping gear for the coastal winds and storms that may pop up.
This island is raw doesn't care if you're there or not. As beautiful as it is it can definitely bite back so, show her great respect by planning appropriately, tread lightly, leave no trace and enjoy the magic. Peace
This is a video I made from my last trip to Little Tybee.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

The New World Order of Kayak Fishing

I've been kayak fishing for over eight years and until recently, I had no idea just how big the sport had grown. I had seen Jim Sammons and Chad Hoover on TV and even caught an episode of Hank Parker where he was fishing from a kayak but locally I had not recognized more kayaks on the water. There are several reasons for this, the first being my work schedule. I work a swing shift that only gives me one weekend per month off, because of this I don't get to fish with my buddies much, so on my weekends off I fish with them or do family stuff. Second, my passion is fishing areas that are hard to reach or not well known. Third, I like fishing in winter, I catch some big fish then and usually have the lake or river to myself. What all of that means is...I've been living in a hole, a self imposed asylum if you will.

 In January of 2014 my kayak was stolen so I posted a notice on Facebook about the situation and it wasn't long until this unknown to me world of kayak fisherman showed their faces. I had countless messages with offers of loaners, tips on great deals and encouragement that there were lots of eyes on the lookout for my boat. I was blown away by the generosity from complete strangers. In the midst of this I was introduced to the Reel Krazy crew...the first crew member being Todd West. Todd had reached out with an idea for a new kayak but we stayed in touch and ended up fishing together. Through him I learned of some local tournament trails and how they work. The tournaments sounded interesting but to be honest, all I had known and done up until then was alone or with close friends. There had never been an ounce of competition in any kayak fishing trip I'd taken and the idea of me paying 30 bucks just to get my butt handed too me on a lake I could fish for free was a turnoff. Note: I still had my head in a hole and all of this new kayak fishing activity on my "home" water was my version of a "New World Order".

 I continued to fish alone and with my regular fishing buddies but the idea of tournament fishing was always in the back of my mind. In May 2014 I entered a local tournament where there were only 7 kayak fishermen. I went into it with a plan, stuck to it and actually won. Even though there was a micro field of entrants, I won a new Bending Branches Angler Pro that was donated by our local Jackson Kayak dealer Cohutta Fishing Company. I had a great time but I was " sure" the larger tournaments would be different.

Just this past February, I was talking with a "new" friend who is part of Rome Georgia's "Reel Krazy Crew",  Jim Clark. We decided to run a section of the Oostanaula river on a cold dreary day and while floating he told me of a huge tournament that was being held on Kentucky Lake in March. He told me how much money there was to be had and that sealed the deal...I was in. I paid my entry fee that night and started researching the legendary Kentucky Lake. I went on to place 28th overall out of 156 but what I learned about tournament fishing and this " New World Order" was priceless. If anything has changed it has been for the better; kayak fishing specific gear and boats are readily available thanks to HOOK1 kayak fishing gear, Jackson Kayaks and other retailers that specialize in our sport. The tournaments are fun ways to meet likeminded, passionate sportsmen. They are great places to see new products, different and unique rigging and to improve your own fishing skills by trying new water.

I applaud what I was once skeptical of because the core intent of the mainstream introduction of kayak fishing is to make this great sport more accessible and user friendly. More people can enjoy the many different facets of kayak fishing, whether you seek nature, adventure, competition or all of the above; attending local, regional and even national level kayak fishing tournaments will only make you a better and more educated fisherman. So, if you are like I was not so long ago take that step and enter a local tournament and meet some new friends. No one is trying to change our sport so it loses its fun...that would be impossible. Remember the first time you paddled out to fish...If this "New World Order" wants to introduce "innocent" people all over the world to a sport that makes them as happy as I've been while in my kayak then the world will be a better place.

 Thank God for little plastic boats.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Ep:5 Alone in the Woods is "High Church."

Today I had the pleasure of fishing with my favorite fishing buddy. I floated a local flow and fished as hard as I could for 11 hours, caught a few fish and cleared my mind. I didn't hear a negative word and I didn't see another person... I like to fish alone.

I've spent countless hours roaming creeks and woods by myself since I was a kid  and I guess I've grown accustomed to it. I like the solitude and peace that goes along with that but I also crave the challenge of accomplishing a several night solo camping trip complete with weird sounds in the night and all the other creepy things that may go through your mind. I like that fear, I also like squashing it. I have realized that most of the things I've been warned of that created fear are false...usually old folk tales or stories passed down that were originally told to keep folks off of a mountain that held a precious whiskey still or simply told by someone ignorant of nature. "Lions and tigers and snakes...oh my!"

Enough of are some things that are only OK to do when you're fishing alone but will definitely draw unwanted attention among other fishermen.
-get hung up in a tree
-set the hook on a stump
-mix canned tuna with my instant mashed potatoes.
- forgo the day of fishing to wade through the bramble and thickets of a creek bottom to pick pawpaws

***last but not least***
-while camping I can snore all I want.

My favorite time of year to fish and camp is the dead of winter. I like when my face is chilled by the cold wind. I love the sound of snow landing on my hammock's tarp, the crackle of an essential campfire, the deathly quite the winter woods have and to be honest ...trout taste best in winter. I love the challenge of finding fish in 38 degree water then trying to catch them, it's almost as  challenging as finding another human that equally enjoys these same things.

So what benefits does all of this give me that being in company can't? Besides the  challenge of fending for myself, it offers solitude and in solitude is where I'm closest to God. When you are free of petty fear, can stop talking and pay attention... nature can speak in a spectacular way. My idea of the perfect place has no negativity, fear or hate and I've only been able to find it...alone in the woods. It is "High Church!"

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Ep4: Hardcore Fishing Buddies...the mainliners.

The guys I've wrote about in the previous stories are guys that I know inside and out. I know their wives, their kids, beliefs, politics etc. To say that they're less skilled at fishing than my next group of buddies would be a lie but this next story is about a group of guys that like me are "fish junkies" and to be more precise "kayak fishing junkies"...

I was least for a while, that something bad was wrong with me. This kayak fishing stuff was consuming me, I was either kayak fishing or reading about it; I tried my best to turn everyone that would listen onto this great sport and succeeded in quite a few cases. The problem was that I didn't know anybody as "gung ho" as me until I was introduced to ReelKrazy and some Chattanooga boys.  Ate up, strung out, geeked out about kayak fishing would be suitable descriptions. The only thing they're missing is a room reminiscent of a 19th century opium den to meet in.

We are a circle of addicts that come together and trip on our drug of Some are competitive anglers, some soul fishermen while  others are the perfect mix of both.

I don't know any of their spouses, what they worship or who they voted for and I've never been asked about any of my personal life by them. I like it that way, we talk the sport...we share knowledge and most importantly we fish.

The appearances of some of these included may be a bit a tournament half of the field will be sporting tattoos, long hair, beards and a mixture of any or all of the above . All are excellent fishermen, none of them care what kind of kayak you paddle as long as it gets you on the water and you have fun. But,  their heart is what's important .These guys go out of their way to organize and support charities like Kayak Anglers for a Cause, Heroes on the Water as well as local individuals that are in need. They are a standup group of men.

Although I've only known these guys a short time, their passion, commitment and skill puts them in a class of their own...a perfect fishing buddy. Peace

Monday, July 6, 2015

Ep 3: Perfect Fishing Buddies...adventure!

As a kid it was always ghost stories, pretend adventures and fishing with my next "Perfect Fishing Buddy"...

He was 10 and attempted to shoot an ORANGE off of his brother's head with a bow and arrow. Confidence oozed as he drew the bow, anchored and released...almost on target. The metal tipped target arrow struck his little brother just outside his eyesocket creating a scary but superficial wound. I got to watch an epic asswhooping of mass proportions seconds after his mother heard of her archer son's attempt....he is my most adventurous fishing buddy, he's a bit more prepared for the task at hand than he was that day in my back yard 39 years ago. But, he'll still sling a proverbial arrow from time to time just to see where it lands.
On our first kayak fishing trip we paddled 19 miles on lake Blue Ridge setting the bar for our version of adventure. We didn't catch a single fish and were both worn out but we enjoyed every single minute of the 14 hours on the water.

Since that day I have fished, paddled and camped in 4 states with him. Nothing has been easy, its required extensive planning, creative logistics and a lot of luck. I've seen him catch his first walleye, biggest smallmouth and biggest trout. He was there with me when I landed my first Suwannee bass that was also my 31st freshwater fish species from a kayak in a year. He has a great eye with a camera and when it comes to computers, he is a master at online scouting and recon of potential areas to visit.

 We've camped in some of the most remote and beautiful places I've ever seen. We hiked into Ellico'ts Rock Wilderness area with the Polar Vortex of 2014 bearing down on us with the main intent of testing our camping gear. -3 degrees were met with confidence and anticipation the second night of our trip and we emerged unscathed and actually had fun.

We paddled over a mile across Tybee inlet to one of Georgia's uninhabited barrier islands, Little Tybee, bushwhacked to it's heart, set camp and claimed her ours for 3 days.

We repelled a well planned attack from a gangly band of racoons on our camp at Little Tybee island without a single drop of blood being shed.

We've had tornadic storms pass over while camping in one of the most remote areas of the Cohutta Wilderness and he's never said anything but that he's ready for the next trip.

We floated Florida's Santa Fe river for 3 days stopping to camp in the jungle like setting each evening all while witnessing some of the most beautiful flora and fauna along with bizarre river features (sinks and rises)we'd ever seen.

With the amount of time we've spent on the water and in the woods we were bound to see some extremely rare sites...a fish eating snake on the Chattahoochee, a hitchhiking squirell on Carter's Lake and a mysterious large footprint along the banks of the Conasauga river in the middle of the Cohutta Wilderness.

There has been some minor count is 3 lost fishing rod and reels and 2 broken ones, several on the run gear repairs and a hellacious case of giardia (probably caused by the combination of a faulty water purifier and a heaping pile of fresh bear mess located next to the spring 100 yards up the hill from our camp). My poor car is a 2014 model and has almost 30,000 miles on it (at least half of that has been fishing/camping trips), I currently have 4 fishing reels in the shop being rebuilt and another two that needs it yet none of these things have deterred us from the next adventure. Like the postman...come hell or high water we're gonna hit the woods.

He loves and respects nature as much as I do and I will admit that I probably wouldn't have visited half of the places I did if not for him. We witnessed God's creation on a level that many only dream of...not from a car window but actually feeling it, tasting it and down right wallowing in it for days on end....thank God for little plastic boats.

What lies ahead? Who knows, we've talked about several trips including the Flint River and the Collins in Tennessee for the immediate future and paddling the Grand Loop(Google it) after retirement or if we stay alive long enough. But whatever it may be, my buddy will be willing, prepared and ready to go. While shooting an apple off of someone's head with a bow is a daring feat he's gonna find an orange to nail. Peace