Passport to Fishing Program with N.R.F.C.

With the recent move to North Ridgeville, we didn’t know our community had an annual festival.  Fortunately, a co-worker let me know about the Corn Festival this past week and that it was happening this weekend.  Having a 4 month old and an almost 3 year old keeps me from being spontaneous with plans, but when I saw something called “Passport to Fishing Program” on the festival schedule, I knew I had to check it out.  Bryce likes anything fishing related, and is up early every day, so a trip to the park at 8:30 a.m. on a beautiful Saturday morning was easy to talk him into.

CWF080914signinAt sign in, it was clear Bryce’s attention was elsewhere

I learned that the Passport to Fishing Program was facilitated locally by a group called the North Ridgeville Fishing Club.  The program consists of various stations that the children move through that teach a variety of fish and fishing related topics.  I was worried Bryce might be a bit too young to have the attention span necessary, but the gentleman from the club were very patient and gracious in their dealing with him.  It was obvious that this group collectively had plenty of experience raising children!

I think pictures will tell the story better than words, so here are some highlights;

CWF080914groupBryce getting some instruction on casting

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESInstruction on reeling

CWF080914brycedaddyDaddy helping reel in ‘the big one’

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESCongratulations on the catch, high five!

CWF080914knotsTime to learn how to tie a fishing knot

CWF080914knots2Daddy helping, probably making things worse?

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESBryce wanting to do it himself

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESBryce getting a congratulatory handshake

CWF080914swagA fishing pole, T-shirt and other gifts, Bryce in shock!

I want to express my sincere appreciation to the North Ridgeville Fishing Club for giving Bryce and I such a great memory.  Not only were they fantastic at sharing their knowledge, they had personalities and senses of humor that made the event a lot of fun.  Additionally, a good number of the photos in this post were taken by them, what a pleasant surprise to get pictures of Bryce and I together.  If this group is reflective of what others are like in North Ridgeville, it is another reason to say we made a fantastic decision on where to live!

If you have time, please stop by the Facebook page HERE for the N.R.F.C., and like them!

A successful trip to New Hampshire!

Every now and then things just fall into place for something good to happen.  This past week, it was a work trip that took me to Bedford, NH, with a fantastic boss who allowed me to stay long enough to get a 5 hour fishing trip in.  It’s hard to put into words how excited I was to go after a new species for the life list (Striped Bass), as well as, simply to get an opportunity to fish in saltwater for only the 4th time in my life.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThe Atlantic Ocean at Hampton, NH, 7 a.m., July 17th

We will fast forward past the nightmare of delayed and cancelled flights that took place trying to get to NH, and pick up with the morning of the charter.  As you can see from the photo above, you could tell it was going to be a beautiful day right from the start.  Outside of not having my wife and kids with me, I couldn’t think of a better place to be than aboard Reel Job Charters embarking on a new fishing experience.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESNervous energy, excitement and anticipation of what the day might hold

It was awesome to have a co-worker, who is also a friend, that wanted to join me.  I do a lot of fishing solo and it was a welcome treat to have someone to talk with on the trip.  While Erin is not an overly avid fisherwoman, she does enjoy the outdoors and has an adventurous spirit.  Certainly the type of person that is fun to hang out with.  An added benefit, was Erin’s willingness to not only take photos – but take really exceptional photos (you will see).

The fishing plan for the day was to start out by catching our bait, Atlantic Mackerel.  This proved to be very challenging and I was worried it would be an omen of what was to come.  Fortunately, we had a bucket full of somewhat ‘fresh’ dead Mackerel, and Captain Steve had a great back up plan as a friend of his linked up with us out on the water to give us some live fish.  With plenty of bait, we were ready to go after our target.

Once we began fishing for the bass it was evident the fish weren’t just going to ‘jump in the boat’ for us, we were going to have to work for them.  Captain Steve set us up perfectly on the path we were drifting (as evidence by seeing other boats right by us hooking up), but we couldn’t muster a strike.  So much about fishing is patience, and I knew we just needed to stay positive and keep at it.  Finally, I heard the scream of line peeling off of a reel and looked to my left to see Erin expertly engaging the drag after letting the fish run with the bait.  She did it just as the captain had instructed and continued to fight the fish like a pro, all the way to the net.  Erin ‘breaking the ice’ for us was fun to watch and I was very excited for her!  You can click HERE to see her with her fantastic catch, awesome job Erin!

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESFish on!, the author finally hooked up

After Erin’s fish, it wasn’t too long until there was another hookup.  This time it was a third party on the boat, a real nice guy named Mike.  Mike landed a short fish but promptly followed it up with another hookup.  The second fish was a monster and it was an amazing fight to watch.  The fish tried every tactic possible to come off, long runs, circling at the surface, under the boat, around the prop, but Mike and the captain were successful in getting it in.  It ended up being the biggest Striper of the year for the boat thus far, and it was neat to be there to witness it.  I can’t give the exact size, as I was anxious to get my line back in the water on the bow of the boat.

Seeing that catch, that fish, was bittersweet.  While I was happy that everyone had made a fishing memory, as for myself I might as well have been a photographer than a fisherman at this point.  I knew I had to coach myself into a good attitude, so I grabbed a fresh Mackerel, and launched my bait with renewed vigor.  I was intensely fishing, paying attention to every movement of my Carolina Rigged Mackerel, even giving it a bit of action in addition to the steady drift of the boat.  As we were nearing the point to take in our lines and motor back to the beginning of our drift, my index finger felt the line go tight, and a half second later the line was flying off the reel.  There was no wondering, it was a fish.  I let it take line for several seconds, then engaged the drag and set the hook.  Until that moment, I just knew I had a fish, but when I got to feel the weight, I knew it was nice.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESAll I was thinking was, “please don’t come off!” 

While I don’t exactly know what constitutes a big fish or an exceptional fish verse average for the locals, all I knew was the fish was fighting hard and was heavy.  For me, an avid Ohio fisherman, it would be a trophy if I got it in.  The fight remained pretty traditional other than the size and strength of the fish.  It was far stronger than anything I have fought in freshwater.  I was pretty exhausted by the time I got it to the boat, and thankfully it only took a few passes to get it head first into the net.  I’m not certain if my biggest emotion was happiness or simply relief at making the catch, all I know was it felt great!

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESFreshly landed, removing the hook and ready for pictures

Once the fish was on the boat, I was intent on measuring it and shooting a host of pictures.  The fish measured around 39″ and Erin was great as she just kept snapping away.  I was thrilled when I reviewed the photos to see that she captured so much of the memory so well, and the fish itself.   It was definitely a fishing experience that ranks high on my all time best.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES As perfect of a photo as I could have asked for and what a fish!

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThe author with Captain Steve

After my fish, we still had an hour or so of fishing and that’s when things really heated up.  Multiple additional Stripers were caught, but none that rivaled my first, and certainly none that touched Mike’s beast.  I was content and more than pleased at how the day turned out.  On the trip in, I snapped a few scenic shots and we also had the unique experience of watching a kayak fisherman land a nice Striper on the fly rod.  It was incredible to watch and that guy had to be having the time of his life.  What an epic day!

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESHow fun does this look?!  Striper on a 7wt.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESScenic picture of the bridge by Hampton Beach

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESCool rustic docks that had ‘old world charm’

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESParting shot

Fishing the Rocky River’s West Branch

CWF070614wbrockyThe view from the Water Street Bridge

With the family moving recently, it has required some time devoted to researching new waters to fish.  It seems each year I have a goal of fishing new places, the move has made this a necessity, whether motivated to do so or not.  Overall, this is a good thing, and I just need to be patient with my expectations of instant fishing success.  Today’s trip was unique in not only that it was my first time at the West Branch of the Rocky River at Olmsted Falls, Ohio, but also in the fact that I only took fly fishing gear.  This is a personal goal of becoming more proficient with the fly rod and it seems if I take my spinning gear, the fly gear ends up sitting in the vehicle.  I didn’t allow myself to let this happen today.

CWF070614carpA rather large carp was cruising the shallow water

Whenever I manage to make it to new water, especially if it is a venue plagued by shallow water, I always worry about the presence of fish.  Obviously, catching a fish makes that worry go away, but certainly even seeing a fish is reassuring.  Before making my way down to the river, I started by looking down from a bridge to see what it would reveal.  Along with some nice scenic views (including the photo to start this post), I was able to spot some fish.

CWF070614fishpairA carp with a mystery companion fish

Thanks to a good decision to bring both of my cameras, including the one with the 27x optical zoom, I was quite surprised at how well the photos turned out.  The photo above was my favorite, as I didn’t even notice the smaller mystery fish until I was at home reviewing on the computer.  I don’t have any idea what species it is, anyone have thoughts?

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESI spent the majority of my time fishing this area below the dam

I eventually stopped looking at the fish, reminding myself I was there to try to catch them.  Making my way down to the water, I realized just how popular the dam was.  While some creative cropping yielded the desired affect of pristine untouched water, the reality was that this area was very popular.  Along with several fisherman, there were five times as many people just wading and splashing around in the water.  In a day and age where most kids are glued to the television or video games, it was difficult to be mad that they would cause the fishing to be more challenging.  At least a few parents out there see value in prying their kids out of a chair.  It was refreshing and reassuring to see.

As expected, the fishing was tough.  Every time I found a decent hole, someone would walk through it or close enough to scare everything away.  When I finally reached an area a little less populated, a group of kayakers decided to have a water fight and take respite on rocks right by where I was intending to fish.  I forced myself to simply enjoy the scenery and work on my fly casting.  After all, this was a beautiful place to practice.

Eventually, I found a spot under the dam that was unmolested from foot traffic.  At this point, any catch would have made my day and I was thrilled to bring to the net two little Smallmouth Bass and a Rock Bass.  I did have to ‘cheat’ and I won’t really consider it a fly fishing catch, as I used a 1/32 oz jig tipped with a Berkley Gulp! Minnow.

As a final note, the area I was at today is named David Fortier River Park.

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