Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Catching More Ticks than Bass

There isn't any really good troutfishing close to where I live. The closest "blue ribbon" trout streams are a couple hundred miles away. Because of that, I learned to cast a flyrod fishing on a nearby lake for panfish, smallmouth bass and the occasional crappie. It was alot of fun and the fish were sometimes very cooperative. Over the years, the more I fished for trout, the less I even considered driving out to the lake. It could have been laziness, or maybe that snobbishness that flyfishermen sometimes develop...I don't know, or at least I won't admit to either.

A couple of years ago, I did go back to the lake. I wanted to fish from a rocky point area where I had once caught a BIG bass, so I started down a familiar path to it. About halfway there, the trail was blocked by a thick stand of tall bushes. Actually, it wasn't totally blocked. There was a narrow pathway worn through the plants by hikers...or maybe the local animal population. Being a great outdoorsman (NOT), I continued on, pushing my way through the branches and leaves. After I had bushwacked ten feet or so, I noticed 10 or 12 bugs on my shirt. Upon closer inspection, I realized that they were not just ordinary bugs or spiders, they were ticks! I freaked! Suddenly, I found myself back outside of the thicket - I have no recollection of running or jumping or flying out of those tick-infested bushes - but somehow I exited very quickly. Normally, I am a very modest and shy person...not that day. I pulled off half of my clothes and beat them against the nearest rock in a crazed attempt at exterminating the bloodthirsty little parasites.  It's not the first time that I have looked totally insane in public, and I'm sure it won't be the last. I then hoofed it back to my car and sprayed myself head to toe with the toxic DDT-laced bug repellant that I should have applied in the first place. I am sure that many of you who read this will say, "What's the big deal? It's just a few bugs." Well, I have a healthy respect (fear) of ticks. They can infect a person with lyme disease and I have a cousin whose wife has had it for over a decade. She was a very active person and loves the outdoors. In fact, she went mountain biking the day after her wedding. Now, she has good days and bad days. She is often in great pain even though doctors are always pumping her full of antibiotics. They have two great kids and have a pretty nice life...but sometimes I wonder how much they have sacrificed because of that terrible disease.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Driven to Fish

I live in what some call "Trout Hell." Good trout fishing is literally hundreds of miles away. My drive to the Eastern Sierras to fish Hot Creek and the Owens River is over 400 miles, taking over 7 hours, including pitstops for food, gas and bladder relief. Over the years I  have learned which towns have a McDonalds or gas stations that I have credit cards for. I enjoy the drive, the scenery is really diverse, ranging from farmlands to desert to mountains to the windmill turbines near Mojave. During my most recent drive up, a severe storm had passed through California the day before and the clouds were spectacular. A couple of particularly interesting looking formations were made up of wispy, fluffy, lacy and turbulent clouds.

Had they been a part of a movie, they would have been warnings that the end of the world or something very evil was coming. For this fishing trip it was a sign that the fishing was going to be tough. On the other hand, fishing is almost always difficult for me. Sometimes I wonder why I enjoy it so much....

Monday, September 14, 2009


Ironically enough, I'm not a big fish-eater. I love to go fishing and I'm Japanese-American but fish is just not a food I crave. Sure, when in the right mood, I like sushi...real sushi, not fake sushi like California Rolls. I've never really developed the taste for sashimi either - raw fish. Put some ribs or Santa Maria-style barbeque in front of me and I'm happy...very happy.
I do spend a ton of time drawing fish, though. This rainbow trout illustration is my most recent, and possibly best to date. Rainbows can be really beautiful creatures.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Point & Shoot

There used to be an element of uncertainly when taking least for me. I would take the photos, then wait for a week or two for the film to be processed and prints made. There was a combination of fear and excitement when tearing open that yellow-orange envelope from Kodak. Masterpiece or a dark, blurry  waste of paper? 
You could choose your film to suit the subject matter - warm Kodachrome, cool Ektachrome, green Fuji, fast black & white Tri-X. With digital photography, you can manipulate the image with your computer. There are even Photoshop filters to make your digital photos look like they were shot on Kodachrome or Fuji! I take so many more pictures with my digital cameras than I ever did before...but I'm afraid that I probably was a better photographer when I had to think more about what I was doing.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Classic Salmon Flies

I have to admit that I really don't understand classic salmon flies. Many of them are beautiful and tying them can truly be called an art form. I am a trout fisherman - trout flies at least suggest some prey item...insects, crustaceans, other fish. At least to my eyes, salmon flies resemble very little in nature, not anything that a fish would normally eat. Do they just piss salmon off to the point that they bite them? Or are there things like color combinations that "trigger" feeding? I have absolutely no idea. Trout fishing is puzzling enough for me!

Friday, September 4, 2009


The largest fish that I have caught was a 21" Cutthroat trout at Flat Creek, near Jackson, Wyoming. It was in late August of 1992 and there were few fishermen on the water. Like most fly fishermen, I don't like it when there are too many other people around, and I almost always fish alone. That way, no one has to see how badly I cast or how few fish I catch. But when I caught that fish, I wanted someone to see it. As I released it, I looked around...I was alone. There was no one to share my excitement, no one slap me on my back and say, "Great fish!" It was just me standing there with a stupid grin on my face. The only sound was the breeze blowing through the streamside grass and my heart pounding in my chest.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Hot Off the Grill

There are a lot of people on the Central Coast who are car nuts...rather, car enthusiasts. A car show in Pismo Beach regularly draws more than 300 entries and tens of thousands of attendees from all over California. Recently, there was a much smaller show in the little town of Orcutt. I was surprised that there were so many really beautiful and cool cars there.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Fit to be Tied....

I hope go fishing soon, so I've started to tie some flies. I am neither a particularly fast, nor skillful fly tyer. Some people will sit down and tie a dozen flies of a certain pattern, then tie another dozen of a different size. Not me. I get bored tying the same thing over and over again. After a while I start to change things and experiment. It's kind of like my cooking - I tend not to follow recipes very closely. So after an hour or so, my flies tend to take on a mutated, pieced-together, Frankenstein's monster resemblance to the original fly pattern. These changes just might catch fish...but I usually don't fish often enough to have the chance to give them a try.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Something's Fishy

Went to a Japanese restaurant this weekend with relatives. Didn't get sushi...although I do like it alot. Lately, I've been opting for the meatier dinner combination plates. I am always impressed by how creative and artistic the chefs can be with their food presentation. Even at little hole-in-the-wall, mom-and-pop restaurants the dishes are prepared to feed the eyes, as well as the stomach. When I cook, I'm lucky if the meal still resembles food!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Does Not Play Well With Others

I've never fished for pike. They are pretty intimidating looking fish - basically alligators with fins. Aggressive, toothy beasts with an appetite for anything that they think they can swallow.  I've seen a photo of a pike that died attempting to eat another pike that was about the same size that it was....
This illustration was a bit of a change in style for me, but I liked the way it came out.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

What's that Dork doing with a Classic Reel?

Many old, classic fly reels are like little jewels. Small, shiny, precious objects that are admired and lusted over. Many worth thousands of dollars. I own a replica of one, which I haven't used in a while. I was a little self-conscious fishing with it because I am not a good enough fisherman to justify such a nice reel...or at least such a classy looking reel. My friend from West Yellowstone, Steve Takata, told me not to worry about that - he said that if I like the reel, I should use it. I shouldn't care what other people think. He's right. Now I need to buy a new flyline for it...... I think that this is my favorite fly reel illustration so far.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Copper John, classic nymph pattern

Drawing of John Barr's famous Copper John nymph. I was really happy with the way the peacock thorax and the copper wire turned out. Actually, it looks better than the Copper John flies that I have tied! This drawing, like the majority of my fly fishing illustrations, was done in a vector format, using Adobe Illustrator. A vector drawing can be enlarged to basically any size without any image quality loss, so this image will look the same whether it's small or rendered poster size.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

California Fly Fisher Magazine Icon/Logos

This year I created two icon/logos for California Fly Fisher magazine. They appear on the top of their "Chasing Metal" steelhead column and "Gearhead" equipment column. The icons have a rustic woodcut look that matches existing feature icons.