Monday, December 31, 2012

Dreaming of the New Year

Ever since I went to Cleveland the week of my birthday, December 15, my fishing experience has worsened. Then again, this is because of the weather not allowing me to do anything except tie flies. This isn't a problem of course but it has been very discouraging because I have had a major writing block for the past few weeks which really stinks. Well, now all I am waiting on is my new rotary fly vise that should be coming in soon and that will give me an opportunity to tie more flies as well as the materials that are coming in to tie some crayfish pattern that I discovered.

Well, what happened on my birthday was this: I went to Cleveland for the steelhead run which was going strong on the Chagrin and other major rivers in Cleveland and the surrounding areas. I was pumped. I got all geared up with my new backpack and fly rods and took off. I was planning on spending literally all day fishing. My fishing trip turned into a flop and I then proceeded to help my grandpa with projects around his house. Fun? Eh...It would have been a lot better if I would have known that I was going to be skunked for the 3 days I was fishing. I literally fished lakes, ponds, and the rivers but with nothing on my line. I even went out of my way 40 miles to go to some places to catch some rainbow trout. This is when all my memories of successful fishing trips set in. I was missing my small pond in Sylvania, Ohio near the Meijer where I go often and catch some decent bluegill and see many 12" and even 16" bass. I have been day dreaming of carp fishing in the spring and summer and wonderful bluegill fishing in Lake La Su An on the far western part of Ohio near the Indiana and Michigan borders. I am really looking forward to spring when the spring run steelhead come in and I can go drift fishing with nymphs and egg clusters. *sigh* But alas, I am stuck at home, dreaming of spring, summer, and fall or even warmer weather that there is no ice on the lakes that I can fish deep pockets for big bluegill or at least kayak to the warm water discharges of Lake Erie.

So, as the year comes to a close, and my fly collection begins to grow, I will be anticipating at least a warm spell in the weather to permit me to fish some local ponds to hold me off until the warmer weather comes in. It just gets a bit depressing seeing the beautiful fish I've caught however it is something to look forward to as 2012 comes to a close and 2013 begins. I can sense it's going to be a great year for fishing. I am sincerely hoping and praying for a lot of rain to bring Lake Erie back to normal and fill all the streams, rivers, and lakes with more fresh water.

Until then, we'll talk next year.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Fishpond Tundra Tech Pack Review

All right, so a few weeks ago, I was privileged to pick up the Tundra Tech Pack from Fishpond USA. The price tag retail was quite hefty so I checked out eBay and sure enough I found a used one. Funny story, I was going to get the little brother, the Piney Creek Tech Pack but after seeing I could get the Tundra for less than the Piney Creek, used mind you, I nabbed the Tundra.

I have no clue where I saw the pack in the first place. Possibly I ran into it searching for fly fishing solutions where I could hang my tools on my bag and stumbled across the brand but I know that they make their products here in the good old US of A. I knew they were going to be expensive but I never expected the quality.

When I received the pack, I was astounded to see that even after being heavily used for a season in Colorado, it looked very very good! The pack itself comes with the backpack and also a chestpack. The backpack is a 25 liter pack so it would be good for a 2-3 day trip in the backwoods if you want to sleep under the stars. 

What first attracted me to it was that it a) had a chest pack for storing tools and flies and b) it had 2 4 piece rod tube holders. It was perfect for my needs! It fits very well and Fishpond even took the time to notice the little things. They have velcro straps so you can keep your extra straps that hang by your legs nice and rolled up so they aren't in your way, they have places for every single tool and places for your tool retractor. You can see in the picture there is a place for your wading rod, too! How handy! I really appreciate the pockets on the side of the waist belt. Seriously, there's a bazillion pockets! It's great! I have yet to test it on the field and will give an update later on the backpack. As far as the chestpack goes, it is wonderful! It can be detached and worn around the neck for standalone travel, worn on the back of the pack for travel, or worn on the front of the backpack for fishing moments on to fly (pun intended). : )

Overall, even though I just tested the chestpack and this is not a full review, I will say this: it is very comfortable. It is well fitting, the straps are well placed, the volume of the pack is big enough for my needs, and it was well worth the price I paid for it. I would definitely recommend this to a friend. In fact, if I find another one for the same price I paid for it, I would buy one for my fishing buddy, Mark! I'll update my review after a few test runs.

December 17 update:

So, after spending 3 days in the river hiking up and down several lakes and rivers in NE Ohio, I must say, this has been one of the most amazing purchases ever. I wore the backpack with the chest pack attached in front and it was so very comfortable. I was wearing a lot of layers and this did not hinder the performance of the pack whatsoever. In the past, my back has hurt because of layers and backpacks but the added cushion and support on the back of the backpack really made it very comfortable. I was able to store extra reels and 3 rods in the pack for backups. My only complaint, which is more of an understandable annoyance if you will, is when wearing the chest pack, it is frustrating to unbuckle the chest pack and then unbuckle the back pack to get into the back pack. It took a bit getting used to but it really was my only complaint about the pack overall.

The wading staff holder worked as expected. It really came in handy especially since I was hiking along the Chagrin which became very swift in parts especially for my hip waders so the staff came in handy and was very nice to keep it stored outside the pack. The hydration bladder pocket performed as expected as well. It came in handy so I didn't have to take the pack off to get a water bottle hence the design of the bladder and pack.

The mesh net pocket was unused this trip, sadly, because I didn't even get a hook up on the Chagrin or anywhere else! Of course, the day I decided not to go, everyone was getting fish on.

The side pockets on the waist buckle were extremely helpful. They were surprisingly roomy for being very small which helped me keep snacks and much needed tools in the pocket for quick access.

Overall, like I said, this is highly recommended. The chest pack alone is fantastic and paired with the back pack is great for day hikes of fishing and trekking. I keep discovering more things about the pack and more uses for the smallest of things. Even though my fishing experience was a flop, the Tundra Tech pack really made the experience of carrying a lot of gear around a breeze.

May 20, 2013 update

So, I have taken the chest pack and the backpack on several outings including several kayaking trips. It has held all the gear I have ever needed including reels, rods, snacks, clothes, safety gear, and other key essentials while kayaking and hiking in medium terrain. It has been very comfortable on long walks and hikes through the woods and streams. I added the Fishpond swivel retractor to three of the spots on the chest pack holding my nail knot tie took with nippers, hemostats, and a ty-rite fly holder. Overall, it's been a wonderful experience. The pack is comfortable, it holds up to abuse that I've put on it, the rod tube holders are quite nice, and the pockets are well placed to hold everything a fly fisherman would ever need. I also really like the small pockets on the side as I mentioned before as they were useful to hold the extra small fly boxes holding small flies for carp and panfish as well as snacks. I look forward to another year with this pack as it's been great so far and I know I'll get even more use out of it as the days roll on. 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Fly Casting 102 with Dad

I apologize for my lack of posts. For some reason, my auto-posting has not worked. : (

On November 16, my Dad and I headed up to the Hudson Mills Metropark in Dexter, Michigan. We drove through many beautiful neighborhoods if you will and saw beautiful sights. There were no leaves on the trees and you could see the land in all its winter beauty. Very very nice. It was excellent father-son bonding time.

I was taking this trip to teach my Dad how to fly fish. I have asked him to go with me on a few occasions but he has been quite busy. So, I pushed him to go with me to the park. We did a lot of talking and driving and talking but we eventually go to our destination. I got the rods set up, tied on some flies and we were on the river in about 10 minutes. The river was slightly lower than it was in the summer but it provided the ideal condition for my Dad to learn how to cast and to let the current take the fly down river. After about 10 minutes of him practicing and me exploring, we moved down river to a larger portion where it branched off and really opened up to where he and I could really focus on casting and presentation. 

Dad at second spot practicing casting.

View of up river where smallies abound in the spring and summer.

Dad about to cast.

Beautiful day!

Clear water. Beautiful...
There were really no fish in the river. They were all in deeper water. I saw a few perch and a bluegill but I was wading in deeper water and bumping up against logs. My Dad didn't have any hip waders, just neoprene boots but they worked. Overall, his fly fishing casting 102 class went a lot better than expected. He was using my Redington Classic Trout #4 rod which helped him a lot because of how forgiving it was. He was really able to get the feel of how to present the fly in a natural manner. We both had a lot of fun. I can't wait to take him carp fishing! : D

Friday, November 9, 2012

Beadhead Nymph Creation

So, with my first attempt at doing a fly tying video, I tied a nymph variation fly. I took the beadhead and body of the prince nymph and knocked off the wings and tail, added some flashing on the tail and voilĂ ! My very own bass and bluegill killer! I hope you guys enjoy! Be sure to rate, comment, and critique. I enjoy constructive criticism because I have not tied for very long. : )

PS: You can watch this in higher quality if you go to Youtube directly and watch it. I shot this in 1080p on my Canon T3i.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Small Pond with a Big Catch

So, I just got engaged a few weeks ago as you all know. The stress from school and now this wedding despite it being over a year away is settling in. : / Ugh. Between school, my fiancee and now me getting a new job, my life has never been so crazy! I've been upset since I have not been able to fish up until a week or so ago. I actually have forced myself to go fishing! Sad I know but I've enjoyed myself. I've also been obsessed with buying fly tying material. I have hooks, beads, and dubbing coming out of my ears. I think I have well over 1000 hooks alone in all sorts of shapes and sizes. It keeps me busy and keeps me fresh in my thinking of new fly creations, which is great!

Speaking of fly creations, I tied a variation of a bead headed prince nymph this past weekend. Man, this think is KILLING the bluegill and bass! In fact, I have lost more of this fly to the bluegill and bass than to trees. Yes, that IS a good thing. It means I at least did SOMETHING correct! : ) The best part is, it is really simple to tie, too! I'll get to that in another post soon.

So, this small pond is in Sylvania, Ohio right by Lourdes University where I attend. I would have never known about it but a friend told me about it. It's in some obscure place in the  midst of doctor's offices and financial buildings. 

Gorgeous sunset!

East part of the lake facing south.

Middle part of the lake facing south.

Another gorgeous sunset picture.

West part of the lake facing south.

Beadhead prince nymph creation works like a charm!

Beautiful colors!
Prize of the lake! 11 3/4" largemouth!
The lake, as you can see from the pictures is not small. These pictures are over the course of 3 weeks. The first sunset pictures are from the second time I was there ever. The bluegill pictures are from the first time I used the nymph pattern on the pond, and the bass picture is from this afternoon.

So, I walked around this pond numerous times casting in dozens of spots catching 4" to even fat 6" bluegill. They were all nice but only a few decided to pose for the camera. I have decided to press the barbs down on the hooks of my flies for the nymphs because it was easier on the fish. This is something I do not do often but since the pond is small, I wanted to fish to live longer. : ) I think I need to practice this more!

Today, when I went to the pond, it could have not been more perfect. The weather was gorgeous, the wind was nonexistent, and there was no fountain. YES! For the first time in a long time, I put my hip waders on and waded in the water. So, there really isn't anyone around despite it being mid-day (I went around 2:30 PM). In fact, no one has ever been fishing while I was there except for one gentleman when I first went to the pond about a month ago. I first got in the water and started to cast and hit a few small bluegill. Nothing too major. I worked my way around to where the fountain used to be. I kept getting bites, a bluegill here and there. I worked my way around to the east side of the pond and that's where I hooked into this beautiful bass. It fought like a bluegill I imaging because of the temperature of the water. I had to bring it to shore because I forgot my net for the first time. : / The entire fight maybe lasted 30 seconds, which is sad but actually good because I tied the fly on very poorly. It makes me realize how blessed I am to get that beauty in! I have seen this bass every single time I have gone to this pond. I'm just so glad I caught it!

Oh, something I should mention. I did not have the bass out of the water for more than 30 seconds. I set the rod and bass down, took the picture, and gently put him back making sure to hold him by his underbelly so to swim away and make it. I get VERY frustrated by fishermen who throw their catches back. DO NOT DO THIS!!!! If you do this, STOP! It doesn't matter if the fish is 2 inches! Put it in the water and make sure it swims away on its own. If the hook is in too deep for you to get it out, cut the line. I cannot stress this enough! You can traumatize even the biggest fish and it won't make it! I have lost about a half a dozen flies to this pond from the trees to the fish. So, don't be too careful when handling the fish. The fish do grow up some day! End of rant.

All in all, I enjoy this pond. It may be small and the catches few but it's a very relaxing time and it really helps to master my technique at presenting and casting. 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Dead Deer....Dead Deer Everywhere...

So, this year, I was really excited because I was planning on going deer hunting something I have never done before! Truth be told, I have never been hunting in my life! I have always wanted to do it but what has turned me off is that people don't truly "hunt" anymore but "bait" which, to most hunters, is not a problem. The hunters that do lay apples on the ground to lure in the deer obviously have no problem with this. Me, on the other hand, am very neutral on the subject. If you are out there just wanting some trophy 10 or 12 point buck and don't care about the meat, well, there's something wrong with you, personally. Hunting, just like fishing, to me is about catching or killing to eat because you a) want something better or different on your table or b) you are hurting for money and cannot afford that much meat.

Anyways, moving on to this hunting escapade of mine, there are deer all over the place in SE Michigan and NW Ohio. The only problem is this year, the weather has been so dry, the water has been stagnant. When there is stagnant water, the mosquitoes decide to visit and lay their eggs down. Not good. The deer then drink the water and the eggs because they're thirsty and they get sick with whatever virus and whatnot is in the mosquito larva. The deer then run around having, at least this year, bluetongue which apparently is all part of the West Nile virus. I have not read up on it enough but from hunters I have talked to on separate occasions say all the same thing. I have no clue where they get their information. For all I know they could be friends telling horror stories! : ) However, personally, from my own observation, I have noticed less and less deer in my backyard much less around the area because of very little rain. I mean, I have seen deer but they've all been dead. On the side of the road. It has been very discouraging from every outdoor activity this year in my area. The fishing has been terrible this summer from mid-June to the end of August into September. I just hope that the squirrels are prevalent in my yard so I can at least shoot something with my bow. I'm just itching to hunt much less fish. I know in northern Michigan and southern Ohio the fishing and hunting is great. In fact, a buddy of mine went salmon fishing a few weeks ago and caught a half a dozen beautiful salmon in the western part of Michigan.

Who knows. Maybe the winter will really bring in some good cold weather and fill the streams up. I mean it's raining as I type, which is fantastic but not so fantastic because tomorrow I plan to get engaged. I'm hoping for a beautiful day tomorrow much less a great winter and a fantastic spring and summer full of fishing this coming 2013! I will keep you all posted on the engagement! : )

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Carp Carrot by Mr. P

Sorry for the big gap in posting as of late. I just recently lost my job at the local hospital where I work. On a good note, I bought an engagement ring! : D It was funny because I bought it on the day that I was let go. Yes, I have no money but I will spend hundreds of dollars on a ring for my girlfriend. Fancy that. : )

So, because I have had time on my hands, I decided to try to tie some more flies. I saw that Mr. P, an excellent carp fly fisherman from Washington state has created a fly called the carp carrot. So, I decided to tie a dozen in a few different hook sizes, 6, 8, and 10 to be specific. Here are some pictures of what I used. Everything is from Cabela's so you can grab it off their site. Here is the link to the original post from Mr. P. I am in no way, shape, or form trying to copy him or his work. I am merely showing you so you can share the joy of his work. So, without any further ado, here's how I tied the infamous carp carrot.

The recepie straight from Mr. P's blog:

Thread: black or orange
Tiemco: 3769 sizes 6-10
Tiemco 5262 sizes 6-8
Bead: brass beads, tungsten beads, and dumbbell eyes in black, brass, nickel, and copper colors etc.
Body: orange yarn wrapped tightly or orange dubbin
Hackle: yellow pheasant rump

Dubbing. You can also use orange chenille for the body.

Showing what color orange to get.

Yellow hackle. There was no yellow pheasant rump so I had to settle for this.

Fly head cement. Self explanatory.

This Ultra GSP 200-Denier thread is crazy strong. O_O Although it does lose its color quickly, sadly. Use other thread if you don't want color thread loss.

Super glue.

I used these from Cabela's because the guy suggested them over the weighted eyes but use the nickle eyes and NOT these. These do not provide enough weight making them useless on a heavier rod. : (

Streamer hooks I got for an extremely inexpensive price on eBay.

First, wrap your thread, whether black or orange around the hook from the eye to the shank. You can also tie on the eyes first if you so desire.

Apply the dubbing back to the eye of the hook. I tried tying the eyes on last. It make work for you that you want to tie them on first but to each their own.

Top view.

Tie on the eyes unless, like I said, you want to tie them on first.

Depending on the size of the hook, don't use as much hackle. A little does go a long way!

Tie the hackle on between the eyes and secure it then wrap it around the back of the eyes going with the thread wraps.

Tie the hackle off, snip the excess, glue the eyes in place with the super glue and dab it careful not to mess with the hackle. You can also use the head cement. I use both. Whip finish the thread, snip it, and you're done!

So, there you have it. If you followed my directions, you have just tied Mr. P's carp carrot. Try it out. Trust me, you'll like it. He's pretty much a legend. : )

Saturday, September 22, 2012

New Camera!

So, I've been looking at getting a DSLR again for some time now. I had a Canon Rebel XSi and loved it! It was a great, light-weight, starter DSLR. I sold it to my friend for a trade of fly fishing gear/cash back in April. I was lonely without it and have been shopping for one for the past 5 months. FINALLY, after a long wait and search, I finally found one. The Canon Rebel T3i. I won't bore you with specs but you can find the specs here. The biggest thing that I absolutely fell in love with about the T3i is that it has a flip out LCD screen. SWEET! : D I am able to take some sweet shots without me lying on my stomach. Seriously. Fantastic.

I also had to revert to mobile to post because Blogger is acting up again. It may just be in my part of Michigan. Who knows....Very irritating because the times I want to write, I can't! So, I don't know. I may, once again, have to revert to e-mailing posts which makes the pictures really wacky. Oh well. enjoy! More posts on my gear coming soon!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Fly Tying Virgin

So, I went to Cabela's in Dundee, Michigan on Friday September 7. My goal was simple: to find some great deals and to buy a fly tying kit. I bough a Cabela's Three Forks 8wt fly rod for $40, which was a steal, 2 fly rod tubes for $7 a piece, and a simple fly tying kit for $50, which was the Cabela's brand, and some materials to tie some black wooly buggers. I spent a total of $130. I came out of the store a VERY happy man! : )

So, I left Cabela's after my girlfriend and I went to Applebee's for an early lunch. I got home, ran inside, cleared everything off the kitchen table, didn't even bother to read the directions, set the vise up, grabbed my Fly Tying Bible, and went to work tying some buggers. The first bugger looked terrible. Seriously, I swear a third-grader at an art class did this thing. It was that terrible.
My first fly that I tied.

First fly when wet.
Ok, so I may not be giving myself that much credit. I still feel like it looks terrible. I showed my parents and girlfriend. They were quite pleased especially since it was my first time ever doing something like this. It was not too hard per se, you know just getting used to it. The second one I tied turned out very nice...For a beginner.  : )
Second fly tied.
Overall, I am very pleased with my fly tying skills so far. I have tied almost a dozen black wooly buggers. I need to buy more tying material so I can tie different flies. If I am good enough, I may even sell them. Fly tying is loads of fun. It may take me a while because I want the flies to be perfect, but I enjoy myself every step of the way. More pictures and updates will be coming when I get more material and learn more things about tying flies. Cheers!


Sunday, September 2, 2012

Cut It With a Knife...

I posted this on the Cold Steel Facebook page back in February.

So, first part of the story is this: My best friend and "blood" brother Mark and I were out in the woods of some state park back in January of this year. He was hunting some squirrel with his Cold Steel blowgun and I was in charge of making a fire. Personally, I think it should have been the other way around since I FAIL apparently, according to Mark, at making fires. Anyways, so I am chopping wood and such and he comes back and there is no fire going. Well, we do get the fire going and we are each chopping up wood. When we are about to go, he goes off somewhere since he is determined to shoot a squirrel with his blowgun. I start to go with him but decide to stay behind and clean up. I start to chop a larger log, which was wet from the melted snow mind you, with my Ontario Kukri. I was wearing leather gloves which A. were give to me by Mark and B. were a God-sent because of what happened next. As I was chopping, the wetness of the log made the knife slip. My hand was clearly out of the way but at that point, I was trying to move out of the way so I wouldn't get hurt. The blade hit right behind the knuckle on my thumb. It went straight through the glove, naturally but not to the bone, thank the Lord. I quickly tore my glove off and looked at the wound and there was very little blood. I was thanking God at that point lol. Well, the end result was, I put New Skin on it and it was on there for a few weeks. Never got stitches for that one.

Second story is this: I was working in my yard with my oh so shiny new CS Gurkha Kukri SK-5 on February 7 of this year. I was so happy with it that I decided to chop some wood up with it. I was being extra careful since I knew what happened last time with the other kukri I have (or rather had since my friend Mark now decided to take the liberty of buying from me because of my accident. lol). I was chopping some logs up for a bonfire that we were having in the backyard to clear up some brush. My Dad was using his chainsaw and I was chopping wood in half for fun for our fireplace. Well, I was wearing my leather gloves as I did previously with my other knife incident since I knew that those were what saved my hand the last time and I didn't want it to be a murderous situation if it were to happen again. Well, here comes the stupidest of all stupid parts: I was HOLDING yes HOLDING the log with my left hand and striking lightly but just enough to get into the log with my knife with my right and that's when it happened. The knife bounced off the log and slid across the top to the left onto my gloved hand right below the index knuckle (see picture). I dropped my knife, ripped my glove off and by that time, I was bleeding everywhere since I struck a vein. I put pressure on it and was so extremely angry. I yelled to my Dad and he was a bit in shock and in frustration as well at the sight. We both went to the house where my Dad made me put my hand under freezing cold water to stop the bleeding. That was one of the worst moments of my life. My Mom at this point came home and talked to my Dad. After the bleeding stopped, my Dad took all 5, yes 5 of my CS knives off of my belt so we could go to the hospital. XD (I was laughing on the inside at the look of shock on his face.) Well, on the way there, I was praying to God saying thank you for keeping me safe. We got to the hospital where the doctor sewed me up. I asked him, "So, on a scale of 1-10, what do you think?" His reply? "A 2. You have to understand that I see men come in here with legs cut off by trains all the time (WHAT?! REALLY?!?! ALL THE TIME XD). Well, needless to say, I work at that hospital where I got my stitches and I got an order from the doctor for me to not go to to work that night (awesome! And I still get paid!). The lesson learned? Don't be stupid with sharp knives. Especially Cold Steel. The end. : )

Friday, August 24, 2012

I'm On a Kayak...

If you are like me and do a lot of shore fishing but want more freedom to reach them big ones out in the middle of the lake or just want to find some secluded spot to just relax, you can either swim, which I do not recommend, out to the middle of the lake with a life jacket, build a makeshift raft out of logs and vines, also not recommended but seems fun, or you can buy yourself a canoe or kayak. I myself bought a Field and Stream Eagle Run 12' kayak. It is very nice....I bought it at an extreme discount almost 75% off with the sale itself and coupons. Pretty amazing.
The kayak comes in 2 colors: red and camo. I choose to get red because I felt it suited me better and also if I was in a jam, it would stand out better. The kayak itself boasts a nice back compartment that has a water tight hatch. There are two rod holders, a nice adjustable backrest and seat, footrests that are adjustable, and it even supports 500 lbs! It only weighs 60 lbs to boot! Very nice if I say so myself. If you are in the market for a kayak, get this one. It is a great starter fishing kayak. I was considering getting the Future Beach Trophy 144 kayak but I declined since the Eagle Run boasted, at the same price, a larger weight capacity, which to me seemed more ideal. I know it seems like such a simple thing but I like the idea of being able to carry a lot more on the kayak. To each his own.
I have had the kayak for almost 4 months now, have fished from it on the Huron River at Dexter-Huron Metroparks and Sterling State Park and have noticed no problem with it thus far. In fact, it really glides, no better yet, flies on the water! My girlfriend, Lauren, can barely catch up to me and she's been kayaking for over a year! Even when going against the current in the Huron it flies. I think my only complaint is how thin the bottom of the kayak is. It is not much of a problem per se but if I want to keep it for years to come, which I plan to, I don't want the scrapes on the bottom to wear out the bottom in case I hit rocks. It has not become a problem but I just don't want it to, that's all. Overall, I personally give it 5 stars, a 10/10. It really is a great kayak.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Hocking Hills: Breathtaking Sites and Some Misunderstandings...

August 1, 2012: my Dad and I packed our bags and departed our house to head to Hocking Hills State Park. This was going to be my very first time going there! I was super pumped but fishing was more on my mind than anything! I was itching to go fishing and my Dad knew it. I said there was a nice trout creek in Rockbridge, Ohio called Clear Creek State Preserve. I wanted to go so badly! I knew there were going to be no trout because of the warm water but I still wanted to go in the hopes of there being carp or some bluegill and bass. We stopped a few times for groceries and food to eat on the way there but eventually we got to the fishing hole. My Dad dropped me off because we couldn't get any reception in the area to talk to my cousins who were going to join us at the preserve. My Dad said, "Meet me back in the parking lot in 30 minutes." *groan* ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! 30 minutes to fish a spot that I have never fished before?! *sigh* I went on my way with my fly rod and gear in hand. I walked for a bit and came to a split. It had some deeper water and I saw some movement of some bigger fish so I tied on a beadhead prince nymph. On my first cast that hit the water, on the drawback to cast further the fly flew out of the water with a 2" minnow on it. Great....Bad spot to fish. lol. Seriously minnows everywhere in that small pool. So I moved down stream to a very large open area where I saw a LOT of sunfish. I sent my fly flying a few times, caught a few of them despite them being so small. They were not afraid of me because they were biting at my legs! It was hilarious! I looked at my watch and it was the time that I needed to be back at the parking lot...Great. : ( I hiked back to the parking lot, met my cousins, we ate lunch, and went on our way to our sleeping place.

*sigh* Our 3rd grader cabin...
This is when things got really hairy. My Dad told me to punch in the address to Hocking Hills State Park...or so I thought. In reality, he told me, or so he says, to punch in the address to our cabin we were staying in. 45 minutes later, we find our cabin after much driving around aimlessly. Extremely frustrating let me tell you...We drive to the spot where the GPS tells us to go. We were dumbfounded. Why? Well, first off, the cabin we were staying in was in some backwoods, hick country. I am not saying that hickville is a bad thing but when there are trailers on some dusty, bumpy road in a remote part of the county, it gets a bit weird and hairy. On top of that, our cabin looked as if some third grader built it. No, I take that back: a third grader could have done a better job at building it. It was so poorly built....On top of all of this the cabin we saw on the website was NOT this cabin! That cabin was next door! Occupied by Germans nonetheless! We gave up after the gentleman who rented out the cabin didn't answer the phone after 4 separate phone calls. Very irritating.
Loading up the groceries in our awesome "log" cabin!
Vegetarian meal fit for a...vegetarian.
We are so roughing it!

We got settled in, checked out all the fancy features like the satellite TV and hot tub. Phew! We are so going to rough it these next few days! : D Yes, we were expecting something more simple and yet bigger. Yet the four of us, Dad, Dave, Rob, and I switched between sleeping in the queen bed and the couch and the floor. None of us had a very good rest those 3 nights....After everything was unpacked and put away, we locked up and headed to our first destination: Cantwell Cliffs!

Cantwell Cliffs....It was pretty much amazing. Especially after going to Virgina Kendall State Park for so many years! So much beauty and yet more danger which made it even more fun! : ) We saw the cliffs from below and above. My Dad was having a bit of trouble getting around because the cliffs were pretty steep and we were 3 strapping young men. : )
Entrance sign showing map and other such importantly boring stuff.
The stairs...

We eventually hiked around the cliffs to the top and hiked back through to the entrance where the stairs lead down again. From there we went to the other side of Cantwell Cliffs where there were more ledges and rock faces towering over us. It truly was a sight to behold. A lot of beauty. And a lot of fun!
Dave punches down the tree.
Rob does a better job at punching...

Dad and Rob really suffering....
We came back and "roughed it" some more by hopping in the hot tub and watching the Olympics. I personally was hoping to play a game of some sort like triominoes or Mille Bornes. Oh well. : ) It was still a lot of fun! There was a running joke all the while on our trip: I wanted to go fishing. I literally interjected "so, when are we going fishing?" into anything and everything I could from "We are going hiking? I hope there's fly fishing." or "Oh, look! A sign for a lake! Let's stop so we can go fishing!" Every single time my Dad laughed, shook his head and said, you guessed it, no.

We woke up the next morning, had breakfast, and hit the road by 9 AM. Our next stop: Rockhouse. Rockhouse is, as the name suggests, a house of sorts but more of a cave with quite a few entrances. It houses not people but pigeons. Lots and lots of pigeons.....
My cousins and I scrambled through the several entrances that the cave had to offer. We checked out all the nooks and crannys and I even dared to go on a ledge that was a good 25 feet or so off the ground perhaps even higher. To be honest, it was scary being that high up now that I think about it. A bit of nervousness set in when I had to climb back up from where I was since it was pretty precarious getting to that ledge I was on. I made it though, obviously. : ) It was a good feeling to accomplish that.

Amazing how the earth can shape a structure...

Oh, Dave. You're so funny. : )

Dave climbing into Rockhouse the "hard" way. He seems to be "between a rock and a hard place." ; )

Shot of Rockhouse on the inside.

Another shot of Rockhouse on the inside.

One of the entrances to Rockhouse.

View from my precarious perch. : ) 

We wandered about some more and after exhausting ourselves by climbing up every nook and cranny, we decided to take off for Conkle's Hollow. Oh, before I get to Conkle's Hollow, there was a family we kept seeing at pretty much every place we went to after Conkle's Hollow. It was pretty funny actually. We went to one park, they were there. We went to another park, they were there, too! Crazy! Anyways, back to Conkle's Hollow.
A somewhat OK view of Conkle's Hollow. In the background you can see the family who was following us. : ) The family is IN Conkle's Hollow.

A somewhat blurry picture of the "open portion" that my cousins and I explored.
Conkle's Hollow: a unique and beautiful place. A stream ran through the park and along the path that we were taking. It was a magnificent place. There was more openness to this despite there being so many trees. It was very peaceful and much more cool, to me, because of all the trees bending over the path. It was funny. As we were walking, there was a lady who was walking in the opposite direction who had an e-reader. I'm thinking, "really?" She looked like she was in her late 60s early 70s too! Anyways, there was a part in the path that the stream veered to the left quite a bit and under an outcrop. I examined it only to see crayfish and a small shelter. My family members were laughing at me because they thought I was going to try to fish the "small pond." We got back on track and meandered along the path. My cousins and I went off the trail a bit to do some exploring in an open portion of the park before Conkle's Hollow. My Dad called us down to continue on. Why because straight ahead was.....
Conkle's Hollow
Conkle's Hollow. Wow. This was awesome! There were small ledges, a bit of a waterfall, water, beautiful overhanging trees! Just gorgeous especially when the sun was shinning through! It was so awesome to see God's handiwork in all of this! To see His creation at work! Dave decided to climb on the rock ledges and look cool all the while Rob and I took off to explore more of the Hollow itself. We looked through a small overhang and took some pictures and eventually ended up sitting on a rock bathing in the sun waiting for Dad and Dave to finish up taking pictures. We gathered at the large boulder and sat down and had some cool refreshing water along with some power bars and gels.
A view looking up at Conkle's Hollow

Dave photobombing Rob's manly pose.

A view outward from Conkle's Hollow.

Dave on a ledge.
After a dozen or so pictures, we decided to pack it up and go back to the car. We sat down at a picnic table and planned on where we were going to go next. We decided to head on over to Old Man's Cave.

The Devil's Bathtub.
Old Man's Cave had a long hike to get to the actual cave. There were so many things to see along the way, though! For one, there was a series of bridges that you had to cross to get there not to mention it was almost a mile to get there from where we were in the parking lot! There were a few "falls" here and there. Sadly, the falls were not active and I never really took and good photographs of them. Something did catch my eyes and ears though. That was the Devil's Bathtub. In the spring or whenever there is rain, the Devil's Bathtub fills up with water to create falls. They say it looks really cool. I hope I can see it in action some day.

We continued onward throughout the park, across several bridges, saw several rock faces that looked really amazing from the weather and time eroding the face away. Finally, we got to the cave or overhang rather. We went through a tunnel which lead to the Sphinx Head and Old Man's Cave itself. It took forever but we were finally there! Woohoo!!!! : D
Rob standing in the entrance of the tunnel that leads to Old Man's Cave.

Old Man's Cave (or overhang rather).
This tree was growing off the cliff and upside down! Crazy!

The Sphinx's Head
Giant millipede. : )
 We hiked back to where we could access the parking lot easily. We all decided because it was quite hot, we needed ice cream. I, personally, think we should have given up the moment we saw the machinery and noises. Here are 4 construction workers, union no doubt, tearing apart concrete with a jack hammer attached to a backhoe arm. Literally 10 feet away was the ice cream shop, under an overhang so ALL the sound was amplified by 5000000x! I am not kidding either. I wish they were handing out ear plugs with the ice cream. I would have paid for them! We quickly ordered, got our ice cream, got back to the car, and ate in peace. Phew...No more loud noises!

I'm sorry. I stole this from here. At least I'm honest! : )
We finally got on our way to Cedar Falls. I am very sorry I don't have any pictures of Cedar Falls. I guess it was not memorable. lol. So, here's an image from the web on how Cedar Falls is SUPPOSED to look (I did give the link to the page on where I found it to give the author credit). On a side note, when we got there, there was no water fountain. We had to pump the water. Me, being the strong lad that I am, had to pump the water...for 10 people...It was okay though. I had a servant's heart. ; ) As we were traveling down to see the falls, which was an EXTREMELY short trip, i.e. less than 1/4 mile, and we crossed a bridge where there was about 4 feet of water in a pool. There were dozens of fish. Some of the minnows or whatever were living in there were massive! I wanted to go fishing despite them being so tiny! I was complaining to the gang that I should have brought my fly gear so I could have fly fished on my 1 wt rod. ; ) Well, we got to the falls, which were no falls at all. Seriously! A drop here and there! It was still breathtaking to see the towering cliffs on either side seeming to cave down upon us. The four of us decided to lay down on a slab of rock, which was nice and cool, to lay down. We lied there for about 15 minutes or so and decided to head back. We took the wrong path which lead us to backtrack which was extremely frustrating...

We finally got back to the hot hot car and were on our way with the air conditioning blowing in our faces and when that got too cold, we rolled down the windows to let the nice air wash through our shirts and all through our clothing to cool us down. We traveled to our last destination of the trip: Ash Cave.

Ash Cave, once again, was NOT a cave but an overhang with a lot of sand. It was very nice and cool, though. Very pretty. We walked around for a bit and my Dad and Dave decided to take a nap for a spell. They laid down and Rob and I explored. Rob went on some boulder in the middle of the cave high up on a hill while I took pictures and explored the bottom of the cave near and around the waterfall. All in all, it was a blast.
A lonely tree in the middle of Ash Cave...

The trickling waterfall of Ash Cave....
After everyone had done what they wanted to do at Ash Cave, we departed for our home. We had dinner, watched the Olympics, enjoyed the hot tub one last time and finally hit the sack. We got up on that Friday morning and had an endless supply of hotcakes at Bob Evans. It was delicious and terrible. I had the decency to stop after a few bites of the second plate but my Dad and Rob had a whole second plate. Needless to say, they were hurting. : )

We said our goodbyes, and took off. Dad and I got some fuel, which cost us an arm and a leg, and finally made it home. It was good to be home despite the trip being so nice....if only there was fishing involved....*sigh*