"The charm of fishing is that it is the pursuit of what is elusive but attainable, a perpetual series of occasions for hope." John Buchan

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Starvation - June 12th

This is out first trip out to Starvation, Rabbit Gulch to be specific, for the year.  Weather was a bit iffy as far as planning went but it proved to be a beautiful day on the water and well worth the drive.

Today was a bit cooler air temps then Monday was but the water at launch was a bit warmer nearing 59.  We never did see it get much over 60 before we got off the water just after noon.

We had seen reports that the perch were not yet in the shallows and that trout, small mouth, and walleye might be better targets to hope for.  So once we got on the water both of us were do a bit more of a mix between jigs near the bottom as well as actively casting around the rocky areas.  Both Jason and I got into the small mouth bass pretty fast near the rock wall where the buoys mark the shallow ridge.

We each had picked up a couple keeper sized small mouth in the range of 13-14" in length along with a good number of eager youngsters that got sent back to grow up a bit... er a lot....  They were still fun to play with.  I managed the one Perch that we got that day about this time too and it measured in at just over 10" long.  After looking around for possible perch or other marks on the finders we both moved off in different directions.  I went across the bay to the far side near the rocks following some comments I had seen in other reports.  Jason started working across but also to the west some toward the back of the bay (kind of)...  I don't think either of us had anything happen at all on the kick across though both of us tried a good number of things.  The finder didn't show much of anything either.

Once I got near the rocks I had a tandem rig of jigs near the bottom and my ultra light took a hard bend and after a very exciting fight I landed my first starvation rainbow for this trip.

Not long after that, and again from a jig near the bottom, I pulled in another nice rainbow.

I worked the area a while longer but the afternoon breeze started to tease us that it might start to blow and I didn't want to be on the wrong side of the lake and have to work against the wind.  So both Jason and I headed back for the rock wall under the buoys.  We got back into the small mouth bass and had some fun with them when I had a different but equally dramatic bend go on my rod.  A nice 17" small mouth finally surfaced after a wonderful tug-o-war (I won if you didn't figure that out...)...

The wind kind of gave up and didn't really ever give us much trouble.  This was much better then the forecast suggested and we were more then happy to have their wrong be in our favor for once.  In the end we had enough fish for a good dinner for both families that evening.  Final, for the keepers, count was 2 rainbow, 4 small mouth bass, 1 perch.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Tubing Strawberry - June 10th

Well it's the yearly trip to Park City again for the family for a weeks break from the usuals of life.  Jason and his family joined us again this year (with specific plans to get out and fish 2-3 times, wives permitting... 8D)..

We did manage to negotiate a Monday fishing trip and we made plans for Strawberry after looking over the weather reports for various options we were considering.  Strawberry has not been a place we have focused on before due to the slot requirements (and dare I say some of the stereo types that seem to come with that place...).  However it was the right pick in the end so we made it.  No reason to pass up a good day of fishing just because the location has some extra rules...  Plus this is my first trip on my new Outcast Prowler and I've been dying to give it a try (sitting on it at home does not satisfy....).

Well we headed up to the east portal area of the lake (no fee area) and got there as the sun was breaking the skyline.  I'm not sure what the air temps were for sure but the water was in the mid 50's.  Very little wind if any at all though the water surface had constant slight ripples moving across.  I think both Jason and I were a bit unsure what to focus on but some reports talked about white colors and minnow imitating lures.

 So I started the day with one pole out with a white tube jig and a bit of worm floating about 6' under a bobber.  The other line I worked through various spinners, jigs and lures actively casting and retrieving.  It didn't take long before the bobber started to dance a bit and I had my first fish on for the day.

Turned out to be a really nice Cutt about 18-19" long.  Fought well enough and already the air smelled fresher so I was happy.  This started a stretch from about 7:30am - 9:30am where I was doing most of my catching on the jigs under the bobber.  All but one thus far had been Cutts in the slot so they posed and got sent home.  The one was a 19" rainbow that didn't get a pic...  I think the idea of not being able to keep so many nice fish added pressure to not loose the one you can keep so risking the time to take a pic didn't win out... ;)

About 9:30am or so the bite on the jigs under the bobber had stopped.  Jason and I had moved out into deeper water seeing if things might change with location.  Fish were still breaking the surface but none of our offerings (jig, spinner, fly behind bubble, etc) were picking things up near the top.  Jason then radioed that he was having some luck with jigs just off the bottom.  So I rigged up accordingly and the bite was back on.  I managed one more rainbow that was going to get a photo, but proved my point by doing a flip and escape as I removed the hook.

Being good husbands and worried about impacting additional trips we hoped to get during this week we got off the water close to noon so we could be back to help with the kids before the kids were themselves for too much of the day... ;)  In the end we took the one rainbow in my basket home for dinner and sent a couple dozen back between the two of us.

Prowling the waters... - May 18th

This year (early April) marks a few things for me.  My 15th wedding anniversary, I've made 40 laps around the sun, as well as 15 years at my current job.  So in some odd way I found myself in the perfect storm for float tube buying.  Between b-day $, learning you can "cash out" on work gifts for service and some side line consulting work that came up just at the right time I found myself with too many pants with holes burnt through the pockets and I saw that action was required to remedy the situation... ;)  

I have been, as I do all to often, pondering and planning future purchases long before I should even consider the option let alone the possibility...  To be clear I have not been in any dire situation from a failure on my current float tube (North Forks/Scadden Freestyle H3) that I bought used a few years back.  In fact it has done beautifully since I got it and will continue to serve well for a long time yet.  So what was my reason for this change?  Well I do very much consider that the social aspects of going fishing to be essentially equal to the fun of fishing itself.  So I wanted to have a second rig to take a friend along on trips.  I had been pondering the possibility of a new tube for some time and was well aware of a few options that appealed to me.  I knew I wanted a float tube or frameless pontoon.  I'm very much done with frames at this time due to past experiences....  

I had narrowed my choices down to the Outcast Prowler, Outcast Super Fat Cat, North Forks Outlaw Escape, or the rumored North Forks Outlaw Predator.  All of these, in my opinion, represent fine upper end choices even considering that the MSRP pricing on these ranges quite a bit from $439 through about $999.00 (or more?)...  Honestly before the small amount of info about the North Forks Predator got out I was just focused on the Outcast products as the direction my next purchase would go.  I specifically went to the Sportmans Expo this spring to see the NFO booth and see this new Predator in person.  

I was so hopeful that with it NOT having oars, weighing even less then the Escape and rumors suggesting it might be a hair cheaper the the escape that I might have a new "luxury model" craft to pine for...  Well that trip and follow up emails to NFO pretty much dashed all of those hopes.  The Predator model as I had seen early info on the web about was canceled and instead a modified version was being worked on.  The new model is longer (closer to 8' vs 6'), has oars and is NOT going to be anywhere near the speculated price I had seen posted about the Predator.  Since I'm looking for a float tube the extra length, added cost of oars, more then 2x the cost that was rumored....  well it all left me pretty disappointed as I felt this portion of the market, the float tube portion, NFO as missing out on.  All of the changes made to the Predator make sense when you listen/read the posts people made about the Escape and it's use with oars.  I just wish there ended up with 2 options.  Now before I let this whole section get the better of me (more then it already has) this brings me to the final point that helped me finally pick my craft of choice.  This point is warranty..  One brand offers 5 years on the crafts I'm interested in and the other lifetime.  This point alone nearly cost me a bottle of antacids over the past month or two. ;)  Well let me sum it up on how I, my opinion again, concluded things.  When you buy things that are cutting edge and innovative you sometimes buy into things that don't work out or last (last not in terms of durability but in terms of a model being manufactured).  So when one company offers boats with 5 year warranty (and great track record from the many owners out there that these craft can last that long and longer when taken care of) and the other offers lifetime warranty (again with good track records from customers) but having demonstrated a higher turn over rate for models being created/changed and then some being retired I am not convinced that I can count on a lifetime warranty when down the road the model I might buy might go away.  So I simply declared that the warranty between the two brands was effectively equal as far as I'm concerned.  Everyone gets to have an opinion and I clearly have mine... ;)  Summary points:  NFO is more $ for the models I'm looking at and offers some extra features for usage cases I'm not trying to buy for.  So in the end budget and my intended usage finds's Outcast as the better value/choice.

So now that I had the brand portion of the selection handled I started assaulting the "info" email address at Outcast and a few retail outlets about little details such as pocket and seat dimensions, accessories, and some questions based on some on-line reviews I had read I finally made my choice and ordered.  I wanted the Prowler over the SFC because hey it's the top of the line, well I liked the features it has as well... ;)   I think the only grump I can make about the order process is in regards to MAP (minimum advertised price)...  I don't want to grump about it but I feel I need to be fair since I gave NFO some grief above.  I am not a business major nor do I claim to understand all aspects of the process of making and selling a product especially in this on-line age we are in now.  However I do like the idea of competition and MAP seems to take away some of the ability for a retailer to compete.  I was able to find one vendor that sweetened the deal with free shipping (a few did this part, or there were a few local shops) and a budget of free accessories based on how much your craft cost.  This worked out well for me but to be honest I was hoping to either find a local shop to buy from or to be able to buy from Cabela's (no longer carries the prowler) so I could use my points!  So in the end I bought online from out of state and got a better deal.

Anyway.... This post got away from me but I'll let it see the light of day still.  It's time for the few pics I have that show the PVC setup I've made as well and we can then call this complete.

As a kind of P.S. I wanted to add a few observations after having been out now on this tube 2 times.  First is that my PVC setup worked out pretty darn well.  I need to adjust it so that it leans out a bit more then it does but that is a simple enough fix.  There are 2 big benefits though that I did not know to look forward to.

First is that I get leg cramps often near the end of a fishing trip as kick back to the vehicles.  I have learned how to feel them coming on and how to work around them without it impacting my ability to get back safely. Mostly that is how far I bend my knees to bring my heal under me as I kick vs going into a flutter kick of sorts to minimize the bending of the knee.  On the new tube I have had a significant lower amount of cramps or near cramps.  It leaves me wondering if it is the seat or how the seat is shaped up front.  Instead of a flat seat platform like my H3 has or Jason's SFC has, the front edge of the Prowler balloon's up a bit near the front so that you sit in a pocket of sorts and as you kick it feels more gentle on the back of your thigh as you press into you kick vs the more firm edge I had on the H3.

Second is related, due to the seat, but different.  On my H3 I've had no issues being in the seat all day long, aside from being aware of possible leg cramps I mentioned above.  However the moment I stand up at the end of the day or as I have to slide my butt back in my seat using the pockets as arm rests to re position I end up with the area of my tail bone aching something fierce for a time.  It does not feel like the issue is with the tailbone, but more the muscles in that area ache and I'm not sure I've ever felt this doing anything else.  It's not the end of the world but it is annoying.  Well with how regular this issue has been I've been shocked at these first 2 trips on the Prowler as I've had NONE of this at all.  So right now I'm feeling like the comfort level of the Prowler is getting really high marks!