Wednesday, February 22, 2012


  by coty_soult
, a photo by coty_soult on Flickr.
Few things in life live up to expectations. Food, movies, books, heck anything that is hyped to no end. "Try this it's the best", then you try it with these ungodly expectations and you're even more bummed then you are happy, just because you had this explosion of senses mind only to be let down. Today I bought a case, not a sixer, not a growler, but a case of beer due to expectations. Let me tell you this, it lived up to, and exceeded every one of the expectations. I even drove 45 minutes to buy this beer and still...... Wow, that is all I can say.

After reading all the hoopla, I found out that this beer was being released this week and decided that I was going to track some down. Turns out there is one distributor within 3 hours that sells it and it's 45 minutes away. So, the plan was to go over on Tuesday to get some. Well, that didn't work out but I was was determined to try this beer, and try it fresh. I went today, got home and immediately poured a beer, ignoring my no drinking during the week (other than pool night, of course) rule.

As you can see from the picture, it pours a smooth copper while holding a nice head. The initial smell is a mix between pineapple and grapefruit. It could be the perfect marriage of hops and maltiness. The taste is very similar to the smell, and at 7.5 ABV it hides the alcohol perfectly. I can still taste this beer even as I write this, 45 minutes later. Needless to say that overall I think this beer is amazing the only thing I can't figure out is why it is not called an IPA. I mean it has all the characteristics of an IPA but with the name of Imperial Amber Ale. IPA, Imperial Amber Ale, it doesn't matter this beer is great, and is going to get a rating of 9.5. I have to leave room for a perfect 10 even if I never try one.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Dries, Beer, and Snow

Since I've gotten serious about fly fishing I have heard stories about Spruce Creek. Some good, like the fact that many famous people have fished there, including presidents. Some bad, this involves the fact that the majority of the stream is closed to the public and the fact that they put large pellet fed fish in the stream. The latter strikes a nerve with me, I don't believe that anyone should be able to own a creek, stream, river, or run (what the difference between these is almost impossible to figure out). It just doesn't seem right, there are definitely selfish reasons for me feeling this way. I want to be able to fish and enjoy the beauty of any stream that I want. Just wake up and think "I think I'll go to ------- creek today" then just leave. Sadly, this is not the case, but luckily there is a small stretch of this stream that is open to the public. I had stopped there last year just to check it out after fishing the Little Juniata River, and decided that the next time I was in the area, I was gonna fish it. This section is called the George Harvey section, and is named after the very influential fly fisherman and instructor. As I understand it Penn State purchased this section and opened it to the public. This is a beautiful piece of water, there are nice pools, riffles, and runs throughout this small section of stream.

Having a whole day to fish, because my wife and daughter were off shopping, I decided that this is where I was headed. I got to the stream about 10:00 am, the sky was over cast and I am pretty sure that the temp was about 30 degrees, the water had the limestone green tint to it and from what I can tell, it was up a little. There were a few cars in the parking area, and not knowing this stream, I wasn't sure if that was going to amount to too much pressure or not. It turned out to not be that much pressure at all. Starting out, I hiked down to the bottom of the open section and began to work my way up stream. I missed a fish almost immediately, I knew that this was going to be a good day. I picked up three fish between 10-13" all on skuds, then decided to take a break for lunch.

First 2012 Fish On A Dry
 I met a guy in the parking lot and BS'ed with him for about 30-45 minutes while I ate. He told me that if I walked up the road I would run into "the Penn State hole" and that this was a nice and productive hole. As I started to walk up the road it began to snow. Now, I'm not a fan of cold weather but when it starts to snow and you're already in a beautiful place it always seems to make it that much better. When I got to the hole I did what I always say I'm gonna do but I'm always to anxious and impatient to do, I watched the water. After sitting there and watching for about five minutes I noticed a rise, then another. Well earlier in the day I saw midges coming off but saw no risers, so I knew what to do. Tying on a Griffith’s Gnat I could hardly even wait to get the fly on the water. It's been a while since I've caught a fish on a dry, well, since fall, and I don't know about you but if I could fish with dries every time productively, I would. So I waited to see the fish rise again and the after about twenty seconds I threw out the first cast, the fish took the fly immediately, I set the hook and the rest is history. I brought my first fish of the year on a dry fly to hand, not a big fish, but a decent brown with some beautiful color to him. I love that buttery color that wild browns get when they are in a fertile stream. After that I noticed that there was another riser on the other side of the stream, this fish was not so easily caught but I got him on the fourth cast. It was a smaller fish, but fun nonetheless. 

That was it for the risers for the day I also only hooked into one other fish, a huge bow that took a San Juan Worm but shook me off before I could bring him in. This, for the second time this year, I'm sure would've been the biggest trout I've ever caught. I had one on a Spring Creek that I would guess would be around 20+ inches, and this was the same. Oh well, it'll come.

After having a great day on the stream I figured I'd stop in at the Spruce Creek Tavern to get some food and beer. In my last blog, I said I would start to review beers, well, this provided me the perfect opportunity to do so because they had Spruce Creek Lager on tap. Before I do this review, I have to say that the brewers of Spruce Creek Lager (Otto's Pub and Brewery) also make my favorite IPA, Slab Cabin. They have a small brewery and restaurant in State College so you know that the beer is going to be fresh, and it was. It has the straw color of a Pale Lager, and I think this beer used to actually be called a Pilsner. The malt taste is a little overwhelming making it sweeter than what I want out of beer, with little to no hop flavor. The head on this was about 3/4" and didn't last long. If you are an American Lager lover then I think you'll enjoy this beer and on a scale of 1-10 I think I'll give this beer a 7.

On the topic of beer we bottled and kegged the Honey Weizen that we brewed about a month ago. After sampling it out of the bottle, the beer turned out great. The carbonation is still a little on the weak side out of the bottle, but I suspect that this will only get better with time. We will be tapping the keg this weekend and I don't expect it to last long. I'll try to get a pic to post so you can see what it looks like before it's all gone. We also brewed the next batch, this was brewed exclusively for the spring party that I'm planning. It's in the fermentor now and I'm gonna try to stay out of it for a month, it's gonna be hard.

Friday, February 3, 2012

12" Makes A Huge Difference

In my last entry you saw my other rod, an 8'-6" 4wt rod, and I love it. The problem is that about 60% of the fishing I do is on small streams. Streams that I'm finding out have been grossly underrated but that's not what this post is about. I decided that I needed a different rod to fish these streams, but I didn't want to spend a ton of money on one. So I did some homework and decided on Cabelas Three Forks rod. I was like a kid waiting for Christmas with this rod, well, I am for anything I order through the mail but... The rod only cost about $50 dollars and is worth every penny from what I can tell so far anyway. I also got a Scientific Angler 3 wt reel to match it, I bought it used but it doesn't have a scratch on it and it came lined with a WF line. They balance perfect together. The rod is a little less flexible than I'm used to but I think it works well for the purpose.

I set out today at about 12:00 to use the new setup. The sun was shinning and the temperature was about 40 degrees, but it felt warmer, and the water was cold, not sure how cold ,but it was cold. I started out using a dry in hopes of enticing a rise, no such luck. I didn't waste much time on this dream because there were fish to catch (yeah, sooo cocky). I put on a hares ear and immediately caught probably the darkest brookie I've ever caught and I forgot to take a picture of it. Something I should tell you, I can't leave a nymph on fishing for brookies,  it just doesn't seem right. Needless to say I took it off after the next pool and put on a black bead head wooly bugger; which by the way might be the best and most versatile fly ever made. After tying on the WB that's when the real action started. At one point it seemed like every pool brought a strike, hookup, or fish. I came to a pool that was directly in the sun, this is unusual on these small streams. It turned out to be the best pool of the day. I'm sure I stung every trout in this pool, and it It also produced the biggest fish. Fish in these streams are never "big" but if you realize that in the beginning then when you do land something with some size then it can be a pleasant surprise. All the fish that were caught today were in the 9" range, except one that was about 6", that's a good day on a mountain brookie stream.

After fishing for about an hour I realized I had barely spent any time in the trees. This is huge because on these streams I spend more than my fair share in the trees and bushes. This was only the first time using this rod so it may be an anomaly but if this holds up I will be extremely pleased.

Something else I've learned recently is that I love taking pictures while I'm out fishing. I just can't seem to get them to fit into the blog the right way... But I'm working on it, it's just not going so well. I do NOT need another hobby so I gonna try to keep it to just fishing pictures.Tomorrow I'm headed to Spruce Creek and tribs, and if there is enough time I'll hit the Little J also. Hopefully I have something else to report then.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

"Fixing" My Fly Rod

I know it's been a while since I've posted anything, well I've been pretty busy lately and haven't had a lot of time for my hobbies. I do however have a few things coming up and something that I would like to post about now, but before I do I wanted to let everyone know that I will be doing beer reviews on here in the future. I won't get all fancy with them, but I will tell you what they taste like and and give them a number 1-10 on how "I" think they taste. I'm doing this for a few reasons, one is that I love to taste different beers and this just gives me an extra excuse to do so. Another reason is that I can't always remember what I've had, and what I thought about them. So I figured that this could be a log for not only me, but you can also get an idea what they taste like, and it might save you from buying some really bad beer because there is some really bad beer out there.

Anyway on to the topic of the this entry. My favorite fly rod had a reel seat that had cracked finish. This can be very annoying not only for appearance but more importantly for function. When the reel seat would get wet (and it always does) it would cause the wood part of the seat to swell, this make it extremely hard to put the reel on or take it off. So I called Orvis; the maker of the rod, and asked how much it would cost to repair. They didn't know for sure but suspected over $100 dollars. Well, me being the cheap ass that I am I figured that I could fix it my self, and so that's what I set out to do.

The Broken Rod
Boiling The Seat
I read some where that you could boil the seat long enough to heat and soften the epoxy so it could be removed. I thought that this sounded pretty easy, I mean I have a stove, pot and some water how hard could it be. I put the reel seat in the water and let it boil for a while..... When I thought enough time had passed I started to pull, when I did the end cap came off fairly easily. The first thing that popped into my mind was "this is going to be easy, I might even be able to save the cork". Wrong. I put the rod back into the pot to let it get hot enough to pull the rest of the seat off, within a minute the cork began to fall off and I started to get impatient. So I pull the rod out of the water and started to pull again, nothing happened, so I twisted and pulled. Now, let me tell you something right now, if you ever try to do this at home NEVER, EVER, twist. I did, and I heard a snap. This is when I got a sick feeling in my stomach, you know this feeling, the one where you messed up really bad and just know that there is no way of fixing it. Yep that's it, I knew it, I had broken my rod under the cork. At this point I'm freaking out. It took me a little while to cool down but when I did I came up with a plan. I remember there being some graphite rods at work that we could use anymore, if it was the right size I could epoxy it in the hollow part of the rod to reinforce it and epoxy the rod back together. After cleaning up the rod pretty good and getting all the cork off of it, that's what I did, and it worked out even better than I thought.

New Reel Seat
Fitting The Cork
I was now back to square one and had to make a reel seat, order some cork, and epoxy it all back together. When It came to the reel seat itself I decided to make it out of Bubinga. This is a pretty exotic wood that might be the hardest wood I have ever worked with, so I figured it would be pretty moisture resistant. The cork I had to order online and took a little bit of work to ream out both for the reel seat to fit in and for the rod to fit. But all in all it didn't turn out too bad and I just hope that I don't have to do this ever again, but I doubt it.

The Final Product

I am going to try to fish both Friday and Saturday, and we are kegging/brewing this weekend also, so there will be more coming soon!