The Confluence

“Life, for the most part, inevitably becomes routine, the random confluence of timing and fortune that configures its components all but forgotten. But every so often, I catch a glimpse of my life out of the corner of my eye, and am rendered breathless by it.” Jonathan Tropper

I wanted to start this post with that quote because it is true. We often take for granted the small things in life because they seem routine or mundane. When my friend graciously invited me to participate in a camping/fishing trip I thought it would be a great way for me to relieve stress and possibly catch a glimpse of life out of the corner of my eye as Jonathan Tropper states.  On this trip, I fished an area where two mighty rivers came together in a beautiful spectacle. The confluence forms an awe inspiring ecosystem that without a doubt took my breath away.

The first night, we arrived after work, set up camp, and hit the river in hopes of catching one of the many fish species that call the area home. Due to the low water levels, the fishing was more difficult than expected and stealth was the key to success. After a few hours of fishing the riffles upstream of camp, I was rewarded with a toad of a Green Sunfish. It was the largest of this species of Sunfish I have ever caught.

 

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Home For The Night

 

 

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Giant Green Sunfish

 

After fishing, we headed back to camp to start the fire and prepare dinner. After a wonderful backcountry meal and camp talk we hiked roughly a mile over to the Confluence to view the convergence of the Rivers under the full moon. The sight was magnificent and I itched for the next morning and the view the vista in daylight.

Upon returning to my tent the sounds of the wilderness soothed me to sleep and I awoke early the next morning to the sound of flocks of Canadian Geese landing.  I crawled out of my tent and reignited the embers of the previous night. By the fire light, I rigged my pole for some pre-breakfast fishing and waited for the others to awake.  We hit the water and I was able to catch another large Green Sunfish. The Smallmouth, at this point, were still eluding us. So after breakfast we make the trek again up to the confluence.

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We arrived at the confluence around 10 am and rock hopped/ waded out into some of the best Smallmouth habitat that I have ever seen. I found an area where the channel constricted and could see a large group of smallmouth darting in and out of the current. I casted a Gitzit tube bait into the area and as I reeled across the channel a fish completely nailed the bait. I knew by the force of the strict and the aerial tricks that ensured that I had hooked a nice smallmouth. After wrenching the fish out the rocky bottom I was relieved to have my new personal best smallmouth in my hands. He may have only been thirteen inches but I was incredibly pleased.  After fishing for a while long my friend came to grab me. He had found a low-water refuge for the Smallies and had caught nearly a dozen in less than 30 minutes.

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My first cast into the area produced a 10” Smallie which my friend promptly told me to release because there were much bigger fish in here. I sent another cast into a channel near a large rock outcropping and let the Gitzit Tube drift. I had no idea about what was going to ensue as the bait drifted slowly toward me. The strike came with a force have not honestly ever felt before. My rod tip bent in a way that I was sure was going to make it snap in two. The fish was stripping drag as fast as I could reel. After a short but fierce battle the Smallie surfaced and my friend literally jumped in the make sure he could grab the fish in case the line snapped. When he pulled the fish out of the water I was in awe. We took a quick measurement and released the little monster back into the river. 18 inches is now my new personal best for Smallmouth and I don’t think I will best it anytime soon. I am definitely okay with that because I was blessed to be able to catch such a wonderful fish.

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This trip was incredible. From beautiful weather and scenery to comradery and new friends, I couldn’t have asked for a better way to spend 24 hours.

The Robinson

A Creek+A Fly Rod+Some Perch= Pure Joy

Backcountry Trout

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Benjamin Maximus: From Field Target to Field Applications

In a world of expensive PCP airguns there stands the Benjamin Maximus. Crosman developed the Maximus as an entry level PCP airgun that is both cost effective, accurate, and dependable.

 

Over the weekend, I competed in the Pryamyd Air Cup using my Maximus. I know some of you are probably shaking your heads but the rifle performed much better than expected. I was able to knock down a few targets at varying distances from 10 to 60 yards. Unfortunately,  I did not have appropriate optics in the Centerpoint Scope that was mounted. Without parallax, I really struggled judging the precise distances needed for a Field Target shoot but hope to get a new Leapers or Hawke before my next Field Target Match.

On the practice range

My friend used the Maximus in the Gunslynger competition and did very well. He was able to knock down almost all of his targets. Unfortunately, Reid was eliminated in the first round but commented on how much he enjoyed shooting the Maximus for the first time.

 

The applications of the Benjamin Maximus do not stop with plinking or target shooting. I arrived home early Sunday morning and after a few hours of sleep decided to watch the backyard in hopes of catching a groundhog feeding along the creekbed.  A large male emerged from the honeysuckle covered bank and began to feed in my direction.

 

I let him feed to within 20 yards and slowly raised the Maximus. I settled the crosshairs behind the his left eye and exhaled while tensioning the triggered. The Maximus went off and the groundhogs lights went out. My Maximus loves the Crosman 7.9 grain premier hollow points and with around 20 F.P.E of energy out of this combination it is more than enough to ethically harvest nuisance species such as groundhogs.

Monday morning the Maximus will be joining me while squirrel hunting on some public land near my house. I can’t wait to see how well it performs.

Read my other articles  here:

Pyramyd Air Cup: Day 1 Coverage

Benjamin Maximus Airgun Review

A Marauder and A Whistle Pig

Pyramyd Air Cup: Day 1 Coverage

The Pyramyd Air Cup is a 3 day Airgun only shooting competition located at the Tusco Rifle Club in New Philadelphia, Ohio. Over 100 shooters from across the United States and the world have begun to gather to shoot .22 caliber and under airguns.

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Registration began at 9 a.m. and was followed by the opening of the practice range. Around 50 shooters including myself took practice shots at 1 inch steel targets at varying distances up to 55 yards. Both the Maximus and Marauder performed very well this morning. The Maximus continues to outperform my expectations. A sub $200 air rifle that consistently hits targets at 55 yards with very little hold over is excellent in my book.

As I type this, I am awaiting the start of the Payday Challenge. In the challenge, I will be using an Air Arms T-200 shooting at a distance of 10 yards with open sites. I have not previously used this gun as it is provided for the challenge. It should be a fun experience.

Update: The payday challenge was extremely difficult. Even thought the rifle was very nice it was difficult to fire the aperture sites with safety goggles on.  The best score was 9 out of 12 and I boasted a whopping 1 out of 12.

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T-200, The Payday Challenge Gun
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Progressively Smaller Kill Zones for the Payday Challenge 

I can’t wait to break out my scoped rifles in the morning.

Read More Of My Articles Here:

Benjamin Maximus Airgun Review

A Marauder and A Whistle Pig

Feral Hogs: A Nemesis No More

 

The Robinson

I was recently invited to fish a stretch of the Robinson River that is only really easily accessible from private land. Most people associate the Robinson with Trout fishing but the river produces many quality Smallmouth and Rock Bass each year. The scenery at this spot was truly amazing.  Fields of soybeans and corn bordered the river on each side respectively. The river itself was crystal clear with a rocky bottom. Earlier in the 1990’s the side of the river were armored with large stone due to tremendous flash floods. These armored areas provided ample habitat for the many species of fish that call the Robinson home.

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We hiked up to a small bend in the river and waded out onto a small sand bar. From here I was able to cast down into some deeper water. I tied on a shad jig and threw the first cast down into the base of a rapid. As soon as the jig made contact with the water I felt the tell tale jerk of a fish on.  I reeled the fish in to find a 14” sucker on the end of the line. I quickly got him off and back into the water.

 

The next cast was to the same general area but off to the side in the calm water.  As soon as the shad  hit the water a large Sunfish hammered the lure. It was quickly retrieved and released back to the river. Strikes to the shad lure quickly died off after those two fish so I decided to switch to a spinner. Unfortunately the current was not enough to support the weight and the rocky bottom created too many snags.

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I switched to a yellow/white soft plastic and that was the ticket to fish for the rest of the evening. I was able to catch two new species to me near the end of the evening.  Finally, I was able to experience the Smallmouth fight that everyone seems to rave about on the Fishing Forums. I was impressed that for such a small fish such a great fight exuded from them  The last fish I was able to bring in turned out to be a Rock Bass. The coloration on these little guys is incredibly beautiful and getting to catch one was a blessing in and of itself.

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I am incredibly grateful to my friend and fishing partner for taking me to his family spot. Hopefully many more evenings of fun can be had at this location.

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Read More of My Posts Here:

A Creek+A Fly Rod+Some Perch= Pure Joy

Public Water Perch

Backcountry Trout

Fly Fishing: The New Addiction

A Creek+A Fly Rod+Some Perch= Pure Joy

Disclaimer: I hadn’t picked my fly rod for about 3 months; which in my mind is a relative sin but with wedding planning, a full-time job, and a part time job finding time to fish was not an easy undertaking. Saturday, I was feeling miserable from a head cold that had been looming in the background for nearly a week so I decided to let Mother Nature to do her part and help me get over the cold that had been plaguing me.

 
I didn’t really feel like hiking back into my normal spot so I walked down to the little creek behind the house and tried for a fun outing. I set the rod up and tied on a small Dry Fly that mimicked a mayfly. The first cast was perfect right to the rear of a submerged lodge where perch love to hang out. I stripped the line back towards me and as I crossed the log I got a strike. Here is where the above disclaimer comes into play, I missed the opportunity to set the hook. The second cast produced the same result.

 
Finally, after a few more casts I was starting to feel like I knew what I was doing again. I sent the fly into an area where an old hollow stump meets the water line. As soon as the fly touched the water a perch completely nailed it on the topwater; I set the hook and brought the little perch in. After a photo or two the little guy was released back into the creek. I realized after the release that that little perch was my first perch on a fly rod.

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I was blessed enough to catch four more good sized perch for this creek during that evening and found it difficult to leave. I am unfortunately endowed with that “just one more cast mentality” so I ended up fishing for close to two and a half hours.


The next evening, I decided to go a different route and hit the same creek with a different fly pattern. I tied a small nymph with a brass bead head on and caught 5 fish within 15 or 20 minutes. It seems like the little perch just couldn’t resist that fly.


Fly Fishing has really opened up a whole new look on fishing for me. I now worry a lot more about what fly I should be using and how I should be fishing it. That challenge of outsmarting a predatory fish is incredible to me. I am amazed at the complexity of some of the flies that are tied and am starting to tie myself. There is nothing more rewarding than catch a fish on one of your patterns.

Check out some of my other articles below:

Backcountry Trout

Fly Fishing: The New Addiction

 

Benjamin Maximus Airgun Review

If you have followed my blog over the last you know that I have a mild fascination with airguns. I have owned a springer in the form of a Hatsan Edge .25, currently own a Benjamin Marauder in .22, and recently purchased a Benjamin Maximus in .177.

The Benjamin Maximus is a single shot (PCP) Pre-charged Pneumatic chambered in .177 caliber. I decided to go with the Maximus because it produced just less than 20 Foot Pounds of Energy. This is extremely important as I plan to compete in the Pyramyd Air Cup and a requirement for the Field Hunter Competition is that rifles must produce less than 20 FPE.

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I unboxed the Maximus and was surprised by the quality of the rifle. I paid roughly $165.00 dollars shipped to my door from Crosman Corp. (If you want the details on how to get this price, just let me know and I can send you the details.)  The rifle handles surprising well and the finish is excellent for an airgun.

I mounted a Centerpoint 3x9x32mm scope onto the rifle and charged it up using my tank from Airguns of Virginia.  After about eight shots, I had the rifle dialed into the ten ring of the target at 30 yards. I spent the rest of the afternoon breaking the gun in. I cut the center out of three shoot-n-see targets.

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There are many advantages to this little rifle. Benjamin has produced a low budget, high quality, accurate, and user friendly PCP. Another awesome feature is that I am getting roughly 20 high pressure shots out of the gun for each charge. This is fantastic when hunting small game or just plinking in the backyard. The gun absolutely loves the Crosman Premier Hollow Points.

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The only disadvantage is that the trigger is a little stiff. This may break in over the next few months as I shoot the rifle more but it is still an awesome deal for $165.00!

 

Read More of My Articles Here:

A Marauder and A Whistle Pig

Feral Hogs: A Nemesis No More

The Long Stalk……

Public Water Perch

Fishing public lands or waters has never really been something I have been into until this year. To say that I have caught the fishing bug bad this year is an understatement; I think and talk about it constantly. My guess is it has to do with me becoming a more patient outdoorsman as I age. The thought of spending long hours on the water with no bites as a teenager and young adult would put me to sleep but as I sit here in my office I wish I had cherished those times outside with Mother Nature even if I wasn’t catching fish.

Last Friday after my typical hellish week I decide to pick my fiancée up after work and hit a local public lake. I had been once in the spring after the warm up but hadn’t had much luck. We picked up some bait on the way and pulled into a nearly empty parking lot.

With the fly rod assembled and my fiancée settled with her bait caster I began to work the edges of the bank in hopes that a perch would try for an easy meal. After an hour or so of fly fishing without much luck I decide to switch to a traditional rod and reel for a few minutes before we left for the evening.

The first cast went out a little far so I reeled the worm until it was dangling just over a shelf in the lake. I let the bait settle and immediately felt a fish hammer the hook. With the hook set I reeled in a nice palm sized sun perch. He had devoured the hook so I took care to remove it with minimal damage so that he could be released and caught another day.

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I sent out another cast to the same general area and boom another hit. I reeled in another nice sized sun perch and released him back to the lake. This water body is supposed to have a great population of large mouth so I can’t wait to get back out on a kayak and see what it holds.

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Times like these really make you realize how important it is to do everything in our power as sportsman to protect our public lands and waters!

Check out more of my blog posts here:

Backcountry Trout

Fly Fishing: The New Addiction

Feral Hogs: A Nemesis No More

A Marauder and A Whistle Pig

I have had my Benjamin Marauder for a few months now and I absolutely love it. The .22caliber is a great shooting pellet out past fifty yards and with around 30 Foot Pounds of Energy it has enough to take down most small game and nuisance species around my area of Virginia.

I have been taking the Marauder groundhog hunting over the past few weeks in hopes of taking my first animal with a PCP airgun but things haven’t seemed to work out. The distances in which I have been able to get to within the groundhogs have been over 60 yards or in high wind conditions so I have not been comfortable taking ethical shots.  

The hunt finally came together Saturday afternoon on a groundhog that I have dubbed “Nemesis”. He was a resident groundhog that lived in a thick overgrown honeysuckle bank behind my house.  Nemesis would consistently give me the slip while trying to get to within range.

Saturday evening brought a few rain showers so I kept my eyes on bank where Nemesis typically emerged from. Around 6 pm after the last rain shower passed I spotted Nemesis working his way up the bank towards an outbuilding.  I was able to get the Marauder loaded and get into position this time without Nemesis seeing or hearing me.

I steadied myself waiting for the opportunity to present itself to take a broadside headshot. Nemesis finally worked into 40 yards and then turned broadside.  I settled the crosshairs in the crease of the ear and squeezed the triggered. The Crossman Premier Hollow Point found and its mark. I followed up with a quick second shot to ensure it was over.

 

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Photo Credit: Watercolor_art_love

 

 

I am very impressed with the performance of the gun/pellet combination and can’t wait to get out hunting more this summer and fall!

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Special thanks to Airguns of Virginia for getting me outfitted with the Marauder and the intro into the world of PCP airguns.

Read More of My Blog Posts Here:

Backcountry Trout

Feral Hogs: A Nemesis No More

The Long Stalk……

 

Backcountry Trout

I have always loved the idea of packing a day pack and setting off in search of the elusive Native Trout that call the mountain streams of Shenandoah National Park home.  So with Memorial Day weekend here my fiancée and I set off for a day trip. Virginia has been inundated with rain over the last few weeks but we were determined to try to fit in a day hike between the rainy days.

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As we parked this morning and situated our packs on our backs the growing threat of rain was a reminder that Mother Nature is always in charge. We made the first mile down to a tributary to the Conoway River in no time.  I assembled my rod and immediately noticed that casting was going to be extremely difficult due to the thick vegetation along the creek bed.

The first area I decided to try was a shallow pool in between two different sets of rapids. It appeared to be about to 4 feet deep at the center with some nice riffles and rapids coming into and exiting it. This was perfect Brook Trout habitat.  I tied on a brown midge with a barbless hook that I thought would mimic the local bugs. My first cast fell a little short but I let out some line and let the current drag the fly down into the area where the water began to still near the edge of the rapids. I began to slowly zig zag as I stripped the line in. WHAM! A small brook trout flashed at the water’s surface but neglected to commit to the fly.

 

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Photo Credit: Watercolor_art_love

 

I casted again in the same general area and received another light strike on the fly. I will have to admit that I am a lot more familiar with the way a rainbow hits a fly. The brook trout seem to hit and run. Setting the hook on these little trout is a challenge for a newbie fly fisherman like me. I ended up have a few more bites over the next hour but nothing that produced a landed fish.

 

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Photo Credit: Watercolor_art_love

 

We took a break for lunch and then headed off in search of the next hole to fish. We hiked for another 2 miles and came to an area that due to the heavy rains was not crossable so we headed back. It was a good thing we did as Mother Nature dumped on us soon after we reached the truck.

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Things I learned from this trip; Brook trout are way smarter than people give them credit for, a 9 foot rod is way too long for backcountry trips, and it’s difficult to fish the high mountain flows after large rain events. I absolutely loved this little trip and am glad I did it. It will better prepare me for the next excursion after these little guys.

Read More of my Articles Here:

Feral Hogs: A Nemesis No More

The Long Stalk……

Fly Fishing: The New Addiction

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