Thursday, September 24, 2009

Traditional knives

Case XX 6332 Stockman (circa 1940-1964)

I came home feeling I should write about something yet I haven't been out fishing since my last trip a few weeks ago. We have thankfully been getting rain almost every other day so I am sort of excited to see what the rivers will look like soon. Maybe I can finally get out to target some wily carp! But until then I think I can talk about another favorite subject of mine, pocket knives.

Much in the same way that some time ago I gravitated from conventional tackle to fly tackle, in recent years I have gravitated from the one-handed "tactical" knives to the more traditional type; slipjoint knives to be more exact.

Case XX U.S.A. 6318 stockman (circa 1965-1969)

Nothing wrong with one-handed knives but just like there is a indescribable satisfaction to casting a fly and then some close quarter combat with a fish that just ate it, there is a satisfying feeling in using a traditional multi-bladed carbon steel slipjoint to, let's say, handle a mundane task such as slicing up an apple. The patina that develops on those blades along with the natural handle materials such as jigged bone also gives the knife a sense of "soul".

When I was 10 or 11 years old my dad got me my first pocket knife, a small Buck stockman. I loved that knife and one day I broke the main blade in half trying to use it to dig out some dirt clods.

Several years ago when we moved my dad into a retirement home, I ended up with the last pocket knife he carried which was an Schrade Old Timer 8OT stockman he purchased in the late 1980s. I cleaned the old knife up being careful not to remove the dark gray patina, sharpened and oiled it and placed it in a knife box for safe keeping though I have carried a couple of times for nostalgia sake.

I have several production traditional slipjoints from makers such as Queen, Case, Schrade and Great Eastern Cutlery. Most are three bladed stockman knives and some other patterns like trappers and canoes in carbon steel and one or two in stainless steel. All are users. I am also on the waiting list of a custom knifemaker now to get my first custom slipjoint made. I can't wait!

Charles May FireAnT fixed blade knife

Being outdoors when I can, I have also seen the need for a good fixed blade knife. I have had a couple of them but I recently received my first custom from a great knifemaker by the name of Charles May from Mississippi. I was looking for a small, high quality pocket sized fixed blade knife for every day use as well as for attaching to my lanyard. He had a model called the FireAnT that was perfect. I communicated some of my requirements (such as S30V stainless steel for when around saltwater) and waited over a year for my turn to come up. Besides being a great knifemaker, Mr. May is known to be a great outdoorsman, hunter and fisherman. I highly recommend his well thought out knives.

My hope is that one day I will pass on some of my well loved traditional slipjoints to my kids or grandkids and hope they experience the satisfaction of carrying and using a lovely old tool.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Grateful for the rain but ...

I was in South Texas this week to visit family and get some fishing in. I spent Wednesday in Harlingen visiting my parents and then in the evening drove up to Corpus Christi to meet up with my cousin to prepare for fishing on Thursday and Friday.

I woke up at 3am to the sound of heavy rain. By 3:30am there was thunder and lightning. At 5:30am when I got up to head out with my cousin to pick up a friend who was going with us, it was still raining.

We kept watching the radar for a break in the weather. By 9am we headed to the boat ramp. It was still raining but no thunder or lightning. No other trailers at the boat ramp either. This was either foolish or we are hard core.

Since my cousin is a USCG certified captain, I trust him when he said the rain would let up in time for us to fish and that in case it didn't, he knew what to do if the weather got worse.

After an hour of being out on the water, the rain eventually subsided and I took off my rain suit. The afternoon was fairly nice with cloudy skies. The bad part is that we threw everything but the kitchen sink and only ended up with a couple of small trout to show for it. We think all that fresh water getting dumped into the Laguna Madre did something to the fish.

I was hoping to fish some on Friday from the kayak but the morning ended up with more rain and so I headed back home earlier than planned. It rained all the way back to Austin.

I am grateful for the rain but wish it would have rained the week before or after I took vacation to go fishing. I'll get those reds and trout next time.

Monday, September 07, 2009

A little fishin' and a little rockin'

My son has been asking me all weekend to take him to the local guitar music store for their big labor day sale. He got a Gibson Epihone SG for his birthday in July and probably plays it every day. He invited a guitar player friend of his, John, from school to go with us. But before the store opened we were going to the local pond to fish.

We got to the pond around 9am and my son started off with foam spider fly. John was fishing with a small spinner lure on his baitcasting outfit. I could see some decent bass in the shallows and we saw fish jumping out of the water several times attempting to catch dragonflies. However, catching was a bit slow.

As I was reminding my son on casting the fly, I dropped the fly near a bass and as I stripped, a small bluegill hit it instead. I had not brought a large selection of flies and nothing to mimic the dragonflies so I tied on a size #6 yellow foam gurlger fly and showed my son how to strip so that it would pop and gurgle and I handed the rod over to him. While the fly lay there, I suspect a bass was eyeing it so on his first strip he got a bite and we landed it.

We could see small bass here and there but the boys were eager to head to the guitar store. I did take about 15 or 20 minutes to give John a lesson on the basics of fly casting. He was good at using the baitcaster reel and so I told him that just like he learned to use his thumb in controlling his cast, he would have to teach himself not to break the wrist when casting with fly rod and that it would take practice. Lots of practice.

The boys were done and we came back home to pick up my youngest daughter and we all headed to the guitar store. The boys really like this store because there are plenty of amplifiers and cords to plug the guitars in to play them. There is also a room for the acoustic guitars as well as a room with drum equipment. We spent more than an hour in the store then stopped by a burger joint for lunch before heading back home.

I have to rest for a bit since my oldest daughter and her boyfriend want to borrow my kayaks this afternoon to paddle around a small local lake. I also have to start getting my gear together for a trip I am taking to the coast in the middle of the week.

Have a relaxing Labor Day y'all!