Artist: Nate Wilson

Artist Nate Wilson sent us a beautiful giclee print of this Brook Trout. Probably one of my all time favorite fish to chase in the PA mountainside all year round.

Nate paints from Lockhaven Pa and below you will find a little bit about him in his own words.

“I grew up along the banks of the Juniata River in Mifflin County. Our house was about seventy five yards up the bank from the river. I spent most of my summers, weekends, and evenings in or on the river. I was always in the water; fishing, snorkeling, or dragging nets through the weed beds to catch minnows for my fish tank . The river was a huge part of my childhood. I think that is where I learned to pay attention and notice the complexity of the natural world.

I have always fished; sometimes more then others. The first fish I remember catching on my own was a 5lb carp on a brown and white zebco closed face rod and reel . I used to wade the river by my house flipping rocks for helgrammites to use as bait for rockbass and small mouth. I have never been a great angler and have probably caught just as many submerged branches as I have fish. With the exception of a few deep sea fishing trips and some opening days of trout season I am a catch and release guy. I enjoy the chase, the fight, taking a look and letting them go. Like many anglers I am happy just to get outside and enjoy some peace and quiet. I have some friends that have threatened to teach me fly fishing. I just have never got that far yet.

I started painting fish a while ago. I think its been about seven years since I began using watercolor.I have always made art. My parents were bothe art teachers. One of my first memories is drawing on a big roll of paper on the floor with my dad. I am three or so. He draws something then I draw something.

I went to art school and have a bachelors and masters degree in printmaking-from Edinboro University of PA and Tulane University of New Orleans. I used to make big woodblock prints and giant paintings. Those things are fun to make but take up a lot of space. When I moved in with the women who would become my wife we had a small apartment and it wasn’t practical to make giant works of art. I tried my hand at watercolor. I had not used it since high school. It fit the space I had to work in and it was easy to clean up. At the time I was making a lot of art that I was not satisfied with. I decided to go back to something that had always interested me; nature.

Watercolor is a challenge. There is no going back from a mark, no erasing. It takes patience and flexibility. You have to work in layers. You have to preserve your white of the paper. I never had a class on it. I have just kind of figured out my own way. The art school background helps obviously. I find it to be meditative and relaxing.

Painting something that exists in front of you forces you to look at it, examine it, appreciate it, to consider its place in the world. I paint fish ( and other things from nature) because I want people to see their beauty and intrinsic worth. If they can see that then they may be moved to protect it. I want to live in a world with clean air and water. I want to be able to wade in a creek and catch native fish while a blue heron rests in the shallows, and while turtles sun themselves on the rocks. I want there to be coral reefs and rainforests, polar ice and prairie dogs. I think we are at the point now that if you want to be able to enjoy nature then you have to do something to help protect it. Art is one way that I can do that.

I dont just paint game fish. I do a lot of ocean stuff, coral, reef fish. etc. I have done a lot of commissions. One of my favorites was a big painting of a bumphead parrotfish for a Marine Biologist’s office. He also used the image in his thesis. I have done some gamefish stuff for anglers; someone’s biggest fish or special catch. If I am not doing commissions then I am just painting..I also teach elementary and middle school art, that keeps me busy. The painting thing is more for enjoyment then anything. I would like to do some more stuff related to conservation- That is something I am working at.”

Nate has some really amazing pieces available through his Etsy page. https://etsy.me/2LFCN3K

I will definitely be picking up a couple more of these prints. Thanks Nate for the story and the great piece! Cheers!

Keiryu Rod Co.

Early this Spring I got a chance to talk to David Giddings of Keiryu Rod Co. and talked in length about the differences between Keiryu fly fishing and Tenkara fishing. First off with Keiryu fishing you have the ability to use several fishing methods that are popular in Japan which are fly fishing, lure fishing and the ability to use live bait. Now I am a traditional fly fisherman and like to use handmade flys that are typically artificial and I am in no way a baiter. But this rod intrigued me. As David says in his main tagline on his website, ” The simplicity of Tenkara, The effectiveness of bait.” The Rod is made of high-quality IM8 and IM7 carbon and comes with a 10-year warranty. Now with its whopping 17.7 foot stature once fully opened, this rod is highly effective with perfect presentation. And when used with a weighted bait line, the Keiryu line exhibits a vertical “drop” into the water vs. “laying” on it. The best is, the result is virtually no drag and an irresistible presentation to trout. I paired up the owner rig which comes in the “complete kit”  allowing me to pop on live bait which you really could find anywhere around you while out hiking. I happened to put on a live grasshopper that had wandered to close. Once in the water, my line was instantly tight with PA mountain wild Brook trout attacking the live bait. If you’re not the live baiting kind of person, then you can easily nymph as well as use dry and wet flys. You really can reach out with this rod. It is well balanced, medium action,  and is spec’d to an RFI (Rod Flex Index) value of 5.7 designed for American waters. Now a little bit about Keiryu and what it means exactly.

KEIRYU is Japanese. Translated, it means “Mountain Stream”.                                        Keiryu is a traditional and highly popular Japanese style of fishing that uses a long telescopic pole, a line, and a hook. While it is very similar to Tenkara, Keiryu uses a longer rod that is typically paired with a light line and live bait. It can also be used very effectively with flies and nymphs like mentioned earlier. 

RODS: Keiryu rods are quite long. While Keiryu rods can range anywhere from 8 to 25 feet in length, the most common Keiryu rods are 17-20 feet. For comparison, Tenkara rods are generally around 12 ft (with some models extending to 14.5 ft.). So, in general, Keiryu rods are quite a bit longer. They are also stiffer than Tenkara rods, making them well suited for drifting live bait that is weighted (using split shot) to get underwater.   

ROD ACTION: As stated above, Keiryu rods tend to be stiffer than Tenkara rods. Generally, Keiryu rods have stiffer mid and lower sections and more flexible tips, making them more of a fast action rod.  As a result, Keiryu rods (in general) are better suited for setting hooks on fish striking bait or nymphs in deeper water. The flexible tip allows the fish to take the bait without feeling resistance, while the stiff mid-section allows you, the angler, to quickly pull the line up and set the hook.  Because they are larger and stiffer, Keiryu rods can handle larger fish and are less prone to breakage.

RIGGING: Japanese stream and river anglers predominately used live bait and that is what their Keiryu rods are typically fished within Japan.  Think mayflies, caddisflies, midges, or worms. In its purest form, anglers use what they find at the fishing spot.  Effective? Amazingly so, but and this is extremely important to note, Keiryu rods also excel when fished with wet or dry flies on typical Tenkara lines. Nymphs, in particular, work very well with Keiryu because the stiffer/fast action translates into a faster hook set.

Keiryu Rod Specs:

  • 5.4 meters = 17.7 feet.

  • 29.5 inches closed.

  • Weight: rod weighs 6.2 oz (5.6 oz without plug).

  • Medium action, stiffness, and flex.

Overall this is a pretty great rod. A bit heavier then I am used to compared to a tradtional Tenkara rod but very effctive in the right setting. Stop on by Davids site and check out the rod for yourself. David also has something new in the works so give him a follow on Instagram as well as checking by the site when you can. Cheers!

https://www.keiryurodco.com/

Alpine Leisure Co.

Lauren Sussi owner and founder of Alpine Leisure Co. sent us out one sharp looking reel cover. Made in the U.S.A and made from locally sourced materials this thing is built to last. Measuring around 5″x 5″ closed this has a small enough footprint where you can wear it on your belt or lash it on a bag and not really know it’s there due to it’s super lightweight feel.

The APEX Reel Pouch is a highly functional pouch made from a waterproof 1.6 oz SilPoly fabric. Complete with a 1 inch D-Ring and belts-loops on the backside of the pouch to allow you to use it as a rod holder while you’re out on the water. The 2-inch velcro enclosure gives you the option to adjust to a larger or smaller reel and rod handle. Two Sizes available: Small and Large.  Made in the USA by Veteran Hands!

FEATURES:

  • Protects Reel and Rod Handle

  • Doubles as an “On the Hip” Rod Holder

  • 1.6 oz SilPoly Material

  • Water-Resistant

  • 1 Inch D-Ring

  • 2 3/4″ Beltloops

  • 2″ X 2″ Velcro Enclosure

  • Two Sizes:

    • Small (up to 4″ Diameter x 2″ Wide)

    • Large (up to 6″ Diameter x 2″ Wide)

Here is a little bio about Lauren in his own words.

“I started my company in 2016 sort of by accident. I bought a grand trunk hammock online and didn’t like the feel of it so I made my own out of some 1.9 ounce ripstop nylon fabric that I had laying around. I showed a couple of good buddies my hammock I had made and they both wanted one. I slowly started selling them to my friends and it quickly replaced the custom men’s jeans that I had been making to support myself for years. Additionally, I’ve been a full time student at the Art Institute of Raleigh Durham the whole time I’ve been operating my business, and now have finally finished up school and will have more time to focus on developing new products and marketing and other aspects of the business.
   As far as fishing goes, I started on the fly when I was 8 and fished only dries until I was 24. Growing up in central Idaho, I was spoiled by different species of trout and clean high mountain rivers, streams, and lakes. Now that I live in North Carolina, I do most of my fishing either in the western part of the state, around Boone and the Pisgah National Forest, and on the coast for salt water species. I intend to expand more into the fly fishing world and find a way to bring hammocking and fly fishing together, in a way that makes sense and that hasn’t been done before.”

Alpine Leisure Company’s goal is to offer lightweight, long-lasting products that are manufactured in the USA, from locally sourced materials, that will benefit the community as well as positively impact the environment.

Thanks again Lauren.

https://www.alpineleisureco.com/

Smokey Blue Supply Co. Fly Wallet

The, on the go, fly wallet offered by Smokey Blues is made out of hand waxed canvas, genuine leather and sheeps wool. It holds all of your fly fishing essentials, from all the flys you need to different tapered leaders. It also comes equipped with a pocket on the outside of the wallet to hold any extra tools or maps. Only being 8 inches long and 4 inches wide this wallet can fit right in your pocket or just be tossed into a backpack. We offer it in 5 different colors, black and camo, tan and black, cream and green, navy blue and silver and maroon and black.

Here is a little bio about Andrew Cook, The owner and maker of Smokey Blue Supply Co. in his own words.

I’ve been fishing all my life, and I started sewing about 4 years ago professionally but always have been into making my own product for fun. I started making fly bags this past year for myself as a hobby and they really took off at my companies craft fair and through people I’ve met fishing on the river. My wife Kathryn has been pushing me every day for quite some time to start the company I’ve always wanted to start. Which brings me to Smokey Blues Supply Company, the name originated from really our two favorite dogs that have passed on, that would follow us wherever we went, especially Blue, he would go fishing and surfing with me anywhere. We do a lot of traveling and are currently based out of Reno, Nevada in a tiny home but feeling the itch to move again to the pacific north west. I love to fish the Truckee River here in Reno but my favorite place would be Northern California on the Mad River and surrounding areas. I’ve tried all types of fishing, but small river fishing for trout is what I really like. We like to keep our designs simple, functional but most of all great quality, we do offer repairs to any item that we make for a small fee keeping our product in your fishing family for generations. Follow us on Instagram at smokeybluessupplyco to stay up to date with new releases and free giveaways. 

Check out this piece of gear and Andrews other masterful pieces at:

https://www.etsy.com/shop/smokeybluessupplyco?ref=search_shop_redirect

Matt Monahan of The Mighty Blue Gill

In the mid 1800’s Japanese fishermen began rubbing rice paper on inked fish to prove the size of their catch. Function evolved into form and an art form was born. Today Gyotaku is celebrated globally, and Matt Monahan is proud to represent various fish of the southeastern U.S. He prints his own fish as well as those of others by commission. It’s like taxidermy where you can still eat your catch!

Here is a little bio about Matt and his art career and fishing.

“I grew up in Naples, Florida and have fished my whole life. As a kid we would fish everything from rock quarries for bass and gators to deep sea fishing in the gulf.
I went to college in Chattanooga, TN and got married and stuck around. The fishing is a bit different here, but I’ve grown to love the trout as well as all the bass and panfish. My current aspiration is to break the Tennessee state record for the yellow perch.
I recently won the TN master angler I patch for catching five different trophy fish. Master 2 is at 10.
On the art side of things, that has an interesting story. I’m a teacher and used to teach Asian history. I visited and studied briefly in Japan and I nearly moved my family there years ago out of love for Japanese culture.
I taught a fishing class in my high school and the art teacher told me that since I loved Japanese culture we ought to make gyotaku of our fish. We tried it and I fell in love and haven’t looked back.
I’m now on the board of the Nature Printing Society and my art has developed into a side-hustle of a small business.
Trout are my favorite to print in light of the colors and complexity. (They are much more delicate than most fish, with fine scales and incredible colors–it was years before I could successfully print them.)
I suppose the dream is for this to some day make enough income to do full time, but until then I’ll enjoy a hobby that is also profitable and gets me fishing creating! “
Matt sent us a pretty snazzy Snap back hat with one of his designs embroidered on it which you can check out along with all his work at:

Camas Creek Soap Co.

We got a little care package in the mail recently from Amy Grows at Camas Creek Soap Co. These soaps are pretty amazing. I’ve been using them after coming back from a day on the water and this time of year my hands are so dry and cracked but these soaps are pretty therapeutic. Also I love the different motives she has. I chose the fish version for obvious reasons. Look at that Brookie on there. Great designs, great soaps and overall a great little company. Below is a little bit about the company in Amy’s own words.

“Welcome to Camas Creek Soap Company! I started making soap as a way to provide a quality, simple product for family and friends who live and play in the beautiful outdoors of Idaho. With the harsh winters our skin tends to dry very quickly. Camas Creek Soap has become a local favorite for those looking for a gentle cleanser, a perfect gift or alternative for sensitive skin.

All of my soap is made is handcrafted in small batches, from a rich blend of olive, palm and coconut oils. Some bars contain an exotic butter to add different qualities to the batch.

These vegetable oils and butters are gentle on the skin and great for soap making. Unlike commercial soap, handcrafted soap produces a high glycerin content from the soap making process. The milling process of commercial soap extracts the glycerin. What you get is a hard, long lasting bar that instead of moisturizing your skin, strips it of the protective oils, leaving it dry . With handcrafted soap, the glycerin will help moisturize the skin and protect it from drying out.

I use herbs from my garden, teas, and other botanicals to add texture to each bar. Essential oils are added for scenting as well as fragrance oils for those who are looking for a particular scent. I use natural colorants for some bars, others are left natural without added pigment. After the soap has been poured into the molds and have set overnight, they are hand cut at our studio in Sagle Idaho.

Camas Creek handcrafted soaps are long lasting and provide a luscious creamy lather that will leave your skin feeling clean and soft without drying.

Check out Amy’s shop on Etsy. She’s got tons of different soaps! I suggest the 3 pack sampler! Thanks Amy!

https://etsy.me/2UBNE2P

Wading Water Co.

Wading Water Co. is a great little company based out of Central Coast California.

Katherine Chenoweth is a fly-fisherman and owner of the company. She started Wading Water back in 2015 to provide handmade headwear and accessories to the avid outdoorsman.

She has also partnered up and donates 10% of proceeds with Caltrout Inc., a nonprofit organization that helps protect and keep waterways in California healthy and fishable. These are the same waters that Katherine enjoys fishing and visiting as often as she can.

You should do yourself a favor and check out the link below. She has a lot of different designs and some really cool stuff. The hat she sent me is super warm! Perfect for winter fishing.

Thanks again Katherine!

wadingwaterco.etsy.com

Instagram @wadingwater

Tim Gault

One of the highlights of this past summer was to get to talk to Tim Gault. An avid fly fisherman, artist and conservationist. Here is a little bit about Tim and what he does in his own words. Definately worth the read.

Pictured here is one of my favorite pieces and one of many that Tim has made.

“I’m a professional designer, creative director and fine artist living in Portland, Oregon. When I’m not in my studio, I’m often found roaming art galleries and museums, enjoying live music or sports, fishing, or doing things with my family. I’ve been creating art my entire life and painting specifically with watercolors for over 20 years.

My Passion for Nature:

My fish paintings are meant to be reminders of just how beautiful and exciting these simple creatures can be. We’ve probably all been around a stream or lake and caught a glimpse of a fish jumping or flashing by underwater. Maybe you’ve watched a trout swimming behind a rock, it’s tail waving back and forth at just the right speed to hold its position as it awaits its next meal to drift into view. If you have, I think you’ll agree it’s a pretty cool moment when you get to experience this elusive and fleeting view of a hidden world.

This is the feeling I really want to express in my paintings. I want you to feel as if you’ve just caught that momentary glimpse of a sleek and beautiful creature partially obscured and distorted by the flow and glistening of the water in which it moves and lives. The patterns of refracted light scattering through the water surface and dancing across the fish add even more beauty, which is a theme I’ve grown more and more interested in portraying in my work.

More importantly, I worry about the health of our waterways, along with the rest of the environment on our priceless and beautiful planet. Fish habitat and numbers have been dwindling for decades, often due to little thought for the impact of our social and economic decisions on the wildlife we know is there, but aren’t confronted with on a personal level. I want to draw attention to how special and important our fisheries are by taking them from the hidden pools and eddies out there in the wild, and placing them smack dab on the walls, clothing and products we encounter daily. I hope my fish paintings can have a positive impact, no matter how small, on the struggle we humans have to live in harmony with nature.

My Technique:

When painting, my goal is to always maintain control of every stroke, drip, wash, glaze, shape, line, color, value and texture I’m using. However, one of the truly beautiful aspects of watercolor is its tendency to give accidental and unexpected results, especially when painting with what’s known as wet-in-wet technique. Just as it sounds, wet-in-wet simply means painting with wet paint on wet paper. The reason unexpected things can happen when doing this is because the paper doesn’t stay completely wet for very long. So if I brush clear water on the paper, then brush wet paint, then more clear water followed by more paint, certain areas have started to dry and interesting things happen when wet areas run into half dry areas. The results are very hard to control and don’t always work out for the best, but they can often add the interesting and beautiful effects that make a painting unique and exciting!

This technique is exactly how my paintings typically start out. After several hours of work, I let the painting dry, then I do a new layer over top being careful not to cover over the most exciting or interesting areas of the first layer. This second layer is typically done in a combination of wet-in-wet and wet-on-dry paper as I more distinctly define the shapes of the subject I’m painting. I continue to work layer after layer in this way, letting each one dry after spending several hours.

How many layers do I use? It just depends upon how many it takes before I feel I’ve achieved my personal interpretation of the subject. Also, I feel strongly that a painting is only as good as its weakest area, so it’s important to be thorough. Sometimes this means doing more work on a painting I thought I’d finished a month ago, because seeing it with fresh eyes I notice something not to my liking. It happens all the time. It’s tricky though, because overworked watercolors loose their freshness and that’s not good. Part of being a good artist is knowing when a piece is finished, which is much harder than it probably sounds!”

I really want to thank Tim for sending out some samples of his work. His technique and eye for colors and design is second to none.

Check out Tim on his website or any of the links below. Tim also has an Etsy shop where he sells his art and right now he is running a special free shipping deal now through the holidays.

https://etsy.me/2SGqlmC

www.timgault.com

instagram.com/timgaultfinearts

facebook.com/timgaultfinearts