A Big Hearty Thanks

I want to thank all of you for your comments and for visiting my site.  In some ways I’m a novice and many of you are on Gravatar and I am having a bit of a problem getting to your sites.  Thanks again.

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This is a repost from another site. All I can say is WOW!

via He’s a Wonder

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In order to beat the funky winter blues I decided to plan for some fishing trips during the year.  To paraphrase an old TV western my motto is, Have Fly Rod Will Travel.  While I have a number of places close to me there is always that question in my mind, “What’s around the bend” and so begins the process.

To start with I took out a map, actually it hangs on the wall by my fly tying bench and looked for lakes and rivers within a two hour drive from my location.  Armed with this first batch of mega data the next step is to try and narrow the field.  So how does one go about this?  First determine if you are hiking a distance to wade a lake or river or if there is an access that will allow the launch of a kayak or canoe.  This will break up the data into two groups.

Regardless of which type of activity there is one book that any outdoors person should have and that is a DeLorme or a similar type of map book.  These map books provide detail regarding access sites for a wide range of activities like hiking, fishing, hunting, golf etc.  In addition each page usually is a county and so besides major highways county roads and unpaved roads are shown.  Also there are usually points of interest listed.

This is when I might go to the internet and start searching for information concerning the places I’m thinking about.  The United States Forest Service, State Departments of Natural Resources and universities to name a few places where information can be obtained.  Some of my searches revealed papers written by either universities or DNR personnel regarding studies of certain rivers with details about the species, sizes and numbers of fish found.

Based upon the above findings another source of information that can prove invaluable are forums like Michigan Sportsman’s or YouTube.  Also Google Earth can provide some very good topographical data about the areas you are interest in.  In one instance I found that I could access a certain section of river with around a 20 minute hike through the forest and down a hill.  In another I found where a person had placed a video of his drone flying over a back country lake I was interested in.

We still have not exhausted the various sources of information.  One of the last sources are called guide books.  The pictures below show a few of these but in addition there are books on rivers or hiking trails.  Check out your local bookstore or even a used bookstore.  The wealth of knowledge that is available from all the sources should provide a person with enough information to have a great time.

One last bit of advice is to take a compass and know how to use it.  You can take a GPS but batteries fail and if you are going into the bush be smart.  Don’t depend upon your cell phone as cell tower access or the lack thereof can be a battery killer and you may need it for other purposes.  Another thing is to study the topo maps of the area you are going into and printing one off to take it with you.  Take water, energy bars, bug spray, sunscreen, matches, knife, whistle and a first aid kit.  You may never need all these items but it is better to have them.  Have fun and enjoy your outing.

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I was speaking with my wife on the phone after putting in a twelve hour day and she asked me what my plans were for the next day as I had no obligations.  I told her that I was probably going fishing but where I had not decided. It dawned on me that I really did not have any contractors, inspectors, and clients or family issues to be concerned with. I was going to have a day to myself.  The weather forecast appeared favorable and so I decided to venture to one of my favorite rivers.

The river itself is a favorite among many kayakers and canoeists as it is clear, somewhat swift in spots and relatively shallow so many amateurs are fond on this stretch of water. Also although I like this river I do not normally catch trout larger than 10 inches but what is lacked in quality is normally made up in sheer quantity. Thus the reason for my choosing a 3 weight fly rod.

I drove into the campground by which the river is located and found only nine campsites occupied and most of them did not have anyone present indicating that they had left for some other activity. I was pretty pleased by now as I figured I had the river to myself. Donning my waders and grabbing my gear I took the short trail to the river and carefully entered it while trying to stay in the shadows and casting towards the shadows on the far side of the river.

Looking at a log in the river it was easy to determine that it would hold a fish due to the current break and how the water flowed both over and under it. Determining areas where fish can be found is an article unto itself and not all fishy looking areas produce. Suddenly the morning calm was broken by the not so tranquil sound of two kayakers having a rather heated dispute.

She: “Get out and push us off!”
He: “This water is cold and I told you I don’t like water sports, besides I have my shoes on.”
She: “I went golfing with you and didn’t complain and all you’ve done is gripe.”
Me:  Thinking to myself. It’s at least two hours to the nearest take out. This will be a day neither will forget or possibly one of them live through.

Aware now of their presence I kept an ear and eye peeled for when they would round the bend so I could move out of the way. From the corner of my eye Mr. and Mrs. Bickering appear and there is not a smile on either face. I move over to the side to allow the novices plenty of room to pass but it is in vain as they are dead set on a collision course with me.

With nowhere to go I brace for the impending impact and feel the bow of the kayak ram my hip.
Panic strikes the couple as they both apologize and blame each other for the incident and become hopelessly stuck on the log jam as the kayak swings around with the stern facing downstream while high on a log.

“First time kayaking”, I ask. “Sit tight and I’ll free you from your predicament”. Taking the bow and pulling the kayak upstream frees the stern and prevents them from tipping and sends them downriver while smiling and advising them to have a good day and enjoy the river. Most people are not aware how sound travels in this environment and so the Bickering’s continue their journey.

Smiling to myself I wonder what force of nature brought these two together and in the recesses of my shallow mind figure that the guys mother must have really given him a lot of lunch money when he was in school.

I resume my fishing but move downriver a bit due to the disturbance and eye another spot. With patience and some skill I allow the bead head nymph to dance precariously close to some semi submerged logs. If you want to catch fish you must be willing to sacrifice a fly or two as the river gods demand their tribute. Resistance is felt and I set the hook hoping for a fish and not a snag. The pull indicates a healthy fish and the fight is on. Winding the excess line unto the reel and concentrating on landing this fish is job one, thinking about the photo op is immediately removed from my mind. The fish makes a number of runs seeking the shelter of the log jam but somehow the rod has sufficient energy to stop him short and finally he is brought to the net.

This scene was repeated a few times that day and once my concentration on landing the fish was so great that I failed to see a group who had stopped upstream and observed me landing the fish and their presence was announced by a round of applause as I brought the fish to the net. One member of the party even filmed it as he had never seen anyone actually fly-fishing let alone bring a fish in. I wish I had asked his name and requested a copy as I normally fish alone so it would be nice to have.

There is never a bad day on the water as the river is always changing and nature provides entertainment, be it a deer drinking, a beaver working on its structure, or any other wildlife that calls the area home. Nature provides a broad swath of entertainment found nowhere else.

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Mounting Rod Holders on a Perception Kayak

In an earlier post I demonstrated how I had modified one of my kayaks for fishing and now I am going to show how I modified my Perception Prodigy to use it for fishing.

This particular type of kayak is not easy to mount rod holders on due to the design of the gunwales.


The portable type that fastens to the gunwale does not work well due to the configuration (see figure 1) and most permanent rod mounts require a 2″ by 4″ mounting surface.


There is a setup made by Scotty that would work but the cost was more then I wanted to pay and also it was made for light to medium use.  Due to the fact that in my area we have some large catfish, northern pike and salmon I wanted to go with a heavier application.

The cockpit of the Prodigy is quite long so I opted to go with the application as shown below.



The base plate for these mounts are 2″ by 4″.  I mounted them on a piece of treated lumber that was 5/4 by 22 by 2 3/4 which provided strength for the mount and also allowed for distance between the rod holders.


In order to drill the holes required to mount the board to the kayak you first need to determine where you want it mounted from your position in the cockpit.  Once that is determined drill a hole in each gunwale.  Next place the mounting board in position and anchor it in place with clamps and then using a drill mark the position of the hole in the underside of the board.  Next remove the board and with a larger bit drill the hole in the desired spot.


With the holes now drilled in the board drill a countersink and then dummy mount the board and place the base plates on the board and mark the hole positions.  Next remove the board and the base plates and drill out the holes.

I then sanded the board, stained and sprayed it using a high gloss plastic.  Next mount the board as illustrated.  I used washers to add strength to the first curve and then used a nut in the outside curves.  The one tightens the washers to the board and the other tightens to the nut on the underside.  On the underside use a washer and a nut for added strength.  You will want to makes sure this is securely in place.

Inside view


Outside view


Next mount the base plates on the board and secure in place.  Make sure that all connections are tight.  As a final step place cap nuts on all screws to prevent scrapped knees.


One other item I picked up is this nifty device that can fit to the back of your seat or attach to the kayak.  This will hold two rods in an upright position.  There is also a pocket in the center where one can place food, bug spray and sunscreen.  These are available at most marine facilities that sell kayaks.


The whole setup was done more as a prototype and will probably be replaced with a more attractive finished product.  This worked exceedingly well during the test phase.  One other improvement I may attempt to employ in the platform for the rod holder is a place to hold my depth finder.

Anyway if you have a kayak with this type of gunwale give it a try.

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Mounting Rod Holders on a Kayak, part 2

In the prior post I discussed how to mount rod holders in the back of your kayak.  That was a fairly easy project.  Mounting rod holders in the front part of the kayak is more difficult.  There are a number of items to consider when you undertake this job.


Flush mount: the rod holder sits flush on the gunwale, this is permanent.

Deck mount: the rod holder is elevated above the deck, this is permanent.

Clamp on: the rod holder attach to the kayak via a clamp.

Once you have decided on the type, the next question is how do I mount it.

The answer is dependent upon the gunwale of your yak.  For either the flush mount or deck mount you will require a flat surface of 2 inches wide by 4 inches long.  Once you identify the area on your kayak that meets the requirement, you need to determine how it works for you.

The determination of placement is critical and no specific measurement can be given due to each persons height, arm length and paddling style.  Another factor is the length and width of your cockpit.  To decide upon this, you need to sit in your yak with your paddle and based upon your reach, mark where you think this meets your needs

This article will deal with placing deck mounts on your kayak.  As you can see I made the marks where I felt they should be placed and then placed the mounts there to insure they would fit.


Once you are comfortable that this is where you want them, drill the four holes for mounting the brackets as shown below.


Something important to remember is that your kayak material is not very thick so I cut a piece of wood that was longer then the mounting plate in order to add extra strength.  I place rods in the holders and troll with them.  A large fish can really place a lot of stress on the holder and the yak.

Place some sealant on the underside of your mounting bracket and screw it into place on the side of your yak.  Do not forget to place the wood stabilizer on the underside of the kayak and tighten that down.  I also used cap nuts to protect my knees from getting scrapped by the end of the screws.


Well, we’re done so what are you doing sitting here reading this?.  Mount up and let’s go fishing.



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Mounting Rod Holders on a kayak, part 1

When I purchased my kayak it was not specifically a fishing kayak but, as time passed I used it more for fishing.  That’s when I found that some modifications were required to make this use convenient and comfortable.


The first challenge was to install flush mount rod holders in back of the seat.  This would keep my rods off the floor when I was launching or docking.

To begin with I needed to see if I could access the interior of the back portion of the yak.  By removing the hatch cover and then the hatch itself I could get access. This allowed the use of screws and nuts to secure the flush mounts.  If your yak does not provide access then you will have to rivet them in place.




Once I determined where the holders would be placed, I used templates to determine where to cut out the holes.


With a felt tip pen carefully draw an outline of the templates.  Then after drilling a pilot hole, grab your jig saw and go to work cutting the holes. Stay on the line as you will want a nice snug fit.

Once the holes are cut, file or sand the edges to remove any burrs.  With your shop vacuum suck out any debris that has fallen in.

Now carefully see if the holders fit snugly in place.  If you have to remove more material, do it a little at a time to prevent cutting to large a hole.  Once you have found that the holders fit snugly in place, remove them and apply a water proof sealant around the outside of the hole and replace the holders.


The holders are now in place and the final step is to either rivet or screw them in place.  Drill your pilot holes. Again, the holes should be just big enough to provide a tight fit for the fastener.


This all seems like it is a very quick and easy job and it is once you have done the proper layout work and confirmed it will work before you ever cut your first hole.  If you are averse to cutting holes in your yak there is an alternative.  There are some aftermarket rod holders that attach to your seat that you can buy.


The next post will deal with mounting rod holders on the side of the kayak.  Stay tuned for that project.

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Honey, I’m home. (the wife’s prespective)

(I blog at faithsighanddiy.com)

When I realized Doug was really going to retire , I was




Scared my life would change dramatically. Scared I’d never be able to shop again. Scared we’d never be able to afford to do the things we wanted to do.

Until I realized that:

  • I wanted to change my life dramatically anyway.
  • I shop at Goodwill anyway.
  • The things Doug and I enjoy the most don’t cost anything anyway.

But on a more serious note, I really was scared. It was the unknown, and I like things wrapped up in nice, neat little packages.

small gifts

small gifts

What I knew for sure, though, was that I wanted my husband around more. While all the traveling was exciting and the fact that I got to accompany him a couple times of year gave us both opportunities we never would have had, it was really hard being apart from each other two weeks every month. Not to mention worrying about him when he was “across the pond”.

I never could understand why wives dread their husband’s retiring because they don’t want their husbands underfoot. I couldn’t wait for him to be underfoot. I mean, isn’t that why you marry someone? Besides I was tired of having a long-distance relationship, especially at a stage in our life when we should’ve had more time with each other not less.

Couple spending time together.

Couple spending time together.

As far as the finances go, we had never lived beyond our means. It was just last year I traded in my eighteen year old Taurus. Besides, I like “old” rather than new. Even my husband. (Just kidding, honey.)

We had taken advantage of every financial opportunity that came our way, maxing out 401 K’s etc. Plus, Doug is one smart man. I should’ve trusted that he knew what he was doing.

I couldn’t be happier Doug is home now. I love watching him get to fish and hunt as much as he wants, although I’m always having to remind him he doesn’t need to wait for the week-ends anymore.

Doug fishing

Doug fishing

(I had two pictures but the “boss” nixed it as he thought it made him look fat. And this is one day after a large study proved that men are many, many times more narcissistic than women. Ya’ think?)

I love seeing his excitement over finding a new body of water that needs to be challenged.

I love knowing when I’m downstairs praying, he’s upstairs doing the same thing. I love holding his hand in church, at the movies. I just love that he’s home.

My fears were so totally unfounded.

The best words I’ve ever heard, “Honey, I’m home”.

Honey, I'm home

Honey, I’m home

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I was born tired and I’ve been having a relapse ever since. So a person could rightfully say I’ve been retired since birth.

Retirement is a state of life that many dream about. Some do not plan for it. Some enter it and find out it is not the Promised Land but a place of strife, unhappiness and possibly financial hardship. The two primary categories I’m addressing today are the financial and lifestyles dimensions of retirement.   They overlap and the attention to one will have an impact on the other.

FINANCIAL: It has also been said that free information is as good as the price paid for it. And while this information, along with a five dollar bill, will get you a designer coffee at Starbucks. Hopefully there will be some gems that might be of value.

I have a Bachelors and Master’s degree majoring in accounting and minoring in economics, was a Chief Financial Officer for a number of years and also run my own financial consulting business.  In addition I am an avid reader of “The Wall Street Journal and “The Financial Times”.

The dream

Let’s start with some basic facts agreed to by most economists.

In 1975 88% of workers with plans covered by their workplace had defined benefit plans, today that number is 35%.  More private sector employers switched to 401(k) plans during that time frame with varying degrees of matching which resulted in employees becoming more responsible for their retirement.

A 2010 survey by the Federal Reserve found that the median amount saved through 401(k) s by those households approaching retirement was $100,000. Considering that a person would need to live on that for approximately 20 years one could expect to receive around $417 per month.  Couple that fantastic amount with $1,260 (what the average person receives monthly from social security) and you can see why some folks continue to work well after retirement age.

They cannot afford to retire.

You don't want to be here!

You don’t want to be here!

Another consideration is health insurance. In 1988 66% of retirees were covered by an employer’s plan while in 2013 that number has dropped to 23%. Medicare does not cover all medical expenses and therefore obtaining a supplemental policy is a necessity. Medicare Part B is deducted from a person’s monthly retirement check and in 2015 that amount is $104.90 per month. (Hope you’re following the math.)

The number of Americans working beyond the age of 65 has increased. The reasons are the recession, economic necessity from lack of financial planning, or just due to the fact that folks are living longer and they don’t want to outlive their savings. Also many people, myself included, loved what they did and elected to hang on to that part of their life.

Those are the facts. But what is the plan? Outside of searching for a wealthy spouse who is in bad health and has one foot in the grave and another on a banana peel there are a few more realistic options.

Slipping on in!

Slipping on in!


 First participate in your employer’s 401(k) if they have one. Otherwise begin investing on your own. If your employer has a 401(k) that matches and you are not participating then you are giving up free money!

As regards to investing, there is a simple rule. No one one beats the market year after year. Invest and leave your money alone. Don’t read the stock market reports every day. And if someone is telling you how their company significantly outperforms the market every year, run! Remember, if it seems too good to be true it probably is.

Listen to your wife. Women are far smarter investors than men as has been proven time and again.

Secondly, take a thorough look at your current financial situation. This could be very scary for some but it is better to be scared into action then to be lulled to inaction.

Draw up a balance sheet listing your assets on one side and your liabilities on the other.  The difference between the two is your net worth as shown in the example below.

A typical household balance sheet

A typical household balance sheet

If your assets are less than your liabilities, you are in a heap of hurt. Also look at your income and compare that to your expenses, or how you spend your money. This may be a real eye opener. Suddenly you may see that cup of coffee or eating lunch out every day adds up to a significant amount.

Wow!  That's what I spend!!

Wow! That’s what I spend!!

Third, invest in help from books that deal with finance. Some authors I recommend are Dave Ramsey or Suze Orman. Don’t read from authors who are only trying to get you to buy their books or invest in their courses. Or worse yet, promise you great wealth if you do what they suggest. Most of us aren’t going to get there.

Some churches even offer courses on debt management using programs like Financial Peace University which was developed by Dave Ramsey. However, this is not free. Better yet, listen Dave Ramsey’s call in radio show and in a week’s time you’ll learn a lot from other people’s experiences.

A journey starts with one step.  Even a procrastinator makes a decision quickly, even if it’s only to procrastinate!

LIFESTYLES:  This is basically the quality of life issue that can make or break a person or relationship.

I have heard spouses say, “Good lord, when he retires I’ll have to put up with him all the time” or “living with her day in and day out is worse than being at work”.  Other comments I have heard are, “I don’t know what to do, I don’t have any hobbies, etc”.

The retirement years can be dangerous for a relationship due to some significant stress factors. First there is the adjustment to not working. After 40 years of employment the end of that can be similar to a death.

Second, there is reduced income which can impact a couple’s lifestyle.

Third, there is the adjustment to the relationship. From being newlyweds to raising children and becoming grandparents, you now are together again without anyone else around. You signed up for better or worse. Let’s hope it’s for the better.

Consider this fact that the number of divorces of those 50 and older doubled from 1990 (4.67%) to 2010 (9.74%). Today there is a term called “gray divorce (though it may not have 50 shades). This refers to people in that age group. Looking for a real joy stealer? Become a statistic where the two of you divide up the assets (after the lawyer’s fee), and then maintain two households.

Building a lasting relationship, one that will survive retirement, starts with a four letter word, “WORK”.  Around our house are two very opinionated, strong willed independent people who have managed to make a go of it in spite of the fact that some folks at our wedding placed bets on how long the marriage would last.  The first thing is to have an unconditional love towards your spouse and keep them, not your children or grandchildren and not your hobbies, a priority.

Next, share things in life. Hopefully you had similar interests when you married including faith. If you didn’t before, you can certainly find some now. Again, it’s called “work”.

Doing things together

Doing things together

Enjoy each other’s company. Whether it is travel, reading books, skiing, kayaking, shopping or just having a weekly date night.

As we age, we begin to have health issues. Parts wear down and need to be replaced.  Look at the bright side. If you don’t set off the scanners at the airports or stick to magnets, then you are doing okay.  Disease can impact anyone at any time, however there are things we can do to reduce some of the factors.

We can maintain healthy lifestyles so those retirement years can be enjoyed. Contributing to our own health is probably the most important area where couples can make the biggest difference. Stop smoking. Drink in moderation (moderation means an occasional beer or an occasional glass of wine). Lose weight. Eat a sensible diet. Find time to exercise.  Start out by walking and as you get more in shape add to the regiment with strength building. Consider a gym membership if you need that extra support. Some are quite inexpensive.

The third component to finding joy in retirement is to have a plan regarding what this newly “found” time means to you. Sitting in the chair and watching television is not consistent with an active healthy lifestyle. Find activities that challenge your mind, body or spirit. Volunteer with a local agency, work with Habitat for Humanity, or find some other outlet that will put good use to the skills you have acquired over a lifetime.

Romantic spots

Romantic spots

This can be the most rewarding time in a person’s life if they plan for it.

On the beach in Australia

On the beach in Australia

(I’ve asked my wife to write a guest post for me to give the female perspective to all this. After all, retirement is about the two of you, not the one of you.)

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Even though it is January and the snow is covering the ground, my thoughts began to drift towards spring and turkey season.  Wild turkeys are an example of a successful program by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

In the spring of 1954 the DNR released 50 birds in a select area and over time additional restoration attempts continued.  However, by 1964 approximately 2,000 birds had become established in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula.

Fast forward to today and wild turkeys are evident almost anywhere in the Lower Peninsula. They can be found in the suburbs or in the country and as many a suburbanite has found, they can be aggressive and will camp out at the bird feeder.

Often when folks think of turkeys they think of Thanksgiving but for those of us who find ourselves in their habitat, we see a bird that has keen eyesight, excellent hearing and can startle an individual as they either fly up to, or down from their roost.  A bird of that size makes a fair amount of noise as it moves through the air.

Around 1995 two friends and I decided to take up turkey hunting.  While we had hunted other game for many years and were successful, this undertaking would prove to be humiliating.

We hunted hard for three days and the only birds we saw were alongside the highway.  The next year we made a momentous leap as we actually saw a few birds in the woods.  While we considered this a step up, we also realized that we were far from being able to call a bird or even get close enough to get a shot.

Fast forward two more years. Our motley trio had progressed to that ultimate stage where we could be referred to as, “The Three Stooges of Turkey Hunters”.

Early one morning we set up in concealment and I began to call.  Immediately I heard a male (Tom) turkey reply and as he was quite far away I spent the next hour trying to entice him into my shooting range.  Eventually the bird came within range but he was in a small ravine and I had no shot. He headed towards my partner.  The only problem was my partner was hard of hearing and never heard the bird responding to my call and therefore missed his opportunity for a shot.

Since that time I have taken a couple of birds and have been successful in calling birds in.  The most rewarding part of this sport is not just in taking a bird. The most rewarding part is when the bird responds and comes within view because I’ve called him in.

Also, I normally hunt during May which is when the woods come alive and I see does and fawns and even once I watched some black bear cubs playing on a hillside.  It has been said that if a turkey had the same sense of smell as the whitetail deer, a person would never get a shot at one!

Turkey hunting is, without a doubt, the most challenging hunting I do.

Try it. You’ll like it

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