Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Martini Gunmakers LTD.

Looking in my inbox, I noticed that I received an email from Heym. It was an invitation to visit their booth at the upcoming SCI show in Las Vegas. In it it discusses the Heym rifles with Ralf Martini stocks. I knew Martini was designing and making stocks for Heym years ago as he had sent an email notifying clients that he had taken up this project. But this email reminded me of our trip when we saw him at his shop in Cranbrook.

My father and I visited the master gunmaker in the summer of 2009 when my father was ordering his Hagn single shot. Ralf is a German gunmaker who immigrated to British Columbia and eventually joined forces with Martin Hagn to build fine guns. Hagn is the inventor of the Hagn single shot falling block action. Eventually the two parted ways, both still create custom Hagn action rifles and Mauser action bolt rifles for clients all over the world.

Ralf's workshop is attached to his house. He and his wife were kind enough to answer all our questions and allowed us into their home to take a look at their trophy room. Similar to Hartmann Weiss, being German, Ralf actually does not particularly like the German gun aesthetic, opting instead for the classic lines of a British Best.

My father's rifle should be finished anytime now.

This customer's action is just back from Germany where it was sent to be engraved in the German deep chiseled style.

This single shot was sent in for minor repairs.

Ralf shows us an old German Heeren action single shot that I tried to convince the old man to buy.

Ralf shows me one of his Mauser action bolt rifles with a claw mount.

A client's Holland and Holland Mauser in .375 H&H sent in to Ralf for repairs.

Ralf compares one of his Mausers, still in the white, to the H&H.

Ralf and the old man discuss half round half octagon barrels.

Various stock blanks.

His shop where the magic happens.

The Martini's backyard view. Not too bad.

His front yard.

The Martinis were kind enough to let us into their home to show us their trophy room.

Afterwards we asked if there were any good restaurants in the area. They suggested that go to Frank's Steak and Schnitzel Haus for some good old German heart attack food, Spätzle and Schnitzel.

First Fish of the Year

Just got back from carping. I started just after 10am. The last time I hit these waters was in late summer, so I was not sure what to expect. To my surprise the jungle I had to ford through, and basically stop my fishing last summer, was now all gone. It has been completely mowed down, making it perfect for casting. With all the tules and vegetation removed, you no longer need to pick your shots as you can now cast anywhere. There are some disadvantages though as these spooky fish will see you and bolt once they see your silhouette. That was not much of my concern today though as I forgot my polarized glasses.

I chose to use my favorite rod,the T&T Helix 5wt SW and one of my least favorite reels my Orvis Battenkill 5/6 Disc. I normally do not use that reel other than for use at the casting club, which I haven't been to in ages. The reason I choose to use that reel was because I know for a fact that the reel is loaded with a 5 wt floating line. In fact I don't think I've changed that line in over 11 years. My other reels I typically use are my Tibor Tailwater but I know I split the line the last time I used it and I've yet to replace it. The other reel is a Tibor Freestone, one of my favorites, that I used last year but I soon realized that it was loaded with a 6wt floating line. The Battenkill's line is so old and dirty my casting sucked. I'm sure most of it was the fact I've not casted in months but nonetheless I'm blaming the gear.

A lot of mallards on the water. Where you all of you during the hunting season?

Without polarized glasses it was not only tough to see the fish but to see direction they were facing. Also it made it difficult to see where the fly in relation to the fish and whether or not it was even taken. All this resulted in me losing my first fish. I felt it strike and I stripped it right out of its mouth. He did not spook though and I casted to him again. He took and spit the fly out this time before he decided he had enough of that spot.

Moving on I found what I thought was pair of carp and casted to one of them. Realizing that one of them was not a fish I casted to the other. This time it was a fish, he fought me for a few minutes. He seemed lazy and did not give much of a fight. No real big runs and barely bulldogged me. I managed to land him and weighed him at 5lbs.

No other action after that as I spooked at least 5 or 6 more sunning carp. I gave up just after noon. The breeze was adding chop to the water so sight casting became impossible.

Found this guy on the banks. Someone doesn't like carp.

Remembering a Good Friend

With the hunting season over my attention is now transitioning to fishing and it made me remember an old fishing buddy.

To my old friend Yosh,

May you rest in peace, you are missed. Spending time on the water with you always made fishing more fun. I'll always remember how you'd always outfish me on each outing. But what I'd remember most is your creative fly tying, you always inspired me to be a better tier. Now that your fishing new waters now, I know you're outfishing your new fishing partner whoever it maybe.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Impressions of the Contour Roam

I used the Contour Roam seriously for the first time this weekend. As this piece of gear is still new to me, I'm working out the bugs but here are some of my initial impressions:
Cons first:

  • The beep that tells you its been turned on is too loud. You can turn it off or on only by plugging it into the laptop. So that is inconvenient. You can not adjust the volume on it either, its either you have it beep or don't. No other option is available.

  • You can not view what you record instantly as there is no display screen. To view you must have your laptop with you. Since I generally don't bring my laptop on my outdoor excursions I can not know if I'm pointing the camera in the right direction or need to make any other adjustments such as mic sensitivity, fixing lens angle etc.

  • Wide angle lens are good for up close but not so much for distance. The covey of quail that flushed 40 or so yards ahead of us were not able to be seen. The pair that flush just at my feet were hard to see, the only one that can be see flew with the sky in the background. Also if you wear a ball cap you'll be block part of the view as the bill will be seen. The video I post you actually do not see my bill because I wore the head mount too far back and didn't get a real good perspective of what I was seeing.

  • Loading takes along time to upload video on Contours site. Since I technologically retarded I'm not sure if that's on me or the gear.

    • The Pros:

    • Its relatively cheap. At one point they had a sale for $89. I bought mine of $150 and retails for $199.

    • Its light. Stored in my pocket or on my head with the headmount I didn't notice it

    • Its easy to operate. Just slide the on button and your ready to go. It turns on relatively quick too.

    • It's too bad the hunting season is over so most of my use now will be while fishing. Hopefully I'll get all the kinks worked out during that time and my hunting vids next year will be much better. I honestly believe the videos would be much better if hunting ducks in a blind or for pheasant hunting. The reason the shots tend to be closer and the birds are much bigger so they most likely will be caught on film much better.

      Saturday, January 28, 2012

      Last Chance Till Next Season

      Since it is the last weekend for the bird season, Ed and I decided to make one last trip out afield. We hunted a canyon I thought might give us the best chance of avoiding others that had the same idea. I was was wrong. Given the steepness of the terrain I figured most would have avoided this area but we saw three additional hunters and there could have been more.

      We began making our way up the steep terrain looking for sign and listening for calls. I hoped for some chuckar today and loaded B&P Classic 20 gauge #5 shells in my tighter choke (modified) on my Merkel 47E. I loaded #6 shells for the first barrel (Improved Cylinder). My thinking was even if we flushed quail, being late in the season, they would flush wild from afar, requiring a little more punch to bring them down. No breeze and a bright sun made the morning a rather warm 45 degrees at the start. We hiked for about 45 minutes before we came to a short saddle. Ed went atop as Kaiser and I were at the bottom. I lost sight of Ed before some boulders and within a few minutes I heard 3 shots from Ed's 20 gauge model 12. Kaiser and I raced up there to find Ed. He let us know he flushed a covey of 8 valley quail. Unfortunately he was unable to connect with any.

      As we continued on, we moved up a draw where in a distance I saw a hunter making his way toward us from the other mountain. Dressed in all Blaze Orange, he was hard to miss. He was not alone. I noticed that he was running a dog, a Brittany and was accompanied by a partner. Knowing he was making his way to us I stopped and started waving to make sure he acknowledge me before I started moving s that if by chance a bird rose in my direction he would know (assuming he had half a brain) not to shot in our direction. To the right of us was another draw with a hunter in blaze as well so I made sure he saw us too.

      Eventually the two hunters made their to us. After exchanging pleasantries they told us they flushed a covey of about 40 mountain quail on that mountain. He had heard several shots earlier in the morning in that direction. They managed to bag one. They mad their way down the way we cam up and we too off where they said the covey last was seen.

      Ed the consummate mule made his way up that mountain with ease. For my out of shape self, I had a more difficult time. Eventually we lost each other for a time. I made it up 75% of the mountain and walked through a saddle trying to reach Ed but at one point the path was uncrossable. So I double backed and tried to make it up again. At this point I was too exhausted and decided to head down toward flat ground. We met up again after about an hour or so. We took a siesta for lunch and let Kaiser rest his tired feet although he didn't want any of that.

      Heading back, we sweeped the area to our left that we did not cover when making or way into the canyon. In about 45 minutes a covey of about 40 valley quail rose about 40 yards ahead. He chased them only to find a few singles here and there. The first one I had no shot nor did Ed. The second I rushed my shot. I did not even have a proper cheek weld on stock when I fired. Even if I did I lead hem way to much. Eventually a pair flush at my feet while making out way down a few rocks. The first bird to flush I had no good shot so I refrained from pulling the trigger. But the second flushed to my left and I shot, missing with the first barrel (although Ed said I hit him with the first as well) but I know I connected with the second shot as I saw feather and it tumbled in the air. While trying to go after the bird climbing don and back up rocks I lost the exact location of the fall. I nor Kaiser were able to find the bird. I'm not sure if he ran or was just lying somewhere and just could not find him. I really hate losing birds.

      I was trying out my new Contour camera and was able to capture this moment. One thing I failed to do was reset the angle the lens from my last time I used it. So the picture is slightly slanted. One thing I notice is that since its a wide angle lens shot from afar are hard to see, I have video of the 40 birds flushing but you can not even see them. Another mistake was I placed the camera too far back on my head and you couldn't exactly see what I saw. Live and Learn. I took very few pictures today as I was filming instead. I should have taken more as the video did not come out as I wanted.

      This video shows a few minutes after the 40 quail flushed. We ran into a pair, I was too slow to make a shot at the first bird but did manage to take two shots at the second. As I mentioned I made the shot but was unable to retreive it.

      The rest of the day was uneventful and we eventually made it to the truck to head home empty handed. That hasn't happened to me in a long time while quail hunting.

      Friday, January 27, 2012

      Memories- Casa Mar, Costa Rica 9/2006

      With the economy lousy and the fact I barely went out this hunting season, I've been dreaming of trips past. I remembered I'd posted a trip report on a local forum years ago. I figured I'd repost here just in case it ever gets erased from that forum.

      This trip occurred in September of 2006. This was my second trip to Costa Rica and the first time landed a tarpon. I didn't mention how many I landed that trip on the report but if I recall correctly it was four. Ranging from 110 lbs to 150lbs.

      From the forum back in 2006:

      I thought I'd share our fantastic Costa Rican trip. Bryan Webb, myself and company just got back from Casa Mar for some Poon fishing. The trip was truly epic and everyone got multiple shots at them. We managed a mixed bag of Tarpon, Barracuda, Jacks, string ray, ribbonfish, bluerunners, and a mix of jungle fish-snook, machaca, mojarra, tigerfish, a guopote. Here are some pics. Enjoy:

      My first fish, I thought it was a tarpon when it jumped. I had no clue that Cudas did that. I did find it strange why it was so easy to reel in:

      My first Tarpon:

      My CR Whistler. The result of an angry tarpon:

      Jumping Poon:

      After fighting several poons I was ready to hit the jungle. I actually prefer fishing there. For one it is beautiful and it is more interactive. Rather than jigging blindly for tarpon you actual have to make good casts and place your shots.

      Emerson with his Machaca, a fun game fish that makes multiple jumps and has sharp teeth.

      One of my several snook (if you notice I did get my T&T 5wt back in time for this Trip. Thank you T&T repairs!)

      Emerson with a mojarra, a bluegill looking fish

      My mojarra, the guide said that this one was a "true" mojarra (whatever that means, you can tell the difference from Emersons).

      Brian and I managed to fish the jungle on the last day. Brian did invent a gurgler derivative fly that I must say is the best popper fly I have ever fished. It is multiple flies in one, part popper, part wiggler, part streamer. It is truly amazing. I will be fishing it more often here locally for Bass. I only regret not bringing more that two to CR.

      After sometime in the water we got pounded by the rain

      Here is some misc pics:

      The trip was made great not only by the great fishing but the company. Fishing with great people make great fishing trips.

      More pics that didn't make the original post:

      Lunch at the Hotel Hurradura in San Juan on the first day:
      Seabass cerviche

      Great octopus, very tender Downtown San Juan

      The next day on our way to the jungle

      Arrival at the jungle airport

      Boat ride to Casa Mar

      Some lobster at Casa Mar, Thanks to Webb
      Flies for the jungle and Tarpon offshore

      The smallest of all the Tarpon I caught

      Snack of shrimp cerviche at the lodge

      Lunchtime at the lodge
      Jungle fishing for Snook, Guapote, Machaca, Mojarra and such or monkey watching. All top water fishing

      Don with evidence of his first tarpon. Guides take one scale from your first catch. I still have mine.

      Emerson and I doing some jungle fishing.

      Jungle traffic jam. Yield to crossing cattle.
      On our way home was a little wet.
      Waiting at Terminal C.

      Last meal in San Juan.

      I found my notes the other day when I was in my tackle bag:
      Arrived in San Juan. Doug, Don and I chose to check out the city while the others took a nap at the hotel. Had lunch at the hotel. I don't blame them our flight was a late one. We checked out a local cigar maker, a shopping center and an outdoor swap meet. Came back and had dinner at the Japanese Benihana style restaurant compliments of Bill and Richard.
      Guide Mario.
      Day 1
      Morning: Barcacuda orange and Black CR Whistler
      Afternoon: 80lbs Tarpon Org/Blk CR Whistler
      120lbs Tarpon Chart/Blk CRW
      90lbs Tarpon Chart/Blk CRW
      Day 2
      Morning: 80lbs Tarpon Org/Blk CRW
      Stingray and Ribbonfish
      Afternoon: Jungle Fishing. Over 10 Mojarra on a red popper. Small Jack Crevalle and Sardine.
      Day 3
      Morning: Fished the Jungle starting with a red popper. Multiple mojarra. No luck with
      Gurglers or frog patterns. Changed to Webb's popper and caught snook,
      mojarra, machaca. Moved to the ocean late morning. No luck.
      Afternoon: Fished with Neil from Texas who just arrived. Fished the ocean with no luck.
      Day 4
      Morning: Fished with Emerson, using webb's guide Manuel, in the Jungle for Machaca on the main river. Drift the boat downriver. No luck so tried to mojarra in the channels. Fished with Webb's fly. Took several mojarra. Then caught a snook that frayed the line. I was lazy and did not change the leader. Eventually hooked a bigger snook that cut the line and I ripped it out of its mouth. I tied on the last Webb's fly I had. Stupidly I tied on a 7lb leader, much too light. I hooked a good size machaca and got it near the boat. It jumped several times until it cut the line with its teeth right at the loop knot.
      Afternoon:Fished with Webb. Rained like crazy. We tried our luck at Guapote. Several small strikes taht the guide believe most likelt Mojarra. Went to fish the same laguna that Mario had me fish. Webb several mojarra and bluegill. I only hade a mojarra on the last cast of the day. Guide Manuel made sure I had at least one for the afternoon.
      Day 5
      Travel day to San Juan to wait for our flight. The boys managed to get a hotel room until our evening flight. I was not feeling well so I napped while they went to visit a local mountain. The later told me it was freezing cold.