Thursday, September 22, 2011

Bass Pro Shops!

Ok, before we get to the good stuff, I gotta bitch for a second.  The area of East Peoria that now holds Bass Pro Shops has the most confusing roads ever.  Add to that the fact that Bass Pro hasn't been added to Google Maps and "Bass Pro Road" doesn't exist on any map and I circled the place twice before actually finding my way to the right road.

The place is huuuuuuge.


There's a giant 27,000 gallon fish tank holding all the native IL river species.  I just stood and watched the fishies for awhile, blocking the view of the children behind me.  

Here's a moose.

When I had enough of the fish I went straight for the footwear department and asked if they had any boots in size 15...

One pair. 

They don't fit.

Oh well, guess I'm not getting boots.  This opens up a majority of the money I had available to spend.  


I head over to the fly fishing section and start bumming around.  

I had thought of maybe picking up one of their $20 Bugger rods if I had enough money left over after boots but with boots out of the picture, I didn't really know where to start.

I was approached by a John who pointed me in the direction of a complete White River setup.  While we were talking about it, another employee named Dustin came over and gave some input too.  We were discussing the best weight rod to go with and I brought up that the trout at the Hooked on Fishing pond (remember?) were probably the biggest thing I'd be catching.  

Dustin goes "I knew I recognized you from from somewhere.  You were the guy in the corner catching all the fish!"


So I settled on a 6wt Dogwood Canyon setup and we drifted to the counter and I think I asked about looped leader connector thingys.  Dustin pulled out a tackle box and showed me how to use a nail knot tool to make quick nail knots, how to make a perfection loop out of mono so I'd always have my own looped leader connector thingys, and a couple other things my mind was too slow to absorb.   (When I asked about looped leader connector thingys at Gander Mountain awhile back, the guy handed me 8wt fly line.)

I learned more in the 15 minutes at the counter than I could learn in 3 hours surfing online and looking at knot illustrations.  

Anyone interested in learning how to get started in fly fishing in central IL should head over to Bass Pro and talk to Dustin.  He'll get you hooked up with a decent set up and teach you the knots.   Then get ahold of me and we'll go catch some fish.

(By the way, when I told Dustin I had a blog called Intro to the Outdoors to ask his permission to do a little write up of what he helped me out with, his response was "I know.  I've read it."  My brain exploded.)

So, after learning a bunch, I walked out of the store -$110 and +one complete 9ft 6wt setup and a nail knot tool.  

A little over a week ago, the same anonymous person who tipped me off to the gun sales at Bass Pro also left a comment that just said "NorthTrail Park pond in Peoria...Go Fish".  With a new rod all set up to fish sitting in the back of my Explorer and my fly box in the center console, I Googled "North Trail park"  and off I went. When i got there I tied on a brown Woolly Bugger and walked to the water's edge.

Both of the fly rods I had before were older.  Like 15ish years old.  You could strip out line, false cast until it was all out and then fling the fly in the general direction when it was all out but it wouldn't shoot line.  The Dogwood Canyon setup shoots line. 

My first full cast with it was two false casts and "shhhwwwt!"  The 10-15 yards of line I had stripped out shot out and the fly tumbled over and landed in the pond.  That felt good.  I did that a couple more times and then got down to business of trying to catch something.  

I headed up on top of a pier and cast down the bank about 6-7 feet out from shore and after a few strips, I got a hit!  I had to play him to the side of the pier, swing him onto shore, lower my rod down and run around the edge of the pier to go get a picture:

First fish on the 6wt!
He was missing an eye, pirate style.  (Probably why he was fooled by my erratic stripping of the line.

I got him back in the water and I tried a few more casts down the shore to no avail.  I moved along, trying to find open space to get some casting going.  Eventually I cast out and had my fly sitting on the bottom for a moment when a fish came to the surface nearby.  I jerked the rod up to cast to that spot and nearly pulled this fish out of the water:

Had no idea he had picked up the fly.
I kept moving along until I got to a good spot with at least 30 yards clear of foliage.  I stripped out a bunch of the line and started to let her loose.  I don't know exacts but I'd say I was getting to the point of shooting out 35-40 yard of line before getting to the point that I felt I was putting my face in danger of being hooked.  Felt good.

I stayed in that area and casted until my back and shoulder started to get sore, then walked the rest of the way around the pond, flicking a few casts here and there.  

I'm very happy with my purchase so far.  I'll keep you updated on the Dogwood Canyon setup's progress.  If you live in central IL or are visiting, take a minute to check out the fly fishing section and chew the fat with Dustin and the other employees.  The way he explained it to me, the more people we get in there, the more cool fly fishing stuff he can order.  

Who wants to go fishing?  I wanna wear this thing out.  

EDIT:  Clif from Lunker Hunt went to the Grand Opening ceremony Wednesday night.  Seems like he came away with a similar opinion of the fly shop and its employees.  Check out his coverage here.


Lunkerhunt said...


Cory said...

That new rig looks sweet man! I'm buying my first rig soon so it's great to read your adventure with the brand new setup. I hope I'm that lucky when I get mine!

Mark said...

LH - Yeeeea buddy!

Cory - First impressions on it are very good. I'll post a full review on it once I've used it a few more times and caught a buttload more fish with it. :)

Anonymous said...

Mark,can't believe they only had one pair of your size of boot.That really stinks!It would be a great see how good B.P.S. service department really is.I would go back when you have more time and check out several types of boots that you might be interested in and see if they can order some for you to try on.It should be a simple thing for them to get some in stock.Let us know how things work out..if you decide to give them another chance...power in numbers!
Glad to hear that you were able to christen your new flyrod with a couple bass.A friend and I fly fished the Brimfield lake a couple days ago.We caught a hundred plus small gills,a nice crappie and several small bass.It would give ya another place to put your new rod to test...if your arm is up to it.

Anonymous said...

p.s.,thanks for the review on B.P.S's fly department.Glad to hear they actually have some staff with some fly knowledge.I'm heading over next week to pick up some material to tie up a few pink squirrels.I'll look out for Dustin.

Trey said...

It's always great to get good customer service! Dustin just made a customer for life!

Mark said...

Anon - Thank you much. 100 gills sounds like a hell of a time. Brimfield pond is officially on the list of places to go before it gets too cold. (BTW, if you want, you can click the option for Name/URL and either put your first name or make up a username. You don't have to put a URL. That way I know you from someone else who just stops by and comments randomly. It's up to you though.)

Trey - No doubt about it. And him actually teaching me something makes me WANT to come back. As opposed to "I NEED to go to Gander Mountain to pick up leaders."