Crabbing in Bandon, Oregon

 

This is one the boys favorite trips. From about January onwards they say “I can’t wait for Bandon”. This year they invited their godfather Pop B. We picked him up in Anderson early Tuesday morning and after a couple stops on the way north we arrived in Bandon a little after Noon. We got a quick fish and chips lunch and all our shellfish licenses and off we went to launch the boat.

We crabbed for 2 hours and called it quits at 36 crabs. The weather this year was excellent. Low 60’s the entire week with mainly overcast skies. A stark difference than the valley weather we were experiencing back home.

We rented a different house this year and I would say it was slightly better. The house was a little smaller than last years house but this time the beach was our back yard.

This year the crabbing was great. We got easy limits on Wednesday and Thursday afternoon (48 crabs each day) and the ocean was calm enough for us to try some rockfish fishing offshore. We spent only a short time offshore and Matthew landed only 1 good sized rockfish.

The bad news this year was I got sick somehow. We all ate the same foods but I came down with bad intestinal cramps. It happened on the morning of the best clamming tide so we were all disappointed that we did not get to clam this year. That is something we all wanted to do again.

As usual the food was great. Eating the freshest crabs for dinner and one of the best ice cream (from Face Rock Creamery) for dessert is bliss.

Already booked for next year!

 

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Golden Dorado, Tsimane Lodge, Bolivia.

 

This trip has been in the works for almost year and it finally came to fruition last week. Papa John, the boys and I were waiting at SMF for our flight and to our surprise the boys’ godfather Benson Kanemoto showed up at the airport. Apparantly he was going on the trip all along but wanted to surprise us. He did just that! The rest of the group were Mike Michelak, Cleldon Nelson from Reno, John Blower from Fort Meyers and Tim from Boston.

The commute from Sacramento to Tsimane Lodge in the middle of the Bolivian Jungle was very taxing. There were 4 legs to the commercial flight then a 2 hour plus small charter flight from Santa Cruz to the Indian Village then a 90 minute boat ride upstream to the lodge. When we arrived we were greeted with cold drinks and a delicious lunch.

We happened to be seated right in front of Marcelo (one of the lodge owners) and his wife on the flight from MIA to Santa Cruz. Marcelo was joy to be around. He is very hospitable and made us feel very welcome. He took us to a restaurant that served Japanese Peruvian fusion food and what an amazing combination that was. I’ve never tasted flavors like that before and it was simply delicious.

After we settled into our rooms a few of us went out to fish the run right below the lodge. It wasn’t too bad. A few fish lost and one landed.

The next day was a beautiful warm morning. However by late afternoon, dark clouds appeared and a light rain began to fall. What came later that night was a front that contained heavier rain and very cold temperatures. There was a record polar front that swept through Argentina a couple days before. It dropped to 23 degrees there. The next few days for us was serious cold temps that we were not prepared for. Morning temps were in the high 40’s to low 50’s and there are no heaters in the rooms. Most everyone slept with just about as many clothes as one can wear to bed. It was bone chilling cold. If we were prepared it would not have been an issue but we were all packed for hot humid jungle weather. Luckily there was a heater in the main dining hall and we were able to warm up a bit before heading back to the chill of our ice box…oh I mean our room. Luckily we packed waders because I don’t think we could have waded wet in that cold weather.

As you can imagine the cool temps shut the fishing off. The next 3 days were really slow. The water had muddied (but cleared in a day and a half) and cooled off significantly. We learned from the head guide that dorado are finicky and want ideal water temps. Too cold…no bueno…too hot….no bueno.

These dorado are migrating up the river foraging on the spawning baitfish the Indians call sabalo, a sucker type baitfish that eat the moss off of rocks. They are up in the river by the tens of thousands, maybe more.

Towards the end of our trip the fishing was starting to improve but it was a bit late. Everyone in our group (except Michael) did land some big fish but you can count them on one hand.

The meals at the lodge were excellent. Wonderful local and Argentinian flavors in which we savored very much. The presentations were fabulous as well. The comfort level of the lodge was better than expected for being smack in the middle of a jungle. However, a heater in each room would have been welcomed!

The lodge and guide staff were also great. Such friendly and kind people. We truly enjoyed their company. The lodge host Chucky is a wealth of information and his personality is well suited for his job. Our nightly entertainment was primarily stories/jokes told by Mike Michelak. He can definitely capture an audience. What a wealth of knowledge over his many years in the fly fishing industry.

As mentioned the fishing was tough all week. Michael was the only angler that had not landed a big fish right up to the last day. It had nothing to do with his skills. I’m of course bias but I have to say he is an excellent caster and fisherman. All three guides mentioned that to me. On the morning of our last day fishing, we had an opportunity to ask for our favorite guide. We chose Franco. He was our guide for 3 other days prior and I really liked talking to him during the day. The other guides we fished with, Lucas and Alejandro, were good too but Franco and Michael had a nice rapport. He knew Michael had not landed a fish larger than 2 pounds. First thing in the morning Franco brought us to a flat just downstream from the Pluma/Itirizama confluence. We saw feeding dorado immediately and Michael was able to get a cast into them. Within a few seconds he was hooked up with a big fish and after a few minutes, the skunk was off! That fish removed all pressure from the day for all three of us and thus we really enjoyed the rest of the day. The fishing was again tough but if it wasn’t for that morning’s big fish, our attitudes would have been much more somber. Instead, we soaked in all the beauty of the clear freestone stream, deep green jungle flora and had smiles throughout the day. What a relief!

During the last half hour of the last day we stopped at a deep run. We knew it was our last chance to get a fish. A few minutes later Michael hooked into something that he thought was a snag. It bit, but after that it did not move. The guides knew he had a stingray on. While that ray was being landed I hooked into a really good sized fish. I wanted to take pictures of the ray so I swapped rods with Michael. He then proceeded to land a really nice dorado. I guess that would be called a tag team fish. Just in the nick time. After pictures we had a long hike down to the dugout canoe and back to the lodge.

Matthew on the other hand had a successful trip considering the fishing conditions. He was able to hook and land multiple large fish and most of them sight fishing.

We saw lots of ocelot and jaguar tracks, caiman, tapir, honey badger, macaws and a toucan. Our mode of transportation was fascinating too. We fished in Indian made dugout canoes and a locally made boat that is long, narrow and powered by a small swamp type outboard. VERY efficient boat that adapts perfectly for that type of river. I was very impressed.

Fishing for golden dorado was not on our immediate bucket list. Papa John had been there 2 other times and had raved about the fishing program. We would not have made this trip it were not for him. Yes the fishing had its ups and downs (mainly downs) but the overall experience more than made up for it. The time spent with Papa John was priceless. I know we will cherish this memorable trip for many years.

 

 

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Springtime shad and stripers on the Sac, Feather and Yuba Rivers

The boys have finals next week but were able to break away to do some shad and striper fishing on the Feather and Yuba this morning. The stripers were there but almost all sub-legal. They fished for about an hour and landed 15 and only 1 was a keeper.

We headed up the Yuba all the way to the dam and it was superb up there. The shad are everywhere and willing to bite. We were there to harvest some shad roe to eat and to save for our crab traps for Bandon, Oregon. The boys fished for a little over an hour and they landed 39. They lost almost as many! During one stretch Michael was 7 for 7 casts (got to 9 for 10) and Matthew had one double.

There were a few sturgeon near the face of the dam and the shad are THICK up there.

Might have to head up there again before the water drops to normal flows.

Last night I scouted below Scotty’s and it was slow for shad but I did land a 31 inch striper on a shad fly. My biggest striper on a shad fly.

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Spring Break in Montreal, Quebec, Canada

After our summer trip to London and Paris, Melanie and Emma have been talking about going back there NON STOP! It was truly a great trip but we were not going back this soon. So, the closest place to Paris is Montreal! The city has the highest population of French speaking residents right after Paris.

We stayed in an apartment on Rue St. Jacques just a block away from the Notre Dame Basilica in Old Montreal. Very French area!

When we arrived at 1:00am Sunday morning, we were greeted with 4 degree temps and 15 mph winds. With the wind chill factor, it brought the tempurature down to double digit below ZERO. It was the coldest all of us have ever been. The NorEaster that hit the east coast hard, caught some of Montreal too. It also caused a huge snow storm that dropped almost 3 feet of snow in 2 days onto the City. Our trip to Quebec City was canceled (the tour operator said they almost NEVER cancel a tour due to weather) and our guided ice fishing trip was also canceled.

We did come prepared for cold weather so we were comfortable.

Montreal is known to be a foodie destination and though we did not have any particularly fantastic meals, portions of the meals were indeed incredible.

We hired a personal guide for a “Grand Tour of Montreal”. It was a 4 hour walking/driving tour of the City. Our Guide, Andre Saint Amant, was very good and knew the city well. We also went on a food tour that brought us to amazing chocolates and the best bagel I’ve ever eaten.

The kids love Afternoon Tea so we booked a couple afternoons at the Ritz-Carlton in downtown Montreal. This was the first Ritz-Carlton in North America to bear the name (1912). As expected it was spectacular and we all felt twice was not enough.

We visited pastry shops frequently and I would have to say it was very close to the quality of Paris. This arrangement is made of no flowers but all handmade edible goodies….including the “clay” pot!

On the way home our flights were delayed in Chicago due to the storm but we did not have to stay overnight at the airport, thank god.

Another memorable trip and this will be a place we will visit again and hopefully during better weather.

 

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Wonderful NOLA during Thanksgiving week!

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This trip has been on my radar for three years now. I was last there 2013 with Melanie and my staff for a dental convention and met Meng and Gina there too.
The gals attended the convention classes and Meng and I fished for redfish! No brainer rightūüėú
We had booked a couple days with Capt. John Iverson and a day with Capt. Greg Moon. Our day with Capt. Moon was canceled due to bad weather.
During the fishing day with Capt. John, I discovered that he was willing to take 3 anglers on a fly fishing trip. I had asked numerous LA marsh fly guides if they would do that and all said no. Capt. John was OK with it and since that day I have been wanting to get the boys out there for some big bull reds!
I actually booked last year during Thanksgiving week but it was a full moon right in the middle of our fishing days so I had to reconsider. This year we had a good moon phase but the tides were terrible. I took the chance and booked anyway. Results below…….
We arrived Tuesday afternoon and after checking into our hotel we were READY for a Louisiana meal! Acme Oyster House was only 3 blocks away so off we went. I have not had better oysters than the ones from Louisiana. The boys and I split 2 dozen ( one dozen raw and one dozen BBQ) and they were fantastic. We ate shrimp and fish PoBoys and it was delicious. It was so good that we went back for dinner the next night! Out of all the places to eat in the French quarter we went back to Acme ( we ate 3 dozen that night). That’s how good the BBQ oysters were…. so we thought…more on that later.

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Every morning our guide would pick us up at our hotel on Canal St. That was a huge convenience not to have to rent a car. We would then head to the “guide hang out Cafe” called Penny’s and eat breakfast and purchase lunch for the day.
Our first day fishing was very slow due to tough conditions. We had no sun and no tide. At least we did not have wind. In the marsh if you have the “Holy Trinity” (no wind, sunny skies and good tidal flow) the fishing would be spectacular. Those conditions are a rarity. At least we had no wind that morning.
We saw fish but by the time we saw them they were literally in front of the boat or beside the boat. They would spook off and leave a huge “puff” of marsh mud in the stained water. The boys were able to get a few casts at some fish but the boat was just too close. It was Noon when Michael finally hooked and landed the first fish. His first bull redfish that weighed in at 19 pounds. Smiles all around and some relief! About an hour later Matthew hooks up and it’s a significantly larger fish. During it’s third run, it must have rapped around a very sharp underwater object. It frayed and cut through our 50# butt section.
On and gone! That was it for the day, two hooked and one landed.

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The next morning Capt John suggested we fish the other side of the river which is a completely different looking area. We headed south east out of Nawlins towards Buras/Venice. Since it was Thanksgiving day, we could not find a place to stop and get breakfast and lunch.
It looked like we were going skip both until Capt. John suggested going to Woodland Plantation. It is a well known bed and breakfast where many fishermen stay. It was right on our way to the boat launch. We stopped in and the cooks made us a delicious southern breakfast of scrambled eggs, bacon and shrimp and grits. We ate it all up!

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They made us a hearty lunch too and thus saved the day. The gals there are so sweet and friendly.

An hour later we were in the marsh fishing. This day brought mostly cloudy weather most of the morning. However the fish were a little more active due to very calm conditions. Despite the tide even worse than the day before the fishing was “incredible” according to Capt. John. The reason was the lack of wind. Even though there was no sun to see the fish in the water, it was so calm that we could see every little disturbance the redfish made.
The boys hooked 8 and landed 7. Matthew broke one off due to a nick in the leader.
The size of the fish that day was impressive. Matthew landed two 29 pounders and a 21. Michael landed a 24, two 19’s and a 9-10 pounder.

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We quit a little early since it was Thanksgiving day and we needed to get to dinner early at Estella’s to beat the crowds. We all ate blackened redfish with lump crabmeat and creamed spinach. An appropriate “tourist” Louisiana Thanksgiving dinner. Of course another trip to Cafe du Monde for some tasty beignets after dinner was also appropriate.

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Day 3 brought sunny skies all day! However there was a stiff breeze that gusted to 15-20 mph at times in the morning. We found areas to fish on the lee side of the marsh where it was somewhat protected from the wind. We did not have our first hook up until 11 am. Michael had a great day with 4 fish landed and one if them was a brute 30 pounder. Matthew got on the board late but still managed to land a 21 and 25 pounder.

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We fished until we lost our light on the marsh (3:45pm). Our near two hour commute back to the hotel gave us plenty of time to reminisce about our trip.
Since we raved about Acme Oyster House, our guide suggested to try Felix’s Restaurant and Oyster Bar right across the street. What a great suggestion. The best BBQ oysters ever! We ordered two dozen raw and two dozen BBQ oysters and devoured them in what seemed like seconds. We could have easily ate a couple dozen more. So now we have to say Felix’s is the bomb especially their BBQ oysters. Acme was great but this was BETTER!

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Our flight did not leave until 1:30pm the next day so we slept in and found a “hole in the wall” breakfast place down the street called Jimmy J’s. There was only 8 tables inside and a line forming outside waiting to be seated. I had a seafood omelette, Michael had Eggs Benedict Ranchero and Matthew ordered their signature Biscuits and Gravy topped with eggs. We all thought the meal was superb. What a great way to end a boys trip to a fishing and food Mecca.

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I asked the boys on the flight back what they would rate the trip. Both said “10” with out hesitation.
A few side notes: 
-According to Capt. John “bull reds” is a term used to describe large redfish. The big redfish are all female! The males typically don’t get larger than 15-20 pounds.
-Only the males “drum”/ croak.
-Small black drum tastes identical to redfish.
-The fishing conditions ” Holy Trinity” is seldom seen and it mostly occurs on Capt. John’s day off :))
-The Louisiana oysters are less briny and meatier than their cold water cousins.
-BBQ oysters need very hot flames engulfing the oyster to keep the oyster from shrinking. Hard do it on a gas grill.
-Bull reds eat just about any fly presented to them. I tied 14 different flies and brought only one of each type. I did not want to lose a bunch of flies in case TSA confiscate them. –We did not check any bags this trip. All carry on including my rods and reels.
-The bigger the fly the better it seemed this week.
-Color of flies did not seem to matter. We used drab colors all the way to bright orange and chartreuse. Didn’t seem to make a difference.
-Had one 1/0 Fly Shop hook straighten out a bit. Note to self…use strong hooks next time.
-Out of 16 fish hooked this trip only one fish (the very first one), took the boys into backing. They hooked 5 fish over 25 pounds an none exposed backing.
-Capt. John said the smaller fish ( 15 pounders) take the longer runs. The big bulls just play tug of war.
-We used 7-8 foot leaders with 30 pound tippet on a Orvis Helios 2 9 weight rod.
-I set the drag pretty tight for the boys so a VERY smooth reel had to be used. Our Abel striper reel the boys won at the Striperfest a few years ago performed flawless.
-The reel was loaded with a Rio OBS WF9F.
-When there is no wind, the biting bugs come out by the gazillions. Have bug spray handy.
-Capt John is a sight fishing purist. He really likes to have his clients get fish sight fishing. That said, I’m confident that the boys could have hooked a few more fish each day if they were allowed to blind cast during unfavorable conditions.
-I did not fish at all….and still loved it! I did participate fully with the food consumption.

Since I did not fish I was the official photographer and videographer on the boat. I’m not very good at editing videos like Meng. His are phenominal. These are VERY raw and rudimentary.

 

 

 

 

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Autumn update

The past couple months the kids have been busy with new activities at their new schools and hanging out with new friends. They have not fished much. I took the boys to Pyramid for the opener but it was a super windy day. They did not even fish all weekend. They had friends there camping with us so they were busy playing football and hiking with a group of them. Benson, Wes and I fished for half a day and it was mediocre at best. The fish bait did not come in so the fish were scattered.

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The last day of guiding the fall salmon season was a fun one. My elderly client hooked and landed a really nice dinosaur (sturgeon) on a wrapped Kwikfish! He said when he set the hook it felt like a snag. Yep when you hook something that weighs 100 pounds, it’s not going to move much :)) He played it in extremely well and after 3 vertical jumps and 20 minutes we had it by the boat. What a nice way to end the guide season.

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I fished with Wes on the delta yesterday from sun up to sun down. I have not cast that long and that much for a very long time. I can tell my arms and hands will be sore for a few days.  If I was casting a floating line all day it would have been fine but a 10 weight floater with a large Pole Dancer in the AM and T14 the rest of the day, my arm definitely got a work out.

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The day started off very slow. Some dinks here and there and a few all purpose fish now and then. No huge schools were found. We saw Mike Costello in the area so we figured that was a good sign. When the tide changed at 3pm, it was like a light switch. We saw birds diving and bait busting so we headed over there and found a school on the graph and stayed on them for almost 3 hours. It was literally non stop fish after fish for the entire time. The fish were larger than dinks but never got over 3.5 pounds. Lots of legal size fish in the mix. I used my Helios 8 wt with T14 and Wes stuck with his Fenwick 6 wt with a 200 grain line. The fishing was automatic so it did not matter the grain weight of the line nor the size and color of the flies. I changed flies twice in the middle of the bite and it did not matter. As the saying goes “If the fish are biting it doesn’t matter what you use. If the fish aren’t biting, it doesn’t matter what you use”.

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In the middle of that striper frenzy I hooked and landed a beautiful 9 pound king salmon. That salmon was either passing through or it was feeding on the baitfish that were there. It was great to get a salmon on a fly again. That was my goal for this trip!

 

 

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Crabbing and clamming in Bandon Oregon

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This is our 2nd summer trip to Bandon. The boys had such a great time crabbing, clamming and 4 wheeling the sand dunes last year that they immediately requested to return in 2016. I rented a house this year because there was so much crab and clam processing that it made renting a motel room not practical. Our house was one block from the beach and less than a mile from the marina where my boat was in a slip. It had 5 bedrooms, 2 baths and sleeps 15! I definitely did not want a house that big but it was one of the few available for our week.

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The trip was planned for early Tuesday morning departure but when I got home from work on Monday the boys were so excited to go that they begged to leave right away. I figured that might not be a bad idea to break the 6 plus hour drive in half and stay overnight in Medford. We packed the truck and boat and left with in an hour. A few minutes after we left, I got a call from home saying that Emma really wanted to go too so I turned around and went back home to pick her up. I’m glad she decided to go. I think it was a great experience for her. She loved the clamming and riding on the sand dunes the most. The crabbing was fun to for her but the weather was so windy that even crabbing in the bay there were swells and whitecaps. She got a little motion sickness so that made it not as enjoyable for her. Even the boys were getting a little sea sick.

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We could have easily caught more crabs but since Emma was getting motion sickness on the boat, we decide to have her and one boy crab off the dock while the other boy and me crab in the boat. We would set the traps then go back to the dock and swap boys, then go pick up the pots/traps and reset them then go back to the dock and swap boys again… REPEAT…… Tougher to pull pots and work the boat at the same time. It was manageable and still fun because Emma still got the do some crabbing. By the end of the trip we tallied 79 keeper sized crabs.¬†We ate almost 20 of them while we were there! On Friday we drove to Charleston and clammed in the morning. We got 4 full limits. That’s 80 clams. That night we ate fresh crab, fried clams, steamed clams, clam chowder, fresh farmers market corn and garlic bread.

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There is a creamery in Bandon called Face Rock and it serves up excellent ice cream. The ice cream servings you see in the pics are CHILDS portions! AND it costs $2.00!

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We packed it up and started our long drive home Sat. morning. We listened to The Andromeda Strain audiobook on the way home and that made the drive go by a little easier. Again, we are already looking forward to going back next summer!

 

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A couple mornings on the Lower Sac.

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The wind forecast was calm and the temps were not going to get hot until late morning so we decided to head to the river for some early morning striper fishing. We fished the past 2 mornings for only a couple hours each morning. The air temp was still cool and not a breath of wind. In two short mornings we saw 2 bald eagles (different ones), a turtle, kingfishers, turkeys, beavers and an osprey grab a fish. This morning there was not another boat around. So peaceful.

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In two mornings our count was 52 fish landed and many lost. That’s the good news. The bad news is that the stripers were mostly small. The boys fished topwater plugs yesterday for half the time and landed 2 really big squawfish. One was pushing¬†8 pounds. The rest of the time fishing was throwing flies. We are so lucky to able to fish so close to home. A quick trip in the morning and back with plenty of time to do chores and be productive.

 

 

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London and Paris

Melanie has always wanted to see London and Paris. I have been putting it off for years but she finally said we can’t go back to the places I want to go UNTIL we see London and Paris. So off we went! We left SFO in the evening and arrived in London the next afternoon. We did not want to pay the prices for sleeper cabins but we also did not want to travel coach. Thank god there was a Premium Coach option. The legroom was much better and the food served was a notch better than coach. Going Business Class for 5 people would be way over our budget.

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We stayed in the Mayfair area of London and that area must be real Posh. We had never seen so many expensive cars parked on the street in our lives. We counted 7 Bentleys on a walk one morning. There were Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Rolls Royces, McClarens parked on the street! The “cheap” cars were there Mercedes’ and the BMWs.

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We visited some of the famous places in London. The London Eye, Big Ben, Tower of London, Buckingham Palace, Kensington Palace, Hampton Court Palace, Churchill’s War Room and the Warner Bros. Studio where Harry Potter was filmed. I would say the Harry Potter studio was the highlight attraction for the kids.

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I did not expect the food to be as good as it was there. The boys and I had fish and chips everyday we were there. They make killer fish and chips.

We had Afternoon Tea (High Tea) 3 times and that was a HUGE hit with the kids. I have to admit, it was pretty scrumptious.

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Getting around was a breeze with the use of the “Tube”. Easy to get on and off and it stopped at all the famous attractions.

After 6 days in London we took a train to Paris. A nice meal was served on the train and it was wonderful to see the French countryside. We rented an apartment in the 8th District and it was gorgeous. Still close to the Metro (subway trains) but in a quiet neighborhood with nice bakeries and restaurants nearby.

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We also visited some of the famous sights. Eiffel Tower, Palace of Versailles, The Louvre, Musee de Orsay, Notre Dame Cathedral and Montmartre. We took a food tour of Montmartre and it was spectacular. The food we tasted was fantastic and we went back everyday until we had to fly home. The chocolates and crepes were the highlights for me and the kids.

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After 6 days in Paris it was time to go home. From the time we woke up to leave Paris to the time we stepped into our house, 30 hours had passed! Only 40 winks here and there during that commute.

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It was a great memorable vacation and I think it will be on our minds for awhile.

 

 

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An evening at the Afterbay for the hex hatch

We fished the hex hatch at the Afterbay with some mixed results. Last year there were lots of fish breaking water to get the bugs. This year there were a lot less topwater commotion but the topwater bite with plugs was good. We had numerous blowups but only landed 5 bass. The bite lasted 20 minutes tops so I’m glad the Afterbay is not too far away for us.

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