Monday, August 26, 2013

Fly Fishing for Striped Bass, Spring 2013

Jeff and I have always fished for Striped Bass with bait.  We would go down to the beach in Economy, bring a couple of lawn chairs and a cooler full of bait.  This year we decided to fly fish for them in the Stewiacke River.  

Every spring when the water reaches a certain temperature (I believe it's around 55 degrees Fahrenheit), Striped Bass move into the Stewiacke River from the Bay of Fundy to spawn.  At the same time, the landlocked population of Striped Bass that are in Grand Lake move up the Shubenacadie River to spawn.  During spawning time, it is catch and release only and no bait is allowed.

I read that a very successful fly used for Striped Bass was Lefty's Deceiver.  I followed a video tutorial and tied up a bunch of them.

The gear we are going to be using will be our new 13' TFO Deer Creek spey rods lined with Rio Skagit Flight shooting heads and a variety of sink tips.  I have an Echo Ion reel and Jeff has a Hardy Marquis.  We have been out practicing spey casting for a couple of weeks and this will be the first real time we have fished with the new rods.

The first time we fished the Stewiacke this year was May 22, 2013.  What a successful day this was!  

This first pic is of me christening my new rod with what seems like a freight train attached to the end of my line!

What a beauty striper!  Wow, that sure was exciting.

Now it's Jeff's turn and he's got a nice freight train on the end of his line.  Don't you just love bent rod pics.  Woo hoo!

And here is his prize.  Yes it looks bigger than mine (but I caught two of them). lol

This is my second fish.  It was getting dark so the pic isn't great.

So we both got to christen our new rods and had an awesome time.  Catching these guys on a fly rod is a lot of fun.

May 24, 2013 

Jeff's friend Will came with us this time too.   I hooked a nice striper but lost it right at my feet when I tried to land it myself.  Hence the pouty face in the picture.  Lesson learned - let Jeff help me land big fish. lol   

So no more fish were caught by any of us today.  When we were heading back to the car to get ready to go home, Jeff opened the trunk, took his jacket off (which had the keys in it), threw the jacket in the trunk and slammed it shut.  Then he realized the car was locked. lol  Thank God we have CAA, who came to our rescue and got the car unlocked. 

We really have striper fever now so we went back to the river on May 28.  Jeff got one today:

June 2, 2013  

A few more fly fisherman showed up while we were there.  The guy right beside Jeff got one, then a short time after that Jeff had one on:

He gave him a hand landing the fish.

Really nice fish...look at the smile on Jeff's face.  All the fish being caught are big ones.  The only small one we saw caught was by a spin fisherman on the opposite bank.

This is the same fish, just a different view.  And I think Jeff's smile is growing with every pic.  He's a happy boy. :)

This fish actually burned a hole in Jeff's finger.  He had the line under his finger against the cork rod handle when the fish took, and he got a bad friction burn from it (his reel doesn't have a drag system so he needs to palm it).

June 4, 2013

This was another great evening of striper fishing, and the night I lost a big fish when the drag failed on my Echo Ion reel.

At around 7pm, Jeff has the first hook-up:

And he caught it on a fly he tied himself - A Lefty's Deceiver with blue hair instead of chartreuse.  It's a really awesome feeling when you catch a fish on a fly you tied yourself.

Here is Jeff's fly:

Beauty fish.  All these big fish are just amazing!  No small fish here....they're in Economy. lol

Below is Jeff releasing his fish.  We used to keep one Striped Bass per year for eating, but now we just like to release them all.  We get more pleasure out of reviving them and watching them swim away than killing and eating them.

Now I've got a nice one on!  But every once in awhile I notice my drag slipping on my reel.

The drag held enough this time to let me get the fish in despite it starting to slip.  It's like the transmission going in a car. lol

Here is my awesome fish and huge smile to go with it:

I hooked up one more time but lost the fish when the drag completely failed.  Huge disappointment!

Gorgeous sunset tonight:

Jeff hooks up again:

Another lunker!  This river is full of them!

So that wraps up another successful evening of Striper fishing.

June 7, 2013

This is our last evening to fish this river.  The Stripers are starting to move back into the Bay now.  It was extremely quiet the first couple of hours we were there - no sign of a fish.  Right at dusk Jeff lands two back to back - none for me. :(

First fish:

Second fish:

Since the Stripers were mostly finished in the Stewiacke, we decided to return to Economy and try our hand at fly fishing in the surf.  Unfortunately we never had any luck there.  It's a beautiful spot to fish though.  On the way to Economy, this was the temperature on the west side of the mountain.

And this was the temp on the east side.  Quite a difference eh?

Jeff walking down the path to the Economy River.

Jeff fishing in the surf near the mouth of the Economy River.

Calling it quits.  No fish took the fly but it was beautiful fishing here.

Can't wait until next spring to get back to the Stewiacke River Stripers!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

1971 Scamper Upgrades - Propane Regulator and Norcold N300.3 Fridge Install

Most people hate it when things break and need fixing. And with a 42-year old RV, things often need fixing or upgrading. However I only hate the costing money part. The fixing and upgrading part, I absolutely love and it has become another hobby of mine. I actually think I would be bored if we had a new camper...there wouldn't be anything for me to do. There is always something to do on the Scamper, and if I run out of things to do, I find something. lol

This post will probably only be of interest to anyone looking to do the same things to their camper.

After bringing the camper out of winter storage this spring, one of the first things I wanted to upgrade was the propane regulator to a two-stage automatic changeover and the pigtails that go to the propane tanks.  I had to screw a block of wood against the back wall of the cabinet so the bracket could be attached.  The old regulator did not have a bracket.

So after that upgrade, I tested all the appliances and everything seemed to be working well.  Then as we headed out on our first trip of the season, the fridge wasn't cooling.  We stopped in at Leisure Days RV in Truro and a technician came out and adjusted the regulator for us at no charge, and the fridge then seemed to start cooling again.  However at the end of our trip, we started to smell ammonia.  In an RV fridge, that means that the evaporator has rusted through, and it's time for a new fridge.

RV fridges are absorption fridges, and they work by heating up the ammonia until it vaporizes (heat being generated from the propane burner or electric element).  The fins in the fridge cool the ammonia vapor and it condenses into a liquid, which then flows to the evaporator.  The evaporator is supplied with hydrogen which evaporates the liquid ammonia.  The evaporation of the ammonia extracts heat from the fridge interior, and that's how it cools.  

I started to shop around for a new fridge.  The fridge we had to replace was a Dometic from the mid-70's.  Naturally I looked for a modern-day Dometic and they had a chart on their website that told you what model fridge would fit in the cabinet that the old model fit in.  Norcold also made a fridge that fit this space (N300.3).  However upon doing lots of research, I found that the Dometic used 12v power from the house battery to power its circuit board, so it would always be drawing a small amount of power from the battery even when running on propane.  Jeff and I love to boondock (dry camping, not in campgrounds) and I read that for boondockers the best fridge to buy is the Norcold as it uses no 12v power when running on propane.  So I called around numerous RV dealers in both NS and NB and found that Fraswerway RV in Halifax gave me the best price, and said it could be here in less than a week.  I got the fridge for around $900, but was quoted as high as $1250 for the same fridge at a dealer in NB and it would have taken them three weeks to get it.

The Norcold N300.3 is a three-way fridge, whereas our old one was two-way.  In reality it was only one-way as the electrical outlet behind the fridge was corroded and didn't work.  So we only had propane as a power option.  With the Norcold, we have propane, 12v from the battery (when the vehicle is moving) and AC for when it's hooked up to shore power.

The next shocker was the price for the install.  I was quoted approximately $400 for the installation by an RV dealer in NB.  It is a labour-intensive job because the fridges have to be removed and replaced through the back window of the RV.  I watched some youtube tutorials on how to remove and replace windows, and how to install fridges, and Jeff and I decided we were going to tackle this ourselves and save $400.  I got the RV dealer to add in a roll of butyl tape for the window install and some rubber roof coating as the roof coating was starting to get some cracks in it.

The new fridge arrived by courier, and Jeff and I set out to start taking out the back window of the Scamper.  We first removed all the screws, then cut through the old putty tape with an Xacto knife.  Next we gently pried the window out with putty knives and flat-head screwdrivers.  Then we carefully lifted the window out and set it aside.

The lower left corner had a bit of rotting wood from a leak.  There wasn't a lot of wood damage so I mixed up some 5-minute epoxy and filled it in.

We set an old rug across the window frame so the fridges wouldn't damage it as they were being slid in and out.

Got the old fridge out (heavy bugger) no problem.  It just BARELY fit through the window, and left a pile of rust and dust in the camper.  Below is the back of the old fridge, compared with the new one in the pic below.

The new fridge was a tad smaller in dimensions than the old one, so I had to add some 1x1 pieces of wood to the inside of the cabinet frame to make it smaller.  In the Norcold instructions it suggested creating a baffle from the rear of the fridge up to the exhaust vent in the roof, to prevent any warm air from accumulating in the dead air space above the fridge and reducing its efficiency.  I had an old piece of foil-backed insulation in the shed so I used this to create the baffle, and used foil duct tape to secure it.

Next, the new fridge was put into place, shimmed to make it level and then screwed down.  The Norcold instructions also suggested that there be no space between the fridge and the walls for maximum cooling efficiency, and if there was a gap that it should be filled with fiberglass insulation.  We definitely had gaps on both sides so it was filled with insulation.  Next I hooked up the propane and 12v, and leak-tested the propane fittings all of which were good.  Lastly, as these fridges come without decorative panels (you have to purchase them separately), I removed the panel from the old fridge and trimmed it to fit the new one and installed it.  Below is the fridge, installation complete.

Now that the fridge was installed we had to replace the back window.  We first cleaned around the window frame with alcohol so we had a clean surface for the new butyl tape to adhere to.  Next we placed new butyl tape around the window opening, doubling it up where the siding ridges created gaps.  Then we placed the window back in its place and fastened down all the screws in the frame.  Then we replaced the interior aluminum window frame trim. The process of screwing the window back in compresses the butyl tape which makes a tight seal.  Any excess that squished out was trimmed with an Xacto knife.  The pic below shows the window re-installed.  There is still some squished out butyl tape along the bottom that needs trimming.

The next thing I had to do was test the fridge.  We parked the RV on a level surface (very important for fridge operation for RVs to be level - the fridge can be ruined if ran not level), fired it up on propane and let it run overnight.  In the morning I was very pleased to see ice cubes!

Now that was a great way to save $400, and it wasn't difficult at all, just time-consuming.

Below are links to all of my posts about the Scamper: