Jun 042019

Ever since being involved in a serious vehicle accident where I was hit from behind by a 40 ton semi doing 50mph while stopped for a construction zone flagman, my physical activities have been limited due to injuries sustained in the wreck.

As you might imagine, being hit by a semi truck is quite a shot. An NFL player is out for the season after being hit by a 290 pound guy running 5mph, I was hit by 80,000 pounds moving 50 mph! I suffered a concussion when I was knocked out by the impact and a number of injuries to my neck, back, hips and legs.

To make matters worse, much worse, both my insurance company, Progressive Insurance and the truck driver’s insurance company, Starr Indemnity & Liability Company, refused to pay for any medical expenses or damage resulting from the accident. You can see more details about the accident here, but the accident left me injured and essentially bankrupt.

Anyway, back to the biking. Injured, broke and winter arriving in the Columbia River Gorge, I headed to the Arizona desert to try and regain my health without any money for medical treatment of any kind. I needed decent weather so I could rehab my injuries.

For about a month following the accident, I could not do much of anything. I was in pain all the time with only OTC ibuprofen to take the edge off. I could only sleep a few hours a night because of the pain. It took everything I had to retain a positive attitude after what had happened to me.

After a couple months, I was able to start walking. Slowly at first, the first couple weeks I was only able to walk about a quarter mile or so. Since I was able to walk more than twenty miles before the accident, seeing how badly I was injured was pretty depressing. All I could do was get up in the morning and put one foot in front of the other.

One foot in front of the other for desert rehab for injuries sustained in a semi truck accident

Slowly, I was able to increase the distance I was able to walk. Exercise during the day meant pain at night, but I did not have many options. Getting up in the morning was very painful. It took about an hour just to loosen up to move around. A couple times, I lost all feeling from my lower back down. I had to go to the ER, they told me there wasn’t much they could do. That was very scary, not being able to feel my legs. All I could do was keep walking and hope for the best.

Walking is desert rehab for injuries sustained in a semi truck accident

In addition to walking, I also included stretching and strength training to the rehab regimen. Stretching, especially for my lower back, hips and legs, was a daily routine. Push ups, jumping jacks and low weight, high repetition exercises; all part of the program. It worked for the Marines, I was sure it would work for me.

Exercise and stretching is desert rehab for injuries sustained in a semi truck accident

After seven long months, I am able to ride a bike again. Bike riding is a big part of my life and this is a very important step on the comeback trail. I estimate that I am about 30% of what I was before the accident. All the doctors said it would be a long recovery, they were right. At least I’m back in the saddle and back on the road.

Jun 042019

We’ve been facing some tough kayak fishing conditions on the Columbia River looking for the smallmouth bass. It has been very windy, double digit wind speeds just about every day. The Columbia River Gorge is one of the windiest places in the United States, but even here you get a relatively calm day once and a while. Throw in a few random rain showers and it makes for challenging kayak fishing conditions.

Rain is not a big problem, especially since it’s not really that cold, but the wind can be dangerous. Here on a cloudy John Day River, it looks pretty calm, but an hour later, the wind was blowing 15mph. You really have to pay attention to the wind in a fishing kayak.

A cloudy morning on the John Day River

We’ve stopped hoping for a calm day on the Columbia and will now settle for anything under 10mph. Not ideal fishing conditions, but if we wait for a calm day, we might not be doing much fishing at all.

Kayak fishing for smallmouth bass on the Columbia River with watermanatwork.com

The smallmouth bass fishing has been pretty good whenever we’ve been able to make it out. No big fish so far, but a lot of hard fighting “one pounders”. The sun came out for a couple seconds when I took the photo, but the rain resumed shortly thereafter.

Columbia River smallmouth bass caught by watermanatwork.com kayak fisherman Ron Barbish

We are trying every spot on the Columbia River that you can launch a kayak. Some of the places are pretty rugged, not only for the kayak, but for the truck getting to some of the more remote spots. Once and a while you get a rare “paddle up” camp spot, which is pretty cool.

Eastern WA kayak fishing camping with watermanatwork.com

We are waiting out another windy few days, but we know the fishing is good so we will be back on the river as soon as the wind calms to non life threatening levels so check back soon.

May 142019

The weather was exceptionally warm and sunny as we arrived back in the Columbia River Gorge in the Pacific Northwest. As always, we were ready to get out on the Columbia River and start looking for those big springtime smallmouth bass. The temperature was mid-summer but the wind was mid-spring; windy almost every day.

The wind died to manageable for kayak fishing for a couple days so we were out on the Columbia long before the sun came up, anxious to get into the smallmouth bass. We caught a number of decent sized smallmouth bass on the first few casts, about an hour before sunrise. Since we were catching fish on the first few casts, we were pretty optimistic about how the first day of smallmouth bass fishing was going to go.

First 2019 Columbia River smallmouth bass caught by watermanatwork.com kayak fisherman Ron Barbish

Unfortunately, our early luck did not hold up for most of the rest of the day, only picking off a few more fish here and there, maybe catching about eight fish all day. We called it a day about noon, packed up the gear and headed to another spot, hoping for better luck.

Kayak fishing for smallmouth bass on the Columbia River with watermanatwork.com

We were back on the water at a different spot the next morning. After a couple hours of fishing and only a couple real small bass to show for it, we started to wonder what was going on. We got out the thermometer and found the river water temperature was in the very low 50’s. The Columbia River is usually warmer this time of year, but heavy late season snow has the rivers still running with snow melt. The spot where we caught the smallmouth bass is as far from any Columbia River tributaries as you can get, the spot we were at was only a couple miles downstream from a major tributary. A degree or two in water temperature makes the difference for the fish being active or not.

The wind has come back with gusto and we are getting what we hope are the last few rainstorms of the winter rainy season, so it will be a few more days before we will be able to get back out on the river. Another season of weird weather is off and running, we’ll be out fishing whenever we get the chance so check back soon!

May 042019

When the daily temperature in the Arizona Desert starts hitting 100° on a regular basis, we have to pack up the watermanatwork.com expedition vehicles and head north to our home in the Pacific Northwest.

We’ve had some good fishing days and caught some big largemouth bass. It seems like there were more windy days than usual and there was a spell of cold river water that put a chill on the fishing. The days when the water temperature was above 60°, you could usually catch fish. Some days are better than others, for sure, but on average, the fishing is usually pretty good.

We headed out into the desert to wait out a few days of wind and get everything ready for one last all out kayak fishing assault, throw the gear in the truck and head back to the Columbia River Gorge.

Desert kayak fishing adventures with watermanatwork.com

The desert in the Colorado River watershed is a bit cooler than the surrounding desert, but there are also a lot of mosquitoes. Between sunrise and sunset, you must be inside mosquito netting, use repellent, or get eaten alive. Out in the real desert, most of the bugs are flies and they disappear around sunset. No bugs and just about perfect weather is very nice.

A beautiful 100° afternoon in the Arizona desert.

The conditions were not ideal for the last few days of kayak fishing on the Colorado River. It was hot, near or at 100° and the wind would pick up suddenly in the early afternoon and quickly increase into double digit wind speed. We got an early start to try and beat the afternoon wind and heat. As is usually the case, the fishing early in the morning is pretty good.

Kayak fishing for largemouth bass on the Colorado River with watermanatwork.com

We caught a lot of fish in the last few fishing days. Not any really big bass like we were catching a few weeks ago, but a lot of one to three pound fish with a few bigger ones here and there. Overall, there was a lot of kayak fishing action.

Colorado River largemouth bass caught by watermanatwork.com kayak fisherman Ron Barbish

One afternoon, we were chased off the river by a storm cell rolling across the desert. It went from a beautiful 95° sunny day to thunder, rain and 30 mph wind.

Desert storm approaching the watermanatwork.com kayak fishing camp

After a wild and windy night, by 4:30AM the wind had died down and we headed out on the dark Colorado River for our last day of desert kayak fishing. The passing storm did not bother the largemouth bass and the fishing action started early.

Kayak fishing for largemouth bass on the Colorado River with watermanatwork.com

Just like the previous day, there was plenty of kayak fishing action. Mostly one to three pounders, some bigger, lots of great largemouth bass fishing. Even caught a few big crappie and a couple big, aggressive bluegill.

Colorado River largemouth bass caught by watermanatwork.com kayak fisherman Ron Barbish

I had to shave off my beard for the last day of fishing because I spent a little too much time wrangling largemouth bass out of the bushes and a bug, probably a spider, took a bite out of my face. Probably died instantly, but I had to lose the facial hair to administer first aid to the bite.

It’s always sad when a fishing trip comes to an end and the fish are still biting but that always makes us want to return to this great kayak fishing spot. The miracle “biggest fish on the last cast of the trip” didn’t happen, but we “left them biting” for sure.

Kayak fishing for largemouth bass on the Colorado River with watermanatwork.com

The wind picked up before noon on the last day of fishing so we packed up the truck, grimaced in financial pain at the latest price of gas and headed north. A couple days later we arrived at the “Kayak Gateway to the Pacific Northwest”, otherwise known as the State of Oregon Invasive Species watercraft checkpoint. All boats and personal watercraft, like kayaks, are required to stop and be inspected for invasive species.

Checking kayak for invasive species at Oregon watercraft inspection station

We are back home in the PacNW where our bodies are adjusting to the much cooler temperatures. The Columbia River is still a little cold for smallmouth bass fishing, but we will give it a try the first chance we get. Spring is a windy time in a very windy place so we’ll be looking to get out there in the next few days.

Apr 192019

With our time kayak fishing for largemouth bass on the Colorado River is quickly coming to a close, the underlying story of the season has been the wind. There have been a lot of double digit wind days, that has taken fishing days off the calendar. It’s really tough when the fishing is good and the wind keeps you off the water. We’ve caught some big largemouth bass this season and lost more than a few more big ones, so one can’t complain too much. Unfortunately, this style of fishing and windy conditions don’t go well together. If we were trolling or drifting and casting, it would be a different story.

The desert springtime temperatures are crawling into the 90’s, getting a little hotter every day. When it gets close to 100° we will have to bail. That’s a little too hot for outdoor camping. The early mornings are just about perfect.

Kayak fishing at sunrise on the Colorado River with watermanatwork.com

If you follow this blog, you may already know that we here at watermanatwork.com like to get out on the water early. Because it’s too dark for the video cameras, that is an almost sure bet we will hook up with the fish of the day. That’s OK because I like to throw in a fill flash shot every now and then for my old friend Sonny Miller.

Colorado River largemouth bass caught by watermanatwork.com kayak fisherman Ron Barbish

In two days of serious fishing, we managed to catch a bunch of fish. The first day was a really good day, probably caught about fifteen largemouth bass. There were a couple three pounders, a couple three ouncers and the rest in between. Good kayak fishing action!

Kayak fishing for largemouth bass on the Colorado River with watermanatwork.com

Once the sun comes up, it starts to get hot. Doesn’t seem like it on the river, but it is the desert after all. Seems like the fishing slows down in the heat of the day. Not always, but more often than not. If the fishing is good, or you know you won’t be fishing for a few days, you may stick it out because the thing about bass fishing is that you don’t catch anything until you do. You can catch a big bass anywhere, at any time of the day or night.

Colorado River largemouth bass caught by watermanatwork.com kayak fisherman Ron Barbish

Fishing conditions will probably be marginal, but it looks like the summer is starting earlier and hotter than last year. That means we may have to settle for half days of fishing or less, but we came here to go fishing and that’s what we are going to do! Check back in a few days.

Apr 132019

We are back to dodging the desert wind here on the lower Colorado River, but we did manage to get a couple good days of kayak fishing in before the 20-30 mph wind started howling. The fishing conditions were pretty decent although the temperature was over 100°, pretty hot for sitting in a plastic tub baking like a loaf of bread.

We caught a good number of largemouth bass and farmed a bunch more. Overall, there was plenty of kayak fishing action. I even caught this pretty good size crappie. I caught four or five crappie that were about this size to keep the action going between largemouth bass.

Colorado River crappie caught by watermanatwork.com kayak fisherman Ron Barbish

Aside from a couple unusual springtime 100° days, the weather is really nice this time of year in the desert southwest. If the wind is calm, there can be some outstanding kayak fishing conditions with a lot of largemouth bass fishing action.

Kayak fishing for largemouth bass on the Colorado River with watermanatwork.com

Happy to report that the big Colorado River largemouth bass are still active and ready to bite. Most of the bass were “one pounders” with a few nicer fish and this bigger largemouth bass.

Colorado River largemouth bass caught by watermanatwork.com kayak fisherman Ron Barbish

Our kayaks at watermanatwork.com spend a lot of time on the water and on the roof racks of the truck bumping across some rough terrain on the way to the water. The faithful Hobie Quest developed a crack around the center hatch a couple years ago and despite a couple repair plastic welding jobs, the crack continued to get larger until a chunk of plastic between the seat and the hatch broke off. On a windy day in the desert, I attempted another repair of this minor turned major crack. Using a Harbor Freight plastic welder and solar power, I did a major welding repair job.

Plastic welding repair of a large crack in the deck of a Hobie Quest fishing kayak

I did the best welding job I could and used JB Weld to fill a gap between the hatch and the repaired deck hatch flange to seal a small gap and hopefully, add a little strength. The crack formed because the kayak deck in front of the seat and behind the hatch is unsupported. The weight of the paddler and stress from getting in and out of the kayak eventually cracked the plastic. The Hobie Quest isn’t defective, it’s over ten years old and starting to show it’s age.

To help prevent the deck crack from returning, I stuck a basketball under the seat/hatch area to support the weight of the paddler and take the stress off the repaired deck. I left the basketball air valve accessible so I can adjust the amount of air in the ball. It’s supported the broken deck for awhile now, I hope it will continue to do the job and prevent the crack from reappearing.

Using air pressure in a basketball to support the Hobie Quest fishing kayak deck to prevent cracking around the hatch

The kayak is all fixed up and we are ready to get back on the water. We will be watching the wind very carefully because our winter largemouth bass kayak fishing trip is nearly over and we don’t want to miss a single day. Check back soon!

Mar 312019

After what seemed to be a very long stretch of cold water, windy weather and poor fishing, things have really turned around here in the desert southwest. The fishing conditions and the fishing itself have been good to very good, just down a notch from the five star fishing we had a few weeks ago, it’s been pretty good for the past month or so.

The wind has picked up and put an end to the kayak fishing for a few days, so we have gone out to the desert, away from the water and the mosquitoes, to catch up on the photo and video work. The weather has been very nice, no skeeters, we are getting some work done.

Kayak fishing camp in the foothills of the Arizona desert mountains

The weather has ranged from not a cloud in the sky to completely overcast, but the temperature has remained warm and mostly light winds.

Red skies in the morning kayak fishing with watermanatwork.com on the Colorado River

The largemouth bass fishing seems to be about “normal”, which for this spot, is usually pretty good. Like most spots, it has good and bad days. Bass fishing is pretty basic; all you need to do is drop a lure in front of a hungry fish.

Kayak fishing for largemouth bass on the Colorado River with watermanatwork.com

It was usually mostly calm wind in the morning with the wind picking up in the early afternoon. At that time, it starts to get pretty hot. After eight hours in the kayak, this is usually about the time we call it a day. Unless the fishing is really good, then we fish till we drop.

Kayak fishing on the Colorado River with watermanatwork.com

We’ve been fishing mostly with plastic grubs and worms. Smoke with black flecks 4″ grubs are working the best with a small black plastic worm coming in a distant second.

Kayak fishing for largemouth bass on the Colorado River with watermanatwork.com

I haven’t been able to match the huge bass that I caught a few weeks ago, but have still managed to get a few really nice fish.

Colorado River largemouth bass caught by watermanatwork.com kayak fisherman Ron Barbish

Caught some fish, lost a few more, but there was a lot of kayak fishing action. I even caught a couple big crappie and lost what was probably a big catfish that swam me off in the riverside reeds.

Kayak fishing for largemouth bass on the Colorado River with watermanatwork.com

The fishing is good and will probably get better, so check back soon because we always have more kayak fishing stuff.

Mar 272019

Once again, a run of good fishing has brought blog posting to a slow trickle. We are out in the desert, away from the water and the fishing, to catch up on our computer work so we will have another healthy kayak fishing post in a few days. Please check back and sorry for the delay. I wasn’t us, it was the fish.

Mar 152019

I posted in the previous blog post that we had hit into some great largemouth bass fishing. The fishing has settled down a bit to what would be considered “normally” good fishing, but for a few days, the largemouth bass fishing was on fire with plenty of big fish and lots of kayak fishing action. The wind was mostly calm and the weather was decent, so we were fishing just before sunrise.

Kayak fishing with watermanatwork.com just before sunrise on a cloudy desert morning

The kayak fishing conditions in the early morning on the Colorado River were perfect; dead calm and largemouth bass ready for action at the crack of dawn.

Early morning kayak fishing action with watermanatwork.com

It was classic bass fishing; prowling the nooks and crannies of the Colorado River looking for the fish. The river water temperature has risen to the high 50’s, that probably has a lot to do with it. For a few weeks of cold river water the largemouth bass fishing was really slow. When the water warmed up a few degrees, the big largemouth bass were ready to eat.

Big Colorado River largemouth bass caught by watermanatwork.com kayak fisherman Ron Barbish

For a few days, when you found the bass, it was big time bass fishing. Most of the fish were two pounds or bigger, there were a couple fish over five pounds for sure and I think the biggest bass had to be about ten pounds. That fish was huge! It hit my 4″ grub just before daybreak and I could tell it was a big fish. I’d lost a monster bass the day before, I didn’t want to make it two in a row. This big bass ran along the bottom to the middle of the river and made a jump.

Huge Colorado River largemouth bass caught by watermanatwork.com kayak fisherman Ron Barbish

It looked like the fish was so big it was having trouble getting into the air! After a long battle on my 12 lb. spinning rig, I got the fish closer to the kayak. When the bass got a look at the Hobie, it took to the air again.

Huge Colorado River largemouth bass caught by watermanatwork.com kayak fisherman Ron Barbish

Two big jumps and the fish was still hooked. I eased the bass towards the kayak, grabbed it by the lower lip and pulled it in the kayak. This bass was huge with a big mouth. If it’s not the biggest bass I ever caught, it’s right up there.

Big Colorado River largemouth bass caught by watermanatwork.com kayak fisherman Ron Barbish

Caught a lot of nice fish and a lot of nice fish got away, the bottom line is that there was a lot of bass fishing action.

Kayak fishing for largemouth bass on the Colorado River with watermanatwork.com

When the fishing is this good and the conditions are perfect, it’s easy to get out there and paddle to the fishing spot in the dark so you can have your line in the water before the sun comes up. Many of the bigger bass were caught around sunrise, great time of the day to hookup a big largemouth bass.

Calm overcast conditons kayak fishing for largemouth bass on the Colorado River

The largemouth bass fishing was red hot for about three days. Big fish and lots of fishing action.

Largemouth bass jumps in the kayak of watermanatwork.com kayak fisherman Ron Barbish

By afternoon, my arms felt like noodles from paddling, casting and reeling and my back, still not recovered from the 40 ton semi impact, was killing me. It’s hard to stop fishing when you say “one more cast” and you catch a fish like this.

Colorado River largemouth bass caught by watermanatwork.com kayak fisherman Ron Barbish

At the end of the three day bass fishing frenzy, I was ready for a break so no complaints when the wind picked up for a couple days. It was a great few days of bass fishing. My lures were chewed up and so was my thumb.

Chewed up bass lure and bass thumb of watermanatwork.com fisherman Ron Barbish

We are waiting out windy conditions following an unusual storm system here in the US desert southwest, we’ll be back on the river in a day or two for more kayak fishing for largemouth bass.

Mar 152019

A long time user of Dawia fishing reels, my first experience with Dawia customer service was very disappointing.

About nine months after purchasing the Dawia REVROS 2500H spinning reel, the anti-reverse stopped working. I called Dawia because the reel was still under warranty, they told me 60-90 days to repair. How about the part that failed, the roller clutch? I’ll buy one of those. “Sorry, out of stock, call back at the end of the month”(three weeks away).

Anti-reverse fails on Dawia spinning reel. Bad roller clutch.

Three weeks later; I call Dawia and order the part. Credit card charged, ten to fourteen days. About fourteen days later, no part, so I call Dawia. “Oh yeah, just sending it out, it will be ten to fourteen days”. Like most other consumers, it’s getting pretty easy to know when you’re getting screwed, but what can you do? My respect for Dawia drops considerably at this point.

Dawia roller clutch anti-reverse not working

About two weeks later, two months from initial phone call, I call Dawia about the part and sure enough, they are just getting ready to put it in the mail and it will be “ten to fourteen days”. There’s not much more a business can do to show the level of respect for their customers than by lying to them whenever the need arises. Another credit card dispute and disappointing experience as a fisherman.

Why is this important to the average fisherman? The Dawia REVROS 2500H cost about $60 when I bought it and it lasted nine months. The reels in the photo below(the reel on the left is comparable to the REVROS 2500H) I bought on eBay for about $15. They lasted over two years under the same fishing conditions as the Dawia that lasted nine months.

Spinning reels purchased on eBay

What makes the Dawia worth four times as much as a reel that lasted more than twice as long? The Dawia has a nicer finish and smoother operation due to a couple better bearings, since it is broken and out of service, none of that matters. Dawia’s poor customer service is worse than no customer service at all. Is an eBay reel as good as a Dawia? 50-50. Are four eBay reels better than one Dawia for the same price? I don’t know if we will start using eBay fishing reels, but we are done with Dawia, that’s for sure.