I made a fly fishing video game: River Legends

Avid readers may recall my interest in fishing video games. It's a niche, quirky genre that I've enjoyed for years - and now I've produced my own!

As a child, I spent hours playing Trophy Bass and other angling games. While certainly not a  replacement for "real" fishing, such games provided plentiful enjoyment when weather/circumstances prevented getting outside.

I also dipped my toes into the world of video game development. I worked on a few small role playing games (RPGs), strategy games, and even a mobile game for Palm Pilot devices. I was often the artist, producing retro pixel art. This was fun but few projects actually led to finished products (the Palm Pilot app was a nice exception, resulting in a Mech Warrior-esque Turn-Based Strategy game).

Fast-forward several years and all of that had mostly stopped - aside from "real" fishing. It was until I read an interesting article about fishing video games at Rock Paper Shotgun (aptly titled "A River.Exe Runs Through It") that I started looking into what was currently available. Fishing Planet and Fly Fishing Simulator HD helped scratch the fishing "itch." However, I still wanted something with a bit of exploration to it, something more consistent with old RPGs rather than modern fishing games. I thought back to my old attempts at video game development and started mentally bouncing ideas around about making a fishing game, thinking of what would make it truly "fun" and capture the "what's-around-the-corner" excitement of wild trout fishing.

A pixel art forest

Around this time, I came across a post on a popular fly fishing website talking about how Far Cry was the "Best" fly fishing game currently available. It was humorous and inspiring at the same time - and made me think why not make a fly fishing video game? I posted some of my thoughts on the topic here, specifically when it came to a fly fishing virtual reality game. Since I had no idea how to make a VR game, I dove into a more manageable project - a retro fly fishing game with pixel art graphics. I found a very talented programmer that was familiar with fishing and the game development took off. After many months of intensive development, I finally had a playable product for mobile devices (Android). There were several rounds of testing, making changes along the way based on feedback, and, after 9 months, released River Legends: A Fly Fishing Adventure on PC and Android in August 2019.

Trailer for River Legends: A Fly Fishing Adventure

I learned a lot through this process, not only about game development and design but also interesting insights into the video game and outdoor industry relationship. I'll be sharing these in coming posts. Making River Legends was a great learning experience and the game has been well received, garnering praise from a variety of media outlets, and positive reviews from players on both platforms. 

For now, if you would like to check out River Legends, take a look at the following links:

tl;dr I love fly fishing and I love video games. So, naturally, I made a fly fishing video game.

Coming up next: Part 1: Gamifying Fishing

Recovering Trout Stream in Southern California

I'm still here!

Fall trout fishing in the local Inland Empire mountains of California can be amazing - provided it was a relatively wet year. This last winter/spring kept snow up on the mountains up until late July (thought I saw some on San G in beginning of August?) and the creeks are all running nicely.

I spent an afternoon on an old, reliable favorite creek. It's never produced any monsters for me, even in the pre-drought days, but at times could be a consistently-fun blueline stream to explore. It's become even more enjoyable as I've switched to fly fishing for these small wild rainbow denizens. 
However, it really suffered in the drought and the last time I fished it, I caught only a few tiny rainbows. I was eager to see today how things might have changed, and I wasn't dissapointed.

The stream was running along, water flowing at a steady pace with plenty of pools to explore. The amount of water seemed great for this dry period of the year. 
Even though it's fairly late in the season, I still came across patches of not-yet ripened blackberries, and a few patches of good ripe ones. 

Did I mention there was blackberries? Some stretches had basically walls of blackberry growth, not easily bushwacked through. I've not noticed this very often in other local creeks, felt a bit like a trip to Washington in some ways. 

My first cast was rewarded with solid strike, but a missed fish. Not a bad way to start out the day. Shortly thereafter, I landed a chunky little rainbow. Great colors!

I continued walking upstream, pausing to explore interesting pools along the trail. Someone had cleared much of the brush near the start of the trail, and I found a heavy lead sinker on the ground, but fortunately the fishing was still excellent. I proceeded to get strikes in most pools, split evenly between my dry stimulator pattern and wet nymph/dropper. 

This overhanging tree root had enormous rocks wedged into it. Looked like years of past erosion had really worn away at it.

Came across this pool nearby. Great place to practice bow-and-arrow casting underneath the overhanging logs. In fact, I ended up using this casting strategy for a majority of the spots. Worked here, with a nice rainbow as my reward.

The fish were consistent, most around 6-8". Nothing wild but a welcome change from last year's micros. They are growing up and appeared well fed. Plenty of forage in the creek too. 

Fall leaves were all starting to come out. Crisp day, perfect for fishing. 

In one pool, I had enough room to get a backcast in. First attempt was perfect, dropped it right at the far side of the pool. Water was deeper than it looks in the photo, but not so deep that I couldn't see anything in the shade. As my flys drifted back, a large shadow came out and slurped up the dry. I set the hook, was rewarded with a very strong pull, big splash, and then...slack line. Sigh. Better luck next time. 14" my guess, very big fish for this little creek. 
Fishing slowed down a bit as I hiked further upstream. Funny seeing these little cacti amidst the more coldwater riparian habitat within this canyon. 
Still a few flowers blooming along the stream. Very tranquil, very peaceful. 

This pool marked the furthest I've hiked back before. Fortunately, I still had a couple of hours, so I pushed on. But not before one more cast...

...and the result.

The next 45 minutes or so were spent fishing a number of pools. One stretch of creek was rather limited on fish, but beyond it lay mutliple pools with hungry trout. Lots of missed strikes, but I still landed fish. Same fly setup all day. Simple and rewarding.
The remains of old cabins dot the canyon. Also came across these. Somewhat interesting, paint still on this cooking range. 

And..alas...my last pool of the day, twin mini waterfalls and all. Missed the first few fish and almost wrote it off, but waited a while and made a last cast. Hookup!

It was finally time to go. 
Looking forward to another year of hopefully good wild trout fishing!

Happy Memorial Day - Local Rainbow Trout Still bitin'

Quick report from a lengthy, enjoyable trip to a local wild trout stream in the San Gabriel Mountains / Los Angeles National Forest. 2 fish, 4+ hours of slow fishing, but darn beautiful surroundings and my first fish on this particular creek. Water absolutely cranking through this tiny watershed. Just needs more life!

A favorite SoCal Trout Stream - Revisited

I'm back! Changing responsibilities have altered my fishing adventures but I'm still out on the water.

Went back to a favorite local wild trout stream in the local San Gabriels. Fly fishing and conventional fishing for a few hours after a rugged hike.

As I have explored the world of fly fishing, I am also getting to re-learn an old hobby - entomology. Identifying insects that serve as valuable forage for local wild trout is part of the fun.

These small beetles were plentiful along the stream. Feeling smart, I tied on a similar pattern as the "dry" on a "dry/dropper" rig, only to see the fast-moving stream whip it as an unfishable pace. Oh well, it was a good thought.

Managed to land this beautiful wild rainbow trout:

Also encountered this large rattlesnake along the streambed. Grateful that I had snake gaiters on, but it was too close for comfort!

California's received much-needed rain. Now the fishing cycle should start again. 

Sexiest Swimbait Ever - Sora Design Custom Arapaima Lure

Seriously, this is one of the most beautiful custom swimbaits I've ever seen -- and I bought it!
Fishing with it was nerve-wracking. Really deserves to be mounted on the wall.

Check out the video review of this lure - Sora Design, No. 1867, Arapaima swimbait

Shore Fishing Big Island Hawaii / Surf Fishing Big Island

This was my second trip to the Island of Hawaii, aka the Big Island. It's my favorite island out of the bunch - I love the pristine beaches, the relaxed pace (no thanks, Waikiki), the scrumptious food, and the fishing.

On my first trip, I caught loads of reel dwellers - many of the same fish you see snorkling, in addition to a nice cornetfish. Swam with dozens of papio, but never hooked one. Really wanted to tie into these freight trains on this trip. Packed several topwaters, grubs, jerkbaits, and kastermasters.
We were greeted with a High Surf Advisory on the first day - and this persisted through the entire trip, frustratingly. The stretch of ocean in front of our condo looked absolutely superb for fishing, but the 8ft+ waves made fishing nearly impossible. Further north, in a variety of protected bays, I was able to fish with a bit more control. A small cut in the lava rocks ended up resulting in the majority of my catches -- all on grubs fished whipping style or just on a jighead, except for a few on shrimp and on a jerkbait.

Stocky Hawkfish

Sergeant Major fish

Final tally for the trip ended up being 15+ stocky hawkfish, 1 tiny peacock grouper, 2 colorful wrasse, and one aggressive sergeant major fish. The hawkfish appear almost comical - large bellies, rotund, with plenty of teeth to prevent lipping. I released all the fish to be caught another day.

'Cuda country

I also tied into a couple of needlefish, didn't stick, and had a few swirls at my poppers but no hookups. Spotted an enormous peacock grouper  while snorkeling too, as well as a nice 2ft barracuda patrolling the depths.

My poppers barely even showed up in this chop

Unfortunately, the main predators - papio- that I was interested in, continue to elude me. I've tied into what was likely one on the Island of Kauai - drag screaming run and all, but never landed one. My game plan for fishing next time on Hawaii will be (1) larger reels with heavier line to get beyond the breakers (2) larger poppers and jerkbaits to attract predators attentions, even in choppy surf and (3) plenty of backup lures --even a simple popper cost $10 at Kona's WalMart, something I would pay a couple of bucks for here at Bass Pro Shops. Shrimp as bait didn't work nearly as good as it does here in SoCal.

For anyone interested in shore fishing and/or surf fishing on Big Island, you have two options. Either pack a travel rod and tackle, or stop by WalMart in Kona - Kailua and grab everything you need.

Picked up the Matzuo popper locally. Looks very cool

If you just want to cast plastic grubs and bait, WalMart has you covered. I'd recommend bringing your own lures though, and bring plenty, as the coral and rocks will claim many of them. Getting snagged is basically going to happen, so avoid popular snorkeling spots - you don't want to leave hooks around where people are swimming. Respect the environment and the locals, don't crowd other anglers. Anywhere you can find some depth, you'll find fish, catching is another thing.

Someone got nice sunrise footage with a hexacopter - not mine

There are plenty of fish hanging around the coral reefs, but many of these are not interested in your lures. I found the following websites to have the best tips for shore fishing Big Island:

Be sure to check the state regulations too, some of the above locations may not be legal to fish from updated regs.

Another hawkfish

All in all, high surf advisory notwithstanding, fishing while surrounded by jaw-dropping beauty and snorkeling amidst coral forests was amazing. I'll definitely be back. Mahalo.