Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Eating fish is hard....

Check-out my photo of this Great Blue Heron. At first, I thought that the heron was eating a baby raccoon. If you look closely, it surely does, but it's actually brim. 


I took this photo from my kayak while fishing on a lake near my home. The heron was having trouble eating the fish and kept dipping it in water and then trying to swallow it. Time after time he attempted to swallow the fish, but it was just too big. After flinging, flopping, and pounding it on the ground he finally got it small enough. It was fun to watch.....eating fish is hard.

Paddle over to my website, LeoLakes.com. I paint beautiful lake, river and bay decor maps. Folks are discovering that these decor maps are wonderfully unique gifts that become family heirlooms. Oh yeah, I hide things in the lake waters, such as a tiny mermaid/fish. Folks love to search for them. I call my maps, treasured maps because most folks have that special body of water that they treasure. My treasured maps make a great Christmas gifts for the fisherman, lake lover, or Lake house. 

As you can see, my maps make a great gift. Click here www.LeoLakes.com for more information.





Just remember: "Life is short, get away from the big screen and get on a big stream".

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Lake Cartoons

I've been so busy, I've been slow to post, but I have decided to add a few cartoons. You know, I'm still doing bobber cartoons. I had no idea that I could come up with so many, some funny and some not so funny. Hope you like'm and remember, "Waves make life better!" Enjoy





Right now, I'm in my studio painting lake, river and bay maps.  As you can see, my maps make great gifts for the lake house owner, lake lover, or fisherman. I have over two hundred on my website that can be purchased right from the site, or I can do custom and personalizes lake, river or bay maps, too. I have decor maps of Old Hickory, Table Rock Lake, Lake Wallenpaupack, Lake Lanier, Toledo Bend, Kentucky Lake, and many others. Oh yeah, I hide a tiny mermaid in the waters of all my maps that folks love to search for. Find out more interesting facts about my treasured maps by going to LeoLakes.com

Oh yeah, this is part of my studio! I think I have become a map elf!








Friday, April 21, 2017

Beautiful Kentucky Lake

Last weekend we took our daughter to Governor's school, a summer program for talented high school students. On our way to UT Martin we passed Kentucky Lake. I was lucky enough to briefly get off the beaten path and take few pictures of the surrounding area. Unfortunately, I didn't have time to fish.

This is a picture looking south off highway 79. As you can see, Kentucky Lake is a very large lake. In fact, I wondered what is the distance that you lookout over water and see no land due to the curvature of the earth, so I looked it up. At a height of 6 feet, with no land on the horizon and only water, it is 3 miles (Note: the higher you are above the water, the further you can see). What's the reason for this useless fact? If you cross the Kentucky Dam and carefully lookout over the water, there's an area that you only see water and sky like at the ocean. Now that's a big lake.

Here's a map of Kentucky Lake that I have painted, see more at www.LeoLakes.com). If you look closely, you may find a tourist town named Grand Rivers, which is between Lake Barkley on the Cumberland River and Kentucky Lake on the Tennessee River.

This little town is becoming a destination with shops, restaurants and even entertainment.  
A great place to eat in Grand Rivers is Patti's an 1880's themed restaurant. It started in 1977 and has grown into the top tourist restaurant destination in Kentucky. Try their specialty, pork chops. I have have and they're great.

Patti's is a unique and interesting place with not only a restaurant, but many shops to discover. Check it out at: http://www.pattis-settlement.com/index.htm. Also, near Grand Rivers is Green Turtle Bay Marina and Resort located on the waters of Lake Barkley. Its a good place to launch a boat or have dinner. Just remember: "Life is short, get away from the big screen and get on a big stream".



Thursday, April 20, 2017

Tims Ford Lake Memories

When I was 11 or 12 years old, back in the early 70s, my family camped at a new lake in Tennessee, That lake was Tims Ford Lake which is located near Winchester TN. At that time, the lake was only a few years old and there wasn't much development around the lake. It almost seemed a little desolate. A few years ago, I painted this vintage style map of Tims Ford Lake. In fact, that's what I do, I paint lake, river, and bay maps, but more about that later.


I remember as a boy, camping on the lake during a hot summer weekend with my father, mother, uncle, aunt and cousins. My father and uncle were very close and had been fishing together for years. This was our normal fishing family and we fished many lakes and rivers together. We arrived in our 1972 White Ford Pickup that had an "Open Road" slide-in camper mounted on the back. We pulled a boat trailer with a Sears 14 feet aluminum Jon Boat. My uncle had the same rigs, but different brands. Going down the road we looked like a band of gypsies, so someone coined the name, "Fishing Gypsies." 

Last week, my wife and I went on a road trip to Tims Ford Lake. I wanted to learn a little more about the lake, see how it has changed and take some photos. We visited both of the marinas located on the lake, Holiday Landing Marina and Tims Ford Marina. Our first stop was Holiday Landing Marina located on Fall Lick Creek. 

 
As you can see, the marina is snuggled right in the middle of Fall Lick Creek making for a beautiful setting. I have noticed that marinas are becoming more and more crowded during the spring and summer. I think that family's are looking for a mini vacation and marinas fit that bill. 

There's a great grill at the marina appropriately named the Bluegill Grill. I heard that during the summer months they have a fantastic band that plays on the weekends. I bet this place is lively on a summer Saturday Night. 


The next marina visited was Tims Ford Marina located on a small cove that branches off Anderson Branch Cove. TFM is a large marina with many amenities such as cabins, RV spaces, and boat rental. 


We stopped by the Hard Dock Cafe at Tims Ford Marina to see what's new. Even though it was early spring, many folks were at the cafe. While munching down on some great food, you can enjoy the wonderful view over looking the marina.

Tims Ford is a beautiful clean lake and yes, you can even catch a trout! I haven't spoke much about fishing but, the tail waters of Tim Ford Lake, the Elk River, supports trout year round. Interestingly, the lake has kept it's feeling of remoteness while adding great amenities and attractions. Remember, get away from the big screen and get on a big stream!    

A bit about myself. About seven years ago, I began to paint lakes, rivers and bays maps in order to bring back those golden lake memories like the one above.

I call them "Leo Lakes Treasured Maps" and have painted over 200 from 36 states using USGS maps as guides. I feel like FORREST GUMP who started to run and run and run. I paint, and paint and paint rivers, lakes and bays. I have a goal to paint 1001. LeoLakes.com

They make a truly unique and special gift for the lake house owner, lake lover and fisherman. 
Here's what makes them so Special!

I hide a few fish and even a tiny mermaid in the waters of my lakes. Yep, but they're very shy and don't want to be found.Folks just love'm especially the kids. You might even think they move around overtime.

You will find no road names, county, or state lines on my maps. I have found that folks enjoy traveling the roads with their eyes, while trying to get their bearing. I call this the "Leo Lakes gaze."

I call my maps Treasured Maps because every treasure has a Ruby and so do my maps, each have a Red Ruby Meridian.

I add a vintage plane flying over my maps to signify an adventure to your treasured lake, river, or bay.

You will find wildlife in all my maps. These signify the natural beauty of your treasured lake, river or bay. I use wildlife that is common to the subject lake, such as Canadian Geese, Great Blue Heron, Bald Eagles and others.

You can add a star or symbol with a few words to mark that special place, it may be the location of the lake house, the spot where you caught that trophy fish or some grand view. This will make a very special gift for the lake lover. 

Did you know that you can always tell if its morning or evening on a Leo Lakes map? Just look at the shadows cast by the wildlife, is the shadow on the east or west? If it's on the west, then it’s morning time. Oh yeah, I have had folks tell me that they change through the day, but don't believe them.
My WEBSITE: LeoLakes.com














Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Fly Fisherman's Catch

I've been in Florida for the last week. While there, I took a great photo of this happy fly fisherman with his catch. Well, that's not really correct, it's actually an osprey. They do fly and catch fish, so fly fisherman is not too far off. 
I spotted this osprey near where we were staying and used my 300mm lens to get a good photo. As you can see, the osprey has caught something and is having lunch.
Looks like he/she has caught a sheepshead fish. Interestingly the sheepshead is often called the convict fish because of the black and white strips on its sides. This convict didn't escape the sharp talons of this osprey. Everyday this bird would catch a fish and have lunch on the same tree. It was always a sheepshead, I wondered why? Did this bird prefer sheepshead or was it because they are easy to catch. I don't know, but they are good tasting fish.
Check out these talons. They look just like hooks and there's four on each leg. These are better than a Alabama fishing rig.
What does this osprey do at night? It roosts in the same tree that it has lunch in. Well, this one did anyway. I hope you have enjoyed these beautiful birds.

Check-out my maps. My maps make the best gift for the lake house, lake lover, or fisherman. I have over two hundred on my website that can be purchased right from the site, or I can do custom and personalizes lake, river or bay maps, too. I have maps of Lake Champlain, Lewis Smith Lake, Lake Tahoe, Lake Sinclair, Norfork Lake, Pickwick Lake, Lake Bob Sandlin, Lake Conroe, Lake Winnebago and many others. Oh yeah, I hide a tiny mermaid in the waters of all my maps that folks love to search for. Find out more interesting facts about my treasured maps by going to LeoLakes.com

Oh yeah, this is part of my studio, "here a map, there a map, everywhere a map, map!" 


Sunday, March 12, 2017

Snuggled against the Blue Ridge Mountains

Snuggled against the Blue Ridge Mountains, is a crystal blue clear lake with beautiful panoramic views. That lake is Rhodhiss Lake. Located about 1 hour away from Winston-Salem and Charlotte, North Carolina, making it just far enough to keep it peaceful, yet close enough for the urban amenities.



The lake is fairly small with a surface area of 3,060 acres and 90 miles of shoreline. Boating and fishing are the main recreational activities. Rhodhiss Lake is becoming known as a tournament lake by the increasing number of fishing tournaments being held. What makes this a special lake? Probably, the sandy bottom, which makes for some crystal clear water and the beautiful mountain views. The decor map above, is a custom map that I did for a customer who lives on Rhodhiss lake. I paint lake, river, and bay maps, both custom and personalized. See more at my website www.LeoLakes.com.

Life is short, get away from the big screen and get on a big screen!



Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Lake Oroville Map

I did this map for a nice lady in California last year. Little did I know that a dam on this map would be in the news. If you look closely, you will find Lake Oroville, which has been in the news due to massive flooding and spillway damage. I hope things are getting back to normal and the folks remain safe.

If you need a great gift for the lake house, lake lover, or fisherman, check-out my treasured decor maps at LeoLakes.comHere is a recent comment from one of my customers: 

"Hi Larry, I received the maps yesterday and they are beautiful.  Thank you for shipping them so quickly. I’m sure the folks that I give them to will treasure them. Thanks again, Evelyn"


I call my maps treasured maps because most folks have that special body of water that they treasure. These maps make great gifts for the lake house owner, lake lover, or fisherman. I have over two hundred on my website that can be purchased right from the site, or I can do custom and personalizes lake, river or bay maps, too. If you would like to see more and read about my treasured maps go to LeoMaps.com.


Monday, February 20, 2017

Kook! Kook! Kook!

It was a hot, mid-summer day near Sims Bridge on the Duck River, I was fishing with my dad.  Kook! Kook! Kook! "Hear that" I said to my dad. "What bird makes that sound?".  "That's a rain crow." said my dad.  "Why is it called a rain crow" I said. "Because they say that when it calls, rain will follow shortly". Well, that was the last question that my ten year old brain had about the rain crow and it was almost fifty years ago. My dad had a great deal of knowledge about this river and our family has a long connection to this water.  In 1937, my father's family moved near the river and has been coming to this same spot for 80 years!


Just last year, on the banks of the Duck, in the same spot, I heard "Kook! Kook! Kook! ".  I had a flashback. I instantly remembered that moment almost fifty years ago setting on the banks of the Duck River. When I arrived home that night, I did some research on the Rain Crow. I found that it is called a Cuckoo and locally it may be called a Rain Crow because it's call is normally on a hot, mid-summer day or before a thunderstorm. It is believed that the clap of thunder will set it to calling. They breed in the Eastern U.S. and winter in South America. Interestingly, they are only one of a few birds that eat hairy caterpillars. The best that I can tell, they live about five years. So, that bird could have been the 10th to 20th grandfather of the original bird fifty years ago. Kook! Kook! Kook.... 

I wanted a map of this beloved river, but found that you couldn't find really nice river maps. So, I created my own map. Here's one of the first test map that I painted back in 2010.
I enjoyed creating the map so much, I turned it into a business. After many tries, I finally perfected my style and created Leo Lakes Treasured Maps. You can find out more about my maps at LeoLakes.com.



Monday, February 13, 2017

Backlash....

I was looking through my dad's tackle box the other day and found some interesting stuff. I believe this is from the late 60s or early 70s. Can you believe fishing line for $.23 or 60 hooks for $.98. My father was old school, using only braided line and only baitcasting reels. The line weight was in the 25 lb. range. I remember casting his reel many times. Each time, I would reach back and cast a long cast, watching the bait zoom across the water and splash down. Unfortunately, I would look down at the reel and find "the mother of all backlashes". Have you ever tried to un-backlash a backlash? Well, it's like putting toothpaste back in the tube, after you've brushed your teeth.    

This is the reason, that I prefer to fish with an open faced reel. In fact, I was the typical 1960s fishing kid that grew up using a Zebco 202. This was a great reel for a kid, you almost couldn't destroy it. It was like the Energizer Bunny and kept going. I out grew the 202 as a teenager and moved to a wonder reel, a Mitchell 300. Ohoo, this was a smooth reel that would cast forever. It was like driving a red sports car with the top down and a hot blonde in the passenger seat, sort of. I still have that reel, but it has been taken out of service for posterity's sake. Anyway, this is my reel history...

Check-out my lake, river and bay maps at LeoLakes Treasured Decor Map! Great maps for the lake house. Also, makes a great gift for the fishermen.  www.LeoLakes.com




Tuesday, February 7, 2017

I made it to the centerfold...

I made the centerfold, my first! Here's the story. This publication called me and asked if they could use one of my maps in their magazine. Of course, I said yes and believe it or not, they used it as the centerfold. Now I can say, I was in a centerfold, sort of...oh yeah, my wife is jealous!     



Anyway, do you need a great gift for the lake house, lake lover, or fisherman, check-out my treasured decor maps. Here is a recent comment from one of my customers: 

"Hi Larry, I received the maps yesterday and they are beautiful.  Thank you for shipping them so quickly. I’m sure the folks I give them to will treasure them. Thanks again, Evelyn"


I call my maps treasured maps because most folks have that special body of water that they treasure. These maps make great gifts for the lake house owner, lake lover, or fisherman. I have over two hundred on my website that can be purchased right from the site, or I can do custom and personalizes lake, river or bay maps, too. If you would like to see more and read about my treasured maps go to LeoMaps.com.


Wednesday, February 1, 2017

My map, My Story!

A few months ago, I got a call from a TV Studio. They wanted to use one of my maps as a prop in an new TV series. The series was planned to premier in February. They were interested in my Lake Conroe map and by the way,  Lake Conroe is located in Texas. I shipped the map a few months ago and have been waiting for February to arrive. All this time I have been wondering how will they use the map, will it be displayed in an office, behind a desk of the main character? Will it be prominently displayed in every show or only be a quick flash during one show? 

Guess what, I will find out tomorrow, February 2nd starting at 9:00 PM Central Time. The show will be on CBS. Oh, I forgot to tell you the name of the show. The show is called "Training Day" and it's a cop show that sounds like it will have an interesting plot. Be watching and see if you can find my map. I'm planning on playing the drinking game while watching the show. You know this game, you take a drink every time you see a specific object or hear a specific word. Soooo, when I see my Lake Conroe Map, I will take a drink. If I wake in the morning and have a headache, then I will know that my map was a success....  

Checkout my maps......LeoLakes.com

Monday, January 23, 2017

Leo Lakes Treasured Maps

It looks like a "lake decor bomb" went off in the room, but this is the way that I like it. I've taken a few days to work on the entrance of my studio. I painted the painting/maps and added the Great Blue Heron to the door panels. I made the fishing pole lamp and added the old tackle boxes, which were my dad's.  I was born and raised to honor all things lake, rivers and bays. I have been lucky to turn what I love into a nice little business. This area gives me inspiration as I walk though the doors on my way to the studio. 


Now, check-out the photo. See anything interesting? In the lower, middle of the photo, I had a canadian goose photo bomb this picture. Yes, he stuck his head up just as I snapped the picture.


Also, check-out my maps, they make the best lake house gift! I have over two hundred on my website that can be purchased right from the site, or I do custom and personalizes lake, river, or bay maps, too. Oh yeah, I hide a tiny mermaid in the waters of all my maps that folks love to search for. Find out more interesting facts about my treasured maps by going to LeoLakes.com


Wednesday, January 18, 2017

First post of 2017

This is my first post of the 2017 year. I have been busy! Personally, I will have to say that December came in as a lamb and left as a tornado. In fact, I was so busy that I didn't even have time to post. My last post was December 12th. Anyway, it has finally settled down and I now have some time to spend on my blogs. 

I'm not a big new years resolution guy, but I do put a little time in things that I want to do or improve for the next year. Here's one that I will attempt to attain in 2017. 



One thing that will help me do this is a new Nikon 500mm Telephoto Lens that I received for Christmas. My hope is to capture some really cool water fowl photos while in my kayak. In fact, I went to the beach last week and took a few photos.
  It's a pelican gang casing out this boat.


Evening photo at Destin Florida fishing dock.
I can tell that this guy is a good fisherman because in Florida, behind every good fisherman, there's a Great Blue Heron.
The wife in her winter bikini!

Check-out my website, www.Leolakes.com. I paint custom maps that make a great gift for the lake house, boater, fisherman, and lake lover.