Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Easter Weekend Notes

Abbreviated day on good water; good conditions over Easter weekend.  We got a late start (~1030 AM) and came back early to watch Final Four games.  Even in that time though we got guys on trout.  

Brother has caught trout on flies in the past; but not many; this only his second outing.  He busted some fish out of the first hole; stripping streamers.  Keep that rod tip in the water; stay in good contact.

Nice work.

Especially cool to see son and nephew on one of my favorite waters.

Two fish for nephew, both fishing a streamer down and across.  He is a good fisherman and a good athlete; so fly casting and fishing came pretty easily to him.

First trout; also first fish on fly as far as I know.

I fished here and there and picked up some pretty trout.  I liked the deep mouth on this one.

Another one for brother.

We did see some fish rising in the afternoon.  Streamers and nymphs already success, so I tied on this dry fly.  I see in the pic that the barb is crushed but not absent.  I recall that it came out of fish mouths easily on this day.  Some nice dry fly fish to hand.

Been a while since I watched my older son cast; he's pretty good.  I feel bad having not given him more opportunities to cast: on the water, on the lawn; anywhere.  Need to work on that deficit.

These guys had never fished at the foot of giant cliff faces; great enjoyment seeing their appreciation and good time logged.

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Hunting Song

Frontier sons are lifelong illiterates
who know only how to hunt big game and brag about being tough guys.
They feed their Mongolian ponies white grass
to make them plump and strong in the autumn.
They race proudly on their horses chasing the sun's shadows.
They brush snow off with the crack of a gold whip.
Half drunk, they call their falcon and wander
            far off to hunt.
They stretch their bows like a full moon and never miss.
One whistling arrow flies and two gray cranes fall.
The desert spectators step back in dread.
These virile heroes shake the sands.
Confucian scholars are no match for them.
What good is it to lock one's doors and read books till one is gray?

                        --Li Bai (translated by Tony Barnstone)

The fish are where we thought they were.

One outing in March; I can't even recall the date.  I can't tell if I still like going out for all C&R trout fishing but I do it and that offers some indication.  The report is that the fish are in the same haunts; they eat the same nymphs unless you drift them over the top of their heads.  They still eat streamers sunk to the bottom and twitched back.  They still show the same beautiful spot patterns and the same yellows; same white edges.  The males still have deeper mouths; dragon-like mouths sometimes.  Trout streams in March lonely as always; no people, no tall grass and no more big bucks sporting antlers.

As for the warmwater streams I have looked in on a few.  The big rivers are low; my old river in which my kids were born is as low as I've seen it on any April 1.  I suppose I should look at USGS records but I was just estimating based on the rocks that are showing and bright stripes of outcrops that are usually underwater this time of year.  The carp were active in both rivers as of April 1st.  I looked in a couple pond settings and did not see one fish of any specie in shallow water as of a couple days later.  I've received one report of a Rochester carp caught with a fly; in fact one report of carp caught thus far.  But in general I don't expect people to report to me and I don't really look at warmwater forums much so who the hell knows.  Carp can be had starting now, safe to say.  I will look for an opportunity despite the fact that I'm ruined by bigger, harder fighting carp of other waters.

I hear reports of trout fishing being slow.  I see data suggesting adult fish populations down.  I've only fished two streams a total of maybe 3-4 times in 2015.  And so I've not noticed anything; will be interested to see how this all feels once things get moving a little faster.  

Hope everyone is getting out and breathing the free air.  April is a top month for many reasons but in sum because one can move about in the world and look at all waters without much encumbrance and without the hindrance of the great streamside nets of green clinging swatting vineworks.  Get out see what you can do.  Pics below of only March 2015 trout outing.

Cranefly.  Used to fish it a lot more.  Good pattern, and easy.

Same fly.

Don't be afraid to pinch a splitshot on right at that damn DB eyes.  No single living organism will notice.  That fly right there is ~4 minute tie and probably my favorite general streamer.  Skip the rib and the full body hackle; use a soft hackle collar instead.

Pretty nice fish was sitting at the toe of the most erosive bank I saw all day.  Crushed a streamer as I stripped it back down and and across 45 angle.

New fishing car.  Made it ~9 months with one vehicle.  Spring showed too many kids sports and too many fishing needs; decided to go back to two car family.  I dig it.  Opens up more doors.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Oh Lovely Rock

by Robinson Jeffers

We stayed the night in the pathless gorge of Ventana Creek, up the east fork.
The rock walls and the mountain ridges hung forest on forest above our heads, maple and redwood,
Laurel, oak, madrone, up to the high and slender Santa Lucian firs that stare up the cataracts
Of slide-rock to the star-color precipices.

                                                                  We lay on gravel and kept a little camp-fire for warmth.
Past midnight only two or three coals glowed red in the cooling darkness; I laid a clutch of dead bay-leaves
On the ember ends and felted dry sticks across them and lay down again. The revived flame
Lighted my sleeping son’s face and his companion’s, and the vertical face of the great gorge-wall
Across the stream. Light leaves overhead danced in the fire’s breath, tree-trunks were seen: it was the rock wall
That fascinated my eyes and mind. Nothing strange: light-gray diorite with two or three slanting seams in it,
Smooth-polished by the endless attrition of slides and floods; no fern nor lichen, pure naked rock...as if I were
Seeing rock for the first time. As if I were seeing through the flame-lit surface into the real and bodily
And living rock. Nothing strange...I cannot
Tell you how strange: the silent passion, the deep nobility and childlike loveliness: this fate going on
Outside our fates. It is here in the mountain like a grave smiling child. I shall die, and my boys
Will live and die, our world will go on through its rapid agonies of change and discovery; this age will die,
And wolves have howled in the snow around a new Bethlehem: this rock will be here, grave, earnest, not passive: the energies
That are its atoms will still be bearing the whole mountain above: and I, many packed centuries ago,
Felt its intense reality with love and wonder, this lonely rock.

Friday, January 30, 2015


Interesting contrasts provided when SE MN fisherman goes to NE Iowa:

(1) Keep fish year-round.  I like that part of the deal.  Because I like to fish my way along the stream, catching and releasing and keeping.
(2) More stocked fish.  Aggressive program that puts more catchable size fish in the water.  No qualitative evaluation of this fact; it is what it is.
(3) Per 1 and 2 above, many more people out and about fishing in January.

We had nothing going so I suggested I take a kid down for a long weekend; reply was that I too would love to participate so it came to four in a cabin.  Trout water visible from the second-story patio.  My original intention was to push hard to get at least one kid his first trout; but that dissolved quickly when it became very apparent that 3/4 of the group wanted to relax in warmth, reading and watching TV.  This always difficult for me to deal with; certainly in this case, but I resolved to be at ease with everybody doing what they felt like doing; was afterall a vacation of sorts.  Older son gave a modest effort with a jig and twister tail on a deep bend that I picked out for him...   no strikes; windy; he lost interest quickly and went back to rolling big snowballs and dropping them off the bridge.  Trout fishing may be some of the most difficult for kids.  I have to get it in my head that an adult can't project himself straight into the kids and expect that they ought to like hard work going after fish, enduring tough conditions to come out bright and calm on the far side.  Kids like comfort and warmth and security.  They like fun and they like catching fish but maybe they don't like working hard for them or beating themselves up to feel alive.

As it happened then, I walked the stream in the vicinity for maybe 3 hours on the first day.  Immediately saw that it would be very challenging, because (1) pretty crappy water, and (2) quite a few people around.  A lot of wide and shallow is what was offered up.  Only a couple good deep holes.  I was convinced that the fish would be only in the dark depths, so I stood over those and pounded away with streamers.  Three people came by while I was fishing.  I had never experienced that in a day of winter angling.  Moved or hooked four nice fish, but landed none.  I figured I'd missed my chances, given the situation.  I sulked around and started throwing the streamer into some of the shit water, smacking the surface as close to woody debris as I could put it (even if only a few inches deep).  This drew out three rainbow trout, two of which I killed and kept; the other wouldn't eat; would only chase and charge.  This did prompt me to reconsider some of the previously dubbed crap water but nothing came of it.  Two stocker rainbows with beat up, rounded fins and guts full of filamentous algae.  Would bring anyone to late afternoon beer.

I looked at a map for a while after everyone else in bed.  Decided to drive a few miles the following morning.  In the vehicle for nine minutes; parked on a crossing that I recognized.  I'd been there quite a while ago with a coworker.  A little more bedrock control in play; some decent water.  First deep broken run showed nothing, which surprised me.  It was very warm and by 9:15 AM I was over-heating in the sun even with light jacket.  No wind.  I appreciated this very much.  Second hole was a confluence, deep and flat.  I didn't get past that point.  You can visualize the scour hole; throw ahead of it, make sure everything sinks....   and when flies come through the hole give the slightest twitch.  It become a method and many fish were captured.  Top, middle and tail of the hole all showing fish.  They wouldn't scatter.  They were unawares.  I released a good number and had a limit <60 a="" after="" bit="" fishing="" hen="" just="" minutes="" nbsp="" ontinued="" out.="" p="" parking="" see.="" the="" to="" upstream="" vehicle.="" walked="" without="">

Meat hunt.

Actually ended up with four kept RBT on the first day; this water gave up two just before I turned around to head back.  Big beaver dam; have to figure some fish in the tailwater.

Suns out guns out; second day weather was nice.

There is the drift.  Money. 
Some useful information gathered in studying license options: (1) the 3-day license is $17 and the year-long license is $41.  The trout fee is something like $12, and if you but it for the 3-day, you do not have to buy another for your next 3-day license provided it's before Jan 10 of the following year.  I went with the year-round license, thinking I'd probably get out at least twice to bonk fish between this spring and fall.  Also learned that you can't keep another limit for your kid unless you buy another trout fee for him.  However, while the daily limit is five (5), the possession limit is ten (10).  So we came back with nine trout; five of which will be a chowder or gumbo for Super Bowl.  Share any recipes you may have.  I like soups a lot.

At that confluence hole the lead fly was an orange scud; probably top winter nymph of all time if you survey SE MN anglers.  But almost every fish ate this trailing nymph.  Bent the tip toward the end of the hour.


Monday, January 12, 2015

Calendar Year 2015 Report 1 

All designated trout streams in SE MN now open for anglers with a need to get out and look for the deep slow water.  I was not in a position to fish January 1st; rather, I looked in on a favorite stream on the 2nd; even then, had only 13:15 to dark as my allotment.  Just recently I sat with a guy who was lamenting the fact that he is two hours from the nearest trout stream.  Can't take for granted the fact that we live close enough to great water; we can drive a few minutes for a few hours of stream time.  In fact we live in a unique and special place on Planet Earth.  Various forces scraped away and carved deep and freed the aquifers to run in stream channels; dissecting bluffs.  We can't make trout streams; we can surely delete them but we can't make them.  So when I look at one I don't shrug my shoulders or pass it by without a good nod.  And further there is no better way to learn about the streams than to walk them; fish them.  See what magnets attract bug life; see where the fish lay up.  Know where the fish are holding; read water.
First hole fished in 2015.  Cast one: hook, play, LDR.  Cast three: hook, play, LDR.  Cast six or seven brought first fish.  A few minutes later, this fish was third to hand.  Rare picture of self here, main reason being to highlight the two pieces of gear pictured: Stormy Kromer cap (good cross of ball cap and stocking hat) and hand muffler (previously noted).  The SK hat has flaps that a guy can pull down over ears as needed.  Lifetime warranty.  Made in Michigan.  The muffler allows one to warm hands at will, without fumbling with any gloves.

Number of fish from the first big slow flat water found downstream of plunge pools.  This water isn't romantic: depth charge it with streamers; strip back; fish jump on. 

Another gear review item of note.  After many years my Simms waders have been retired.  Much good use.  At this point, many leaks.  I moved on to these Orvis Silver Sonics, which show a number of good features that really spoil a guy like me.  Gravel guards.  Straps that allow for easy lowering of waders at streamside (to water bushes).  Conversion to wading pants.  Tell you one thing it was nice to come in from fishing and not be wet.  Been a long time.  Thanks Orvis.

Few of these fish just decimated the 2 wt such that I couldn't see them for a good 10-20 seconds.  I really dig that aspect of the light gear; there is some mystery and anticipation and the possibility of losing.  In each case it turned out the fish were 12-14 inchers; great fish but not huge.  One was a footballer RBT that was around 14" I bet.

Tied up six basic bead chain eye LOD variations.  Lost three of them on this outing; which was good because it meant I was getting down.  One was lost to a giant strike in the big pig hole; never know what that was about but it was some force applied very directly to my tippet that shattered it on impact.

Yet longing comes upon him to fare forth on the water.
- Anonymous, translated be E. Pound

Boots on the water is a phrase used often by JMontana.  Get out and see what's going on.  Quite a bit to take in here in SE MN: this day included a pheasant kicked up at six feet (good lesson in micro-habitat importance - it was in a narrow fence row), and then a big whitetail.  Deer highways everywhere; concentrated at pinch points. I was looking in the riparian veg for beds and across the stream at maybe 40-50 yards I saw a tail bouncing.  Stared for a few seconds and picked out really big antlers.  No telling how many points but they were certainly worn high like a crown.  He made it though all seasons.

Word on this streamer pattern.  It's easy and effective.  #6 long hook, bead chain eyes, marabou tail, chenille body and soft hackle (like grouse or pheasant) up front for collar.  What I like about this fly is that you skip the rib and palmered full body hackle, thereby eliminating a good piece of tying time/hassle, and yet you achieve the same basic shape and silhouette, even the leggy look with the soft hackle.  I tie a lot of these and beat up on both carp and trout with them. Make 'em the right size; make 'em drab. 

Friday, December 19, 2014

New Rules

Been out a couple times between deer season and Jan1 full winter opener.  This former trout fishing dead period was fully addressed by MN DNR and stakeholders such that one can now fish three of our SE MN state parks year-round (C&R only though).  I applaud the process and the decisions that came of it.  At the heart of the benefit is provision of another reason to walk streams in November and December.  I've heard reports of a lot of anglers out and about thus far on weekends.  In this case I was fortunate to have some time during the week, thus ran into no one with any manner of fishing gear; just a couple people out walking dogs and taking photos along the main trails.  Once the trails were behind me, no more persons.  One marked failure was that I did not pay special attention to likely locations for redds (except for where I put my feet, which is a habit for winter trout fishing: pay attention to where your boots meet the riffles).  I believe this is because I was pretty excited to be out, and most of the fish were stacked up in the slow/deep tails of pools (so didn't look at riffles much).  Will take some more focus regarding this matter in next outing.
Suppose I started around 10:30 AM and walked out around 3:30 PM.  It was cold and windy.  At one point my left hand was pretty numb; prompted me to walk up into the floodplain, set my gear down and warm up under some good cover.  Maybe 10 minutes and full bloodflow restored.  I'd note here that the past few years I've found a good compromise between gloves and not-gloves: those mufflers used by NFL QBs and hunters alike.  I wear one in winter.  Barely notice it (i.e. not that encumbering) except when I need it.  A person can often high-stick with one hand, keeping other warm.  Walking streamside both hands can be warm while rod tucked under arm.  Nice piece of gear; basic approach.  Probably $15 anywhere you look.
Streamers first (any streamer; I've made a point of not tying [what - are you out of flies I ask myself and the answer is always no you are not out flies you have so many hooks with materials tied just pick one and make it work like a bug or a minnow would work through the water]; rather trying to put what I have to use; clean out those boxes; becoming more and more apparent though that I need some drab typical sized streamers) - just casting up and across trying to move fish out of slower water.  Letting streamer sink to bottom and then retrieve.  This produced some good fish; no really big ones.  Had an urge to nymph, so did that for a while.  Then back and forth: nymph, streamer, etc.  Saw a couple great white-mouth takes on the streamer follows.  I think approx 12-15 fish, of which four were RBT.  No big fish but no dinks.  In a good show of irony every fish was perfect for the frying pan and yet every fish swam away without any sort of concavity in or around its skull.

Easy walking.

Stocker RBT.

BNT vortex.

Big blue/white clouser.

Thanks again for the new regs; good deal all around.

Friday, December 05, 2014

Old Bike Wheel

Last couple deer I had put on top of the Subaru and just thrown a rope over the rafter; hoisted as high as I could and nailed the rope; then drive car out from under.  Blood running down side window, etc.  Subaru is gone.  Prompted me to get fancy as depicted below.

Parts: old bike wheel taken after big kids wrecked little bike, hooks from a bungee, old chains from former canoe hanger system, rope, two lag bolts for cleat in work bench. 

Only assistance needed is son hooking knotted tag-end in the cleat.

Nothing is nailed or screwed into the woodwork; all put away after use.