Wednesday, November 23, 2016

BWCA 2016 Days Six and Seven
September 1-2

7:55 AM largie.  Clean looking fish.

Dad and I switched up for the last couple days: I went solo and he manned the three-seater.  It was cool to see it from afar.  Some gunners in that pic right there; long arcing paths of heavy lures.

Tried poppers of various sizes and makes.  Some from store; some from shop in basement.  This one is a nice subtle commercial make; sits pretty low and makes muted gurgles (as compared to monster rip pops).  So many fish though it would have been difficult to conclude that one popper make/size/color was better than any other.

Many fish in this range of 16-17".  I put this one at 17 based on the just-visible mark of 18 on the paddle.  SMB: hard pulling fish.  They don't run but they seem to have strength disproportionate to body mass.

Brought a different mug this year and one variation turned out to be big: that nice hook handle.  I could hang from thwart, or from belt.  Example of seemingly minor change that brings great satisfaction.  What else you want from a dashboard is not known: fly rods at hand, paddle, and coffee.  Especially good when the forward gallery is two kids bombing fish.

Primitive container crafted by the boys.

Last mission was to fill it with fish guts and take offsite.

This was the afternoon outing trying to find small bass to eat.  Diffuclt task.  Only way to do it was go way up in a channel and fish shallow water and woody debris; that produced some fish 12-13 inches.  This one here was released.  Those 12er SMB are pretty good fare if you can't find walleyes or pike.

Fish on poppers became routine and so the effort here was focused on composing an image with it all: sunset, loon family, bow of canoe, calm water and bent rod.

Boys in camp.

Last day we fished just the morning.  This ~17 came on second cast.

In the mornings go to where the sun is not yet striking the water.

Camp viewed from the bay.

No waders this year.  Most gear comparmentalized in waterproof sacks.  Always trying to make this system better.  It's pretty good though.

The four remaining on last day (we had three guys head out on two different days preceding).  Here posting picture of a good guy who liked paddling.

In the long BWCA book this was a top chapter.  Three generations.  Kids just lighting up fish every day.  Freedom to be in the dark or by the fire or in the water.  Focus on fishing and then each midday back at camp an unwinding that had permission to go in whatever direction for those guys.  Thanks to the BWCA Director and to all the parents who made it happen; not long and we'll be at it again.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Brown and the Farrier

from Blood Meridian by C. McCarthy
Noon he was red-eyed and reeking before the alcalde’s door demanding the release of his companions. The alcalde vacated out the back of the premises and shortly there arrived an American corporal and two soldiers who warned him away. An hour later he was at the farriery. Standing warily in the doorway peering into the gloom until he could make out the shape of things within.

The farrier was at his bench and Brown entered and laid before him a polished mahogany case with a brass nameplatebradded to the lid. He unsnapped the catches and opened the case and raised from their recess within a pair of shotgun barrels and he took up the stock with the other hand. He hooked the barrels into the patent breech and stood the shotgun on the bench and pushed the fitted pin home to secure the forearm. He cocked the hammers with his thumbs and let them fall again. The shotgun was English made and had damascus barrels and engraved locks and the stock was burl mahogany. He looked up. The farrier was watching him.

You work on guns? said Brown.

I do some.

I need these barrels cut down.

The man took the gun and held it in his hands. There was a raised center rib between the barrels and inlaid in gold the maker’s name, London. There were two platinum bands in the patent breech and the locks and the hammers were chased with scrollwork cut deeply in the steel and there were partridges engraved at either end of the maker’s name there. The purple barrels were welded up from triple skelps and the hammered iron and steel bore a watered figure like the markings of some alien and antique serpent, rare and beautiful and lethal, and the wood was figured with a deep red feather grain at the butt and held a small springloaded silver capbox in the toe.

The farrier turned the gun in his hands and looked at Brown. He looked down at the case. It was lined with green baize and there were little fitted compartments that held a wadcutter, a pewter powderflask, cleaning jags, a patent pewter capper.

You need what? he said.

Cut the barrels down. Long about in here. He held a finger across the piece.

I cant do that.

Brown looked at him. You cant do it?

No sir. He looked around the shop. Well, he said. I’d of thought any damn fool could saw the barrels off a shotgun.

There’s something wrong with you. Why would anybody want to cut the barrels off a gun like this?

What did you say? said Brown.

The man tendered the gun nervously. I just meant that I dont see why anybody would want to ruin a good gun like this here. What would you take for it?

It aint for sale. You think there’s something wrong with me?

No I dont. I didnt mean it that way.

Are you goin to cut them barrels down or aint ye?

I cant do that.

Cant or wont?

You pick the one that best suits you.

Brown took the shotgun and laid it on the bench. What would you have to have to do it? he said.

I aint doin it.

If a man wanted it done what would be a fair price?

I dont know. A dollar.

Brown reached into his pocket and came up with a handful of coins. He laid a two and a half dollar gold piece on the bench. Now, he said. I’m payin you two and a half dollars.

The farrier looked at the coin nervously. I dont need your money, he said. You cant pay me to butcher that there gun.

You done been paid.

No I aint.

Yonder it lays. Now you can either get to sawin or you can default. In the case of which I aim to take it out of your ass.

The farrier didnt take his eyes off Brown. He began to back away from the bench and then he turned and ran.

When the sergeant of the guard arrived Brown had the shotgun chucked up in the benchvise and was working at the barrels with a hacksaw. The sergeant walked around to where he could see his face. What do you want, said Brown.

This man says you threatened his life.

What man?

This man. The sergeant nodded toward the door of the shed.

Brown continued to saw. You call that a man? he said.

I never give him no leave to come in here and use my tools neither, said the farrier.

How about it? said the sergeant.

How about what?

How do you answer to this man’s charges?

He’s a liar.

You never threatened him?

That’s right.

The hell he never.

I dont threaten people. I told him I’d whip his ass and that’s as good as notarized.

You dont call that a threat?

Brown looked up. It was not no threat. It was a promise. He bent to the work again and another few passes with the saw and the barrels dropped to the dirt. He laid down the saw and backed off the jaws of the vise and lifted out the shotgun and unpinned the barrels from the stock and fitted the pieces into the case and shut the lid and latched it.

What was the argument about? said the sergeant.

Wasnt no argument that I know of.

You better ask him where he got that gun he’s just ruined. He’s stole that somewheres, you can wager on it.

Where’d you get the shotgun? said the sergeant.

Brown bent down and picked up the severed barrels. They were about eighteen inches long and he had them by the small end. He came around the bench and walked past the sergeant. He put the guncase under his arm. At the door he turned. The farrier was nowhere in sight. He looked at the sergeant.

I believe that man has done withdrawed his charges, he said. Like as not he was drunk.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

BWCA 2016 Day Five
August 31, 2016

917 AM bacon to fry.

Day five we were down to 4/7 of our original crew; brother, nephew and cousin had left camp.  So we reconfigured the canoes for the morning: adult in each stern, kid in each bow; four dudes and two canoes left.

1235 PM this fish was taped at 19.5 inches.

211 PM.  The Kid had had a slow morning and was grumbling some about not catching many fish.  We talked a while about putting in work and accumulation of time on water resulting in success, etc.  I think it was also stated that things can turn around rather quickly.  In the world of angling things can change quickly.  As this talk concluded we were paddling by a bay full of deadheads and I asked: want to fish it or not.  We are here; want to fish it or do you want to go back to camp.  Let's fish it he said.  Couple casts in he had a nice smallie and then I think maybe few casts later he dropped it right by a deadhead and hooked this pike.  I was a little worried landing it because I could see only one of the three hooks on one treble was holding tightly; also just generally worried about the terrible nature of handling pike.  Very bad C&R fish.  They don't fight hard or run but near the boat they are devils.  No net; but the first grab was solid and brought the fish into the boat.  Very happy it played out as such.

Mark on paddle, tape back at camp said solid 36 inches.  The "conversion charts" say that equates to 13.3 lbs.  That feels right to me just based on ball parking it while holding and examining; also thinking that it was very averagely built.  

Late afternoon I jointed a 7 wt fly rod; first time all trip.  Day five. Had not felt need to do it until this day.  My dad wanted to take both kids out in the MN III.  That left me solo.  The actual first cast of any fly on the trip caught a pike.  Orange and white half and half clouser.   Then I said why would I ever fish those flies and I changed to poppers and didn't look back.  There were many smallmouth bass to hand.  This one at 504 PM.
That mark on paddle is 18 inches.  Closing the mouth and pinching tail put it right around 18 in this case.   
What I call a deadhead bay.  Money.

514 PM.  Note previous time of 504 PM.  The fish struggling here was caught by casting a popper so it nearly touched the wood of this deadhead.  One good pop and let it sit.  All that's needed.
516 PM two minutes later fish landed.  Kind of a bruiser looking fish; kind of a badass.

This one pushed past the 18 mark (hidden from view); the next mark is the 20.  Number of fish in that range.

604 PM.  Smaller fish but great coloration.  

Finally got a from-afar look at the fully-manned MN III.

Summary shot of the deal one is looking to close.

707 PM.

713 PM LMB.  This fish just crushed the popper.  See the glass pane there; it was quite a take.

Lip touching between the 18 and 20 marks.

739 PM.

I missed being sternsman for the boys.  But it was fun to light into some fish.  Poppers for big bass on calm water.  In the middle of a pretty vast wilderness.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

BWCA 2016 Day Four
August 30, 2016

Nephew picked up three nice SMB morning of the fourth day.

Both kids boated all three species before returning to camp around 9-10 AM.

Pretty long mid-day break.  Poking around camp, looking through gear.  Even rare nap for a kid.

Snorkeling off campsites.  Looking at shoreline detail and thinking through where the land-bound casual casts would cut through water and snag.  Two for one: cleaning up a bit and also gaining some tackle.

First time I've had to deal with a capsized canoe.  Not first time in history of Dad's camp but first in some decades.  This one was triggered by a front seat failing: Dad and cousin were just paddling out maybe 125 yards and a screw gave out; the fall of the front paddler jolted such that the roll was initiated and not stopped.

The boys and I were on shore when it happened and my estimate is that we were on site lending a hand within sixty seconds; good response time; the boys sensed the urgency and acted well.  Nobody hurt; minor gear losses; much gear was saved by dedicated paddlers.

Evening session of this day got pretty silly.  Immediately.  Our notes indicate this fish was taped at 19.5" - one of the biggest SMB of the trip (we taped two at 19.5, no one could quite break 20).

Nephew was beating them down with a Hula Popper.  Think this one was 17 inches.

Biggest LMB I saw on any of the days: 19" taped.  Beauty of a bucket for a mouth.  These fish were just ripping topwater; right off the boat; sometimes right as the lure hit the water; it was a show.

This was approx 30 minutes after that big LMB; thought maybe he had two-specie-19s but our measurement said 18 inches.  Great fish to end the night.

And then to top it off back at camp he found via headlamp Grandpa's tacklebox  - the only substantive gear that had been lost in the capsize incident.

Day four totals for our boat: 9 pike, 8 SMB (half of which were 17-19.5"), 4 LMB (one 18 and one 19 incher).