Saturday, April 29, 2006

Fishing in the Rain

Saturday was a gray and rainy morning – perfect for fishing, because weather kept a few folks inside, and provided some camo for those who got out. The rain was not hard at all. I started at one stream pretty early… I’d never fished it before. Found some holes that looked really, really fishy, but moved only one trout. I worked my way upstream catching half a dozen creek chubs and no trout… I was nymphing with an indicator. Finally I came to some big slow water and switched to a black bugger. First cast out there I was slowly raising the fly up for another cast and I got to watch a little 8-9” trout shoot up like lightning from the depths near the bank and smack that bugger! Pretty cool – only trout I caught on that water though. I gave up after two hours and went on to another stream. I sensed that there were other folks about… and as I started through my series of normal holes I was coming up empty. I missed a couple fish at one of the prime pieces of water. On to the next hole… hooked a nice fish that was around 13” – he ran quite a while, and tried to take me into some logs…. Leapt twice! He made such a racket I was sure the hole was ruined. However, about one minute after releasing that fish, I made a cast to the exact same location and hooked this beautiful brown. As soon as I hooked it, I saw the body and said “Oh God” out loud… by now, after losing many good fish, I’ve learned to focus (that doesn't mean that I catch them all, but it means that I consciously set my mind to do certain things). I had in my mind the entire time: keep tension, give line but keep tension… I was afraid the fish would pop off, given that I was fishing a #16 nymph – meaning gap of hook is about 1/8 of an inch. I played the fish for quite a while – in awe the entire time. She leapt twice – once completely out of the water, shaking head like crazy…. Even ran a while and peeled some line off the reel. I was in a slippery spot – I started to think about how to land this fish (no landing net). I waded out and tried to get in position, but it was tough. I eventually worked the fish over and up from me, and slid her up on the shore… that is when I took this photo. I snapped a couple more, looked at my rod for length reference and saw 20 inches. I released the fish, but she was really tired – she swam up from me and sat for a few minutes. I was starting to worry, but then when I took a step toward her, she bolted away with a lot of energy – I honestly think the fish will be okay. Looking at the picture and the rod reference, I believe I can verify my field measurement: the end of the cork grip is 10.5 inches, and it looks to be about an inch shy of the midpoint of the fish's body. Thus: 10.5 + 9.5 = an honest 20 inch fish. This is the biggest trout I’ve ever caught on a nymph, and the battle was much more epic than that of the ~20” I caught on a streamer. Whereas the streamer locked the fish up for keeps, this fish could have popped off at any time (barbless hook slid out like butter on release). The water was only ~10 feet across and 2 feet deep at max point, and to watch this fish whale around in that little stream… quite an experience. Add to that a nice 12.25" inch fish that I caught at the next hole (sitting in my lunch cooler now, in a smoked condition), and I have to say I could ask for nothing more from the stream on that day.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

We had a great weekend with James - hanging around home with folks who came to visit for Em's show. Cabaret was a big hit - sold out almost every show already. It's pretty darn racy! James is loving outside time - he goes to the door and says "side, side, side?" He likes to walk up and down the sidewalks and chase balls around the grass. This summer is going to be a blast... I'm glad that many family members will be able to see him soon, because he's changing so rapidly. He had his checkup yesterday and all is well - even his weight is catching up to the "scale" - for whatever that is worth.

More Warmwater Fishing

I stopped for an hour the other day at a good looking hole at the outfall of a culvert. The stream is a warmwater trib of the Cannon that is mostly lakewater for much of the year. In the hole I could make out hundreds of bullheads of varying sizes.
I threw on a nymph from the carp swap and let it drift around... they weren't too active but if the drift was just right they took it - got two fair and one foul hooked. The bullheads were caught in a back eddy... I tossed the rig in the main flow on the other side of the pool and caught this common shiner. The entire pool was only about 15 feet across and about 20 feet long - not sure just how deep at plunge point. Anyway, as I was fishing, I saw a nice big carp hover from the dark depths to the edge of the hole - right in front of me... pretty cool. I tried a few carp nymphs with indicator - only so many places he could be sitting - but I couldn't hook him.

Deer Hair Divers

You have to tie them right - I found that out on Sunday. Not enough hair, or a disproportionately small head... won't work. This one is a decent model - it slugged along the surface in an exceptionally tantalizing drag. This is stacked, not wound deer hair. It was pretty funny to set down the micro rod and pick up the 8 wt cannon that is Esox Fables. It felt like I had a rocket launcher in my hands.

While I was fishing this lake, carp were jumping on a regular basis. I saw several come completely out of the water. When I was walking back to the car to change rigs I spooked that was sitting in six inches of water - he swam right by me in frantic fashion... mild heart attack for me on that one because I didn't see him coming. I wish I knew what those carp were doing... feeding, playing... ?? It'd be great to hook a carp in a lake. It might be trouble though because he'd probably take you into the curly leaf and sit there.

Micro Fly Fishing
There are fish in the lake. You can get those fish by many means: you could (1) drain the lake and collect the fish, (2) dynamite the lake and rake in the floaters... or on the other end of the fish capturing spectrum, you could (3) grab the fish with your bare hands. Somewhere in the middle are bait fishing, spin fishing, fly fishing, etc. On Sunday I tried out something that is closer to the bare hand grabbing - the micro fly rod. It is 30" long and the reel is the size of a US quarter. I only fished for about an hour, but caught ~15 sunnies and two golden shiners. These small fish did a pretty good number on the micro rig - a few took me down into the weeds and just sat there... pretty funny. I started fishing an asian lady beetle on the surface - it was great anticipating those takes... I then moved to a small streamer and got some great strip-sets in. It's a lot of fun and I'm looking forward to doing it again. Can't wait for a largemouth bass hookup! It's pretty easy to cast out in the open on a lake... I do want to get this rig on a trout stream, although it will be difficult due to the limited casting reach. There is only ~15 feet of fly line, then you're casting backing. The only other note is that it seems almost impossible to put a fish on the reel - I had to strip them all in... I'll work on that. I imagine a bigger fish would put itself on the reel for me! Part of the reason for this is the capacity of the spool - you can barely fit the backing and the line on it, so to reel it up without tension on it would be tough.

Odelay Lyrics from Beck
The song below is called Lord Only Knows. It'd be interesting to hear any interpretations of these lyrics... pretty abstract. I've been listening to this album a lot lately - it is great. It actually won Rolling Stone album of the year back some time ago. The best line is this:

Going back to Houston
Do the hot dog dance
Going back to Houston
To get me some pants.....

Ahhhhhhhhhh!!You only got one finger leftAnd it's pointing at the doorAnd you're taking for grantedWhat the Lord's made on the floorSo I'm picking up the piecesAnd I'm putting them up for saleThrow your meal ticket out the windowPut your skeletons in jail'Cause Lord only knows it's getting lateYour senses are gone so don't you hesitateTo give yourself a call let your bottom dollars fallThrowing your two bit cares down the drainInvite me to the seven seas like some seasick manYou will do whatever you please and I'll do whatever I canTitanic, fare thee well, my eyes are turning pinkDon't call us when the new age gets old enough to drink'Cause Lord only knows it's getting lateYour senses are gone so don't you hesitateMove on up the hill there's nothing dead left to killThrowing your two bit cares down the drainOdelay, odelay, odelay, odealy odelay, odelayJust passing throughOdelay, odelay, odelay, odealyGoing back to HoustonDo the hot dog danceGoing back to HoustonTo get me some pants.....

Friday, April 21, 2006

Biotic Interface with Fluvial Transport Processes Associated with Dissolved Solutes in Transport

[I just came across this at work - pretty funny how wordy it is]

Biogeochemical processes associated with the microbial community (algae, bacteria, fungi) constitute the interface between solute transport and biotic production in riverine environments. Identifying and estimating the role of biotic processes such as nitrification and denitrification by bacteria, nutrient uptake and production by epilithic algal films and decomposition of particulate and dissolved organic matter, as well as abiotic processes such as absorption, are important for understanding the linkage between terrestrial, riparian, hyporheic and in-channel contributions to the nutrient chemistry of a drainage network. Relative biotic response to solutes in transport between pristine and anthropogenically modified riverine environments is poorly understood, but necessary for long-term management of surface waters. Project objectives are to identify and determine rates of biotic transformations of transported solutes at chemical-biotic interfaces in fluvial environments, including seepage areas, riparian zones, sediment/surface-water interfaces, intragravel- subsurface flow interfaces (hyporheic zone) and floodplains.
4,715 Cubic Feet Per Second
This is what it looks like. This is also an example of what I do at work. Yesterday I was out with a coworker from a local county measuring flow at a bridge in the Vermillion Bottoms. We recorded the highest flow ever observed at this site. That is not to say that it's the highest flow - it's not even close - but most flows don't get measured. To understand pollutant loading, it's critical to know how much water is moving through systems at various points. These graphs emphasize the need to catch high flows when creating a stage-discharge relationship: note how the slope of the line changes as water levels rise... meaning you can't use a set of low flows to predict high flows. Case in point - if we'd used the data collected through 1998 to predict flow yesterday, the result would have been ~3700 cfs (off by ~22%, as actual measurement was 4715 cfs). We need to get even higher flows documented... thus, we keep at it! Yesterday was a great field day - weather was nice and all equipment worked as it should. In the one graph here you can see the cross section of the river - note that the main channel was 17 feet deep at some points - as well as the velocity at each point across the transect... and finally the "piece" of the total flow at each station. The river was 349 feet wide at this point! The measurement took a little longer than three hours, and we took more than twice as many observations as are required by standard protocol - meaning the measurement is pretty accurate.

Cannon River Bullheads

I had 45 minutes to fish this AM, on the way to work. I tried out the Cannon River at the Woolen Mill in Faribault (I mention the location because it's no secret and I don't think folks will be flocking there). I nymphed with a special carp fly (from the carp fly swap) for 25-30 minutes and never got a single hit. I switched quickly to JB's Rusted White Wooley Bugger and ran over to the other side of the river where there was more slackwater. I found a big pod of bullheads, and caught three: two fairly by the mouth, and one snagged by the stomach. Two of the three had large round sores at various locations on their bodies - see pictures. The water was a bit too high for prime fishing... I was hoping to find some white bass or carp action. I may try for 30 minutes after work today. I hope I didn't catch a disease from these bullheads! I've not seen this before; I'll forward on to DNR and ask about it.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Contents of the Trouts' Stomachs

BEARS REPEATING: “The land ethic simply enlarges the boundaries of the community to include soils, waters, plants, and animals, or collectively: the land….This sounds simple: do we not already sing our love for and obligation to the land of the free and the home of the brave? Yes, but just what and whom do we love? Certainly not the soil, which we are sending helter-skelter downriver. Certainly not the waters, which we assume have no function except to turn turbines, float barges, and carry off sewage. Certainly not the plants, of which we exterminate whole communities without batting an eye. Certainly not the animals, of which we have already extirpated many of the largest and most beautiful species. A land ethic of course cannot prevent the alteration, management, and use of these 'resources,' but it does affirm their right to continued existence, and, at least in spots, their continued existence in a natural state.”

Leopold, Aldo: A Sand County Almanac, and Sketches Here and There, 1948, Oxford University Press, New York, 1987, pg. 204.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

This is good - I'd like to get ahold of this flux calculator.


Paul HartzheimWater Resources Science StudentUniversity of Minnesota

ABSTRACT:The global trend of urbanization is concentrating humans in cities, making them major centers of biogeochemical cycling. The role of individual households and how their decisions affect their surrounding ecosystems have been largely ignored, in favor of analysis of large scale entities, such as industry or agriculture. We developed a mathematical computer model (Household Flux Calculator, HFC) that calculates the fluxes of elemental carbon (C), nitrogen (N), and phosphorus (P) for individual households based on a variety of household behaviors and decisions, such as energy use, transportation, diet, and lawn management practices. Preliminary results for realistic low, typical, and high consumption scenarios in the United States show that for households of similar compositions and socio-economic backgrounds, household C flux may vary by a factor of five, household N by a factor of three and household P by a factor of two. This implies that amenity choices - choices made within the bounds of the modern urban/suburban lifestyle - have a major influence on fluxes of C, N, and P. The HFC model was used to analyze real-world information collected from two sets of household interview pilot studies; one in Falcon Heights, Minnesota, an upper-middle class first-ring suburb of the Twin Cities and the second in Tirana, Albania, a rapidly growing large city in a developing nation. The resulting fluxes of household C, N, and P show considerable variation both within and between each sample group, particularly on a per capita basis.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a warning about a new virulent strain of a sexually transmitted disease. The disease is contracted through dangerous and high risk behavior. The disease is called Gonorrhea Lectim and pronounced "gonna re-elect him." Many victims contracted it in 2004, after having been screwed for the past four years. Cognitive characteristics of individuals infected include: anti-social personality disorders; delusions of grandeur with messianic overtones; extreme cognitive dissonance; inability to incorporate new information; pronounced xenophobia and paranoia; inability to accept responsibility for own actions; cowardice masked by misplaced bravado; uncontrolled facial smirking; ignorance of geography and history; tendencies towards evangelical theocracy; categorical all-or-nothing behavior; Naturalists and epidemiologists are amazed at how this destructive Disease originated only a few years ago from a bush found in Texas.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Here is JD on Easter Sunday, before going to church. Mom designed a little egg hunt for him. He quickly caught on, and really loved it. We'd show him the general area of each egg, he'd spot it, pick it up, shake it... then crack it open and extract jelly beans. His first real encounter with candy - he likes it for sure. The suit is from cousin JD, who wore it to our wedding (when he was 9 months old - James is now twice that!) - thanks to him! We had a nice Easter meal with friends out in the rural NFLD area landscape - thanks to them for inviting us and doing a great job of child-proofing the house. What a great little guy! You have to love this suit - tie and all.

Lamprey Spawning Site

You see some pretty amazing things when you're out and about fishing. On Saturday I came across a dozen or so pairs of lamprey, apparently spawning in this gravel/cobble bar. I sat and watched for a while as they picked up stones with mouths and moved them out of their little hollows... used tails to fan out sediment, and grasped one another in the throes of enthralling intercourse (or something close to it I think)! They'd pick up rocks, fan with tails, then suddenly use their mouths to attach/grab to one another and roll around violently for a few seconds - not sure just what was happening. They were so involved I could actually grab them with bare hands. The one that I actually picked up (bleeping tourist) tried to latch on to my person (I deserved it)... kind of strange - my reflex was to fling it back into the water. I believe these are brook lamprey - a native specie, but I'll check with DNR for confirmation. Their "nests" were approximately 8-10 inches in diameter, and they were placed in a relatively well-oxygenated part of the flow - see pic [can't load picture right now - will try later] - you can see the shallow semi-riffle area just out from the woody debris. This was very interesting - a highlight of the day. Last year JB and I found lamprey in the Root River... one was actually attached to a silver redhorse.

Catch & Keep Opener

Last year I spent this day on lakes - letting the crowds have the trout streams... this year I decided to give it a go. I set the alarm for 5:01 AM. It wasn't early enough. By the time I got out, there were already quite a few people fishing (6:20 AM). By the time I left the first stream I had seen no fewer than a dozen people - all fishing with gear/bait and most dressed in heavy mossy oak camo (??). While I realize I was part of the crowd myself, this was not a normal situation for me... I'm not used to so many people being around. I felt rushed and watched, and the whole deal was pretty negative. I wedged myself in at one hole and caught about 8 fish in an hour or so, which was nice. The only downer was that all but one were brook trout - I was looking to keep a few browns. The only brown I caught ended up in the creel - 12.5 inch fatty that leapt twice and made quite a ruckus... and after catching so many brookies I decided to keep one - first time ever. Two things I never saw at the first stop: (1) another fly rod, (2) a fish caught by anyone other than me (however, I was not looking over shoulders - I'm sure folks caught fish... the only two guys I spoke to were on the way out though - neither had caught a fish).

The next stop was busy too - but only at the bridges. By the time I got there it was around 1030 AM. I ran upstream to try to find some unoccupied water - only had to walk about 10 minutes. However - caught only creek chubs in marginal habitat. I did find a lamprey spawning site - see later post that I'll put out here. I went back to the bridge and threw nymphs out a few times - on third cast got a rainbow right off the truck. A family fishing bait caught 2-3 stocked rainbows while I was there - kids were pretty excited.

So I went home with one each: brown, brook, rainbow. We soaked them in lemon juice for a few hours and fried them for dinner - I have to say it was a top notch meal. It's a privilege to consume these stream fish.

One other note: I preserved the stomach contents of each of these three fish. The two wild fish had scuds and other bugs in stomach - the rainbow was full of rocks and sticks! He didn't know what to eat!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

All I can say here is: Wow - what a mom, and what a little boy. [pic taken Jan30, 2006]

Here's a funny pic from a while ago... he looks like an adult taking a nap on the couch.
Catch & Keep Season Approaches
It's kind of strange to post pictures of mortally wounded fish... but it happens and it's part of the cycle of fishing. I've probably kept ~15 trout over the past 5 years, but I might keep more than usual this year. I'm trying for a thoughtful approach: I don't want to release every single fish I catch, because that paints me as a "sport" fisherman, and I don't want to kill all/most of them. I'll shoot to be an "experience" fisherman who enjoys the act and considers each fish and keeps a select few according to (1) stream ecology (cull overpopulated streams), (2) specie (favor brook trout by taking a few browns), (3) size (keep the 9-11 inch fish, release bigger and smaller).
Email received from John B today at 11:28 AM:

"some dude just asked me to write an article on carp fishing with a flyrod for an online carp magazine. might be fun!"

Now officially the carp on the fly master... see here for more:

Check out the mouth on this fish! It was caught with a 4 wt fly rod - which is smaller than most punks use to fish for trout and pannies.

Greg Brown Lyrics

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Watch out girls!

I'll let the pictures speak for themselves. Parents - better keep track of your daughters! [In the pic in which you can see no faces, you can still tell that James has an ear-to-ear grin - pretty funny.]

Field Testing a New Fly
Even though this deer hair is spun, not stacked like it should be, this diver still seems to float pretty well. I can't show you here, but on popping this fly, it shoots under the water a few inches, then slowly rises back to the surface. My conclusion after tossing it around the lake is this: northern pike will crush this thing! Not to mention smallies and largemouth. I'm getting excited to hit some warmwater soon.
Here are three poems from Wendell Berry's collection called Given. I would change the title of the first one to How To Be a Person (to remind myself). I wish I could print the second poem and stake it in the ground in front of every extremist church and in the yard of all the zealots out there. He really pegs it - short, simple and deadly accurate... love it. The last one is quite a lament; I was thinking it could be printed in white text over a background of dark, Wal-Mart parking lot.

How To Be a Poet(to remind myself)

Make a place to sit down.
Sit down. Be quiet.
You must depend upon
affection, reading, knowledge,
skill — more of each
than you have — inspiration,
work, growing older, patience,
for patience joins time
to eternity. Any readers
who like your work,
doubt their judgment.

Breathe with unconditional breath
the unconditioned air.
Shun electric wire.
Communicate slowly. Live
a three-dimensioned life;
stay away from screens.
Stay away from anything
that obscures the place it is in.
There are no unsacred places;
There are only sacred places
And desecrated places.
A Small Theology

"With God all things are possible"
-that's the beginning and the end
of theology. If all things are possible,
nothing is impossible.
Why do the godly then
keep slinging out their nooses?
In A Country Once Forested

The young woodland remembers
the old, a dreamer dreaming

of an old holy book,
an old set of instructions,

and the soil under the grass
is dreaming of a young forest,

and under the pavement the soil
is dreaming of grass.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Here are some recent pics taken by Mom. JD really enjoys reading - mainly before bed, but really any time. He likes to pick out animals in books and imitate their sounds. He's also doing a great job of signing - including stringing a few signs together to make sentences... like "more milk please". He still needs some reminders, but overall he's a great communicator.

The things this little guy does, and the words he's learning to say... amazing. Watching him develop is the single most interesting process I've observed. We're very fortunate to know this guy, and privileged to take care of and love him.

Most recent fishing outing... been a while since I've posted anything. Last time I was out I had the privilege of catching fish from three different DNR major watersheds: Cannon, Zumbro and Whitewater. I don't think I've ever caught all three trout species in such a short time... not to mention at least one of each greater than or equal to 12 inches.

I saw many, many fish in the stream that was just dubbed "poor" with respect to its index of biological integrity (some of you can put this together)... it is clear that bug diversity may, but does not necessarily correlate to fish density or diversity. Fish can get big gorging themselves on scuds. However, as someone mentioned at the meeting: diversity is important for long term viability of a system. If something were to affect the scuds in that stream it'd be in trouble.

In the early AM I was enveloped in a cloud of midges - pretty amazing. I also saw a few large caddis - see pictures. However, fish were not steadily rising to anything. I saw ~6 rises all morning. I tried a couple dry flies and my buddy's Wilted Spinach, but no dice this time. Every time I tried something like that and failed, I'd go back to nymphs and proceed to pluck them out. It's scary just how deadly nymphing can be... even in the hands of someone like me. Add an indicator and you're looking at a very, very effective approach. Speaking of indicator I do always feel like this group of fly anglers is hovering over me - watching and saying "get rid of the indicator you cheater." I did try some naked nymphing this time out, and got a few fish that way - including largest brown of the day (the fatty - see pic). Overall great outing - wish I'd had more time...

That's probably the biggest brook trout I've caught. If I hadn't taken a picture I'd have said 14 inches, but it is not that big. Probably more like 13" given reference provided by rod in picture. The fish ran all over the place - tore me up pretty well - 4 wt and #18 barbless nymph. The rainbow did some stream walking too - looked live a muskrat running downstream with head above water.