Thursday, July 27, 2006

Another addition to on-the-fly life list...

I've caught buffalo before, but only foul-hooked. This one was by the mouth, in cool fashion.

Story is like this: I stop to scout a spot and find a kid with two big walleyes on a stringer. I ask him if he's seen any carp, and he says "why, you gotta bow with ya?" I say no and look around - see about 20 carp klooping about where two rivers meet.

I come back later and find another guy fishing walleye - he tells me that a 5 lber broke his stringer, and he's really upset about it. He proceeds to explain that that is why he has so much beer with him - to drown his sorrows... as he points to some cheap ass can-beer sitting on top of a cooler that I presume to be full of the stuff, along with maybe some stolen drum and a few dozen crawlers.

This is all just to set the stage - to give you a feel for the type of folks fishing the area. I used to love rednecks, maybe even used to be one, in a way. I may still have a tinge to me, but the full-bred redneck is really starting to piss me off lately. They just do too much dumb, uncaring shit. It's a funny and romantic aura they throw out, but when you get right down to it, they are not components of a good and healthy community. Anyway - the carp were still there... I spotted them and started drooling, then this guy - true to form set by his mate I met earlier - asks me "do you have a spear with you?" I say no, and head out to string up my 4wt. Out of the corner of my eye, I see through the trees across the river, a beat up Plymouth Acclaim pull up and stop. "Oh shit," I think - another bleeping redneck coming. So I pick up the pace - run to the car - string up and dash across the river in my boots - no worries, even though just upstream is the wastewater outfall, and at this low flow it probably accounts for a big chunk of the water passing by this point. Screw the fecal pathogens and intense ammonia - I slosh across the water only to see NO CARP left on the far bank, and a guy in a wifebeater and a cockeyed baseball hat and gold chain slinging a 4 lb lure around. Here is the worst part: he throws about five casts and leaves. So after spooking out every carp, he dicks around for two minutes, then walks away. "You bleeping bleeper bleephead" is what I felt like saying to him.

So I walk over and look around - only a glance or two at fleeing carp is what I am allowed. I stalk around for a while, then finally figure - heck, they could only have fled to a few places. So I look in those places. "There are the carp," I say to myself - and there they were indeed. He had spooked them into the main flow, and I could see them feeding. So I start casting to them.... with a heavy fly though - not the right sink rate. Switch to a lighter fly - long story short is that I hooked a buffalo fish (that I thought was a carp until I saw him near the surface) and that's about it... Meaning that fish did not make a single run, or a single act of defiance. Not sure why - he just came in like a log, on a 4 wt no less. Hook was right in the corner of the mouth closest to me - like I pulled it while in his mouth and it set right where it should have. It was my first real success sight fishing in perpendicular fashion to fish in fast-moving current - pretty cool. Some carp were feeding just inches below the surface, and I was sure I could get them to eat a Chernobyl Ant... but floated right over them and they wouldn't take it.

Shortly after that another wifebeater dude comes and sloshes across the stream and I say "bleep it, and bleep you" and get the heck out of there. As I'm leaving the orginal wifebeater guy who spooked all the fish comes back (I was forewarned by the bass from the Acclaim) with two wifebeater wearing babes who were not older than 13. Apparently he had worked out a new approach to fishing.

I have to determine what specie of buffalo it was - I didn't have the camera with me, but the image is burned in my mind.

I'll probably return early AM when the slothful punkasses aren't around to foul the scene and litter the viewscape with anomalies.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

A PLAY A DAY is where it's at folks. Go read this one, then read through the archives:

I'll put a link to the site here very soon...

Tuesday, July 25, 2006


Stop the killing, or
I'll kill you, you
God-damned murderer!

by Wendell Berry

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

James and Eric

We recently had all the cousins gather up in the northern reaches of MN. These are great pictures contributed by Amanda. It's so great to see these guys together - older helping younger. It's really something to grow up with someone and then one day see your children together.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Good day of carp fishing, although actual time on the water amounted to only ~2 hours total. I went out by myself this AM and landed two nice fish, then James and I did a quick round before he went to bed - only about 40 minutes but we landed one good fish, and he got to watch the entire ordeal. All were great takes: (1) I watched a fish move into the rocks at a stormwater outfall - I cast and he slowly moved over the fly and paused - hook set - fish fought and landed while a family from Ohio looked on in amazement, (2) this was a classic example of heading home, and trying for just one more fish... I was on my way to the car, when I thought I'd bust through some brush and look a a suspected shallow flat. I bumbled on through, thinking I wouldn't fish at all, and saw two nice carp dart away... fortunately though, there were two more tailing - couldn't see heads... I dropped crawdaddy where I figured head was - guessed that he was on it and set the hook but snagged something - that spooked the first tailer... I did the same thing on the second fish -jigged twice and slowly raised the fly - fish POUNDED it - strike-like... that fish fought really hard - wouldn't come in... minutes ticked by and I was torn between enjoying the battle and worrying about my currently great husband/wife/fishing relationship... to add to my anxiety sweat was pouring into my eyes and they were stinging like hell... pretty funny really.... eventually landed fish and bolted for home. (3) After cooling off for the afternoon with my son, we braved the heat and returned to the same carp water... wind had picked up a bit and visibility was tough... just as we were getting ready to leave though I spotted a tailer by the base of the bridge we were crossing - I parked JD in his stroller at the top of the bridge crest, so he could watch it all unfold... I could see the whole body this time, which made it much easier... I dropped a fly right near his head and he turned and literally pounced on the fly - very cool indeed... James really observed everything, and was calling out "feeshy" the entire time. Need more time to explore the water... great little haunt.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Confirmed another great carp water today - the list is growing rapidly.

First though, I have to say that I got my wig split by the fish at the carp water I've been fishing the past few days. I stalked around for 1.5 hours, but just couldn't do anything... The sun was clouded over, and what light did make it through somehow managed to create a terrible glare - I couldn't see a thing. There were no actively feeding fish in the shallows. I laid eyes on three fish: (1) cruising, but I had a shot and made a bad cast, (2) out in deep water near the top of the column - I tried to sneak up, but the fish spooked when I got within 30 feet directly behind him... not sure how he sensed that one, (3) right on the deep water fringe - disappeared before I could cast.

So, with 30 minutes to spare I headed home by way of another suspected carp water. I poked around for 20 minutes and saw six carp, two of which were double-digit fish. I cast at only two.... One of which is pictured here. This fish was feeding in some rocks at a stormwater outfall. The hookup was really cool: he moved to the side, and completey hid himself in some vegetation. I waited until he slipped out, and threw the fly just to the side of him into a deeper pocket of water. The fish slowly disappeared from sight - I couldn't see the carp or the fly at all... but he had disappeared right where the fly sank, so I set the hook... fish was there! Pretty small carp, but still took some line on 4 wt. I'll be back tomorrow - I saw some great fish and I only walked 2-3% of the walkable area.

James and I hit a local carp water yesterday. We started pretty early, so Mom could have the AM to herself... great deal all around (thanks JB)! At 830 we found a very active flat on which 4 carp were feeding with backs out of the water. I thought we were in business for sure... but this was our first attempt at tandem fishing. We tried to stalk these fish, but James kept yelling "buckle, buckle, buckle!" - telling me to give him the buckle he'd seen on the backpack so he could play with it. Add to that the poor casting display I put on and the result is a bunch of spooked fish. We really hacked up that opportunity. We went two hours without seeing many more fish... and the few we saw we spooked. Finally we spotted this long, thin fish (probably 5-6 lbs) in pretty shallow water, and got a good connection. He took line almost across the entire river - surprisingly ran further than did that big fish from earlier in the week. However, he was not as strong - took only ~5 minutes to land as opposed to the 14 for the big fish. When I hooked this fish James was actually running around the bank - he had tired of the pack and had let me know that he wanted to get out by shouting "all gone, all gone!" When the fish came to the shallows, James got pretty excited - yelling "fishy, fishy, fisheeey!" After landing, he wanted to touch the fish, so I set the carp on the bank for a a few seconds before releasing. The carp got muddy, which I regret, but I helped him on his way and he swam off with enthusiasm. "Fishy all gone, fishy bye-bye" was the salutation that was an appropriate end to a great day on the water for father and son.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Given the solemn river,
given the trees along the banks,
given the summer warmth,
the evening light-what
could have foretold the sudden
apparition of these two
speeding by as if late
for the world's end, their engine
shaking the air, breaking
the water's mirrors?
The trees and the sky hush
with dismay, and then,
upon the return of reflection,
with sorrow. How many years
of labor to become completely
anomalous everywhere?

Wendell Berry
Sabbaths 1998

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The coolest thing in the world is this: that my son JD often times waits by the door for me as I approach the house after work. He has taken to giving me very intense and sincere hugs when I enter the abode. This gives me the best feeling I've ever experienced!

Another very cool thing: when JD and I were walking along The River on Sunday he would now and then point and exclaim "riva, riva!" And when we'd turn away from The River for even a few seconds he'd say "buh bye riva." The learning is like a landslide... no stopping it, and we love it all.

Monday, July 10, 2006

This is probably the coolest fish of my life to date. The whole ordeal was completed in <30 minutes.

Fish #0: the one that got away yesterday at this location, when James and I were out - he clearly took the fly, but I missed him. That is important because it is what brought me back here. That is also important because the fish was smaller, so that made me opt for the 4 wt rod today.

Fish #1: I approached this stretch of river, and immediately saw a carp feeding along the rocks. It was tough to get him to see the fly, because of the rocky cavities... but I eventually "held" the fly suspended where he could see - he cruised on over and sucked it in! Fish on! Although this first carp was small, he tested the 4 wt - running a few times and giving me a pretty good battle. I landed the fish, released him and was just about to head out... but you know how that goes.

Fish #2: I decided to take a quick run up another piece of bank, just in case. From about 50 yards away I saw some disturbed water so I crept closer to investigate. The first picture here is what I saw: a PIG feeding with his back out of the water!! One of the coolest sights I've seen in a while - this was one of those fish that you see and think "wow, is that cool" but figure you have no way of catching him. That got my heart going. I ninja crept closer, and before I could get within decent (my) casting range, he slowly started swimming out deeper... damn, I thought - I bet he is gone. I ALMOST gave up and turned around. I heard JB saying to me though "DON'T GIVE UP!" and I followed the bubble trail that was barely visible. After a half minute or so he eased back into shallow water - affording me another chance! On my third cast, I got the fly just up and to the left of the fish... he slowly turned and swam over... head obscured by silt, but he paused over the fly and I set the hook. The shallow water and the mud exploded!! Yeah - fish on again! He kicked the crap out of the 4 wt - working me over for no fewer than 14 minutes (I glanced at my watch). He didn't make really long runs, but in total I bet he made 10 runs of 15-30 feet each. Every time I got him close it was like I could hear him say "screw you buddy" as he wheeled around and took off again. NOTE: this was a 4 wt, with 3x tippet, no fighting butt and NO NET. If I'd had a net I could have landed him in probably half the time. However, it wasn't easy. I had to slop out there and grab him after that epic battle... and he still had juice to defy me. I'm telling you - this was one of the coolest fishing experiences of all time for me: tying a fly for a specific purpose, going to a location looking for a certain specie... seeing a fish feeding like a pig in the shallows, stalking it, making the cast, hooking the fish without seeing fly or mouth, fighting and holding it for that long... and finally landing it with no net. Wow, is all I can say.

Fish #3: I HAVE TO GO, is what I was saying because my time was running short. However, on my way out, I saw another smaller carp. One can't see a carp and not cast to it... so I did, and on the first cast, HE SUCKED UP THE FLY, as I'd come to expect. However, on the hookset, I broke him off. That said to me that if I'd played that big boy (fish #2) much longer he'd probably have broken me off.

I got in the car and drove away.

One of the best fish to date, and it all took place in 30 minutes, with naught but a 4 wt fly rod, a lanyard, and a box of flies. No 80 bazillion HP motor with a 33 foot boat, no bassmaster certification, no worms, no treble hooks, no net - not even any waders man. Simple, light fishing that was pure joy.

Carp on the fly pretty are darn interesting. This is amazing... I won't forget this day! I can't believe how willingly some of these carp take flies.

[one other note: I had no where to unhook this fish other than the silt flat - he wouldn't let me control him while in the water]

[one final note: the fly, a variation on a pattern imported from Oregon, has been eaten by all four carp that have laid eyes on it! And thus, the fly is aptly named: 4-4 crawdad.]

These are the other pics from the bass-on-popper entry that preceeded this one. This is a picture of the bigger fish... and another shot that attempts to capture the anticipation involved when fishing poppers.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

After carp fishing, I decided to hit up a lake. Given the positions of the public accesses for the Faribault area lakes, not matter how the wind is blowing, you can always find at least one that offers some sheltered fishing. First one - no go - windy and choked with curly leaf... on to the second choice, but not before stopping at the Cannon River - check out how low and small it is way upstream (see pic) - much different than our flow in NFLD.

The second lake is very popular - many people driving around in big rigs, slinging big lures with big poles. I wore waders and got some funny looks, but that's the norm by now. I decided no panfish tonight - no small flies... big poppers bring in big boys, and that's what I was looking for. First fish came completely out of the water and tackled a foam popper... and the take is premiere moment according to JB and others - I fully agree. It was a great take. Not a huge bass - but nice: probably 1-1.5 pounds. A few casts later a pike bit off that popper - very cool to bring a pike to the surface though, even if you don't catch him. All the while, a beautiful moon is hanging, damselflies are everywhere, and there is pretty much peace in the valley save one guy blasting Johnny Cash and a few exclamations of "that guy has a fly rod" or "look at that guy in the water." A great scene indeed... Capped off by the last fish, which was a pig - or a pigathon, which is a combo pig and leviathan. Two interesting things about this fish: (1) where she was caught (see pic), (2) how she hit: gently. I found myself at some docks and boatlifts, and a few people were fishing there... another group just offshore in a pontoon. I worked the boatlifts pretty hard, and soon found one that was empty. I cranked a low cast way up into the vacancy and started stripping back. I paused to do something, didn't see or hear a thing, but FELT the tug - strange for popper fishing - and set the hook. A few minutes later this nice bass was to hand... funny, the people watching gave some pretty good oohs and ahhs. It didn't fight that hard, and it didn't go airborne once. Largemouth bass are somewhat overrated I'd say: not good fighters, not particulary colorful or remarkable fish, and not good eaters. Their one saving grace is the take though - a crushing surface hit is unforgettable. Great night on the water is what it was. [some pics won't load right now - I'll put them in another post later - the bass pictured here is the little one]

Did some sight fishing for carp in the Cannon today. It was tough, due to poor visibility and the positions of the fish. I was fishing behind a nice current break, in some near-dead water. I could see the silt plumes everywhere, but no tails were visible - the carp were pretty deep. Occasionally they would come into my view - cruising or going nuts like they do now and then - flashing their sides to me. I only had a few legitimate chances to put flies in front of fish. In one instance I could see a fish sitting by a log - mouth pumping - clearly feeding... I put the fly all around his head but saw no discernable sign of a take. Two other occasions I plopped the fly in the cone of vision of a cruising fish... the first one may have taken it - I set the hook and he spooked by I don't know if it was near his mouth or if the line hit him. The second one of these fish was doing a combo cruise/feed - stopping now and then and rooting in the silt. I put the fly in front and to his left... pretty cool - it was like he was said "hey, what's that? I'll go check it out...." swam right over to the fly, and although I couldn't see the take I knew he had it - set the hook and he was there. Not a big fish at all, but pretty cool hookup. I took this picture from the high bank because I had to walk downstream a bit before I could scramble down and unhook him.

In the 1.5 hours I was there, I saw two canoes pass - one with a couple and another that held a dad and two kids.... the kids were swimming in the river - total immersion, which made me both happy (to see the interaction) and and a little worried (to think of the water's impairments). I also saw a big ol' bullfrog (I think) that actually screamed before jumping into the water... and a HUGE snapper that swam right up to me... At first I thought my mind was playing tricks on me, because it looked just like a paddlefish with its head and neck stuck way out.... I went for the camera but that motion spooked him. Mussels everywhere too... and this stretch of the Cannon is right in town. Snappers, bullfrogs, carp, mussels, canoeists and fisherman all present. None of whom could see a square of pavement or a spire of a building... or a stormwater pond for that matter. Let's keep it that way folks!!

Friday, July 07, 2006

Redside Abstract

This was an accident, but it sure is cool. The two ends in motion... middle third fixed by JB's hand. It looks like the tail is coming out of the picture - it looks like it's too long for the fish.

The roughfish guys put up a really good summary of one method of smoking fish. See it here:

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Where's Waldo?
Mayfly Hatch Caught on Radar... very cool - check it out:
Energy basics - here's a good quiz, hosted at a buddy's web log:
See his July 5th entry...

I scored only 50%.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Fourth of July Fishing Observations

Walking the streets of Northfield yesterday, we took in a lot of good 4th of July activity... including some folks fishing the Cannon from the high wall in Bridge Square. With my son on my shoulders, we watched folks pull in a few interesting specimens. Among them was a freshwater drum (sheephead) that was one of the largest I've seen caught... likely a very old fish. Unfortunately this fish was gut hooked, and the fisherman proceeded to probe the fishes innards in an effort to retrieve his hook. We watched him pull out the pliers, thinking he finally had it... but instead the instrument held a piece of the fish's gills. After more gouging, pulling and prodding he finally got the hook loosed... and proceeded to throw the fish over the wall - blood trailing from beneath its gill plates. The whole scene was disappointing.

In my opinion, bait-fishing is not a good approach to angling; however, if it is to be done: (0) plan to keep most or all fish that you catch - "catch and release baitfishing" usually doesn't work out well; if you do find that you must release fish though: (1) pinch the barbs on the hooks, (2) know what fish you are after, and size the hook accordingly so it can fit in the fish's mouth but not be swallowed, (3) watch your line carefully so you can strike early and hopefully lip most fish, (4) if the hook is buried, cut it off as close as you can, and let the fish go.

The Cannon River holds more than 70 species of fish (few examples in photos here). Despite its problems, it can still be a good fishery. We should treat it, and all of its denizens with respect... And I don't mean fly fishing only, or releasing all fish. I mean being careful and thoughtful with whatever approach you employ, and with any fish you encounter. An 8-year old sheephead - a living, breathing and swimming fish - deserves the same thought and care as a walleye or smallmouth.