Wednesday, June 24, 2009

I gotta pocket full of stones...

Or a suit case full of kick ass carp flies.

N.O. L.I.M.I.T - Robert Griffith

And some last minute tuning of gardens: thinned some beets (eating the greens for lunch right now) and worked some tomatoes around in the cages. As you can see, some of the tomato plants are waist high by the -6th of July. The grapevine is screaming for a trellis. Working on that one.

Cylindria beet from Seed Savers Exchange. Got some bigger ones coming along.

Sunday, June 21, 2009


Symbolic: come unprepared for carp and things must be shoe-laced together. No belt; no fighting butt; 4 wt rod; 3x tippet; no wading staff.

Main goal: MET. A new carp on the fly guy born. This fish was filter feeding just below the surface. Put on zebra midge and within 1-2 minutes, Joe had it in a fish mouth.

When's the last time you've done this?: stood in strong current, on treacherous rocks, holding a ~15 lb carp on a 4 wt in your left hand while taking photos of your fishing buddy with your right hand and also preparing to net his fish.

Worth it though, no question.

We do more carping before 7 AM than most people do in a week.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Appetite: Whetted

Take a second to stare at human hand for scale. Adult, male human hand.

Big fuggin fish. Scaled it.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

LOD: Back to Roots

Bumped a Couple Carp Yesterday

Came off to be tougher than I figured it would be: cloudy conditions made for poor visibility, and the fish were spooky. None of the slow cruisers would give my flies any consideration. In fact, they bolted at the sight of them.

The first fish pictured below doesn't really count, because I was fishing to another when this one shot in from the side to eat the LOD. I scaled it at 6 lbs.

The second was one of the few tailers I saw (in the brief 1.5 hours of fishing on this day). I put this new fly on him, drug it to position and dropped it just in front and to the side. His tail was to me, so I didn't get to see the take but I saw the take (you know what I mean). This was a small fish, so I decided he ought to come home with me to provide some sustenance - more on that in a later post.

Related report: my neighbor has been prowling this location a bit too, and he recently banked his first carp on the fly there... and to boot: probably the first ever carp caught on a Bogdan reel.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Throw a Dart

Exhaling now, after a long, filled weekend. It included various forays into home projects, gardening, eating Driftless Area food, parties, canoeing with kids and a couple stints of fishing. This being the venue that it is, I'll stick to the latter-most item going forward.

Sunday morning: slipped out of bed at ~4:47. Stole out the back door around 5:25 and was on the stream before 6:00. In fact, I may have had my first fish to hand before 6:00. By 7:00 I figure I must have had ~8-10 trout on the books. That is a solid formula for really fishing the subsequent hours in relaxed fashion. Fish have come, from there on everything is some beautiful icing. I put quite a few pictures below - maybe caption approach is the best way to tell this story. It's a good story too: I'm fully realizing that these little outings are what constitute Trout Season 2009. Too often a guy finds himself looking forward to the next day on the water... and forgets to savor the last one he logged. This outing was by no means any sort of pinnacle, but it was a step beyond solid and I appreciate it for the quality it provided.

A lot of this: humming 2 wt. For a while the moon was in the western sky and I was fishing the east bank of the stream... so I'd look up at my bent rod and see La Luna working his way down to the horizon.

One tandem rig was fished all day: two BH PTs. I stock a generic black BH nymph that is essentially a PT with a couple steps omitted... that fly absolutely wrecked havoc on this day - you'll note in the followig pics: all the same fly embedded in lips. In a strange twist - never lost one fly. All snags pulled through or out. Looking at these pics - I guess I like headshots over the body-laying-in-grass poses. Seems like when I get the fish to hand I'm always trying to capture the spots and colors... can't ever do it just right though.

For some reason I was able to call almost every shot on this day. I was seeing the water and feeling where the fish were... and getting the nymphs on them. I mention that because it doesn't come together like that all too often... so there was a really slick feel to this outing: everything was hitting. I walked up to this pool and said to myself fish at the head and fish in the tail. I flipped the nymphs at the head, and was treated to a vision of a dark shape move from its hold to eat the trailing PT. The fish in the tail of the pool I fooled into eating a nymph, but missed.

Speaking of that - a couple notes on visuals and takes: I was able to watch quite a few nymph takes - pretty cool. I saw numerous fish move to eat. Also, the lift was very effective - at the end of drifts, a slow raise would bring hard hits - a few of which I was able to watch.

Time to tie up an inch worm pattern. Those are two different trout stomachs. Interesting to note that I turned over a dozen rocks and saw no mayfly nymphs. Hell, I saw almost nothing on the rocks. A few caddis here and there, and some leeches. Kind of eerie really. Rocks should hold bugs. So few bugs on the rocks, and these two fish eating inch worms and snails.

Fish from all kinds of water types: many out of reaches like this one below: subtlely deep, with a trace of a foam line. Took quite a few out of really deep, slow water. I think I could have sat on that stuff for a long time and really pulled out a lot of fish.

Around 8 AM I saw just a few mottled brown caddis #16 in the air. A little later I found some rising fish, so I put on a brown caddis with a #20 PT dropper (no BH). Picked up a few fish on that rig, including one on the dropper. One beauty came from the only shady spot in a sunny reach - put the caddis under an over-hanging shrub and watched it be crushed on lighting on the water.

Tell me this doesn't get you going:

One other interesting note: all of the fish were one of two sizes: ~6 inches, or 11-12 inches. Maybe two year classes that have done well there... No fish into the teens, and not even any 8-9 inchers. An absolute brigade of strong and pretty foot long fish though - enough to keep a sap like me interested for the duration. I definitely did not count the fish, but I will say with 100% certainty that rounding to the nearest 10, the tally would be 20. I'd guess maybe a dozen each of the dinks and foot-longers. That's a fisherman's guess though, so maybe more like 9-10 of each.

So - indeed: throw a dart. Pick a stretch of water in SE MN, go to it and run nymphs through trouty looking water. Proceed to catch fish. We are fortunate in that regard.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

From the Bench

Bought some saltwater flies at a fire sale some time ago. Not useful for me, but I was scoping the heavy hooks. Last night I used a pocket knife to strip off all the materials and turn out a half dozen carp flies. The hooks are stout: will not bend or break. John Montana sent me a pattern to replicate - couldn't really do it that well because I don't have any really sweet beard/sword material... But I think in some situations these would fish okay. Maybe a bit on the loud side really. Half the shite I tie up I hate the second it's done anyway. Ha! Tomorrow night I'm going back to basics: dusting off the small LOD - the pattern has gotten away from its root and it needs to veer back that way.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

DASE: Driftless Area Stock Exchange

No fishing last few days. A bit of thinking though as I approached home today after work and began to inventory the items that needed transport from my vehicle to the house. I had through the course of the day received these items from a couple folks:

(1) A giant jar of honey, raised and harvested in the Cannon River basin.
(2) One compass plant (made famous by Aldo Leopold in his story of the acute angle in the cemetery).
(3) Several golden alexanders - native prairie plants.
(4) A pair of pink squirrel earrings I'd given to someone - she brought them to me, requesting repairs to the tails (ha!).
(5) One copy of Grass Roots - a wonderful book I'd loaned.
(6) An empty jar that formerly held some of our grape jelly made last fall.

Not pictured are the bergamot plants I brought with me this morning and left with someone in swap fashion.

This reminded me of something Steve at Oak Center said in the prelude to the Greg Brown concert last month: [para-phrasing] Why do we judge our condition by the Dow Jones Industrial Average? What does it mean when the stock market falls? Can't we judge our state by looking around at the fields and considering how much rain we've got and how our gardens our doing? Isn't true wealth to be found in our relationships with friends and family?

Just a little, seemingly insignificant deal here, but on further look: maybe a microcosm of a stock exchange of sorts - the kind of exchange we ought to be having more often.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

The Draw of the Dry

The rule about drive time to fishing time ratio can be compromised when you plan to drive to the river with a friend. The transportation becomes something more valuable then - conversation and fellowship. So, despite the fact that we had only 2.5 hours to fish, we opted to drive to some trout water ~50 minutes away. We hoped to walk into some rising fish. The main goal was to get my neighbor into some fish on his specially-crafted reel (see pic below). He's got so many cool Bogden, etc. reels I can't recall exactly the story on this one. I do know that the guy went out to the east coast to meet Bogden and his family, and while out there he MADE a reel for himself, alongside one of the classic reel-makers. Whichever of the line of beauties this reel is, it hadn't connected with a trout until Sunday - see rainbow below.

Other than that, the main highlight on the water was the intrigue with respect to the hatches we encountered: one large mayfly - I believe march brown - was clearly on the water, but not in big numbers. A pale yellow, smaller mayfly was out in pretty good force. There is some question now that suggests it may have been a sulphur, which according to the local folks would be a pretty rare and notable occurrence. Apparently the true sulphur hatch "disappeared" years back. Folks are examining pics now - maybe verdict soon. Anyway - it was tough to get the rising fish to eat. There were plenty of rising fish though. While my neighbor was rigging up, I walked down to the stream and put my first cast on a riser. My big, brown mayfly patter landed right next to a natural. I had then a rare opportunity to see clearly both a real bug and my imitation... I watched a brown slowly turn up and choose the fly over the bug. Pretty cool. That image kind of burned in my mind. Coincidentally, that fish is smoking in my backyard right now.

The short story is we didn't get a hell of a lot of takes. We missed some fish and caught some fish. Didn't really have time to nymph. Left the stream content, and sipped some hot coffee on the way home. There in time for a couple rounds of Candyland.