Wednesday, March 31, 2010

March 30, 2010 Report

And that's AM you see below. 05:52 hours ground coffee ready to go amidst a quiet house. First thing that came to me this morning was the line My girl, my girl, don't lie to me, Tell me where did you sleep last night?, not because my gal slept anywhere other than here last night but because my brother gave me a CD that includes that song and Mr. Cobain is installed in my brain right now singing that over and over. Sometimes when you get a lyric like that and you repeat it you end up naming flies after some of the words in the lyric. Who knows if it'll come to that (the WDYSLN maybe) but for now the words are wedged so I stood there in some good outward silence pouring hot water through an aluminum funnel listening to Nirvana inside my head. My girl, my girl, don't lie to me shiver the whole night through

In fact if you want to make your read complete, consider opening another tab and getting it going before you proceed. Why not. Not too loud though if the boss is around.

Tell me where did you sleep last night?

And there's also another lyric from another song from another genre of music that I think of every time I'm driving east early in the morning: it's such a blessing when my eyes get to see the sunrise. That it is. So songs are good for something and maybe something more than just listening. Good Lord is the sunrise something to see and it cannot be captured on film. Or in pixels.

And then down in the valley. Another interesting phenom: down, down, down. Tell me where did you sleep last night? In the pines, in the pines
Where the sun will never shine
Down in the valley so low. Hang your head over or just roll down the slope to the stream and get ready to go fishing. Another cool feeling though: enclosure by the road cut and the trees, and descension.

And then some fish were caught in the minutes after stepping to streamside. In fact, I was about catching my car door on the backcasts. Approx fifteen minutes in, I'd landed maybe 5-6 good fish nymphing. Looking at cows and cows looking back. Gray morning and nymphed up fish. I saw the beaten banks and exposed blackness and wondered if a worm or two might be dislodged now and then and float and squirm downstream downcurrent into a waiting maw and then into a stomach. Who knows, but the fish ate the SJW. Worm fly. In the pines, in the pines
Where the sun will never shine
I would shiver the whole night through

Kype just coming on here.

This shallow, broken water produced a very remarkable fish. Pretty and fairly large. And two spooked out of there after their compadre was skewed on a #16 hook. I'd run away too.

You can see that little trout in there, feeding and feeling good and safe. No apparent threats. I heron-walked on this absolute wrangle of debris and persisted and cursed and did eventually hook two fish but I couldn't land either of them. No big deal though. Kind of a theater of sorts and that was fascinating.My girl, my girl, where will you go?
I'm going where the cold wind blows

And some streamers were thrown. SMB to be exact, courtesy of WFF. An interesting note here is that there was very little action swinging the streamers down riffles into pools. A couple small fish. To get fish with streamers on this day, a guy had to go to the tailout and slow water and cast up and/or across and strip back through. Jolting strikes ensued. Not a ridiculous number but enough to make it very interesting. Maybe a coincidence, maybe not... but after watching quite a few fish follow and refuse, I trimmed some of the flash collar off a black SMB and that less flashy fly seemed to produce more enthusiasm.

Good dog here. Hung around for quite a while and even wanted a bit of my coffe and lunch. Only problem was that friendliness meant going ahead of me and scouting every pool in brusque fashion... i.e. scuba diving. Maybe a pact with the fish, as it is after all more his territory than mine. I didn't mind. What the hell. The fish will always be there and so will the fisherman and there will be adventures always so if something gets fugged up big deal I probably would have screwed it up anyway. Unless a bass boat pulls up on a carp flat - that can be a different story.

View from lunch seat. Not bad. By this time I was coasting so I watched some water. All told probably landed around 15 fish. Not sure but I recall catching 5-6 from the first hole, and at least that many on streamers. And a few holes that gave up 1-2 fish to tandem nymph rig. So coasting was in play. Some nice fish too.

Turned over a few rocks. Found a sculpin under one of them.

On the way out. Thinking about catch and release, fishing as sport, etc. Looking forward to drawing the big Ken Onion and ingesting some of this land and water. Six months of no harvest of trout in MN.

Stopped at this store on my way out. 150 years of service. The teller/owner is 94 years old. She made me guess her age and I said 71 knowing she was older than that but no way in hell was I going to guess much older than that. She wanted to chat. I was running late. I stayed as long as I could. I bought some food and she asked me to put the money in the till myself so I did.

Last day of March and all that - no snow for a month. Also no really good hatches yet. Bummed about that, but it is only 3/31. More to come. Wider scope of fishing starts tomorrow. 17 days or so to harvest of fish. And carp starts now. Sunning ghosts were observed today and will be addressed. Methods to force them to eat will be employed. Spring oh spring where did you sleep last night - in the pines in the pines now get your ass out here and keep us all warm and make bugs hatch and fill the sky in big clouds and pour sun on dirt and wake up the plants and grapevines and bounce around on water surfaces. Good Lord spring come on and stay on strong! Woohoo!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Company One Keeps Part II

Just back from the Midwest Fly Fishing Expo. I manned our booth for Saturday and Sunday, with some good compadres and coworkers. We had decent traffic, and a fair number of interested folks. Not an inundation though. Here is some potentially useful information that I worked up for our display:

Two booths down from us was Dennis Potter. He's an outstanding tier, and a funny dude. I found reason to stroll down to watch him tie... quite often. I took a good number of notes. He doesn't hold back telling a guy what he should and shouldn't do when it comes to flies. He handed me this little "baby trout streamer." He screwed up the coloring and told me it was my fault.

Once again though, the company one keeps: we've established a bit of a tradition - that of staying up late the one night we spend at the hotel (between the work days) to tie flies. Often coincides with NCAA tourney too, which is good. Beer and chatter and stories and questions and tying. This year I cranked out a good number of Adams patterns - trying to rededicate myself to learning the various dry flies a person needs down here.

And beyond that tradition - more good company. I got to talk with writers, fisherman and solid folks all around. Good vibes.

Slightly unrelated but mildly related because I was loading up my boxes with the new flies and I had some streamers out for rearranging... Here, a guy checking out the SMB by WFF:

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Company One Keeps Part I

Hit up the Fly Fishing Film Festival. The scene was very cool. The show was moderately decent. A lot of saltwater stuff. A solid steelhead bit (Metalhead) - although I know little to nothing of steelhead fishing... A cool piece on mouse-eating trout in exotic lands. And more saltwater stuff. It makes a person consider his place in the world of fishing. This is a total fish-bum, max adrenaline, I'm super cool, look at this footage, check this take, etc. deal. Seems like that whole front is wearing a bit. Some sort of succession needs to roll along. Something brainier and more thoughtful maybe. It's always cool to watch fish eat. I'll give them that.

They were thoroughly lacking in the roughfish department. There was one ~3 minute bit on carp. Here are my three memories of it (1) the guy was casting to a big glob of carp - not sight fishing; (2) he caught a mirror, but didn't call it a mirror - instead looked at it in somewhat puzzled fahsion and said to the camera: look at that crazy scale pattern; (3) when he was holding up the mirror, the guy behind us in the theater said what the hell is that? Plus, at some point the fugger in the movie gilled a carp and held it high in a solid show of disrespect.

Anyway, I wouldn't have gone alone. The company was key: The Roughfisher. Hung out before the festival (Bigfoot barleywine in play). And stayed over (thanks) so a person could relax and not be taxed for a drive home late at night. A little more beer and some relevant discussion on into the night regarding various angles and tangents on the subject of fishing and fishes.

I'll think about this a little more. One thing I know for sure: the shizzy that John Montana pulls on a regular basis is at least as interesting as all those videos. Probably more. He really just needs a fancy camera and some music as backdrop.

And came home to this... geez:
Salute to the Sun

On Wednesday night I became somewhat bitter in response to the forecast for Friday (a day I had scheduled as off on my calendar): turning colder, more dogmeat, basically garbage weather and rain and wind and snow. In defiance I decided to work on Friday and take a few hours on Thursday, in salutation. Trouble was that that timing (morning hours) did not provide what I was looking for... that being a BWO hatch. Still many interesting angles though, as usual. Some great sun, and a few willing fish to reflect light.

The time is coming... things seem to be happening in exponential fashion now. Spring. Soon the air will be full of bugs, and downstream in the warmer expanses the golden tails of carp will be waving. And beckoning! Woohoo!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Sunday: A Day of Rest

Up at 4:30 AM, discounting the spring-ahead. Drive south and east was dark with scratchy radio and coffee. Good start to things, driving into the sunrise. At streamside I found WFF. Good guy to hang around and we spent the first half hour going over various topics and emptying coffee thermos. Waiting a bit. Then on to what was essentially an aquarium fishing deal. We found some clear water (at that time, clear water was not a given - now most small streams are good to go - big water is still pretty high and blown) and perched ourselves high and dry. We basically took turns nymphing, and thus took turns taking rainbows. First cast was a hook up (lost fish) and second cast caught fish. The interest here is the visual component - we got to see most takes. In one instance I put the indicator up really tight and floated a tandem rig into a shallow pocket in which two nice bows were feeding... watched one swing over and eat the crap out of orange scud. Also watched several fish move to streamers - a couple moved all the way across the stream to tackle black shadowy flies. And to top it off, put a dry emerger on a fish and watched it eat it. Not bad. Pictures though, are not good. Will do better next time. Drive back was all sun. Home before noon, with that little adventure in the books.

Afternoon - down to the local Zumbro trib for a four-hour park stint. I'm worn to hell right now because over the last week I've pushed swings more than anyone you know. Some days heavy swings too. Sometimes both kids in swings side by side. I can't believe the boys haven't vomited once. Over and over - they laugh and laugh. Pretty cool. Good spring weather to be tromping in. James rode his bike approx 2-3 miles without complaint.

And finally - open the coffin to find life... After clearing off snow, I cracked the cold frame and found viable lettuce, spinach and even beet plants. Nothing too robust, but interesting none the less. I'm thinking maybe the snow blanket covered the box before the ground froze... ?? And then it never did freeze solid in the root zone... ?? I do know that the leaves of the lettuce froze through and fell over sometime in early December. Hard to say. Pretty cool though.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

It's not this simple...

I've been hearing some talk on apex predators lately. Radio was chattering a bit on a NSF study - I think that is summarized here. Another decent scan here.

I remember posting this some time ago.

Seems like this is a very emotional and hot topic. Polarizing would be an understatement. Like most things though, landing in the middle is the most reasonable approach. I don't know much about wolves - I don't see them or interact with them and thus I don't have extensive comment. Sense suggsts to me though, that research means something. Sense tells a person that you can't eliminate a dimension of something and leave all other dimensions as they are now. Sense suggests that thoughtful management is the best approach.

That said, if I had coyotes beating on me and ripping up my stock, I'd do my best to talk it over with folks who understand things well, and then manage the situation. It'd require some thought though. Like you might use field stones to build your low water crossings, and like you might use manure to grow your garden... so should a person use killed animals within the confines of their operation it seems. Skin them out and then maybe feed the pigs. Something. Management is a burden but it's an important one. When you dump an animal in a ditch, as far as I can tell you are (1) disgracing the animal, (2) denying your home and land a potential gain - all flesh and bone has potential to make the land healthy, (3) being lazy and placing a burden on others to take care of your responsibility.

And so while wolves and other apex predators may not necessarily be as romantic as depicted in that Leopold bit, I think it's safe to say that the answer is not as simple as an unwritten policy to shoot all wild canines on sight and dump them in ditches. As a person in the world, I can figure that nobody deserves that end. If those coyotes did indeed have to die (who knows that?), then an honorable end would have been under some roots that would grow a tree or maybe a tomato that a person could eat later on. I suppose they'll end up as nutrient somewhere, at some point, but the path will be a disgraceful one.

These pics were taken yesterday at a stream crossing in the Straight River watershed. Beer can is a nice touch. Identification of sorts.