Monday, May 21, 2012
Thursday, May 17, 2012
Mothers’ Day 2012: Car Camping Notes
Evacuation of the homefront was determined to be an appropriate M-day gift. This worked out well for all parties involved. Here are some notes:
(1) It seems that the inland lakes fishing opener cleared out the state park: when we arrived there were maybe 4-5 sites on the loop occupied. When we left, there was one remaining. Quiet, which was good. We were clearly the loudest site.
(2) Root River system, unlike WW, was dead clear on all accounts.
(3) No ridiculous hatches were sighted. Mayflies here and there. Continuing the 2012 theme: there will be no hatches for me or my kids this year. Year of nymphing is what it’s shaping up to be, which is fine by me. But I’m kind of pissed about it too. I like comical porpoising of complete abandon trout.
(4) Kind of killed me to be camped for two nights 60 yards from a blue ribbon trout water and not fish it. The reason for this: they boys were bombarded by so many cool things they had little interest in fishing (level of difficulty significantly greater than that associated with panfish, bass, etc.). So they caught dozens of butterflies, tried out their new scooters, played catch and enjoyed the pretty simple act of sitting in comfortable chairs in camp. Fires, etc. Mallows, etc. So I wasn’t going to push them to fish.
(5) One morning I got up without an alarm set at 5:30 AM. I slipped down to the river for 60 minutes and got eight fish to hand nymphing. In nice gray light, calm air, cold water wet wading. Keeping an ear trained for any exclamations from the camp. Turns out they didn’t wake up until 730; I spent that latter hour tidying camp and making coffee. Not too bad either. Kept four of the fish; released three due to being small; released one due to being a nice white-edged, deep-jawed male that was within the protected slot. This fish was not remarkably large but striking enough to garner some admiration. Low light though, no good pics.
(6) Apparently there is a population of fishermen who believe that if (1) they go to a stream with trout in it, and (2) they get a good tip on a fly to use, then if (3) they get in the water and (4) put the fly in the water, they are deserving of some caught fish. If fish are not caught, the trout are remarkably smart or tough, the bugs aren’t working, etc. I observed multiple instances of this. Reiteration, it seems, of the fact that getting nymphs deep, presenting flies to fish faces, persistence, etc. are keys here. This sounds cocky but it’s more of a general and potentially useful observation.
(7) The chairs were a freecycle addition to our camping gear. I was reluctant at first because they kind of scream tourist car camper. Swashbucklers squat by the fire with a stick in hand, tending the fire. But fairness in reporting: kids love those things. Great acquisition. Kids like comfort.
(8) Don’t ever buy ground coffee. Buy the beans. Camp coffee is one of the true beautiful things out there. But if it’s not finely ground your ratio gets all screwed up and it turns out not strong enough.
(9) Car camping is what it is. But the kids love it. Main reason: the mantra is pretty much we can do whatever we want to do whenever we want. Wanna play catch? Head up one of the mountains? Okay, do it. Not bad.
Friday, May 11, 2012
May 11, 2012 Report
Some potentially useful information for Driftless Area anglers: (1) vegetation strong knee-high; still not too bad but coming on; (2) water still pretty turbid; somewhat surprised to see even smaller water still around one foot visibility; this was quite a rain event, must have put a lot of fines in suspension; (3) we keep bitching and whining about clear water being a hindrance... now is the time to get out under camoflauge: fish can't see you; they will eat what you show them; (4) streamers did well today, especially danced over riffles up above the fish so they could look up at the bright sky and see the silhouette of your dark and shiny bugger.
Lord knows I can work with constraints. It's a given that my trout fishing is shot. I won't see any good hatches; I won't get much at all really. But it goes with the time is what all the scowling parents out there would say. I might say something different but for now arguendo, let's just say I accept it. So that's how it is. So I have just 3 hours to fish today. I can manage that. In fact, I looked at my clock when I got in my car and it was 29 minutes past the hour. When I crushed the skull of the fifth trout to fill out a heavy creel it was 5 minutes past the hour. That means it was 96 minutes from ignition key to full creel. How the hell you gonna top that one. You ain't. That's a fact.
Piscatori was at my side, understanding these constraints and he granted me two fish on one drift. See first pic. This is third trout double I've logged in my life.
I especially liked this fish because it was seated in a riffle (second pic below, there in the shade), and it did not strike with violence; rather it came up into view and simply took the streamer as I danced it over the top.... I slowly came tight and the fish was on.
Trying to think of a better start to the weekend than that pictured below. Can't. Now taking kids to the old river for two nights. That beer is 9.3% BTW. And I'm already deep into it. And the ramps are on the way out but the bulbs are still good.
Monday, May 07, 2012
Water up, carp mouthing around
Not sure if it's possible to be bored already but wondering if I might be. I ran into a free period of approx 30 minutes recently. Had been sighting carp. They are in the midst of their normal high water spring rite in which they gather in slack water and open-mouth-close-mouth just under the surface. Occasionally breaking into air with the top of the round mouth. One good thing about these fish is that they can be taken unawares fairly easily. You can walk right up to them, slowly... they are preoccupada and unless you make sudden movements they typically don't bolt. Even when a hook hangs inches from their faces. The method is somewhat boring, relative to what you'd call sweet takes, etc. Fly selection is important. Can't be too heavy or too big. A soft hackle with bead chain eyes seems to be about right. And who knows - certainly I don't - why some of them spook at the fly, some pass it by... and some take it. Some take it as they take whatever they are taking. Some take it more aggressively. In the case of the fish laying in the sticks below, the fly was charged from a distance of approx 6-8 inches. That was it. I didn't have much time and to be honest, much interest in pursuing more of these fish. If I'd had 22 beers or a whole lot of time, maybe. But there were no big fish to be seen at all. Water up and turbid. Carp mouthing around; really looking pretty content in the easy slack water. They can be had; they're there if you want to engage.
Tuesday, May 01, 2012
This is not the land of carp flats.
Rather it’s the land of varied carp scenarios. You don’t get 20-30 chances here. This particular morning I suppose I got a legitimate dozen shots at fish that would have eaten. Three great takes and three fish to hand. Point being that in this setting each take counts for a lot and thus is noted.
Take #1: this was a very forgiving fish. Found two or three carp in amongst some woody debris. One bigger female paired with smaller male. I put the SJW on the female and she soft-spooked at it. This is an interesting phenom that I’ve been observing and thinking about lately: if you don’t freak out and/or give up on these “bothered but not blown” fish you can still get after them. Like she didn’t know what was going on exactly but she didn’t feel endangered. So I sat still and waited for a minute or two, then put it on her a few more times. I believe she had trouble seeing the SJW in the context of the leaf litter, debris, turbid water, etc. Couldn’t get a hook up. She started slow-cruising away and I figured it was over for us as a couple. But in parting, I put the fly on her once or twice… and as she tailed away ESP picked up on a slight, oh-so-Poe-like slight slight pause while the heart beat under the floor boards… I picked up and damn it if she didn’t have that SJW in her mouth. Right in the corner (it is inside the mouth, for any roughfish.com regulars) Decent weight (scaled at 9 lbs) but not extreme fight in this fish. She didn’t get close to backing. Couple moderately interesting runs.
Take #2: left my home water with 45 minutes to go on the clock. Went to a water that I believe holds a few bigger sow fish. Into action immediately; carp pretty much everywhere. But with limited time and a fairly specific mission (and the skunk already off at this point), catching 5-7 lb carp wasn’t appealing; wasn’t the deal here. I passed on a few and actually tried to spook them downstream. These fish were holding in slow current, not actively feeding but clearly looking to eat, kind of in foraging mode. Positive mood as some of the books say. I came to a group of 3-4 fish, three smaller males swimming around a sow. At that point I basically decided that this is my mission and there is no way in hell I am leaving here without at least presenting a fly in good fashion to that big fish. The terrain was rugged and I unhooked the net and left it nearby; got down on my hands and knees and crawled, so so slowly, to these fish. Killing my silhouette. If I’d have walked in crouched fashion they would have seen me. Got into position and watched a smaller fish feeding <6 feet away from me. Dead lock dead fish if I wanted it but no way in hell at this point. I’m not here for you; rather, I’m leaving with your girlfriend, FYI. The big sow fish was holding steady up ahead a bit, facing away from me. I waited and watched and crawled; repeat. Finally brought the rod over the grass and flipped a cast to the right of her… this time it was a brown furry LOD that I had spat on with love. Water was glass calm but the fly didn’t spook anybody… sink rate good… as it was falling that fish turned to her right and sauntered over to it… flat out ate it in mid-column. <10 feet from my face and this is the ultimate carp theater as far as I can tell. Some good runs in this fish. No backing, but strong runs. I appreciated the drag on the new reel. She didn’t have a big flat to run on; just a river channel but it was still a decent test. I guessed 14 lbs but I’m a little rusty after not fishing much for a while. Scale said 12 lbs. Nice gut. Nice big features. I’ll remember the encounter.
This fish hung around for a while and I went a little overboard with the detail pics.
Take #3: on my way out I ran into some smaller fish. Didn’t have much time but now figuring I could bump one of those little guys. Here was one foraging a bit in a sandy reach, facing upstream ahead of me. Oblivious. I wasn’t careful. I crouched and approached in flippant manner. I put the LOD up and to the right, and then dragged it back a bit and set it flat on the sand. That fish turned, swam over the dead-still fly and dropped mouth right on it. Just sick salutation here. Good bye to the river and on to my son’s school for the afternoon.
Takes 4-6: blind fishing with Danny Boy (or, preschool session II on the river). Walleye, SMB and quillback; here we see the roughfish that came out as evening approached. All on LOD. Obviously none of these fish require a reel.