Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Lake Michigan Prologue

Are you ready to go? he said.

Yeah, said Boyd. Just waitin on you.

They took a shotgun from a closet in the bedroom and they took nineteen dollars in coins and small bills from a white china box in a bureau drawer and stuffed it all into an oldfashioned leather changepurse. They took the blanket off the bed and they found Billy a belt and some clothes and they took all the shotshells out of a Carhart coat hanging on the wall at the back door, one double-ought buckshot and the rest number five and number seven shot, and they took a laundry bag and filled it with canned goods and bread and bacon and crackers and apples from the pantry and they walked out and tied the bag to the horn of the saddle and mounted up and rode out the little sandy street riding double with the dog trotting after them. A woman with clothespins in her mouth in a yard they passed nodded to them. They crossed the highway and they crossed the tracks of the Southern Pacific Railway and turned west. Come dark they were camped on the alkali flats fifteen miles west of Lordsburg before a fire made of fenceposts they’d dragged out of the ground with the horse. East and to the south there was water on the flats and two sandhill cranes stood tethered to their reflections out there in the last of the day’s light like statues of such birds in some waste of a garden where calamity had swept all else away. All about them the dry cracked platelets of mud lay curing and the fencepost fire ran tattered in the wind and the balled papers from the groceries they opened loped away one by one downwind into the gathering dark.   - C. McCarthy, The Crossing, page 171

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Early Summer Trout: Two Mornings

Day one walk in with my neighbor.  A favorite place in the world.  May and early June trout fishing in the DA is pretty damn good.  Streamside veg not too intense but getting there.  Some of the big bugs coming off.

I always pay attention to vertical fall.  My take is that streams with good fall from node A to node B will be pretty good for the most part, even if the banks are beat up.  Current velocity is a key driver; energy keeps substrate scoured; keeps some holes present somewhere even if they tend to move.  The vertical fall from that riffle top to the bottom is pretty significant.  Have often wondered what it would look to plot a scatter of vertical fall vs fish and/or bug IBI for reach X.

Glad to get out with my neighbor; good fisherman and lover of fine angling tools.  He caught a lot of trout.  This one in that nice little side channel ate a big dry fly.

Paul Hermann reel and salmo trutta.  Nice dry fly fish; we got a lot of those.

June bugs clumsy in the water; nice candy bar.

This is what I mean: some big terrible looking poorly tied dry fly come of my shop; got eaten all morning.  Color nor detail mattered.  Fish looking up; naturals of various species everywhere.  Don't overthink it; be a generalist.

Took only second limit of 2017.  Just haven't been logging much trout fishing this year.  Can't find my main knife so pulled out this old Sword Brand.

Fish stopped looking up in the afternoon. Tried some garbagey looking streamers.

Neighbor took some pics when I wasn't looking.  Kind of see a Shinobi fisherman there.  Throwing stars replaced by the most bottom of the barrel misc junk streamers one could imagine.  All of which caught fish.

We took it easy and brought no fewer than 50 trout to hand; not even a question about it; that's probably a low number. It's not tough to do this time of year; I think my kids could do it using 25 year old purple bodied #10 dry fly patterns.  Got three brook trout and some creek chubs too.  No really big fish but we did have a good count in the 11-13" range.  That year class seemed to show well.

Little more than a week later: let's give the younger kid a run; see what he can do.

A lot of this: sidelong examinations as kids often execute. 

Took these to be craneflies.  Any notes appreciated.

First cast of the day around 7 AM he hooked a fish and did not land. While later I think maybe this was first to hand.

He took four from this reach.  Got one on video.

Beauty; much more beautiful than anything hand of man can manipulate or create.

And to be clear I don't cast for my kids.  I bark at them and I help land the fish by either netting or grabbing.  That's it.  Probably my top pastime now is watching them fish.

I like framing people in the outcrops.  Good perspective for us.

He hooked quite a few and landed nine trout by 1030 AM.  At that point the fish were no longer looking up and he was pretty well set.  Doing other things.  Looking elsewhere.  If kids can walk these rivers and get decent numbers of trout fishing for a few hours with 50% focus, the lesson is probably that we might make things too complicated sometimes.  My take is that you need mainly (1) to be present on the river, (2) read water well, (3) get some/whatever fly in front of fish.  The remaining details not critical. 

Saturday, June 03, 2017

Some Big Bangers

Try for at least one warmwater weekend each May.  Kids pretty good with fly rod on trout streams but this step has not yet been made; spinning gear persists for the heavy hitter applications.  Method is we basically prowl tailwaters and they cut across the current playing numbers game until a fish eats.  Snagged fish do not count (one kid landed a great buffalo, looked down and saw snagged; turned and walked away with a word let alone a touch or photo; good thing they learning).  Older boy showed some skill with some more refined techniques.

First hit was by younger guy.  Jig and twister tail got him the biggest fish of his life (by one pound).  Scaled at 11 lbs.  Pretty good battle; some dicey netting was executed.

Carp had a broken tail; broken and healed in a Z shape.

Bigmouth buff not caught via casting but rather vertical jigging in the tailwater wingwall.  Drop to bottom; jig, jig jig up until intersect a fish attention zone.  Scaled at 13 lbs thus tying his top weight for any specie ever.  This one ran him downriver maybe 75 yards and buried his own body into a shrub.  Another netting effort required by guidesman.  Really cool fish.  MN native.  

Cracked me up envisioning this sucker eating that giant jig in that heavy current.  Would appreciate any notes on specie.  I am assuming it is a white sucker.  Has a golden hue though as pictured.

We scaled this one but forgot the weight because it was so dramatically surpassed by the next one.

This puzzled the boys; maybe upset them.  Such a cool fish.  Bummer from ethical standpoint and also it is 100% illegal to leave dead fish on the bank.  There is no ceremony for dead animals.  Their bone and decaying sinew, the energy of those things, uninhabited bodies, goes into earth and sky.  What remains is their ragged wreckage along the trails, signs no one can read or follow.  - Dale Jacobson, Marshall MN

Hammer of a sheephead.  Scaled at 9.5 lbs.  Half pound short of the biggest I've ever caught.  Love that giant mouth.  Probably favorite fish of the year thus far.

Many wanted to take the fish home.  I was very pleased to have opportunity to talk about fish in Spanish conversation.  I can flow serviceably.  They help me out with tips and polite corrections.  In the end it was left to the ring bearer, who released the fish.

By-catch measured at 20 inches.

I went back next day while kids where otherwise occupied hoping to hook one of the giant carp we had seen but not caught.  Dead drifted small nymphs in their water.  Never did hook one.  This dog ate a very small fly when I gave it a jolting twitch.  4.5 lbs scaled.

16 lber; great fish.  Hard to call it a disappointing day with those two fish to hand, but it probably was just that because I gave up a trout day hunting the legendary carp but never did find one.