Monday, September 25, 2006

Found a herd of buffalo today

James and I fished for a while - it was tough going for various reasons, but we did land
one great fish. Early in the AM, before the yahoos came out, we had the opportunity to sit and watch a school of carp and buffalo feeding - very cool sight. I can't resist the analogy: we were like a lion, stalking the herd of buffalo... only thing is - instead of picking out the smallest and weakest we chose what we believed was the biggest and baddest. I roll casted a girdle bug up and just to the side of a BIG OL mouth pulsing open-shut-open-shut... waited a few seconds, then saw that mouth stop its rhythym. The head tilted about 10 degrees to the left - I set the hook and found the fish on. Long story short - buffalo are nothing like carp when it comes to attitude/fight/endurance/strength. And I mean that - nothing like carp. I've caught a couple in the past month or two, and even a PIG like this one is pretty docile really. This fish - double digits for sure - never ran once. It gave two defiant thrashes, and that was it. That said, buffalo are very cool and interesting fish. I really don't know just how much this fish weighed, but it was very large... somewhere in the 11-13 is a decent guess.

The other pics are redneck landmarks I found in the immediate area. Unbelievable...

Birthday Party for JD!

James had a couple birthday celebrations this past week: one at home with just Mom and Dad, and a bigger one that included lots of parents, siblings and friends. Some of the highlights: (1) a big truck cake designed by mom, (2) a big truck pinata designed and decorated by Dad and Mom, (3) a great day for a party at a NFLD park, (4) watching everyone "get updated" with respect to James and his development - I think folks were really impressed with what a little man he has become. He looked around after opening presents and said "thank you everybody." We had a really fun time planning everything - most of that credit goes to Mom though. The pinata was a big hit too - the boys in attendance were pretty eager to give it a thump... We managed to get through all of them waving around a Lousville Slugger without any injuries. Cousin JD was our designated cleanup hitter, and he lived up to the billing. It was great to have everyone around - thanks to all who made the trip! Here are just a few of the many pictures that were taken..

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Spanish Pipedream
by John Prine

She was a level-headed dancer on the road to alcoholAnd I was just a soldier on my way to MontrealWell she pressed her chest against meAbout the time the juke box brokeYeah, she gave me a peck on the back of the neckAnd these are the words she spoke

Blow up your T.V.
throw away your paper
Go to the country,
build you a home
Plant a little garden,
eat a lot of peaches
Try an find Jesus on your own

Well, I sat there at the table and I acted real naiveFor I knew that topless lady had something up her sleeveWell, she danced around the bar room and she did the hoochy-cooYeah she sang her song all night long, tellin' me what to do

Repeat chorus:

Well, I was young and hungry and about to leave that placeWhen just as I was leavin', well she looked me in the faceI said "You must know the answer.""She said, "No but I'll give it a try."And to this very day we've been livin' our wayAnd here is the reason why

We blew up our T.V. threw away our paperWent to the country, built us a homeHad a lot of children, fed 'em on peachesThey all found Jesus on their own

Monday, September 18, 2006

Regarding Northfield MN - this is what we like to hear:
[I put a for-sale ad on Craig's List, and got this response]

Hello, I'm interested in your [blank]. Is it $XX for both pieces or are they $XX each. Also, I'm in Eagan and have never heard of Northfield. Can you tell me where that is?

We are not a suburb!!
Wow - I can't believe this was actually printed. It's good to see that this word is getting out.

Check it out here:

"As a state, we think we value water quality, yet we're doing practically nothing," says Dan Engstrom, director of the St. Croix Watershed Research Station of the Science Museum of Minnesota. "We grow our crops, we get cheap food, and in exchange, we degrade our water."We are fouling the Mississippi and losing our topsoil at an alarming rate," says Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa. "We need a new approach."

The result is an intolerable situation -- farmers contributing to one of the continent's gravest environmental hazards, and taxpayers subsidizing the practice.

A few more BWCA images...

[more later - blogger down right now]

Friday, September 15, 2006

BWCA 2006 (September 7-13)

Here are a few highlights and photos:

1. For the first time in our BWCA history, we did not fish for the first 24 hours of the trip. We were wind-bound the first PM and the following day’s AM. We sat and watched the wind on the lake, the changing sky… waiting to get out.
2. The fishing was good/fair, but not outstanding. The guys caught their normal share of walleyes and smallies. There were a few instances in which Dad was absolutely deadly with his crawler rig – once he caught 9 great walleyes in 1-2 hours of a morning.
3. We were in the company of many good beings: loons and eagles were everywhere… we heard a pack of wolves howling across the lake one night… we got to watch 4 different coyotes walk along various parts of lakeshore one day… and I saw 2-4 grouse every time I walked a particular portage path.
4. As for big fish – as a group we landed 3 smallmouth in the pig range. This included my PB smallie: we measured it on a paddle - it was <19">18". No one landed any big pike, although John was fortunate enough to watch a pike that was “as big as the canoe” swim up and swallow whole a 1-2 lb walleye that was hanging on his stringer. John let out a good exclamation at the point of attack, and later said he’d never seen a fish that big. I am convinced that if we’d targeted pike we could have caught plenty… they were everywhere – biting off flies and jigs.
5. The fly rod fared well. I can’t quite keep up as far as numbers. Here are the notes

The 7 wt is a perfect BWCA fly rod. It turns over poppers really well, and allows for a slightly better battle than the 8 wts.

The mantra “first two and last two” with respect to hours of the day is ABSOLUTELY true. The smallie fishing was outstanding from 630-800 AM and from 630-800 PM. The best time was actually bunched right around 7 AM and 7 PM – I started thinking of it as “fishing the sevens.” During the slower, warmer middle part of the day – don’t even bother trying to fish the standard rocky bays for smallies… either cast for pike somewhere, find a fertile shallow bay where you may get some smallie action, take a hike or go to sleep. Whatever you do – you MUST be there at the beginning and end of each day. I was raising fish from 8-10 feet of water to sock poppers and divers during those times.

Don’t discount the possibilities of fishing from shore and wet wading shallow bays. Both are much easier than fishing from canoes – believe it or not. I walked rocky shorelines and found plenty of room to cast… and I spent hours wading shallow bays full of smallies. You are free to cover a lot of water – and you don’t need to get your fly way out into deeper zones – during the best hours, the fish are up in shallow/medium depths anyway.

Look for steep drops – shoreline that goes from shallow down to deep at close to a right angle… the smallmouth can be in or close to the deep water but have access to the shallow structure… that seemed to be better than lake bed that gently sloped out to the depths.

Topwater fishing for smallies is amazing… one of the best forms of fishing in the world, in my opinion. They absolutely crushed deer hair divers. The biggest smallie of the trip took a foam blockhead popper at 7:10 AM. I did miss a number of fish on topwater, and I’m convinced it was because I was paying too much attention. You have to give them a second to take the fly. If you are watching closely, you may pull it away too soon – especially if you can see the take. Speaking of seeing the take – I was able to do just that on 3-4 occasions. Once I walked up to one of my favorite bays at the prime time (afternoon actually – not the standard early/late – that makes this spot very outstanding during “down time”) and found it to be dead calm… absolutely perfect for topwater. I threw out a black deer hair diver and immediately saw two nice smallies marauding for food. They both saw the popper splat – swam over to it – circled it and criss-crossed one another… then one angled up toward it and just blasted it! One of my favorite sights… I also watched on chase down a muddler minnow as I stripped it in – very cool. They are amazing fish.

Regarding poppers – despite the fact that Tim Holschlag discounts deer hair in favor of the tougher, higher-floating foam, I honestly believe that these BWCA fish like the deer hair better than the foam. I think it looks more natural to them. Whatever the case may be, I caught a lot more fish on DH than on foam – and I gave them both fair shots.

Pike will absolutely take poppers – they bit me off constantly. I was always debating putting on steel leaders, but I couldn’t go away from the smallie fishing. When I did put on steel, I landed a few pike, but none that were big. I really believe a person could have caught many pike though, if we’d have targeted them.

I’ve caught numerous walleyes from the Cannon on the fly, but never one from BWCA. Finally this year I got one… 730 AM had rolled around and the topwater action wasn’t that good. So I put on a clouser minnow and threw it up by shore at a steep drop off point. Within 30 minutes I had landed four nice smallies, one pike and one walleye that had followed Dad’s worm rig to the boat and grabbed the clouser as I was releasing a smallie. Kind of a funny way to catch a fish – I don’t really count it as “angled” by me.

Each year I learn to be more efficient with the fly rod in the BWCA (this is my fourth year of brining only fly gear (heck, I don’t own any spinning gear)). Hit the front and back of the days… explore in the noon hours. Heavy on the topwater… fish from shore instead of canoe… look for the right water. It’s a very interesting process. As for the fish – can’t say enough about smallmouth bass. They are beautiful, graceful and powerful. If you put that fishery in a place like the BWCA, then staff your company with your father and your friends… what else could you look for in a fishing trip?


Monday, September 04, 2006

We were fortunate enough to house sit for a good friend this past week. James had a great time with all of their kids' toys... like a giant treasure chest to him. He also enjoyed taking care of the
livestock - pigs, sheep, turkeys and chickens. Here he is plucking away at one of the instruments these folks keep for their kids to le
arn on - really great idea to have them banging around at a young age.

Took James out for some carping today. He recognized what we were doing, and right away starting saying "hurry, fish" and "fishy - see 'um" over and over. So he was putting the pressure on me... We found quite a few cars at the water we chose - all bait fishing from a pier. The water is high and somewhat muddy right now, so the pod of 100 carp that I found last time were not writhing in the same location - too fast. They have to be somewhere though... so I poked around upstream a bit and found some floodplain that looked good.
From a bridge I started spotting carp everywhere... I think the pod had dispersed, but they were basically all accounted for. We crept up on them and started working them over with a small crawdad fly. At first I was putting it too close - spooking them all. Eventually I found one in a great position and I dropped the fly where I figured his head was... couldn't see it, but felt a slight jolt and set the hook. Solid battle - this carp was nice sized (probably 7-9 lbs) and ran like crazy - way out into the river. Once he ran at
me so fast I was sure that the hook would fall out... I reeled like crazy, but without the gear ratio advantage that the spinning guys have, I couldn't keep up. THe line bowed a bit but the hook held. Eventually beached him, after numerous urgings from James. Great fish - beautiful creature... James watched him go - "bye bye fishy." The next carp actually leapt out of the water when I hooked it - like a bass or trout! It wasn't very big though - landed fairly quickly. Those two fish were caught while we were wet-wading the flood plain - very cool... felt a lot like we were in the movie Predator... like maybe a giant anaconda could swim between my legs at any time. James wanted to move a bit more though (he was in backpack), so we left that location and walked a bank. I saw a nice red tail in the middle of some very intense woody debris ... I plopped the crawdaddy right on his head and he took it - I saw the fish for a couple seconds and tried to fight him, but I knew it wouldn't work - even before I casted. He took me into the debris - rendered my drag useless and broke me off. Three fish hooked in 45 minutes - pretty darn good. James asked to touch both of the fish we landed - he was pretty fascinated. In the picture of the slack water, the dark spots are all fish.