Thursday, November 30, 2006

Some recent outings...

We took James up to Children's mueseum in St. Paul. We weren't there for very long, but he had a really good time exploring. They've put together some really good learning experiences for kids... One of which was a giant ant hill. Kids were free to climb in tunnels and scurry around... mostly older kids though. So when James wanted to go in, a parent had to accompany him.... that was me, and I never really understood claustrophobia until that experience. I really had to maintain a focus to keep from flipping out in there! The quarters were very, very tight for an adult, and in most places you couldn't see daylight... no big deal, but just kind of close I guess. Add to that dozens of 3-8 year old kids literally running over you, pushing by your little toddler.... interesting at the very least. James didn't mind though - he had a great time. He also took part in his first rock concert... danced a bit on stage while watching his very own live video on a monitor.

We had some snow too - 8-10 inches a couple weeks ago. It's gone now, but while it was here we got out a bit. James tipped over in his sled.... that turned him off, because his entire face became covered in snow. After that I'd ask him if he wanted to slide or "go fast" and he'd say "noo-ah" almost in an annoyed tone.
Cancerous Carp?

Here are a few carp pictures from my last outing. The text that describes this trip is actually in the previous post. Two of these images depict a carp that has a very large growth just back of its operculum on its right side. The fish appeared to be very sickly - practically walked right up to me after I hooked it... kind of sad, kind of eerie... not sure just what happened to the fish - if anyone has an idea, please share. It's fairly common to see wounds and small growths - even evidence of disease in fish, but I've never seen anything this extreme. The other fish is representative in size of a large percent of the legions of carp that populate this river stretch.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Fishing log entry:
Got back out to tailwater on Saturday 11/18. Same fish were in the same places, only this time nearly all flow over the dam had ceased. I was able to walk along the cement slab all the way to the “pen” of carp… in the closest corner I dropped a green girdle bug right on a nice one and he sucked it up – saw the take and landed the fish. When I saw it was ~8-10 lbs I tried to land it fast so I could get on to the next fish – I used the net and scooped it up when it was still really green – manageable, but the fish was very wild as I removed hook and released. I wasn’t fast enough though – that fight scared all the fish into the back corner… from then on I was casting long distance and guessing at takes. I caught six more fish, but all but one were snagged! There are just so many fish in there – every time I thought I had a take I’d set the hook and snag a different fish. Two were snagged right in the tail – wow, does that make for a monster fight. One of them was 8-10 lbs, but because he was tail-hooked I didn’t even SEE the fish for 5+ minutes! I tried a dry fly for a while, but there were no carp surfacing like those I saw last time out. I fished from ~1230-1430, and the sky was very overcast – temps were low-mid 30 F… little or no wind. I did land one carp that apparently has cancer – amazingly large growth just back from gill plate (may post pic later). I also landed a carp that I would have kept if Em were not pregnant right now… perfect little 2 lber that probably didn’t have much mercury in its tissues yet. It was a great two hours, but I don’t like snagging fish, and I didn’t find any biggies… need to get back and try again. Still – hard to complain when you fight ~50-60 lbs of fish in a two hour period.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Personal best fish comes from the Riviere aux Canots

I had 1.5 hours to fish on Saturday, and I wavered because I like to be efficient with my time. I decided to go to a location only 20 minutes or so down the road… that way I could minimize drive time and max out fishing time. Heck, just to look down the rock wall at all the carp hanging out in the river is worth the trip… To catch a few is even better though, so I tried a couple flies. I could see the fish, but not well enough to see takes… so all I could do was put the fly in a group of fish and keep in contact with it. Any time I felt resistance I set the hook. I know it sounds like a formula for snagging, and I did foul-hook a few… but I also landed three fish that were all caught on/by the mouth. I was actually a little surprised myself. After hooking the fish, I had to walk them along a high stone wall for about 80 yards, then scramble down a somewhat treacherous rubble to get to the river to land the fish. The third and final fish of the outing took 16 minutes of battling before it would come in (7 wt fly rod, 3x tippet). It was funny because I kept wavering on how big it was: I’d see one flash or splash and I’d think “wow, it’s huge,” but then I’d see another angle and I’d think “aw, it’s nice but not that big.” Turns out it was pretty big. I don’t carry a net or a scale, but my initial estimate was mid to high teens. I forwarded a pic onto a carp on the fly guru and he suggested around 18 lbs, maybe approaching 20 but hard to say. Either way, it’s my biggest fish on a fly no doubt, and it was quite an experience. Given the cold weather, it didn’t run far, but it did bull and pull for quite a while. I was very thankful to have a fighting butt on the rod. I love the Cannon River. And to anyone who would say “it’s big but it’s just a carp” – go catch a few and then report back.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Hunting in Itasca County

We were fortunate enough to visit my home town this past weekend, for deer hunting and birthday partying. Both ventures were successful: a deer was taken, and the kids had a great time with presents and cake. Most of all though, it was great to see six (soon to be eight) cousins hanging out together. We had four generations gathered at the birthday party. Thanks to the hosts for putting together a memorable weekend.
Fall Images from Northfield MN

We've had a great fall season. Highlights included a trip to a local orchard for apple picking, wading through pumpkins and riding in wagons at an organic pumpkin farm near Dundas, and striding the two-track roads and swashbuckling through the brush along along a favorite stream. This season has marked some amazing growth for James - his vocab is amazing and he's really growing rapidly.