Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Meat Hunt

Ran out for just a couple hours today, intending to get my first limit of 2009 to be smoked for a grand banquet we have planned for some days down the road. Turned out to be a decent and sunny day, so much pleasure was taken in this task, despite the short duration of it.

First note is that I went to a stream that I don't really fish too often to ask for these fish. What a difference it makes - fishing a "popular" stream. It was a Tuesday afternoon, and I found four cars at the road crossing. I walked upstream and observed quite a few folks. I shouldered my way in at a flat stretch that was being absolutely pocked by rising fish... and proceeded to get schooled. The fish were on to everything - the line, the leader, the bad presentation, my person, the folks up and downstream... An expert with the exact right caddis fly could have gotten them to eat - because they were mowing down... but I was not that. So I fished there for maybe half an hour and caught one fish - and that one came only because I was able to make a good skitter attempt (the caddis were dapping and skittering all over the place and I think that was really a focus for the fish). I missed a couple other takes. Only consolation here is that a veteran-looking guy, on his way out past me said "maddening today, aren't they?".

On to some new water. Nymphed for about five minutes when the hatch fizzled a bit... but just couldn't keep at that. Switched back to a caddis dry and went up to the next riffle... and saw this: fish porpoising so intensely and so rapidly it literally looked like they were over-exerting themselves. Kind of funny looking in a way: rise afer rise after dolphin-back rise. Everywhere. Kind of a glorious sight. This was broken water, with a couple good seams and a nice dead spot. I knew that this would be a much better deal for a dude like me. From the first cast to the last - fish just crushed the fly. I caught more than my share, and kept my five for the smoker. Some of the takes came as the fly was lighting on the water - absolutely a sight to see. Some of the fish were bigger - in the 12-13" range... Beautifully colored, leaping fish.

The difference was the water type: need to burn into my brain: look for good, broken water - not the still aquariums that allow the fishes to see you as you can see them.

The 4.5 Year Old Sight-Fisher

We hit a pond a few days ago with a nose for some sunfish. This is a new year, and things have come along well: (1) JD has come into his own as a sight-fisherman: he was giggling with anticipation as pannies swarmed his beadhead, and he legitimately spotted fish, casted (flipped) to them, watched them eat, set the hook, played fish and landed; (2) Dad has stopped narrating over shoulder and interjecting set the hook, set the hook! every 14 seconds.

We tried to get Danny his first fish... but he is not quite ready. He wrapped the rig about his own person and laughed all the while. He is however fascinated by fish - we caught and handed him many for examination and subsequent release. Bite, bite? he would ask. Eat, eat!

Dad ignored the rising trout. Well - he didn't fish to them anyway.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

One Third of a Century

I don't know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve. - Bilbo Baggins on the occasion of his eleventy-oneth birthday.

33 1/3 is roughly akin to eleventy-oneth. The former is my age now. To note the occasion, a number of events were planned. The first of which was a 1.25 day carping expedition.

There were a few key highlights to this trip:
(1) Getting a new guy into carp on the fly.
(1a) Watching him get pretty damn excited every time he hooked a carp.
(2) Accidentally catching a dragon-headed giant walleye with a carp fly.
(3) Sight fishing to a beautiful 15 lb tailer.
(4) Spending a day in the sun and a night in The Big Woods.

WFF got right into carp. Before I did in fact. Here he is battling and then releasing his first cyprinid.

This walter scaled out right around 8 lbs. I take no credit for catching the fish, as I was not pursuing walleye. Pretty funny that a carp fly fisherman can stumble on this old girl... Amazing creature really - her head made me think of a dragon that a guy might see in Middle Earth.

After the walleye debacle, we settled into a carp focus. WFF made a key discovery: very little weight was needed, despite low water. I had it in my head that I was going to load up on big sinkers and get way down in the pool... Turns out that was a snagfest. His lighter rigs were fair-hooking fish. Advice from the rookie carper is what it was. I went lighter, and we both got into a decent carp groove. We snagged a lot of fish, but I'd say ~50% were fair hooked. In most cases you could feel the good takes and positive hookups. Most snagged fish came off... some were landed. I nabbed one buffalo around 10 lbs but it slipped away during hook removal.

Note happy-face guy below:

There were many carp to be had. All were pretty small, but no complaints here. Sore arms for sure. Sometimes a non-fish pic can sum up the day. Here is that one then - the view we had for ~6 hours... looking up:

And looking down:

Credit goes to John Montana for encouraging use of the RLHE pattern, and also to Roughfisher for this brown carp fly - they ate the HELL out of that thing. Great fly. Need more in fact.

Bed rolls out at 9 PM.

Last thing my eyes saw 'fore I fell asleep.

Day Two

Well, three hours of fishing anyway: 8:30-11:30 AM.

We scanned a few haunts, this morning looking not for numbers but for some larger fish - preferably sight-fishing opportunities. Walking shores/banks... searching and sneaking...

GOLLUM: Sneaking? Sneaking? Fat Hobbit is always so polite. Smeagol shows them secret ways that nobody else could find and they say “sneak!” Sneak? Very nice friend, oh yes my precious very nice , very nice!

SAM: Alright! Alright! You just startled me is all. What were you doing? (He looks over the cliff.)

GOLLUM: Sneaking.

We had some good opps at cruising fish, but they weren't that interested. I put a SJW on one, and he moved to it... I picked up the rod and the fish was there. However - came to find snagged in dorsal fin. No pic there.

While WFF was working some fish, I leap frogged him and started on a bit of a mission. Looking for one fish and one fish only. A tailer. Wanted one. Like I'd sent an invite and a fish had responded... I came to a beauty with tail straight up in a foot or so of water. Right near shore. Waving a banner that said 33 1/3 birthday present.

Give us that, Déagol, my love,' said Sméagol, over his friend's shoulder.
'Why?' said Déagol.
'Because it's my birthday, my love, and and I wants it,' said Sméagol.

I decided at that point that I would get a fly to that fish at all costs. On my belly then, and 0.001 mph to the bank. Fish still there. Flipped the LOD out - perfect cast - fish moved to it - set hook - nothing there. Fortunately fish did not spook. Flip again exactly where I wanted it... Fish slowly pivoted to it... dipped a bit - set hook. On. Fish on. Day made. Heavy fish with big gut - fought hard. Scaled at 15 lbs (scale calibration showed 10 lb weight registered 9 lbs on scale, FYI). Pardon the grip and grin - don't usually post them but that whole sequence had me beaming. Genuine smile. I guess it's not what you'd call a toothy grin, but for a third-of-a-century grumpy guy it's pretty good.

On to another location - we spotted some BIG fish that stopped us for an hour. We nymphed, and in the time we had we hooked three fish between us. I landed two that ate Roughfisher's brown X nymph. Just ate it like biatches. Right in the lip. Walking along the dam structure... pretty cool. No one else would walk out there, so we had unique access. These fish were 10 and 11 lbs. Great, fairly long battles.

The trip wasn't without a few bumps in the road. Lost fish, snagged fish, lost flies, flat tire. Etc, etc. All part of an overall good thing though.

Back around noon to prepare for a little party. Various shades of beer were made present.

Late afternoon with kids at park. Check out rounding third base in flip-flops.

Solid trip. Thanks to WFF for heading north and being open to exploring a new dimension of fly fishing. He took to it very well I'd say. We have a new carp scout down there on Ole Miss, which is significant.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Here is the converse then: low expecations, a little fat-ass result. Golden plump me boy. Ate the LOD like a lolli-pop, lolli-pop oh lolli lolli lolli-pop.

LOD to his mouth now I can see out both eyes - Chuckwick the Carper

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Today: 15:30-17:15 Forecast

The X

X did give some. Not too much. A case of grand expecations, inferior results. That is, a few small fish were nymphed up. Plenty were snagged. Some scales.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Two Quick Hitters

45 minutes before work: early morning; cold hands; took a jump back to frozen guides... wow. Mainly wanted to check out another reach that I'd not seen before today. Picked up two browns nymphing at the obligatory starting point: under the road crossing, in the big hole. Same as other places. Too freaking cold, and fish too unremarkable to photograph though.

A few interesting sights... But mostly crappy looking channel that I didn't even bother to fish. Note wide, shallow condition here with no holes. Most of the reach I walked was pretty embedded with fines. Probably won't spend much time at this location. Maybe I'm completely wrong on my take here - looked like ~crap to me though.

45 minutes after work: parked at an access and found these poor bastards gasping for dissolved O2: ~two dozen minnows (crappie variety I think). There are a number of things that are illegal and/or dismaying about this finding: (1) this stream is artificials only - no bait; (2) littering is illegal, last I checked; (3) just a lazy punk ass thing to do.

This stretch offers some better water - had me on some good looks(thanks to restoration work by local chapter). Note narrower channel, faster water, holes, etc. I saw a number of fish that I didn't hook - some biggies too. Mainly I was hoping to see some rising fish - looking for that candy again. Right when I walked up I peeked over the bank and saw a nice little dimple... and I just started giggling to myself as I tied on that BWO pattern used the other day. Straight giddy is what I was there. Alas, that was one of ~3 rises I saw in the 45 minutes. Nothing going. There were bugs in the air, but the fish weren't working them. I think I was too late in the day. I begrudgingly nymphed for a few minutes and hooked and played a really pretty brown of approx 12-13 inches. Leapt clear of the water and ran a bit... great fish. As I was bringing to hand, one last surge put her by a submerged branch - rubbed me off clean and sauntered away. Oh well.

The minnows are out back now - kids had a good time tormenting them a bit. James is a good caretaker - he made sure any that Danny removed from the water were returned intact. Danny, on the other hand - first thing he did was say hishee, hishee over and over... and then stick two in his mouth for consumption (they were removed prior to total ingestion). Not sure what will come of them. Feel free to swing by and grab them if you're into bait fishing. They only person who can't have them is he who abandoned them there at trout stream X with the caption whaddya think of this you got-damn FLY FISHERMEN? hanging the air.