Monday, April 26, 2010

Rogues Gallery

I won't provide any details because the details, while interesting, paint a frustrating picture. Suffice it to say that the warmwater, thus far, has been far more challenging than spring 2010 coldwater fishing. Fish here and there... but I've seen hundreds and caught few. Filter-feeding carp: tough. Tougher than usual even, for some reason. Rust maybe. Smallies: easy and borderline annoying in that they interfere with sight-fishing. White sucker: I walk by them often, but with a nod to Trout Caviar and The Roughfisher I sight-fished to a big bastard and was treated to a nearly-secret take of the carp carrot. Quillback. Many carp snagged. A few carp - a few carp hooked and landed. Not many. Will change though.

And then this...

Some things are better when shared. Day prior, when I was lighting into all those caddis, I kept looking around in disbelief: where is everyone? Where are my brothers or my kids or my buddies? For that matter - where is anyone to share in this amazing hatch? I think McCandles said happiness only real when shared or something close to that. Per last entry: I didn't want to share it with anyone I didn't know because generally people I don't know are spoilers and they don't belong on the stream (ha). But I did want someone to be there. Paradoxical. So really always torn between enjoying solitude and shared experiences...

On this day there was a need for a team: a two-man team. WFF is a guy that fits that bill (his report is here).

Mostly the pictures and the previous post's text can accurately depict this outing... With a few notes added:

(1) The hatch was a littler earlier, and didn't last quite as long. We were cocky bastards and we figured we could catch and keep our limit with ease on the way out... turned out that after the caddis toned down a bit we had to work to get six total keeper sized fish in the afternoon.

(2) Wild plum trees jumped out at us.

(3) We observed multiple rocks scratched up by some unidentified animal. Stuff of horror movies is what it kind of smelled like.

(4) The fish ate the hell out of our adult EHC patterns from 10-1 PM. It was easy and we were cocky about it. Laughing here and there but mostly watching things unfold... always in awe. Kind of a respectful, cautious cockiness I guess. Always in awe and talking in reverent tone. Both wanting to observe and learn maybe even more than wanting to catch fish. So when you can do both it equates approx to paradise. Not sure, but guessing we both caught 20-some-odd fish. Multiple instances in which we both caught 4-6. Maybe we touched 30. Doesn't really matter I guess.

(5) Sweet memory of the day was watching some bigger browns marauding in a calm/flat side-pool, just adjacent to a riffle. I got upstream of them, standing in riffle, and floated EHC with pile cast down through rocks into the calm... and they obliterated the fly at first sight. Beautiful takes and beautiful fish. Worked them upstream, through riffle and rocks to hand. They ate.

(6) I was jolted when I saw that first wild plum there in the woods. I immediately recalled this writing by W. Berry, and thus it struck me at that time that what makes an author great is the ability to say succintly and accurately what he's thinking/feeling/observing... I had thoughts/feelings/observations that are well-summarized by this bit... but I couldn't have written it:

Spring Haiku

One young wild plum tree
White in the bare woods
A bride among wedding guests

(7) Thanks WFF for a solid segment on the water. Great way to shore up some spring/April fishing (finally). I can't tell you how much better it feels to know about what's happening on the streams and know that for a little while there I was in it. Much better than knowing what's going on and watching April slip by while I type at some God-forsaken computer. Don't need much. Just a little participation in something good.

And then this happened...

Just cracked a Hamm’s can, sitting here now trying to find a minute to write a bit on some pretty remarkable time on the water. 10:30 at night and I guess over the past couple hours I planted some potatoes (late) and pan fried a bunch of brown trout and then flaked the flesh off for a meal to be prepared tomorrow. And lopped off a couple big rhubarb stalks. Boobarb as called by one of our sons. Been more than a week since this fishing went down… here is a word on it:

Some things are good because they are difficult. More difficult is better because it can prompt you to study something and learn something. That’s my angle anyway. On this particular day I started out with an eye toward a gray caddis hatch… but I was really eager and I got on the stream at dawn’s crack or thereabouts. I decided to fish my way down with a streamer, and then turn around and meet the caddis coming back. I did that and caught some fish on my way downstream. Nothing too remarkable. I had it in my mind to strap on an EHC at 10 AM and leave it on for the remainder of the day. I did that. I fished and I fished and man was it interesting.

(1) First started seeing adults here and there… and drawing hits on the EHC right around 10 AM. Caught some fish.

(2) I came to a great corner hole that was showing rises everywhere. It was getting pretty aggressive there on the water and my interest was peaking. I stood at the tail of the pool and put that EHC on fish repeatedly… and the SOBs would not eat it. Perfect dead drifts were not eaten. I watched and watched and changed flies to smaller/darker… tried soft hackles… they would not eat it. I got my clock cleaned for an hour but as you might guess it was actually pretty interesting. Got me thinking and got me studying. I tried skittering the fly and that drew a few hits. Nothing consistent though. Geez. Stonewalled and it was great. Then I turned my attention to the head of the pool and I saw some fish holding in faster, broken water – right where it tumbled from riffle down into pool. I could barely make them out. I took the fly and high-sticked it right over them… and watched one nice brown key in on the fly… swagger up and eat it on first drift. Proceeded to catch a few more. Turns out those fish were cool with the adult EHC dead drifted. I think they couldn’t see as well and were pretty much good with whatever came by. The fish in the pool’s tail were watching caddis in the air and they didn’t want a dead drifted fly. Anyway, very puzzling puzzle that was worth every minute I spent there.

(3) After I left those fish, it became pretty easy: find any moderately broken water and put the EHC on the fish rising in it. Eaten. Every time. Not sure how many fish I caught but I figure I stood in maybe 6-7 different locations and caught 6-7 fish from each stance… Add in the nymphed and streamered fish from the morning… Might have touched 50. I wasn’t counting but trust that it was a lot. Most were pretty small though: 8-9 inchers. Some 11-13” though – enough to make it interesting. Nice bends in the 2 wt.

(4) And back to the Hamm’s: after I hung it up for the day, I cracked a can of said beer and sat on a culvert, watching fish for half an hour. This is what happens: the caddis fly horizontally along the water surface, occasionally dapping down – presumably to drop eggs, but I’m not sure about that… And while they fly parallel, the trout watch them… tracking them and positioning themselves…. And then when the fly hits the water the trout rockets up and crushes it. Point is that they are not looking for dead drifted adult flies all the time. And guys say “skitter the fly” but good luck with that: I can see how you can make your fly skitter on the water surface, but how can you make it hover and move slowly over the water, and then dap down here and there? If someone can do that, I’d love to watch the technique. I did notice that fish hit the adult fly often right as it was landing on the water… maybe there is something to that: lay your fly down as softly as you can, on a rising fish with the thought that he’ll see it coming in the air and then sock it when it comes to rest on water surface. Who knows. When they were frenzied and porpoising after anything, none of this mattered: they crushed anything that looked like a caddis.

(5) Prescription is that this adult is a #18. However, the WING is clearly longer than a #18 hook shank. The adult body is small.

What else to say…. Not a hell of a lot, other than watching a hatch like this unfold is absolutely fascinating. The bugs were everywhere, in swarms. The caddis have been here a lot longer than we have… For how long? They live and die by this stream and the fish eat the hell out of them. Rocks and soil charge water with nutrient which grows plants which grow bugs and little fish which grow big fish which grow me. Or you or my kids. It’s the ultimate way to catch fish, IMO: tapping yourself into this cycle.

Looks like Hamm’s is drained and it’s 11:15 PM.

2010 Catch and Keep Opener

That particular weekend has again come and gone. Each year I figure that I won't fish trout streams - I'll either stay home or rebel and fish carp. Each year though I somehow end up on a trout stream. Along with a lot of other folks. Many other folks. This year I tried a few strategies: (1) don't fish Saturday - at least wait until Sunday, (2) get up earlier than any other MF out there, (3) fish some C&R only streams. Those all worked somewhat well. I did get up early not to get a worm but rather to beat the worms to the stream. Pulled up on a sweet hole on a blue ribbon water in the heart of The Driftless. And no one around... I got geared up with a little tremor in me because I was figuring a car would pull in any second and butt in front of me. See that's a problem and a sign of an angler who needs further evolution: paranoia and a wanting of the stream to himself. But why lie about it - it's how I felt. It's my stream and I didn't wany any other MF bleeping up my morning. Right on I was some bleeper bleeping up someone else's morning. So it's a problem to be dealt with by time and salt and learning and experience. So anyway I got out there and I stood at the tail of that pool like a victor. And just like that - no joking - not ten minutes after my feet were wet, an absolute brigade pulled up. Ha! It was almost comical. All these giant rigs rolled in like some military op was unfolding there in rural SE MN. The parade marched on by and boy did I give them some looks: check it out MF, I'm here first. That's right. My hole. Trouble is that I never caught a damn fish out of that hole. And it's the first time that's ever happened. Made me wonder if someone pulled an extreme early-bird on me and made me eat my own words and feelings. Could have been. I figured I got what I deserved and I moved on.

From there, the day was pretty damn decent. Walking along in bluebells isn't too bad. Spring green coming on just right. Enough to make you feel good but not enough to impede exploration. I did see quite a few people. I am a person myself but for some reason I just don't like them - people. Only me and the people I know - those are the ones I like when I'm fishing. That's pretty poor of me but I figure the least I can do to start down the path of remedying that condition is mention it. In fact I utter mean words in my mind when I see people sometimes. Call them names, etc. Really negative guy. Not sure why.

Anyway, a lot of water that should have produced fish showed nothing at all. I figure most holes were pounded pretty hard before I got to them. No biggie except for the fact that that reinforced my perception of everyone else on the stream as fu**ers.

I spent a good amount of time nymphing and swinging small streamers... and produced only a fish here and there. I saw fish rising, but no really evident hatch materialized. Eventually I got some fish on dry flies. Afternoon I saw some caddis and got some fish to eat EHC. Fished with cows and enjoyed that.

The only really sweet takes of the day were a couple I solicited using a #18 compra dun on dead flat water, way up and across. It was pretty tough. I spent a good amount of time switching out flies to get to that pattern... and then making the right presentation.

Near day's end, I asked a smaller, C&R only stream for some help. Turned out to be a good move. Less of a pounding that day... And the EHC lit it up pretty well. Good number of fish came to that fly right up through early evening. When sun went down and temps dropped the fish stopped rising. I put on a streamer and landed a nice fish on first cast... and walked out.

And so I'll continue to hate the opener and I'll continue to fish it.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Today was a good day. To put it mildly.

Report later.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

And then Sunday was spent at the local pond...

James is a legitimate sight-fisher. Picking up where he left off last year, he was spotting sunnies, flipping at them and watching them eat. Still doesn't set the hook on 100% of them, but many more than last year. He hooked/played/landed quite a few.

Three interests here: fish, frogs, turtles. Both boys did some wet-wading (of their own accord), with no post-wading complaints.

Fishing with kids notes: (1) use little beadhead flies, size 16 - easy for sunnies to eat; (2) give the fly life - the sunnies become somewhat suspect of still presentations that are not live bait... a twitched fly or a fly pulled away from them will solicit charges and good takes.