Thursday, January 24, 2013

Winter Outing II

January 18, 2012 [the warm day before the bottom dropped out] in photos and captions.

Wrist-Rocket from my youth, now passed on.  This was a big hit.

DMW Portrait with tree-3-D.  Age 2,091 days.

First brook trout of 2013.  Not measured precisely but I put it at an easy 12 inches.  This fish was not readily taken.  Rather, we sat on a good piece of water and got out the spade: dug and dug and changed depth configuration and mending until it was right.  Good sized mouth on that fish.

The next cast at the same hole brought up this beauty.  Note the spots.  I will look at this image off and on for months and years I think.  Measured by rod demarcations; estimate 15 or 15.5 inches.

Kids landed a couple fish.  All in all we only caught maybe half a dozen.  But then again we weren't fishing too hard.  The sun was out.  Things were pretty good.  Next step will be for them to hook their own trout.

Hit on something here: calibrating the intensity of the fishing to match the company.  These guys will roll; they are up for adventure.  And they learn a lot being out.  Mixing in slingshots, food, exploring caves, watching cows, etc. while fishing with low or moderate intensity...     can work really well.

2012 Southeast Minnesota Trout Swap

Red Spinach
[variant on John Montana’s Wilted Spinach]

Red baitfishing hook #14
Here using 8/0 brown thread
Tie in two loops of crystal flash for trailing shuck
Consider tying the loops up tight under the thorax to leave the red hook exposed
Thorax of any sort of ice dubbing
Soft hackle of dyed Hungarian partridge
Build up a thread head

Fish downstream to risers
Don’t keep the line really tight
[this prevents the fly from racing in the current]
[this also, some would say, results in better hookup rate]
Wait for jarring takes
Let trout set the hook

Ran out of head cement; sorry about that one.  Thanks to local coordinator and participants; good swap to keep going here in SE MN.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Been thinking about this day and this fish; here is some further detail on it.

For approximately 40 minutes, had been fishing a series of man-made plunge pools. Most of them are headed by a log, set in place across the current; approximately perpendicular to the flow. I don’t fish this stretch too often, because it is C&R only. But in winter, that is an insignificant regulation, given that entire SE MN is C&R only. These HI holes are markedly different than the natural (some may say “impacted”) holes. They look and feel really deep to me. So much so that I would consider jumping in one in the summer and finding the bottom with my feet or maybe a buckthorn sounding pole. I imagine they are outstanding refuges for fish; probably hundreds of trout in each, hanging in the bottom-most stratum. The note here though is that your nymphing technique has to change quite a bit to fish these HI holes. The most obvious driver of this need to change is that fact that there is a log in the way of your typical drift; you are disallowed from throwing your tandem rig way upstream and letting the nymphs get down. You are thus forced to drop your rig at the point of plunge, use some holding and mending per current and seams, and try to get down that way. My suspicion is that I was doing a very poor job of this back on January 7. This was supported by the fact that nearly all of the eight or so fish I brought to hand were caught either at the transition from pool body to tail, or in the tail itself. I simply couldn’t get down at the pool head. Bugs me a little bit. I drifted over a lot of trout.

The first fish of calendar year 2013 was caught in a deep slot; a piece of water that didn’t have one of the logs at the head, and appeared to stay deep and undercut for a good length. It was maybe 10 feet down from the point of plunge that I hooked it. The nymphs had a chance to sink and swirl in the current a bit. The fact that he took the lead nymph told me that I was probably down about where I needed to be. I was using an indicator primarily as a depth regulator (which could be discussed at length in the context of previous statements regarding the deep HI holes); don’t recall exactly what kind of signal I got to set the hook. Picking up the rod though and feeling that fish was highly memorable; narcotic you could say. An older fish; been in that water for a good long time I think; probably eaten flies in the past (right top jaw looks like it is scarred)… holding in that good current making his way through various food items. This one was a tool fly (to take a term from out west, John M.): a scud hook wrapped in nymphy chenille, with an oversized bead. Meant to carry the smaller scud down to the stream bottom. It is a 2x strong #14 scud hook and that plays into the story: not sure how a #16 fine wire hook would have held this fish. Surely folks land big fish on small flies. But this was a really solid, biting connection. The hook gap allowed the fly to actually “couple” the outer lip and in that way hold really well. The mathematics of hook gaps is a subject that I daydream on quite a bit. Clearly there are maxima, minima and optima. After hooking, this fish held close to the bottom and ran up and down a 15-20 foot span of stream maybe 2-3 times. I didn’t see the fish body for maybe 20-30 seconds. Imagination being exponentially influenced according to each passing second. During that span he put himself on the reel and bowed the 2 wt. That rod adds to mystery in that most any decent sized trout can bow it. Ten inch fish have brought the rod tip near the water’s surface. Finally he rose and pushed a heavy S ripple at me; after gauging the size I walked downstream to a riffle (another note that is fairly specific to HI reaches: a lot of the water you won’t put your human body into; you need to site good landing points). The hook came out really well after pressure was gone; this fish was not beat up by my obsession with holding trout. I admired the indentation in the top jaw that receives the slight hook at the bottom. A little observation and cradling and then this fish tailed away, back up to that deep slot. The fish are in the river and it is a necessity to confirm this now and again.

Check the teeth.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Post-holiday winter weekends should look like this…

(1) Don’t buy anything.

(2) Don’t go anywhere too far away.

(3) Put yourself and your family out in the cold a bit, exerting, so warmth and soup feel better on re-entering the house.

a. Skiing,

b. Skating,

c. General work in the snow,

d. Chores that require knee boots,

e. Fishing.

(4) Participate in some seasonal indoor activities too.

a. Making soup or chili,

b. Watching football.

(5) Some home improvement.

a. Projects, like fixing up your shop,

b. Revisit the organizational structure of your rooms,

c. Pick up and clean somethings, take care of things.

(6) Self-improvement and maintenance.

a. Reading, maybe writing,

b. Bonding with your family in whatever way you see fit.

So far in January, one for one. My kids skied and skated. In fact, one kid asked me if he could go out to ski. This was highly remarkable. We cut some trail in the woods by our house, and we made tracks in the park. I guess we’ve been skiing for a few weeks now, but we got out for three straight days over the weekend.  Beyond that, they worked on snow forts up through dark most nights over the past week or so.

The fishing report may be detailed here, given the forum.
1230-4 PM, very near my house
All nymphing tandem rigs, as normal
There were midges in the air and on the snow but no rises
It was cool, but not cold – no frozen guides, no cold hands
Wind was present until about 1 PM and then disappeared
This was HI water, 100%
In fact, those holes are so deep I simply couldn’t get to the fish in many cases
Think I caught about eight brown trout, of widely ranging size
The first fish I touched in calendar year 2013 is pictured below
According to my hand widths, pretty accurate, it was ~17.5”
I can say I’ve never had a first winter fish like that before
It required the reel, a need that is normally reserved for carp only
Walked it downstream quite a ways and landed carefully
What an absolute beauty to behold – nice deep cut mouth
Some takes were subtle, class winter deals, others were jolting
Hooked and lost three fish, one was pretty big
The sun on the trees was a welcome sight
The glory of our trout water restorative, as always

That fish came from the water pictured below.  Hunkered down pretty deep.  Ate a big black scud with an oversized beadhead.