Monday, May 27, 2013

052713 0830 - 1030 hours

Nice time to be out if you can get it.  Streams, forest heavy yielding.  

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Late: Southeast Minnesota Spring 2013

But it is here now.  A few indicators pictured below with captions.
Wild ginger (Asarum canadense, I think).  Started as a few plants a couple years ago, now thriving in the cool shade on the north side of the garage.  My hope is that it takes over the entire area.  One of my favorite plants; top indicator of spring underway, things to come.  If coverage becomes thoroughly installed we may harvest some root.  I've heard of folks doing it; never tried though, beyond pulling some in the woods just for the fragrance while walking around.  One of the most common plants of the Driftless Area forest floor.

Tomato plants coming along well.  About ready to put them out.  Always do far more than we can use, just due to tray sizes, seed counts, etc.  Give away the rest.

Good thing to get varying uses out of existing equipment.  Couldn't stomach buying a special lamp or set up for plants.  But, setting them in the window was not enough: too spindly.  So some minor adjustments to garage light were made.  The chains allow for adjustability as the plants get taller, so they can be kept close to the light but still have plenty of space.

Bought them with his own money.  $5 even, no tax for poultry.

Long weekend but only three hours of fishing.  Most streams were blown out.  Some were good though.  These images are give-aways for locals but no big deal.  This is no secret.  Water was gin clear.

At this pool there was a horde of nine inch fish feeding and flitting about.  We stood on high ground above them and flipped nymphs down...   watched them eat for about fifteen minutes.  Had to be a nice vision and good education for a little guy like DMW.

Would have stayed until 9 PM building on sandbars.  As it plays out with stream configuration, each pool has associated depositional features.  So if kids get bored casting they can dig like dogs without anyone to bother them or discipline them or get after them for not turning off lights.  It's a break for all parties, it seems.

I went crazy and took a picture of myself.  Highly questionable but I was curious and dwelling in one place more than anything.  This slot was loaded with fish and I crouched there for a good half hour.  Wondered if I looked like a yahoo to passerbys.  But in the end I like the blue sky and the flex of the 2 wt Sage.  It somewhat captures a bit of the low profile approach needed for small stream fishing.  Forgive me.

15 < Fish caught < 20.  Nearly all were the same year class  - nine inchers.  I think that means either three of four years old but I should confirm.  A couple bigger fish.  Five are in the freezer.  All nymphing.

Forget sometimes to just look at the water.  Wet wading is key.

Three shots out the window driving home.  Spring.  Home...   

Friday, May 17, 2013

28 minutes of carping, May 16, 2013

Take it when you can get it.  Meeting completed 4:56; participants sent on their respective ways.  One way was down the hill from the meeting location to the river.  For a reinforcing lesson regarding carp mood and behavior. 
(1)   Plenty of carp out deeper, in the main river flow.  Water clarity around 10-12 inches; these fish were not be seen beyond their periodic rolls, jumps and…     their rises: like the invasive brown trout.  They were eating something that I couldn’t discern; maybe midges.
(2)   Some carp holding steady behind current breaks; a couple big ones.  Neutral to negative.  They saw flies and faded away.
(3)   At 5:22 it was time to head out; gave up.  Walking back downstream, moderately fast but not sprinting, so as to reserve very small chance of a good encounter.  One fish showed itself in the rocks; not actively feeding or tailing, but clearly looking for something.  First flip put the fly up and the right maybe ten inches.  The carp slowed and made a subtle movement…   away from where I thought the fly was resting…   but it was just too convincing – the 1/8th inch movement was too much of a tell and I was convinced so I picked up to find a lipped fish.  Can’t always trust where you figure your fly has fallen…   given geometry, tricks of water and current in general. 
It was the final eat for this  7 lb carp.  Heavy hammer blow to the head spattered blood on my arms and face.  Some carp will swim and some should probably be eaten.  Protein source to be considered.  A smallish fish like this, in spring; presumably a good eating option.  Each of its 1 lb fillets are now in my freezer.  And the remains are in the garden. 
If a guy had more time I think he could do some good work in the local carp fishery right now.  Things are moving; things are looking up.  As an aside, bass and panfish have moved into shallow water; abrupt difference with respect to one week ago…     they are gettable for any and all kids with spinners and twister tails; poppers.

10 foot leader down to 1x tippet.  And this fly.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Work that we do is work that we do.

Meeting today.  Out the window, carp trying to push their bulk up ephemeral riffles in wetlands.  Time to start paying attention.  Hamms + new rubber legs from Hareline.  Goodnight and good luck C. carpio.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

 Fat Herringbone with No Medallion - E.S.

One hour came free today.  River is still relatively high and turbid.  Some ponds are showing life though.  This was typical MN carping situation: careful walking, few chances, make one work.  Did one lap.  40% into it and I hadn't seen a fish of any specie.  Figuring it was still busty.  [key choice number 1:] Kept walking though, ahead and not back out the way I came.  On the east side of the pond there was presented the first visual on a carp in year 2013.  May 8th.  Solo fish, moving slowly along the shore.  Catchable.  But also very wary.  Saw me as I saw her...   blown.  Continue on.  Windward side of pond, here were some fish.  Maybe 3-4 as far as I could tell (water not entirely clear).  First couple were moving; tough; no good.  Blew a couple without seeing the fish bodies.  Waited.  Found one fish, feeding, deep enough that I could barely see tail.  Nothing else.  Dropped fly.  Again.  Spooked.  More facets here and there but nothing too great.  I started walking out...    [key choice number 2:] but then I went back to basic precepts of carping as it pertains to state of MN: you don't get target richness.  You can't just keep walking the shore and find feeding fish.  So I walked off the water a bit and looped back.  These fish were not entirely put off.  Gave it to a fish again and couldn't get a take.  Looped back...   one more time.  The fish had settled.  Found one positioned parallel to shore, unaware.  Could just, just make out gray dorsal line and general fish shape.  Dropped the fly at the head-end and counted down.  Zero movement.  Zero indicators.  But the count was about right and the path of the fly looked pretty good.  So I picked up the rod.  There it was indeed.  Fly pierced lip to the bend.  Without a net, I played the fish a bit; approx five minutes.  Took off my shoes and socks while staying tight to the carp.  Waded to ankles or so and beached the sow fat mother.  Digital scale read 13 lbs.  This is what we have: few chances so damn-well make them count.  Trout are trout and we love you and everything else but man it felt good to battle a weighty fish to a handshake and release.

We had Five Days in April, Parts II and III

Before 15 inches of dense snow came on.  Smelled it moving in so we got out for a few days.  There were two parties in the campground loop: other being a band of wizened turkey hunters.

A few bugs in the air but no fish rising in consistent fashion.

Don't ask me how to catch trout with spinning gear.  Just horrible at it.  I can't get my kids on fish.  Granted this is not a warmwater scenario in which bass and panfish come from miles at the drop of any fly or lure.  Trout are tougher than that and these guys are kids; attention flits here and there.  But you'd think casting spinners into these deep corners would get some strikes.  Must not be getting down enough.  I just can't do a damn thing with that gear and I feel bad for it.

Each morning we went to the same cobble bar.  Sat in the sun.  Wet-waded.  Physics of rock skipping.  Geological anomalies.  I was the only one who would actually hit the corner hole full immersion.  Painfully cold.  But the drying in the sun was sufficient payoff.  On a couple occasions I put a Wilted Spinach on some sporadic risers, less than twenty feet from our setup.  Caught maybe 6-8 smallish trout.  Hadn't presented a soft hackle downstream in a while.  Enjoyed the subtleties of it.  Few more fish nymphing here and there.  There wasn't a rush to fish.

First time I've seen this guy attempt high-sticking.  And he did it well.  Flipping a tandem rig up into the riffle and following it back down.  This water was somewhat worn by the time he hit it, or I think he would have picked up a strike.  Still can't figure out which way to go for the kids: spinning or fly gear.  Plus/minus is there.  Fact is, kids catching trout out of streams is moderately tough, regardless of gear.

First trout stream catch on his own...   Izaak Walton true grit.  All his approach, his casting, retrieve and landing.  Semotilus atromaculatus.  In the same riffle/run configuration, he had an invasive brown trout flash at his spinner.  No connection though.  Kid saw it; liked it.

Heck of an image right there and that has nothing to do with the person taking it or any quality with respect to the taking.  Rather the content.  Tough to beat it.  Step off a county road 50 yards and there you are...  go deeper, find more.  Pretty important place.

Saturday, May 04, 2013

We had five days in April, Part I:

Trees around here took it pretty hard past few days; especially the conifers.  Fifteen inches of snow in Rochester MN on May 2.  To the west in Owatonna and Blooming Priaire, around eighteen inches.  Heavy, high-water-content stuff. One of the funny little remnant cedar decorative trees along the back fence line snapped in half.  No big loss.  But telling.  Man in a mask straight out robbed us of April and now a weekend in May taken too.  When the windows come, they must be addressed.  Lest this entire spring and early summer slip away.  April 26 through May 1 were pretty damn nice days.  Enough time had passed since previous rain events.  Water was in good shape going into that stretch.  One must strike.  Must get out and forge some memories.  Forge some bonds.  Thus we came upon a period of approximately 102 hours during which I was not further than 100 feet from a coldwater segment of the Root River system for 60 hours.  Part I of this episode was a single day of fishing with a coworker, approx 830 AM to 600 PM.  Piscator Fontinalis is the handle.  Here are the notes:

The criteria for a big trout day are pretty straight-forward, in my opinion:
(1) Weekday.  Unless later in the summer when the crowds have moved to lakes.  Fish a weekday.  Tuesday is nice.  But any of them work.  You don't want to be fishing behind someone.  Sure you can catch fish doing that, but it limits you.
(2) Water in decent shape.  Doesn't have to be perfect.  
(3) Fish the right size of water.  Don't a plan a day trip on a small stream.  Unless you want to go Izaak Walton on the bit and eat fish at streamside and meet merry maidens.  A day trip needs long stretches of good water.  There are a number of options in SE MN, but to be honest there are not dozens that fit the bill really well.  I used to fish small water a lot.  Now I like medium sized water.  Good day trip water.

If you have those three criteria in place and you DO NOT catch 30-50 fish, something is goofy.  And you could easily catch 50-80 fish.  Just being honest. Tongue is loosening and honesty is flowing.  Two guys or one guy; doesn't matter.  The total fish to hand should be about the same.

In this case, we set out to nymph like hell.  We could have done it; would have worked pretty well.  But we quickly discerned that it was going to be a streamer day.  For the fish, a sword day, a red day.  Ere the sun sets.  

(1) Every shadow had fish laying up.  Smacking these waters, even little triangles and small woody debris...  would draw packs of linebacker fish out, all showing after the streamer, smacking at it.  It was a bright day; this was notable.  A lot of water was lit up.  So the shadows were good.
(2) Slow water was good.  Dead looking reaches produced fish.  It was like casting and stripping in ponds sometimes.  Not the giant pools, but slow stream reaches.
(3) Stomach contents played right into the streamer story.  Almost zero bugs.  Leeches, crayfish.  And a lot of empty stomachs.  Pursuing clarity on this one.  Why were the stomachs last outing stuffed to bursting with all varieties of bugs, and these trout empty?  Reflex answer is that these fish were coming of prolonged turbid water; slow feeding time.
(4) No hatches.  We saw sporadic risers. Very clearly we could have fished dry flies all day and caught a fraction of the fish we caught, seen a fraction of the cool tackling takes we saw, and in general caught smaller fish.  But we did not do that.  At the end of the day I put on an Adams and prospected in riffles and runs.  Caught exactly six fish, in maybe half an hour or so.
(5) PF can fish.  Great to be on the water with a salty veteran.  One who grew up fishing BKT.  A guy acquainted with steelhead; someone who thinks hard about our natural resources.   We didn't go too crazy with respect to fishing intensity and without counting can say we easily touched 50.  Can practically remember that many fish.  
(6) Kept nine thick fish, of which eight were between 11-13 inches.  Perfect for eating. Some Biblical parable was in play; my creel strap broke under the weight.