Thursday, March 20, 2014

Last Winter Outing 2014

If you are prepared to fish and at the precipice of doing so but something (water conditions, air temp, illness, guilt) is tugging you away, push through and at least give it a go.  At worst try something highly mobile and walk the stream for a while.  There is a written history that is wide in scope that documents successes that have come of such resolutions.  I was recently tested on this matter, finding stained and moderately turbid water, strong winds and cold air temps.  I did not feel obligated to fish.  The concept of sunken costs was in play and consideration was given to the fact that one is currently banned from cracking fish skulls.  I was arguing with myself somewhat – should fish, but not obligated to fish, what is there to prove here, what is to be done, could you use your time better.  I worked an iterative path upstream, looking in.  Approx same conditions maybe slightly better, such was the input from me to myself.  In the end I decided that self-abuse can indeed be a good thing (see previous posts) and there is good calm to be had on the far side of invigoration, even if it is mildly painful invigoration.  I strapped on my hand warmer and walked downstream maybe fifteen minutes.  Paused to look at some bare rib cages through which the snow was blowing.  Walked through the oaks.  Crossed some moderate gullies.  Stopped and lined up a 4 wt fly rod.  I was looking for fewer knots, less hassle (good nymphing requires snagging) and increased probability of big fish, so I tied on a streamer.  LOD to be exact.  I’ve heard recently that some hate the idea of taking a fly pattern, altering it, and renaming it.  This is a good topic; it merits some discussion.  But in the end I think that line of thinking would essentially lead one to conclude that there can be no new fly patterns.  And I prefer to conclude otherwise so I work back from that and arrive with moderate confidence at the suggestion that one can indeed personalize fly patterns and name them.  So it was the LOD and not a DB eye rust-colored bugger with peacock herl shellback.  My basic thought was to crank it up and across, trying various retrieves, looking for quick hitting trout that would ground me a bit and then allow me to disembark my vessel my own two legs.  Go home and lay up out of the wind.  It was afterall howling, right up the valley at my face right into my casting plane, generally pushing the fly line to my right.  This was not a safety issue then, not the dreaded righthand wind, there would be no hooks in scalps, but it required compensation.  Not long into this deal and I felt pretty good casting at one bank and having the line fall in the middle of the flow. 

At some point there may be described an optimal technique for fishing these streams.  It is somewhat dependent on one’s goals (most fish, eating fish, big fish, dry fly visuals, degree of difficulty, purism, etc.).  But it’s possible that there exists an all-encompassing approach that could hit on all facets in a centrist fashion.  No one can speak to it at this point as far as I know.  Way back, probably around year 2001 I tried fishing a generalist “symph” pattern – hybrid streamer and nymph.  This was because at that time I was fishing one stream in particular with low trout density and relatively large fish.  The advice I got from a guy who knows this land and has discovered trout in streams was to find fish with a streamer and if they don’t connect, dead drift a big nymph through there.  We did this with some success.  I tried that symph pattern because I thought I could strip it back and then without changing flies, dead drift it.  Worked okay.  I’m interested in the same thing going forward, only upping the fly size a bit.  Using a pattern that one can quarter up and across, strip back.  Swing downstream (although this has generally fallen into disfavor in my camp).  Drop in holes and twitch through.  Dead drift.  Even put under an indicator. Maybe give this a trial, see what happens. 

On this day there were two hours allotted.  Noon to 2 PM.  Two hours of wind.  A low casting plane was good.  Still some errant casts that fouled things.  The only words I said aloud were instances of muttering “errant cast.”  First fish hooked was in the tail of a pool, it came off after a few seconds.  It flashed and I think it was a BKT.   I worked a series of holes in this fashion: stripping through the tails, and then dead drifting the faster water up at the head of the pool.  Taking care to drop and let sink in any deep looking slots, then twitch back and/or raise slowly.  Of ten hookups, eight fish came to hand.  Five were nice browns in the 10-12” range.  Fish four and five were markedly large: 18” female followed by 19.5” male (not from same hole; while there were no fish caught between them, there were steps in the snow).  My measuring technique is to use my hand span.  Which is pretty much right on nine inches.  The female was pretty precisely two hand spans.  The male, I gave two hand spans and estimated the remainder to be a strong 1.5”.  It is possible but not probable that the fish was 20” but I can’t conclude that and best evidence says strong 19-19.5” fish.  Last fish of the day was a brook trout.  And now I remember that I did say other words aloud because when I saw the white fin edges I made an exclamation of sorts in happiness.

First fish of the day; appreciate those colors.

A big female.  Look at that short mouth.

And the marabou tail of the LOD in the current.

A few quick pics, going from body, zooming in to head shot, then this release.  Pretty much all the while in the water.

Even bigger male fish; what a deep mouth.  Great colors; striking yellow.  I have a couple cuts on my thumb of right hand.

Here he just hangs in the water in all his bulk and dimension.  That fish likes to lay in the cut and wait for small game to come to him.  He owns an ambush slot of dark water. 

Last fish.  First BKT of 2014.  Winter over; spring going now.  Maybe find some bugs, sun, easy walking.

Had not seen this before...    celebratory beer selection.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Today's Buck
March 17, 2014.  13:30.  19+ inches.  Ate dead-drifted LOD.

Friday, March 14, 2014

March 2014 Winter Trout

Negative tendencies; that’s the long-standing suggestion.  Down and out too often; bordering on depressed, down and out very often, depressing others.  It’s come up before and it surfaces regularly like the sine curve from the Holt Rinehart and Winston blue and gray text books.  And the sine curve idea has some merit; maybe a sine curve with some erratics interjected that would indicate events like someone telling you that you “ought to” replace appliance A or B, or you should “consider” adding this monthly bill to the stack; and on the other side week-long stretches of playing catch with a football every day in the sun or two straight days of walking in deep valleys.  But most questions should first be counter-questioned with these two basics, before pursuing any answer or subsequent solution: (1) is the issue raised important and/or can we explain why finding an answer is not important, and (2) if the answer is premised on and/or is embedded with a suggestion: what does one expect?  What do we figure ought to be the case given the circumstances both obvious and less so?  In this case I concede the former.  To the latter point – should we expect an average human male who has been confined to office space and belted to the indoors by a long winter and moderately beaten up by the difficulties inherent in keeping a household on a steady path to be happy, smiling, uplifting in the face of any particular situation?  More generally, should we expect people who live in a world that means to basically strip the balls off its men and drive everyone to one existence to be outwardly inviting and show genuine smiles?  The counter might be: well, it’s all in how you deal with it.  It’s all in how you react.  It’s all what you make of it…    One might agree if it were the case that concessions ought to be made that favor the uni-gender world.  Just make the money, keep things going, keep your hands in the dishwater, then on the keyboard then on the steering wheel and circle back again.  If the basic concession is made that that is how things ought to be, then it would indeed be in best interest to simply accept it and focus on “how you deal with it.”   

There are deliberate forces working against happiness.  I am susceptible.  My response is not to simply make the concession and “work on how I deal with it.”  Rather, it seems a counter-strategy is in order.  A multi-faceted approach to beat back the clench of the age (WB).  It’s under development and will be public noticed at a later time.  Submitted comments may or may not be afforded response. 

In the interest gathered here – that being fishing – it can be said that walking rivers is a mainstay.  Walking with kids.  Watching friends get drifts right and lift rods in joy.  Seeing kids with rods doubled over, tips touching water.  Finding carp unawares, tailing in rocks.  And in the case of this report – walking moderately deep into a valley with a mission of gender maintenance.  That meaning fighting through deep snow, cold weather, and edge-ice to catch some fish.  Not a lot of fish.  But fish got by a decisive action that kept us on the track of difficulty (as opposed to running around looking for easier water).  Yeah, we know “difficulty” should not be a term in the playground world of fishing.  But we are at that point.  We have to invent some difficulty to keep sanity intact.  We know, we know we are playing at edges; thanks for the comments in that regard.  We know, we know this is just too much writing on fishing; you try too hard to justify things, thanks again for those notes but they fall flat.  Many people know exactly what I am saying, I suspect. 
These guys here are coworkers and friends.  We’ve met occasionally on these waters; they appreciate them.  In some way or another I suppose we’re looking for the same things.  Exertion, sweat, blood, the high hill, camaraderie, the riffle and the deep pool.  I did not line a rod until 330 PM.  Snowshoes were needed.  A fire was tended at a big corner hole.  And when the first line came tight on a fish there was an insuppressible whoop bookended by swills of fiery drink.  Things done, things left undone, we felt pretty good out there in the end.  Some minor league swashbuckling.  We need it.  We better damn well face up to that fact or all the analysis will be based on false premises.

Some guys got up early and drove for this outing.  Photo credit J.J.

Drifting under close watch of the sandstone.  Note ice conditions.

Need a bird dog focus when nymphing.

Postcard from the valley.  We watched two coyotes cross just upstream at that next bend. 

Putting in work.  Big corner hole.  Tough to fish given conditions.

Prettiest fish of the day; I never did see in person.  Photo credit J.J.

Cold.  Do what you can do.  A fire like no other because all the dead wood comes from different stands upstream.  Carried down and left on bends in various postures.

Big hole full of fish.  We all got some good drifts.  The fish never got onto us; suppose we could have camped here.

Photo credit J.J.  Rarely get to see myself like this so I appreciate it.  Broke out the old neoprenes for the cold weather beat-back.

Nice pack.

Walking out together.  Sweating I suppose.