Tuesday, June 17, 2014

June Trout in Captions

11 AM to 4 PM on some of the best water in the midwestern region of the USA.  After laving my vehicle I did not encounter one acre cultivated.  No roads.  Pasture, walnut groves, high cliff faces; those were the frames of the river.  My hope was to encounter any sort of June hatch of large insects.  Something that would define itself well and invite big mayfly patterns.  Started out the morning though with streamers.  Shitty ones at that; I'm purging fly boxes.  No tying; just using what I have.  Notably this does not seem to matter much.

I think most of the fish pictured out of the water are now dead.  This worth mentioning as it pertains to discussion regarding photo time impacting fish mortality.  The fish are no more for their world as they are now a more direct part of mine and those of my immediate family.

Good water.  Fish throughout.  Conditions were excellent.

As it happened I was applying a rod passed along by JM's dad to present flies made of deer hair from the hide taken by my dad some 30 years ago.  An aside on that one is that as he tells it, he'd conceded that he'd missed the deer and given up looking for his arrow; gone home.  But arrows were expensive.  He was drawn out to the woods hours later to look further in hope.  Instead of locating the stray arrow though, he found the dead deer.  In telling this story he is careful to note that at this point he let out a howl of jubilation.  And now the tanned hide is draped over a chest made by my brother.  Sits in my shop.  Any number of legacies here to consider.

Creel from great uncle that sat in original homestead until past summer when it was gifted to me.  Already tearing the strap fasten point due to exceedingly frequent bouts with heavy loads.

Baseflow cooler, implemented while sitting on a bank after catching many fish.  Cows downstream; fish rising upstream.

Adams Irresistible.  A generalist approach in the midst of varying bugs on the water.  Worked very well.

This fish right at 16 inches; nice deep mouth.  Still swims.  Not a dry fly fish.  Had gone back to streamer at this point.

The water from whence it came. 

This gray type showed the biggest and best fish.  The small ones out in the riffles and tailouts taking dry flies.  The bigger fish tucked away in pockets and under overhanging vegetation.  This is well understood but still very interesting and intriguing.  Get flies in tight places; fish are in there.

Really liked these spots.  A lot of variability across individual BNT.

Money water.

June in SE MN; glad I was afforded a few hours.  Very special water and remarkable place.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Last Weekend: Two Key Components


Sunday, June 08, 2014

First MN Carping Weekend

Notes from credible sources are appreciated.  I talk on and on about carp and lettuce and grapes and how hard my kids can throw and garlic and reel mowers and beets and walnut trees.  So much so that people sometimes think of me when they see oddities related to any of the listed subject matter, especially carp.  Couple weeks ago I got note; it said, hey man there are a bunch of giant carp up in the rush beds of a lake I know, staging to spawn and/or spawning.  This person has handled thousands of carp.  He ain't gonna put me on.  And we are offered so few clear-water, hard-bottom carping situations, this merited an arrangement of calendar to allow for an exploration.  Basically comes down to this: would one want to look back on this good lead and remember that you did not follow up and instead kept manipulating spreadsheet cells?  There are many work hours logged; no shortage; no worries there.  I brought my canoe, but the nearest public access was ~1.5 miles away; I aimed to use my good looks to avoid the paddle.  The first woman I encountered offered access to the bull rush points I was after; but even better she pointed me to easier/closer access that did not bother a single soul on planet Earth.  And thus I was brought to the shore of my first serious MN carping day. 
This pic struck me because I thought I could pass it off as Columbia River, maybe.  Not much of this carping water around here.  There were fish crusing this shore, but it was a struggle to position oneself to see them; they were out a little deeper, maybe 2-3 feet of water.  At one point I found a notch in the bank vegetation that allowed backcast; it was the case that the best approach was to simply hide and wait, cast.  I could not get a fly to any of these fish though; they were relatively fast movers; not interested.  I did see some very large carp.

Adjacent to the lake was a backwater that was full of spawning fish in the morning.  With the spawners were many fish creeping slowly through the thick vegetation.  These carp would eat but the challenge was getting them to see flies in the thick dogged slough setting.  It was camoflauge chameleon ninja scaling your building fishing at its pinnacle.  Statue-still dapping.  First fish may have been >20.  Hooked it at six feet away; watched the head come up in wonder.  It charged into a log pile and shattered my tippet.  A bow fisherman watched the whole deal.  I swore when the fish broke me off.  Next fish did the same, using vegetation mats to murder me.  Finally, third fish was steered through a narrow outlet to the open water of the slough. Careful handling was required.  Fish came in at 13 lbs.  After getting one I decided to leave these fish and head back out the main lake, try to work on that deal.

Slough carping.
Decent vis on the lakeshore.

See my tracks in the grass.

Tough sometimes to determine the right time to leave a water in favor of another.  I only left myself about 1.5 hours to check out this tailwater on my way home.  Probably should have allowed more time.  For reference, most of those fish are about 10-13 lbers.  Carp and buffs nearly all.  This is a spectacle.  
What may be called biomass.  What may be known in some circles as TNTC.  Too Numerous To Count MF.

Great detail of the two species in water; buffs with the forward white mouths.

These fish were not actively feeding, as you can see.  But they were milling.  Blind stripping was a snagging disaster.  Downstream swinging of smaller flies DID work.  In fact one carp ate a RLHE so deep I had to get out forceps.  But think of the trouble here.  The goal is not to catch a carp.  Not with 1.5 hours ticking down.  Need to sort through this spectacle; need to target.  Only way to get a big fish out of here was to get above them and execute ridiculous looking high altitude dapping; then running down to fight fish.  It did work; maybe one fish per fifteen minutes.  Some smaller carp to hand.  Then this pretty one scaled at 13 lbs.  Great head turn on the eat.  Seen from above.

Got a buff to charge forward a bit and eat.

One-eyed 14 lber.  Some kids rallied around as the fish was landed.  Mira, she said.  There is no eye.

Last march of the Subaru.  Overheated and cracked the engine on the way home.  I pulled over on an exit ramp and sat under some lilacs chewing on grass.  Haven't seen my canoe in a week.

World looking and feeling good in May 2014.

[Cancel weekend plans; take kids to this tailwater and stay in very cheap hotel and then fish it again next day.  This was our basic approach.  Test the boys' spinning gear.  Max it out.]

Fighting first carp of his life.

Raining.  Folks taking shelter.  Kids out fighting fish.  A time to remember.  They hooked and fought these fish themselves.  I netted them all.  Here is JD's first carp.  10 lbs scaled.  It'd be his PB for a couple hours.

DMW with a 10 lber; his one fair-caught carp on the day.  He landed a couple snagged fish and lost a few.  We were fishing in the midst of a gathering of sorts.  And thus when these fish were landed there was great applause about; great spectacle that it was.  People taking video and photographs.  

As adults we understand that these fish fight hard.  But watching my kids go at was good reminder re just what tanks they can be.  It looked like they were trying to reel in windows.  They both tired pretty quickly and were wearing faces of agony fighting fish toward day's end.  That does not mean that they wanted to leave.  I was impressed by their collective constitiution.  Rain and giant, impossible fish.  And yet we were there for about 5-6 hours day one.

Last fish of the day was this 13 lber.  I think JD ended with four fish to hand excluding snagged.  10, 11, unweighed (smaller) and 13 lbs.  Danny logged one 10 lber.


More of the same day 2; Danny got this pretty buffalo.  I was running between kids with a net.  Pulling snags off rocks.  Smiling at this engagement.

I took about 30 minutes and tried to get a big one.  Hooked a monster that ran me into a lady's line; broke off.  Another sow I fought for maybe three minutes and then she just came unpinned in heavy current.  Wasn't to be; it was about the kids.  I landed maybe 3-4 fish topping out at 14 lbs.  Photo credit here goes to DMW.  He took about 20 pics.

Day 2 fish for JD, I think it scaled at 10 lbs.

I've lost track of my mistakes, like birds they fly around (GB) but I will mark this one down in the other column; a time to remember; many details will be known to us for all of our remaining years.  Impressed by my kids' tenacity and appreciative of the interest and budding love they have for our local fisheries.