Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Thinking Back on Alaska Day Four

Had this video sitting on my computer.  Posted it tonight.  That episode was what I'd call a little bit fun.  After beating on those fish with streamers, we moved to poppers for something to do.  Unreal.  I still think about this trip probably daily.

32 inches long, 17 inch girth on popper.

Postcard if there ever was one.

Friday, March 24, 2017

$100 fish and Indices of Biological Integrity

Some time ago I told The Kid that I'd give him $100 after he caught his 50th trout on the fly.  Without any physical assistance from me beyond netting.  This may be somewhat atypical and thus deserves some notes in explanation; some notes on what the $100 moved forward in terms of time spent, skills developed, goals accomplished, etc.  
  • Nymphing skills went from rudimentary to pretty good.  Line control in roll casts and flips in my estimation is above average for his age although my sample size is limited and I'm supplementing it with "what I figure" which is allowable. 
  • Hooking fish is very high percentage.
  • Playing fish is probably average; he still loses some, especially given fishing with 2 wt Sage.
  • Reading water is getting better; he knows that foam is home; he still asks me too often where to cast and drift.
  • Patience is better: he got blanked once and unlike ~1 year ago (there were some tirades), this time he said "that just makes up for some of the times we've caught a lot of fish."  To me that is gold.
  • Key gain though is the miles logged on streams; all of which were with me, most of which were with his brother; some of which were with friends.  All the memories logged.  He said the other day regarding a carp outing some years back; direct quote: "let's talk about some of the memories of that day we caught all those giant carp."  Pure gold and platinum for me.  What I am after.  $100, $1000 bargain however I look at it.  $100 just a small incentive for a kid; kids sometimes need nudges to get through transitions at various scales including but not limited to leaving the comfort of home, striking out in the winter, gearing up and addressing some water.  The successes are great for kids.  The incentives can just prompt; make them happen. 
At a most basic level it came down to this: I thought of the forgettable $100 things I've done in the past; that many do regularly.  The monthly bills that are $100 or more for things we don't even need.  In that context this was a pretty straight-forward deal.  This week I had occasion to listen to the song Thunderstruck while working out.  There were various kids around.  I asked them if they knew the song.  One said "No, but I know the remix that they used in the Macy's One Day sale commercial."  I was silent and unsure how to respond but I layer that on here as another reason to give your kid $100 to catch 50 trout nymphing.

Said he wanted two $50 notes but when I palmed the five $20s he didn't really hesitate to accept.

Looking kind of old.

Around mid-February we were out looking for sheds; finding none.  Collecting deer stands and poking around beds, trails, etc.  Trying to understand things which is the never-ending task that will never be fully accomplished. This property is private and has not been fished in 2-3 years.  As my kids would note that is not a fact because it's not supported by evidence; rather it's a statement of strong probability based on our best knowledge and data.

We put the LOD in one giant swimming pool hole.  What would be called marginal water at best up and downstream.  Vertical banks.  Low IBI meaning not the traditional coldwater biota.  A special and interesting place but not one for postcards.  Second cast a trout rolled on the streamer as I was picking it up up up there at the end of the retrieve.  That fish was hanging in the hydro cushion just to the side of the plunge.  Never mind that one. Next cast out into the main pool, counting down to bottom.  Telling kid to watch the line tip which will indicate when streamer has stopped sinking and is thus on the bottom.  Pick it up and twitch it back.  Another fish came and we watched it eat the streamer from below.  A female of great proportion; atlantic-salmon bright I thought, with depth.  Very healthy and all fins in perfect condition.  Seemingly the case that she is living in this pool with little or no disturbance, eating the warmwater forage fish that are mixed in there (we caught three creek chubs 4-6" each).  We put my grandma's old cloth sewing tape on her.  I don't like it because I think measuring on rod and with handspans is faster and better but we aim to please.  The measurement was 19.25" which was in agreement with estimate based on rod.  The Kid took the rod and commenced to practice more of a casting stroke (as opposed to flipping and rolling).  Coming along pretty well.   He put the streamer where he wanted it to be.  He never did get a big one out of there and that disappointed him.  We moved down and caught maybe half a dozen nice fish 10-15 inches out of broken runs; swinging downstream in every case.  Casual approach as this wasn't even a fishing day.

Nice fins.

The troutiest water does not often beget the biggest trout.  This figure from Wisconsin shows scatter plot of coldwater IBI or "fish score" vs mean brown trout length.  Although there is significant variability in the dataset, generally speaking as the score gets higher the mean size goes down.  No rules out there but this is surely a general relationship that has been observed by many.  Most IBIs do not consider fish size.  It would be too much work and too stressful on the fish to measure every specimen captured while shocking. Here is a quote from the paper along with the citation: "‚Ķresults suggest that the growth, condition, and mean length of sport fish will not always increase if conditions improve to nearly pristine levels.    Griffin & Fayram, WDNR, Transactions of the American Fisheries Society, 2007"