Sunday, March 16, 2008

Sunday - March 16th, 2008

When it comes to fishing I find that its soul cleansing powers are second to none. That being said, the less cleansing that is required the better time I usually have. When I arrive at the water, at ease, relaxed and ready to fish, that's what I do. I fish. When I feel that I need to go fishing for an "escape", it seems to me that the motions and actions of this act we call fly fishing do a pretty good job of easing me out and getting me back to level. But, what I really like is fishing for fishing's sake. I like when I don't have to cancel out some other distraction and use fishing as a tool to do it.

So, this morning, I dutifully scrubbed and vacuumed the floors of the ol' homestead before departing. I doubt that my wife heralded me the husband of the year and called her mother glowing about her excellent choice in husbands...but I headed to my favorite spring creek with a clear conscience.

The point of this ramble is that I felt I had the JuJu on my side today and I decided to keep the size 16 scuds in my vest. I tied on 18 inches of 3x, bit down on two, larger than normally prescribed for spring creek, split shots and a size 6, 3x long shank, black woolly bugger. I was looking for meat, girth and violence. Most of the time I like the precision placement of a size 24 lint ball on 8x. But sometimes I feel the need to assault my dainty little spring creek and try to bludgeon it into submission. Heavy tippet, lotsa lead, fishing downstream. It's the antithesis of all that is spring creek angling with a fly. I'm certain Halford (our father of upstream, dry-fly, cast only to fish you can see, fame) turned in his grave today.

The results? Well for me they were damn good. My first three fish were 16", 17" and 18". Now, lest you scoff at my readiness to spew fish sizes, let me clarify one small point. To me, on my spring creek, that is a banner day. I know other guys catch fish like that regularly, but it's been a while since I was a live to fish, meals optional, trout bum type. I've got floors to clean for chrissakes. I have a number of photo albums in the basement with all kinds of fish porn from my 2o something years. But even there, I don't think I ever landed three fish like that in the middle of the afternoon and consecutively. I have stated in the past to my fishing pals, and most of them agree with me, 16 is the magic number on our spring creeks. At 16" you take a longer look, you notice a thickness that a 14" fish has yet to attain. You say "Damn, that's a nice trout". And, when I landed the 16" brown today, that's exactly what I did. 35 yards downstream, when the 17" fish tried to pound the hackle off of my fly I thought, "Shit. This is great!" It was noticeably larger than the first and I cradled it in the water a few second longer than maybe I should have, just to admire it. Another 35 yards downstream when the largest of the three ambushed the black bugger from an undercut bank, I actually got a little giddy. I didn't think I was nervous, but as I tried to hold this fish steady for a snapshot, I noticed I was breathing hard and my heart was racing. In retrospect, I suppose that the additional blood pumping wildly through my body accounts for why my fingers didn't get cold as I admired this fish with my digits submerged in the frigid stream.

After that, I managed another 1/2 dozen 12" firm, feisty browns before I called it a day and drove home.

The good news in all of this is that the particular stretch of stream I was on suffered horribly a few years back from what amounts to agricultural ineptitude. It was completely devastated. The stream has slowly regained a foothold and the trout have returned. Today was evidence of that.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Smelt Run

I was thinking about my Bro up in N. MN. I was thinking about the lake trout and the steelhead in Lake Superior. I was thinking about their limited forage base. I started thinking about smelt. They are a relatively large baitfish to imitate with a fly. But I think I'm getting close. This fly is constructed of EP Fiber and a little angel hair. It sheds water on the first backcast and is translucent and fishy looking in the water. I was thinking I might give it a try next time I'm up that way.

The red behind the eye isn't a hole in the fiber, it's actually a red tag of yarn, that I'm hoping will simulate gills.
Maybe I should have picked a better background color?

Monday, March 10, 2008

Before I forget...

My Bro is selling his fishpond vest.
I own this vest and really like it. If you carry small fly boxes it's the bomb. My Bro likes bigger flyboxes and so he is going back to his teal columbia flyvest. Back in the early 90's when he bought that vest, it was really cutting edge. Might have been the first vest on the market that wasn't tan. Now that the teal vest is old enough to be retro rad, he is jumping back in it. Plus, it's held together by 2 parts fish scales and 1 part spawn juice. It's got Mojo. I'm glad. My Bro defies any label, but he's certainly more wool than Gore-Tex and I think that the old teal suits him. So, anyway he's selling the new vest and he's asking $100 which is $50 less than the new price. He said he only wore it a half dozen times and it looks to be in great shape. Drop him an email if you are interested. Oh and it's fully adjustable. He's 6' 4" and I'm 5' 11" so I think there may be some truth to the claim that one size fits all.

Somewhere, over the rainbow...

The closest piece of trout water to my home (approx 2 miles) was visited by me and JW on Sunday. I've been to this creek before, walked it. Scouted it. Spotted fish in it. But it is small. And Tough. Really Tough. It's unfishable by Mid-May. The grass grows tall and leans out over the surface foiling every attempt at a cast. But it's close. I wore hip boots for the first time in about decade. Not that the creek is shallow. It has some very nice deep undercuts and channels. I was trying to fit in a quick fish before dinner and hip boots just seemed the right footwear for an early season Blitzkrieg. I grabbed my camera, because I thought I'd take some really sweet iced guide, cold horizon shots for this blog. The batteries died. As we were rigging up I saw a rise. Honest to goodness concentric circles midstream. Then we saw another. I tied on a size 28 belly-button lint dry fly and blazed away without luck. It wasn't until I switched to a weighted black zonker concoction and started dapping the dark grooves that the noses started to peak out from under the banks. All told the creek is maybe a mile long. It's gin clear and doesn't get much pressure except maybe from some local farm kids once worms are legal. But by the time I made it to the top of my self imposed 300 yard beat, I'd missed 3 or 4 fish and spooked twice that many. And these were decent trout! The technique (and I use the term loosely) was basically a long dap and steer the fly kind of affair, but trout this close to home warmed my heart. Visions of fishing my lunch break on a Tuesday afternoon in April kept my gloveless fingertips warm as I shuffled back to the car. Dapping and steering as I went, working the opposite bank back downstream ... I finally wrangled one. 9 inches of local brown trout, caught and released. Victory on the home front.

My tax dollars at work.

Last Sunday, as I was fishing through a section of river I came across this ditch, dumping water that was not consistent with usual run-off discoloration, into my home water.

I snapped a few pictures and on Monday I sent the following email to the local watershed association and the DNR.

To whom it concerns,
I was fishing the (Not To Be Named Here) Creek this past Sunday and noticed an unusual discharge from the site located on the attached map. I've attached photos for your review. (I've seen oily run-off into
[Not To Be Named Here] Creek from this site in the past).

As you know
(Not To Be Named Here) Creek has seen more than its share of damage from non-point pollution. In this case, the discharge seems to be traceable to a source. If there is anybody who can check this out and make sure that we are not poisoning the creek (yet again) I'd be grateful.

I guess they read this stuff, or maybe it was my excellent photography, but I got a reply (I'm going to exclude anybody's name or phone numbers just because they didn't agree to have me post this stuff all over the internet, I've typed my edits in red):

On Monday afternoon I got this email from the fisheries manager:

Please give me a call - I need more information please - an address, the business name or type this somehow directly related to this bldg in the pictures ??
I will be out Tues aft - Thurs aft - you may also call DNR Law enforcement - Warden XXXX at XXX-XXXX - you can remain anonymous if you so choose
XXXXXX My County Fisheries Manager Department of Natural Resources

So, I called him on Thursday.
By Friday I got this email:

Warden XXXXX took a look-see - a storm sewer that drains their lot empties there - I will suggest ( to Mr. XXXXXX [the owner of the facility]) a filter fabric in their inlet and maybe a tertiary filter at tthe outfall - if there is adequate space. That is what I suspected originally - and why i asked if you had followed it upstream.
Thanks for keeping your eyes open - feel free to call the XXXXX city admin or public works people when you see stream impacts - and myself as well
I will see if and where [my county] LCD can help out - may be problems if the lot is gravel
XXXXXX- your insights ?
My County Fisheries Manager
Department of Natural Resources

From: Warden XXXXX DNR
Sent: Friday, March 07, 2008 1:55 PM
Subject: RE: (Not to Be Named Here) Creek

K- I met with Plant Manager (XXXXXXX) of (Business that Owns the Facility) (Ph # XXX-XXXX). The culvert by the fence in the pictures drains the parking lot. There was no current discharge and water in there was clear and frozen. (Plant Manager XXXXXX) was real interested in keeping an eye on it next week when things warm up again. He was real interested in anything they could do to improve the situation- he said they have any employee who is a grad student who did his research on environmental improvements to the plant grounds. If anyone wanted to test any runoff they would be moore than welcome.

Conservation Warden
MY Region
Department of Natural Resources

From: K DNR
Sent: Friday, March 07, 2008 10:17 AM
To: Warden XXXX - DNR
Subject: FW: (Not to be named here) Creek

we should take a ride


My County Fisheries Manager

Department of Natural Resources

What's more, today I got a call from the investigating warden giving me a full run-down on the who what where and when.

Now I'm just as likely to bitch about government as the next guy, my taxes are at the point where I cannot ignore the pain and I think that the latest "refund check" or "stimulus package" or whatever they are calling the few hundred dollars that the Bush administration is sending out to buy your republican vote, should have been left in my bank account in the first place or at least used to buy some body armor for the boys in the middle east so we can pull them the hell out without them getting shot in the back. Having said that, I'd just like to say "Thank You" to the Warden and the Fisheries Manager who, read and responded to my email. Thanks for your service and for sanding off a corner of this sharp edged cynical son of a bitch. Cheers Gentlemen!


A little late to post, but I made it out last weekend for the opener. We had temps in the low 40's so guide ice wasn't a problem. I waded in and started catching browns and a couple bows on a small scud pattern. Seems like the trout were hungry. I fished from morning through early afternoon, took a dozen trout or more and headed home. Relaxed. Pleased. Thankful that I had the opportunity. It seemed to go just like it was supposed to: A guy hits his home water on opener and catches fish.

Brown falls for the ol' orange scud trick

Bow: Stocked, but clean and healthy

This guy couldn't wait any longer.

More on this in the next post.