Sunday, March 30, 2014

Solo Gravy

I'd have easily joined my 4 friends for a repeat of yesterday, but the way the day unfolded I went solo.  The kids were out in the yard playing, my wife was doing some computer work and I had just finished running the he was napping. 

A Sunday in March with temps nearing 60.  The breeze was blowing at decent clip which would be the only downside I could think of against going streamside...but after the winter we've had, not likely a deterrent.

The sun is factor.  As I drove to the little spring creek near here, I looked at the shadows cast by the car ahead of me and decided that I'd prefer to have the sun at my back for 3 reasons.
1. Better visibility into the water
2. Tougher visibility out of the water (for the fish)
3. Photo light.

The car's shadow wasn't too long so I figured I could get away with cashing in on the 3 benefits above without blowing the water with my shadow.

I trekked up to the head of my beat, thrilled that nobody else was parked at the access point.
Hiking boots a 3 weight and my camera.  No waders, no expectations, no stress...yesterday's outing satiated me and this outing was today's gravy.

I fished down, swinging my leech through the crannies and shadows. 
I kept going and finally had a nice trout come out of an undercut and make a swipe.
I continued pitching but that was the last I saw of it.
Moving down further, I caught movement in the grass downstream and focused on two turkeys making their way to the stream bank.
I pulled up my camera, zoomed in and prepared to watch turkeys swim or fly.
The choice was fly and I snapped some shot as they crossed only to find out (later) that I farmed the focus and missed what could have been a pretty cool shot.  In the picture below you'll see the first  turkey's head in grass on the right side of the frame.  I messed up his crossing shot too...oh well.

I finally wrangled a small brown and admired it for second before sending him home and stepping down.

The thing that I am learning (or perhaps re-learning) this year is that fish can be just about anywhere.
They need cover and food and places like that come in a number of configurations.

I was keeping this in mind as I came across a shadowed bank fifty feet below me.  The water was only about 15" deep but the flow was good and it seemed like a good idea to marinate the leech there.  Quartering the cast down and across, the fly landed and swung to the shadow...I watched a small 6" brown trout track the fly and then make a mad dash downstream as a big dark shadow shot out and hammered the leech.

I came up blank on the set. 

I sent the fly in for do-overs and the bigger trout slid out of the shadows and gave the leech another thump.

This time, I came up blank again.

I gave the water downstream another 15 minutes of fishing and was rewarded with another nice little brown trout to hand.

 I cast a long shadow across the road as I stowed my rod in the back of my vehicle.   I looked upstream to the spot where the big trout lives, took a mental note of the location and drove home. 

The kids were still playing in the yard, my dog was up from his nap and my wife asked how the fishing was.

what spring looks like...

botched focus

making their getaway

pretty little brown 1

pretty little brown 2

He went home, I went home


Saturday, March 29, 2014

Five for breakfast...

JP and I arrived at the cafe a little after 10 am.  The drive in under blue skies and a light breeze looked, and felt, like spring.  McSteel, Brother Billy and MK were just coming off of a late night at a Drive By Truckers concert and they were forgiven the 20 minutes extra they took to pull up a seat. 

For the most part we ordered sausage gravy mixed with hashbrowns cheese and eggs.  Whether gravy is the antidote for excessive barley and hops, we would soon find out...

Five guys isn't bad for a poker game, but it is usually a terrible idea for a day of trout fishing on our local diminutive spring creeks.  We all rigged our rods, climbed into our waders and headed down the path.  There were no plans and no beats called.   We all just kind of dropped in, paired up (or fished alone) leapfrogged, hiked ahead or lagged back.  

I fished over clean runs and in fished over runs.  So did everybody else.  It was a small miracle the way it all unfolded.   Nobody lowholed (well almost nobody) nobody hotfooted, and nobody cared.  It was spring, we were slinging line through ice free guides and fish were caught.

I pitched and swung my rabbit strip leech into any water that seemed reasonable and found a few takers. 

Brother Billy fired tight loops to the far banks and when he wasn't fishing, he composed some great photos (which he was kind enough to send me for inclusion on this post).

McSteel unsheathed a cane rod and stepped into his methodical (if not surgical) dissection of the water.  He's been away from this part of the state for a while but you'd never know it.

MK, showed us where he'd been moving fish on earler outings to this section.  He was the unofficial guide.  When the he said that he'd moved fish up to 17" on this stretch, I questioned him about that...when I got home and put a tape up to the mark on my rod that we measured my biggest trout against, it said 16 3/4".  I completely botched rule #1..."don't question the guide".  My apologies MK.  You were right and I am so happily wrong!

JP, had some new equipment that he was looking forward to trying out and after a while he disappeared around a corner and did just that.  When we finally reconnected, he appeared to have found God.

Although the day should have gone on for another 2 (days), 4 o'clock had everyone assembled back at the vehicles, talking about gear and beer and fish and runs and how we should try to do this again.

I fool myself constantly in thinking that this is all about the fish.

From Top to Bottom: Tabasco, eggs, sausage gravy, cheese, hashbrowns, biscuits

JP, Brother Billy, McSteel and MK...crossing over

McSteel and MK

Brownie showing some fin

almost to hand

JP, on a greasy run.

rubber legged ornament

evasive maneuvers

breaking the surface

nice brown coming in



Yes 2

another brown
New Zealand Mud Snail - Prevention - MK practicing what he preaches.

The following are a couple of the images Brother Billy sent over.
Thanks Billy

McSteel on point
JP, Yours Truly, McSteel and MK

A rare sight on this blog

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Sunday March 23

The forecast said 28 degrees was going to be the high.  I'm pretty much done with freezing guides for one spring but I'm also down with a bad case of, what John Gierach calls, the "Shack Nasties" (aka cabin fever).

I grabbed a 3 weight, a pocket full of flies, a spool of 4x and ziplock full of the dog, Thor.  I figured I might as well start training him not to trash pools and spook fish.  We hiked over the first ravine and upstream into the skinny water.   I've never spent much time with a dog afield and it was impressive to watch is body move in response to the messages coming through his nose.  I don't know what they are smelling but it's certainly beyond my olfactory equipment to understand what the hell he's doing.  I wondered if I might be able to get him to point brown trout...

Away from the waters edge I asked him to sit and stay.  I moved toward the water and I could hear him raise up from the dry grass.  I returned, made my second request and when he sat back down I gave him some of the braunschweiger.  Incentivized sitting.

He stayed put and I immediately blew it on 4 trout in the first pool...and I was worried about the dog affecting my fishing.  The sun was up, the wind was down and despite the low temps this was shaking out OK.  

A couple of Sandhill Cranes emerged through the grass much too close for their normal spooky sensibilities.  I stepped on Thor's leash and snapped a few pics before walking toward them so I could watch them lift off on their giant wings.  Just before they departed they started their croaking call and I could see Thor's head lift to see what the hell was going on.  Cool bird.

We continued Thor's training and my fishing until I finally landed a bright brown and I made the obligatory introductions between fish and dog.  I had to hold the leash close after the release or I would have seen Thor take his first swim.    We kept fishing downstream and I tested the distance I could go while the pup sat and waited.  I was pretty impressed.  More braunschweiger was administered.  It occurred to me that I was the one having all of the fun so we cancelled class for the rest of the day and found a stick just perfect for tossing and retrieving.

I brought the whooped pup home, fed him and left him in his kennel for a nap, tied a couple of flies, donned my waders and headed back out.  It seemed the obvious choice, given the fish I'd moved earlier, to head back out to the same stream.  I went downstream instead of back up and was impressed at the number of trout visible through the clear spring creek water.  I stood on the bank and shot some photos of a few browns feeding.  I wished that I would have brought my polarizing filter but the sun was high behind me and the viewing was great.

A kingfisher called as it flew from a branch and I reached for my camera hoping it would offer me a shot.  It flew downstream mocking me and my inability to capture it on film.   Just then a trio of obliging chickadees landed close and made me feel better about my bird photography.

I've only ever fished this part of the creek once before and the tangle of wood and soft bottom make it a little tricky.  The last time I was here, the clouds covered the sun and the visibility was poor.  Today was different matter.  Moving slowly, I swung my little bunny leech into deep water and dark spots and had fish flash often enough that I was reconsidering my opinion of this stream.   The bottom is soft bright sand and spotting fish and/or fishy water isn't to tough with good light. In the end I landed 5 or 6 trout and spooked hundreds.  The big one that got away darted out from an undercut bank three times to the first fly I offered and then once more to the next fly I tried.  I never felt it, but i got a pretty good view of it and now I know where it hangs out.  

The dog stayed put when asked to do so and ointment was applied liberally to my case of the "Shack Nasties", and though the guides froze up eventually, it wasn't enough of a problem that I had to think too much about it.    

I reeled up and decided that it was all better than I hoped and probably more than I deserved.

Abbey Road comes to mind...

Sandhills in flight


Thor staying put...

Thor's turn for fun.

Good light for photos

The grass on the far bank reflected gold.

Thor's first look at a Brown Trout

ready for release

Feeding Browns 1

Feeding Browns 2

Chickadee 1

Chickadee 2

Chickadee 3...thinking I should have the lens cloth handy.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Winter Kill

Took the dog for a walk looking for activity on some carp water near here.
No carp spotted in the places where there was open water.
And then there was this.
Lots of gills, white bass and largemouth.


Friday, March 21, 2014

Anchor's away

The dog is too young for a kennel.
The girls have spring break.

These two items are the reason why my wife and kids are in FL basking in the sun and kicking back in the sand.

These two items are also the reason why I've finally found the time to get some boat work done.

Following the advice from the guys at Lee Lock, I installed a hatch cover on the deck of my boat.
It gave me enough access to mount the Bow Mount Anchor Sytem.  It was no problem to completely contort my hand with an adjustable angle socket wrench and line up the nut and bolt.  My knuckles bled a "little"... 
I made the mistake of not completely tightening the first nut so I could shift the anchor lock into position over the second hole and get that one installed.  The problem came when I went back to nut/bolt #1 to tighten it.

No amount of fumbling could get the socket seated on the nut...soooo, I ended up drilling it out and starting over, THIS TIME staying on the nut until it was tight.  My knuckles bled a little more...

I had just finished when JP showed up with some "DRY FLY Vodka".

I don't remember what happened after that.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Full Circle?

I was walking the banks of my home trout stream recently when I spotted a bit of fur.  I stooped, picked it up, gave it the sniff test and pocketed it. 

I figured an owl must've destroyed a squirrel and left it's meatless tail for me...

It sat on the dash of my car as MK and I drove north to a flyshop for a day of talking about steelhead with a bunch of guys that appreciate fish like that.

I glanced at it a few times as we drove and decided that it should become bonefish flies.

This morning I brought the vise upstairs to the dining room table and started in.

2 dozen flies...1/2 doz heavy dumbell eyes, 1/2 doz light dumbell eyes, 1/2 doz heavy beadchain eyes, 1/2 doz light beadchain eyes.

As I was tying, the birds at the backyard feeder ceased their singing. 

The hawk in the tree stayed around just long enough for a few photos.

I decided that perhaps it wasn't an owl that ate this squirrel after all.

It was probably a hawk and I hoped it was this hawk.

That'd be pretty neat.

"Angler visited by hawk that provides him his tying material"

If indeed it WAS this hawk that ate THIS squirrel I have some logistics to work out.  Do hawk's hunting grounds extend over 25 miles? 


But the bigger question?...the tail that I found is the same size and "feel" of a squirrel's tail...EXCEPT, whoever saw one this color??  Ginger with white tips?


Also, during