Monday, July 17, 2017

Wild footballs, er, brookies...

Chubby brookies - who doesnt like to see those after a drought year!

First though, last Thursday, I think it was, I hit a local bass/crappie pond I like.  I early released a few crappies, but landed several bass.  Some on a bright chartreuse version of Lefty Kreh's "Craft Fur Shrimp" - which is a FANTASTIC fly for everything in a variety of colors.

This tiny "micro" bass had really cool coloration - so pale, yet with such clear spotting.  Neat fish.

I need to remember how to tie that fly.  It is a marabou tailed diver of sorts... floats great.  Looks "ridiculous" and is basically folded over foam sheet.  I took the idea from a fly described in a magazine for Patomac river smallies, probably 10 years ago... it's been my best topwater for warmwater for about 3 years now, and that's the last one I have... Best get busy at the vice!
I'm sure Ill eventually catch a big fish here - there is to much food not to.  It's a super spot for a summer evening.  Lots of fish, not to hard to catch... A good place to drop my cortisol levels...

Ok, enough teasing with bass.  I managed to hit my local wild brookie and brown trout stream last Friday at lunch.  this is (gulp) the first time I've been on brookie water in (gulp) maybe 6 weeks outside that short foray in MN a few weeks ago... ugh.

The flow was great - more like the last few May's than July, which was super to see.  Temp = high 50's.  It felt refreshingly cold.  But, the year's heavy rain has changed it, even since this spring.  Some log jams are pushed out or sunk.  this one for example, that little plunge over the log below... normally that's a bigger drop, but the log sunk a bit, and, interestingly, more water than I've ever seen is coming under the tree on the right ( you see the root ball)  Interesting.

First fish of the day, came about a third of the way up the pic above, on the seem.  The brookie drilled a red Rojo Mini Hot caddis.  I thought it came off and my rod was stuck in a tree at first - this fish had fire and heft and put a nice bend in the 3wt.  Wish I'd stretched it out for a pic, this fish was a solid 10", but the amazing thing, was the girth.  Look at the belly on that brookie!

I worked up stream fishing pocket water with the dry.  I missed some, and caught some... And wile the smaller fish in the 4-6" range were skinny, as immature animals of all types seem to be... Anything over 6" was a football.  It's great to see these trout doing well!

Nice little brookie and a decent shot of the fly - bright red body, elk hair wing, hackled front end.  It's sort of a x caddis without a tail combined with a trude.  They work in a variety of colors.

I wanted to get a pic of this big fish too.  I mean, WOW!  That right there is a FAT brook trout!  Love it!
 Have a super week!


Thursday, July 13, 2017

Adventures... pic heavy

Hi there.  Long time, no see :)!

Life has been good and busy.  I've barely fished since my last post :(, but have done some cool stuff.

The family did the annual road trip to MN, but we added to that with a drive to Badlands and Black Hills / Mt Rushmore in South Dakota.  If you have never been - go.  The landscape is so amazing.  Pictures just don't do it justice.  The scope/magnitude... Unreal.  Even newly minted 6 year olds were amazed!

I was trying to get the scope of badlands across here.  But you just cant "see" or "feel" that it's hundreds and hundreds of feet nearly vertical into those canyons.  It's mind boggling.

While Mt Rushmore proper is awesome... We were there for the July 4 "lighting" ceremony - a double dip so to speak since the kids turned 6 on July 4.  But, we found a trail across the street that went into Black Hills National Forest.  Amazing that literally across from the Mt Rushmore parking lot, and the thousands of people visiting that site, you could find a trail that looped into some amazing valleys and through awesome ponderosa and granite forest.  Not a person was found/seen, but a few mule deer does let us walk right by - amazing the kids.  It was a gift to be so close to a bustling national monument, yet totally away from people - Awesome!

One of my favorite spots at my inlaws is a little brook, called "Stoney Brook" in Nisswa and Lake Shore MN, about 30' north west of Brainerd.  It's a MN trout stream and a lot of work has been done on it to improve the habitat, including building spills which scour the stream (one seen below) and even inserting wood for the same purpose as well as creating overhang's with rocks (also seen below).  This year I literally only had 20-30' to fish it and landed only one dace.  I quick released what looked like a solid 13-15" brown after a brief fight, oh well...

Hard to tell, but that corner in the distance has an amazing scour into that blown down tree, probably 5 feet deep right there.  Nice work MN DNR!

The day's sole catch.

Figured some of you fellow stream health and brook trout lovers would enjoy reading about the work on Stoney Brook.

 Prior to heading west, I got to do a little tying.  I have been expanding my craft fur streamer selections, that material is one of my favorites!  I saw a slightly different approach to doing a craft fur baitfish on the Bobcat Hollow blog, and tried it in one of my favorite color combos: olive over yellow.

Love it, and may get to strip it through some bass and panfish water later today.  Hopefully...

Monday my wife suggested I go fishing.  I got a little bug on the drive home, and, being self employed, despite being "on vacation", I generally work just as much as normal, but from a place with wifi.  with the added driving west this year, I basically worked or drove for vacation outside the one day at Badlands and Mt Rushmore... She was seeing the burnout on my face and sent me on my way after my daily email review.

New England being steamy right now, and me having an affiliation for fishing terrestrials to the well educated fish of the Swift River Tailwater flowing out of Quabbin Reservoir... That seemed the perfect spot despite the hour and ten drive to get there.  The water is generally mid 50's this time of year, and on a hot day, that feels great... as does the occasional hat dip in the river and put back on your head!  I was amazed to arrive, on a nice summer afternoon, to no one parked at the usual spot.  One guy arrived as I headed out, but I ended up with the rivers "famous" "Y" pool to myself for a while before he eventually got there.  I landed 4, none on the terrestrials I like to fish here, all on a #16 olive and gray shuttlecock CDC emerger.  Sort of a giant fly for the swift, but enough fish enjoyed it that I felt like Charlie Sheen - "Winning"!

After only 45' or so though, I got a call... The family had locked themselves out and couldnt reach another option to get in... I had to bail and head home.  Sad.  But gotta do it.

Quick shot of a Swift River Rainbow that just wouldn't keep still for a photo :)
 After driving about 25', I got a call that they had reached a friend with a key, and she could let them in, so I could keep fishing.  I was almost half way home, so I stopped at the Millers River - another great fishery here in MA.  The Millers though is entirely different from the swift.  It's diverse, super fertile, and a lot warmer - 70-75 pending where I dipped my thermometer the other day.  How diverse?  Well, in the general area I was fishing, over the years I've either caught or seen:
Carp (seen)
LMB/SMB (caught - lots)
Several sunfish species, besides bass (lots)
Several dace and fall fish/chub species (lots)
Walleye (caught)
Pike (caught)
Rainbow-Tiger-Brown-Brook trout (caught)
Lamprey (seen)
Sculpin (seen)

I'm sure I'm missing many!

Similarly, while the Swift is mostly little bugs and scuds and baby brook trout for food stuffs, the Millers is a smorgasbord of bugs and little fish species.

Well, because of these differences, I tend to carry very different gear - including a wading staff.  the Millers is a brawler of a river - big rocks and cobble, deep holes, and current when rolling.  Last year at this time, there were rocks I could stand on - and be 6-10" out of the water - which were almost 2 feet under water on Monday night when I was there.  This bodes well for an awesome fall on the river - and likely a super 2018 spring.  But since I'd anticipated the swift, I really was not equipped - no staff, mostly little flies and terrestrials etc.

But, knowing a river has perks, and I got safely to a nice deep pool that I'd hoped would result in lots of smallmouth bass, but instead resulted in several Rainbow Trout, and a bunch of sunfish.

This is just below the pool I mostly fished, as I hiked down to exit the river.  The way the gravel bars and currents work, this pic is actually taken from mid river.  Without a staff, and not really being able to see your feet 16" into the water... this is tough wading.

Seeing lots of dry stone fly cases explained why my fly of choice for the day, a stone fly, worked well...

Ok, all caught up... Hopefully more mountain biking and fishing adventures to share as summer wears on...

Keep well 

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Fun time, and lunch with the fishes

My kids like to go on hikes and enjoy the outside.  My son is ok with fishing, but at least thus far, it's not his thing.  I just expose him to it, and if he wants to fish he can, if he wants to throw rocks and look for "gold", cool.  I just want him to enjoy the outside!

My daughter though really does seem to love the proverbial "tug".  Last weekend we walked into the Quabbin Reservoir with my parents, and Em managed to catch her first smallie.  It was about a foot, and it gave her all she could handle :).  When it slid up on the pebbled beach, well, her smile said it all.  I was a proud dad when she asked if we could let it go so she could catch it next time :)


For whatever reason this year, I've not seen a lot of wildflowers like Trillium and Lady Slippers.  This trip was different, and we saw many Lady Slippers.

Earlier this week I hit the local pond at lunch.  I've caught almost exclusively crappie there to this point this year... But this trip the tide turned and I caught a nice bass (hard to tell, but this first one was about 13-14") and then several in the 6-12" range, which seems to be the "sweet spot" in this pond.

This little guy sucked the slightly modified Lefty's Craft Fur Shrimp way down... Thankfully it missed gill's and throat, so I was able to slide the hook out easily.

A few nice crappies were had.  Interesting that they are less dark now than even a few weeks back.  I wonder if that darkness was related to spawning or perhaps to the winter?  Still pretty!

Biggest bass of the day. ;)  Ha!  Ok, smallest actually.  Cracked me up though, he's about the size of many of the wild brookies I fish for!

Enjoy the weekend folks!

Thursday, May 25, 2017

More Crappies on a "test fly"

I've had a thing for "guide" flies this year.  Must just be the variety of things going on in life, because the simplicity of "guide" style flies just feels good.

One of my favorite salt water and small mouth flies is Lefty's Craft Fur Shrimp.  That super simple little fly - nothing but a craft fur tail and craft fur "dubbing loop" body with bead chain eyes - catches fish.  Man does it!

So, the other day, messing with some other flies, I thought about trying a smaller one.  Literally holding chartreuse craft fur, I figured, why not.  And the result was a #8 hook, chartreuse craft fur tail, and bushy dubbed body of the same material - over fire orange thread.  I had some nickel bead chain eyes in a pocket on my vice base, so they were used.  The result, after catching about 20 crappies in it's first swim, is the fly below :)

The fly caught a few small largemouths as well.

I did fish the slow rolla to though a little... I'm just really taken by that fly, so I fished it a little as well, and it kept it's streak of catching crappies alive.

Amazing how dark these fish are.  I dont remember that last year when I started to fish this pond... But man, many are real dark - I guess they are owning up to the technical name "Black Crappie"!

Have a super Memorial Day weekend, and, if you are a vet - thank you for your service!


Saturday, May 20, 2017

A few odds and ends

Quite the variety of things going on for our family of late.  I'm busily working on a presentation I'm doing this week for USA Cycling's Coach Education program for starters - it's going well, but I need to rehearse a bit more, and cut words so the slides just create an emotion or feeling, trigger a memory or thought.  That's the trick that feels best to me when doing or working on presentations.  I have to tell a story.  A good presentation may get an amalgamation of facts and information across to the audience, but it does so by taking on the form of a story.  Death by powerpoint is oh so true!  Nothing tougher to sit through than an hour of bullet laden slides.  They just get you reading, and you basically forget the presenter.  Which is never good - that's where the context and application comes from best.  So... I always try to view a presentation as a chance to tell a story - the slides just help make specific points stronger.  So, while I may use a slide with a table or chart now and then... often, it's zero to 3 words and a big picture.  That said, getting the story organized is easy when you are basically talking about what you do all the time!  Selecting pictures and minimizing wordage so things present well becomes tricky... And I'm fine tuning that now.

That said, I'm getting there, and still making some time to tie, and a little fishing has happened, as well as some nice bike rides.

That's a "tube jig" inspired fly I've been playing with.  I may get to mess around with it on some local bass tomorrow... Hope so, I'm liking the profile, and how light I managed to keep it - should cast pretty well.

A few weeks ago I had to run an errand one night at the local "Dicks Sporting Goods".  Kids had just gone down, so I shot over... and was amazed at this rainbow.  The pic does it no justice... If only I'd been able to get a shot that didnt include Chilli's or all the cars :).  Pretty awesome to see - it was actually a tripple, with two fainter rainbows outside the arch of this one.  

The gun club in the town I grew up in has a fun fishing derby each spring.  Last year we went and my son caught a 13" rainbow and was proud as could be... This year he got the skunk, but Emily made up for her skunking last year by landing two - one of which made it back into the water to freedom.  Normally I'm not a catch and keep kind of guy, but this affair is 100% in that context.  Fish stocked for the occasion a few days prior, and Water will be well beyond what the trout can tolerate within a few weeks leading to mass casualties of any fish that make it through the gauntlet of worms and bobbers on derby day.  The kids LOVE it though.

 Sort of hard to see, but on the way home, I took the very back roads (non maintained dirt roads) which sort of go through the woods from the club to my parents for lunch (made of Emily's brookie).  I thought this GPS pic was funny - just green, no road :)!  Ha!  Looks like I'm a real tough guy just driving through the woods ha ha ha! The land the road goes through is owned by Harvard Universities school of forestry - they own several thousand acres in town and thankfully, outside active experimentation areas, they allow fishing, hunting, hiking, skiing, biking, walking etc on their land.
Em at Mia and Grampy's with her first place trophy

Later in the day, one of the club's members stopped at my parents to drop off a trophy for Emily.  Apparently, in her age class for girls, her 12.75" brookie was the biggest fish caught - so she got a huge trophy out of the deal.  She was so excited that we drove back to my parents to pick up the trophy - you can see by the smile how proud she was.  Overall, I feel like kids get trophy's to easily now a days... But knowing as a kid I never won one at this derby, and seeing Em with one... That was pretty darn cool.  

I got one trip to a favorite brookie stream early last week... I was captain quick strike, and despite several takes, I never got a fish to hand.

Some streams choose to make fishing tough - by being small, winding through rose and blackberry bushes and covered in fallen white pines... It's great protection for the little char that live here.

Given this spot is only a couple hundred yards from a major reservoir, I'm sort of surprised no eagles or herons have tried to nest in these awesome standing dead trees...

Winter changes streams.  Winter and springs high water, pushing on last summer and fall's drought dry leaf jams changed one of my favorite spots on this stream.  This has been a big log where some water went under and most tumbled over the top - for several years.  But now, the stream has cut through the debris damn on the upstream side, and thus, it's pushing through the bottom.  Fishes very different - and while it always was good for a strike or two, no fish flashed on my fly here that day.

I really need to check the reg's here.  I'm not 100% sure if this land is huntable or not... But I need to check.  There's always some nice buck sign, and when a rub appears from last fall on a tree about 7-8" across... Well, there's a buck that could supply a lot of meat for the family living there!  This area always has nice deer sign, I really need to check into it more.  Fun to see the stream, and a lady slipper beyond the rub :)

Keep well everyone - have a super weekend!

Friday, May 5, 2017

Wild food and an old friend (stream) visited.

Turkey season has been awesome this year.  Lots of birds gobbling, and several have come to my calls, but not allowed a shot opportunity.  Finally on Wednesday I managed to call in 3 beautiful Tom's and the one in the middle offered a shot at 20yds.  I was fortunate to bring that great bird home - 22 lbs placed him at one of the larger birds I've ever shot.  The family has enjoyed it!

I generally bone out wild turkeys.  My wife has really wanted to pluck and roast one though... So I gave it a shot.  Worked out well, and yes, it was as tasty as it looks!  YUM!  Plus the turkey omelet left overs today were great too!

 Today, I was feeling pretty blue regarding the state of health care here in the US.  While I am risking a rough conversation, (I've generally tried to avoid discussion of anything remotely political here, overall, it just doesnt feel like the place) ultimately, I'm really frustrated about the bill passed by the house yesterday.  Having a family with intimate experience dealing with extreme illness, it causes me to be very frustrated, and angry.  Look, health care is expensive.  No bones about that.  However, selling low cost care with wretched coverage and claiming "problem solved" or "excellent care ahead" is brutal.  Ill restrain from getting into the details, which I've learned both via personal experience using the system and having a spouse who works in medicine... All Ill say is, listening to people promote this plan, I find myself pondering the possibility that they have the extreme fortune of having never experienced a major illness, or even an accident.  I hope they dont.  But I wish they could bring humanist thinking to this discussion and perhaps recognize that maximizing the health of a population is a hugely important and worthy expense.

Sorry, thinking about that really had me feeling frustrated, and I needed to take a few minutes to be on a stream, in the quiet, where the world is still seeming well.  So for the first time this year, I visited one of my favorite streams.  While I did an excellent job of "early releasing" so to speak, I still managed to bring a handful of brookies to hand.  Most important, despite the drought last summer, there were a great number of brookies here and most, were very solid in size and tugged hard.

Streams are in great shape.  The forests are coming to life.  Enjoy them!