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!

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Crappie Weather... and Ticks.

Hi Folks - first, a little PSA.  Every year, 1X in the spring prior to turkey hunting, and again in the fall, prior to deer hunting, I dose my camo (and some other clothes I wear fishing or walking in the woods/yard) with Sawyers insect repellent containing Permithrin.  That chemical is a nasty son of a gun.  It is, quite literally, bad juju.  How bad, it lasts up to 6 weeks or 6 wash cycles once dried on your clothes, and ticks not only are repelled by it, but if they walk on it, they will die.  

Bear in mind I'm a organic eating (that's actually why I hunt, gets no more organic than that! Also why we garden and buy local organic foods any time we can) earthy crunchy type who likes to wear birkenstocks with alpaca socks.  I'm no "bring back mass pesticide applications" kind of guy.

My wife is the same way.

But, when it comes to Ticks, we dont take chances.  Many tick illnesses are just terrible.  They are hard to diagnose, hard to treat, and can cause issues which last a life time.  

So, when it comes to ticks, I take my chances and dose my outer wear with a good spray of Permithrin.  

Is this a cure all, could a still get a tick bite while wearing the gear and have issues, of course.  But Ill use this example from a few years back as to why I feel like the odds are hugely in my favor when using the stuff.

I was lazy, and didnt spray down.  It had been cool, and I felt ticks wouldnt be about much yet.  I went out opening day of turkey season and on the drive home was constantly picking the things off me.  WOW!  I got home, sprayed my gear, and the rest of the season, hunting the same areas, I NEVER had another tick on me.  NOT ONE!

So, while it's not fool proof, I cant no suggest, strongly enough, to my outdoor loving friends..  Consider using a spray like Sawyers, which contains Permithrin, on your outer gear to drastically reduce the risk of contracting tick borne illness... Or worse, bringing ticks into your home where your kids could end up impacted by those ticks (or spouse, friends, parents, pets etc).

This pic is a few years old, but, after spraying down, you hang up and let your gear dry.  Once dry, I pack it away in it's own bag to minimize contact with other clothes.  I also wash off the chair's it's drying on :)...

Little bit of fishing.  I shot out in the rain at lunch yesterday to a local park pond that has bass, crappie, perch, sunfish, trout - briefly (it's stocked for a kids fishing derby, given it's going to be water temps over 80 by June, it's not a spot the trout survive) and I suspect some carp, but I've not actually seen one, I'm going on bubble trails which could also be the giant snappers in the pond.

I caught a bunch of crappie, on the slow rolla... I LOVE that fly - thanks Bobcat Hollow Fly Fishing and Fly Tying (blog) for putting it out there.  Crappie's love it!

People talk about trout being gorgeous fish.  I often talk about how beautiful Brookies are in particular... but I have to say, Crappies are gorgeous fish in their own right, and, they love flys!

When it warms up this year (or any time really), get out and find some Crappies.  They love flies, fight well, and are fun to catch.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017


Today started well - chasing turkeys.  I called in a Jake with 5 hens, but held off shooting him.  Until later in the season Ill try to hold off in hopes a Tom comes in.  Hope to get out again Thursday.  Pic below was on the way home.  That's a nice tom in the field with a group of hens - I pulled over and watched them for a few minutes with binoculars, this pic is my phone, looking through the binos!

I worked (good thing about turkey hunting is that you can hunt a few hours from dawn on, and still get home early) after dropping the kids off at school, and with light rain falling, decided lunch today would be a little small stream fishing vs a mountain bike ride...

Watch for this stuff.  It's poison ivy - this time of year it's hard to see but it's heavy with oil and could be a real bugger.  watch out for any vines around or on trees, or little woody plants shooting up from the forest floor with tightly wrapped leaves.  Especially near stone walls, or damp areas...

Wow!  Winter changed one of my local streams.  That log, used to be solidly into the water!  Now this pool is basically wide open... I got a few brookies (see below) at the head of the pool.  Today I only needed one fly, a bead head micro bugger - I've really grown fond of that fly on small streams!

With little wild jewels like that, I dont need to to type many words :)...

I was really pleased with the stream.  I caught, maybe a dozen over only about 40' of fishing time.  Most were quite plump and have been feeding well by the look of things.  Feels good to see they survived the drought well...

Always good to see the colors of spring along a stream!

Keep well, enjoy the outdoors!

Friday, April 21, 2017

Fun, in the sun.

I'm lucky that my wives family comes from very fishy places.  Minnesota has a ton of great water for, well, basically every fish you can think of in the fresh water's of north america.  Florida on the other hand, where my mother in law lives during the fall, winter, early spring is great in fresh and salt water categories.

This year the fishing was a little slow compared to past Aprils, but still a blast on the 8wt.  Ill get there in a minute.

We are still nervous to fly.  Not about terrorists or anything, just that part of our son's brain cancer's "side effects" was the need for a VP shunt.  these little things drain fluid from the brain, in a tube under the skin from the back/side of the head, down the neck, chest, abdomen before exiting in the belly.  They allow drainage of cerebral spinal fluid from the brains ventricles into the belly.  Some  people say flying is no issue, others have really yucky stories about how air pressure changes like those from flying created really challenging issues.  Given these things are considered one of the most frequently repaired implantable devices... and repair often involves MORE brain surgery... Well, you can see how we feel like 3 of those surgery's is enough by 5 years old.  So, we road trip to see family.  A positive of that - is that bringing fun stuff is easy - just add it to the back of the pilot and we are off :).

A good part of road trips is the scenery.  Especially going to FL, where you get to drive some amazing roads.  Pic below I snapped on the way down - of the blue ridge from Mt Airy into NC from VA.

I have to say... If I couldnt live in MA, I'd hope I got to live in western/central VA.  Sooooo Gorgeous!

About 30 years ago my inlaw's bought this condo.  It's awesome.  Right on Boca Ciega bay, you can fish 5 feet from the pool :). View from the balcony.   That said, I really like how the tidal currents corner baitfish by a retaining wall under that bridge, plus the lights on a bike path, at night, really hold predatory fish eager to eat the zillion little bait fish of various species drawn to the light..

This picture is pretty much for BrkTrt... He always posts food stuff in his blogs and makes me hungry.  That right there, is a Florida delicacy - fresh, local "grove" made, key lime pie... YUM!  You are not in Florida till you kill healthy eating habits with one of these bad boys :)

Another distinctly Florida thing... "Gr
oves".  If you are not familiar with them, it's basically what we in the north would think of as an apple orchard with a farm stand... But, down there, the apples are citrus fruits.  After getting a few bags of citrus to bring home, we all partook in a tradition for us, getting some of the places locally famous "half and half" soft serves, which are half vanilla and half orange (using juice from the local orchards, they say) flavored.  Dang these are good.  The lady even had Will go back and load his own cone - pretty cool!

Grammy took us to a big Easter brunch spread after church at a hotel about a mile from her place on St. Pete Beach.  Good food, but the best part was the Easter bunny.  The person in that suit was awesome with the kids!

No fear though... Despite some phone camera issues, I managed to fish a most evenings when the kids went to bed...  Just a few simple things were needed.  First time I played with a Kreelex fly much, they worked well and I look forward to playing with them for freshwater fish too.

This guy was my companion.  On the last few nights (Monday and Tuesday this past week), when no folks chucking bait for sheepshead or any other edible fish were around, he'd hop up on the bike path and follow me around all night.  Literally, 11PM and this Heron would be my companion under the bridge, hoping I'd toss him a fish... He got really excited with a little Jack Crevalle once, but otherwise... he was just a sort of funky companion, hanging out about 10-20 feet away all the time.

 I thought it was going to be great, when on night one, cast two, I caught this snook.  After that though, the snook fishing was tough, and only a few more came to hand.  All in the 18-24" range.  Not big, but a load of fun for sure.

 I caught a good number of lady fish.  They are "poor man's tarpon" in my mind.  They are a little thicker than a fat trout, not as deep - actually, the torso is not dissimilar from a pike or pickerel.. But the tails are very wide.  The mouth's are sort of a cross, if this makes any sense, between a trout and a shad.  They strike readily, pull hard, and jump like absolute crazy.  And when I say jump, I'm talking occasionally blowing 4 feet out of the water.  They are pretty awesome 20-30" (mostly) fish.

The odd one this trip were all the Jack's around.  I caught several a night, which is weird for April from what I've been told.  I've caught a few in the spring before, but mostly they have been fall fish - like August-November.  The other fishermen I spoke to said this winter had weird weather, and the fishing likewise had been very odd... Must be the reason.  But, Ill take it.  Catching Jack's in the 15-24" range is fun.  I've caught one on light spinning tackle, on my honey moon down there 17 years ago this fall, that was about 30", and nothing I've caught since has put up the fight that thing did.  It was in a big school, and I remember seeing them and thinking the eyes looked as big as silver dollars.  My wife hooked one and it just ran her drag and then popped the line (not spooled, just broke the line).  I managed to fight the one I hooked and land it, it took 10-15' though on 10lb test!  Jack's are super fast and powerful, with both tall, and thick bodies.  It's almost like a bluefish and a blue gill had a weird baby - they are tall top to bottom, and use that to prevent you from turning them, but they have the willingness to eat, the tenacity in the fight and over eager energy level of a big gator blue.  Jacks are awesome!  The net below is 24" across for reference, the one in it was probably about 18"-20" and took backing on his second run.  If a big school would have set up camp vs cruising inconsistently through, it would have been a blast.  Instead, they were caught randomly during this trip when I'd see a school, or, while swinging flies would rise in the current.  (Note, I dont normally use a net, but the sea wall under the bridge is, in places, 3 feet over the water, and often you are casting over a 4 foot high fence as well (used to prevent golf carts from going into the bay), so the long handled net is vital to landing the fish you hook if they have any size to them.

I caught a good number of fish this trip.  No idea how many, but slower than some years, better than others.  Nothing touches 2 years ago when I was catching snook at a rate of about 10-12 per night if you averaged it out... But overall, this was a lot of fun.

This is the view I often had.  I fish right there, under the bridge only sparingly.  If you want to catch sheep heads or snappers those pilings work great with little bits of shrimp or other bait under a bobber cast right up to the concrete.  With the kids we caught puffer fish, cat fish, snappers and some other cool stuff doing that last year.  This year, we didnt get them over... to many other fun things to do.

It's a really pretty bridge though - not the "Bridge Troll" holding variety I've experienced up here stripped bass fishing at night :) ha ha ha!  It was sort of odd seeing the retired couples come walking through at 11PM or so chatting.  Heck, Easter night, right at and after sun set a bride and groom were whisked down on golf carts to take wedding pic's.  You can see the Don Cesar hotel in the background of the shot above, and you get a sense of how "pretty" the bridge is.  It's not a spring brookie stream, or a fall forest in New England... but I have to admit, it's a pretty sight.

Ok, back to regularly scheduled programming here - IE  fresh water fishing, and hopefully more mountain biking adventures this year too - with some big life stuff done, I'm really hopeful to be able to get back to riding a lot more!

Keep well