Monday, September 24, 2012

Why do I do this to myself?

I can't seem to help myself. Wherever and whenever I am, there are always select rivers or other bodies of waters that I can't keep out of my mind. Often times there is no real conscious rational for my compulsive desires. Something gets in my head and there is simply no saying no. Sorta like a drug addict I suppose.

Last weekend it got into my head that a trip out to the Molalla river would be fun. This is a river that I enjoy cause it's a little less popular than most of the nearby rivers, but it's less popular for a reason. There are some small fish in the river, and certainly some salmon and steelhead enter the water. But not very many. There's no hatchery program (at least I don't think so) so it's all wild, and the wild fish aren't too numerous.

A main reason I do like this river is the numerous deep abysses which I can only assume hold some real monsters. I spent an hour or two working one last Sunday to no avail.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Contest Winner

In case everyone has already forgotten, I was running a little contest to see who could guess how good of an angler I am. Whoever could guess closest to the number of fish I would catch on my most recent trip would get a couple dozen lovely hand-tied flies.

The guesses came in from a purposely low 25 to a flattering 111. I appreciate the high guess and I heap scorn on all you who guessed low. The final tally came in at exactly 70 and higher than all but one guess. Perhaps next time I will implement inverse price is right rules to elevate the guesses.

The big winner is Mark Kautz over at Northern California Trout. Congratulate him and go check out his blog. The flies will be in the mail to you eventually, Mark.

And now I'll end this post with the immortal words of Bart Scott: "to all the non-believers...especially you Tom Jackson!" Better luck next time.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Log of a Lone Angler

11:17 pm - Arrive at Two Pan trailhead, set up tent, and get to sleep.

8:55 am - Packed up camp, put gear on back, start walking.  11 miles to go.
11:31 - Reach Minam Lake and mountain pass and realize my legs are getting pretty tired.  Only ~4-5 miles to go...
12:17 pm - Too tired to continue. Must stop for rest. While stopped, might as well rig up and toss some bugs into the tiny stream. Flow is probably around 5cfs here and stream is 4 feet wide.
12:21 - After two casts, catch first fish of trip.  Small but colorful brookie!
1:31 - Hiked down to another spot that looks worth fishing. Gave it a go, but no luck. River level seems kinda low.
3:04 - Now about 11 miles from the trailhead, find a good spot to camp. Drop gear, put on waders, and walk a mile downstream to fish my way back up.
3:20 - Started out at a place I remember from last year, and my suspicion of low flows is confirmed.  I remember the water here being quite a bit higher and faster flowing. Got skunked in this hole from which I caught a 18" bull last year.  :(
5:31 - Fished a ton of good water, but managed fewer success stories than hoped for. Only 5 total fish for the first afternoon/evening.
5:40 - Back at camp get a fire going, set up tent, eat some food, rest for a bit.  Feeling really tired.
7:13 - Starting to get dark and really want to get to sleep early. Legs are mad at me. Head to tent for sleep.
8:42 - Nervously wake up thinking I hear something in camp. It's nothing.
9:56 - Wake up thinking I hear something in camp. It's nothing, but heartbeat is fast regardless.
10:23 - Wake up thinking I hear something in camp. Seems to be nothing. Remain wide-eyed.

Today's fish count: 5
Cumulative count: 5

3:51 am - Wake up thinking I hear something in camp. It's nothing.
5:23 - Wake up worried there is something outside the tent even though I didn't hear anything.
7:16 - Finally get out of bed, make some pine needle tea, eat an energy bar, surprised that legs feel pretty good today. Ready for more hiking.
8:03 - Put on waders/boots/vest, grab rod. Set watch timer for 1hr 20min, and start hiking downstream.
9:23 - Watch timer goes off and I head for the river.
9:27 - Get to river and it's a little wider here, but I just passed a big tributary about 50 yards upstream. Decide to go a little farther downstream before starting so I can fish a slightly larger river longer. Flow here is around 40 cfs.
9:29 - Get first bites that are coming at a rate of about 3 per cast. Fish are 1 or 2 inches long and largely unable to take fly. Yes, pun intended.
9:56 - Get first bite by fish big enough to take fly. First catch is a small rainbow.
1:22 pm - Have worked my way up to a low gradient section of water. River is very meandering and banks are largely sandy. Lots of elk/deer track here. Also see first set of bear tracks.
1:26 - See another set of bear tracks.
1:31 - Another set of fresh bear tracks, this time with a set of cub tracks too.  Feeling a little bit on edge. Continue catching fish anyway, all rainbows.
2:02 - Get freaked out by big splash behind me. Whirl around to confront the bear that is charging at me, but see a big fish beached in the shallows. First thoughts are: Salmon! Then get a better look as it swims back to the deeper water. It's a 20" bull trout. As it lurks it's way back to the deep pool under a bunch of deadwood I can't help but think about sharks and actually get slightly afraid a 20" fish is going to come attack me. I think it was the black, unblinking eye and the way it effortlessly lurked away.
2:18 - See about the 8th set of bear tracks.
2:36 - See a set of mountain lion tracks on the shore. Find myself watching the banks and looking into the forest quite a bit now. But still catching fish and still all rainbows.
3:49 - Beginning to get feeling of Deja Vu.  May be back into the water where I started last evening.
4:10 - Pretty sure I'm into the water I fished last night. Ok, have fished all water withing 5 miles downstream of camp. Don't want to re-fish water so have a couple options for tomorrow. Can move camp downstream, but with all the bear/lion (no tigers thankfully) tracks not all that attractive. Can hike 7 miles downstream tomorrow to start fishing, butwith fairly tired legs also not that appealing. Can hike up to the lakes to fish those tomorrow, then fish the Lostine river down toward the trailhead on Monday. Obvious winner is option three.
4:36 - Get back to camp
5:09 - Pack up, gear on back again, start hiking 4 miles back to the lakes.
6:48 - Reach lake and find a place to camp at the edge of a meadow. Saw a doe on my way there who didn't seem too bothered by my presence.
7:17 - Tent set up, fire going, get some food ready and start cooking the one fish I kept today, a nice 8" rainbow.
7:51 - Get into the tent for sleep, which finds me quickly.
8:38 - Wake up thinking I hear something in camp. It's something this time. Snorting, feet scuffing around. Sounds like hoof-falls, or at least that's what I tell myself. Unzip sleeping bag loudly in hopes of scaring it away. That seems to work, hear nothing else.
9:15 - Wake up thinking I hear something in camp. It's nothing. Getting less freaked on these occurrences.
10:00 - Wake up thinking I hear something in camp. It's nothing.

Today's fish count: 30
Cumulative count: 35

3:51 am - Wake up thinking I hear something in camp. It's something again. Pretty sure it's a deer but a little freaked out anyways.
4:12 - Wake up with something in camp scratching at tent. It rips through tent and is a huge bear with blood-soaked teeth. I remain frozen, unable to do anything.
4:13 - Wake up and realize that was just a dream. A bit nervous anyway.
6:40 - Not tired anymore so get up despite being cold and seeing frost everywhere. Start cooking water for pine needle tea and watch the sun line race down the mountainside to greet me. I chose the correct side of the lake to camp on. Will be basking in warmth soon.
6:50 - Go for a walk along the lake's shore to keep warm.
7:41 - Enjoy the warming touch of the morning's first rays of sunshine.
8:35 - Pack up gear to hike up to Blue lake.
9:17 - Get to lake. It's nice and calm. Will head to far side of lake since I didn't check this side out last time I was here.
9:33 - On far side of lake immediately see a couple cruising fish. Quickly put the pack down and get the rod ready. Fly lands behind fish with a bit of a splash, but he turns around and instantly darts for the fly and eats it. First fish of the day on cast 1 !
10:44 - Have caught a few fish, ventured around a bit, but things seem to be slowing down. Switch to a nymph rig with a bright yellow bobber indicator. First cast into a super deep pool below an outcropping rock, and a nice fish comes up from the depths and eats the indicator. He then proceeds to swim all the way back down with it in his mouth before finally letting go near the bottom.
10:45 - Brain finishes processing what happened, and hatches plan to tie the largest hopper pattern I have onto my dry fly rig.
10:47 - Huck huge hopper pattern into pool, fish swims up from below and eats! This trick works a couple times in a couple different spots.
11:28 - Beginning to get windy and not seeing fish.
3:30 pm - After not seeing a single fish for the past 4 hours despite walking all the way around the lake, fishing here and fishing there with a bunch of dries and nymphs, I finally call it a day and head down to Minam lake to see if anything is doing there.
4:03 - Nothing happening at Minam Lake either. Will walk around with rod in hand anyways for a while with hope intact.
6:44 - Finally decide no action is going to happen tonight. Have watched a group of people fish for the past two hours and only one catch on what looks to be a streamer. I don't really like streamer fishing. Decide to start a fire and eat.
6:53 - Notice a rise out in the lake which has gotten pretty still.
7:09 - Definitely some action going on out on the lake now. Evening midge hatch must be happening.  I grab my rod and head down there, but despite my best efforts I can barely make it out to where the fish are. This side of the lake is shallow and I have to cast my measly 4wt out 30 or 40 yards to get to the fish. My skills are insufficient, so I head back to the campfire to warm up.
7:53 - Finally exhaust my pile of firewood. Douse fire with stock of water I was smart enough to prepare while it was still light out. Head for bed.
9:03 - Wake up to something coming into camp again. Pretty sure that sounds like steps of a hoofed animal. At least I hope so. Bear spray and knife at the ready just in case.
10:45 - Wake up but no longer concerned with the possibilities of animals in camp.

Today's fish count: 11
Cumulative count: 46

3:57 am - Wake up thinking I hear something in camp. It's something again. Since this has already happened a few times I'm less freaked out. Stealthily unzip bag and tent and peek out. Can hear what sounds like antlers rubbing on tree out in the hillside a hundred yards from camp, but can't see it.
5:33 - Wake up wondering if it's time to get up yet. Not all that sleepy and light is beginning to creep in.
7:01 - Get out of tent, prep pine needle tea and eat oatey-meal.
7:49 - Pack up gear and put on back and start hiking out. Plan is to fish here and there on my way down to the trailhead, get there by early afternoon, and fish from there upstream until I need to call it quits.
8:22 - Come to a cool meadowy part of the Lostine river headwaters.  Flow is low, but bends of river are fairly deep and can see fish. Glassy nature of water makes most places very difficult, pick up a couple fish nonetheless. This is a cool spot.
8:35 - Massive failure of an attempt to jump the river. Came up about a foot and a half short (river's only 4 feet wide here). Not sure how that happened. Right leg and shoe now soaked. Wish someone had been walking by on the trail just then. Would have been hilarious for them to see.
8:40 - Accidentally step in a marshy area while fishing here.  Now left shoe also soaked.
8:57 - Call this area good. Only caught a couple, but it was fun to try and be stealthy. It was less fun to fall in the river and get wet.
9:18 - Find another cool spot to fish. Higher gradient section here with some good but very small pocket water. Nab a pair of brookies.
9:54 - Stop at a river crossing and figure might as well fish it a bit. Get one particularly dumb fish to come up and chase a skating stimulator. Get shown the door on all the other spots I try here.
10:36 - River gradient picks up to extreme and trail diverts away from river for a couple miles. I like pocket water so I go off trail and follow the steep river bank. Fish a number of spots with a little luck. Really cool place to go off trail and feel totally isolated.
1:09 pm - Reach the trailhead. Dump pack in car, put on waders/boots/vest, head to stream.
1:38 - After a bunch of what looked like great pockets and seams, and a trip back to the car to get a long sleeve since it's cold down here on the water, catch my first fish since gearing up. Small 6 inch brookie. Am very surprised not to have caught a dozen by now since the water looks so productive. Skills must be insufficient.
1:39 - Continue fishing my way upstream. Catch a few here and a few there, all brookies.
3:51 - Starting to get into higher gradients again. Makes for more hiking up and around cliffs, but for some good pools, but the pools seem to be kicking my butt.
4:22 - Lots of debris in water, not to mention overhanging trees/brush. It's a miracle I haven't lost any flies yet today. Decide to push my luck and fish in and around some deadfall. Feel proud to fish it without losing any flies, but don't catch any fish either.
5:26 - Get to a really big pool that I know holds fish and fish the hell out of it with absolutely no luck. Then get two fish chasing my fly as it goes under and I drag it in for a recast. This gives my rut-filled brain an idea. Cut off that fly and tie on a streamer....ugh. Cast streamer in, strip, strip, strip, get a follow, then a take. Decent 8" brookie.
5:45 - Nabbed a few fish from that pool, but time to move on.
6:16 - Make the decision to call it a day and a trip. Could have called it earlier, gone and set up camp, eaten some food, slept, and fished a couple hours in the morn before heading back, but instead fished an extra hour or so tonight and will drive back late and enjoy a nice safe sleep at home.
6:48 - Change out of wet and still leaky waders to sandals, hop in car, and start long drive home.

Today's fish count: 24
Cumulative count: 70 exactly

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Aquaseal product review

This isn't really a product review, but a random observation. And a ghost post while I'm out in the bush fishing.

It all started last weekend when I decided to finally patch up my three-year old waders. The left boot has leaked for nearly a year now, despite a number of attempts to seal it up. The right leg leaks just above the knee, and both legs leak fairly heavily up in the top part of the leg. Fortunately for me I prefer to fish smaller waters and rarely go in up to the knees, so I usually just go home with a wet left foot.

I located some leaks, cut some patches, applied Aquaseal, and set it aside to dry. But somewhere along the lines I got some of the goo on my knee, not to mention all over my hands. I didn't notice it on my knee until later when it had mostly dried, but I got most of it off my hands right away. No big deal though. I figured it would wash off. I figured wrong.

Here is what it looked like a week later:

And yes I do bathe, at least most days. Every day I tried using soap to get the stuff off but to no avail. I did finally manage to get most of it off, but it required picking with fingernails once it finally began peeling a little at the edges. And it's still not totally gone.

What do I gather from the experience? This stuff is sticky, and despite my persistently leaky waders I'm sure it works wonders when used correctly on waders that aren't way past their useful lifespan.