Monday, December 23, 2013

Ode to Plebians and Peons

Once a year every year for the past three years I have been gifted a wonderful early Christmas gift. This is indirectly and graciously given to me by all the peasants on their holiday journeys to visit friends and family. I too am about to be on such a journey. I take plenty of trips every year, and never ever get seat upgrades. The reason is that I am just about the very bottom of the bottom of the barrel of fliers with airline status. Each year I attain just a few miles over the minimum for status and thus am among the dregs who are qualified for upgrades (but never actually get them).

But this time of year when the airport gates are packed to the brim and people are packed like sardines into the ballistic aluminum cylinders, the ratio of important people to the rabble decreases. And it decreases sufficiently for an important person like myself to achieve that much vaunted upgrade to first class.

But at this point I have to say, I really don't think first class is all that. It's certainly not worth the money. Sure you have a little more space. Sure you get free drinks. Sure you don't have to wait for the bathroom. But big deal. Of course this is coming from someone who's 5'7" and 140lbs soaking wet. I fit quite nicely into the tiny airline living spaces provided in coach. Of course it's nice to get to hobnob with the elites of society once a year and pretend that I am actually someone; when it's free.

And here I come huge aluminum cylinder filled with recycled air. Be good to me.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Personal Stimulation

I have a new ride that I'm struggling to get a handle on. Big cars are a bit unwieldy and not very responsive so I feel weird driving it. This is what it looks like:

Here's what my old car looked like:

Just kidding, it looks like an old, dirty version of this, except VR6 rather than TDI and a broken antenna:

And everyone who knows me well is instantly curious why I would now have this boat of a car. I've been planning a car purchase for quite a while now, and here I am driving around something that is the last car I would add to my list of consideration.

So why the land yacht? Well, on my drive home last night I noticed the temperature gauge in my car creeping up beyond the its position halfway up the dial.  And by the time I got home it was in the red and steam was beginning to billow out of the engine. Fortunately it at least waited until I was home to blow up on me. This morning I located the nearest autoshop, drove it over, and luckily arrived just about the time Mr Jetta was about to overheat again. 

Being unsure what the prognosis would be and thinking it might cost nearly as much as the car's worth and adding in the fact that I am planning to buy a new car very very soon, I figured I'd rent a car for today and maybe through the weekend for some shopping. A quick call to the enterprise just down the street provided me with a positive response and they drove over to pick me up... in the land yacht pictured above. 

Apparently the prolonged sub-zero temps we've been suffering through lately has put a lot of people in the situation I find myself in, and this was the only car they had left so I got it at a bargain basement price. 

I also found myself in a similar situation earlier this week. I had a plumber out to do some work that I've been putting off for quite some time. In chatting with him it turns out that they're also incredibly busy repairing all sorts of busted and frozen pipes. 

There are a ton of depressing ways to look at our current cold snap, mostly involving personal discomfort.  But apparently the tiny silver lining to this massive thunderhead of doom is a forced economic stimulus. Plenty of people are being forced to shell out extra unplanned cash for bare necessities they (I) took for granted. You're welcome economy. I'm glad to have participated in your stimulation.

Now can I get my money back through massive economic growth next year and a gargantuan raise, please? Tit for tat, you know.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Snow Day!

Blue moons are much more common in the Portland area than snow days. Yet today, we have one. Sort of. 

On my drive in to work this morning I was struck by the ridiculosity of what I was hearing on the radio. A couple of schools closed, a few more with delayed start hours, and all of Portland's school buses were on "snow routes." I know what you're thinking: it must be pretty bad here but not horrible since most schools will still be open. 

Well, you'd be wrong. It's blizzard-like out there! Just check out how bad my drive in was:

I was lucky I made it in. And yes that was just about the worst of it.

In all seriousness, I feel sorry for kids in Portland. I remember how glorious real snow days were. Waking up with a foot or more of snow on the ground with more coming down. Sitting at the kitchen table eating breakfast and eagerly awaiting the list of school closures on the radio or TV. Then rejoicing when we heard our school called or saw it scroll by on the bottom of the TV screen.

At which point we immediately donned all our winter gear and ran outside to play. Snowmen were built, driveways were voluntarily shoveled into a single pile so that a sweet fort could be constructed, sled races ensued in the back yard dangerously down the hill and through the woods. Eventually we'd get called in for lunch, which none of us really wanted and it required the enticement of marshmallows doused in hot chocolate for mom to get us to even think of listening.

Then of course we'd hurriedly scarf down our mallows and lunches and immediately put all our coats and gear back on to go back outside and finish off the day. We'd stay out again until near dark when it started getting too cold, we were wet from melting snow and sweat, and honestly were getting way too tired for the excitement to punch through any longer. Later that evening we'd all lay down in bed, but not forgetting to say our prayers, prayers for more snow and another snow day tomorrow!

I hope you're enjoying your winter!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Picture postcards

With Cuba nearly within arms reach I am a bit ashamed to say I sit beachside tonight smoking a nicuraguan cigar. But we do what we can in the states. On the flip side I'm being serenaded by what sounds like a live Sigur Ros concert happening a couple blocks away. If you don't know Sigur Ros, look them up and tell me they are not an excellent evening beachside serenade. Perfect background music to staring out onto the ocean and south beach. 

What's even better is I am seeing frequent bait ball explosions on the water surface just 10 yards from shore. I have my rod and flies in the hotel room and may have just scheduled a date with the water for tomorrow night. Hopefully whatever is chasing the fish is catchable. 

In the meantime I will continue to sit here and enjoy soaking up Miami. Thanks for the free concert. And the work-cation. 

Monday, October 7, 2013

Good, Bad, and Ugly

Fall hits everyone in different ways. To some it's a depressing season where days get shorter, temperatures get colder, rain comes back, et cetera. To others it is a season of rebirth after suffering through the heat of summer, and a siren of the coming ski season. To many it's a sad end to the best trout fishing of the year and a reminder of the hours to come sitting at the tying desk/bench. Eyes aching from becoming more near sighted and back throbbing from sitting hunched over for too long.

In my view Fall brings with it three main characteristics. Most notably, not to mention the positive side, is cooler temps. I know it's Fall once I need to put a jacket on to go outside. And I don't know why, but I love the crisp coolness of Fall. I love donning a jacket to stay warm, I love the morning dew, and most of all I love not getting hot and sweaty when not exerting myself. It resonates within me as a new beginning, a rebirth. Of course rebirth doesn't seem to fit, as trees are dropping leaves and insects and animals are withdrawing toward hibernative states, but I never claimed to be rational. Or maybe it's not really a rebirth, but more like a cleansing; like a snake molting. Regardless it makes me feel alive. 

And yes I added that fake temp gauge to my rearview because my car is too cheap/old to have one.

Fall also brings with it a shortening of days. It annoys and depresses me. There's something disturbing about coming home after a long day of work to less and less daylight day by day. And perhaps worse is when it's also dark when you leave for work in the morning. After months of the darkness we all begin to look and feel more and more like vampires. Nocturnal, color draining from our bodies that become pasty white (if not already so), and a thirst for blood developing. Well, maybe not the blood thirst but the others. It's all quite bad but I can think of worse.

But what's most disturbing and massively depressing is the coming rains. For those of you who don't live in the PacNW, I'm not talking about a refreshing day or two of rain. I'm talking about 6-8 months of insidious drizzle. It's sort of nice at first, but unless you're a reptile it certainly gets ugly fast. Then again if you're a reptile, you're ugly too.

For now though I'll focus on the crisp coolness that I find so rejuvenating and try to ignore the pending winter. When it comes, I guess I'll go skiing.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Stop It!

Fishing can become a bit of an addiction. So can online shopping. And when the two meet bad things happen. Or maybe it's good things; I'm not quite sure. For some people it manifests as a boatload of old reels they never use. For others it's dozens of unnecessary rods. For many it's a whole slew of unnecessary gadgets and trinkets. For me it's a little less bad. I have 1 reel for each rod, and each rod serves a purpose (and there are only 5 of them, not dozens). I have had the same vest for nearly 6 years. I also don't have a ton gadgetry, just the basics. Or at least what I consider to be the basics.

What I did do, though, is buy yet another fly box online last week and received it earlier this week. Why would I do this? Well, I started fishing in two newish modes this year and so I obviously needed 2 new boxes. Obviously. I got one for my birthday and that held me over for a while. Then I spent some time in CO fishing, not for trout, but for pike. They're a ton of fun and fishing for them increased my need for streamers ten-fold. I had always just kept a small tin full of loose streamers and a couple in my nymph box but I never really used them. With this new box I had a nicely set up and organized box for all my new monstrosities.

Then I started fishing for carp a lot more this year than I ever had previously. Before this year I had just reserved a row in my nymph box for carp flies, but I now have way too many for just a row. Thus yet another need for yet another box. It's beginning to look like a mental illness or obsession. So I bought a cheap fly box online and have begun to fill it up. 

I would go see help so that I could stop the spread of this disease, but I sort of like it.

Now I'd better head downstairs.  Fight club is about to begin and Tyler Durden is calling my name.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013


I was looking through some pictures of my recent trip back to Colorado and one of them struck me. Yes, I have flood pictures, but that's not what caught my attention. The pictures I was looking through were from the first weekend, before all the floods. The picture isn't anything great. It's a little out of focus, not real colorful. Then again I'm in it so there's that.

What I find myself focusing on is the river. This is my kind of water. Every angler gets to a point in their angling "career" where they realize what sort of fishing is like breathing for them. I can go catch try to catch carp, bass, pike where available, and I can usually catch trout in most any water big or small. But small pocket water I breath. I know where to position myself, I know how to make the short cast under that limb with the overhanging trees above me, and I know that there will be a fish in that dinner plate sized pocket. Oh, and I know that I'll catch it. I did not consciously study these things and I don't usually think about them on the water. I just know them.

While fishing with my dad and a friend Rich, my dad snapped this picture of me fishing. And I feel like it sort of sums up my natural fishing instincts. Unfortunately for my dad and Rich, when you don't think about the details of what you're doing, you make for a lousy teacher and your pupils don't catch a ton of fish. But I sure had a great time and just a brief week later I find myself longing for those waters. I'm afraid they may be the love of my life.

My heaven will be an infinite stretch of river, just like this, full of big trout. I will fish pocket to pocket to pocket, only stopping occasionally to look around at the canyon walls and take a quick sip from the crystal clear blackness. The river never widens and never peters out, just goes on forever carving its way through the canyon creating a million little pockets waiting to be picked. There's something big hiding in each one.

And I know I'll catch a nice fish on the next cast.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

We Can't All Be Heros

The carp on the fly movement within the fly fishing industry--is it truly a movement or is it just me?--is alluring trout anglers away because of the potential for catching big fish. In a recent carp outing I was thinking how to compare carp and trout, and I think you can basically replace pounds and inches. I would hereby like to institute a fish exchange rate. The trout to carp exchange out here in Oregon is on order of 1inch : 1.2pound, meaning the likelihood of catching a 10 inch trout is about the same as catching a 12 pound carp.

Of course that doesn't account for the total numbers of fish you are likely to catch, but that's too many things to consider at once. I can't walk and chew gum at the same time. Sorry.

So in looking through some older photos on my camera's SD I came to a dilemma. It's not a carp, but a catfish, but let's ignore that for a second. What would be the trout equivalent for this one??

I suppose it would be a trout egg at best. Or maybe the exchange is not linear and asymptotically increases infinity as the carp (catfish) size goes to zero. I don't know. I just report. You decide.

All I know is <see post title>.

PS - I wonder what other exchange rates should be instituted.  Steelhead? Salmon? Bass? Pike? etc...?

Monday, September 9, 2013

Cashing in the Rewards Card

For most of the summer I have been religiously pounding the shorelines out here in Oregon. Well, maybe "religiously" is a bit of an overstatement, but I've been out quite a few times now. I'm brand new to carping in the rivers, and pretty new to the Portland area so specific information on locations has been a bit lacking. And the frustration mounted early in the year when I was trying to find places that were fishable. It seemed like everywhere I went the waters were shoulder high at the edge of the shoreline trees, and thus pretty much unfishable without scuba gear.

After a couple outings involving more driving than fishing and a few outings of wandering some flats with very low visibility and cloudy skies, the frustration became insurmountable. So I headed out to some still waters I had fished a bit the year before, where the frustration became intolerable. Cows were everywhere and the water visibility was less than one inch. There were carp rummaging around so I could at least target casts, but once the line was cast I was totally blind. I ended up hooking and losing a couple and catching one, but it felt like more luck than skill.

Then came some travels and other commitments so that I couldn't fish for a few weeks, and thus caught no fish. Finally I had some time, plenty of time, over Labor Day weekend. I headed out to the water Sunday after completing all my chores on Saturday, and I chose to go back to one of the first spots I had checked out early in the year in much much higher water. I was greeted by a shoreline packed with salmon anglers. I guess it's that time of year again. It was a bit irksome, but they were all stacked up along a steeper section of water I wouldn't have wanted to fish anyways, so I headed downstream and it wasn't long before I was seeing fish.

The first few (or more than a few) I spooked or otherwise screwed up, then came a bit of success. I saw one cruising fish and made a cast out ahead of him and got lucky to intersect his pseudo-random path. When he reached where my flies should be he stopped and pointed his head down. I was a bit flustered since it was my first obvious eat on the Columbia, but I set the hook and we were off! And then the fish was off. I don't know what happened by he came unbuttoned just as quickly as the take.

But not to be discouraged, this was a large improvement over past outings so I continued on along the river. It wasn't long before I found more fish to spook. One group in particular didn't seem to be doing much, but one carp was hanging off the back of the pod so I figured I may as well give him a go and see if I can spook him off. So I cast out in front of him just enough for the flies to sink in front of his face. A few seconds later I saw him jerk to the left, and I immediately thought, "great, spooked him by draping my leader across him." But I know that hooksets are free so I set the hook anyways. There was something solid on the other end of the line and my next automatic thought was, "great, and I snagged the bottom. Spooked fish and lost flies." Then the fish shot out toward the center of the river and my line went with him and pulled a smile up onto my face. Finally. All those days on the river this year are beginning to pay me back, just like that pile of 18 partially stamped rewards cards in my wallet will also someday.

My drag was pretty low so I cranked it up and the fish kept on going. And going. And going. I sat there watching the line peel off my reel waiting to see the bright orange backing go shooting through the guides for the first time. Then the fish slowed, and with 2 wraps of fly line on the reel he stopped gaining ground and I was able to start reeling him back in. I never fully got to the backing, but he took a couple more runs before I was able to get him in the shallows and grab his tail (after realizing my big net is still way too small for carp).

I snapped a few pictures, one of which somehow came out completely white, one is way out of focus, one has a big water spot on it, and the only good one is just the fish by my rod, but I'll take it. I took a quick weight with an old rusty scale I found on a river bank a while back and revived him in the water and watched him swim away. Weight guesses welcome. Make sure to account for an old rusty scale.

Not much else happened that day. The fish seemed to turn off as afternoon progressed.

Friday, September 6, 2013


So I did a bit of research last night.  I had noticed that since moving to Google comments on this blog only a couple people have been leaving snide and snarky any comments.

And sure enough, I find out that in order to leave comments in this mode you have to have a Google+ profile. Since no one actually uses Google+ this is obviously a bad idea, so I unchecked that box. What was the result of that? All the past comments have disappeared.

Ugh. Oh well. At least going forward it should be (hopefully) easier and more open for everyone to comment here.

It's a bit depressing now to look at my list of posts all with 0 comments now...  :(

Monday, September 2, 2013

False Memories

The human brain is a fascinating bit of organic machinery. The amazing self-organized complexity is way beyond anything current science can replicate, but at the same time it falls way short in terms of error correction and in actually getting things right. For instance there have been recent studies with mice which have shown that by stimulating certain parts of the brain researchers can actually induce false memories, making the mice remember things that didn't happen. Yes, it sounds a bit like Clockwork Orange or some other Hollywood dystopian storyline, and in the wrong hands (NSA??) is super frightening, but still very cool.

Along these lines I have been working very hard to trick my brain into creating some false memories of carp fishing.  I took a picture a while ago and that's where it all started. Here's the picture, and my desire is to try and remember this as a fish I fished for and caught out in the wild. But I may have to break into the Chinese Gardens to assist in creating the false memory. It's either that or drill into my skull, poke in some electrodes and apply the right current while staring at the still image. I'm not sure which option would be safer. 

Maybe I should just hone my ninja skills.

BTW, it may not be clear from the picture, but that koi is tailing.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Life is Rough

Sometimes life can be difficult. It can throw you curveballs like work or home life interfering with your fishing, which can be extremely precarious situations to navigate. It can also shut you in for months at a time, giving you restless feelings of cabin fever. 

Then again sometimes life takes you to wonderful nirvanas, all expenses paid, where its surprisingly ok that you don't get to fish. Although the missed fishing opportunities do tug on the heart strings from time to time. And you find yourself planning the next work trip well in advance in order to incorporate some angling. 

My apologies for not posting for a while. I intend to be much more active in the coming weeks.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Hope and Memories

I have high hopes for this weekend. And yes I said high hopes, not high hopes for high temperatures, which it looks like we will also be experiencing out here in Portlandia. My hopes are mainly concentrated on learning something about Columbia River Carps. And hopefully that "something" involves catching a few.

Since moving out here to OR I have dabbled around with fly fishing for carp, but I haven't spent any time trying for them in rivers; only in ponds/lakes. I'm fairly convinced it's a bit different but we'll see. Plus the need to locate good places to find and catch the wary creatures puts me at significant further disadvantage. Only time can fix that one.

From my bubbling cauldron of excitement and angst wafted up memories of the video below. I thought I had posted it, but I'm not so sure that I ever did. Either way it was a year ago so I'm sure you wouldn't remember anyway. Plus it's fun and funny. I don't apologize for my lack of skill, I revel in it. The water was too muddy this day to be able to see a take, so instead I was casting out past the fish, letting the fly sink, then stripping it back to where I thought the fish's mouth was, hesitating, and slowly stripping through the assumed strike zone. It's not often a good strategy out here but occasionally it works. Enjoy:

The one thing that might be looking in my favor this weekend is the river temp. Word has it that the carps like 60 degrees. Let's hope that's true and is enough to make up for my crap skills (not carp skills), complete lack of experience, poor fish handling skills, and any other excuse I can preemptively utter.

Oh, and I should try and remember to bring my net in the off chance...

Friday, June 21, 2013

To Eat or Not to Eat

I have been cursed, or blessed depending on your perspective, with a ridiculously small stomach and a high metabolism. Result? Scrawny dude who eats often but like a bird. And being a retired endurance athlete but still very active, that leaves me needing to refuel mid-exercise in the moderately rare occasion when I'm out there exercising. Since I've picked up cycling, which involves being out there on the bike for 2-5 hours, my refueling requirements are even more dire.

Thus, I always carry some sort of energy food with me when I'm on the bike. Usually it's Clif Blocks cause they taste good and can be rationed to last. But there has been a PowerGel in my cupboard for a while and my supply of Clif Blocks is running thin, so I pulled out the gel today with the intention of finally consuming it this weekend. Here's what it looked like:

Looking at the packaging I realized it seemed a bit beat up, which was odd since it's been sitting in a cupboard. And that led me to wonder exactly how old this gel was. So I flipped it over in search of an expiration data and here's what I found:

I admit that I literally LOL'ed when I saw the date. And no, that's not 7th of Jan 2011. It is in fact Jan 11, 2007. This gel is truly 6 and a half years old. How did this happen? I guess it's because I don't really like PowerGels. And fortunately now I have an excuse not to eat this one.

Except I feel I have to open it and take a taste just out of curiosity. If this is the last post I ever write, please don't ever eat expired energy foods. In fact don't even taste them!

PS - Apologies for the non-fishing related post. They occur from time to time so you'll have to live with it.

Monday, June 17, 2013


I am often guilty of living a little too much in the moment rather than planning for the future. And this often leads to an inability to fully devote myself to anything. Since moving to Oregon I have continued to fish for trout when available, I have dabbled in salmon fishing as well as steelhead hunting, and more recently I find myself targeting more and more bottom feeding trash-fish. Thus I am no master of any of these fish, just as I am not much of a master of anything but a jack of many, whatever a jack is--see, i'm no master of the english language either. And this isn't even to mention all my non-fishing hobbies that also steal time from what's truly important.

This tendency of mine to time multiplex between many activities can be described as opportunism, disloyalty, or unfaithfulness depending on the situation. But every once in a blue moon I manage a little faithfulness and sometimes it pays off. Last week one such decision point came up and my heart and brain and soul began their usual three-way wrestling match, which I wrote about. In the end I decided to be faithful to my old home waters rather than opportunistic. At least at first.

On Friday morning I headed to my favorite spot on South Boulder Creek just outside Boulder, Colorado. The water was not high, but rather HIGH, however it was not too terribly off color. As usual up here the first bit was pretty slow but after 11am things started to heat up. I caught a couple small browns at first, and missed a few others, then came a few larger browns and finally a nice chunky 13" rainbow. That is about as big as I ever expect to catch here. In the end I had a fun time fishing my old waters in new and more challenging conditions and still managed to catch a dozen or so fish in the short time I had. Given all afternoon the standard 30+ fish day may well have occurred. At least I will tell myself so.

But the story doesn't end there. I can only be faithful and loyal for a short period before breaking out in wild and uncontrollable fits. So the next day I headed into the mountains with a couple friends with the intentions of camping and fishing some high mountain lakes. The camping worked out; the fishing not so much. I've never been much of a lake fisherman and I apparently continue to not be. We suffered through a brief 2 hours of skunking that smelled quite bad and lingered around us despite the howling and chilly winds.

After enduring sufficient pain and suffering we hiked down and aimed for a very brief attempt at some badly blown out high mountain streams. Under normal conditions these streams are all of a few feet across but currently are running heavy, fast, and very stained. It wasn't easy but we managed to pull a couple tiny fish from the tea-colored and sediment filled torrents. They weren't big fish. In fact they were the variety that have serious jumping skills and as soon as you set the hook they like to go flying back into the brush behind you. Despite the day's poor showing I suppose it was nice to have a challenge. That night we enjoyed a few melancholy beers back at camp rather than celebratory whisky and began plotting the next days ventures with optimism.

Since most of the rivers were in pretty bad shape, and simply because it's a blast, we decided to go fish for some pike. It wasn't going to happen until afternoon, which may not be ideal, but pike fishing is fun enough that it was worth a try and in the end was fun enough to have been a good idea. The two of us each brought one to hand, had a couple more on that were lost, as well as a few follows. I even got to spook a bunch of carp sunning themselves by casting to one. It was hot and smelled of sulfur and methane out there, but we couldn't have cared less cause pike fishing is a ton of fun! The only bad part is the ever-present fear of lost fingers when there's a big pike in your net.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Decision time

Right at this moment I am sitting at the Portland airport on my way to Denver for the weekend. As usual I have Friday morning allocated to fish probably on my own. The question is where exactly is going to be good?  Or maybe I should rephrase that: where exactly won't be too bad. It seems the runoff monster has reared his head just in time to gobble my weekend right up. 

My normal MO is to go hit up my old haunts on SBC, but that may not be the greatest idea. That river is top notch at 50-150 cfs. It is ok up to 250cfs, but above that I've honestly never tried. Today it's 410cfs and rising. 

And that leads me to a dilemma. Do I accept the challenge from my previous home waters and risk a potential skunking from old reliable? Or should I cheat on her with another water that's likely to be no better than a two bit hooker?

Who knows. I sure don't. I'll probably make up my mind in the morn. 

If any locals have the day off and are in possession of some inside info, shoot me a PM! I'll buy the beer.

If not I'll be sure to let you all know how amazing the chocolate milk tastes. 

Monday, May 27, 2013

The Evil Pool

Right off the bat I should apologize. This post has nothing to do about fish, and yes I chose the title to make you think it did.  Let's be honest; you wouldn't have read it if I hadn't done that.

And with that out of the way I feel free to explain how incredibly difficult snooker is. Yes, I know your first response: "what the hell is snooker???" Snooker is a variation of pool played in the UK on an enormous table with slightly smaller balls and pockets with curved entrances. Right off the bat you should realize that a much larger table with smaller balls makes this game quite a bit more difficult. And no the pockets are not proportionally larger. I had assumed the game would be certainly harder than pool, but upon seeing the table I wasn't sure how to take the rounded pocket bumpers. Are rounded bumpers easier than the normal straight and pointy bumpers of pool? Rounder seems softer and easier, doesn't it?

I wasn't sure until we started playing. But the more we played the more I became convinced that rounded bumpers were significantly harder. Every ball that was hit near a pocket but touched the bumper was rejected. Even the ones I was sure were going in, and no not just my shots; everyone's shots. I expected a good number of these shots to simply tick the bumper and drop right in.  Instead when they touched the bumper, they'd be violently slapped away from the pocket as if a miniature Dikembe Mutombo (very miniature) were filming a commercial on our table and we were the poor suckers slated to get rejected.

Finally by the end of the night I had to take a ball and roll it along the bumper to see how much deviation would be tolerated. The answer was virtually none. If the ball hits the bumper it will be rejected at least 95% of the time. Only if it just barely brushes the bumper does it still go in. And don't forget the table is 12 feet long. These rounded bumpers are to pool as a 13 foot Dikembe Mutombo would be to basketball; slapping just about any and all of your shots right out of the sky and high up into the stands, leaving you looking like a complete incompetent fool who has no business playing this game. You might even find yourself weeping in the corner.

And so after a couple hours of play, I had concluded that snooker is an evil version of pool. The game takes forever, is impossibly and unnecessarily difficult, and you even have to do math in your head! I'm not sure what's wrong with the English, but it is certainly something significant.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Sunburns and Scales

It's been an incredibly nice spell out here in the PacNW over the past week or so. And the fish are feeling it too. I spent some time on Sunday working on my tan and trying to learn a little about carp. So far I continue to be a bit confused and frustrated but at least fish still come to hand. The fish themselves seem to be going crazy in full spawn, or maybe they're just loving the turn of sunshine like I am. And I'm also now sporting a nice pinkish hue to my skin, another sign that summer is nigh!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Montana 2013

Those who read this blog regularly (all 5 of you) or those who know me personally know this is an annual trip and sort of a big deal for me and my fishing acquaintances. At some point each year we head to this river in Montana called the Bighorn river, which is an extremely productive tailwater. We do this to catch a ton of fish, drink a little beer, a bunch of whisk(e)y, and just hang out. It seems to me that it's slowly devolving into a bit more of a hang out and less of a fish-hard-outing, but I think that's the general idea in most hobbies and in the aging process. I'm OK with it. I guess.

A couple years back I did a pre-trip post to introduce my beloved readers to the contestants. This year I was not on top of things, partly because the line-up wasn't totally finalized until the night we arrived, and partly because I am getting lazier in my old age. So I am going to introduce you, post-facto, to the contestants. What are they contesting in? A number of things. Some of which they knew about, others they were oblivious to. But all those things aside for now, here are the contestants.

Tyler (dry-fly only purist who has been fishing for 1 year)
Bueno (Bighorn virgin)
Gavin (Bighorn virgin)
Cousin John
Mitch (Bighorn virgin)
Big Jon

Of the contests we all knew about, which were biggest rainbow, biggest brown, and biggest whitefish, we have winners. What did they win? Well, the biggest trout each received a bottle of Roughstock Montana whisk(e)y and a cigar (which was left in the rental car and I now have!). The biggest whitefish won the jackpot that consisted of $5 for each whitefish caught on the trip.

Mike sort of ruined the fun and won both largest trout prizes. Congrats Mike, and thanks for spoiling the fun for everyone else.

Jonathan won the largest whitefish, which was 17" and he claims to have caught twice. Unfortunately for him, I don't think anyone actually paid. Sorry. I owe you $5 and so do a few other people.

Of the contests that people didn't know about, here we go. 

Biggest partier disappointment, it's a 3-way tie between cousin John, Gavin, and Bueno. We were stunned when they were the first to head back to their cabin and turn in every night. I can only assume they were either pounding the whisky hard on the river or did so after they left us every night. Congrats either way fellas!

Most improved fisherman. This one is really hard to give out since I really only fished with the people in my boat, but I remember hearing reports of Mitch catching quite a few fish from the boat. Being as it's his first time here and how he hasn't done a ton of fly fishing in general, that makes him worthy and deserving.

Most dedicated fisherman. This one was going to go to big John because he didn't know how or when to take a break. However...and you knew there was a however coming...he took a half day off with a bunch of others to go see some silly historical sight, and that's not what a dedicated fisherman does. Instead I'm awarding this to Jonathan. We always have trouble getting him to fully commit to long trips like this and when he does it seems like he always has to come up late or leave early. He did neither this year, fished his heart out, hooked a million and even caught a few, so congrats Jonathan!

Best cook. Gavin for preparing something I certainly can't spell, and don't even recall what it was, to add to our fish tacos one night. He wins despite the neoprene waders.

Worst dressed. I place this here because it goes to Gavin, pictured above. I just can't get passed the neoprene. Of course the real blame goes to someone else in the group for donating these stylish waders.

Best boat rower.  I give this one to myself because I'm the only one who didn't row the boat over prime fishing territory while I was fishing.

Most dedicated to something other than fishing. This doesn't necessarily mean not dedicated to fishing, but Tyler win's hands down since he put in a number of 10+ mile runs in the mornings before we headed out. Then fished hard all day and walked up and down the banks nonstop searching for rising pods.

MVP. This one is sort of a no-brainer. It goes to Brady for doing all the logistics, delegating the shopping, making all reservations, sending out all emails, and basically sorting out everything so all the rest of us have to do is show up. The only hangup that made me consider re-routing this award was that the historical sight outing was his idea. Regardless, I seriously hope you got paid back in full plus a little, but it sounds like we shorted you this year. Maybe I'll help out a little next year. Then again maybe not.

Until he matches this catch, I am obligated to overuse this picture. I have no choice.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Apocalypse Later

The weathermen keep predicting an end to the nuclear-winter apocalyptic skies we enjoy in the PacNW every winter. And said weathermen keep being proved incompetent. I understand that predicting the weather can be a bit difficult, and I don't hold it against the professionals when they get something wrong when predicted five days in advance. But when you can't even get the weather right on the day of, I think you should be either hung in effigy or publicly flogged. Or maybe both.

Such was my experience on Sunday. I watched the weather all week to determine what the optimal efforts would be that weekend. And I was assured all week that Saturday was going to be partly cloudy/sunny but relatively nice, and that Sunday was going to be gangbusters nice. That prediction was revised down on Saturday to show cloudy/rainy on Saturday and partly cloudy on Sunday. The revision didn't change my plans, which were to head out carping on Sunday.

I woke up on Sunday to cloudy skies so I checked the weather hoping the clouds were to burn off soon leaving sunny skies in the late morning and afternoon. The forecast did not let me down and showed sunny skies as of 10am through 3pm with some clouds and rain coming in the evening. That will do. So I packed up my gear and headed to one of the few good spots that I have discovered in the area. The whole way there I was watching the western skies with a darkness growing in my soul. I am not generally an angry person but we all have our limits.

I arrived at a good place to park around 9:30 and started putting my gear on. It was pretty obvious to me that the sun wasn't coming out anytime soon; the cloud cover was still fairly heavy and even looked like it could spit on me a little. Sort of how I wanted to rain spittle down on the weathermen just then. But grumbling under my breath while donning my waders and boots I headed out in search of big lipped fish.

In the end the weathermen had it completely and totally wrong. The sun never even came close to poking through all day and a bit of drizzle even came down a few times that morning. On the flip side I found some mud flats that were totally chock full of carp. I'm not sure if it was a good thing in the end, but the visibility of the water was about 2 inches. That made it impossible to spot the fish, but it also shielded me from view to some extent, and with the cloudy skies keeping me from seeing into the water anyways maybe it was for the better. Fortunately for my prospects tails were poking up everywhere, and in a lot of places where tails weren't poking up I could see burbly water.

Zero visibility made it impossible to cast directly to a carp's mouth, but there were so many of them even when I guessed wrong I found myself hooking up with other fish that were apparently in the vicinity. At one point I even found myself casting to to a baitball of at least 6 feeding carp all compressed in a five foot diameter area. It looked a lot like this.

My poor skills resulted in around ten hookups (some of them snagged fish), one actual catch, and another one that took off like his tail was on fire and dragged my flyline to within a few wraps of the backing before popping off. By the time noon came around all the feeding seemed to shut down. A few fish were cruising around, but with zero visibility it was nearly impossible to make anything happen. I fished uneventfully for another hour or two before going exploring for a while. Finally I headed home around two once I became fully convinced the weathermen are total boobs and the sun wasn't going to show itself.

It was a fun outing even though the weather disappointed.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Bobbers and Poles

You have no idea what I have to deal with every year in MT. I take this trip with friends and family annually, and in 6 years it has grown from 2 people to as many as 16. The typical attendees vary in skill from avid and experienced fly anglers to the "never-tried-it", drink more than we fish type, and it's really a bi-modal distribution of those two extremes. You wouldn't be surprised to hear what I have to put up with. Below is a representative sampling.

"Hey Tim, what kind of lure should I use?"

"Could you grab my pole from the car?"

"My reel doesn't seem right."
"Yeah, you put it on backwards."

"The fish are biting here, why don't you try this spot."(me)
 (20min later)
"The fish seem to have followed you down there. Wanna switch again?" (them)

"There's something wrong with this pole, it can't seem to cast any farther than 15 feet."

"What are you doing up there on the bank?"
"I got my leader all tangled up. You want to help?"

"Crap, I missed the boat ramp."
"That's ok, just hit the next one."
"Crap, I missed that one too!"

"I'm not catching anything and I've been casting in this great looking pool for an hour!"
"Do you still have your flies?"
"Hold on....   Oh, no I don't.  I must have lost them when I hooked the river-bottom on my second cast"

"How much weight should I have on here?"
"How much do you have on?"
"What size?"
"Two split shots."
"What size of split shot?"
"Split shot."

"How long should my leader be?"
"Usually around nine feet. How long is it?"
"Looks like it's down to about three feet."
"How did you even thread that through the fly? Nevermind; you probably want to add a bunch of tippet."
"How do I do that?"

"Do you have any beer in your boat?"

"Fish on!"
"That's a nice fish. Get him over hear and I'll net him."
"Looks like a rainbow, right?"
"Yeah, sure."
(net the fish)
"Oh, it's a whitefish. You owe the pot $10! Sucker."

"Man, I've hooked at least 10 fish here and lost every single one of them!"
"Did you check your hooks?"
"Check my hooks? Why?"
"Sure sounds like something's messed up."
(reels gear in)
"God damn cheap ebay flies. Hook's broken."

"I need a new bobber, I cast mine off"

And of course:

Monday, April 8, 2013

To Huck or not to Huck

I have long been against hucking streamers while fly fishing. Why, you might ask? It's not a very good reason, but it's simply that I have always felt like I should just be using a spinner rod if I'm going to do that. It's basically the same thing, right?  For those of you who don't know, streamers are large bass-like "flies" that are cast out and reeled back bass fishing.

Well, after being heavily engrossed in the fly fishing world for about 10 years now I finally found myself hucking and chucking and loving it. With that enjoyment, though, came a bit of shame and embarassment. Not for throwing streamers, but for not having done so before!

But I should back up a bit and give you some context. This revelation was part of my recent fishing trip to the Bighorn river in Montana, which has been an annual trip for 6 years now. The Bighorn is a great tailwater chock full of fish, gets fished 24/7/365 and yet still is a pretty easy destination to catch fish even for newbies. During every visit here we have floated and fished the first 13 miles of the river, but every time we we fish the first 8 or 9 miles pretty hard and end up just floating or rowing out the last 4 miles, maybe half-heartedly fishing it. This is what I became a bit ashamed of this year. Apparently this lower section is fairly good streamer-land with deep runs and lots of cut banks with overhanging brush--great territory for meat-eating cannibalistic monster pigs. We've seen people tossing streamers here but never did so ourselves.

That all changed this year and I now find myself asking myself "why not before??" Apparently chucking streamers is a blast! Not because you catch tons of fish because you don't. But because when you do get a bite it's full of the excitement of bass fishing where a fish nails your streamer, often near the surface with ferocity beyond the fish's size. Beyond the obvious excitement of harsh bites out of nowhere streamer fishing adds in the art/skill of fly casting. It's a ton of fun to try and toss streamers to targets just a foot in diameter, sometimes with overhanging trees, grass, and bushes (not to mention not hooking yourself or your fishing partners who are all confined to the small space of a drift boat). Sure a few bugs get lost in said trees, grass, and bushes, but who cares? And when you're fishing with people who don't row boats all the time, like those in our group, you also get the chance to test your distance casting when the boat ends up 60 feet from that amazing spot on the bank you HAVE to fish.

To prove how much fun it is, this is how the trip went: first half of trip, mainly bobber nymph fish with occasional dry fly fishing when rising pods encountered. Second half of trip, no more bobber nymph fishing, only dry fly fishing, Czech nymphing, and streamer fishing a lot of the places we had tried bobber nymph fishing before as well as streamer fishing the last 4 miles every day.

And I now consider myself a pro at double hauling a 1/4oz bug on the end of a 7wt pretty much the entire length of the fly line and hitting that hole at the bank within a couple inches. It only took a handful of lost bugs too!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Who Doesn't Like a Nice Pic?

Every once in a while a picture actually turns out nicely. It feels good and is a nice token to remind me of a good week out fishing.

Yes, it was pretty cold the first couple days.

More to come soon.

Monday, March 25, 2013

How Do You Do It?

I've wondered for a while which is the better way to mount a hook in a vise. It seems most people do it like this:

 or this:

In fact every single one of the images I encountered in a Google search were some variation of the above. But I have always felt it works better this way, with the hook point slightly recessed behind the vise tip:

Why my preference for this (apparently incorrect) mode? Because this way you don't have to worry about accidentally cutting your thread with the point of the hook. The only reason I can think of to mount the other way is to maximize the available space to wrap...except you aren't actually gaining anything here. If you mount the hook in the vise so that the point of the hook is just inside the tip of the vise you still have the same available space to wrap. By sticking the hook point out of the vise you only lose the ability to be careless while thread-wrapping. Unless I am missing something.

How do you do it? And why?

P.S. - This is a bit of a ghost post (scheduled ahead of time) while I am living it up fishing in Montana. Be jealous. Be very jealous.