Monday, April 28, 2014

An Upgrade Happens

For those of you with better memories than mine, this post title might awaken a few neurons harkening you back to a post I put up a few weeks ago about updating or not updating my old, dirty, cheap fishing vest. But don't worry, I didn't upgrade the vest and I will continue to rock it for as long as it remains useable.

What I did upgrade recently is the tying bench. I was running out of bins in my storage case for hooks, beads, and other small items. It held the basic necessities but it's been a very long time since I had only the bare necessities. And so there were things sort of lying everywhere, falling into cracks, dropping into other materials and just creating a mess. More than annoying enough to give me the necessary incentive to get something else and something better.

Armed with a bunch of Amazon birthday monies thanks to my two wealthy sisters I acquired a new and much larger case. Moving and labeling everything was a bit of a daunting task, so I put it off for a couple weeks, but eventually I got around to it. And now all the hooks I had stuck in little plastic baggies or still in their original packaging lying around everywhere are nicely tucked away into a labeled drawer and organized according to dry/emerger/nymph/streamer and size. It gives the Type A in me butterflies in my stomach.

But in all seriousness it is quite a treat. I now even have plenty of extra bins to expand to broader hook sizes, more beads and eyes, and other things that I don't even know about.

Now I just need to do some more tying.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Easter Eggs

Since I don't have kids I decided to go on my own Easter egg hunt on Easter sunday. That and Sauvie Island was newly opened for the year and I enjoy hiking around out there looking for feeding carps. For those not in the know, there are approximately one trillion carp in the wetlands out there, but they can still be surprisingly difficult. With the sheer numbers I would expect to be able to catch at will, but my experience is not quite so rosy. This is certainly in part due to my skill level. But the other part is undeniably the water conditions.

It seems most times I head out here the visibility is best measured in millimeters. Either that or the weed beds are solid for 30 feet out into the lakes rendering them mostly unfishable. This time out it was partly poor visibility, but also a new issue...little activity. Typically I'll see a minimum of a dozen tailing fish in a couple hours of fishing, and typically I will manage to spook eleven and a half of those. In addition a bunch of cruising fish can be expected. This time out I saw zero--read it, zero--tailers; unheard of for this place. I did see a couple of wakes from fast cruising fish and a couple of dust clouds after standing motionless in the water for 20 minutes. It's pretty hard to cast effectively at dust clouds, and even harder to know when to set the hook.

But finally I did see one fish cruising slowly near the surface, headed right for me. I threw a little flick cast to get my flies out past the fish and five feet in front of where she was heading. One quick well-timed strip to pull the flies right into the path, and she stopped dead in her tracks. I admit I expected her to spook and turn away, but instead her head went down and she disappeared for a moment. I could only assume that this was to feed on my bugs, so I waited a moment and set the hook. To my surprise my flies didn't come right up out of the water, but locked solidly onto the fish's mouth!

On the downside, she was tired or cold cause she pretty much just rolled right over and came in. Fairly small, even for this place, but with a belly about to explode with eggs. Very appropriate for Easter. A quick photo and back she went to contribute to the next generation.

And that was the last fish I saw other than the crazies jumping up out of the water on occasion. It was nice to get a bit of carp slime on my hands for the first time this year. Hopefully much more to come!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Of Moments to Come

It is still way too far away to get pumped, but I cannot help myself. With my last planned fishing trip now completed, the fabled annual Montana outing is what I have left to look forward to in the near future! And it's not that near unfortunately.

This happens every year. Usually by talk beginning amongst the inner circle of the trip schedule, of lodging, and of things to nail down, all done way earlier than we need to. Except lodging which is usually done a little later than we should. When this talk begins I often find myself going back through the photo logs of past trips, which are getting pretty deep now. I'm not one to reminisce, but this is one of the few things I do reminisce on annually.

What is most exciting about this year's outing is that it will be at least a little new. In years past we made the trip either in March or in May; this year it's mid-July, which presents new bugs, new conditions, and who knows how much water. What I most look forward to this year is not encountering 35-45 degrees and overcast like we've had the past few trips. The first few trips were 70's and sunny every day and it was unbelievably nice except for the sunburns. These pictures will give you a good idea of the contrast:

But cold or hot it's always a great time. Campfire coffee made from river water in the morning, breakfast burritos for sustenance, then off to fish fish fish all day long from boat and bank. The river's not really one for the advanced angler; it's chock full of big wild and fairly dumb trout. As long as you can get your bugs near one of the 10,000 fish per mile, which aren't too tough to find, you will catch fish. But it's great for a big group of mixed abilities. The intermediate anglers can bring their family and friends who may have never fly fished before and help them catch fish, while looking like experts themselves.

Most of the fishing is dredging the bottom with nymphs; at least that's the most productive way to catch. Of course there are often some hatches at certain times of the day that lend themselves to the dry fly enthusiast. There's even some trash fish in a few certain locales to sidetrack you after you've been slaying trout for 4 days straight.

And then there's evening meals around the campfire, with good beer, good whisky, good (or not) cigars, and good (or not) people. The only downside of the trip is that it does have to come to an end, but after 4-8 days of fishing, it's usually ok.

It's not surprising that I (and others) look forward to this trip so much. I look forward to the next 3 months of waiting. It should be fun.

But I hope to catch a bunch of big carp in the meantime!!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

To Update or Not To Update

That may not be THE question, but it can be A question sometimes. It's been on my mind for a long time now. I'm not talking weeks or months; I'm talking years.

What is it that I should maybe update? My fishing vest. I've had the same vest for something like seven years now. It is an amazing hand-sewn work of art with wonderfully well put-together pockets and storage spaces, and is made of the finest and most durable materials known to man. No, I'm joking. It's a $35 special from Bass Pro or some other big box store; I can't remember exactly where.

I am fully aware that the cool kids no longer wear vests, but that's not why it's been on my mind. I'm sometimes a bit counter-cultural and shun fads until they are no longer cool. Hence why I have not moved away from the vest to the chest pack. The other reason I haven't updated is because I have a system: I know exactly where in my vest each and every item I require is located. But I can't help occasionally wondering if I should get a new one since what I've got is so old and cheap.

Newer vests have nicer pockets, waterproof sections, zippers that aren't broken, velcro that still works, and padded neck areas to avoid rubbing your neck raw. This vest, however, has character. It's got seven years of fish goo, sunscreen, dirt, and other nefarious chemical elements soaked into its every nook and cranny. It may have been a piece of garbage when I bought it, but it has become a work of art over time.

So of course I won't be updating this multi-faceted tool. I will continue to rock this eyesore until something structural irreparably breaks. My apologies to those I meet on the river and even more so to those who get stuck fishing with me. But it's all about enjoying the time on the water, catching some fish, and drinking some beers; it's not about looking good. Luckily for me...