Wednesday, April 15, 2015

"The Kinglet" by Floyd Dalton Raze (1911)

Franco Testa

The golden-crowned kinglet that all summer long
Has brightened the wood with his presence and song,
Oh, where has he gone that I see him no more
On the bough of the pine where I saw him of yore?

His wee, tiny nest hangs aloft in the tree,
All empty and cheerless and lone as can be,
Where erst in the cool summer breezes it swung
A hammock and home for his clamorous young.

Now loud through the fir boughs the autumn winds blow
Where soon will be gathered the cold winter snow,
Aloft in the birch is the call of the jay
But never a kinglet to greet me to-day.

He has left the old home with a solemn "good bye"
For a spot that he loves 'neath the far southern sky,
Yet I know as he murmurs his "tsee, tee, tee, tee,"
He'll sometime be thinking of summer and me.

"The Kinglet" by Floyd Dalton Raze, from The Home of the Wild Rose and Other Poems, 1911.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Early Lake Report: April Bait-and-Switch

On a recent day the weather was sunny and pushing 70 degrees by noon. It was an obvious decision to hit the lake when I could get away. By the time I could get away, though, late in the afternoon, we had experienced an April Bait-and Switch: clouds had rolled in, the wind had picked up, rain showers were raking over the hills, and the temperature had dropped 20 degrees.

I went anyway, and took my chances. I layered up and went out to say Hi to the geese high on their perches.

The fish were still down and a little too picky for stockers. I pulled up a few on trolled buggers and nymphs. They all looked a little like this. Not as inspiring as I could wish.

The weather decided to pull another bait-and-switch. The sun broke through briefly, the wind dropped a little--and caddis began popping all over this end of the lake.

It was one of the bigger hatches I've seen around here, ever, so I was hopeful that it might provoke a predatory response in the fish. It might have, but it wasn't on top. So I clipped off the caddis dry I had tied on in my misplaced optimism, and replaced it with a caddis nymph. I resumed trolling and was rewarded with the best fish yet out of these waters this Spring. I had to wonder if it was a holdover.

The sun kept peeking out of the scudding clouds, and I was almost ready to take my jacket off. Not really; this is April we're talking about. The wind had picked up again and the temperature continued to slide.

I stuck it out and stuck a few more fish, though of the uninspiring type again. Still, there is something entertaining about going through your fly boxes and pulling out the least likely flies and throwing them out there just to see what will happen.

After awhile even that gets old, so when the sun dipped out of the clouds and slid behind the mountains I packed it in.

As I kicked toward shore I saw the Loon again. This time it was with its mate. That's good to see. Loons are endangered here. I tried to send them a telepathic invitation to join me at Trout Lake. It won't be long now. Just 13 more days.... 

"Trout" by Kathryn Starbuck

"Eight Trout" by Kendahl Jan Jubb

I do my best
to keep pointlessness
at bay. But here,
wet above my
knees, I let it fly.
Here, hot and cold,
fingers thick with
thinking, I try to
tie the fly and look
for the net, loosening
the philosophical   
knot of why I came
here today, not yet
knowing whether
I’ll free or fry
the rainbows
and browns once
they’re mine.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

America's Most Endangered Rivers 2015


American Rivers has just released their report on the ten rivers facing the most urgent threats. 

Click HERE to visit their website to learn more about each river, what is being done to save them, and how all of us can be a part of the solution.

Early Lake Report: Paying Your Dues

It was another March-like afternoon, but without the whipping wind. I was ready to offer the dry fly option to the stockers still getting accustomed to their new home.

I had tied up a pretty little stimulator, and within two minutes of launch I had a fish on the line. I was drifting the fly behind the tube and the fish hit the fly and missed, then followed and sucked it in deep, making sure it wouldn't get away again. I had to use the forceps to get it out.

I released the first fish, flipped the fly out on the water, and began untangling fly line still stiff and coiled from the cold. While I was busy with that, another fish came along and inhaled the fly. Back to the forceps. I tried to be careful, but by the time I had removed the fly a second time it was in bad shape. But it had done its job well.

I went to a muddler and caught a few fish on a lazy drift behind the float tube.

Then the wind came up and the fish went down.

I was pretty sure the wind was here to stay, but after awhile it backed off.

And some fish came back up.

I wasn't the only one fishing, but I was happy to share the water with these experts: a loon, and an osprey.

The osprey tried to call me off as I neared his perch, but I had to pass right under it to reach the shore where I planned to take a break.

This shoreline is across from the road and is a little oasis of wildness on this built-up lake.

There is a grove of trees and then the steep, almost cliff-like ridge face. It would be a hard climb up and down for me, but I have found deer and bighorn sheep in these woods. They had no trouble getting up the ridge when they heard me coming.

I took my break then explored a little. I have found bones and feathers here, and even fishing lures hanging from shoreline branches. This time I found a single downy feather blooming on a branch like a spring blossom.

I launched into a calming lake.

This was what I was hoping for. In the chilly calm midges, a few caddisflies, and other assorted bugs were hatching. They swarmed around me. Would the fish get together for an evening rise?

I cast out a little elk hair caddis and kept an eye on it as best I could.

I was distracted, though, by the swallows. They flew up and down the lake making the most of the heavy hatch. I love these birds.

A few fish rose randomly, giving me hope, and I worked the little caddis as enticingly as I could. An evening rise, however, did not materialize. It will come as days get warmer, but for now I switched to a fat nymph and trolled it slowly toward the take out. Before I got there one more little trout was on the line.

I released it and kicked in to shore. I had been in the water for almost five hours. My feet were a little numb, and I was shivering as the temperature dropped toward a low in the thirties.

I'm eager for warm weather fishing, but I have to admit, there's something appealing about being out there in these early days of the season. At the least, it feels real good when you finally quit and get inside to warm up. At the most, it feels like you're paying your dues and renewing your commitment to the lakes and streams that sustain you all year long.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

"Spring Thunder" by Mark Van Doren

Listen. The wind is still,
And far away in the night--
See! The uplands fill
With a running light.

Open the doors. It is warm;
And where the sky was clear--
Look! The head of a storm
That marches here!

Come under the trembling hedge--
Fast, although you fumble.
There! Did you hear the edge
of winter crumble?

Early Lake Report: The Urge To Catch a Trout

March felt like April, so it shouldn't surprise us that April has come in like March. I took the float tube out for the first time this year on a chilly, very windy afternoon last Friday.

This is a local lake that opens on April 1st. It provides a good place to get back into good floating form by the last Saturday in April when Trout Lake and all the other local waters open up.

It offers fresh little stockers who are easy, but not pushovers.

On this blustery day they were laying low, but could be enticed to hit a stripped or trolled bead head woolly bugger.

The real attraction of the day was the hundreds and hundreds of violet-green swallows flitting, darting, and swooping everywhere. There is no color like that iridescent violet-green when they turn glinting in the light--something I have not yet been able to capture with my point-and-shoot camera.

There was high overcast when I arrived at the lake, and within a couple of hours it was thickening, and rain showers could be seen ranging over the land. The wind was still blowing hard, the temperature was dropping, and I was getting cold. The swallows would go on until dark, but this time I was ready to call it a day.

So I caught one more fish and kicked for shore.

It took me 20 minutes to get home instead of the two hours it took from Rocky Ford. And the nice thing is it will only take me 20 minutes to get back the next time I get the urge to catch a trout.