Friday, April 30, 2010

Whining About the Weather

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As I mentioned in my last post, I had planned to fish today but due to life's complications had to grab some time on the lake yesterday instead. The prime mover--or un-mover--in those complications is a dead truck, resulting in an entire family needing to use our one remaining vehicle. But whining about trucks is a subject for another post.
Yesterday was cold and extremely windy, and I speculated that today, when I'm stuck at home, would turn out to be a beautiful day for fishing. Well, right now it's partly cloudy and 74 degrees. And no wind.
What makes it worse is that a friend came over this morning and we put a new starter in the truck. All that time I was making plans to go to the lake after all. But the truck wouldn't start even with a new starter. So hopes rise to be dashed yet again.
And what makes it even worse is that I checked my old blog and discovered that last year on my first trip to the lake--April 28--I caught four very nice fish. Probably it was late afternoon or evening when they took a nymph suspended under an indicator, and so far, in two trips to the lake, the latest I was able to stay was 2:30.
So I feel whiny. It occurs to me that whining about the weather is a grand tradition of fishing. We whine when we're on the water and the weather is too cold, or too hot, or too windy. And we whine when we can't be on the water and the weather is perfect. It's as if the weather gods--or, worse, God--had it in for us personally.
But maybe we have a right to whine about weather sometimes, because for the vast majority of the time we revel in it. The weather is the arena of our pursuit, and we take joy in being out there in the middle of it, and we take pride in surviving and overcoming the worst it can dish out. When I debated whether the water at the lake would be too cold for a float tube this early I quickly flashed on scenes of myself up to my waist in the icy river this past winter. It was a quick decision to take the float tube, because, of course, I've been through much worse.
Some of the best experiences of my fishing life have involved scorching heat, violent thunderstorms, hail, gale force winds, extreme cold, even snow storms.
I've sheltered from thunder and lightning and wind under a canoe hastily tipped over on a wooded shore, listening to small branches clattering onto it. I've driven up over a rise into the teeth of a thunderstorm and had a wind shear rip a canoe, straps and all, off the roof, and watched it in the rearview mirror sail fifty yards into a cow pasture. (It was an old, cheap, unreliable canoe; I donated it to the cows.) I've slept in my car when the temperature outside was below zero to get a shot at steelhead water in the morning. I've sat in the rocking float tube jammed up in the shoreline willows and held my hands under my armpits to protct them from hail that churned the lake, ripped leaves off the trees, and stung my head through my hat. I've fished all night in midwestern heat and humidity that had me sweating at 3 Am, casting soft hackles by memory and releasing fish by feel in the dark. I've dumped buckets of rain water out of the canoe after fishing all day in a steady downpour, much of which went down my neck before collecting on the deck of the canoe. I've gone half nuts trying to cast to a steady bank riser on the Henry's Fork while a stiff wind blew without ceasing right in my face.
And I loved it. I might have whined at the time, but after--immediately after and for all time--I loved it. I loved it because I was there. I was in the middle of some of the earth's most spectacular weather, on purpose, while most people were holed up inside.
Not only that, it didn't stop me from fishing, and even catching fish.
One of the best things about this sport is that nobody will ever be able to put a dome over it. If someone did we'd whine about it until they took it down, or we'd blow it up ourselves. So we could get back to the important whining: about the weather.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Thursday Fishing Report: A Little Rainbow

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No sooner had I made my plans for Friday than life's complications stepped in and cancelled them. So I stole some time again today. I was still watching the clock, but I had more hours than on Tuesday.
Watch, tomorrow will be calm and beautiful. Today was windy as hell.
I had almost decided to bring the canoe today instead of the float tube. That would have been the wrong move. I continue to be impressed with the float tube in these conditions. You can go wherever you want to go without too much extra effort.
It makes for a fun ride when you're bobbing over swells like these.
I worked a variety of flies--leeches, soft hackles, and Chironimids mostly.
And I caught this pretty little rainbow, the first trout of the season.
Now the season is officially inaugurated.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Tuesday Fishing Report: A Big Rainbow

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I made it to the lake.
Got baptized into the season by rain and wind.
I was stealing time, and had to watch the clock.
So I was just getting started when I had to leave. Still, there were fish jumping, the lake was up and looking good, and it was good to immerse myself in the new season, even if briefly.
For the rest of the day the weather put on a show.
The grand finale was this big rainbow. I take it as a good omen.
So that was the big rainbow of the day. Pretty, but I'm way overdue for the other kind of Rainbow. Friday looks like the next best chance for me to get out again and make a day of it.
I can hardly wait.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Late For the Opener

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The lake I like best has been open since Saturday, but events have conspired to keep me away so far. I was all set to be on the water today until finding out from Jeremiah early this morning that he had his first baseball game this afternoon.
So I postponed the fishing, yet again, and tied a handful of flies instead. Chironimids, more or less.

In the morning I'll head up to the lake and try them out, along with the Micro Leeches I tied last week. I've decided to go ahead and take the float tube instead of the canoe. Today was calm, mild, and overcast, but dry. Seemed like perfect fishing weather. Tomorrow is to be cool and wet. Probably with a wind kicking up its heels. Maybe that will turn out to be perfect. I'll let you know.

And Now...Baseball

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Jeremiah is our baseball player this season. His first game was today. It was a loss, but it was fun. Should be a good season.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Tuesday Fishing Report: Good Bye, Funny Lake

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This was my last trip to this lake, unless I come back with the boys sometime. My favorite lake--I'm tempted to say the real lake--opens this weekend.
This place has its beautiful sights this time of year, but rising trout isn't one of them.
I have to admit, it smells better here than at my favorite lake. Those apple trees across the road are in bloom and when the breeze is right their perfume wafts across the lake. Hey, look! A muskrat!
I did catch things today. Just not trout. I had seen some mayflies drifting around, so I suspended a Pheasant Tail nymph from an indicator and let it drift. These guys really liked it.
Oh, and I caught a muskrat. (See previous two entries.)
And I got a better shot of the Red Necked Grebes.
Then I actually saw some trout working the surface out in the middle of the lake. I think they were trout.
So I paddled over and tried the nymph rig, without luck. So I stripped in, took off the indicator, clipped off the nymph and tied on an emerger and greased it to float, and was ready to cast...when a wind came out of nowhere and ruffled the surface. The trout quit rising. The wind quit. The trout didn't come back up.
Oh well. Good bye, funny lake. Hey, look! A muskrat!

I Rest My Case

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Hook Up!

Look At 'im Run!!

Disclaimer: No muskrat was harmed during the making of these photos. Depicted muskrat swam across line and entangled self on strike indicator of own free will. While hook was affixed to line, hook did not penetrate any portion of depicted muskrat. At no time did depicted muskrat leave water. A muskrat is too precious to be caught only once; practice catch and release. Professional muskrat on closed course. Do not attempt. Take only as directed; do not exceed recommended dosage. While rare, some side effects may occur. They include but are not limited to: spitting when you talk; talking when you spit; the belief that your name is Wanda, or, if your name is Wanda, that it's Earl; spontaneous wedgies; the desire to cook and eat yourself; oral flatulence; spontaneous screaming; an irrational fear of Viking hats; an erection lasting more than four hours, unless you're a woman, in which case it will last for multiple times; thoughts of thoughts; spontaneous combustion; hair loss; skin loss; limb loss; head loss; a horrible, painful death; the end of life as we know it.

Monday Fishing Report: A Modest Proposal

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Once more into the breech.
My secret weapon this time was a handful of Micro Leeches tied up the other night. If they work for Brian Chan in BC I thought they might do the trick here.
But the lake was dead. No discernible fish activity at all. But, implacable as ancient stone, I stuck with the leeches.
The only thing moving in the water were mushrats, many, many mushrats. My proposal is this: an open season on mushrats on the fly. I bet I could hook a lot with a heavy streamer and a well-placed cast.
I suppose they'd bite while you were trying to remove the hook, so catch and release would be tricky. Better to have a liberal limit, say five or ten. Then you could bless them with a priest before hauling them into the canoe.
That would be great sport while waiting for the trout to wake up. And I could make some nice fly wallets out of the pelts, something to hold my Micro Leeches in.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Friday Fishing Report: Sandhills

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I made it to the lake this morning. It's always good to see things in a new light.
It was cool and breezy when I got there, and a high overcast blew in. But it warmed up steadily until by the time I had to leave I was in shirtsleeves. Nice.
But, no fish. Very slow. I tried a new trick: a tandem rig. I used a beadhead on 4X and dropped a smaller nymph off of it on 5X. I tried chironimids, soft hackles, generic nymphs, and a caddis pupa when I saw a few hatching around Noon. I tried with an indicator and without, at various depths. I tried various retrieves including wind-drifting and the very zen-like retrieve of no retrieve. I even stripped a couple of streamers and trolled with a small beadhead Wooly Bugger. And as if that wasn't enough, I fished a "bee fly" for awhile, or a fly that resembled a honeybee, after seeing many of them on the water.
Good practice.
A troller stopped by in his big boat (do I look like someone who wants to chat?) and confirmed that the fish were off the bite. He'd tried the rigs that had gotten him his limit the last few times out and hadn't caught a thing.
The good news, though--or the Cosmic Finger--was that he was seeing bigger fish on his sonar than in years past. Through all that the birds stole the show. Canadian Geese couples were perching on these cliffs and flying off and coming back, and squabbling and fighting, all at the top of their voices.
And the Red-necked Grebes are back with what the bird book describes as their "drawn out braying calls." Really loud, but really fun. This picture doesn't do them justice; I blew it up and the resolution suffered. Wish I had a telephoto.
But the stars of the show were the Sandhill Cranes. This was my first sighting of them this Spring, and it's always an event.
First you hear their unmistakable creaking call way up high somewhere and seeming to come from everywhere at once. Then you begin to see the long trailing lines of them across the sky. First a few...
Then more and more.
If you're lucky, you'll see the lines collide and merge, and the birds begin to spiral in great dark swirls.
And the sky is filled with constellations--galaxies--of Sandhills.
So, no fish, but wonderful birds and great weather. I was content.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Spring Cranks It Up

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You're looking at 80 degrees in the valley according to our deck thermometer. In the shade.
Feels real, real good. I notice that the dogs are drowsing in the shade instead of the sun. Must be hot in their dark coats.
I've got the windows open and for the first time in months I can't detect any dog smell in the house.
So, perfect early season fishing weather, and the truck's down again. It has also been a busy week, which has meant coordinating transportation for multiple persons to multiple activities in different locations with one vehicle.
But tonight I plan to load up the van with canoe and equipment and in the morning I'll take the family to school. That means I'll have all morning and early afternoon for a trip to the lake.
Let's see if the trout are cranking it up.

Monday, April 12, 2010

More Soccer

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Things are looking good for Isaiah's soccer team. They won their second game something like 7 to 1. I lost exact count.
Isaiah did well again. Fun to see him taking to a new sport. And fun to gain a new appreciation of that sport.