Sunday, May 27, 2007

One Fine Day

Monday, May 21, 2007

Fishing as a Spectator Sport

Work has been wreaking havoc on my fishing schedule lately, but I was able to have a nice outing with Dave W this past Monday. This was Dave's first outing of the season on the UC; however, he picked up right where he let off last year - and that was catching fish.

With 8 cars already at our access point, we decided to go in exploration of some uncharted waters for fish that had yet to see a fly this season. We found a spot that was made in fishing heaven. Dave displayed his mastery of deep nymphing and had success almost immediately. I managed to entice a very sizeable fish to take my #16 offering, but lost the battle when it decided to take a surprising run downstream. After shouting out a few choice words, I assumed the position of photographer, cheerleader and spectator as Dave continued to catch fish. One was a domestic Rainbow with a big heart and beautiful colours.

On Friday, when I was at home recovering from a hellacious work trip, Dave decided to revisit this same area. Within 15 minutes of arriving streamside, he found himself battling 18 inches of mad Brown - one of the most beautiful specimens I have ever seen and an absolute trophy for the UC.

Although fishing can be a great spectator sport, its novelty dies off very quickly, and I'm hoping to become an active participant soon.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

'So Many Fish, So Little Time" - A Book Review

With severe thunderstorm warnings, gun-metal grey skies, and upwards of 30 mm of rain expected today, what better time to get reaquainted with the comforts of the indoors with a book about the outdoors?

I was recently given the opportunity to review a book by Mark D. Williams entitled, "So Many Fish, So Little Time - 1,001 of the World's Greatest Backcountry Honeyholes, Trout Rivers, Blue Ribbon Waters, Bass Lakes, and Saltwater Hot Spots". Mark is an avid angler and author of books such as, "Trout Fishing Sourcebook" and "Nuts and Bolts Guide for the Backpacking Flyfisher" - Hmm, it seems he has an affinity for trout. I like him already.

As the title states, the book is a worldwide compendium of water systems and the fish that they hold . It's organized by region and covers water from the urban fishing destinations like the 59th Street Pond in Central Park for bass to remote getaways like the Aberdares in Kenya for wild stream trout. Each body of water is given a brief description, and lists the species that inhabit it. It is then followed by a list of resources such as charters, guides, accommodations and angling shops that cater to the area.

As you may have guessed, there are a few more than 1001 bodies of water in the world so it was no doubt a daunting task to narrow down the list. Although the book includes a good number noteworthy locales in Canada, Mexico, the Carribean, Central/South America, Europe, Africa and the South Pacific, the majority of the destinations reside in the United States. It isn't until page 572 (out of 860) that you cross the U.S border and enter the rest of the world.

Mark explains, "When I put this book together, I had to figure out which fisheries I was going to include. A river or lake that's in close proximity to your house has a lot of value - you can get there more frequently, and that combined with good (not great fishing) can make a river/lake/inshore/offshore spot a superb fishing experience".

In his narrative writing style, he goes on to say, "I was determined to write a book of fishing dreams. A book of dreams, a wish list of all the best places in the world to fish. This is a sit-on-the-pot type of book" - I would have to agree with Mark on that one. Some of the my best dreams and ideas began on the pot.

My wife once agreed that wherever we vacation, I can dedicate one day to fishing; she has probably already forgotten ever mentioning this, but it's the first thing that comes to my mind when picking that next destination. To this end, I'll be adding this book to my list of tools.

Now I know that the next time I'm in LA, I can drop my wife off at Rodeo Drive and find myself on Piru Creek fishing for wild trout within an hour - cool.

I'll worry about the visa bill later.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Another for My Fly Hall of Fame

As it turns out, I don't think my Hendrickson dry fly will be finding itself in a tree (if I can help it). In fact, I'm tempted to place it in a glass case and keep it as a prototype.

I made my way up to the UC this afternoon hoping to catch the Hendrickson hatch. The hatch seems to be occurring between 5:30-6:30 as of late. Today I arrived streamside right at 6 expecting to be engulfed in a cloud of these fabled mayflies. I envisioned trout rising recklessly to feast on the buffet coming down the conveyor belt. Yet, just when I thought I had these little fellas figured out, I arrived to find just a single mayfly fluttering overhead - it appeared to be amused by my look of perplexity. Not a fish would touch the surface.

I sometimes forget that there are no guarantees in fishing.

As any great fisherman would have done, I uttered a few profanities and sat on the bank and sulked for a moment. But the babble of the gentle flow, the song of the red-winged blackbird, and the beauty of this magnificent river quickly brought me solace. I sprung up and tied on a #12 Prince Nymph, and began to work a nice looking seam. After a few bumps and misses, I managed to keep one on.
With 4 cars already at the access point before my arrival, I decided to quickly make my way further downstream in the hopes of finding some less pressured water. As I made my way down, I noticed the lone mayfly that had earlier been mocking me was in the company of friends. I continued downstream, and they became more prolific. They made their presence known as they bounced off my face and neck. One found his way behind my sunglasses and frantically fluttered about my eyeball as he tried to find his way out - I simultaneously lost my balance in the shin deep water and came close to performing a swan dive in the flow ahead. It was now 7:30 and the hatch was underway - better late than not at all. I picked up the pace toward my destination - Pat's Pool. Upon arrival, I was welcomed with a nice sized splash at the tail out (at the far reaching end, of course), and it was time to tie on my Hendrickson dry. As anyone (well just me) who knows this pool will tell you, it is not an easy pool to drift a dry fly for more than a couple feet without drag. It is adorned with multiple seams, varying depths and speeds. I slipped into the water just downstream of the tail out, and positioned myself for maximum stealthiness. Knowing that I only had one chance and with more false casts than was probably called for, I shot the line out upstream of the last rise. I could not see my fly from the glare set by the tired sun as it approached the horizon and I watched the surface intently for any disturbance. The fish rose, and I instinctively rose my rod - just in case. I immediately felt a heavy weight on the other end and the head shakes began. Quickly, I gathered the line onto the reel to justify the cost of the disc drag. The reel sung as the fish shot across the pool (yes, it was worth every penny). After another run downstream, he began to tire and I slowly guided him back up. This time I remembered the net and I skillfully (yes, I impressed myself) brought him to hand. What a fine specimen. I admired his beauty for a moment and set him on his way back home.

As I revelled in this victory, the elderly gentlman from last week and his fishing partner made their way upstream to Pat's Pool. The elderly fellow began to recall the big fish of past years and of his memorable encounters with land owners and their dogs. One fish was a 24"er that he landed 2 seasons ago from this very pool (could it be Pat?). I placed my Hendrickson dry in the hook keeper, and we chatted and shared a few laughs for a little while. My day was complete.

I think I'll tie a few more of those flies. . .

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Molecular Milestone

As I wait in anticipation of tomorrow afternoon's Hendrickson (Ephemerella subvaria) hatch and in celebration of the 50th post of this tiny molecule of cyberspace, I thought I would tie up a couple commemorative concoctions that I'm hoping will fool a few of the lesser intelligent ones (I don't even try for the smart ones). If they do nothing but make a fool of their tyer, then they just may be accidentally lodged in a far reaching branch of an oak tree. The first one is a classic Catskill dry fly and the other is what I'm hoping will resemble a Hendrickson Emerger - both tied in a monstrous size 12 - yup, those UC Ephemerella are plump!
Now I just have to find a good nymph pattern. . .

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

A Night to Remember

It was Wednesday afternoon, and I sat at my desk intently checking the clock in hopes that it would be soon time to go.

Today I would make my way to fly fish the Upper Credit River. September 22nd of last year was when I last set down my fly rod and brushed off the Centrepin gear in pursuit of Kings, Coho, and Chrome - and for that it has been a great season. I have fought and landed (occasionally) some fish whose determination, acrobatics, and spectacular beauty will stay with me for seasons to come. But as the Kings and Cohos have come and gone through the circle of life, and as the last Oncorynchus Mykiss' check out of their honeymoon suites and make their way home to their respective Great Lake, it is time for me to follow my summertime passion.

Finally, I looked at the clock once more and it was time, and with a sigh of relief I arose from the confines of the workday. Whenever the reality of standing stream side is imminent, I'm almost certain I enter a state of temporary insanity (although my wife thinks this is a chronic condition) because I can hardly think straight from the excitement. There is a period of about 1/2 hour prior to leaving the house where I am most accident prone (I won't get into it now), and have the tendency to forget things that are fundamental to fishing - you know, things like a fishing rod. I'm well aware of my condition, and thus try to pack my things ahead of time. Today, I didn't have the opportunity to do so, and I'm quite pleased that the only thing I left behind (after multiple trips back and forth to the truck) was my net.

I arrived stream side by 5:30pm and the sky had already begun to darken with clouds low and looming. 3 cars were parked at the access point before me. I quickly suited up and made my way downstream. A few metres down, I entered the river below the tail out of a small riffle and was immediately amidst a swarm of insects, almost choking on them - I had literally walked into the middle of a Ephemerella subvaria hatch!

It wasn't long before I heard the unmistakable sound of rising fish. Juvenile Brown Trout were rising along the slow side of the seam, while the larger fish were porpoising in its fastest, deepest sections. Their flash of brilliant brown sides were a welcome sight after months of being away. With shaking hands I could feel my impaired mental state creeping in once again. I threw my first sloppy cast of the season a few feet upstream of the last rise of a big fish, and my Hendrickson dry fly skated recklessly across the surface. . . and then the surface lay still. But not for long. The fish could not let this temporary buffet escape them and they were soon rising again in rhythmic fashion. I pulled myself together and cast again ahead of the last rise and gave it an upstream mend. This time it drifted in sync with the bubbles and debris floating on their natural course downstream. A brown flash glistened beneath the surface and milliseconds later, the fish erupted viciously to take my fly under. In disbelief I raised my rod with the strength of a little girl. I was connected! But with 3 head shakes, we were unbuttoned - "Damn it - why did I set the hook like such a pansy?", I cursed.

Again the surface became still. . . and again, within minutes the feeding frenzy resumed. After connecting and quickly disconnecting with several 7-9 inch fish, I was beginning to wonder if I forgot to tie my flies with hooks.

Just downstream another sizable (but of course not as large as the first) candidate started to rise just downstream. I slowly made my way down and tied on a Klinkhamer Special. Within a few drifts the fish porpoised out with mouth agape, taking my fly. The fight was on! The fish shot about the pool and I fumbled from months without the fly rod in hand, but after a few close calls and acrobatic leaps, she graciously came to hand. My silly ear-to-ear grin that only a fish could illicit was back. I momentarily admired her beauty and I quickly pulled out the camera and shot a picture in the low light. The layman would call this a very poor picture, but I will reckon that it is art ;o)

The feeling of taking a fish on a dry fly of my own tie is something that I had almost forgotten. There is something grass roots and poetic about it that I love. I revelled in this moment and casually made my way to another small riffle where fish continued to rise. A colourful little fellow took my Klink.

As I released this gem, the last few rays of sunlight had gone, and an older gentlemen was making his way back upstream. We acknowledged one another with a nod and I asked him how the fishing was.

The elderly man looked at me with a youthful smile, and said, "I can't complain. . . it was a good day". I smiled back and said, "It sure was".

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

A Fond Farewell

This past week, I spent some time trying to flush the Steelhead bug from my system. Usually by the time the Trout Opening Day rolls around, I'm ready to pack in the Centrepin gear and ready the feather and fur. It took a wee bit longer this year, mostly due to the fact that I haven't been on the water nearly as much as I had hoped to this Spring.

Dave W had some decent success on a beautiful feeder creek of the Nottawasaga River on Opening weekend and suggested we take one last look-see on Wednesday. As usual Dave, started off the afternoon showing me how to catch fish. I got the idea after the first fish, but as any good friend would do, he showed me again with another.

Just before the last ray of sunlight left on its perpetual journey around the world, I was able to shake off the skunk with a 2-3lb female that graciously took my hook. . . whew, that was close.

Saturday, May 5, 2007 marked the last day of Steelheading for me this season. I reserved a little spot that has treated me well in previous years for this day. It did not let me down. To say there was a lot of wood to contend with would be an understatement. Numerous fish were hooked but only a handful were landed. The long distance release has always been my specialty anyway.

It was a perfect ending to a great Spring/Fall season. Tomorrow, I'm off to the Upper Credit River, fly rod in hand. . .I can hardly wait.

Farewell my friend. . .See you in a few months!

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Vancouver/Whistler April 9-15, 2007 - A Photo Muse

At the Capilano Fish Hatchery/Ladder

Anyone know what kind of parr this is? I can't remember

Yes there are rubes in BC too - this fellow was fishing in a closed section of the Capilano River close to the fish ladder

As close as I'll be to the top of the world

I will be back - this time with rod in hand!