Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Fun in the Sun

My final entry for 2013 was a recent trip to the sunshine state to visit family for the holidays.  The highlight at least fishing wise was finally getting together with my friend Danny for some long overdue flats fishing.  For the past few years the timing of things just didn't work out so after along overdue stretch of time we finally fished in FL.  Danny grew up in FL and has a sweet Maverick skiff.  We fished for snook in 4-8inches of water.  The only thing I've ever done that comes even close to it is carping.  Being in the bow of a skiff was a whole new ballgame for this guy and one that was fun and painful.  Unbeknownst to me standing on the platform doubles as a modern day torture devise.  After a couple of hours on that thing one's calves scream in agony.  To allay anyone's worries I managed to persevere through the pain and kept throwing flies at targets all day.  Danny has been fishing this one area for 3 seasons and this is the first that he has seen others in there.  We saw recent footprints in the mud and the snook were very spooky in the clear, skinny water.  This style of fishing was very challenging and while I made some good presentations I also managed to "f**k the duck" on quiet a few.  Through sheer perseverance we kept at it and while we saw about 75 snook I only hooked 2 and landed one.  That being said I can't wait to do it again.  Hopefully this spring or summer I will get down there and fish with him again.

 
On the way to the ramp.  That is one shallow running skiff. 


The ride out to the flats.  For those of you who don't know that little platform doubles as an evil torture devise.


Danny pointing the way or something.



My first snook.  While not large it's still a first. 


A closer look.  For a small fish it pulled pretty good.  Wouldn't mind tangling with some of the bigger brothers and sisters that we saw.  Maybe next time . 


The remainder of the trip was spent on the coast by my parents place and I got out for some walks and a short kayak trip with my sis.  The bird life is always amazing there.

Osprey

 American Oystercatcher, momma and juvenile

 
 It got windy on the beach. 

 

 
 Dive bombers getting ready
 
 On the way down.

 
 Willet with a morsel
 
 Red Knots
 
 My sis
 
 Roseate Spoonbill

 
 White Ibis

 
 Juvenile Yellow Crowned Night Heron

We visited some friends of my wife's who have a smallish private lake in their neighborhood. The bass were like crack addicts when presented with a small popper.  Nothing huge but it was a fun little jaunt.  














One of many bass caught. 

Now when the weather breaks back here I hope to chase some GL steel, but with temps in the low teens and single digits this week not sure when that will happen. 


Sunday, November 24, 2013

Lazy Day on the Water

As much as I enjoy taking photos of fish and fishing there are days when I lack motivation or commitment to step up to the plate and get the job done.  Yesterday found me and two friends swinging the Salmon River.  The conditions started out ok and ended up being brutal.  40-50 mph winds, temps in the 20's, snow squalls, and a relentless driving cold wind.  Truth be told several times I thought I should get my camera out but that required unzipping my jacket and opening it and myself to the full onslaught of the elements so I passed on more than one occasion.  Maybe it wasn't being lazy but it was a lack of commitment.  Nonetheless my buddy Matt took several pics of me and the one fish I enticed to eat my fly.  He got his first steelhead to hand but he was out of sight when it happened so I wasn't able to get any pics.  Hopefully next time I will persevere and get some more shots. 




















Beautiful steelheading conditions.














A handsome Brown Trout that graced us with it's presence.   

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

One in the hand is worth ............

Made my first steelheading trip of the season the other day. The weather was perfect, perfect for chasing chrome at least.  Mother nature threw clouds, wind, rain and cool and boy did it feel good to be out in the midst of it.    Since they had just dropped the water levels many folks came out of the woodwork to partake.  Finding good swinging water was a bit of an effort but since I was willing to walk it wasn't too bad.  Early in the day I had something happen that blew me away.  One of my flies was waking across the current like 90 degrees and giving off a little wake and a fish came up and sucked on it two or three times.  At first I felt it and when I looked I could see the tail behind my fly and see it getting sucked under.  I never felt any weight so I never set the hook.  It would have been the most amazing thing I'd ever seen on that river, but alas it wasn't to be.  Later after a long walk I found one of my favorite pools open on one side, the side I was on, and on my second pass my fly was pounded.  After three strong runs the hook pulled.  Oh well it happens.  On my next pass another take and I landed one of those stunning bucks that you get to cross paths with too infrequently.  Fishing solo limits the angles and options for photos but I did manage to get a couple of good ones.  In hindsight I wish I'd gotten a measure of it's length or a full body picture. 


Monday, October 14, 2013

Adios My Friends

The last week or so I have been fortunate to make a few short outings chasing trout before the season closes.  Most falls in the last few years have found me on the salt, but this year has been the return to the sweet water with sweet results.  The colors of fall trout can be magical.  Until next year my finned friends. 








Monday, October 7, 2013

Back to Bows

Being at heart a trout fisherman whenever I get to go trout fishing it feels a bit like coming home.  That is not at all to take away from the other species that I target but trout fishing has evolved into my fishing touchstone.  Over the last few weeks I've gotten out to a place to chase some small wild rainbows.  Its funny how so many of the waters that I fish are predominantly brown trout fisheries.  While I love browns I do miss the bows.  Unfortunately there are not a lot of rainbows in the areas that I typically fish.  Rainbows are a missed fish in my travels.  That being said I did manage to cross paths with some beautiful fish.  Now when can I get out and get more rainbows?  That is the question.

 

 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Spike

Got out last weekend for a little walk and had the wind in my favor.  Saw a bunch of deer 200 or so yards away and got settled in before they moved right past me.  Managed to get some good shots of this young guy. 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Return to the Salt

I headed down to the coast in hopes of seeing the sky teaming with diving birds and bait balls exploding across the surface of the water.  Upon leaving the harbor we didn't' see much that excited us so we hit some rocks where we always do well.  Within minutes there is a small bust right next to the boat and Geoff gets his fly in the chaos and was tight to a fish.  A huge blue by the way.  We thought ok this will work nothing wrong with these bad**s marauders around.  Expect we didn't really find any other targets all day long.  A friend of mine was with a friend of his in a 23' Contender and they traveled far and wide to find an empty ocean.  We made the most of it traveling far and wide and just enjoying the time on the water.  What a difference a couple of weeks can make.




Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Trip (day 4)



Our final day greeted us with overcast skies and no fog.  Yippee.   We headed out and found the birds and fish in the rips which were fueled into large standing waves by the stiff breeze.  My little whaler isn’t the best in these situations so even though we got a small bass we moved off for a drier fishing experience.  We ended up not being able to find any bass but we did find lots of Scup and then big powerful gator bluefish.  The wire leader we happened to have from the muskie made the day special.   

 Diner plate sized Scup

        Mr. Bluefish
               Matt with a big bluefish.  

The large blues fought incredibly hard and gave us cramps in our forearms.  As the tide started to ebb so did the fishing and we were greeted by the looming end of the trip.  In many ways it is the hardest part of the trip knowing that it is ending, that the magic of the last days will be lost to the thousands of mundane day to day things that need to get done in order to keep ones’ life rolling along.  This is quickly followed by talks of the next adventure. 

Monday, September 2, 2013

The trip (day 3)



The drive to the coast was uneventful.  When we got there we quickly launched the boat full of excitement.  As soon as we hit the outside of the river our spirits sank as we were greeted by a wall of fog.  Shit.  We pulled onto the nearby flats and tried to stalk the flats but the light sucked and the fog became even more dense.  After a while we moved off to a different spot by a small creek and some fish busted in the shallows.  I prodded my bud to cast and he looked at me doubtfully but cast anyway.  Halfway through his first cast he got his first striper albeit a small schoolie.   

                                                   My bud's first striper.

A few minutes later I got a hit and it was a small Sea Robin.  Interesting looking fish.

                                         Pec fin of a Sea Robin


 We ended up hanging out waiting for the fog to break and were eventually rewarded with a half mile of visibility.  We ran out to a good rip to try to get in some fishing.  As soon as we arrived we saw a couple of fish bust on top an encouraging sign.  This part is a little vague in my memory, maybe the result of the fog, but it seemed like we caught big stripers on every drift for an hour or so.  

                                                           Hooked up

                                      

                                         All the bass were big, this being the largest one. 


To say the least it was on and we had this popular place to ourselves.  After an hour or so the fog started to set in and we headed in. 

Sunday, September 1, 2013

The Trip (day 2)



The next day found us on a different section of river.  Without knowing what lay ahead we eagerly set off armed with a little bit of knowledge and a lot more questions.  At the bottom of a large riffle the water deepened out and we found ourselves feeling the good vibes.  Sure as shit we got a follow by a big fish.  Again we anchored in the area and fished the hell out of the area with nothing to show for it.  At the bottom of the next riffle the water erupted twice but we got no Muskie love.  As we emerged from some islands there was a large house along the bank and a strangely sloped appendage on the side.  As we got closer it became clear that this was a huge 3 story water slide! 

                                            The "Redneck Yacht Club" and its killer slide.


 The sign behind the boat had it named the Redneck Yacht club.  Too f***ing funny.  The remainder of the float was empty except the occasional smallmouth.  We finished early and were in a bit of a pickle about what to do with the few hours we had left.  We could float the bottom section of yesterday’s water that we didn’t hit that hard or walk down to the where we knew there were two fish and have another go at them.   We finally decided to return to the spots of the morning.  At the head of the pool a bit above where we moved the fish this morning I got an explosive refusal on my first cast.  Two casts later the line came tight and fish number two was in the books.  

                                              Muskie number 2

 By this time my bud was getting disheartened while he had moved 4 fish and hooked one he hadn’t landed anything.  We’ve all been there and it sucks.  We headed down to the second spot and I felt good about his chances but didn’t say anything.   He fished it hard and nothing happened in the area where the fish was that morning.  It was going to be a long walk out and drive home but he keep fishing it through.  Then just like in a story his line came tight.  This one was big.   After a few nervous moments and a couple of minutes this beast came to shore.
                                          The beast.  It had about 8 1/4" fangs on either side of its lower jaw.  Would not want to be a fish in the receiving end of that. 

After high fives we hiked back to the car for the 4 hour drive home and a few hours of sleep before we headed south to the coast.   On the way home we stopped at a gas station and saw this strange set up across the street.  

                            Some kind of toilet bowl and bathtub flower arrangement

Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Trip (day one)



It all started as a lark.  My buddy floated the idea of he and I headed out west for a fishing trip and my wife agreed that we should go.  I feigned protest because I didn’t want to go fishing out west.  Truth be told I had my own secret bucket list in my head and numerous western trout locations had already been visited.  I tossed the Everglades for baby Tarpon and the Deschutes for steelhead out, spots that interested me.  It was a go. 
My bud and I spent a good week or so discussing various scenarios until the realities of our schedules crystallized and any far ranging trip would be out of the question this year.   That still left us with numerous scenarios.  Atlantic salmon, Redfish and Muskie were the leading contenders.    After a bit of research which included phone calls, emails and reading it seemed like the best option given our time frame was Muskie fishing, the fish of 10,000 casts.  Enter beginner’s mind all over again as neither one of us knew squat about Muskie fishing.  More phone calls and emails were sent to learn what we could about Muskie fishing.  Large 8-10 inch flies we tied along with wire leaders.  Then the plans started morphing as the result of cooler than usual water temps this year.  Maybe a combination of Muskie and Kings were in order.  Then Muskie and the salt became an option.  Then finally all three.  As seen in my previous post I hit the Kings a few days prior so we were going a 4 day fishing binge.  Hopes were high.  



 We packed our half chicken sized flies, wire leaders, canoe and gear prior to heading northward.   

                                                One of the flies ready for action.

The river didn’t make any sense to us as it was super shallow and full of pockets, not the kind of water that would hold anything larger than a small trout or smallmouth.  Definitely not the kind of water that would hold a 30 plus inch fish.  As we floated the first two miles of pocket water we asked ourselves if we had been sent on a wild goose chase or if we didn’t understand ambush predator fish at all because we could not find any water that had the possibility of harboring such a fish.  Then the river’s character changed suddenly.  The current slowed down, the pockets went from the size of toilet bowls to swimming pools.  Things were looking more promising.  We worked this seam next to an island just trying to figure shit out and then all hell broke loose.  The water erupted then I felt weight on my line and I instinctively set the hook and it was on.  The savagery of the take imprinted an image in my mind that we had stumbled onto something special.  We were late to the Muskie party but oh so glad we finally made it.  After a short fight the small Muskie can to net.  The metallic green color that draped the sides of the fish blew me away.  These are stunningly beautiful fish.  I had no idea. 

 

 
I took the oars as my friend got some more bow time.  Within a relatively short period of time he moved a large fish.  It appeared for a second or two only to melt back into where it came from.  We set up in that area and threw every fly we had but we never saw it again.  Such are the habits of Muskie.  A while later my bud hooked up with a beast that came unbuttoned after a minute or so.  He was crushed.  The canoe was quiet for a while after that. 
The remainder of the day we caught a few large smallies, but didn’t see any other signs of Muskie.  All in all it was not a bad day for two green horns chasing a new species. 

Next up Day 2