Tuesday, August 25, 2015

No fish for you

I haven't been fishing much lately. Weekends seemed to be filled with unpacking from the last business trip, doing laundry, reacquainting myself with my wife and sons, packing for the next business trip and heading to the airport. I have been fishless for at least a month. Maybe more. Maybe lots more.

The bummer is that local fishing has been good. Smallmouth are hot on the Housy. The Farmington has settled into its summer mood: miniscule flies to sipping trout in the slow water, euros to aggressive fish in the fast water. Streamers and mice at night have also been reported to be good sport. I've been hanging out at LGA, RDU, ATL, BOS. No sport to be had in the land of tarmacs and jet fumes.

Fortunately, some folks are getting out and writing about it. Singlebarbed has posted a fine piece about not taking the fishless fishing trip. Not only does he tell a good tale of not fishing but provides some valuable tips for recognizing the fishless trip well before you get sucked into driving a thousand miles to not catch carp (or any other species on any duration trip).

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Water, Water, no where

Thomas Buschatzke
I was reading an article in the New York Times this morning about How the West Overcounts Its Water Supplies and I came upon this little gem.
Thomas Buschatzke, the director of Arizona’s Department of Water Resources, acknowledged that pumping from wells could dry up streams, but said the current law kept the two resources separate, and “it would be a huge upset to the economy to do away with that.”
Thomas Buschatzke is the poster child for water idiocy in the west. Let me rephrase his statement so you, gentle reader, can understand it.
Thomas Buschatzke, the director of Arizona’s Department of Water Resources, acknowledged that pumping from wells could dry up streams, but said the current law kept the two resources separate, and [“we'd rather avoid a huge upset to today's economy due to our blatant disregard for the obvious and instead drive full speed at a catastrophic future that won't be my problem because I'll be spending my state retirement benefits in a place that has plenty of water”]
 To be honest, little surprises me about Arizona politics. And I'm not at all surprised that politicians pass real problems on to the future while solving imaginary problems (see: immigration) today. I don't live in the west. Part of that is due to the fact that there is a stunning disregard for water reality. Americans need to get serious about the use of water resources or they're not going to need their guns to protect themselves from the federal government. They're going to need them to guard their aquifers.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Got Grip?

I'm not very good at gear maintenance. I've never washed my waders or cleaned a fishing vest. I think that their general funk and dingy exterior are as important as the sweat stains on a favorite fishing hat. There's likely mojo in all that and I'm not going to mess with it. I have been known to clean and grease a reel that has gotten too gritty but that's the extent of the time I've spent worrying about gear condition. Thankfully, most gear is constructed worry free.

Last weekend I fished the Housatonic River. The river has been abnormally low and warm this spring on account of sparse rainfall and the growth on the river's bottom is the slick greens and browns that one doesn't normally find until early summer. And that means I was slipping and sliding like crazy. My wading staff, usually a high water accessory, was put to good use.

It wasn't until I was tossing my boots on the milk crate in the garage that I wondered about the condition of the cleats on the bottom of my Simms G3s. I've been using a combination of Simms AlumiBite™ Star Cleats and ice screws for the past few years and usually only get a new set when I get new boots. That regimen seems to be far too infrequent based upon the use I've been giving the boots over the past year. Both the ice screws and the Star Cleats had been worn flush with the tread of the boot.

So, off to the Simms store I went for two more sets of cleats. This morning I installed the shiny new cleats and put in a few ice screws from my lifetime supply for good measure. I'll test the arrangement out this evening on what I'm hoping will be a solid spinner fall. My casting may not look elegant, but at least I won't be horizontal. Check your boots. Get grip.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Off Color

Overnight rain had tried to do it's part to foil Saturday fishing but the real impediment to angling was a handful of chores that had to be completed. By early afternoon I was wadered and standing above a bend pool trying to decide if I should fish here or head to a tributary that might be clearer. According to the rocks, the water was down about two inches and while it wasn't muddy I couldn't see bottom; not opaque enough to chase me away but gloomy enough to lower expectations.

Upstream I found the water clearer and fished a dry-dropper rig. I placed a flashy fly on the bottom hoping it would distinguish itself in the gloom. It was the first time I had fished this stretch since winter and the modest run off had moved a few things around. For years the river has been trying to decide whether to carve a new channel from a former braid and it seems settled now that the old channel will remain. That braid has always looked fishy but I've never found anything there.

The bend that has had it's flow restored is well known to locals as a reliable spot. The years of lowered flow sanded up the far bank and I found it the better location to cast into the head of the pool. The dropper quickly brought the first trout of the day to hand. I fished the deeper recesses of the hole hoping for some fatter cousins but they resisted my charms.

Upstream is another big pool but the fast water in between holds fish and the second came in the soft water not far from the start of the run. It's one of those spots where the stream goes straight when it would seem that it should arc away. There's something about that far bank, perhaps a piece of ledge, that resists the water's efforts. So, you get a deep fast run which is a nice way to mix it up from an angling perspective.

The big pool above, where Jonny took a surprisingly big brown a few years ago had been reordered as a large stump guarding the head finally dislodged. I expect things are going to shift significantly once we get another good rain. I should have fished it down with a wet but for some reason I decided to fish up without changing rigs. Perhaps it was laziness. Or maybe hope.

The small tributary was clear and I wandered upstream when I got to it's mouth. I fished quickly moving from spot to spot making a few casts. I had switched to a dry and hoped that the fish were looking up in the clearer water. By the time I got to the old bridge, perhaps a quarter mile of water, I knew of my delusion and switched to a nymph rig sporting a small pheasant tail beneath a large BH pheasant tail.

Purple. The new black.
There's a spot that I think of as "three fish hole". It's a marvel of hydraulics that holds trout reliably though it looks so nondescript that I only discovered it by accident. On a trip to the stream a few years ago I resolved to fish every bit of the water, fishy or not, to see what I might find. It turns out there were things to discover.

On the first cast I get a brown trout on the smaller PT. A few casts later I get another. The third trout eluded me though it didn't stop me from casting in the water long after I should have expected results. I fished the pockets above with no luck though it was all just prelude to the next fishy spot.

At the bend I cast the nymph rig to the foot of the hole but my eye was on an overhanging branch that provided a sheltered spot near a root ball. There was no way the nymph rig was getting in there without making a hell of a racket so I put on a purple Adams and cast side arm under the brush. I was a bit disappointed by the lack of results. These small stream trout are generally less discerning so anything buggy will usually do. I was worried that my choice of purple had perhaps gone a bit too far from something recognizable as food. But then I flubbed a cast and it landed in the softer near seam. And a brown smacked it.

I suppose I should have discerned that the soft water was the more likely holding spot in the higher flows but that's hindsight talking. Maybe it was just a bit of luck, something that all anglers can use from time to time.

Serendipitous Trout

A disease resistant Elm planted by Trout Unlimited to help shade the bank during future generations

A line of trees planted eight years ago help shade the stream today.

Ent roots.