Monday, April 29, 2013

Signs of Spring

I've been too busy with work, Trout Unlimited, writing (new work), family this past week to get some reasonable words on this page. Hopefully some pictures will suffice.

Signs of spring from my neck of the woods.

Jonny tells me the correct scientific name for this flowering shrub, is Stripersarein Fishtheoutgoingtonight

We lost all the magnolia blossoms last year to a hard frost as soon as they blossomed. Nature is a cruel mistress.

I like the idea of my kids participating in team sport but I'm glad this ritual holds no longer in our household.
I think the second baseman should turn around before she gets beaned by this ball.
Opening Day. I don't fish it. Especially at the "Trout Park". They should call it the "Butcher Shop".
Sharing a rod, Sam and I cast for a few hours on an outgoing tide with much luck.
Watched a pod of stocked trout tasting everything that passed on the surface
Fished a wild brook trout stream with a few buddies. Found lots of perfect Brookies. Some larger than this.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Flats Mud

Got out again last night with Sam, Jonny and Bob. A late tide meant we were fishing after dark under the sliver of a moon. Spooky and peaceful all at the same time.

Not big numbers but the fisher were all bigger. Everyone got into fish. More later.

For now, mud.

Evidence on the driveway of a successful stroll across sandy & muddy flats.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Tax Day Schoolies

I'm a trout angler. I don't fish for Striped Bass (Unless, of course, I get a text saying that the Striped Bass are in and Bob was catching them last night one per cast).

Last year I fished for Striped Bass twice. Once in the spring when they clearly weren't there and later in the summer when they were elsewhere as well. I had heard tell of times when the schoolie stripers were on the move and they could be had with abandon but that was last year or last week or at the other spot that I wasn't at.

Until Sunday evening.

The day before the tax deadline I was at the dining room table putting the final touches on what was owed to whom. Living in one state and working in another was further complicated this year by a move of my office from one state to another in June. New York needed its slice and Connecticut hers and I'm not sure either will be happy. I expect questions.

If I could be done with the taxes by 4 p.m. I might have just enough time to gather my scattered salt water gear (which doubles as Steelhead gear) and make it to the designated sandy pull-off that would allow me to join a small group that would follow Bob to the fully recon'd beach where the Schoolies had been the previous evening.

I was done by 3 p.m. Made dinner for the boys. Assembled the gear and was standing in the sandy pull-off at 5:28 p.m.

As a trout angler I often fish alone. But I'm such a newbie to both Steel and Stripers that I follow the crowd of experts and they're generous enough to allow me to tag along (and loan me the special fly or two). It turns out that all the Steelhead guys I fished with last November were here. It's a group of guys that I'm not sure would work in any other setting but as anglers we all seem to fit together perfectly. I enjoy their company.

The walk out to the spot was proper prelude. The sticky saltiness of the wind coupled with the crunch of shells beneath the feet and the grip of tidal muck on the boots let you know you were far from the mountain stream. Ahead we spooked a couple hundred Canada Geese that were on our beach. Tiny shore birds raced past us in dense flocks.

Jonny gets into fish early.
The outgoing tide had a few hours to run and we set-up along the obvious rips. The first ten minutes had us all secretly doubting Bob's reports, then our ability, the presence of fish and the myriad other things that one doubts when the fishing isn't what it was supposed to be.

And then the switch was turned on, temperature, tide, water speed, who knows, but the next two hours brought fish after fish to the hand. My first Striper on the fly came that evening. It was a small fish by striper standards -- maybe fourteen inches in length, 2-3 pounds -- but what a specimen. Beautiful creatures. Caught it on a white and chartreuse clouser.

Fully Stripered Clouser Remnants
For two hours we caught our fill. Thirty pound test leaders allowed the fish to be brought to hand quickly and just as quick the line was back out and another was hooked. Grins and hoots and aching arms all around. By the time the fishing slowed I was standing back with Jonny enjoying a cigar and watching the gang try and tease the last fish out of a spot where the fish now weren't.

So far Steelhead haven't ruined me for trout and I don't suspect Stripers will as well but I'm already looking at tide charts for the next day or two. Perhaps another quick trip is in order.

Schoolie Striper. With bonus water spot on lens. Last one
of the night. I was so busy hauling in fish that I
almost forgot to take a picture of one. That's good fishing.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Schoolie Sunset

More when the pain in my arm (and the smile on my face) subsides.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Half Price Trout

Thursday evening was my first time on the water in weeks. It was a breezy, spring evening cool enough to remind you that winter was just over the next hill. I put on a scarf for what I hoped would be the last time this season.

I only had an hour or two until sunset and intended to fish three spots where I thought I might find a trout. In my hands was a old rod with a new reel and line. I had succumbed to Orvis' marketing scheme a weekend before and purchased a half-price reel. Actually, I eventually purchased a half-price reel; things don't often go as planned.

I was at the airport two Saturdays ago when I saw the social media marketing pitch and immediately purchased a reel and new 5 wt line. I only later realized that I had forgotten to check out. By the time I realized my error it was Monday and the offer had expired.

When I noted my idiocy on Twitter, the Orvis folks -- Kathleen Moore and Juliana Booth -- swung into action and made things right. What is astounding about this is not Orvis' legendary customer service in making things right when they goof up. It's that they made things right when I goofed. Incredible. I screw up, Orvis comes through. I wish Orvis worked such wonders in other areas of my life.

So down to the water I went with my half-price reel and commenced to fishing. Dry-droppers are my usual rig on this small stream and Thursday it was a Usual above a chartreuse brassie. If you don't have a Usual in your fly box -- I don't care where you live in the world -- you're missing out on what may be the best fly pattern ever; not as famous as the Adams, but probably better.

The first spot yielded a trout on the second cast. The brown hammered the Usual which greatly pleased me. A sure sign that winter is waning is trout looking up. Sometimes I can coax another trout from this bathtub sized pool but not that day so upstream I went.

The next reliable pool was a repeat. About a third of the way back, just past the root ball of a tree that'll fall during the next storm, an equally aggressive brown smacked the Usual and quickly came to hand. This one was dark, buttery color with large brown and red dots. It's interesting how two trout of the same species living within a hundred yards of one another can appear to be entirely different things.

The third spot was a relatively new discovery. It was fishy. Very fishy. A deep slot that ricocheted off of a stone ledge. I had never caught fish there but I believed in it's fish-holding hydrology and knew that I'd get a fish there, eventually.

The first cast was awful. The second cast hit the water hard. The third cast was a token offering for a pool I had already spooked. One hour. Three pools. Two Trout. Home for dinner.

Sunday evening I returned to the stream with a couple of friends intending to show them a few good spots. I remembered my camera but forgot my rod. I think that's a first. Hopefully it will be a last.

Regardless, we had a nice walk along a stream. I got to ramble on about a place that I love, I took some pictures and they got into fish.

Along the way, Ann and Sam came by walking Ripley. It was unexpected and it was a joy. At times I seem pathologically drawn to crowds or solitude. I suppose the familiarity and routine of daily life makes family, despite the closeness of our bonds, somehow less. But whether I travel around the world or ten minutes down the street that return to the embrace, the smiles and knowing comfort, remind me that it is always more than anything else.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Back. Considering Options.

After a few weeks in Slovakia I'm finally back and my jet lag is waning. Spring may actually be close. Just one pile of snow is left; in the shaded spot out front. I've had reports, and recordings, of peepers.

It can't be long.