Friday, January 06, 2017

Report from Field Day 1, 2017

Older boy has been studying native fishes in his aquarium and taken an interest in fisheries books.  Always asking about hybrids of various species.  Often asking to fish.  We didn't talk a lot about the stream trout opener but maybe we all assumed we'd go out.  

Stayed close to home; easy access; easy fishing water 1130-1530.  As it happened we found a vehicle parked downstream; pleasant surprise to find only one on first day.  We left him alone and moved upstream, hoping to give him water and get in far enough ahead to not bother him or ever see him for that matter.  We parked at an access with unbroken snow; looked good.  But after the slog to the river, we indeed found his tracks; he'd covered water pretty quickly and was ahead of us.  Nymphing through the good holes, sure.  I asked the kids if they wanted to leave; find other water; they did not.  Seemed to not care.  My figuring was that we'd catch fewer fish, but still find means of prying a few from deep.

Let the big guy go first; two nymphs; one shot twelve inches up; one strike indicator.  My exact kind words were, now remember, there is no backcast here.  None.  It's flips and rolls and they'll be hinged and not pretty but don't worry about it.  Enjoyable for me to stand back and watch him approach the water; work it; understanding the seams.  Not all growth and development is linear.  For example after this season's first basketball practice he came home and said I don't know what happened, it was like magic, but now I can somehow do layups perfectly.  Good memory.  And another one here.  After a long break from fishing (November (?) with spinning gear) and a longer break from fly rod (October maybe), he appeared to have made a nice leap forward.  No backcasts.  Subtle but important things like knowing to look around before attempting to free a snag; then recovering in mid-air after it pops free.  Easy rolls into good lanes.   He was already a bird-dog on the indicator and that didn't change.  Fun to watch.  The action was generally slow, because as I confirmed later, the guy was not far ahead of us.  Kid ended up hooking three and landing all of them.  Pretty good batting average.  All came from different holes.  First a forehand hole; then a backhand hole; then a forehand hole.  Held them well and used both hands to control tension and line meting.  Starting to get a little excited about what he might do in terms of angling.  Quite a few years ahead of him.  Next he needs to learn to cast.  Thinking we'll dial it back to the Cannon River days ~16 years ago and wade some lakes; easy casting of poppers for silly aggressive fish; no banks or trees to snag while learning the stroke and loop.  Something for the month of May.
A lot in the picture: boy, dad, fish, midge.
Younger guy is not yet double digit years.  He has fish to his own name for sure; I think 15-18 trout nymphing on his own.  On this day he had a tougher deal: hooked three and all came unpinned.  One was a very good lesson in that he played it for maybe 10-15 seconds, holding pretty well; then it made a nice downstream run (this is 2 wt rod; light gear).  Fish charges for freedom; boy locks down; fish comes off.  Boy slackens in dismay.  That's about how it went.   But the fish are all there; they don't leave.  Nor does the boy leave or at least he doesn't go far; just home to sleep and start up again.  This ain't a club membership with a two week limit.  The fish are there in the holes and they can be had; that is the encouragement.  Focus on the next one.  He handled it pretty well because overall he handles things well; easy-going.

There was one notable fight that went beyond somewhat-acceptable because it was right at river's edge, twenty minutes from the car (be dangerous to get completely soaked).  Older boy headlocked younger; cast him to the stony bank and was posturing such that he might boot him hard with a hip wader steel-enforced toe.  Younger boy up in a wild cry with some angular slab of limestone cocked.  Dad inserting himself between trying to keep everyone dry and safe; trying keep a calm voice so as to not escalate.  In the end young boy on a log, eating and drinking slowly lamenting that he cannot trust old boy.  Maybe old boy heard and saw.

The reason was stated roughly as follows: he keeps looking at me and making faces and funny noises while I'm trying to fish.  There it is then...   something we've all felt at some point.  Our charge as adults is to handle it and be polite.  Suppose it doesn't always work as well for kids.  I understand and accept.

Very notably after this conflict they became inseparable; in the end, discussing a plan to knock out the wall between their rooms so they could have one big "joint room."

After the skirmish; after some fish; walking out.

Always like coming across this copse of poplar.  Part of the monochrome.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Some Gear Gone

Heavy reading 10-20 years ago.  I like books.  But they are physical and thus they hold space in the world.  Not enough shelves.  Donated to Rural America Writers Center library.  Somewhat symbolic parting although I did retain a handful of volumes on this subject matter.

A favorite coat.  Difficult to part with it.  Many winter trout and carp days.  But I now have a dedicated fishing jacket, a warm coat for work, and a nice wool longcoat for walking alleys and pubs downtown should that need arise every 1-9 months.  This coat served years at that triple-duty.  But last year I don't think it was used much.  Still highly serviceable and so wanted to give someone else a crack.  Stuffed following note in a hidden zipper pocket.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Observations via Trout Fishing 12/5/2016

Stopped and watched the water from which my son caught his first trout nymphing last fall.  Thought about how he insisted on staying for a few more drifts.  Flipped the nymphs to the top and picked up the rod at the right time.  Toothy colored-up fall brown.  Good memory.  I didn't fish it at this moment; saved it for the walk out.  

Equisetum is a "living fossil" as it is the only living genus of the entire class Equisetopsida, which for over one hundred million years was much more diverse and dominated the understory of late Paleozoic forests. Some Equisetopsida were large trees reaching to 30 meters tall. The genus Calamites of the family Calamitaceae, for example, is abundant in coal deposits from the Carboniferous period. The name Equisetum derives from the Latin equus ("horse") + seta ("bristle").  -Wikipedia
Brown trout.

Always fish here.  Casting streamer, quartering up and across.  

Appeared to me that he was running out of the WMA into the park; made it across the river on a heavy trail; set down on the far bank and died.

Always fish here too.  I tracked the numbers closely comparing black streamer and nymphs.

Money water.  The gray.

Venison never subjected to any cooking heat.  Packed in salt keg one week.  Smoked for maybe six hours. 

And this big bull of the woods.  Big-bodied.  Died just inside park boundary.  Antlers cut off at base with a saw.  Otherwise left intact.

Turns out the black streamer beat nymphing with ratio of 3:2 i.e.  twelve to eight total count.  Not a single fish greater than twelve inches.  Nearly all in the range of 9-12 inches.  Couple small fish including one that must have hatched 2015.

Cut off my fly and walked the floodplain into WMA.  Found this one.  Another big body.  Head and neck gone, clean saw cut evident near base of neck.  Can't say for sure what happened to these two deer but seems two general/main possibilities: (1) shot and tracked to deathbeds, trophies taken and bodies left, or (2) shot a great distance away, not found by hunters; later found and antlers/heads then taken.  Hate to think the worst, but it kind of felt like #1 because (a) this place has big walls - would be really tough to get a deer out of here; yet it crawls with hunters; unsure how they get them out; must quarter and pack out, (b) both deer in wide open, obvious lays, (c) if someone other than hunter cut off antlers/head, he/she would have likely had to find the deer, walk out and return with a saw.  Seems unlikely.  But certainly possible  Will never confirm anything; story won't be told.  Whatever the case, tough to see them laying as such.  Reported to CO, who appreciated the info and pictures.  Minnesota does have laws against wanton waste that apply to both hunting and fishing.  

Scrapes everywhere on the floodplain trails.

Big walls on all sides.

Some of the majesty.

Pink annelid caught my eye on way out: linear color in the drab.

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Deer Hunting 2016

Have started out at this gullyhead each of the last four years.  In fact this same tree last year.  Well-placed in that hunter can see downslope quite a ways, and also to the trail along the top/shoulder of the bluff.  From this location I can see the Big River.

View from powerline maybe 150-200 yards from stand.  No better way to learn about a place than to work through a deer hunt.  Just thinking through everything we've observed, discussed, studied over the past ~6-8 years; I marvel at folks who have had opportunity to hunt the same land for decades.

Approx 8:30 day one weekend one, a buck approached along that upper trail; moving left to right as I had to pivot to my left to look uphill.  He was moving slowly and carefully, checking some points along the trail as it curved through a rub gallery of small poplar.  I think he was at 25-30 yards.  Had to stare for quite a while because he was relatively small-racked.  Needed to confirm the fourth point; i.e. the brow tine.  And thus another year that amounted to an exercise in decisiveness: I usually take about twenty minutes to think things through but can't do that here; need to observe, understand and then act.  In the course of a few seconds.  So I registered an image that I took to be a brow tine.  He then moved out of that lane into some scrubby viewscape.  I put the bead where it needed to be and shot.  He indicated that he was hit, but not immediately mortally so, and he surged forward on the trail, took a hard right and started down the ravine.  I gathered myself a bit, kept the gun up and followed him into the next lane; put a shot on him while he was running downhill.  He fell and did not get up.  He grunted forth one effort to lift his front quarters but he could not complete.  Died seconds to minutes later.

Dragged long distance downhill to a meadow.  Did not gut prior to dragging out so as to keep cavity free of dirt and debris.  Dragging any distance downhill, even through unending brambles and over (or sometimes under) logs crossing ravine seems manageable.  Perhaps due to fulfillment and associated happiness that comes of harvesting the meat.  Uphill would be another matter.  Would get it done, but man would it be a lot of work.  Strategic planning should include consideration of how one will take deer from deathbed to home.  One note on the deer: the working directive from the landowner is to take legal deer that we encounter; this is not a QDM operation.  The goal is food.

Good place in the world.

Found two of these ticks.  One was clearly a deer tick; one was darker - unsure of specie.  In one case I actually felt the tick bite me; reached back and grabbed it.  Literature says ticks need be attached for at least 24 hours to pass any infectious disease.  

The tally.  Taken slowly from deer while hanging in my garage.  Used the old bike wheel rig from years past.  Although in 2015 I bought a gambrel to better spread the legs; something like $5 after deer season done.  And further on this matter, I may just splurge and buy a true hanging system; this buck (somewhat large bodied) brought the whole works down while I was cutting.  Moderately dangerous as I had knife in hand and a bunch of metal and meat and bone came down in a flurry.  Nothing came of it but going forward maybe skip the risk.  Turned out the deer pulled one of those hooks straight.
We had no meat left; had just run out weeks before.  Now we have a lot of meat.  Added a doe too; so we good for a while.  Grateful for the landowners who continue to welcome me to their hunting party; it's a highlight each year.  Also thankful for a family that guides in understanding of deer habits and hunting methods.  

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

BWCA 2016 Days Six and Seven
September 1-2

7:55 AM largie.  Clean looking fish.

Dad and I switched up for the last couple days: I went solo and he manned the three-seater.  It was cool to see it from afar.  Some gunners in that pic right there; long arcing paths of heavy lures.

Tried poppers of various sizes and makes.  Some from store; some from shop in basement.  This one is a nice subtle commercial make; sits pretty low and makes muted gurgles (as compared to monster rip pops).  So many fish though it would have been difficult to conclude that one popper make/size/color was better than any other.

Many fish in this range of 16-17".  I put this one at 17 based on the just-visible mark of 18 on the paddle.  SMB: hard pulling fish.  They don't run but they seem to have strength disproportionate to body mass.

Brought a different mug this year and one variation turned out to be big: that nice hook handle.  I could hang from thwart, or from belt.  Example of seemingly minor change that brings great satisfaction.  What else you want from a dashboard is not known: fly rods at hand, paddle, and coffee.  Especially good when the forward gallery is two kids bombing fish.

Primitive container crafted by the boys.

Last mission was to fill it with fish guts and take offsite.

This was the afternoon outing trying to find small bass to eat.  Diffuclt task.  Only way to do it was go way up in a channel and fish shallow water and woody debris; that produced some fish 12-13 inches.  This one here was released.  Those 12er SMB are pretty good fare if you can't find walleyes or pike.

Fish on poppers became routine and so the effort here was focused on composing an image with it all: sunset, loon family, bow of canoe, calm water and bent rod.

Boys in camp.

Last day we fished just the morning.  This ~17 came on second cast.

In the mornings go to where the sun is not yet striking the water.

Camp viewed from the bay.

No waders this year.  Most gear comparmentalized in waterproof sacks.  Always trying to make this system better.  It's pretty good though.

The four remaining on last day (we had three guys head out on two different days preceding).  Here posting picture of a good guy who liked paddling.

In the long BWCA book this was a top chapter.  Three generations.  Kids just lighting up fish every day.  Freedom to be in the dark or by the fire or in the water.  Focus on fishing and then each midday back at camp an unwinding that had permission to go in whatever direction for those guys.  Thanks to the BWCA Director and to all the parents who made it happen; not long and we'll be at it again.