Monthly Archives: August 2012

Some Fishing and
What the Hell Happened to You?

The last couple of weeks of fishing on the Fox River have been nothing but a huge disappointment. There have been some nice days…

But even those have gone almost fishless. Most of the days I’ve been getting out have been mornings, which I hate, so I blamed those. Then I went out one evening, the result was the same.

So now I’m blaming the low water and the weeds.

The heat is pretty much over, but the damage has been done. This is what happens on a river during a drought year when the water is low and short sighted, narrow minded people are allowed to have input on whether or not useless dams should be removed. Massive algae blooms and green water.

The sunsets are still beautiful though even if the fish are gone and you have to put up with massive mats of weeds covering the river.

The creeks have even taken a hit with low levels and the fish disappearing from the upper reaches, but by accident I discovered huge amounts of fish at the mouths and up the creeks for a mile or two. I initially hesitated in targeting these fish because of the conditions, but then I realized nobody else was fishing them, and if they were, they were using all the wrong things and not catching anything.

What else would explain catching 18 fish one day, 34 the next, missing twice that many and seeing hundreds more disinterested fish swimming around.

Though I only target smallies, the occasional bycatch of other species isn’t bad. From one fast deep stretch, even at this low water I hesitate walking through it, a lure drifted around got nailed. I considered keeping it for dinner, but decided to wait for cooler weather when they’ll taste even better.

A tiny island in the middle of the river is anchored by one lone tree. Around it grow flowers. In the morning light, they shine nicely.

This morning I was up before the sun rose, stalking down a little creek, catching smallies from 4 inches to… who knows, I don’t measure fish anymore. But when they hit in less than a foot of water and have no where to go, they’re all just plain fun.

A rock bass, green sunfish landed and even a carp that thought it would join the fun till I pulled the lure away from him. No carp for me thank you.

Even the smallies’ lowlife cousin was hitting.

And then there was this poor thing. I like catching flathead cats. They hit hard like this one did. They put up a decent fight and test the limits of your gear. While I was reeling it in, something looked odd. From the back, everything is normal enough.

When I got it out of the water and was looking it over I know I said out loud… What the fuck? What the hell happened to you?

I’ve pulled fish out of the water that have had some pretty serious injuries and scars, but this was a first. I imagine it’s going to starve to death, nothing goes down it’s gullet. In it’s mouth and back out again.

It’s been slowly raining for a good six hours now. According to the radar, it’s probably going to keep raining for another six hours. It’s coming down a bit harder. It’s been raining more even further north. All good for the river. Maybe it won’t flow green anymore and the mats of weeds and algae will disappear.

It’s the time of year for 50 to 100 fish days on the river. It should have started already. I’ll chalk it up to the lack of rain and hope that the disappointing days are over.

I’ll know in the next few days…

Bamboo — The Last few Pictures

Got the rod out to a pond and a creek for the last couple of days I got to use it.

Skunked it on the pond, but fishing was a bit difficult that day anyway.

Now to sit down and write something semi-coherent about the rod and the experience. The rod was a pleasure to use. Fly fishing? I have issues with it.

For some fly fishing may be a way to achieve nirvana, a method of fishing that lets you enter into some mystical state where you become one with your surroundings. Heaven knows enough have written about such things.

It may be an extremely efficient way to cast flies and hope a fish may appear remotely interested.

But to me a fly rod is a tool and in this case, kind of like trying to split logs with a hatchet.

But I digress…

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The Outdoor Blogger Network teamed up with Fall River Flyrods, Montana Fly Company and RIO Products this spring to put together a rig consisting of an 8ft, 2-piece, 5wt “South Fork” bamboo rod, Madison reel, and double taper, floating line to be fished by 15 far-flung anglers over the course of the season. One of those 15 anglers will own the rod, reel, and line when all is said and done, along with an accompanying journal in which all 15 anglers will record their thoughts and experiences during their time with the rod. With a first season like that, the story of this brand new rod is off to a very good start.

Bamboo — A few Pictures

Sadly, not a whole lot with fish.

Which figures, since I have this wonderful bamboo fly rod to play with.

A cold front came through a few days ago and pretty much shut down the fishing. It turned the water considerably cooler and on one creek, it turned it crystal clear.

Of course the fishing will turn back on as soon as I ship the rod off to the next user.

A week earlier the fishing was hot and heavy anywhere I went on the Fox River or any of it’s creeks. My trip to a creek proved it to be devoid of smallies except for one.

A far cry from the previous week when I stopped counting somewhere around 30 on this same creek.

I was looking forward to another banner day of fishing, the creek is beautiful and it would have been a treat for the fly rod.

I did get a rock bass to cooperate…

And a handful of crappie were eager to hit.

Not what I wanted or expected, but better than getting skunked.

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I took the time to peruse the journal.

Definitely an enjoyable read with a bit of an artistic flair at times.

Also played around with the flies in the little traveling fly box.

Do you trout anglers really use such tiny little flies? Even the bluegills around here would scoff at that as an offered meal.

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Today was supposed to be a banner day of 20 or more smallies. It’s a go to spot, but nobody told me the fish had got up and gone. The bald eagle that floated around the area for a half hour gave me hope, but apparently they know as much about fishing as I do.

Did manage to avoid a skunking…

So I hung out near a boulder and tried to get a half way decent shot of the reel and some background. The fish weren’t biting, so I had to humor myself somehow.

Sunday, the ponds. This is where I salvage the week.

Unless they’ve all dried up since I was there six or so weeks ago. Hasn’t rained much in all that time.

If so, back to my initial plan…

Tying on a peanut and going for my wife’s trained squirrels out in the front yard.

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The Outdoor Blogger Network teamed up with Fall River Flyrods, Montana Fly Company and RIO Products this spring to put together a rig consisting of an 8ft, 2-piece, 5wt “South Fork” bamboo rod, Madison reel, and double taper, floating line to be fished by 15 far-flung anglers over the course of the season. One of those 15 anglers will own the rod, reel, and line when all is said and done, along with an accompanying journal in which all 15 anglers will record their thoughts and experiences during their time with the rod. With a first season like that, the story of this brand new rod is off to a very good start.

I’m Psychic… Who Knew

Since the day I heard back in March that I won the opportunity to use and write about the bamboo fly rod from Fall River Flyrods, the Madison reel from Montana Fly Company and the fly line from Rio Products, I’ve joked that I was going to break this rod. Not intentionally of course, but I know my history with rods.

Who knew that on the evening of August 9th my prediction would come true.

I think it’s going to need more than a BandAid…

When fishing the Fox River for smallies I use spinning gear and usually have about 15 to 20 feet of line out, letting a lure drift around in the current. I move the rod around a bit to pick apart every nook and cranny, ever tiny current break that might be holding a fish.

Smallies being what they are, the ultimate fresh water predator, it’s not unusual to have them hit right at your feet with no more than a few feet of line out. The hits are sudden and violent and the runs are intense. On a good day, I go home with a sore hand and wrist from fishing this way.

I use medium light spinning gear with a very fast action. I also only use braided line, which doesn’t stretch. To compensate for that, I keep the drag set relatively loose. The tip and loose drag are enough to cushion the blow of these short, sudden and violent hits.

I was doing the same thing with the fly rod on Thursday night.

With about an eight foot leader and another foot of line out, I was dragging something through the water in and out of a current seam. A pool of line was at my feet. I had the line cinched with my finger at the grip.

This I believe was the problem, no drag.

The hit was sudden and violent and my initial reaction was to give a quick hard snap back to set the hook.

And then I heard another snap.

That couldn’t be good.

The rods tip alone wasn’t enough to cushion the blow. Having the line cinched down and giving a quick hard snap back didn’t help. There was nowhere else for the end of the rod to go but… snap.

I knew better, but in the moment, I didn’t.

Sorry about this Mr. Zicha. No matter how much care in handling this rod that I took, I can’t control the actions of an aggressive predator. They don’t care what you’re rod is made of or how outstanding it’s craftsmanship.

They are there to humiliate all.

I do know this, no more short drifts at the end of a cast with about nine feet of line out…

I don’t think the twisty ties will hold for long.

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The Outdoor Blogger Network teamed up with Fall River Flyrods, Montana Fly Company and RIO Products this spring to put together a rig consisting of an 8ft, 2-piece, 5wt “South Fork” bamboo rod, Madison reel, and double taper, floating line to be fished by 15 far-flung anglers over the course of the season. One of those 15 anglers will own the rod, reel, and line when all is said and done, along with an accompanying journal in which all 15 anglers will record their thoughts and experiences during their time with the rod. With a first season like that, the story of this brand new rod is off to a very good start.

That was Odd

A week ago I went to a nearby creek that was relatively low, relatively clear and smallmouth bass could be seen swimming around everywhere.

The numbers catching that day was outstanding.

A few days later we had a down pour that dumped 2 inches of rain on the area in a very short period of time.

Yesterday I went back to the creek with the Fall River Fly Rod set up expecting the same. I expected the fresh water to have stained the creek a bit, brought it up a bit and turned the fish on even more.

Not quite what happened.

The creek was still relatively low, but crystal clear.

Few fish could be seen anywhere.

The water was considerably cooler than a week earlier, almost cold.

Was able to coax a few fish to flies, especially a school of crappie in a long deep pool, but it was hardly a numbers game.

Come fall and cooler temperatures I expect the creeks to empty of fish as they get colder. It’s not fall. It hasn’t been all that cool out and yet, the fish disappeared.

This is about 3 weeks sooner than usual.

Usually come the end of August and into September the smallie fishing on the Fox River is a numbers game. A catch and miss day of 100 fish is not unusual.

I wonder if it’s going to start this week this year.