Wednesday, June 20, 2012

My Daughter and Taking Her Steelheading

No matter who you are, life brings changes and like most when you have children it is not always easy to go fishing. Being able to work in a profession that allows me to have four days off a week has always been a blessing, but recently as well as over the last two years, things have really changed in my life.

Today life has been more about my daughter and though you all think of course when you have kids, its a little different for her. Recently and due to a long painful process, my daughter Lillian has returned to my home. Being someone who thought I would never get married or have kids and believed would become some kinda fish bum with a day job had his life changed 6 years ago when Lil entered my life. Though I never thought it would happen, it indeed has changed my life for the better.

Through the years I have taken Lil fishing, but never took her steelhead fishing. It just too hard and something you do not do with young children who have short attention spans. But recently with a new raft in the garage, a daughter who is out of school and keeps talking about wanting to catch a big steelhead not to mention perfect  weather conditions, I had to try it.

So this morning a good buddy of mine brought his daughter out with us and the four of us floated a short stretch of river. Needless to say we were not the only people on the river, but got some good water to swing. Instead of fishing, Lillian was content playing on the boat and on the banks. I was not sure how she would do and when I stepped into the first run, I found myself swinging to the sounds of giggling girls on the banks. After literally a few casts and paying more attention to the little ladies in the boat, my line stops and without setting the hook, feel two head shakes and then off. Not a big deal since I was more concerned with Lil then the fishing.

A few hours later the gals were still enjoying themselves and making a couple casts into another run found a player. I got a good grab, good set and a feisty chrome rocket was melting the Hardy. Though I did not land this one either, Lil got to see the fish wreck me, running, thrashing and jumping everywhere. The girls were  excited to see it all happen and a few minutes later I hook and land a large pikeminnow. Nothing special and anticlimactic for you and I, but the gals just loved it and were extremely excited to see it and hold it. It did not matter what species it was and the smiles on their face were priceless.  Lil also made a big deal about letting it go and I was happy to hear her say those words.

By noon we were having lunch in town and found the trip a great success. There are still bugs to work out like trying to teach a young girl how to pee in the ourdoors. Not an easy task for a dude, but I have confidence she will have it down by the end of the year.

Lillian and I on Father's Day, not a steelhead but her first fish on her new pink rod. I am so excited to see her excited to get out the door and cast a rod and enjoy the outdoors. I failed in teaching her mother the importance of fishing and how I sought to do it from the standpoint of why I do it, and not just the process and the fish. I hope Lillian learns this, or at least learns about her father along the way.

Food for Thought: Hatchery Theory and Practice

Theory in Hatchery Management is used by those that know everything about replicating juvenile salmonids but none of it works to help manage our dwindling native runs of fish.  Hatchery practice is used with the thinking that hatchery managers know what they are doing, yet they don't know why both their hatchery and native escapement cannot meet the needs of their individual watershed. Hatchery management occurs when theory and practice are combined: nothing works, nobody knows why and our fish runs go down the shitter, pissing off fish huggers, fishermen and tax payers alike........

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Vision Ace Skagit

The same people at Vision that brought you the easy casting Ace scandi shooting head several years ago, now have an entry into the skagit arena, and a good one at that.  Coming in at this stage of the game aint easy, especially when the skagit roster already has its starters, but this prospect has the goods to play in the big leagues.

The first time I saw the line it caught my eye just on color, being that its the first white production skagit line ive seen. Clearly marked grains/grams, a green weld at the back to signify direction, and small welded loops were among the other features that made a good first impression.

Upon taking it out fishing, the skeptic in me thought "how much different can one skagit line be from another?"...a couple days later, i had my answer. The rear taper is nice and short, giving good feel of the weight of the line throughout the cast. Turnover was as expected for a skagit, and given as thick as the line was, still maintained a tight loop shape. The icing on the cake is that it comes with a no brainer t-14 tip with the length set depending on the head length. loops on both ends of course.

For the technophiles, the usual taper diagram, but just to be easier on the eyes, I folded the sheet so as to create a dieting effect that made it...less fat looking.

B. Chou

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Landowners and Courtesy

Sorry, rant time. Yesterday I got out on some water that I only fish a couple times a year at the most. It is situated next to a river with homes and near the bank. Most of which cleared all the timber that was on the banks of the river and placed grass for their view extending into the high water mark on the riverbank. These homes are located on a great run ideal for swinging flies.

So yesterday while floating to this spot I ran into an acquaintance that hiked into there. After setting up into the run and swinging flies, I noticed that one of the land owners talking to him downstream. The body language did not seem too pleasant and after making my first pass through the run I got to talk to him. Apparently there had been several boats that have been fishing that run over the last few weeks and the fishermen have not been pleasant or courteous to the landowners, walking in the yard and urinating on the banks in open view of their homes.

Now I do not know the full story and did not get to talk to any of the landowners, even the ones that were standing by my raft while I worked down the run, but it was obvious when one of the landowners in a boat asked us to stay off the grass that they were not happy.

At this time I do not know or understand the property line and what equates the legal boundary of the high water mark on this river. I will soon, but was pissed that a few asshats can make fishing one of my favorite spots I have been fishing for a decade uncomfortable. Sure the property owners are upset there are guys on the water in their backyard, but if they had some manners it would not be a big deal. I continued to fish the run until almost dusk and know one in the homes approached me.

Please take a moment to think about what you are doing when around private property. Many years ago I lost the privilege to camp on some prime water East of the Cascades due to a similar issue. Luckily the landowner does not mind us fishing said spot, just cannot camp on his property anymore. Also it is not a bad idea to find out the legalities of the rivers you fish on a day to day basis so that if you are confronted landowners, you can have a more productive conversation with them. This problem is only going to get worse with everyone breeding and moving to the Pacific Northwest. At the end of the day the memory of a screaming Hardy was well worth the bullshit.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Stuff You Catch in Mexico When Not Catching Roosterfish

I finally got a much needed fishing vacation that did not involve freezing or sweating my balls off in a pair of waders. As my friends know, I am not a saltwater guy. Hell I give a shit about fishing flats chasing Bonefish or chasing Tarpon. This kind of fly fishing just isn't my cup of tea, but Roosterfish, well they always made me wonder. So last month I got my chance to see what this kind of fishing is like and just like steelhead fishing, got to experience the beatdown. Apparently there needs to be bait in the area to catch these guys and Sardina their primary food source was nowhere to be found in the area I was fishing. Still I got to experience seeing them and having a few of them fin while chasing various offerings I threw at them. I also got to see a huge school of Mullet get pounded by at least a dozen Roosters. A National Geographic moment for sure. In the end I wish I would have stuck to the beaches to fish for them, but even the few opportunities I had made it well worth the trip. I guess there is always next year and I did come back from Mexico with my head.

But I did get to tangle with several new species.

The easiest way to describe a Pacific Jack Cravalle is grumpy. These guys just beat you up and bark at you when they are pissed. If I couldn't get a Rooster, this was a close second for sure.

Sorry for the postmortem pictures, but the Dorado went home for dinner. Everything you hear about these guys is correct, they are a blast on light tackle and like to take flight.

Trumpet fish, interesting catch the first time, but not the 42nd. These guys were everywhere and swam backwards when hooked. Really the swimming backwards thing was the only interesting thing about them.

Pacific Ladyfish, the Whitefish of the Sea of Cortez. These would be a blast on a six weight and run, jump, thrash, etc. We found schools of them and even one huge school that was herding baitfish.

Spotted Porcupinefish or Spotted Pufferfish were interesting to see swimming to your fly, but not so much to hook. Still cool aquarium fish to say the least. Great fight on ten weights.

Pacific Needlefish, these guys are everywhere and aggressive as hell. The only problem is you cannot hook them in the beak and shred up your flies. Still having them around fills the boredom with explosive takes.

Barred Pargo, these tanks will wreck you in the rocks if you give them a chance.

Panamic Grasby, one of the many Cabrilla found in Baja. Very cool guys that eat up nice and give you hell when fishing in the rocks and coral beds. Give them an inch and they are gone.

A Pinche Cabrilla, I mean Clown Hawkfish. The locals call everything Cabrilla down there, Always cool to catch something you cannot identify.(Thanks for the ID Mr Note.)