Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Before the calm.

Dad and I waded a windy shore last Sunday. It had been a while since my last real fishing trip. A while since the weather hasnt been blistering and blotchy cold. A while since I havent had leaks in my waders. Even when I caught my only fish the time before and when I tried to string it I could barely run the old dull tip through a small flounders bottom jaw. And even after I had to make a strong second effort to grip the fish so that it wouldnt slip through my fingers when force from the poker was applied, the thrill of victory didnt last long. I was soon again pre hypothermic with a buttcrack full of salty dampness. Today was different. Today was warmer. The water temp just a hare under 60 where we were. God it was beautiful to have the air warmer than the water for a change. The cold north wind from days before blew out all traces of freash water and the southerly gale replaced it with tannic, opaque, glorious salt water. Clear enough to see your feet.

We didnt see any mullet the whole afternoon untill after the bite. While the sun was scorching red and orange and retreating behind low horizon clouds one final time before the bay quenched its light. There was a bite. Not a frenzy by any means but a flurry of willing fish who moved around us before the blue hour. Most of the day it was searching the one spot. Waiting. Touching and mouthing with bent lures and cursing. "we have enough hooks on these baits that if they get close enough well catch them" Thats what we said. And it is true. More than enough hooks.

Totally excited. Even a trip like this gets my imagination and blood moving and wishing it wouldnt end. The trout were all beautiful and strong. A school of three year fish maybe. All around twenty inches and all giving memories of old times new meaning. This is it. This is where Im from. This is my church. This is where my ashes will be spread. To drift the muddy shell. To wain with the tide and lay to rest by imaginations limit, on the bottom looking up. Viewing the seasons, and the never ending struggle.

Dad landed a rare winter flounder. Although we landed about five total. The one he caught was pushing five pounds. Probably the biggest either of us has caught while wading winter months. We joked about the winter flounder run. Good times. There does seem to be more this year. Maybe because of the hurricane. Maybe the rain. Maybe we are just lucky.

Sunday was beautiful weather. Calm, warm, fog. I mentioned that we should have gone that day instead. the bait was jumping at the waterside resturante late in the evening. But dad remarked that on days with perfect weather you probably wouldnt do as good as those windy tough days. Thats old wisdom. And a way to view adversity with optimism. But I knew there was another bite. All huge hungry fish. In a frenzy before one of Febuarys last cold blows. March awaits. There werent any eggs in any fish I cleaned. Next month there will be. There will be more released fish. And more high hopes while swimming flys and lures.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

REM Fish

I had a dream last night that I was standing on the bow of a boat. I was in an overgrown bayou with crystal clear water. The man on the pole said "right there on that point". I was looking at the point which was nothing more than an outcrop of mangrove that signaled the canal to make a hard left and then open into a large back lake with a smooth surface being disturbed by the occasional jumping mullet, v-wake, or dragonfly. I didn't see a fish but I picked up my line. I moved my rod back feeling the flex and release of the tip and released a few feet to it and then pinched to wait for a split second. This moment is more special to me than seeing the line roll out in front of me. this is the moment where you make the cast happen. When you feel the line tighten in your fingers and almost try to keep going back when at the moment of submission you pull the line down firmly and come forward with your rod, watching the tip bend to its extreme and at the moment when you feel the forward momentum you carefully guide the line towards the bottom eyes and release. Watching the pile at your feet disappear onto the rod. After that all you do is watch and see if you made the correct adjustments and if your timing was correct. This being a dream mind you it actually laid out six inches from the roots and I began to strip. Small sharp strips to let the feathers pulse and be "alive". I felt the strike because I was in contact with the line and paying attention. I stripped hard and felt weight and a couple heavy head shakes. After that I couldn't tell you much more than it was a large trout.(speckled trout) And It doesn't really matter to me how big my imagination could have made it. A fishes size isn't as important to me as it used to be. I think its all the pictures of big fish and the commonality that these pictures all have. The same fish, the same faces, the same look. It happens and its not that special to anyone but the person holding the fish and the person who held the camera. I think maybe philosophy might have a part in my change of heart and another might be the fact that I consider myself fully grown up now. No child resides inside. No rebellion. No constant need to prove myself. Although A need to prove is there but its a need to prove things to myself rather than others. I might be going through a phase that will pass but I think the excitement of everything coming together relies on luck more than it does skill. Although skill has to be at a certain level to allow yourself to succeed constantly through changing conditions. You have to be around fish to catch fish. You can throw to nothing and be the greatest angler alive and your catch will be outmatched by low caliber flailers. Being prepared and a little luck will always be welcome on my boat rather than having the title of greatest ever. Because even the greatest fall on their faces sometimes. And even the sun shines on my ass some days.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Material selection

This is a tip that you learn for yourself after realizing that the flies you just tied should should have looked exactly like each other but they don't! Like what happened to me a few times and still does if I dont proportion correctly. A lot of fly aesthetics problems are easily remedied by selecting the right piece of material for the job. Along with diligent proportioning practices your flies will come out looking like their supposed to rather than intermittent juxtapositions.

The first piece of marabou from the left is one I prefer for tails and wings. Its relatively uniform length makes it easy to work with and makes sleek looking flys.

The middle feather is super fluffy. I like these to palmer in a dub loop after clipping off a pinch to give the appearance of bulk on flies without the weight. This one works good for smaller flies mostly but I have made crawfish flies with these too like this one below.

The last has a big spine down the middle and will cause your creations to look uneven. I usually cut the quill a few inches down from the end and use the longer outer barbules on my fly.