July 30, 2008

Rolling the Dice

According to Colin Cowherd, all the greats got great by rolling the dice. I tend to agree. If you never take a chance, don't ever expect good things to just come your way. The key is knowing the right time to roll. Still, I'm pretty damn cautious generally speaking.

Yesterday had Mohawk flows appear to be nearing a return to something more reasonable, and I decided to risk life, limb, and a fishless day in hopes that levels would drop into prime smallie levels (anywhere near 1,500 cfs). Sadly they stayed up (5-6,000 cfs), and I had not so much as a tug in the raging waters. Joe did manage one little guy, so I didn't feel too bad for abandoning a perfectly good plan in favor of some risky wading. Hey, you win some, you lose some. It was still nice to have 360' of casting room, despite a bit of wind.

Tonight, methinks it's about time to check in on the creek again, see how she held up throughout all the rain, and if the trout that seemed absent during my last visit have yet returned. Hows that weather lookin?

July 29, 2008

Why does it always rain on me?

In desperate need of some fishing (haven't been since the 22nd, and after a stressful weekend...), I headed into the (relatively) unknown yesterday, despite residual high-waters from the unrelenting rains we have seen for the past, what is it, 6 days now?

The goal was to scout a nearby reservoir for a bass outing scheduled for today. I had been to the res. before, trolling for walleye, but only ever caught (massive) sunfish. However, as listed by DEC and evidenced by the juvies near the cartop-launch, there are smallmouth and largemouth there. Unfortunately, the area around the reservoir is completely wooded, so I thought it prudent to confirm that casting room existed from the dam.

Short answer; it does.

So, all the way to the end of the dam (and to the top of the spillway), and low and behold, I immediately spot a 12" LMB cruising along the top of the spillway ("WHAT ARE YOU, NUTS? YOU COULD BE SWEPT OVER IN A SECOND!"). Anyway, the water was moving pretty good above the spillway from a good ways back through the bay from the main reservoir, as you might imagine after all the rain, so I cut off the frog fly and threw on a weighted olive/green bunny-strip contraption with some flash that I came up with.

As I said, casting room exists...but it isn't exactly always where you need it...so, standing on a concrete wall, 6' above the water, with trees to my back left, bushes to my back right, more trees about 50' behind me, and tall weeds everywhere between, I decided to make sure I got as much line out as possible before starting to cast. This meant dropping the fly to the water while I stripped some line off the reel.

Curiously, or rather, not so curiously, the fly sat on top of the water, the dense, dry fur counteracting the weight of the heavy wire hook and wraps of lead. "Good," I thought, "this way it won't hang up while I get ready and into position."

Then I saw her. She agreed with me that it was good. The fly had hit without much fanfare, but apparently had made enough of an impact to attract her attention. I didn't know what to do. She was 5' from me (well, plus the additional height), staring at it. But not like a bass normally would...I've seen plenty of bass follow, and she was acting more like one of those snobby browns you find on a clearwater stream. The fly was motionless, except for the slight tug of the current. I could try to move it, which would likely sink it, but would that be a good thing or bad? Should I twitch it? Should I sink it? Should I try to dap? I was frozen. So she took mercy on me, and with a sudden explosion, engulfed the 6" of half-wet rabbit fur before I had made a decision.

I don't know exactly why, but all of a sudden I had 18" of feisty smallmouth bass on my line, and what little I had managed to strip out before I noticed her there was immediately gone. And of course, there was the spillway to worry about...she headed directly for the deep hole in front of it. To pull her up would likely send her over the other side. So we played tug-of-war for a little bit and she finally moved forward out of the trap, and I brought her close...but I had nowhere to land her (remember, 6' concrete wall). Sadly, I flicked out some slack, and was thankful to once again be fishing barbless.

So I made a few more casts...no follows or hits (the fly now acting the way it's supposed to, underwater), but a few twigs and leaves. So, time for a changeup. Of course I was thinking of changing just the fly...Ma Nature had a decidedly different change in mind, and sent the lone dark cloud visible for miles directly overhead, dumping on me for about 30 minutes, thunder, lightening, the whole deal. I got off the dam and under some leaves (which afforded no reprieve from the torrent), and realized, indeed, the sun was still shining. I was soaking wet and freezing, and the sun was shining. I laughed, waited it out, and headed back.

As the sun helped me dry, I made a few more casts, and realized that I just didn't have the energy or desire to sling weighted flies any more. So, I reverted. Hey, I had to make sure the fish were there, I couldn't bring Joe to a 1-fish pond with expectations beyond reality. So, ultralight rig with 8" plastic worm brought in a couple largemouth, and I was satisfied that there were adequate fish to warrant more trips. And I was wet, tired, hungry, happy, a little angry, and a little sad.

My car, however, is quite upset with me for leaving the windows cracked throughout the storm. Seems avoiding the lightning may very well lead me to being electrocuted by the power window circuits.

Oh well, live and learn.

July 28, 2008

Moving On

Couple pieces of (what I consider) great news this bright and beautiful Monday (well, Monday's always suck...but at least I'm home) morning. If you want to skip the BS for the really important stuff, head towards the bottom.

"Of all the words of mice and men, the saddest are 'What might have been.'"
-Kurt Vonnegut, Cat's Cradle (finally read the second half Friday afternoon)

That may be true, but right now, all I can say is, "Thank god it wasn't."

Long story short, I will never have to visit (much less re-locate to) Oklahoma again. It's always sad when something ends, especially something you've given so much of yourself to. But today is looking so much brighter than recent weeks, and for so many reasons. Even disregarding the personal reasons and sticking strictly to the practicality of it all...

-I will not have to leave my beloved trout. Our renewed relationship (by way of the fly) would have been something very hard to part with.
-My finances will have an opportunity to recover. Have you watched airfare over the past 6 months? And it's only going up from here with all the cutbacks. Weekly 1-3 hour trips in search of fish will remain more economical than monthly trips 2/3 cross country.
-In keeping with the financial upswing, NEW GEAR! Once again a possibility. I mean, come on, how long can you go without buying a new rod? I'm already a year since my last purchase, and my 2-rod collection is completely inadequate as far as even covering all the basics.
-"Spare" money and time also mean...a new companion (potentially). Last Summer/Fall I was heavy into the search for a canine counterpart. Once again I will have to enter the debate (with myself) over helping out a shelter/rescue dog or taking on a lifelong bond with a purebred pup. A decision I have found nearly impossible to make as of yet, and one that was put on hold over the winter as other considerations pushed it to the back burner.

How can you beat that?
-Family and friends are the two most important things in life (besides fishing of course...well maybe even ahead of that). Other than Big Sis and her family, at least 90% of everyone I care about is within 2 hours of me, and will remain so (at least for now). It's a good trade.
-Mountains, snow, ecologically responsible mindsets...these are things I could not go long without. I already don't see My Adirondacks enough...separate us by an additional 1,500 miles and I just might go insane.
-There is of course, the Job. To say I am content here (at work) would be a major understatement. Great work, great co-workers, interesting(?) clients, (now) reasonable pay, upward mobility...to throw that away would have been hard. Well, except for the flooded break room we found upon our collective return this morning. You can't have everything.
There are plenty more reasons to be happy with how things went this weekend. And like I said, I won't even get into the personal aspects of it all, but I know plenty of people (friends and family, and not the leas of them all, myself) who will be glad to know. It's about time.
From The Raconteurs-
"Take it as it comes, and be thankful when it's done."
I did, and I am.
And now, the moment you've all been waiting for...
and I sincerely hope I'm not stealing anyone's thunder here...but,
FoulHooked itself will be moving. Or at least the bulk of my posts. Alex has seen fit to expand the DayTripper site to include additional contributors, and I am honored to have been invited as one of them, especially as he had just recently contemplated calling it quits. For sure it's good to have him back and I can't wait to joing him over there. Details are still in the making, but in the coming weeks, I am looking forward to adding content to the layout he's come up with over there. Considering I had so many "projects" on Blogger that never got finished (ok, started), I can now just ride all the effort he's put into his site.
Like I said, we've only talked in general terms about it so far. In all likelihood, this page will remain here and perhaps even be updated occasionally. Maybe even some of those projects will start to bear fruit. And yes, for any of you guys that still enjoy flipping through the quotes widget, that will remain as well. Perhaps I'll bring a different version over with me. Who knows....
All I know is that I'm excited. I'll keep you (Margaret) updated as any new developments occur.
Moving on is good.

July 25, 2008

Before I go...

How fitting. As the Pacific salmon populations crash (so dire, apparently, that brown bears are turning to humans as food), news on Atlantic salmon continues to improve.

See Ted Williams' Blog for more info on this "Great Salmon Year."

Because I wanna be a cowwwwwboyyyy baaaabyyyyy

I'm headed out west sucka!

You guys hear of this new artist, Kid Rock? Pretty cool stuff, check it out.

Anyway, see you Monday ("And when I say see you, I mean see you, buddy! Because potatos have quite a number of eyes."), with some news and announcements...perhaps more than you bargained for.

Till then, careful wading...the rivers are coming down, but they're still high.

July 24, 2008

T'aint so bad

Patterson signed the bill. Times Union called it "risky." I don't think that headline is appropriate. Or rather, I think it is ambiguous.

The point is, as stated in the article, the "streamlining" process approved by Patterson is to go hand-in-hand with updated guidance documents (the scoping document and impact statements mentioned). I am lucky (or perhaps, unlucky) enough to be in a position to understand essentially what this will entail...and it will likely include additional volumes of material by which applications must be measured.

Yes, there are potential threats here. But I, for one, am satisfied (for the time being) with how the state is handling this. The provisions set out by Patterson (which were likely influenced by the concerned voices of the masses, good job guys) should help set the groundwork for "responsible development of the resource." And if you followed the conversation at all, these were ideas under consideration by NYSDEC anyway.

We're not out of the woods yet, but hopefully this bill, in combination with the required updates, if carried out responsibly, will provide for a more thorough, uniform review of drilling applications. With any luck, this will be a blessing, not a detriment, to the environment.

On a related note, CNBC reports on a pro-active approach of the companies in working with agencies and organizations to address water needs. (July 16)

July 23, 2008

There's no such thing as roughing it these days...

Singlebarbed got me laughing with a post about "camping" vs. roughing it...and also got me thinking about how I never recapped our April weekend. Figured at the very least, I could post a few pics to help prove some points (namely, that my friends and I are still young-and-dumb).
-Just got in...not sure what the BOTTLE is that's getting PASSed...might be Wild Turkey. That's me in the bottom right. Before the trip I told the big guy (to the left of me...dead) it was about 1.5 miles and mostly downhill...once we realized the road was closed, it became 4 miles and mostly uphill...my bad Brian.

-First morning...leanto holds a lot of man...did a job on a couple of the bottles...still plenty left for the coming evening. Hey! A-holes! Get up, it's 6:00 and 35 degrees already! There's plenty of empty ponds to fish!

-NO MERCY! See those rocks on the ice...yeah, they didn't just "appear" there..."someone" had to "throw" them at "Joe." Did I mention the pond was completely iced over when we got there...at 9:30 the night before?

-I'd rather find a comfortable log, thank you very much.

-And finally, "Mine's bigger than yours."

Is the sky falling?

Listen to this.

Feel free to ask Mr. Patterson to hold off on signing the bill, if that is how you feel...though it may be too late already.

How do I feel?

I don't know. I don't know exactly what the bill entails. My understanding is that this so-called "streamlining" is more of a combination of an update to NYS policies to include/allow for newer drilling technologies and a "standardization" of the process to allow for a more effecient review of applications. Both of these could be very good things.

Still, there are many remaining issues that have not been specifically and satisfactoraly addressed in any media that I have had the chance to look at:

-Surface water usage
There are in fact safegards in place to protect against excessive surface water withdrawls...however, whether the bill itself addresses how these safegards apply to gas well applications, I do not know

-Surface water contamination
Same deal

-Groundwater contamination via hydrofracking
Hydrofracking is a buzz word. Hydrofracking is not bad. Hydrofracking may have been used to develop your residential water supply well. However, to my knowledge, hydrofracking for petroleum development is exempted from coverage under the Safe Drinking Water Act. This is obviously not good. DEC has assured us that drilling and fracking fluids will be investigated before any permits are issued (and I, for one, having dealt with the Minerals dept) believe them. Also, keep in mind that the process will be used on formations 5,000-9,000' below the surface, much farther than any domestic water wells. However, that does not mean the bill does not require more examination.

Honestly, I wish I had more time to look at the issues more in-depth. There are some big issues out there still. A couple other points I would like to make:

This bill has already passed the legislature.

NYSDEC has about as good a track record as you can expect in overseeing potential environmental threats (perfect by no means, but far better, and more reasonable, than anywhere else I have seen in this country).

NYCDEP has a big interest in this as well (surface water removals and contamination)...if you think they will allow anything they perceive as a threat to their drinking water to occur, you are sorely mistaken.

As with any sensitive issue, I think caution is prudent, but I would make sure to include caution in reacting to inflammatory "enviro-nut" remarks too. Key to practial environmentalism is responsible development of available resources. If you're worried this bill is irresponsible, make your voice heard. I for one am not going to play chicken little. I will be watching it like a hawk though.

I was hoping to put a little more into this, but the timing of it all has limited me a bit, and I felt I had to get something out today.

Full disclosure - in case you missed this, I work for an environmental consulting firm outside of Albany, NY, and deal extensively with a slightly different part of the minerals industry and NYSDEC Minerals department personnel. I also have experience working with drilling crews, though never (yet) for petroleum.

July 22, 2008

"No time, NO TIME!"

"But she did..."

So much going on, so little time. Perhaps, if it is storming tonight when I get out of work, I'll forgo the Mohawk in favor of the "virtual river of information," that great, ubiquitous internet. The way things are shaping up though, that is not a foreseeable alternative.

In the mean time...

Newcomb was fun. Short version-3 bass between 4.5 fishermen hitting the water Friday night and all day Saturday. None of them on flies. But it's all about just getting out there...right?

Hit Cohoes again yesterday with Brian, lots of fish including a few ~12 inchers and one over.

Geoff over at The Angler's Net sent this my way...great topic that I've been following (from a distance) for a while...I may have to weigh in if time permits.

Always good to see fisheries articles in the hometown pape...Post Star will have something tomorrow on switching landlocked salmon strains for stocking purposes...implications....?????? (Should we be stocking Adirondack lakes with Maine salmon? Does it matter? Will we actually see the improved survivability and spawning rates they are touting?)

I ordered a tuna fish sandwich today...I couldn't help it...I kind of felt guilty/hypocritical...now I feel sick.

Tomorrow, parents need some work done. Thursday, a stop at the eye doctor's. Friday...well, we won't go there just yet....

Have a nice day.

July 18, 2008

Awww, he just a baby

Met Alex in Cohoes yesterday...apparently he was expecting something more "gentlemanly" than a scruffy unshaven twenty-something...that's ok though, I was expecting him to actually put a fish or two on the line...his or mine, wouldn't have mattered. I kid...but seriously.

Actually, I had a blast. He took us to the carp, and they were plentiful...and hungry...just not stupid I guess. He tried to spot me to a few, but I think they were in a particularly spooky mood (or maybe I just smell worse than I thought) where we started out. So we switched tactics to work our way through the deeper (relatively) water, mixing up blind and sight casting.

The fish out nearer the channel seemed much more at ease (I had two boil on either side of me, within arms length, immediately after my cast, within 10 seconds of each other), but not enough to take our offerings. There were carp rooting, cruising, splashing and sipping off the surface, but nothing we came up with got more than a look. Well, I did end up with a 5" smallmouth on a desperation white wooley bugger. I knew I saw it disappear and thought "Finally, get ready...here we go!" Needless to say, he did not take me into my backing.

It was an ultimately frustrating and exciting experience. I found myself struggling to clean weeds off the fly in time to make a presentation to a passing fish, only to be utterly denied. Angling is the pursuit of an unknown potential against significant odds...for people like us, that's a large part of why it can be so addicting. Without having hooked one, carp have already hooked me.

Since the faster water (smallmouth) was pretty crowded at that point, Alex was kind enough to show me his public pond (for some reason, that just sounds dirty), where we nabbed a few panfish and small bass. Aside from a few bugs (and the patchy skin on my ankle from wet-wading through the muck/weeds/carp-crap), it was a nice way to round out the evening. I even got to break the 3wt back out for the first time in (? weeks ?). That was a completely strange feeling.

And now, back north this afternoon. Genny, Jack, campfires and smallmouth are all calling my name. I hate to disappoint...

tendonitis, please go away, i can feel you flaring up again

July 16, 2008

Drums Along the Mohawk

I had a history teacher in high school who would always reference that movie. I've still yet to see it. I'm so uncultured. But it's hard not to think about the rich colonial history of the Hudson-Mohawk river basins when you're standing knee-deep in them.

Granted, the 18th century Mohawk Delta had little resemblance to today's, what with all the dams, bridges, roads and buildings...still, as I waded out onto the shale bedrock flats, alone but for a few geese and gulls, it was a nice moment.

That moment was shattered as I approached the first hole, and immediately felt a twinge of panic run through my body as an apparent sea-monster was headed at me, about to devour me whole. OK, it wasn't quite that dramatic, but I will admit to feeling a bit of a fight-or-flight primordial reaction upon seeing the back and fins of a massive (I mean MASSIVE...we're talking likely approaching 4') carp, and not realizing exactly what it was at first.

As soon as my heart calmed back down, I did something foolish and made a couple casts to it with my 5/6 Cortland travel rod...luckily the fish was not as reckless as I, and my outfit remains in one piece.

Back to the task at hand - Smallmouth. Have you ever worked way too hard to get to a spot, only to realize later that it was completely accessible via another, easier route? You know you have. Tuesday was one of those days.

Exhausted and covered in spiderwebs, I finally set up beside a nice run and drifted/swung an olive beadhead bugger through a few times. Couldn't believe nothing was hitting. I mean, it looked like perfect water. But all I got was rock and weeds. I was getting frustrated, when I suddenly realized that what I thought was the bottom was indeed fish the whole time. Thankfully I had sharpened my hook, otherwise I never would have known, seeing as I wasn't setting it when I felt "bottom."

So, inevitably, the code was cracked, fish were won over, and even in all my stink and sweat, I was a happy boy once again. Nothing big, mostly under 10", but who's gonna complain about catching fish in the center of the city?

So that's what I've been doing this week. Supposed to meet Alex tonight for some more of the same...hopefully even get into some carp (am I ready for this?). Then for the weekend it's back to the Adirondacks for even more smallies. Apparently last weekend was the start of a real warmwater kick, and I'll be happy to ride the wave until the next target comes along.

Speaking of targets, Mr. DayTripper himself is going to be spending quite a bit of time in my neck of the woods...er...something. OK, so he probably won't be the oldest freshman on campus...but for a minute, I had visions of Rodney Dangerfield on the dive team...and immediately regretted it. Congratulations Alex, don't party too hard.

July 15, 2008

Continuing in the wrong direction...

The Adirondack Almanack brought this story to my attention this morning. Essentially, EPA got smacked down by the Supreme Court in their attempt to regulate further reductions in mercury, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides emissions. (Everyone knows mercury is bad...SO2 and NOx from the mid-west are why so many absolutely gorgeous Adirondack ponds are completely devoid of fish.)

Question: What is the role of EPA if not to protect the health of Americans (CAIR was "predicted" to save 17,000 deaths/year) and our environment from pollution?

If they overstepped their bounds so be it...hopefully the legislature will take note and get something through in short order.

July 14, 2008

Wherefore art thou so distant, British Columbia?

Someday...someday I will make a pilgrimage to the Pac NW. How can you not...especially when Bacon over at BWTF waxes literary over it in his Dean River salmon series. "so laser. ultron badassness."

July 13, 2008

Bronzeback Paradise

Spent all day Saturday wading the Grass River up in Massena for smallies. I learned several things;

-I can indeed still cast my 5/6 wt (hasn't been done in quite a while)
-Smallmouth don't tire nearly as quickly as I thought
-In additon to slower/stillwater pools, they will also hold in and aggressively feed from trouty-looking lies
-Setting the hook on a 10" creek chub with the same vigor as a 12" smallmouth will likely propel it directly at your nether-region
-The Grass River has some really beautiful riffles
-I love fishing for smallmouths and will make it a point to get to the Mowhawk this week
-I still hate deerflies and horseflies
-Beaching is often a more reliable alternative to a landing net

July 7, 2008


A week of swimming in the ocean, relaxing on the beach, soaking in the hot tub, watching friends funnel beers at the pool, attempting to discard the farmers tan, pounding the sand into submission with my body in attempts to dig volleyball spikes, a bit of fishing...takes more than a day to come back from that, but I'm trying.

Apparently, Alex is back at DayTripper...it's good news but I just don't know if I trust him yet after his previous declaration.

Too much catching up to do, in work and reading...as I'm a little behind, here's (likely) the best video of the year if you haven't seen it already, from MoldyChum.