March 28, 2008

"All you need for a good movie are tornados and scientists."



As far as I'm concerned, you don't need the tornados either. Click on the image to follow the link and make sure you mouse over it once you get there.

(xkcd.com)

DOH!

Somebody hasn't been paying attention (hint: me). Fred LeBrun is "retiring" from the Times Union. Among his varied and extensive interests and insights, Fred has reported on and been an advocate for outdoors issues over the years, in particular New York's freshwater fisheries. Today was his "official" last day.

My Horse is Still Blind

Got a decent size order in the mail from J. Stockard, and still haven't organized or quarantined/disinfected anything yet. Thankfully everything was shipped USPS so it shouldn't be here until Monday. Still, it might be a good idea to pick up some mothballs and cedar strips tonight and get things soaking over the weekend.

Did manage about an hour of practice yesterday after work, dusting off the 6-wt. If it ever warms up again...and the wind stays down...I might be able to break out the 3.

March 26, 2008

"Opening Day" and other myths

Really, what exactly does "Opening Day" mean anyway? For the Sox and A's, it was a couple days ago in Tokyo. If you're talking fishing in New York, typically that means the first day of open trout season, which is currently April 1st. But what exactly does that mean?

The single question I hear most from people I know (many of whom are the rare-angler at best) is "You can fish now?" Even that question can be based on a number of deeper questions regarding current weather, time of year, time of day, designated legal "seasons", etc. I'll let you all in on a little secret...there is no "opening day" any more.

Just like professional sports, over the years fishing regulations have moved towards providing alternatives and extended seasons for anglers. Here's how it works: Seasons are species-specific, with some species being fair game year-round (I know, you can't catch them in winter...read on below); species-specific and general regulations (season, minimum size, creel limit, access, even fishing hours) vary between waters; all this information is available from our very own Department of Environmental Conservation (chances are they have something similar where you're from); just find your county (or major water body of choice if it is listed separately) in the Special Regulations links, and have at it. If you do your homework (and live in New York State), you can probably find a place near you to chase gamefish on open water any day of the year. Unfortunately, this week's wind has been holding me off the lake.

Some other observations for the record:

It's not about shadow-casting a la Brad Pitt. Fish are skittish. Fish are ruled by instinct. Fish can see, through two feet of water and a few yards of atmosphere, a size 26 fly screaming through the air about as well as I can while I'm throwing it. The goal of false-casting (to the uninitiated, the goal of fly-casting) is not to attract a fish to the surface in wait of your fly, and certainly not to make one leave the water to attack it in the air. If that were the case, the best fly-fishers would rarely even have their line on the water. The truth is, the less false-casting, the better. Trust me, I've done the math on this, and you are 8.15 x 10^(3.4billion) times more likely to scare a fish with a false-cast than to interest one. There obviously must be a reason for false casting, that just is not it. Here are a few:

-Getting the line out- the most important reason, and really the base for the whole method; there are other ways to make your fly reach a likely fish-holding-spot, but false-casting is the classic

-Drying her off- flies become waterlogged; for dry-flies, this means they no longer float and need to be dried, and to the lazy fisherperson (one who does not need to contend with panicky fish and surrounding brush and trees), the easiest way to achieve this is simply "Air dry that sh^t."

-Done ain't doin it right- some of us are filled with self doubt, some claim to prefer to take their time (self-doubters), some are trying to get it "just right" (self-doubters); the truth is, in most situations, "excessive" false casts are a mistake; in many cases...any false cast is a mistake; the goal is more time with the fly on the water, not less

-Lay-off me I'm lazy- I will walk or wade tens, even hundreds of feet, continuously false casting, just because I am faaaar too lazy to strip- or reel-in my rig and let it back out at my destination; this is lazy and stupid because I estimate my chances of dunking myself increase at least 5-fold while doing this, depending on bottom-structure and current velocity

Of course, there are still other reasons to false cast (take out that fishing "buddy" who's outscoring you 12-0.7 with a half-ounce "streamer"), just as there are additional ones not to (taking yourself out with a half-ounce "streamer").

And although dapping, which sounds like a hell of a lot of fun, involves a similar "bring the fish to the fly" principle as the so-called "shadow-casting," they are not at all alike. Also, shadow-casting is dumb. Check out some spey or "trick" casting videos if you want to see something sweet.

Fish eat below the surface of the water. Why is this one so hard to understand? Is it because of the label, fly-fishing? OK, here it is; fly-fishing has "evolved" into a method of presenting an artificial lure carried by the heft of the line. It does not connote (for most fly-fishers, at least) using only imitations of flying insects. There are a myriad of other organisms (living below, emerging from, passing through, washed into the water column) fish feed on, including other fish, that we are able to present adequate imitations of with fly fishing gear. Just because you don't see bugs flying around does not mean I cannot catch a fish on a fly.

Fish don't mind getting wet. This has to be one of the classic responses to a classic question of the uninitiated. It's raining out...fish still eat in the rain? Yes, believe it or not, fish don't seem to suffer at all directly from the effects of water droplets falling from the sky onto their roof of water. 'Nor do most of their food items, which would tend to be aquatic organisms. If the fish are lucky, they might even benefit from having some additional critters washed into the drink for them. So yes, you can catch fish in the rain.

Let me rephrase that...yes, you can catch fish while it is raining. Perhaps someone has our could actually catch a fish in the rain, but that does seem like kind of a long-shot.

Fish eat year-round. Ever heard of ice-fishing? Believe it or not, most, if not all fish are incapable of true hibernation. However, most, if not all fish are dependent on environmental temperatures regulating their metabolism. What does this mean? Well, simply put, even in the dead of winter, though they may be eating less than in ideal conditions, they are still eating. If they weren't, they would be dead.

For most of our salmonids, ideal temperature conditions may range anywhere between 45 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Any individual species will have a smaller "ideal" range within those 25 degrees, but the "limits" of any of these ranges are soft. Fish don't just feed voraciously within their ideal range and then shut off completely outside of it, and there are many other factors that may perturb the temperature vs. activity level relationship. And yes, river-bugs are perfectly comfortable metabolizing in winter conditions.

Also, there are still land-bugs around in the winter. Many fewer, but they're there. We are often surprised by how much is going on whenever we just remember to pay a little more attention to our surroundings.

And....

That's all I have energy for, but there are plenty more. Penny for your thoughts?

Update: Still don't believe me about winter fly-fishing...? Check out this video (via DayTripper): http://www.fishwithra.com/web%20movies/winter_demo.mov

March 22, 2008

Who knew....?

Quite "off topic" but...did you know that according to a 1992 court ruling, women cannot be prosecuted for baring their breasts in public under New York State lewdness laws unless it is for commercial gain? I'll let you Google this one yourself, but be careful what you click on (you know, depending on your environment). Kinda makes you wish more people knew about this...I sure didn't. Thank you interweb.

With all the wind the past couple days, a few acres of the lake have broken open despite the cool temps. Looks like I might have to at least get some casting practice in tomorrow before heading out to meet up with the family. Winter's been too long...gotta shake off the dust and clear the mind.

March 17, 2008

OHMYGODOHMYGODOHMYGODOHMYGOD....

After a pretty much wasted winter...IT'S ALMOST TIME TO GO FISHING AGAIN!

That is all.

Oh yeah...Happy St. Pats...


March 12, 2008

More Steps Towards Recovering the Winooski...

(from Ted Williams' blog)

It's amazing country. My favorite place that I am lucky enough to spend time for work once in a great while. No matter what your interest (or what season you prefer), there's something to do in the Winooski valley. Make the trip if only to sample the freshest-possible Ben & Jerry's. Or visit a granite or marble mine, museum, or just tour the sculptures. Take a hike or go skiing.

Of course, you could go fishing too...

Seriously, if you have the chance, take the family up there. Tell them I sent you.

Sorry for sounding like a tourism ad...it's just a place I wanted to share.

Oh yeah, the people are quite friendly too. Like the (very local) couple that stopped their "vehicle" on a dirt road alongside which I was fishing last August/September. He had never seen anyone wave a fly rod...and she apparently had never been the one to end a conversation. We talked and they watched for more than a (fishless) half hour before the distance, and my inability to look and shoutalk (it's a word, trust me) in one direction and cast in another, became cumbersome to the conversation. Despite this, it was really nice to have a chat with people so friendly. Of course, I immediately became self-conscious about my technique when they showed up, but they didn't seem to mind my lack of finesse.

Some day I'll find the time (between the ever pressing work deadlines, sleep and food requirements, social "obligations" (i.e. trips to the bar), any available time spent on the water...and the all important video-games) to catch up on overdue trip summaries and reports, pictures, etc...this is definitely one trip that I plan to make as regular as possible.

March 3, 2008

"Don't worry if the horse is blind, just load the wagon."


John Madden, a man after my own heart.

Yet again I fail at following my own advice to maintain a sequential order of sorts. Found myself in LLBean this weekend to pick up some neoprene socks and Aquaseal...and found myself walking out with several packs of tying materials.

Obviously there's nothing wrong with this...especially since it was all cheap stuff (marabou, calf-tail pieces, wire)...but I have yet to take on decontaminating all of the materials I recently sorted through (trimming the fat, so to speak) and creating some storage solutions. At this point, I'm just adding feed for my little housemates.

So this week's do or die project is solving these problems. With the help of some potentially dangerous chemicals, good old-fashioned cedar, and good advice from others, I hope to get my materials, and flies, up to snuff. I've always (always being the past 18 months or so) agonized over mashed hackles...Singlebarbed's steam method should solve that problem. So simple...only an idiot could overlook it.