Aug 30, 2009

Our vandal gets the benefit of the doubt

Before Al Gore invented the interwebs, there may not have been much better of a way to inform the world that Justin Sanders does in fact "suck eggs." I've never before realized spray paint the first wiki.

In the big trade, I received the following. I don't know what it's called, but it treated me well yesterday. I eventually left it behind on a snag; by then she was worn down to little more than a hook and some gold glitter. I guess all good things come to an end. Hopefully Jonn will read this and clue me in on a name and point me toward a recipe. I bagged a total of six fish on my triumphant return to the Snatch, all on this fly.

Someone had cleared the log jam, making it possible for me to work downstream. It turns out I didn't have to go far. I read once that you'll find the fish in the best cover for a given length of stream and I found the fish in the hole left behind by the jam.

And I'm pleased to announce the Snatch holds bass - well, at least this particular hole held bass. The hole was 5-6 ft deep in a stream than was running about six inches deep. Top that off with some lay downs and I was in business. Five of the six fish came from the hole, and I watched the biggest fish of the day swipe at my fly and miss, never to be seen again.

The day was chilly, and I found myself seeking sunlight instead of hiding in the shade. Partly cloudy skies were overhead and a brisk breeze made casting tough. A sixteenth of an ounce of lead feels like a pound when it hits you in the back of the head.

The sunfish was close to being the highlight, it was nine inches long. Even sunfish find the mysterious gold fly irresistible. I'm not really sure what species that is, but it was the prettiest fish I caught.

The day ended when a convoy of four wheelers rolled through, leaving behind some muddy water and a hot tip. After exchanging pleasantries ("Are you a cop?" "No, are you?") they were on their way and I was left waiting for the water to clear and pondering a trip to "the only other hole this deep". The water didn't clear, but I didn't mind. I had already fished three hours and caught my fish. My hole had quit producing and I was back from exploring some more water down stream. Things had wound down; by this point the magic fly was long gone and my pockets were devoid of anything closely resembling it. As the convoy headed out, I was right behind them.

While the sunfish was probably the nicest fish, my favorite was actually a sixteen inch bronze back. It wasn't a brute, but I came back to the Snatch to prove the creek held smallies. After being blanked on bass the last time, and knowing this creek often runs dry often I wasn't so sure. If it hadn't been for this nice smallie, I wouldn't be making plans to return.

I've decided to wait on some heavy rain to replenish my hole before I come back. With the low water, these fish weren't moving far and without more rain the creek may dry up. This year's consistently heavy rain has kept this creek running so far, and hopefully it doesn't change.

I wonder if I can find "the other hole."

Aug 27, 2009

Aged to perfection and cooked to order

I've always considered my college summers as the turning point in my life when I became an avid angler. Fishing the Illinois River backwaters was a great way to kill the summer and from that point on I was hooked. However, during a recent rummage session at the parents' house, I began to realize the seed was planted long ago.

As a kid I received just the right amount of tutelage and experience to make fishing enjoyable. As the childhood years passed into young adulthood, my interest in catching fish was developed perfectly.

I was not dragged outdoors for the grueling, teeth gnashing trips that have become common place in my life. I was able to fish a handful of times each year, mostly while visiting family in Missouri. My Grandpa was a farmer and held a few ponds. My Granddad was born on a farm and made sure we returned to it every year. Add a small dose of The Lake of the Ozarks every other year, and my fate was sealed.

All it took was a driver's license and some time to kill for the seed to blossom into the wonderful fishing adventures I enjoy every year.

If you enjoy this blog, thank Mom and Dad...but who should be blamed for my looks?

Aug 21, 2009

Whatcha Think?

of the new logo?

Here are the logos past. Take a look and let me know how you like the Pickerel logo. I've recently found the two old logos, one of them goes back a ways.

The Original
Phase II
Dock Fishing
Dave catfishing
Father-in-law's muskie
Dave fly fishing

Aug 19, 2009

The 3rd annual widow-maker weekend

Every year the risk grows. The chances of the Toothless Beaver fishing trip making a widow seem to become more and more real as we become more and more experienced in making a good trip.

Year one
saw plenty of fishing, some serious drinking and we dabbled in mixed martial arts. Last year the ultimate fighting moved to I-43 at seventy miles per hour. This year we avoided the interstate but tossed in a bar crawl and a Clampett boat (partially seen below).

Here you'll see six dudes on a mission. This is after stop number one of nine in the crawl. As the night wore on, rounding up the troops proved more and more difficult.

I've noticed a trend. As debauchery increases, the fishing quality has seemed to decline. Fishing quality has seen a steady decline since the beginning. This year was pretty crappy, however, I do have some proof we wetted lines. In a true Cinderella story Dave managed to boat the two best fish of the weekend. Beyond the four and three pounders shown below, the group managed a handful of small fish. I had some nice (but tiny) success with walleye thanks to a hot tip from Don. Scott didn't bother catching a fish all weekend.

Dave's two bass were the only keeper bass we found. Both came on a Berkley Shaky Head worm fished on the weed line in twelve feet of water. Dave and I are the only two who devoted serious time to fishing the edge, with the others looking shallower. All fish found shallower were in the 1-2 lb range, while Dave boated these two and I lost a similar sized fish in the same location.

Odds on the boat started strong but faded quickly. Despite our best plans, the best chance of making a widow came as a complete surprise. While tying off the boat, Todd pushed the dock to the limit and quickly found himself (and cell phone) chest deep in water. Initial reactions were serious, he was in pain. Later we found out he nearly lost a nipple on the fall, but sustained mostly superficial injuries. A shorter person would have likely taken it worse, and who knows how the elderly would have handled a similar experience. Looking back, we're laughing about it and are happy the dock failed under the guy mostly likely to survive.

In between all the slow fishing, we did find a few hours to "line the rail" and play yard games - the perfect cure for slow fishing and sore nipples. What you see below is as much of the rail as my camera could capture, it's about half. Keep in mind this is half the total of one day's drinking by five toothless beavers. I'll save you the trouble of counting, there are a little more than fifty bottles shown below.

Next up: the new found world of larvae

Aug 13, 2009

Productivity is sliding again

We leave tomorrow for the 3rd annual Toothless Beaver Adventures fishing trip. It's a trip my coworkers and I started three years ago and involves equal amounts of fishing and drinking. Our group has progressively grown and this year we'll see our first air mattress. Year one had five anglers, last year we had six and with the addition of Dave we've officially outgrown the cabin. This trip is legit, we even have uniforms. This years uniforms have be updated to reflect the addition of a pub crawl and the removal of the baseball game.

For recaps of trips past see here or here and stay tuned to see how drunk we got many fish we caught.

Aug 11, 2009

Pickerel Plans Explained

I previously mentioned a pond in southern Missouri where pickerel are top dog. I never thought much of the "grass pike" we caught there until I learned they were really pickerel. I also learned what a trophy pickerel looks like and got all excited. You see, in my head I had a picture of the sizes of pickerel we pick from this pond. That picture looks like this...

When I said I had a picture in mind, this is literally the picture I was thinking of. You'll see above my Granddad on the left and his brother, Uncle Joe, on the right. They're sporting a couple fine specimens and a pair of the sweetest boots I've seen in a while.

The picture is circa 1977 and it's condition shows it. I'm happy to report that, despite the ravages of age, this picture still clearly shows the "tear drop" marking that positively identifies these fish as pickerel. I'd be set if I could just get a positive ID on the brand of those boots.

This year's quest for pickerel ended with mild success, but there will be other chances to document for you, my loyal audience, the sorts of grass pike we know of.

Sneak peak:
I found this picture during a recent trip to visit the parental units. They dug out the album that documents our annual trip to the farm over the years. What else I found in the pages will be saved for another post. Hint: old fishing pictures of your's truly.

Aug 9, 2009

This trip was mostly free of bullsh...

I went to the club yesterday. Seeing as I still have not returned the yak, I took it - why not? I ended up with a few fish - seven bass to be precise but none worth noting. The weather was wacky. It started out cloudy with lots of wind, then I got some sun as the water smoothed to glass and we rounded out the day with wind and clouds again.

This was my first visit back to the lake I first fished back in April with Scott. It looked mostly the same, but I turned left instead of right and explored the rest of the lake. I found a bull who stared for a while before facing about for a display of displeasure. I also found a 2-3 foot deep cove that will be getting some attention next spawning season. Wind makes kayaking tough, so I didn't get to explore any single area before being blown from range.

Fish were in the mood for an aggressive presentation. I caught three on a 10" Powerbait before I realized they were responding well to a quick retrieve. Switching to a chatterbait landed 4 more in quick succession, the fish seemed to be cruising 10-12 foot waters. Despite some surface explosions, I couldn't find action on my Zara Spook nor my buzzbait. As the sun came out the bite died and I got hungry.

I need to return this kayak before they make me pay for it, but I think I'll be in the market next year.

Aug 5, 2009

In which the author shares an experience

The day started with innovation, was marred by frustration and ended with a surprise. Oh, and somewhere along the way I experienced fly fishing in it's truest form.

In my younger years I played soccer. Today I fish, but having some futboll gear in stock proved helpful.

Warm weather and waders proved stinky, so some sweat absorption technology was welcome on this trip.

The plan was for Mackinaw River smallies, and despite eight hours in the water you'll see no smallie picture in this post. You do the math. My last trip here proved just as productive, but water levels were much lower and water temps were far more agreeable than the October flood water.

Fly Fishing Experience:

I spent a lot of time throwing dry flies to rising fish, fly fishing in the raw. I tried the Poly-spinner above, and the Adam's below - both tied by yours truly. The target species was unknown (I suspect carp), but a smooth presentation was key. My casting skills are anything but soft, so this experience included countless spooks, a few refusals and two takes. Sadly, the two takes resulted me landing none of the target species. However, bad casts did hook into two bonus species who came from nowhere. I landed one gizzard shad, and lost a gar. Casting these light dry flies to spooky fish was challenging... and I loved it. I spent about four hours standing in one spot, trying to catch just one of those damn fish. Maybe next time I hit the Mackinaw I'll leave the Clousers at home.

I landed my second fish in eight hours by complete and total absent mindedness.

After picking apart a laydown looking for bronzebacks, I decided to call it quits. I turned my back to the pile and walked toward the parking lot. I felt a tug. It seems I had left my #1 Clouser Mad Tom in the water; when I thought I was walking I was really trolling.

I guess it pays to be a bird watcher.