Friday, June 30, 2017

Back on the Road

Tomorrow I'll be off on another road trip to find some exceptional salmonids. This time, the targets will be brook trout and landlocked salmon. That's right, it's time to go back to Rangeley. Last year was fun, but the water flows and temperatures are much better this year, so it could end up being far better. We shall see.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

One Watershed, Tons of Variety

Yesterday I felt like doing some multi-species fishing. I grabbed the 3wt and a few boxes of flies and went out to find some fish. I started at the last mill pond in a watershed that has five ponds, one lake, and a few small streams. My plan was to fish two of the ponds, two streams, and the lake. There are tons of fish species in these waters. To list a few: bluegill, pumpkinseed, redbreast sunfish, rockbass, black crappie, yellow perch, white perch, smallmouth, largemouth, walleye, chain pickerel, redfin pickerel, brown bullhead, black bullhead, channel catfish, common carp, fallfish, brook trout, rainbow trout, american eel, golden pond shiners... the list goes on, but I think you all get the point.

The first pond gave up a whole pile of micro fish. I caught 5 species there.

The next pond was not so good, I caught one bass and a few bluegills. I went up the creek, which was actually almost dry, and somehow found better fishing. I had a decent largemouth break me off under this old bridge: 

Somehow during higher water a carp made it pretty far up the creek and got itself stuck. Luckily I was there to help. I caught it and carried it back down to the pond. The two other species I caught in the creek were bluegill and yellow perch.

On to the next creek. There, some black bullheads were guarding fry. I was able to catch a couple. They always go right back to protecting the kids after they are released. 

There were a few carp in there too, and even though I knew there was little chance I would land one on my 6'6" 3wt I just had to try. When one took, I immediately thought "oh crap'. I was in for a long, drawn out, frustrating battle. It wasn't even fun. But I can now say I've caught a 14lb fish on a small stream rod. 

That creek gave up one smallmouth as well. I spent the last hour at the lake hoping for a walleye or bigger bass, but got nothing but small bass and a single pumpkinseed. 

Fishing light gear can be a lot of fun, but please don't fish under-weighted gear for big fish like carp if you don't know how to fight fish correctly, you will kill them. Besides, it's not really worth it.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The Sky is a Stage

The sky is a stage, and every day is a different performance acted out by wind, water, and heat. Sometimes these actors reach that magical chemistry and instability that allows some stunning things to happen. Severe thunderstorms. To many they are a menace,  but these are my favorite days to be a weather watcher. Sunsets are lovely, snow is subtle, and tropical storms are brutal, but nothing captivates me quite like a severe thunderstorm. Yesterday the stage was set for some magic. Lines of low topped storms quickly developed, often training over the same paths. That allowed for some great photo ops. I got into a perfect position to observe the show at two different points during the day. The first train of cells went by in mid afternoon. They failed to get the energy they needed. Two in the line briefly produced hail and then fell apart.

That first line was just the opening act, a few hours later another line of cells fired and began training north east. As with the first line, there was one cell to the north of me that had already matured and one to the west that was just getting it's act together. Right when I got myself in position to watch the show both had defined lowerings under their rear flanks. The northern storm was struggling to maintain a rotating updraft while its western brother hogged all the energy and started feeding rain cooled air into it. A few small laminar funnel clouds danced within the lowering but it fell apart before anything really menacing could develop inside its writhing core.

Soon little brother became big brother and really stole the show. It was throwing cloud to ground lightning strikes ever minute or so, usually two or three simultaneously. It was not supercellular for as long as the northern cell, maybe only 5 minutes, and that meant instead of wasting energy on  rotating updraft it became a serious hail producer. It didn't take long for tendrils of falling ice to show up in the downdraft region. 

The storm didn't live long, but it put on a really good show while it lasted. Lots of lightning, hail, turbulent wind sculpted base... it was a beautiful spectacle. After a good thunderstorm there is often a hot bite on the lakes and ponds. This time that bite didn't really happen. One rock bass for me. But the meteorological beauty that proceeded it was really something.