Wednesday, August 30, 2017

14 Hours

Some days on the water are just that... a long, full day on the water. Monday was one such day. Noah and I, on our quest for a CT bowfin, fished Connecticut River backwaters from kayaks from sun up till sun down.

The first few hours were all about muddy, weedy junk and the closest thing to a hollow bodied frog I can design. Bowfin are muck lovers, even when those areas are hot and not very well oxygenated. Air breathing has its perks! The first fish I got was a really nice pickerel, I mean REALLY nice, and it absolutely slammed my fly. It was a hassle boat-side, so no photo.

It took us very little time at all to see bowfin gulping air. Good, they were around. Now we just had to elicit a take and succesfully hook up. My fly was eliciting a lot of takes in the big weedy flats, but they were not bowfin.

After a while of seeing bowfin here and there on the "inside" of the cove and not really getting much response from them we went to the inlet, which is more of a short creek. That's where I got the first of 10 very obvious bowfin takes I would get on this outing. Just a viscous, loud, violent topwater eat from a big fish that hasn't changed all that much from it's ancestors that were thugging around the warm weedy water of the Cretaceous period. Spoiler alert, I missed ALL of the bowfin takes. Every. Single. One.

Plenty of bass though. Good bass day for sure.

The fish below was the hawg of the day. Not huge, but what a stout largemouth! She was not very long but just as thick as can be, 3.5 maybe 4 pounds. I was impressed overall by the health of the largemouth I caught, this was the first time I caught Connecticut River largemouth in any sort of numbers. These fish were all just chubby little things, which makes sense because there was so much bait around it was insane.

Before we made our way out of that particular cove we also had a couple close encounters with some absolutely beastly pike. And, weirdly, peanut bunker. We were pretty far from the salt water but they were unmistakably juvenile menhaden.

In the river itself some smallies were caught. Not big ones, but those river bass just pull harder. That happens when you spend your life fighting currents. After a log paddle we made it to the next cove, where we encountered something very unexpected. If I get back there soon I'll write about it

After a long paddle upriver, a long fishless time in one cove, and another long paddle back down, we spent the last hours of light where we had found the bowfin before. I missed my last three takes, found some roosted turkeys, and marveled at how much bait was around. We left pretty well exhausted.

14 hours on the water. That's a long day, a long, not so successful day! Sometimes just by targeting something you decrease your chances of actually catching it. 

Sunday, August 27, 2017

A Tough One

This post is coming at you pretty late in the day despite the fact that I fished pretty early and had all the time in the world to write it today. I'm rather conflicted. I had some good fish and fortune today, all was well and comfortable in my little world. But I am having a hard time feeling comfortable. You see, I was got into meteorology way before I ever touched a fly rod. That's how I got into photography, actually. I'm storm obsessed. When everyone else was running to get inside I was bracing myself against the wind and waiting till that crucial last second in the hopes that I could capture a snapshot at mother nature at her worst. Right now, it seems as though mother nature is doing her absolute worst to the good people of Texas and Louisiana. This is the only storm in my memory that I can truly say I'd prefer to stay as far away from as possible. Many of you may not realize it, but this storm is unprecedented. This is no Sandy, no Andrew, not event Katrina... this storm is a whole new evil and my heart hurts for all those in the clutches of one of the deadliest storms since forecasting began. Today people were forced to take refuge on their roofs in Texas, nowhere to go unless rescued, while at the same time the tornadic spin ups in the storm's bands trained over the same paths all day. I read the text of the warnings this afternoon.

Warning issued at 341 CDT for Fort Bend, Harris, and Waller...TAKE COVER NOW! Move to a basement or an interior room on the lowest floor of a sturdy building. Avoid windows. If you are outdoors, in a mobile home, or in a vehicle, move to the closest substantial shelter and protect yourself from flying debris.   

What are you supposed to do when your house is flooded to the 1st floor ceiling, there's 40 more inches of rain on the way, and there's a tornado coming that's completely hidden behind sheets of rain and fog?

This storm won't be over for days. It could potentially return to the Gulf and reattain hurricane status only to make landfall again and continue where it left off... this is a truly disgusting storm in every way. 

So, although I had some great fishing today, I'm not going to talk about it at length. I'll leave you with the photos, because we all need to enjoy things like this in life. It could end in a day or it could end years from now. And, though I am not a religious man, if there is someone up there... please have mercy on the good people of Texas and Louisiana. 

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Big Stripers and Monster Blues with Reel Cast Charters

On Tuesday I got a call from fishing friend Rick Seifert. He told me he had booked a trip for Thursday evening with Mike Roy of Reel Cast Charters and asked if I wanted to come along... easiest decision I've ever made! He said I should bring a fly rod, we were probably going to start start out live lining bunker and switch to fishing eels after dark. I figured it would be a great opportunity to get some shots at big bass on the fly, and certainly a good chance to break some personal records whether or not they it were on my favorite stick.

What we ended up doing was a little bit different from the original plan. Different water, different tactics, at least before dark. We started out fishing big topwater walking baits for big bass and blues. The action was extremely impressive. This part of the night was my best shot at getting a truly large fish on fly. I had a number of chances, had some huge bass boil on my big fly, but the only one I ended up hooking was a smaller bass. The plugs were, unsurprisingly, more adept at hooking and holding fish. The number and size of the fish in that spot and the way they hit those big do walking lures was impressive. The first bass in the boat for the evening was a 30lb fish... quite an impressive animal on an artificial! It took Ricks's lure multiple times before getting hooked and putting on an absolutely violent display on the surface.

The bluefish in that spot were true monsters. Mike weighed one, 16lb 4oz if I remember correctly...

Photo Courtesy Rick Seifert

After the sun set the topwater bite ended and we switched over to live lining eels. I dropped the fly rod and got back to my roots as a spin caster. Fishing the eels was pretty similar to using a Texas rigged senko for largemouth, except the fish we were catching were quite a bit larger... I think I got 4 over 20lbs, the biggest being 35 or so, my biggest striper by far; unfortunately she didn't hang around for the photo op. The hits were incredible, and the ensuing battles even more so. It really changed a lot about how I thought about targeting big stripers. The methods, the places we fished, the time of day... all new things to learn that I should, in time, be able to translate into big cow stripers caught not on conventional tackle, but my weapon of choice; the fly rod. For now, I'm pretty stoked with these ones.
Photo Courtesy Rick Seifert

Photo Courtesy Mike Roy
All I can say is thank for inviting me Rick, I had an absolute blast, and thanks Mike for putting us on the fish! I can't recommend Reel Cast Charters enough, Mike obviously knows how to find and catch those big fish, if you are looking to get into some big stripers, blues, or false albacore on light tackle or flies give him a call.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Sight Fishing for Sea Robins

Yesterday Dan and I got out early to fish a favorite flat. We got on a striper bite that may have lasted all of 10 minutes and then struggled to find the fish we wanted. Thank God for sea robins! I sight fished a whole pile of them on the shallow, clean flat. They are fun fish and I'm still amazed how anybody considers them a trash fish. Then again, that goes for any kind of fish.

Last night, I caught my biggest striper, possibly my biggest fish, ever. More on that soon.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Small Streams and Colorful Fish

I haven't really been fishing small streams much this summer even though they are higher and cooler than the last two years. Why, I'm not entirely sure. Today I decided to get my butt out to my spring creek. On the way there I spotted a turkey crossing the road. I stopped to watch. He joined another little tom on the other side of the road and they went about feeding in a small meadow. Then this happened:

After a little while I left turkey city and got to the stream. I had kind of forgotten how incredible this place was. Brookies, brookies, everywhere!

The top fly was a sz.14 beetle. No surprise there on a windy late summer day. I watched fish rise especially vigorously after gusts of wind. No doubt they were eating terrestrials that had blown out of the trees.Some of the fish I got were in full blown fall dress.

I decided to leave that stream after an unfortunate accident. I was getting very frustrated trying to cast under the bridge and constantly snagging on the aquatic grass growing along the opposite side of the stream. I got careless and whacked my rod tip against the bridge, breaking about 2.75 inches off the end. Luckily I could still fish it and St. Croix sells extra tip sections, so I'll have it back in perfect condition in no time.

The next stream has trout but it's really an odd ball as far as when and where I have caught them. One day you could go and see nothing and the next catch 20 wild browns and brookies. It's always good for panfish and fallfish though.

Between spots on that stream I poked a couple casts into a tributary culvert pool. There are always some brookies in there.

The last stretch I fished was absolutely crazy. I fished a frenchie and was constantly into fish in the deep holes. I must have caught 50 or more down there. Bluegills, pumpkinseed, green sunfish, fallfish, yellow perch, redbreast sunfish, largemouth... it was just a crazy mess of fish. I even caught a green sunfish x pumpkinseed hybrid... that's #61 on my list of species and hybrids.

A very rare hybrid!

You know you've had a great outing when you leave with a fly looking like this: