Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Fishing the Haw

On Saturday I pulled my hamstring playing tennis. I decided to test it out Sunday on the Haw River. I went fishing with two other guys from the local Trout Unlimited club here in Raleigh. When we got to the river we were greeted with a beautiful view. There were herons and osprey flying over head with brim hitting the surface as far as the eye could see.We spread out taking different sections of the river. Preston went for the center stretch.He was able to catch some fish in this section but said the wading was pretty rough.
I headed downstream and instantly had a hard time keeping my footing. My leg was sore but felt ok. I was concerned because I had to constantly work to keep my balance. The rocks were slick and at weird angles. The water was low and clear, I can't imagine how hard this river would be to fish in normal flows.
This gives you an idea on how treacherous the river is. At the normal heighth these obstacles are under water. It was hard enough to wade seeing where you needed to step, I can't fathom doing it blind.
Dave fished a nice pool upstream. He was able to catch a few fish too. The majority of the fish were brim and bass. Somehow he was able to hook up with a yellow perch.

I didn't get anything in this section but I was able to catch one sunfish at a section down stream. I will definately be back, another guy in the TU group invited me to fish by his section of the Haw near his house. It was a great day, I'll be sure to post more pics when I go back.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Fishing takes a back seat..

Unfortunately, fishing has not been my main priority lately. I've beens struggling with school this block. I have found time in between work, exercising and school to get some fishing in. I did go to a lake over the weekend. Lake Wheeler. I went with Tommy and some of his friends from Greeneville. It was a beautiful day and I had high expectations of the fishing. We rented a John boat. I always wondered why they were called John Boats, is it because you have to row them? Does the person rowing mean they are the John? I have no idea, I'll google it later.

Anyways... We headed out to other the side of the lake. After the first few rows the oar holder on my side broke. There was a cheap piece of metal holding the oar ring to the boat. That snapped. I tried to rig it so it would work but nothing seemed to last long enough for it to not break again. The set up for rowing was really bad, me and the guy I was fishing with Kenton, just ended up paddling the boat like a canoe. I started to think of the term John back in History, that was the name of the clients of prostitutes. I was starting to feel maybe it's called a John boat because if you get one you're screwed.

We made it to the other side of the lake and fished here and there. I was able to catch some bluegill on poppers but what I really wanted was a bass. Tommy and his friend Doubtin had some luck with night crawlers. I wasn't going to lower myself to use bait that day. I went as far as using my spinning rod with some rubber worms and stick baits but that was it. Kenton had a rough time too. The fish just weren't cooperating. It was a lot cooler than it had been the last few days but the fish seemed to be in deep water. We pretty much scoured the lake with different tactics. No fish were to be found.

The paddle back was a hell I would never want to relive again. It seemed to take four hours to get back to shore. I started to feel like these boats were rented by the hour because it takes an hour to get back to the boat launch from anywhere in the lake with these rowing peices of junk. After several rests and last ditch efforts to cast a few times and hope for a fish, we made it to shore. It was a fun day and nice to be on the lake but next time, I'll invest in one of those $150 Walmart trolling motors.

Click here for the history of the Jon Boat.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Too Close to Lightning

We had a crazy storm yesterday. The rain dropped about 2 inches in 20min. Power was lost at the house and there was lightning and thunder claps at least once a minute. I recorded with my camera phone hoping to get the sound of the thunder. What I did get was even more impressive. Watch the tree the whole time, you will see the flash of lightning shimmer threw it, along with an instant crack of thunder. I believe lightning struck right behind my house and the what you see threw the trees is the reflection off the window of the unit across the driveway.

My reaction was a mix of fear and amazement. I have never lived where lightning comes so close. I can see why NC has the second largest number of people struck by lightning.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Fly Fishing Characters We've All Seen

Characters in the stream
We've all seen them--Characters. Fellow flyfishers who have given us pause--either because they inspire us, humor us . . . or cause us to run the other way. The following is a collection of people I've seen or fished with who strike me as interesting fishing characters (some bizarre, a few possibly insane). None of these characters remotely resemble you or me, keep in mind. And it is not relevant that some of them catch more fish than you or me. That's not the point. The point is . . . well, I'm not sure what the point is, but follow along anyway.

The Entomologist
This one knows bugs. All bugs. Doesn't even have to make up bug names. Can pronounce the scientific names of all bugs, as evidenced by his pointing out that you cannot pronounce any of them correctly. Has one fly box for every species of midge, caddis, and stonefly. Two for mayflies. Three for spinners. His six "summer boxes" have dozens of grasshoppers with three colors of legs, ants in three shades of cinnamon, locusts (in preparation for the 17th year hatch) and billions of beetles. He has no Wooly Buggers. Often seen peering into small streams, exploring two-inch fingerlings with the same excitement as the Rambo type (see below) fighting a 38-inch steelhead. Sometimes dons scuba gear in two inches of water, getting animated about little pink eggs. Has an uncanny knack of pulling fish out of any water, including city creeks. He can pull a 12-inch brook trout out of your bathtub.

The Connected Crowd
This is the walkie-talkie/shortwave flyfisher, possibly touting a GPS and mapping software on his car laptop or palm-sized digital assistance. If he doesn't have a fly on a line, he is researching fly fishing online, and has his browser's favorites set to every flyfishing and insect database in existence. Where spotted: steelhead streams. He needs a worthy adversary. This one has the stalking skills of a sniper, that's why he brings a friend as a spotter with a walkie-talkie. Some may even be shortwave pirates on the lam, occasionally seen throwing dipoles in trees, launching their thoughts over USB and FM, watching their 6 for the FCC.

Rambo with a Fly Rod
A very courageous trouting warrior. He has fished where no man has fished before. Has his proven steelhead flies pinned into the wall above his bed, to "impress the girls." Has been known to follow a small drainage for four days with a 50 pound pack on his back, with a compass or GPS in one hand and a fly rod in the other, catching 18-inch indigenous cutthroat trout, the color of which has never been seen before. Doesn't even have to lie as he sucks all the air out of the club house proclaiming his gift to flyfishing godliness. When not in the mountains, is sometimes seen with the Connected Crowd.

Average Joe
This one has just started out fly fishing 10 years ago, dropped the sport for five years, and is picking it up again, and again, and again each season. Has 6 types of flies, but fishes with only a Royal Wulff, but is beginning to think about bead-head nymphs. Will dutifully listen to anything you have to save about fishing, but won't understand anything you have to say about fishing. Will automatically assume you are a better fisherman and worth listening to because . . . well . . . you're the one doing all the talking and he is nice enough to not tell you to shut up.

The Terminator
Has the cunning of backyard cat. Tee shirt reads, "I practice catch and kill." Bumper sticker reads "My other car is pan-fried fish." Fish is food--no ifs, ands or buts. One thing is certain: this one is getting plenty of Omega-3 fatty acids and will outlive you or me. He wants big fish, really big fish, and catches them with one of five flies: black woolly bugger, red woolly bugger, brown woolly bugger, olive woolly bugger, and a yellow woolly bugger. Could easily beat the crap out of 12 Entomologists. Sometimes seen with the Rambo type. Show him a chironomid and he'll punch you. Mention that he should try an Ephemerella pattern, and he'll beat you up, thinking you just called him a homosexual.

No Fish Guy
This is the person who is dutiful about all aspects of the sport. Practices casting on occasion, studies bugs to an extent, buys reasonable flies, kicked over a rock once to see what was underneath and then decided what he saw resembled bugs in books but nothing he or anyone else has ever tied. Catches small fish, but seems happy anyway. Also known as most everybody.

The Old Man
This man fished with Theodore Gordon, so he says. He probably has. He ties Bumblepuppies, Tup Indispensables and Cock-y-bundhu patterns just for laughs and shows them to the "chironomid kids", as he calls the young kids on his once favorite lake, which he'll constantly tell you was His lake until flyfishers started becoming more numerous than the midges. Being resourceful with materials at hand when need be, he has been known to tie with dog hair, but mainly ties with starling wings and bizarre parts of mammals and birds from English parts of the world. Sometimes found crouching next to a stream tossing ancient flies to a trout named George, who has been caught and released hundreds of times with the old man's flies. The fish will soon die of old age or boredom.

The Agnostic
For him there are no fish here, no fish there, no fish anywhere. When confronted with an unsuccessful day of fishing, he assumes the fish weren't present. Sometimes suspects winter kill or human intervention. If it's true that 10 percent of the fishermen are catching 90 percent of the trout, then the Agnostic assumes the remaining 90 percent of the fishermen are catching not much more than nothing (and probably using attractors). Disturbingly familiar person. Though not to be confused with you or me.

The Shop Guy
This person has the finest flies, all tied by people who don't fish and who live in countries not easily pronounced. Easily recognized by the plethora of clothes and gear more expensive than the cheap stuff you have. Sometimes donning the latest design in fly vest/bag combinations complete with hydration system and possibly a radio, if not a GPS. Knows the cfs of every river and creek within a thousand miles. By definition, shop people are very nice people, but like many, won't shut up. Can sometimes be seen with the Connected Crowd.

The Woolly Bugger Guy Has only one fly box. Doesn't like the fact that 90 percent of the fish are caught by 10 percent of the flyfishers, and plans to do something about this with Woolly Buggers. Ten percent of the flyfishers are getting really pissed.

The Paranoid Schizophrenic He keeps a gun in his waders because, after all, "there are some strange people out here." After giving you a cautious glance, if he decides you aren't the enemy, he'll talk your head off. Commiserate with him on all issues, or you're fish bait.

The Well-Traveled Angler This one has been on every stream in every continent on the earth. He has fished in more places with unpronounceable names than you can find in an atlas or online. "Then there was the wild anadromous brook trout in Lake Abacikerizeryz on the northern ridge of the Ural mountains in Russia. You won't find that place even on the internet." He would rather talk your ear raw than fish. A great fisherman. Just ask him.

The Beginner After talking to the Shop Guy, this one appears on the stream with half-a-shop worth of gear: Gortex hat, coat, gloves, vest, underwear; fly rods named after exotic metals and polymers and geometric shapes; boots that actually fit well and don a podiatrist's endorsement; flies beautifully tied (unlike the crap you and I tie) by people in countries who are in the news a little too often for vague political reasons. Sometimes seen fighting a fish bigger than you and I will ever hope to catch, running up and down the river like he has just stuck the devil. Damn it.

Little Girls and Boys Will stand on the edge of a lake as patient as a young tree. Staring at a metronome would be more stimulating than looking at them casting. For kids, fly fishing is fly casting, especially false casting. Don't giggle too much. With enough time, they will eventually catch a big fish on the most technical water in three states. Of course, they will love to learn more about flyfishing from you. Act intelligent around them. Someday, if not now, they will become better than you in most ways that are important.

The Other Guy Stands in the middle of the stream, not fishing. Not doing anything. Just staring at the edge of the stream. Looks around more than fishes. Bends down on occasion. If you are lucky, you'll see him raise his arm for a single cast toward a crease in the current only he, the fish and a nearby rock know about, and then catches the largest fish in three states. He knows you're watching. He knows what fly you are going to use before you do. The only reason you see him is that he probably allowed it. Don't bother being like him. You can't.

The Liar Talks a lot. Fishes little. Needs more friends than fish. You don't need friends. You need to fish.

The Drunken Flyfisher A member of the Liar Crowd. Also a member of the Woolly Bugger Crowd. Has been seen with Rambo types. They catch more and bigger fish than you and I do.

The Hummer Guy Can blaze a trail to the last pristine lake in five states with a simple axle shift. Be careful, though; he could also be a member of the Drunken Flyfisher, the Liar, the Rambo, or the Wooly Bugger Crowds. Fishes with dry flies the size of a small bird. Catches fish the size of a small whale.

The Girlfriend Doesn't have a clue how to impart the kind of precise action to a fly that took you 15 years to learn. Doesn't understand mayfly entomology. Thinks a spinner is something you do in the parking lot. A nymph is something she'd rather not talk about. Catches more fish than you do. Don't get her started on fly fishing. Has tendency to learn quicker than you did, and manages to stay put long enough on the edge of a stream and catch the fish you missed.

The Morally Superior Doesn't even fish. Don't talk to him. When he asks why you hurt fish, tell him "I fish; therefore I am." Be careful, though. He may be right. If a fish ever spoke one word to me, I'd hang up my gear for life.
Former Presidents Write books that publishers are obliged to publish--or else! Often seen with unseen dark figures. Don't walk up to such people and ask how the fishing is going, or you'll be staring at a Glock.

The Flyfishing Worm Slinger Fishes with bait at the end of a fly line. Easily spotted by his casting style, which consists of a kind of lobbing stroke one would use to cast a tomato. Easily confused with the Rambo type, but generally smaller in build. Don't get mad. Get even. Tie a piece of red yarn on your hook and fish it like a worm. Tell yourself it's a leech if this bothers you.
The Elated One Sees poetry in everything. Irony is afoot. The rising fish and the bent supplicant branches are messages only he can decipher. Just say Hello and walk on. Or introduce him to the Terminator.

The e-Bay flyfisher Approaches the sport a little more carefully, knowing that anything bought on e-Bay will be cheap and of the highest quality, even if it never arrives. A frugal bargain hunter on e-bay will typically own the most expensive equipment but somehow still look uncomfortable in his new trappings, sort of like a hobo trying to look well-heeled in an Armani that he found rooted in a dumpster.
Any resemblance of the above to actual people you've met is entirely possible, but probably coincidental and imaginary.
--Toney J. Sisk


Tuesday, August 12, 2008


Sorry, still no fishing pics. I did make it to a local pond yesterday. I managed to catch a nice 7-8inch bluegill. It was a amazing day. The heat has subsided and the humidity is really down. Yesterday it was 83 with relatively no humidity. It felt like I was in San Diego. Bill sent me some pics from the Ship rock weekend, I decided to do a little post about that. More fishing stories to come, I just got a tip on a pond that supposedly hardly anyone fish's and it has some monsters.

The day after climbing Ship Rock we went to a unknown crag by my brother-in-laws house. I just like to call it Z-crag. I call it that, because it is really difficult and also I think of a french person saying zeee crag. I know it's dorky... Anyways, from the bottom it looks do able. It doesn't seem like it would be that hard at all.
The beginning is not that bad you start with a layback that is pumpy but not terrible. Here's Russ showing how it's done.Then after this it gets to kind of a pseudo chimney. It's a dihedral that slowly gets narrow the higher you go. After this, you have to traverse over to a ledge and there is really only a few holds you can use. Some how I was able to do this on my first try. After that I couldn't do it again. Everyone was able to do the route, with Russ being the only one who could do it more than once. Then we decided to try what I thought was going to be the easier climb. It turned out to be one of the most annoying outside starts ever.Here's Bill on the beginning, there is a crack to his right that goes pretty deep inside the rock, I tried to go up that. Why are there no pictures of me climbing this? Because I never got more than 3ft off the ground. Even with that low altitude, I was still able to bruise the ball of my foot and jack my elbow up some how. I think it's from the 500 different ways I tried to get up this thing. It really pissed me off. It was fun, but like torture at the same time. You'd find some good holds but they weren't helpful to doing your next move. You really had to commit to each hold. They weren't large holds mostly finger grabs. The foot holds were fine but at strange angles. This was a great route for technique climbers. If you shifted your weight any way that was wrong, your foot would come off. Too tough for me at this time. It's nice to have something to come back to as a challenge. I will get at least 5ft off the ground next time.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Fishin' in San Diego

My cousin sent me some pics from a fishing trip he took recently. The one below I found pretty amazing. Seals aren't afraid of boats but usually they're skiddish of people. This one seems to be really hungry!

Seals always hang around the kelp beds near fishing boats looking for easy meals. I've never seen one hang one while a fish is pulled out of the water. Dan also had some luck with some other species. These pictures really make me miss living near the coast.
I'm supposed to go fishing at lunch today. I'll try to take some pics. If I don't get any. I'll definately try to go out this weekend for some bass at some ponds near my house. There is a little break in the wather and it's only going to be 90 or so. Too friggin hot still if you ask me but better than 100.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Rock Climbing at Ship Rock

While my wife and I were in Boone this weekend my brother-in-law was nice enough to guide me and a friend up some routes on Ship Rock. The forecast called for showers on and off, when we woke up Saturday morning the sky was blue and no storm clouds were in site. We headed for the parkway and decided to try our luck on Ship. The excitement started to build and as usual I had an issue getting my harness on right. It's not a big deal but from time to time one of my leg loops always gets twisted and I have a hell of a time figuring out why it's happening. Eventually I figure it out, but I'm sure it does not instill confidence with the people you're about to climb with that you can't even get your harness on right. None the less they trusted me and we approached the first climb.
The scramble to the first ledge was an interesting one. Not too difficult but you have to really pay attention, there's plenty of places to twist an ankle or fall on rocks. We worked our way along the bottom of Ship Rock and found the route Edge of a Dream.
Here's Russ giving me some instructions on how to rappel. Russ is my brother- in-law but he's also a really cool guy. He explains things really well and is very patient. The thing that sucks is, everyone else knows he's cool to and recognizes him. So we had to wait every 5min or so for Russ to talk to some random person hiking the trail that recognized him. I'm selfish, so I was like, lets get climbin' man! He was able to hide long enough from his fans to start the lead on Edge of a Dream. Before he started he talked about various rock features and how he was probably going to set up his equipment for the route. I was impressed he felt I knew the rock climbing vocabulary like what a dihedral and arete and other stuff were. I finally had to fess up that I had no idea what he was talking about. I figured, I better know what that stuff is, if I'm going to second and clean gear. After learning the terms, he started his climb.
The clouds over Grandfather Mountain looked ominous but the sky really was more blue than gray. What did start building up was a nice wind gust. It was more of a constant wind that I think was close to 30mph. It seemed to really intensify once Russ started climbing. He didn't seem rattled at all and looked to smoothly put in gear.
As he made his way to the corner of the route, the wind really picked up an it looked like he was close to being blown off.I really watched him closely because I was climbing next and I had to turn that corner too. He seemed to handle it fine and didn't really say how bad the wind was.
He got to the top no problem, set up a anchor then yelled down, OK KEVIN! I don't know why but I was more excited than scared. I mean the wind seemed bad but how bad could it be really?
I got to the first few pieces of gear with no problems, the climbing seemed easy and I was feeling more and more confident with every move. In my head I started to get a little cocky. I thought this is a 5.7? I'm killing this, maybe all the gym work is making me stronger, or maybe Pilot Mtn was rated harder..... Who knows? But this is friggin cake....
I worked my way closer to the edge and I could see Russ now, the wind started to pick up and now it was blowing hard enough to make me think about it. A few gusts I had to just hang on and wait for it to die down a little bit. I got to the corner and the wind really started to blast me.
Luckily, the holds were all awesome and I made it up the corner pretty easily. After the first few moves you forget about the wind and anything else that's going on. You just want to get to the top and there's plenty of holds to get you there. After I got to the top I did my first rappel down. It wasn't until I got to the bottom I just realized, not only did I do my first rappel but I also did my first climb seconding cleaning gear. I was pretty happy with myself.
Bill climbed next, taking a line right up the face near the corner. The climb was smooth and clean with no problems. It looked too easy, I was going to have to try that route next. Here's a couple more pics of his climb.
I was able to TR the same route. It was a really fun climb. The wind was still there but not as bad.
Buffalo Nickel

The next route we went to try to climb was a multi pitch 5.7 called Buffalo Nickel. The hike there really showed off the rock features of Ship Rock. The only word I can think of that describes it is gnarly.
Russ and Bill checking out the route. The beginning was the most sketchy part. You have to pull a decent move to get about 6ft off the ground. There are pretty good holds all the way to the first belay. Russ took the lead and showed us how it's done.
He made it look easy and set up to belay Bill. I was going to climb last on this one. The only bad part about climbing last, you have to wait awhile to climb. The good part, all you have to worry about is climbing. The only gear I had to clean was at the belay station. Bill had to clean and have a rope tail him. It didn't seem to bother him any.
This picture cracks me up, I have two people climbing a 100ft wall and just some rope is basically holding them on. Is this interesting me? Obviously not as much as the pictures I just took, because I'm looking at them in the back ground. At least I'm wearing my helmet.
This is good, yeah Bills smiling in this picture.
Not so much in this one, I think it's because he had to stand on a crappy little 3inch ledge to belay Russ, and I got to stand where Russ was. It was a nice huge ledge you could almost sit on. It didn't work out like that on purpose but it was kind of funny. Even with the good position you are basically hanging from 2 bolts on a cliff. It sounds scary but when you're doing it..... Well, it's not as scary. I helped feed rope up to Russ while he was climbing and we only had to suffer threw one tangle in the rope. I fed rope up while Bill made his climb to the top. Then I made my approach. Right before I started I heard a little boom..... The last thing you want is to be in the middle of a cliff in a thunderstorm. I looked out towards Grandfather Mtn and saw some clouds, I thought to myself that's probably just a sonic boom. Ten seconds later, BOOM.......... Hmmm alot of planes out today. I started to look at how much rope there was and tried to estimate if I could get to the top before a storm hit us. A few more booms and I knew it was thunder and the storm was getting closer. I tried not to worry about it and made my way to the summit. The climbing was pretty straight forward with only one section that you have to think about. At the very end there is a cave like hole you have to crawl threw. Once you pop out of that you're at the summit.We didn't have long to enjoy the view. A thunderstorm was coming are way fast. When we were watching Bill rappel down, rain was actually being blown up into our face. Kind of a weird experience but cool at the same time. There was a concern to get down quickly but it never got to the point that it was really scary. We never saw lightning. By the time I was about to rappel down the storm had mostly passed us, we missed the brunt of it. We didn't want to push our luck so we still made haste to get down quickly.
I survived my first multi pitch. It was a awesome day. Ship Rock is a great place to climb with tons of routes. I can't wait to come back. Russ is a great guide and I hope he'll tolerate me climbing with him more often. I don't think I could have been as calm through the whole ordeal as I was without him. While we were leaving we took one last view of Ship Rock from a distance. The view was pretty neat with the clouds in the background.