Sunday, October 26, 2008

Demolition Derby

I went to the NC State Fair this weekend to see the Demolition Derby. This was my first time experiencing the fair as well as the derby. I had a assumption of how a derby goes but this by far better than what I imagined. Especially when the V8 cars came out. It was total mayhem. Twisted metal, roaring engines, and steam from busted radiators. It was a great time. Some of the cars really got after each other. The wagons seems to be the sturdiest cars. Many of the cars crumpled like tin cans. If you've never been to a derby it's a must see.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Fall Colors

I went to visit a relative in Galax last weekend. We went for a drive on the parkway and some of the trees had really started to change. It was nice to just cruise the parkway and enjoy the views. I look forward to going back for a visit and some fishing.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Drum da Drum Drum.....

Sorry, that just sounded like it fit, even though it's corny. The anticipation for the red drum trip was mind blowing. Preston and I were as giddy as 12yr olds as we bolted from work and headed out for Beaufort. We took off early to beat traffic and hopefully get some dinner at the Sanitary. It's a great restaraunt and I highly recommend it if you're ever visiting Morehead City. After dinner I tried to talk Preston into surf fishing. The weather was really warm and there was a full moon. It would have been pretty easy to see and wade in the surf. In the end we decided to call it a night, we had to wake up the next day pretty early.

The next morning it was 69 degrees at 7am. It was definately going to be a hot one. We got to the boat dock with our guide and the views were spectacular.
It was one of those days, you felt lucky to be alive. We started heading towards the flats, the wind was cool and brisk but not too cold. I was still awing over the views. The sun shining threw the mist in the trees was almost spiritual.Our guide was Dean Lamont, he was a great guy and had a awesome flats boat. I don't know much about boats but Preston seemed like an expert and gave me a lecture about how good this boat was on the way down to Beaufort. The engine is on hydrolics and can be raised an lowered depending on water depth, the boat can float in 6inches of water, and we saw this first hand. It has a platform the guide stands on to alert us of where fish are and when to cast to them.It was a couple hours before high tide. This trip was a real learning experience for me, I never understood how different fishing in the flats is to anything I've done before. When you walk on the beaches in NC, you'll often see little islands hear and there with tall grass. When the tide rises this grass gets flooded. Soemtimes the tide is a few ft over the grass, the fish come in with the tide and feed on the animals they can't get too when the tide is low.

The weather was steller. It was a perfect day for fishing. Calm winds, crystal clear water, bait fish running everywhere. We were very optimistic. The first few hours we cruised locations trying to find fish tailing. While we were coasting we'd cast to various areas.In some of the coves we found tailing fish. I had a couple chances at them, but I couldn't get them to strike. Drum fishing is actually pretty tough. On youtube, the drum fishing movies make it look like you just keep stripping and the fish hang themselves. Or that they are as plentiful as bluegill in your average farm pond. This was not like the experience we had. During the whole 6-7hrs of fishing we had, Preston was the only one who caught a drum.I can't say it was for the lack of trying. I cast more on this trip than I've ever cast in my life. My wrist was getting sore from it. I wanted to catch a fish bad. It wasn't my day though. The fishing was tough, we didn't see that many and the ones we did see were spooky. We searched everywhere, flats, creeks, snakey canals. I got to drive the boat on this one.

On the way back to the boat dock, there was one more suprise for us.Dolphins were feeding on baitfish, and some came within 20ft of the boat. Dean was nice enough to stop the engine and just let us enjoy the view for awhile.This kind of made the day for me. It was a great day, even though I didn't catch a drum. I am eager to go again. I'm not sure when it will be, but I'm definately going to put it on my things to do list.

When we were loading the boat, I slipped a little on the ramp, Preston was coming down the other side of the boat when I heard him start to slip. He slid about half way down the ramp and fell right near some oysters. Oysters are bad news, if you fall on them it's like falling on glass. I cringed as he went down and asked if he was ok, praying that he was. His response slowly getting up was "NO!" I came around the boat as fast as I could and he showed me his hand, where there was a huge gash in his palm. I knew right away he was going to need stiches. We stopped the bleeding and Dean had a first aid kit and patched him up. We made a detour from Raleigh and headed to a urgent care faclity in New Bern.I'll tell you what, you never want to fall on oysters, he had to get and X-ray to make sure no fragments were in his hand, they had to clean it to make sure it wasn't contaminated. To top it off after the pain of stitching everything he had to get a tetnis shot. He was sorry we were going to be going home so late because of him. I just told him his health is more important than being on time or fishing. I also added at least he didn't get hurt before we went fishing, then the trip would have been ruined. Preston is always fun to fish with and I look forward to going on more trips with him.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Hooked My First Carp

Today was not going that great for me. I wasn't too enthused that the weekend was over and work was kind of busy. The only thing to look forward too was fishing with Preston at lunch. For some reason I was starving and tried to go by the cafe to get a pizza before meeting at the pond. The cafe doesn't take cash so I had to stop by the ATM first. I walk over, put my card in, then notice on the screen, sorry for the inconvenience....... CRAP!!!! I was so hungry but I decided the fishing would take my mind off things. I arrived at the pond, a little grumpy. Preston hadn't showed up yet. It was time for a new leader. For some reason I was having a really hard time tying on the new leader. I finally just tied a Dave Maeda knot at the end of the fly line. The carp weren't showing themselves the last time I visited the pond. I looked in my fly box and figured, the fishing sucked last time, and it will probably suck today. I'm just going with a big black bead head bugger. Preston showed up just as I was tying it on. He showed me some killer spoon flies he tied. They were for the Red Drum trip we were going on this Thursday. We went down to the pond and it looked great but there wasn't that many fish to be seen, no carp. We cast a few, Preston showed me the action of the spoon flies. They were amazing, I'm interested to see how they work on the trip. We stopped fishing for awhile and talked about the details of our fishing trip. Then as we paused for awhile and looked out towards the pond, Preston spotted some fish. They were small bluegill and bass. I knew some more lurked on the corner of the pond and I had him follow me over to see if they were there. On our way around a big tree I saw in the spot where usually bass school a good size carp. I said to Preston "is that a carp?" At first he was like no, then saw the tail slowly moving.."Yeah that is one!" So he told me to get'm and I attempted too.

The shade of the tree was perfect to hide my shadow. The carp was maybe 15-20ft off shore. I knew I had maybe one cast. As I moved closer I spooked some small bass from the shore line, surely they'd spook the carp. I was lucky and the carp didn't seem to even care. It was definitely keeping it's eyes glued to the bottom. I decided I needed a cast right in front of the carp, so I pulled out about 20ft of line and started to cast. I wanted the distance to be perfect, so I went with two false casts. One, two, cast. The cast landed to the right of the carp the bugger slowly drifted down to the bottom. The carp turned towards the bugger. I gave it a slight twitch and the next few seconds are kind of a blur. I remember the carp move towards the bugger, a huge mud cloud, my line jerk, then me pulling setting the hook. The carp made a steady mud trail from the shallow water and headed for the deep part of the lake. I was in disbelief as I saw the carp swim away from shore and my line with it. The carp was just as surprised as I was. It didn't fight that hard, and I figured I was gonna land this thing easy.

I couldn't have been more wrong. Once I started to put serious pressure on the fish it freaked and headed towards the opposite side of the pond. I'm probably exaggerating but I swore in 5 seconds the fish had pulled about 100ft of line and for the first time in my life, I was staring at my backing. My drag was a joke, I had to keep palming the reel to stop it from giving line. Now my adrenaline shot into over drive. This was gonna be a fight. The fish had it's way with my 8wt. It would relax and come towards me then I'd try to really pressure it and it would decide to take off again. Each time I gained line, the fish would make a run and take off again. The fish kept zig zagging and tested every direction possible to get away from shore. Preston was having a fun time watching me and trying to coach me into which way I should pressure the fish. We started running down the bank trying to get the fish into shallow water. This carp had to be at least 15lbs. It would not give in. Then in the midst of our battle I remembered something horrible. I'm at lunch, how long can I really be out here? Will my boss understand if I'm 20min late from lunch because I was fighting a huge fish? Most likely he won't. I said that to Preston, and he was like screw it, you're gonna be late from lunch. I agreed and tried to focus more attention on the fish, then I remembered I had my phone in my pocket and it has a camera function. I tried to hold the fish in one hand and get the phone out with the other. I was able to get it out and I went to hand it to Preston. He was like how do I do the... He didn't even have to finish, I looked at the phone set the options to record faster than anyone has in the history of cell phones and handed it to him. Preston was happy to be the camera man and got the footage below.

That was the biggest fish I've ever had on a fly rod. I couldn't believe how strong it was. You can hear me in the video grunting. I was pulling as hard as I thought possible without breaking the rod. I think that might be the first time that carp has ever been hooked. It ran several times. I had the fish hooked for at least 6min. The run that broke the line clean, I figured was probably its last run. It figures, I didn't have any pliers anyways. I was just happy to have the experience. Next time, I will have the confidence that I can catch one of these beasts.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Trout Fever

Trout Fever

For some, the changing leaves and brisk mornings mean fall is coming. To trout fisherman in NC, it means trout season is near. Some fisherman still fish for trout in the dog days of summer. It is rough. From my experience, it's bad in late August. The water is warm, the days are hot. You have a lot of days where the word skunk not only describes the fishing, but also how you smell after a long day on the water. The signs fall is getting closer make me go into a trout frenzy. I start looking at my trout flies to make sure I have the proper ones for this time of year. The designated harvest streams are being stocked right now. Time to stock up on egg patterns, fat bead head hairs ears, big nymphs, and buggers. I've been watching Trout Bum dvd's, which only makes my fever worse. I started trolling through my bookcase looking for my John Gierach books. I even bought Trout Bum on tape so I can listen to trout info in my car and fully submerse myself in a trout obsession. I even have trout fishing dreams as the season gets closer. I have started watching the second volume of the Trout Bum movies last night, Kiwi Camo. It's interesting to watch the fly fisherman in this movie. In the first one, they seemed more like real fisherman, Kiwi Camo was their second movie and now they seem to have been poisoned by their own celebrity status. They act more like characters trying to be entertainig than fisherman. In the last movie Trout Bum: Mongolia-River Wolf, it's mostly about the journey. These guys are so damn lucky it's not even funny. They bought some military AWD trucks and have guides to drive them around to remote places of Mongolia. The movie should be called Trout philanthropist. These people are anything but bums. You want to hate them, because you are so jealous. Sometimes you want to turn it off, because you can't stand how someone could be put in a such a special situation, how do they deserve it? Yet you keep watching and are some what entertained enough to enjoy the fishing. The footage is amazing. I will probably be suckered into watching the next Trout Bum fish porn.

So back to my trout fever. I realized when I look at my trout flies, they take me back to my first time fishing with them. A flash back sz18 hairs ear makes me invisiion a log on the Watauga where I thought a trout would be and was suprised to be right. It was a little brookie. When I caught it, I started to get an idea that I might be getting the hang of this fly fishing thing. I had picked a fly for the right time and place. When I see my hopper patterns, I think of a flat pool off Dutch Creek. There was some tall deer grass hanging over the water. I imagined hoppers falling off this grass and tried to make my cast emulate the vision in my mind. I was able to follow through on my task and was rewarded with a 10inch brown smashing the fly. The bugger patterns, I have to smirk when I see those. For years I hated them. People swore by them, but I never had much luck. It wasn't until recently that I've became a fan of the bugger, especially white ones. My all time favorite and fly I have the best bonding experience with is your general run of the mill elk hair caddis. I love this fly. I like how fish react to it, never really inspecting it and almost always eager to take it, when it's presented right. I like the renegade and griffith's gnat too, but the elk hair caddis has to be the fly I go back to often. Especially when I use a nymph as a dropper. The new fly that's been filling up the outside corners above the beetle and ant patterns are some midges. I really have a hard time fishing these. One because they are so small, and a pain to tie on a small tippet. The second is that it's hard to sense hits even with a marker. I've found lately though, that I hook bigger fish with these flies. The hook sets are always suprising and usually I'm looking at another section of stream when I get a fish. I'll see some flashes near the end of a run so I start the case upstream I keep watching down at the end of the run and then my line stops. I lift it and there's a fish there. Last time this happened the fish was well over 15inches and started thrashing like crazy. All I could see in my head was this small size 20fly in the corner of its lip. Eventually it spit the hook and I was reminded again to watch my line at ALL TIMES. The last pattern I have fond memories fishing with is the San Juan Worm. Some fisherman feel using these patterns with fish egg patterns is cheating. They feel it's one step above using bait. Although if you talk to any fly fisherman long enough he'll tell you he's used them. The San Juan Worm also called SJW, basically looks like a red pipe cleaner. You'd never imagine it would catch anything. Many times the SJW has been the go to fly. Especially after it rained the night before and the earth worms come out of the ground and are washed into the creek. The last flies in my box are ones I bought to use at one time or another but never fished. I have a bunch of weird nymph and dry patterns. I might have fished some for about 20casts or so but if they didn't produce anything, I always go back to the same 5 flies. It seems that this is my trout fishing scenario....

I get to the stream, creek, or river. First I survey the depth of the water. Is it really deep, where I'll need weights to get nymphs down, is it really fast? If it is, I'll need a lot of weight and if it's rough, dries will be tough to fish. I look for fish activity. Are they hitting the surface or is the water dead? Are bugs coming off the surface, are gnats swarming near shore, do I see birds darting across the water snatching bugs. All these are signs of how I'm going to fish. If I see one rise, I start with a dry, I love catching fish on a dry, it doesn't matter if it's a trout or blue gill. If I don't see anything I'll use a nymph or a dry fly with a nymph as a dropper. It depends how lazy I'm feeling. It only takes a matter of casts for my dropper to become entangled around my leader. Once that happens the dropper is usually disgarded. If the water is high and fast with big deep pools. I dream about huge monsters lurking in the depths of the pools waiting for a streamer. This is when the buggers, clousers, and seducers make their rare appearance. This scenario always usually goes the same. The caddis usually for a dry, a bead head hairs ear or prince nymph as a dropper. Then later try a SJW, or bugger. Maybe a egg pattern with a nymph dropper. If none of these work, I'll try different nymphs, a stone fly, mabye a caddis pupa that I hate to fish. I've never caught anything on that. If everything fails, I go with a dry trude, and a hairs ear and fish both or either one for the rest of the day. This usually keeps the skunk away.

The trout fever is getting bad, on the way to work today I saw a dead fox. I love foxes. They seem like cunning animals and a wonder of nature. Looking at this dead one, obviously hit by a car. I couldn't help but notice how nice its tail fur would be for streamers or dubbing. When I think like this, I know the only cure is to go trout fishing soon. I'm doing something next week to hold me over. My friend and I have booked a guided Redfish trip near Beafort, NC. I've never fly fished from a boat with a guide before. I've never seen a redfish let alone targeted them with a fly rod. I'm pretty excited about this trip. Redfish are actually called Red Drum. They feed in super shallow water and do a behavior called tailing. This label came from the fish moving into 6inch water where parts of their tails literally stick out of the water. The fishing is supposed to be similar to bone or carp fishing. You see the fish from the boat, cast to them, hopefully not spooking the fish. Then make a presentation that looks like a crab, shrimp or something else they eat. Red drum can get up to 30inches. I'll be happy to catch anything. I'll definately have a report of this trip. I go next Wed. That weekend I might head to Boone and get rid of this trout fever.