Sunday, May 31, 2009

Bassin' on a Sunday Mornin'

Jen decided to come along with me on a fishing expedition. I told her I wanted to work on just spotting fish. She had a little trouble with this before. When we got to the pond the water clarity was crystal clear. You could see fish in the shallows almost everywhere you looked. We were greeted by the usually big carp. Jen couldn't see it at first, I think because she had no idea the carp was the big. Once she spotted it, she couldn't stop commenting on how huge the fish was. I didn't go into for carp, that fish was pretty common if not on the small side. She was able to spot fish quickly and had no problem seeing them. This was the first time she was introduced to popper fishing. I think she really liked it, there's nothing like seeing fish methodically swim up to your popper then suck it in. I never get tired if it. The takes always very, little nips at the fly, inhaling it, or my personal fave, racing up from the depths and crushing the fly. I didn't have any of those takes today, but I did have a feisty bass come out from some moss. I caught another one almost identical to this one. Those were my fish for the day. I did have about 50 denials. Bass and gills just inspecting the fly then turning around. I think in a couple weeks they will be hitting the flies with no mercy. Jen was able to catch a few bluegill. Her skills are really improving. She still catch's the occasional tree fish, but who doesn't?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Got in some Boone Time

Last weekend was my wifes birthday. To celebrate she wanted to see her brother and sister in law in Boone. We had a great time with them and our neice and nephew. The weather was kind of icky. It rained off and on the three days we were there. I was able to get out on the water with my brother-in-law Russ. I've never fished at dark and we decided to give it a try. We armed ourselves with head lamps and headed to the Watauga River. The sun was going down behind the hills and the water looked still. When we first got there I thought I saw rises here and there but I was fooled by the current and rocks beneath the surface. I worked my way upstream while Russ when downstream. There were many bugs hatching at this time. I could only peg one of them for sure. A black caddis. I had that pattern in my box, tied it on and began to work the water. I love this river. You can make big long casts and don't have to worry about over hanging tree's or sneaking up on fish. After moving up at least half a mile I had not received even a sniff at my fly. I also did one of my trade mark moves. After making several casts....PLOP!!!!!!! My reel fell in the water and made it's way downstream. It of course went into a deep section where I had to start pulling up the line to get it back, the reel kindly kept feeding me line until I got all the way to the backing. So I had to put it back on my line cursing under my breath the whole time. Then wind the line back on the reel.

I decided to head dowstream and see where Russ was at. When I finally saw him downstream he was waving at me to come over. A sure sign the fishing was good where he was at. It was getting pretty dark now and the wading was becoming challenging. I could see pretty well above the water but beneath it all started to look the same. I started to see by feeling around with my feet. Not the best feeling in the world. I was wearing chest waders and this section of river has places easily 5ft. I made it over to Russ with no problems. He had caught 3 all ready and filled me in on where the fish were. They seemed to be stacking up against the bank and you could see them jumping in about a 25yd section of the stream. They were hitting pretty consistently about one jump or rise per minute. Russ was generous enough to give me the good spot while he worked downstream. I tried my black caddis which I was sure was going to make a killing. I still recieved nothing. Russ was using a blue winged olive about a size 14. I decided to try a fly I've never used. It was a goddard caddis. Looks similar to a yellow hammer. It was bashe though. I made a few casts and finally caught my first fish. A pretty rainbow about 10-11inches. Unfortunately it was my only fish for the night. I probably had more hits on my fly but it was so dark it was hard to see my line and impossible to see the fly. I turned on my head lamp and realized it gave me the visibility of only a couple feet. It was great for tying on flies but not the best for navigating. I tried a few more flies but didn't get a bump. We had planned to fish well into the dark but the situation started to seem more dangerous then fun. It was pitch black dark, the headlamps seemed to do nothing, a couple times I had to check to make sure it was still on. Throwing a fly by your face without sunglass's on in pitch black darkness doesn't seem that enticing. We called it a night and were amazed that once we came up out of the river it was a least twice as light. You could see a lot better and the light from the houses seemed to carry further. It was a fun experience and I'd like to do it again this summer. Maybe I'll be braver next time and actually fish well into the night. We'll see.

On Monday I hit up a creek I've never fished before. It was right off highway 321. This creek was recommended by our friend Jasyn who fish's it regularly. I headed up in the morning, there was a slight rain. I could tell the creek had swelled but it wasn't raging. It was really beautiful, it reminded me of a few other's I enjoy fishing. I found a place to park and got my gear ready. The recommended fly was a beetle. I only had one beetle pattern and I just wasn't feeling beetles today with the rain. I decided to find a middle ground, I used a black ant pattern with a foam body. I put in a copper john as a trailer. I've never had much luck on copper johns. Today was no exception. When I first came to the water I caught a fish on maybe my 3rd cast. It was a pretty little 8inch brown. The fish couldn't have been in water deaper than 4 inches. Even at the depth the fish was invisible to the eye. The water was so shallow and narrow that casting was more of just flicking the rod then releasing any line. I almost was using just leader. I continues to work pools and runs until I found a little deeper water. Deep meaning the average was 8-12inches. I didn't get any more hits on the ant or john. I looked around at what was flying. Didn't see much, I did see a huge dobson fly that had just hatched. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a little yellow stone fly fluttering. I remembered hearing someone say, in the mountains always use yellow. I put on a yellow soft hackle. This produced a fish in the next couple casts. It was another brown about 6inches. That would be the last fish of the day. I wanted to fish more but I had some other obligations to attend too. It was a great day of fishing, I'll definately be back to check out this creek.

I didn't take too many pictures this weekend. Mostly because of the weather the rain scared me from breaking out my camera. On Monday it was so rainy I spent most of the day inside, I did spend sometime trying to capture a indigo bunting that frequently hit Russ and Amy's feeder. Those birds are SUPER shy. I did get some pics but they are of the bird far away. You can tell how blue it is. They are beautiful and seem to be territorial. The best opportunities to get pictures was when the bird was chasing others away from the feeder. If they see you at all, they are gone. They seem to know when you've gone in the house, because I was outside for like an hour and the bird hit the feeder twice both times to chase off a bird. When I lifted my camera or focused the bird was gone. I didn't see the bird again for 40min, then when I went in the house within 5min the bird was back. Frustrating. It was a great weekend and we look forward to going up again soon. I will try to get more pics then.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Local Pond

I decided to try my luck at the pond by my house. I haven't fished it since late march. There is some new construction being done around the pond and the water level has been drained some. I'm not sure why this is done, but this is the second year they have done this. I fished a drainage section I recently go to and was able to hook up with this little guy.I don't catch catfish very often. I caught this one on a damselfly pattern. Basically a beadheaded olive bugger. I think the spawning season is coming close for the catfish. This makes them really agressive. I was also able to catch a small crappie. It hit a blue and white clouser I tied for stripers. The fish wasn't much bigger than the fly. I was going for bass and running the fly close to shore. The crappie pounced on it. Both fish were caught less than 3ft from shore. I'm starting to think that most fish are caught in this distance. They do hangout in open water but more often then not hang out close to shore. I'm going to test this theory more this summer.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

First time for Striper

I went up with the Raleigh TU to do some striper fishing this weekend. A buddy was nice enough to let me use his boat. Preston let me use his rod and helped me tie some clousers the night before. I would be useless without that guy. The wife actually let me free the day before mother's day. I decided to make the most of it. I carpooled with another TU member and made a new friend on the way to the river. The anticipation was high and everyone was ready for a crazy day. Some people had came up a few day early. They said the fishing was ok not the best. I couldn't wait to get in the water. We put in and were off to a place called "the big rock". It's a common spot up at Weldon. Jim was the capt on the boat and decided we should anchor by the little river first. We cast for a while with no luck but we did see one striper rise about 5 ft from the boat. It was a pretty good size and if that was supposed to be a small one, I couldn't wait to catch one. The day went on and no one on the boat was having much luck. Jim had been fishing a few days prior so he let Ed and I fish. We tried various casts and different retrieves, not even a bump. It was rough watching the bait casters catch fish as we'd drift past them. They weren't doing it consistently but you'd see someone with a fish on here and there. In between fishing we enjoyed the view and conversation. We were lucky enough to spot a bald eagle. After what seemed to be 10,000 casts I had a fish on. It was a nice striper. We couldn't get the camera to work in time to take a decent pic. Jim said "don't worry you'll just have to catch another one." From how many casts it took me to catch that one, I knew it was gonna be no small task. All day long the water exploded with spawning activity. I've never seen this before and it is a spectacle. A ball of fish rises to the surface, it looks like pirahna swarming around a carcass. What is in fact happening is a female is coming up and the males are surrounding her. They are veracious in their intensity. The water literally boils and their is just flashes of fins and fish jumping. Then they disappear and you'd never know they were there. Every time Jim got up to try his hand at fishing he would hook a striper. I guess it goes to show you, it really is the fisherman and not the rod, reel or fly. Ed picked up a few stripers but I was stuck on my lone one. We decided to call it a day when the weather looked threatening. It was a good call to, while parking the boat lighting shot across the sk in a way I've never seen before. First it was right in front of us then seemed to brans further and further and further. It had to be the longest lightning strike I've seen in my life. Lasted about 5 seconds. The thunder was twice as long. The rain started to pelt us at that point. The boats were loaded and we were on to Fraziers to discuss the reports from the other boats. Only a few had stellar days. The fly of the day seemed to be a blue and white clouser. It was a great experience and I can't wait to do it again. I was really lucky to be paired up with some excellent fisherman. They were great company as well. If you're going to be stuck on a boat with someone for 6hrs, better be someone you can get along with.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Climbing at Table Rock

Climb was on 04/24/2009

This is a belated post. We did this climb a couple weeks ago. I just wanted to post some pictures and give a report. My brother-in-law Russ has been trying to get me to climb at table rock for some time now. I was happy we finaly got a chance to get in a multi-pitch climb there. A friend named Jasyn met us and Russ's younger brother Ryan was visting and made the accent as well. The weather was perfect and we decided to do the route Hidden Cracks. It was a four pitch climb with varying difficulties. The first pitch was 5.7, second 5.4, third 5.7, and forth 5.6.
Russ took the lead on the first pitch. He had never climbed this route before so that was a pretty brave task. Even though a route says a certain rating it can proove to be difficult. He seemed to do it with little effort.Ryan went up second. I climbed up after him draggin the second rope. I had never done this before and feeling the weight of the rope was a little odd. I had to clip into various gear placement spots during the climb. I turned a corner and was greeted with a huge drop off with some serious exposure. It did rattle me at first, I just stared at the rock and chugged along. At one point there seemed to be no hand holds. That is my worst nightmare. I reached around and eventually made a move trusting my feet. The foot holds were great. I was so eager to get to the top of the first pitch I went past a few gear placements where I needed to clip the trailing rope. This caused me to go back and clip the rope in. I swore that made the climb twice as hard. As I reached the top of the first pitch I saw Ryan. He decided this was a good place to trim his toenails.Russ cleaned the belay station and we waited for Jasyn to make his way up.Here's me testing my anchor. Not the smartest thing in the world to do, and one of the main reasons Russ did not let me lead a climb that day. The only thing holding me in this picture is some rope material. There was probably no chance of real danger by, but why test it?
As we looked down we could see Jasyn climbing his way up, Ryan got some good shots.We all made it with no problems up the first pitch. I don't have any picturs of the second pitch but it was a ho-hum 5.4. The views were pretty but we scampered up that pretty rapidly. The next 5.6 pitch had a interesting beginning. As we get to the top of the second pitch and are looking around at the 3rd Jasyn asks Russ where do we go? Russ thought this was pretty funny after explaining explicedly before we climbed this route that he had never done this before. You could tell Jasyn wasn't worried, but you could also tell he wasn't too sure where to go. The only bolt you could see was reached by crossing a suspect ledge. Your anchor point was 30ft or so behind you. This means if you fell you were dangling over about a 100ft cliff. Thank god it wasn't windy. Needless to say Russ wasn't leading this pitch. Jasyn did it, and he handled it like a pro. He complained of lichen and rotten rocks but still handled it with no problems. I followed second after Jasyn. The route was beautiful, great holds and awesome views. You can see the ledge you have to walk across with this picture. Ryan is making his way to the bolt.Here's more pics of Ryan making his accent.Russ decided to shoot a self portrait while waiting to climb himself.We all survived the third pitch. The last pitch was a 5.6. It was a great route. The only bad part is Jasyn and I climbed last. That wouldn't have been so bad, but I was resting my butt on about 3inches of ledge. I had to stay that way for about an hour.Russ took the lead again and handled it with poise. Russ is really good at making you feel calm and safe. He always seems to know what he's doing, and if he doesn't he's good at faking it. We all made it to the summit safely and had a wonderful day. I can't wait to go to table rock again. There are so many routes there and different types of climbs you could climb there for a month and probably not do them all.