21 October 2011

Random Idaho/Joseph Conrad Post

Time/Date: 1205 MST, 21-Oct-11
Location: The dark recesses of my mind, Idaho

"I watched a snail crawl along the edge of a straight razor. That's my dream; that's my nightmare. Crawling, slithering, along the edge of a straight razor... and surviving."
-  Col. Kurtz, Apocalypse Now

Seriously, though...It's not that bad here.

But I am definitely looking forward to getting home to my girlfriend, dog and friends, & finishing this field season.

Here's what's going on:
  • Though I've been slack posting on here, I have posted two dispatches on the Mooseknuckle Lanyards blog. You can read them here (Dispatches from...Idaho?) and here (Dispatches from…wherever..: Red State (of mind)).
  • I'm working on a new page to add here. Time is limited here due to the length of the work days & 45 minute commute each way, but I think it's gonna be kinda cool. I'll let you know when it's up. (UPDATE: the page is up. It's called Species Journal. Give it a look)
  • I'm getting slightly concerned with the aquaculture industry on both coasts. Read this article from the Atlantic Salmon Federation's journal & judge for yourself. Weigh in on the comments section if you so desire.
  • Travel: besides getting home from Idaho, there's a trip to Mexico for my friends' wedding in early November (Yucatan bonefish, maybe?) and a sailfishing trip to Guatemala in mid-December. And I'm having dreams of (more) redfish and tarpon, so we'll see how that works out.
Here's some music.

10 October 2011

On ending slumps.

Time/Date: 2220, 10-Oct-11
Location: Yellow Pine, Idaho

A picture says a thousand words.

A picture of a tweet with a picture says 2000 words...plus up to 140 characters on top of that...

Three fish brought to hand during a 45 minute lunch break. Slump over.

Thank you, Idaho.

And to Matt for sending me here to work.

Now to fish more to justify that $96 fishing license.

06 October 2011

On slumps.

Time/Date: 2300 MST, 06-Oct-11
Location: Yellow Pine, Idaho

I'll be honest: this post might not apply to the occasional weekend warrior that fishes every second or third Saturday morning for a few hours. I understand (without any sort of prejudice at all) that, while you enjoy fishing, it's not high on the priority list; wives/kids/jobs/household chores/whatever have to be attended to before fishing can be even thought of.

This post is more for the three or four or more times a week guys & gals that are obsessed with fly fishing. Out on the water, fishing hard, for hours on end, for days at a time.

And not catching anything.

My recent (current?) slump started precisely when I released my second Atlantic salmon ever. Which happened approximately 15 minutes after I released my first Atlantic salmon ever. I was feeling pretty good about myself (you can read about it here).

Two days later, I was back at it again.

Cast. Mend. Swing. Step. Repeat.

Hours go by, but, hey, this worked the other day. I did my homework. There were fish around, too; they were jumping throughout the run & the pool. A tug! Damn, it didn't take. Oh well, there's fish around, though!

This is the first stage of slumps: overconfidence, bordering on delusion. It's almost karma that a slump is starting.

Cast. Mend. Swing. Step. Repeat.

Days go by. Changed flies. Changed leaders. Changed spools. Adjusted speed of swing. Started dead-drifting bombers. Flies are changed more frequently. Back to swinging.

Slump, stage two: self-doubt.

Cast. Mend. Swing. Step. Repeat.

Rain for a couple days didn't stop me, nor did the high water from the rain. But it slowed me down. And I started swearing.

The fish are still jumping, though. All over the place.

Stage three: annoyance

Cast (casts start falling apart).

Mend (and mend and mend and mend...and yank the fly out of the fish's mouth).

Swear (did I mention I'm now swearing aloud, and fishing by myself? Great for tourism...).

Swing (fly's hung up on a boulder...give it a tug...fish comes up with it...the fly comes loose in midair).

Swear (again).

Step (and slip).

Swear (again),

Repeat (for 12 out of 15 days).

Stage four: anger & self-loathing.


Based on numerous experiences, in life and in fishing, firsthand or secondhand, the following are possible outcomes from here:

  • the slumping angler finally catches his fish, and falls to his knees sobbing with tears of joy & elation;
  • the slumping angler tells off all the Atlantic salmon (and, inadvertently, the two elderly anglers) within earshot, and goes fly fishing for smallmouth;
  • the slumping angler, in a moment of frustration, purposely makes his Helios rod from a 4-piece rod to a 12-piece rod;
  • the slumping angler, tired of seeing photos of fish in magazines, books a flight, hotel & guide in New Orleans for sight fishing for redfish.

Wanna guess what two-and-a-half out of four outcomes I've done?
(hint: I don't own an Orvis rod).


This is the part that might lose me a few fans...well, I don't have any fans, but it'll probably cause a few people to think of me differently.

The following are things I hold to be true, and they tie in quite well with slumps:

"Well, you know...it's just being out there, enjoying the fresh air and nature and stuff...."


If I wanted to just enjoy fresh air and nature and "stuff," I would own a backpack and a pair of hiking boots, and that's it. Or maybe a bicycle. Or maybe I'd go sit on a park bench with some breadcrumbs for birds.

I would not own a 3-weight, a 5-weight, a 6-weight, an 8-weight (4-piece), an 8-weight (5-piece), an 8-weight (2-piece fiberglass), a 10-weight, and a 12-weight. I would not be standing privates-deep in 50°F water in the rain in 25mph wind gusts. I would not be collecting Aeroplan & Alaska Air points like some sicko hoarder from reality television for future fishing adventures & schemes.

I do this because the pulse of energy, transmitted from leader to line to rod to me, when a fish takes my fly, is my crack-cocaine.

I fish to catch fish. It's what I live for (now).

And then I let them go. All of them.

"You know what they say: a bad day fishin' is better than the best day at work!"

I say this one myself sometimes. For me, it's largely true: I'd rather fish and get skunked than be at work.

But when it's howling wind, sideways rain, four or five degrees above freezing, and there's a better shot of not catching a fish than catching one...add in waking up at 4AM, spending over $100 on gas (and $35 on beef jerky?!) in three days, arguing with your girlfriend about fishing, losing flies, and chipping your windshield....

...maybe it's just better for you to go to work.

"10% of the anglers catch 90% of this fish."

I don't know if this is true or not.

If it is, I want to be in that 10%. Honestly, I want to be even better than that.

I'm not there...yet. But I'm trying my damnedest by learning one or two new things to help me reach that goal each day.

It's just this effin' slump is getting in my way.

"You can't catch anything without a hook in the water."


That's why I go fishing in howling wind, sideways rain, when it's four or five degrees above freezing, and there's a better shot of not catching a fish than catching one. And why I don't mind waking up at 4AM, spending over $100 on gas and $35 on beef jerky in three days; and I deal with arguing with my girlfriend about fishing, losing flies, and chipping my windshield....

05 October 2011

You're not from Texas...

...but the guy who wrote the following post is.

And so are the fish that he writes about.

This is a guest post by the one & only Brandon Robinson (finally!!). Brandon is the brains behind FlyStock and is a fairly prolific freelance blogger. You can find Brandon on twitter (@OneBugIsFake) and see a directory all of his guest posts on his website.

Not only did he write this kick-ass piece on his home waters, Brandon even chose the music to accompany the post!

Thanks, Brandon!

A guest post & photography by Brandon Robinson

How often can an angler say that he catches fish found no where else on earth?  Okay, there are a bunch of Cutthroat guys that can say that, but who else?  There are two species here in Central Texas, more specifically the “Edwards Plateau ” river systems that can say that about.

One is the Rio Grande Perch, which isn't a perch at all.  In fact, it is a cichlid, and according to those smarter than me, it is the only cichlid native to these United States.  They are ferocious fighters, can grow up to a pound and a half, and can be readily taken on a fly.  They aren't my favorite fish here, but I do love to catch them.

The other fish is the Micropterus treculii, the official State Fish, the Guadalupe Bass, or Guad for the cool kids.  Again, according to those smarter than me, the Guadalupe Bass is only found in a smaller region of the “Edwards Plateau” than the cichlid.  This is a fish that prefers to feed on insects and smaller baitfish when they are in their predatory prime, rather than other sunfish.  This of course, makes them different than your regular bass, perfectly suited to be targeted on the fly.  So much so, that fly fishermen call them the “Texas Trout”, out of fondness for the little waterborne creature. This was an amazing thing for a brand new fly fisherman to discover.

I first started fly fishing after a month or so trying to regain some semblance of skill with conventional tackle.  The girlfriend (at the time) and I had just watched 'A River Runs Through It' when she let on that fly fishing was something that interested her.  I've always harbored a crush on the art as well, but only a crush.  To me fly fishing was an untouchable movie starlet or magazine darling, and I was content on just watching the movie over and over.  Being the spectacular type of boyfriend that I am though (ladies...?), I did some research for the girlfriend's benefit and discovered a wealth of information and supplies nearly at our door step.  The shop owner was a young fly-savant, and the son of a preacher.  I nicknamed him Brad Pitt, logically.  She was excited at my discovery, but wanted to wait for lessons.  I didn't.

My birthday came around, and while I rarely celebrate the event, it seemed like a good enough reason to justify jumping the gun and buying a fly rod without the previously agreed upon lessons.  Forty-five for the rod, fifty-five for the reel, sixty for the line, and ten dollars in flies later, I was in the water of a little creek right by the house called Brushy Creek.  After succeeding in getting one “Dee Snider ugly” cast out in front of me, I watched my dry fly disappear behind a small splash.  It was then I realized I had hooked my first fish, as well as my soul.  I was never going back.  In two years I have fished and re-fished as much of that creek as possible, and have brought to hand many species of fish from her depths and shallows. Nothing in that river compares to catching our two native celebrities.

Like little bundles of nuclear lightning, Guadalupe Bass are some of the hardest fighting fish known to freshwater.  They are the kings of their environment and they use every inch of the river to fight against you.  Naturally, they have no natural predators to speak of, their biggest challenge is something well known to you Cuttie-Freaks, hybridization.  Particularly with Small Mouth and Spotted Bass.  Hope exists; recently the State has begun to stock genetically pure Guads in certain waters, they have also stopped stocking non-native bass in those areas and thankfully, many others.  These little guys are tough, and there is some water in which they have outlasted the small mouth invasion.  Where exactly that is, is a closely guarded secret.

Generally speaking, I spill my secrets.  I will tell you everything, every little piece of intel I know on the subject.  Provided of course; that I discovered the information, when we meet you have a fly rod in your hand, or we are in a fly shop.  If intelligence is entrusted to me however, I don't share it but with a certain accepted few.  This is one of those areas, not discovered but entrusted.  A pristine flowing creek, not far from town, that is chock-full of Guads.  In four fishing trips there, I have yet to see a single largemouth caught or swimming.  Because of that fact (and the eating habits of sizable Guads), bait-dunkers and key-chuckers believe it to be a bad fishery and leave it alone.

But let me tell you, it is fly fishing heaven.  I can tell you the name of the creek: Brushy.  My home waters, my own fly-fishing 'school of hard knocks', and absolutely the most beautiful creek in Central Texas.  When you fish this area, you know you are in a magical place.  Wind may be howling, but down in the water, you are largely protected from it.  It lives up to its name though, so your 9' four weight is for the birds.  Literally, in the trees is where you'll spend most of your time.  As fun as Tenkara sounds, I can't imagine welding a eighty-nine foot fairy wand out here either.  I can tell you, this is where my Eagle Claw shines.

After spending a small fortune in gas traveling to find water, I wanted to fish locally.  I had thought Brushy to be off the radar due to our current shortage of dihydrogen-monoxide, however I intercepted some chatter at the fly shop that gave me hope.  I decided to act on it.  Despite the 88th day or so of 100+ degree heat, and the tropical storm strength winds, in my gut I knew the fishing would be good.

What happened in those few short hours with my fiberglass four weight, Morrish's Small Fry, and a couple of Backstabber variants, was a refreshing reminder of why fly fishing is such an amazing way to fish, and while Texas will never replace Florida as my home: Brushy Creek will always be my home waters.  Given the current worth of a picture, and allowing for the Canadian/US exchange rate I present to you, a weeks worth of verbage, in these pictures...