Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Flyyak Fishing Challenges

After much thinking, I have decided to add a new section to Flyyak.  I bring you the Flyyak Fishing Challenges.    These challenges are meant to give me something to strive for, or are an additional bonus while I'm fishing; plus, it should generate some material.  I suppose it is sort of like a never ending "bucket list" for fishing.

Unofficial rules:  On most days, I will be fishing just for the sake of fishing.  If I do happen to complete one of these challenges on such a day, then it will count for that challenge.  On other days I will call out my shot and post the challenge I will attempt to complete prior to attempting said challenge.  Should I fail, the challenge will remain on the list to attempt in the future, but I must admit defeat each time I fail.  On those days, if I am feeling ambitious, I may add an additional stipulation such as: "I will perform this challenge with my left hand behind my back."  Some challenges should be fairly easy, while others may take many years and a fair amount of luck to achieve.  I will add to the list when I come up with a new challenge, or one is offered to me.  Each time a task is complete, a blog entry will be generated declaring victory.  If one fish meets the criterion for multiple challenges, I can choose only one challenge I want it to count towards.  For example if I catch a 27" carp on the fly rod, it would qualify for 3 challenges (catching a carp on the fly rod, catching a 20-24" fish on the fly rod and catching a 25-29" fish on a fly rod), but I can only choose one goal to cross off the list.  As we go along, I will most likely need to refine these rules a little (read as: alter the rules in my favor), but these general guidelines will get us moving.

PLEASE post your comments below, or email me, or call me, or leave a note written on the sidewalk in front of my house with colored chalk, if you have any challenges you think I should attempt.  Especially if you think I will fail miserably in the process.  Feel free to call me out and say, "I want you to catch blahblahblah with a watchamacallit wearing a thingamajigger... in the next hour."  I may tweak the challenge a little in that last case, but you get the idea.  The more challenges I have available, the more content this will generate and the more enjoyable (for you readers) this will be.  I hope.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The One That Could Have Got Away

I arrived at the nearby reservoir with fog still hanging heavy on the water.  With June-like air temperatures, the water is already in the high 50s.  I'm never on the water this early in the year so I had low expectations.  This was supposed to be a scouting trip.  The park drains the reservoir every winter for spring run off (which we had none of this year).  So, with the water still four feet lower than summertime, my plan was to run most of the shore line taking pictures and mental notes of the structure I can't normally see when the water is raised back.  I paddled my kayak to the opposite shore and started throwing a white spinnerbait; taking pictures when a partially submerged log or a rocky ledge came into view.  With the size of the lure I hardly paddled as it was pulling me along a steady pace down the shoreline.  I even started to steer my kayak by retrieving my lure.

After two hundred or so casts, I thought of changing my lure choice, but I always have a good feeling using spinnerbaits.  I slowly began paying less attention to my fishing and my eyes and mind wandered.  I watched the bluegills smacking gnats off the glassy water, a spider skitter across the slippery surface of my kayak, the carp beginning their water thrashing mating rituals, the walkers and joggers going around the lake.  My mind sank deeper into unfocused thought, jumping from topic to topic with no provocation and no set destination.  I was elsewhere in my thoughts, but in reality, there was no where else I wanted to be.  Drifting through the calm morning waters with the sun beginning to warm me and the turtles already stretched out on the logs.  

My stream of consciousness started gaining speed.  Over the thought-worn rocks my ideas swirled and foamed, sprayed and tumbled. It pushed aside the small flotsam and rushed between, over, and under the larger obstacles on its way to harbors unknown.  Each runlet of conception added more strength to the torrent raging inside my brain.  Strong enough now where no force can stop it, eroding, moving, destroying anything in its pa-

My lure stopped.  My thoughts and ideas evaporated instantly, through my head, and back into the fog surrounding me.  My attention snapped back, but my mind still faltered.

                  It could have been a rock... a branch maybe... no this is moving... what do I do again?

                                Oh.  Right. 

                                        SET THE HOOK!

I leaned back and drove the hook home.  Somehow in my daydreaming, there was a fish fifty feet away who was daydreaming harder.  Thinking of the boys who will court her soon, the shad she stalks until one strays from the school, the diving birds stealing her lunch, or perhaps about those strange metal and plastic fish she sees occasionally who never swim just right.  Oh, hey, there's one now.  Yes, let's eat that.  And I'm glad she did. 

After a brief hand to fin battle I get her close and and I start shaking.  She fought well, but I didn't think she was this big.  I fumbled and swiped at her mouth causing her to dive deeper.  I got her back to the surface and make another pass that she nimbly shruged off.   I start thinking she is going to escape.  I reach my arm into the water, guide her in with the rod and lift.  Twenty three inches of scales and muscle and gills and slime.... a lot of slime.  It looks like she was swimming in pig spit.  Clumps of it clings to her body, her fins, her eyes.  Due to her poor health, I want to make this release even speedier.  Unfortunately, I'm as giddy as a schoolgirl when Justin Bieber asks them to the spring formal and apparently, my newly lost thoughts took my dexterity with them.  I manage to unhook my prize and take a slew of pictures of her letting her rest in the water often.  When I am done admiring, I open my hand, she turns under my kayak and vanishes back down through her suitors, the shad, the loons and those pesky fishing lures.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Installing a Kayak Rod Holder

Installing a rod holder on my kayak was part of my things to do list.  With this streak of warm weather we've been having and the first day of spring today, I needed to finish what I was planning to do all winter.  I bought a pair of Cabela's rod holders back in October but I had some hesitation to install them.  Part of my procrastination was my fear to put a hole in a perfectly good boat.  If my kayak was a sit on top, I would have probably put it off even longer.  Once I committed, the installation took only fifteen minutes or so.

The first step was simply tracing the rod holder with a Sharpie where I wanted it to go.  I chose a spot that I could reach easily, but I had little real estate to work with.  I wanted the rod holder to be in back of me and out of my paddle stroke, however, any of the area that the holder could have been perfectly placed had ridges.  I found a spot on the top of a ridge that had the most surface area and reluctantly marked.

Next, I drilled the impending hole with a 2" hole saw.  After the hole was in place I realized the top of the rod holder is in an oval shape so some filing needed to be done to extend the hole.

Next I marked the spots the screws where the screws were going and drilled pilot holes.

Finally, the screws were put in place.

I thought of using a silicone gel to seal the hole but opted not to.  There won't be much splashing of water where it is placed and if significant water is coming in through that hole, I will be worrying more about my life jacket being on correctly.  Had this been a sit on top kayak, I would have definitely used a sealant and procured a cap for the holder.

This weekend it will get the on the water test.  I'm pretty excited to have a spot to put an extra rod that's not between my knees.  hopefully its out of the way of my back cast.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

First Fly Rod Fish of 2012

It has taken me a while to put my 2012 fishing license to use.  April is normally the earliest I start fishing, and with this May-like weather we have had lately I couldn't resist any longer.  On Thursday, the temperature reached 70 with winds around 20 mph.  This left the reservoir I was at pretty choppy and the winds made fly casting impossible.  Out of 2 hours of fishing I ended up getting a tiny perch on the spinning rod.  Friday, I went to a nearby pond that I recently discovered.  I put on a generic dry fly and started catching lots of bluegill.  Occasionally I will go out to with the sole intention of catching panfish.  I, as well as everyone else, I'm sure, used to love catching them under a bobber, but I have acquired a new favorite way to target them and that is with surface flies.  There's not many things better than seeing a fish eat the fly, especially when it's on the surface.

First fly rod fish of 2012

Friday's pond fishing left me wanting more so I tied up some new dry flies and headed out the door for the same pond.  I caught more bluegill than I did on Friday and also landed a couple of shiners.  If you have never caught one, they put up a good fight for their size and they hit the fly with the intent on unraveling its every thread.  After only a dozen or so fish the dry fly became a wet fly and the fishing only got better. The fish of the day was a large bottom-hugging redear sunfish that was pushing a pound.

How the shiner got its name

Big Redear Sunfish

The guys cutting down trees Friday said they stock the pond with trout in the spring time for a kids fishing derby so I will be back to the pond after that for sure, or maybe I will show up during the derby and upstage some eight year old kids...  They tree guys  left a couple of lures that were lodged in the branches.  It just so happens that my favorite lures are the free ones!

A lot of the fish had black spot, a 3 host parasite that causes black specks throughout the fish.  It 
seemed as though the smaller fish had a heavier parasite burden.  I'm unsure if this is because the smaller fish eat more snails than the larger ones, or if it seemed like a heavier load relative to their size.  

The bigger fish should come out in the next few weeks!

Friday, March 2, 2012

My Greatest Fish Fear

I have climbed fifty foot rock faces without a harness.  I have slalomed through white water rapids.  I have descended snow covered mountains on a thin piece of fiberglass and plastic.  I have dove off a 200 foot suspension tower over an abandoned rock quarry dangling from my ankles by rubber bands.  I have slept among the bears and other noises of the night miles from civilization.

I would like to say that I am pretty adventurous.  If there is something that is dangerous and I haven't tried, I would probably give it a go.  I would even attempt to sit in the Devil's Armchair.  But, there is one thing that has plagued the deep, dark basement of my brain since I picked up a fly rod.  It started out as a minute thought, one that I could avoid without issue, but lately has been gnawing at me more and more.  My greatest fish fear is....

...not eating blowfish...
...not swimming with tiger fish.  Although I would like to Wade with that Jeremy guy... 
...not even noodling for sharks...

My greatest fishing fear is catching this guy...


Maybe I should say catching a trout on the fly rod.  And maybe I shouldn't say catching a trout on a fly rod, but attempting it.

"Isn't the fly rod made for catching trout?" 

Well, yes.  I suppose it is.  I have spent my whole life fishing, but it was only in the last year that I caught my first trout.  Since then I have tried chasing stocked trout with the fly rod with no luck.  This consisted of only using wooly buggers and bead head nymphs that I've tied as my trout tying arsenal is limited.  I could probably buy a few flies that would help me catch my first fly rod trout, but I would really like that fish to come on a fly I've tied myself.  That wish brings up another problem however.

"You're sausage fingers?"

Hush you.  My flies up to size 10 look pretty decent, but when it comes to the smaller sizes its not pretty.  This skill I'm sure will come with time and a few dozen unusable flies.

"I thought stocked trout were dumb and will eat anything.  Like fluorescent gobs of dough."

Ok.  That seems to be true.  However, rainbow collored dough balls may look more like food than the flies I tie.  I'm working on it and I have a few patterns in mind that I think I can handle.

"You know trout season starts in a month?"

I do know this.  I still have time to learn some new flies.  But I'm going to throw another challenge in there.  I'm going to tie this mystery fly with the materials I already have.  Part of this is to prevent me from buying more animal pieces, and I've been thinking about adding a new segment to the blog.  We will see how my ambitions and self confidence get along before I divulge more information on that.

"When are you going to work on your casting?"

What's wrong with my casting?

"Uhhh, nothing..."

Well, maybe I could work on my untangling skills.