Monday, May 6, 2024

Disappointing Return

 May 3, 2024

Luc has been recovering from a procedure and he is finally ready to go out.  He fished the day prior by himself and did rather well for a short session.  We both were excited to get back out especially since it was going to be cloudy all morning.  Weather was cold and misty when we launched to the boat.  Having started right away the last outing Luc debated whether to start as we did last time or venture a bit further up where we stopped the last time before heading back.  Wanting to check out the rest of the lake he opted for the latter.  Fishing was slooooow.  There were several misses from the both of us until I finally managed one when I switched to a white gurgler.  I'd miss or lose several more throughout the day.  Luc had hooked a fish at least five pounds when it suddenly came loose.  He would hook another seemingly heavy bass that refused to come up.  Initially he thought it was a catfish since it refused to surface but when it did he noticed it was foul hooked.  The day was a disappointment for sure given the entire morning was overcast.  We thought, wrongly, that is was going to be a stellar one.  What a shame. 

Friday, April 26, 2024

You Don't See That Everyday

 April 22, 2023

This was a rather impromptu outing and in retrospect probably was a bad idea.  Luc is going in for a procedure that will require some time to recover.  That means he is out for at minimum one week.  He asked if he I'd like to spend a couple hours on the water with him.  I jumped at the opportunity.  Given my last  outing was so poor I wanted to get at least one more shot it before Luc was laid up.  Luc had a lot to do before tomorrow including taking his boat to the mechanic to check what was going on with his motor.  I had to be home to prepare dinner for some dinner guests.  I told him I needed to be home at noon the latest.  He assured me I'd be home way earlier than that. 

Starting with one of my oldest favorite poppers, the gurgler, a fly that probably fought more topwater fish for me than any other.  For some reason it went out of favor with me but since Luc wanted me to tie a few for him since I decided to give old faithful a go.  With the sun just peaking, we started fishing an in less than five minute Luc gets a a boil but misses it.  I proceed to get one just after.  It feels small and when I get it to the boat I realize why.  It's a crappie.  Luc in shock says he's never seen a crappie on topwater.  On the past several outing it seemed everyone was catching crappie as they were coming in shallow to spawn except me.  It's not that I'm all that particular to this fish and as a game fish it hardly puts up a fight.  One short run and then it quits but I had I hadn't caught a crappie in close to a decade so I would have liked to get one.  Additionally my buddy Koji from Japan, the last time he was out stateside remarked that he'd like to catch one since there is none is Japan, so I would like to send him a pic. 
For the next hour or two the fishing was fairly decent.  Not epic but good enough to keep us entertained.  Since we were on a short time frame we blasted through pretty fast but once the sun become higher the fishing all but shut down.  For the next hour it was a slog.  We began our way back to the launch ramp and for the next hour withe clouds starting to appear the fishing began to pick up.
Several more bass were caught or missed.  This one probably my best of the day was more luck than skill.  I blasted a cast right up against the trunk of a submerged tree.  When I glanced over to Luc who was position the boat to retrieve his fly from a submerged structure I was hit.  I think I felt it rather than seeing it and since the bass swallowed it deep I managed to hook the fish. 
Later down the drift Luc casted in between two submerged brush and got a small boil.  He didn't react in time and continued his retrieve when the fish decided to hit it again.  This time Luc set the hook and brought it in.  We laughed when we noticed it was a crappie.  Luc's first topwater crappie.  I joked "well I guess I no longer have that on you"  I did for about two hours.  Few more fish bass were caught on our way to the ramp before quitting around 10.
On the way home I had to stop by the market. In the parking lot I see an Escalade crashing into several park cars. Thinking of all the youtube videos of carjackers playing bumper cars in the parking lot with stolen cars I looked for an exit out of its path. Driving toward me and the two vehicles ahead of me it drives over a small hatchback. Crushing it Monster Truck style. As its climbing I see the underbelly of the SUV before in crashes down onto the rear of the parked car. It then plows through some of the shrubbery, knocking down a steel pole before a man runs out of the market and gets the car to stop. I recall as a kid of the 80s always wanting to go to the Big A and see the Monster Truck Shows and "Bigfoot" crush cars now I was seeing it front row and center. When the Caddie finally stopped it was an old woman who confused the gas and brake pedals. What a day.

Sunday, April 21, 2024

Popper Season Has Commenced Not the Greatest Start

 April 18, 2024

Morning water has reached beyond the desired temp of 66°F for the topwater bite to start.  Luc and John had fished the day before and it was tough.  I was hoping we'd do better.  Unfortunately it was not.  Plan was to start with poppers and when we could no longer find any shadows we'd fish subsurface.  Got to Luc's house early and while at the light to turn into his community I took out my wallet to ready myself to show my ID at the gate.  I also put my sunglasses into my camera ditty bag so I wouldn't forget them.  Waited a while and when the light turned I made my left. Approaching the gate I reached down to my lap to grab my wallet but it was gone.  I stopped ahead of the gate and looked all over but couldn't find it.  I went through the ditty bag in case I put it in there.  The guard waved me over drove over and got out to look for my wallet.  It had slid off my leg in between the seat and center console.
Got to Luc's house and unpacked.  Little did I know when going through the camera bag I left the sunglasses out on the seat.  Fishing was tough.  Started with a freaky frog.  Changed out many times.  More times than I've ever.  No luck.  Luc eventually changed to a chartreuse foam slider ad that seemed to be the ticket for him managing three hard earned bass on it throughout the morning.  I only managed to get one to hit and I missed it.  Although I did have fish blowup on near my fly twice.  Initially I thought they were attacking my fly but no they were simply going after something adjacent to my bug.  We switched to sinking lines and deep water on the way back but we couldn't get any action with that setup.  Most interesting thing of the day was seeing swallows and their nesting site on the eves of the apartment complex.  Hoping our next outing will be better.

Thursday, April 11, 2024

Another Slog at Canyon

 April 8, 2024

Another day on the water with my good friend Luc.  Most likely this will be the last time I fish for this month.  Early in the day we had motor issues.  We were slowly cruising when the motor sputtered and had a slight grinding sound.  The moment it happened we both noticed it and simultaneously turned out heads to look at what just happened.  Lake is still beyond capacity which means we can not exercise the motor beyond 5mph.  Luc set down the trolling motor and put he engine in neutral to run it at a higher rpms which was suggested by his mechanic the last time.  The boat will be serviced the next week while Luc has a procedure done.

A couple outings ago we had an epic day we looked to replicate the day so we started at the same location we did that day.  It wasn't long and I was on a fish.  Again I began the day with a blugill colored Diamond Hair streamer.   Despite being a rather small fish it was a good start to the day.  Luc fishing a chartreuse EP Peanut Butter followed suit with his own small fish no long after.  We reached the hole that produced for us so nicely the last time but it failed to give us any this time.  The fish had moved on.    

Drifting along we reached the end of the section I managed to hook onto another fish that was running towards me.  Stripping as fast as I could I simply couldn't keep the line taut enough to keep him oneFor the rest of the day it was a slog.  It wasn't helped by the fact I have been postponing swapping out my sinking line.  I've been trying to squeeze the last bit of juice out of it and as a result I was frustrated all day with the line tangling and becoming gummy to the touch.  Cracks have not appeared so its time to change. Luc would get a few more and miss or lose some.  I would miss a few more.  Overall a slow day.  On the boat ride back to the ramp Luc said jokingly catching a fish that early was a bad sign.  Of course had it been an epic day he would have said the reverse.  One reason I wanted to head out was to test out my new filters in my TG7.  I bought an adapter ring and two filters.  A polarized one for obvious fishing reasons and a UV filter mainly as a cheap protection from lens scratches.  I didn't get to test the new setup much as I forgot to take many pics.  The fish were simply too unremarkable for me to remember to grab the camera.    I'll have to wait till next moth to really put the new camera set up through it's paces. 

Saturday, April 6, 2024

Opposite Day

April 4, 2023

With a successful last outing I was getting excited to head back to Canyon.  Luc offered up Monday but I could not make it so he asked if I could do Thursday.  So I accepted.  I've been on a Diamond Hair Streamer kick lately and I tied a few in a blugill coloration.  Within the first twenty or so casts I was on.  At first it did not register as a fish as the line simply went heavy with no reaction other than that.  I had thought I simply was dragging debris so I didn't fully commit to the strike.  Once I managed to pull it in more it finally gave some actual resistance.  Once it surfaced the bass spit the hook.  We were fishing a rather shallow section of the lake and just prior to hooking that fish I was contemplating on switching to my intermediate line for a slower retrieve but since I managed to get a reaction so early I kept with the fast sinking line.  I was reluctant to switch anyways as I was currently fishing my Orvis Helios 2 that has yet to break it's largemouth cherry.  It was Luc who managed remove the skunk off the boat with catfish after he switched to a chartreuse fly.
Fishing was slow but Luc managed one every so often after switching colors and a slightly smaller fly. After noticing several schools of shad in the 1.5-2 inch range I decided to change to chartreuse and a smaller finesse game changer fly to match the hatch. 
I manage to foul hook one of those schooling shad so the gamechanger was a good representation at least in size.  It's been a while since his seen schools like that and it was a good sign.  All the ones we saw were circling around docks but once they move onto the shoreline it going to be game on especially with poppers.
I would fish the gamechanger for a while until I lost confidence in it when I had not gotten any reaction.  Switching to a Diamond Hair Streamer in a shad coloration I finally got bit.  The fish was no bigger than the handle to butt section of my Orvis 8wt and not worth taking a photo. At one section we could see shad being chased under some branches of a submerged brush.  I casted into the branches hanging up in the process once I plopped it off the overhang a bass exploded on it but I couldn't hook up.  Several casts later Luc would reenact the cast again and managed to hook up.  Fished to about noon with Luc getting the occassional fish here and there.  All in all a very slow outing.

Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Epic Day Out

March 28. 2024

With packed schedule for the week I ask Luc if he is fishing in Tuesday, the only day I have all day free, but he tells me he's busy until Thursday.  I let him know I can make it work but I have to be home by 2pm.  Not usually a problem as we normally quit before noon which will give me more than enough time to get back.  Luc informs me Monday was great and we are going to return to that spot.
As I did with the last outing I started with the Sweet Home Alabama rig.  Once we reach Luc's intended location he's on within a few casts.  I get a fierce strike early but I miss it.  Luc would get two more bass all nearing or exceeding the five pound range.  It was then I decided to quit the testing the A-rig and simply fish the Diamond Hair streamer alone.  Not long after the fly change I was on on a largmeouth exceeding four pounds. 
We stayed on this spot for a while getting more and more fish.  Once the larger models stopped eating and the 2 pound and under class started to appear we were jaded and quickly released those in search of the fatter versions.  We stayed here a while until it dried up and we moved up looking for more active feeders.
We'd get some here and there mostly small fish.  I had to stop fishing for a while as the line at my feet tangled so badly I spent at least thirty minutes trying to unfuck the while thing.  Eventually it took both of us to figure out how to undue the mess. 
Finally with my line free we fished closer to the ramp for our last location of the day.  Luc managed another here and by then it was time to call it quits.  At the end of the had a double digit fish count with an average fish weighing four plus pounds with a six, a five and several four pounders in the mix. 

Friday, March 29, 2024

Don't Lose It I'm Not Tying Anymore for Another Year!

March 19, 2024

It rained the day before we headed out, not sure how it was going to affect the fishing but it was worth giving it a go.  I had tied a Dagur's Sweet Home Alabama fly for myself and one for Luc.  It's a fly version of an Alabama rig (A-rig).  I told Luc when I handed it to him, "Don't lose it; I'm not tying anymore for a year!"  It took me about twenty minutes to tie one of those flies.  Not because it involves any difficult techniques but because it's a bit fiddly to work on.  Getting the arms to align properly is the biggest issue.  Also I have to switch from a tube vice to a traditional one in the middle of the process.  Personally I find the whole process annoying and not very fun.  I'm sure if I started tying more of them I could become more efficient at it but I'm not sure that's going to happen anytime soon.  Unless, of course I find the fly to be killing it then I could be motivated to tie more.
With spring around the corner and daylight savings now in effect, we are starting earlier than our previous outings which means I'm waking up at 5am to at Luc's by 6:30.  As it warms it's only going to be earlier so I better get used to the lack of sleep.  From the start I was rigged withe the A-rig attached to a shad colored Diamond Hair Minnow.  I thought it would be an epic day after his first cast, Luc was already on a bass.  He would get a few more after that.  I would get a few strikes on my set up but failed to connect on any.  Once we moved from our first location the day became a slog.  After a couple hours of unrewarded casts Luc broke the monotony with a crappie.  From there we moved to deeper water and we began to get on fish.  After not connecting on several strikes I decided to abandon the A-rig and simply fish the Diamond Hair by itself.  Luc managed another bass and while I was watching him land the fish I started to roll cast my fly out of the water and saw a bass aggressively charge the fly.  I was pissed.  Few cast later  miss another strike and while lifting my rod to start my next retrieve I get slammed.  Finally I'm on for the day.  Fished for another hour or so before calling it a day. 

Alone the following day, Luc tried the A-rig I tied for him.  He managed to get a very nice one early in the day when he metered a school of shad but for the rest of the day he went blank after giving the new fly a serious try out.  On his next outing he would blank on the fly. 
For the both of us the jury is still out on this fly.  I rarely tie tube flies and my Renzetti tube vice is only about a year old so I don't have much time behind it.  I had forgotten the vice comes with multiple pins of various diameters and lengths.  I tied my A-rig on the smallest pin which means its the shortest length.  On my next ties I'll use the larger ones so I can tie it longer.  One of the main issues I think is that the arms are too close to my fly.  I'm think I should use a smaller fly to accommodate for the issue.  More testing is needed.

Monday, March 25, 2024

Motor's Fine

 March 11, 2023

With the lake beyond capacity and 5 mph restrictions in place, Luc hasn't run the motor in months.  It's been acting strange.  Smokes more than usual while idling.  After discussing with his boat guy, he suggested changing the spark plugs and running the boat at higher rpms.  So in the morning we took the boat to where we could run the boat at full throttle.  We fished a couple hours with not even as much as a bite.  After running the boat a few laps with no issues we headed home to fish more productive waters.
By now it was around 10am by the time we relaunched and all the fishing spots were likely already hit hard.  So we didn't have much expectations.  On the last outing I forgot to test John Rohmer's Diamond Hair Streamer.  I tied several at the end of last season but never had a chance to fish.  Developed for fishing in Baja, the pattern, I thought, would make an excellent shad imitation for bass fishing.  When we reach a dock near a submerged tree Luc remarked how this spot is a great crappie spot during the spawn.  Once we passed the location it wouldn't be long before I was on a fish.  Given its lazy fight Luc thought it was a crappie.  I had told him I hadn't caught one in a decade or so.  When it surfaced it was a decent bass.  It would take more than another hour or so to see my next fish.  Another lazy bass, smaller this time.  We fished to just past noon and finished when Luc finally got his bass of the day.

Saturday, March 2, 2024

First Bass of 2024

 March 1, 2024

It was just a few minutes past 7am (our pre-planned time) when I arrived at Luc's.  I hate being late even for a minute.  While there was no traffic, the drive was slightly slower than I expected.  The main reason too many lane cloggers in California.  People need to learn to drive here.  

When we arrived at the ramp, there was already a boat ready to launch and another showed up just behind us.  After launching Luc raced to a spot he wanted to hit before anyone else.  The day prior he had lost a 10 pounder at the boat and wanted another crack at her.  At that spot Luc managed several fish up to 4lbs.  I was fishing my saltwater set up as it was already rigged up with a 300grain sink tip, and while it can work Luc turned me onto a full sink for this type of fishing years ago.  Unfortunately my full sink line is past it's expiration date and needs to be changed.  During the Christmas season with all the sales going on I picked up some replacement lines but I've yet to line them on the reel.  Even though Luc invited me a few days ago I haven't had the time (or energy) to spool it up.  In the back of my mind I knew Luc had a spare rod lined appropriately so I wasn't motivated to swap the lines from my reel and decide to bring the saltwater rig with me. My rational was if it failed to produce I would simply use Luc's gear.  It wouldn't be long before after watching Luc continually catch fish did I make the switch.

With Luc's rod in hand we moved down the bank fishing to the end point.  Luc would get some here and there but I'd still had no reaction.  In time we moved to an alternative location because Luc wanted to hit this spot before anyone else could burn it.  It wouldn't be long Luc was on fish again.  With close to a dozen fish to hand Luc had given up on fishing and was trying to get me on my first.  With some suggestions on my stripping technique change I asked Luc to demonstrate it with  his cadence.  On that cast he managed another fish.  Now understanding his technique and philosophy I began to mimic it.  It wouldn't be long before I managed my first bass of the year and like a couple of Luc's fish,  it was cormorant scarred.  I would manage a few more strikes in the most inopportune time either a strike occurred between strips, or when my flyline slipped out of my fingertips during the strike, or when my arm was fully extended during my strip so I had no chance to tug the line.  Bass are still in deep water and this type of fishing you need to make the most of each opportunity as they don't come easily or often.  Takes are subtle and can be easily missed you need to be on guard the whole time.  Moving onto a shallower part of the lake I decided now with skunk off I'd go back to my rod, as it has yet catch a bass (at least a freshwater one) and test out some flies that I've yet to catch a fish with but after a hour or so of slow fishing I went back to Luc's set up.  Ended the day around 11am.  Stellar day for Luc, not so much for me but at least I wasn't skunk.  Next time I'll be sure to have my new line rigged though.

Thursday, February 8, 2024

Unfruitful Scouting

January 31, 2024

Decided to check out a watershed I was told held fish.  After a late start I arrived at the parking lot at 11am.  I hiked down 2.6 miles before I started my back upstream.  Water looked promising with some nice big holes.  After fishing a few of them it did not look like there were any fish left in the system.  After fishing several of these holes I decided to quit at around 2pm.  On the way out it was time divert my attention to appreciate nature.  Found several mushrooms but could not identify any with any confidence so I left them be.

Saturday, February 3, 2024

Revisiting an Old Spot

 January 28, 2024

For the past several months I've been trying to fish with a friend but we couldn't find the time to get together.  I get a text saying he is free so set a time to fish.  After some careful deliberation I decided to check out a creek most likely to be free from weekend crowds.  It's been over a year since and at that time it was only fishing adequately I wanted to see how it fared after last year's big winter.
On the drive up it was howling so it was a bit of a concern since we'd be fishing some ultralight rods (000 wt for Justin and a 2wt for myself) but once we arrived at our destination the mountains were blocking the majority of the wind.  Initially I planned to fish the main stem of the river I've never seen but it was almost nonexistent so we moved it the fork I usually fish.  From the the outset it was good, we were both on fish with a few casts. 
Fishing would be good the rest of the day.  I'd say we'd have at least 100 takes each by days end.  Justin had stop counting landed fish at over 20 by lunchtime.  Of all those takes I would guess we landed 40% of those.  Best fish of mine was about 11 inches with the average fish 6-8 inches.  We turned back when we reached an area simply too dense to move freely.  On the way out we cherry picked the few good holes that produced earlier in the day.  Once out of the canyon we fished the parking lot area for more fish.  By 5pm we were out of there. 

Monday, January 29, 2024

A Long Mile

January 19, 2024

In the car from the road I measured the distance from the point I planned on starting to the parking lot was about 1.2 miles. In terms of river miles it was probably 2 miles or so. I figured it would be a rather short session and I'd have to drive to another section to get a full day. How wrong was I. It was so dense and slow moving on the river it took me 6 hours to get off the water and I didn't even finish the course.
Got to the parking lot late at 10:30, hiked down to where I began measuring the distance up above from the road. On the water by 11. Saw fish instantly, good size ones too. Starting with my usual setup the fish were bumping my size 10 fly but not taking it. I decided to size down to a 16 for a change. I was still using my old leader that I never add tippet to and it was down to 4.5 feet. Basically down to the butt section. It was probably 20-30 pounds but it still threaded through the eye of the hook. Fish didn't care. Because I was fishing such heavy tippet and within the overhanging canopy I would on several occasions hook onto a wayward branch, if I couldn't release the fly with finesse techniques I would get more aggressive and I would bend several hooks this way and I would change flies then. Fished a variety of sizes to test if it made a difference from 18 back up to my usual size 10. It didn't so I eventually went back to fishing big. I hooked at least 4 fish in the "trophy" class (10+ inches) but lost each one when my hookset would be interfered with by some over head branch. I spooked an absolute pig. Because of refraction and my poor eyes I generally estimate fish size in the water much smaller than they actually are. Just for context, I've fished many times with my buddy, who has way better eyesight than I, and when we've seen a fish in the water we'd ask each other how big we think it is. I'd say "looks like 12-13" he say "no way that's at least 18." He'd be right. So if the fish I saw yesterday looked big, it must have been huge. It was in an impossible hole to fish, fallen trees prevents any drift. A bait or lure angler also wouldn't have any chance. No wonder this guy got so big. Of course this place has produced hogs in the past so its good to see it coming back.
Fishing was excellent and there's a ton of fish in the system. It was getting dark and I didn't want to stop but eventually had to if I wanted to get out safely. Rather than hike down river a quarter mile or so to the obvious trail back up the canyon, I took the most dickhead path up. I made it 90% of the way until stopped by a fallen tree that blocked the path. I'd have to climb back down the canyon and get back on the river until I decided to look on the other side of the tree. It looked like there maybe a path out so gingerly made my way around it once there it looked like if I crawled I could make it through. I realized once on that side the branches were so brittle I could break a path through. Once past I was 95% way up but now facing a what seemed like a 90 degree incline. I had to climb that crumbling vertical face now. Not easy even without a fly rod in hand but I finally made it up to the paved trail and got out of there safely. I heard an Army guy once say "if it looks stupid and it works it's not stupid." I'm not too sure of that because that was kind of stupid.
On the way home stopped by a local Mexican restaurant for some carne asada.  

Thursday, January 11, 2024

Exploration of Good Looking Water

 January 9, 2024

A couple outings ago I fished a small creek that I ended up giving up on after I decided to check out a nearby river that I thought might be on the mend.  After that outing I had a friend go to that creek and he ended up fishing the same area I did and he managed some nice fish.  I decided to return and start below my last starting point and fish some areas I've never checked out.  I've caught some fish in this system but never had a stellar day.  I got a late start at 10:30am.  Area looked good.  A lot of great holding water.  I thought I'm definitely getting fish this time.  Hours passed and I only managed one rise, that I missed, and spooked two others.  By 2pm and the creek becoming more and more impassable I quit and decided to drive down to another river.
Here again I'd be fishing an area I normally bypass.  It simply gets too much traffic so I avoid it like the plague.  The spot I wanted to start was cordoned off so I had to drive further down and begin from there.  It wouldn't be long before I'd start to get into fish. 
There weren't many but I'd still be getting some.  I'm not too sure why the fishing was so poor.  Fished till dark which wasn't wise since I was in a canyon I've never been in and wasn't too sure how to exit but I made it out safely. Fishing was slow not sure why. Was it because I was fishing my heavy leader I've not changed or added tippet to for about 6 outings which is probably now 0x or greater? Was it because I was fishing an oversized sized 10 fly in the middle of winter? Probably not as I did mange rises and fish later in the day with the same set up. This is my usual set up anyways. It is possible the the fish were simply hugging the bottom and refused to come up on a dry. It's also possible that since these areas are heavily trafficked there simply isn't many fish left in the system. I'm assuming its the two latter but who knows.