Tuesday, September 30, 2014

We Looked Pretty Stupid...

This Used To Be A Waterfall Filled Pool With Nice Local Trout In It
We looked pretty stupid hiking down into a canyon with fly rods when there is no water left in it.  We decided to take a look at a local stream since we were already in the neighborhood visiting a fly shop.  The water was pretty devoid of water and the remaining pools were stagnant.  We did see one trout that looked to be struggling to breath.  Otherwise it was a waste of time and the only benefit was some much needed exercise for both Chul and I.  The highlight was when Chul found a baby rattlesnake near his feet. 

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Completes The Cycle From Hell

One hour of sleep.  ONE HOUR OF SLEEP.  ONE HOUR OF SLEEP.  That was all I had before Chul arrived at my house to head down south.  This is the last weekend of the season for both Barrett and Otay Lakes.  After hearing good reports of 50 bass day on the fly at Lower Otay and with Barrett's closing weekend sold out, I wanted to see if we could have a good outing at The O.  Unlike Barrett, Otay runs on a first come first serve basis on boat rentals so I wanted to be there early to ensure we got a boat.

The lake opens at 6am and we were there way earlier than that so we were first in line and guaranteed a boat.  When the gate opened we were told that the concession stand that rented boats, they don't show up at earliest until 7am.  As you could imagine we were pissed, we were missing prime topwater hours.  Nothing we could do but cast from shore and wait for the concession stand to open.  I'm sure glad I got out of bed for this!  What kind of jack up system are they running there that boat rentals don't open at the same time?  Are you serous!?  It was not until 7:30am did we finally get a boat and not until past 8 did we finally reach our destination.  After an hour or so we had boils around the boat at least 50 of them.  We casted to them but no fish.  We had a grab here and there but no fish on.  I was confused I was told a few weeks ago the bass were taking shad in the one to two inch range.  The fly fishermen were doing well while the gear guys weren't because they didn't have the lure small enough to mimic the bait.
We had small flies on but no really takes.  We fished on and on until Chul finally got the skunk off the boat.  It proved the only fish of the day, not even an impressive one at that.  I brought Chul here for a win since he just came back yesterday from a fishing road trip from hell where anything and everything that could go wrong, did.  Fires, smoke, mudslides, rain, unfishable heavy winds, white cap lakes, lost wallets... An endless supply of misery. He drove to some of the Northern parts of the state only to be disappointed so it was only fitting we drive to the southernmost part of the state to continue that trend.  What a joke.   How the hell did none of those boils take our flies?  Could it have been the recent weather change made the fish finicky?  Or was it the fact the day prior the lake had a tournament and made the fish tight mouthed?  I have no clue.  Even the gear guys were having a rough go at it.  All I knew was by 11 we threw in the towel confused by the whole day.  It was time for a gyro and eye candy from the cute waitress at Zorbas , the only redeemable things of the day.  Had I known it was going to be like this I would have stayed in bed. I'm sure Chul was think the same thing.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Preseason Preparations

After about two weeks of nonstop heat, the past few days was really the first time we had cooler weather and a bit of a reprieve.  It was then a good time to let the dogs out and put them on some pigeons.  Lulu was left at home as she is in heat.  Arnie was unfortunately lost earlier this summer.  So Bluto, Summer, Fawn and Kaiser would be ran today.  All I can say is Kaiser needs some work.

For the past few weekend, Lou and I have been making preparations for the forthcoming bird season.  Arizona is getting some heavy monsoon rains, so there backcountry roads are going to be ugly.  With plans of getting into some Mearns quail, the Rover needed some much needed love before I start taking it into the wilderness.

The list of items needed to get the truck ready included: Change hood latch sensor (alarm randomly going off).  Replace rotors, brakes and sensors.  Rotate tires.  Put on front and rear lamp guards.  Replace windshield wiper pump.  Fix skid plates.
Most were easy enough but when we replaced the windshield pump Lou noticed that my skid plates were in need of reshaping.  While he was pulling off the skid plates, he noticed that it was missing several bolts that secure them.  In Lou's opinion if those plates took another hit, they would have likely be ripped off.  Not only would it be a pain to fix but I could have been driving in the wilderness with the most of the vulnerable parts exposed or even worse having those parts compromised.  My mechanic neither mentioned this to me nor did he choose to fix the plate so he just left the bolts off where the skid plate was no longer flush with the attachment points.  As Lou stated what the hell was I paying these clowns for?

Lou is a restorer by trade so he hammered back into shape the skid plates and realigned one of the tabs that holds the bolts.  The job took him only a few minutes.  The last time my mechanic worked on my Rover the plates were removed anyways, so as Lou stated, why wouldn't he just fix the damn thing.  I've paid that shop a lot over the years so as you can imagine I am not pleased.  Luckily Lou takes pride in what he does and does things right before they cause future problems.  Thanks Louie.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Shiny Guy Fly

I came up with this name in honor of my old man.  Back in the eighties while I was growing up, my father in his broken immigrant English would call any flashy show off douche bag, a "shiny guy."  He rarely uses this phrase anymore.  Typically he just calls them "shitheads" now which is very American of him.

This is the fly that has been my go to fly at Barrett this year and caught most of our fish this season. The fly is quick and simple to tie with only a handful of material.

Hook:  Gamakatsu B10S (TMC 8089 or similar)
Body:  Baitfish Emulator Flash, Grey Ghost.  Topped with Angel hair (dark colored-olive, baitfish or similar)
Eyes:  3D stickers
Head: Epoxy or UV resin
Black Marker Pen
 This is relatively new on the market and I love it.
 If you plan to fish this fly at Barrett, I'd recommend dremeling the barb.  B10S barb's don't pinch down well and you'll likely only break it off, creating a burr which is technically still a barb.  Tie the emulator on the hook.
 Wrap forward around the hook.
Add a a few strands of angel hair to the top extending the material past the emulator.  Whip finish and ass the eyes.  Epoxy the eyes.
Trim the body to the desired shape.  You can add a mark with marker just behind the eye if you like.  A simple and easy fly that is highly effective.  If you lose these in the weeds its no big deal.  Though I've yet to try it, it should be effective in the salt as well.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Red Hot. 100 Bucks. 100 Degrees. 100 Fish

Bass Thumb.  A Sign of Quality.
Barrett Blitzes.  Wolf Pack Attacks.  Whatever you want to call it, bass chasing shad boiling the surface makes my body tingle.  For the whole time we were fishing we were into the blitz.  Freshwater fishing has never been so much fun and action packed.  I had heard stories back in the day when people were catching over 100 fish a day in Barrett on a regular basis, those still happen but these were mostly gear fishermen and they spent the entire day (5am-7pm) at the lake to do it.  Today Chul and I did it on the fly in 102 degree weather.  Brutal.
A Bobcat Hunting the Same Game We Were But This Guy Doesn't Follow The C&R Requirement of This Lake.
After fishing yesterday morning we raced down to San Diego at midnight for another suicide run.  For the second day in a row we would only have three hours of sleep, not nearly enough time to recuperate from the previous day's fishing.  Chul is hardened from a third shift work schedule.  I, on the other hand, am not.  I'm soft and while I can do one day of three hours of sleep, I can hardly do two consecutive days of it.  Let alone do it exerting myself on triple digit weather.  I need my eight hours of beauty sleep.

By 5am the lake manager let us in and after unpacking the truck and setting up the boat, it was closer to six.  We started with topwater, Chul with a large Dalhberg Diver and myself with the same large rattling fly I used the last time to land a five pounder.  From the first cast, I knew the lack of sleep and exhaustion was going to affect me and my casts all day were pure shit.  Chul missed a huge grab that could have been the fish I caught the last time.  I managed two on top and missed a few before I switched to a slighly smaller rattling hard foam frog fly but still be enough that required a 10 weight.  I thought my casts would improve with a slightly smaller fly but my casts were still ugly but capable.
Once the sun began to shine through the mountains, we switched to sinking lines.  Chul managed a bluegill as I tried a few patterns before settling on a floating minnow fly on my 350 grain nine weight.  We moved toward Hauser and at the open we trolled slowly into a Barrett Blitz. Just in this spot we pulled at least another ten fish.
After this area slowed down we the arm and with my minnow fly now mangled I switched to the seven weight armed 250 grains and my Shiny Guy fly.  Once down the arm we found another wolf pack group.   We didn't have to move in this area for a very long time as the bass were feeding all around the boat.  At one point I had a fish on on every cast.  By the time we moved out of this area we must have increased our catch rate to forty or fifty.
We continued down the arm and by this time Chul's shad colored closer was just a few strands of bucktail.  He asked for a shad pattern and I gave him a Shiny Guy.   For a time his catch rate plundered to nothing as I was still catching fish.  I then switched flies myself to Shenk's White Streamer once I did that my catch rate slowed and his increased.  He later confessed that he thought I initially sabotaged him with a bum fly.  I give him the best fly in the box and this is what he thinks. What an asshole.
Seeing Chul catch fish after fish I too switched back to the Shiny Guy and my catch rate increase back.  By this time I had enough of looking at this section of lake and moved us out of there.
The wind was starting to pick up significantly so I tried to find areas to shelter us from it or at least minimize the drift on the boat.  By beaching the boat, it allowed us to cast into a huge drop off where we sticked more fish.  Boils continued around us.  When the action stopped we moved toward closer to the marina.  Almost each cove gave us more blitzes and more fish including some of the bigger ones.  We fished multiple blitzes throughout the day and ended the day around 1pm.  At each boil we could pick up anywhere from a handful to twenty bass.   None of our fish were pigs by any stretch of the imagination but they were respectable at up to two and half pounds.  All were strong, healthy and hard fighting.  Action was fast and furious akin to a wide open salt water bite.  There was no need to slow strip the line instead we were ripping them as fast as we could.  I have no doubt we had 100 bass to the boat.  After much struggle this fishing season its nice to finally have an epic bite.  Unfortunately I was only able to capture a fraction of the day's action as I forgot to erase some of the previous fishing trips off the memory card.

Thai food at Taste of Thai was for lunch and was appropriate to follow the "hot" theme of the day.  On the menu today: for appetizer we had Roti with peanut sauce and cucumber salad, for the entree we had pork green curry and pork spicy noodles.  It was a grueling but rewarding two days.   I'm now recuperating from the lack of sleep and being beaten down by the 100 degree sun.  I can still feel the feeling of the tug in my hands and fingers.  Spectacular.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Three Hours North. Back. Then Three Hours South.

Another brilliant idea, let's not sleep for the next two days and fish our asses off in 100 degree heat. 
Since we were fishing Barrett the next day we wanted to get off the river by early afternoon so we could rest up and be fresh for the next day.  As it always happens we lost track of time and got out late and was stuck in traffic much of the way home but I'm getting ahead of myself.
I've caught a handful of smallmouth, none of any significant size, but I've never caught any in moving water.  Chul had never caught one period.  So we both had a mission to accomplish.  A trustworthy source let us know that the smallmouth fishing was fishing well in one of the few Southern Californian rivers that hold them.  This piece of intel was confirmed by the local flyshop that services this said river. The original plan was to fish Barrett on Wednesday and fish for smallies on Saturday but like most of our plans, this one went to shit.  For workweek convenience, we decided to make it a three day weekend and fish Friday.
With about three hours sleep I headed to Chul's house to begin our weekend of bittersweet bass action and we drove north in search of smallmouths.  After a quick bit to eat on the road we arrived at our destination and hike up a treacherous deer trail along the canyon.  Looking from above we could see the river and pregame our moves.  After finding a way down we fished a riffle and Chul was the first to hook up on a fish.  With violent head shakes he would ultimately lose his fish and potentially his first smallie.  I threw my Shenk's White Streamer along side the riffle and on two occasions a bass struck the fly as it hit the water.  Unable to set the hook fast enough, I lost my chance on my first fish of the day.   In time I was able to get one to stay on only to have it slip off once I got him in view below my feet.
Moving upstream, Chul finally connected with his first smallie.  I continued to have fish take but was unable to either set the hook fast enough or the fish would shake off.  Eventually we made it to a slower run where I finally hooked up on a river run smallmouth, all mine have been lake fish.  When I grabbed it to take a picture he made his getaway.  It was not long after I hooked into another and when I landed him I noticed it was not the quarry I was after but a largemouth instead.  After a streamside lunch we moved along the river catching more fish here and there.  Chul would just miss another goal of both of ours, a pike minnow, when he pulled the fly right out of its mouth. 
Fishing this river was more treacherous than I ever anticipated.  The river is low but the moss covered rocks makes wading a chore and slow.  The terrain is prime habitat for rattlesnakes.  Mountain lion tracks were found on the trail.  Along with huge piles of  bear scat. The elevated deer trial is a combination of crumpling limestone and  river sand.  I nearly slide down the canyon as I tried climbing out when my footing disintegrated beneath me.  "Great I'm going to die for eight inch fish" I said to Chul as he chuckled. He remarked he accomplished his mission and won't be returning here anytime soon if ever.  I agreed.  Hopefully our next smallmouth would be a legitimate sized one perhaps in one of our lakes or elsewhere such as the John Day.
We made it out of there alive and in one piece.  We made it back way later then planned.  I headed home to get ready for the next day.  Initially I had planned to nap in the afternoon and recharge my batteries but that plan was canned.  Chul arrived at my house to pick me up at 10pm to head down south now.  We arrived at the gate around 1am and we slept in his Nissan until we were allowed entry.  The story continues...

Friday, September 5, 2014

Kamo Seiro Soba

Kamo seiro soba is a cold noodle dish with a hot duck dipping sauce.  I had some left over duck from the other night and I decided to make this for lunch.

Duck Breast
Soba noodles
Dashi powder mixed with water
Japanese Leeks or green onions

To cook the duck look at this post. Boil the water for the soba noodles and cook according to directions.  Cut the leeks into about a one inch pieces place on a hot pan.  Once you brown one side flip it to the other side. Once the other side is brown put all the liquids in the pot and bring to a simmer.  Once the soba noodles are cooked remove from the water.  DO NOT DISCARD THE COOKING WATER.  Put the cooking water in a small tea pot.  Under cold running water rinse the noodles and then place into bowl of iced water.  Drain and place on a bamboo soba mat top with shredded nori.  Place your sauce in bowl and enjoy.  Once you have finished your noodles pour the cooking water into your dipping sauce and drink it as a soup.  The cooking water is filled with nutrients from the noodles that have been removed in the cooking process.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Here Kitty Kitty...

Dark cloudy mornings have lingered until noon the past few days.  Today was no different and with that in mind I was awoken this morning from a call from Chul while driving home from work asking if I wanted to hit Prado to see if we could entice a bass or two on a popper.  After making sure I didn't have anything pressing that could not wait until the afternoon, I agreed and raced over to his place.  We loaded his pram into his Nissan and drove the short way to the lake and started throwing flies.  Over a hour or so of fruitless casting and despite still being overcast, Chul was the first to give up on the popper and changed to a clouser.  I continued with the topwater until Chul began getting some short strikes.  Finally his six weight bent and manged the first fish of the day.  The way the rod was bent it looked big.  When it finally surfaced, it turned out to be his first catfish on a fly.  Not huge but respectable for a six weight at 2.5 pounds.  It took me a while and I finally got my first and only tug of the day.  It too was a cat. When it got to the boat it gave one good splash and was loose before I could get it to hand.  Just as well I'd rather not touch that thing anyways.  The only bass was by Chul, a microdink the same size as his clouser and that was it for the day.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Monday, September 1, 2014

Into The Darkness

Considering today is a holiday and with yesterday's brutal day of two hours of sleep then fishing in nearly 100 degrees all morning, I chose to sleep in this morning.  When I awoke I found a text from Chul asking if I wanted to hit the local brown water for some popper fishing.  Apparently like a crack addict, he didn't get his fix yesterday.  I agreed to met up later tonight.
We met up just before 7 and headed off only to find a pair of fishermen at the hole I wanted to fish.  I believe we knew the two down there and I did not want to talk to those numbnuts so we drove to another section.    The river has changed so much since I used to frequent this place almost every other day and since I rarely fished it in the past year I wasn't too sure where the fish would be holding here. Immediately though I saw carp feeding and I switched over to a nymph but with the light fading it was difficult to see exactly which direction the carp were facing.  I couldn't get one so I switch my tactics to bass as originally planned. I managed only one juvenile that prevented me the skunk.  Chul was no so lucky.
After about an hour and half of fishing we gave up and headed to the local Asian market just before closing for some ice cream.

You Won't See Us Out There

Today is September First and for the wingshooter for most of the US means opening day for doves.  I did not partake.  Don't get me wrong I love being out in the field with my dog with my double barrel in hand but some of my previous outings have left me with a bad taste in my mouth.  First every numbnut with a shotgun and a hunting license is out here.  That means crowds.  While most hunters are good people there are a subset in our group that are complete idiots.  I've seen a moron shoot a dove and when it landed 5 yards in front of him, instead of going to retrieve the bird he shot it again blowing it to Smithereens laughing the whole time.  On another instance my father once took a pellet to the face from an idiot shooting low birds.  Luckily nothing happen other than a scare but he could have easily lost an eye or worse.  Fucking idiots.  Another reason is it's hot.  Africa hot.  That's not only hard on myself but it's grueling on the dog.  Also the heat brings out the rattlesnakes and that's the last thing I want to deal with.  I could always leave the dog home but I don't want to hunt without him.  So we'll see if I pass up this first dove season again or if I go out.  It's unlikely but if I do go out it will not be on a weekend when all the crowds go out or it will be because I was invited on private property and won't have to deal with the scum.  For now though the side by sides are staying in the cabinet.