Sunday, May 25, 2008

Hit the South Branch Tonight

What a beautiful evening to be out on the river. I got tired of unpacking, painting and doing other things to get the house into shape, so about 4:30 I blew out of here and went fishing.

Conditions were great. Clear, warm, and calm. When I got to the river there were loads of caddis flying just above the surface and none on the water. Trout rose here and there up and down the pool leaving large swirls in their wake. Classic caddis emerger feeding behavior.

The water was clear and flat, so I tied on a 20 inch length of 6X tippet. Normally, I would use 5X, but experience told me that might lower my success rate. To the end of the tippet I tied a #15 Iris Caddis, almost a sure thing when conditions and caddis are like they were tonight.

I waded out just above and across from where several trout were holding 6 inches or so below the surface. They were taking turns it seemed, grabbing the helpless emerging caddis pupa that drifted just below the meniscus. After making a test cast or two, I dropped my fly a few feet upstream of the waiting trout and fed out line to permit the fly to drift into the feeding fish. On the third or forth drift, bingo, a trout rose and quickly grabbed my fly. After a few minutes I had the foot long brown trout in my hand and released the fly from its jaw before letting it swim away.

After catching another couple of fish, I changed my tippet to a fresh piece and then tied the same Iris Caddis I had been using back on the end. I stood in the cool water for a few minutes resting the water and listening to a male cardinal in the chesnut tree across the river sing like he was the headliner at Lincoln Center. In the field beyond, I could also hear the cows as they left the barn from the days final milking.

As I was daydreaming, my trance was broken by an aggressive take about 25 feet directly across from me. I worked out my line and dropped my fly above the spot the fish had just taken a natural. My fly drifted maybe a foot before being engulfed by a fish. I tightened my line and was fast to a nice fish that took off downstream. It was a nice fish, a very nice fish. And after a good 5 minutes I had her in front of me ready to be freed of my fly to swim away. Here she is, a big hen rainbow trout. I didn't measure her, perferring to just grab my fly and back it out without removing the fish from the water. I would guess she was 22-24 inches long and between 5-6 pounds. I don't know if you can tell how big it was from the picture, but I took the photo quick so I could get her off my line and back to her lair.

I took one more brown after that and then called it a night.

Life is good. Stop what you're doing and go fishing.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Driving Miss Julia

Karen and Leigh are making banana bread out of the bananas that are over-ripened, so I figured I'd write something to keep busy before we get to our scrabble game. Yeah, I know, another exciting Saturday night!

This past week I brought Karen's 8-year old daughter Julia to school a couple of times since her school is on my way to work. She is finishing out the year in Bedminster where she lived before the move, and will transfer to Tewksbury in the fall for third grade.

I think we're the only ones in the "neighborhood" that don't have at least one horse. We're surrounded by farms and woods and streams and nature.

So we're leaving the house the other morning and Julia says that she would rather work on a farm than go to school. I said, "Really? So you would rather feed the pigs and horses in the morning than go to school?"

"Yes, school is boring compared to that." She says will the utmost confidence.

"Umm, what about shoveling horse manure out of the horse stalls everyday?" I asked her.

"Do I have to use my hands?" She askes me. "If I have to use my hands, then I'm going to school!"

On another day she tells me, "I have a friend that can break dance. It was a miracle! She just decided she wanted to break dance, and she did.....just like that!"

"A miracle, huh? Why was it a miracle?"

"Because, she never break danced before and all of a sudden she did!" Julia tells me. "That's a miracle."

I guess it is. So is the wisdom of a child. I envy her and her innocence. If she only knew what we adults think about. Do you think she would want to grow up? Sometimes I just sit and talk to her and ask her questions just to hear and see that life really can be simple and free. It completely frees me, if only for a moment. The only thing that grounds as much is fly fishing in a cool, clear stream surrounded by birds, trees, and a soft breeze.

Life is good. Talk to a little kid once in while.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Fezzy Turned 80!

Yep, that's my mom. Turned 80 today - eight kids and too many grandkids to count. We had a surprise party for her Saturday night that was a huge success.

Why Fezzy? Her maiden name is Featherline and all of her friends from her childhood called her that, and still do! Here's a pic of Shirley and me at my sister's house. We went back there after the party to have cake and look at a slide show from when we were kids. Good stuff! And funny.

And the cake.................
My "little" sister Christina, my daughters Leigh and Megan (L-R) all pondering what it may be like when they are 80.


No group picture unfortunately, too many people and kids to manage that one.

So mom looks great, doesn't she? It's those fine Irish genes. Always smiling and never fails to find humor in her life, even after having eight kids.

Even Al was there! Great to see you Al. Come on out to the house. It's heaven out here! We have some parties planned once we get settled, and even a wedding by the pond. Who knows, maybe one of the neighbors horses will show up and drink from it again. Damn, in Summit it was dogs off the leash, and out here its horses. Maybe you don't have to lead a horse to water to get it to drink.......................it will do it on its own if given the opportunity. Sure did scare the crap out of the Koi!

Life is good. Love your mom. She brought you into this world, didn't she?

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

It's a Wrap.........

I'm out of here. The movers just left and the place is empty. Before I shut my connection off I thought I'd post something since it may be a few days before I find the time to even look at the web, let alone post anything.

Very exciting stuff. Can't wait to get settled and have some real space again.....and a nice deck out back to sit and enjoy the outdoors again on. That's the thing about living in an apartment, you just have your space and no yard or outside area to hang out in.

By the way, I found the hawk nest. It's up on the ridge above the house high in an oak tree. Perfect spot, too. Right on the edge of a big field where the birds can hunt prey for themselves and any chicks they hatch in the next few weeks. The nest is huge compared to the size of the hawks. A big mass of twigs and branches - it's amazing what birds can do - some of the branches are quite thick, but they got them up there. I'll take a pic when I get a chance and post it here. I also have to figure out what kind of hawks they are.

So, don't forget I'm here, just give me a few days to get settled and I'll get to regular posting again. Might even get back to some politics and the three blind mice running for office. I'd say the three stooges, but that would be giving them too much credit because they have no idea where they are going.

If you get a chance, go fish. The Sulphurs are starting to hatch and the water conditions are perfect.

Life is good. See you from the new homestead.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Laws of the Real World

While packing today, and of course, going through the papers and other things I've acquired over the last 6 years that my kids gave me, I found a sheet my son was given when he graduated from Avon. It was titled as I have titled today's entry above. It was written for high school seniors, but it applies to all of us and I think bears repeating here. So, over the next few weeks, I'm going to post an entry from it every so often. The author is David Holdt. So here goes.......

1. Sometimes you will fail. When you fail, try to figure out why and avoid that behavior in the future. Most failure is your own fault. However, failure is not the end of the world.

So, next time you don't catch anything, don't blame it on the fish........

Life is good. Tomorrow, it will be great, my Megan is graduating from college!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Sunken Spinners

Getting ready for the move next week is keeping me busy and fishless. They say moving is one of the most stressful things people can do in their lives. It's more like exciting and tiring - I guess that's stress, but it sure doesn't feel like it. I'm actually having fun......maybe I need to go fishing to see the difference.

And now back to our regularly scheduled program......

When you think of spinners, you probably think of helpless, spent mayflies floating on the water surface being gently sipped in by trout feeding from below. You also think of accurate casts and delicate presentations. And this time of the year there are all kinds of mayfly spinners available to the trout as many different species are hatching on any given day. But if you limit your spinner fishing to just surface flies, you're missing opportunities.

Many spinners get washed under water and into the water column, becoming easy prey for trout. The spinners that make it through the calmer runs and pools, eventually reach the fast water - riffles and pocket water - that flow into the next pool. This faster water, some of it foamy and white, capsizes many of them where they become an easy meal for opportunistic trout.

So when the trout aren't rising and you're fishing subsurface imitations, try tying on a spinner and fishing it as a dropper off a nymph or on its own with a small split-shot on your tippet to get it down.

I tie and carry spinners just for this - they are just like the ones I fish dry, except I tie in two pieces of pearl flashabou on top of the wing in the same manner as I tied in the wing itself. This imitates the tiny air bubbles that get trapped in the gossamer wings that reflect light and give off a gentle sparkle to the wing. Give it a shot. You might be pleasantly surprised at how well they do.

Life is good. Just don't move too often.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Was Christopher Columbus Asian?

I was watching the History Channel tonight and there was this show about the ancient Chinese ship builders. Very interesting show, but one of the things that some of the historians opined about was that the Chinese discovered America in 1421. They had all kinds of theories, but I only have one question.....

If the Chinese discovered America, how come all of the people that settled this land looked like Europeans?

Life is good. Just don't ignore the obvious.

We'll get back to fishing tomorrow.....Sunken Spinners.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Had to Write Something

Been busy as a one-legged man in an ass kicking contest.

Worked on the new homestead today! My son even came after work and gave me a big hand. We removed wallpaper......took all day, but it's done. I also took down some lights in the living room and one of the bedrooms. We also walked the property and made mental notes of downed trees suitable for fire wood. Up on the ridge, there was a hawk that was not happy to see us there. Must have a nest nearby, but we didn't find it. We'll go back out tomorrow and see if we can find where it is, from a distance.

Now we're off to dinner in Morristown to celebrate my sisters 6-year anniversary with a bunch of friends. Some Italian place, BYOB and only takes cash.....wonder if Tony Soprano will be there?

Got to go. Get out and fish!

Life is good. Just do it with your eyes open.