Monday, November 30, 2009

Did You Smell Anything Yesterday?

I did.......skunk, and it was bad.

Yep, I got skunked yesterday for the third time this year.  Nada, nothing, not even a hit!  All 4 of us got stunk up, not that that makes it any better.  You would have thought one of us would have gotten lucky.....but nope.

The river was clear, a little low and quite cold - 40 degrees at 10AM.  The sky was clear blue and bright, and the air fairly warm for late November - mid 50's.

I was great to get out and enjoy the nice weather.   Later in the day, I went to the big farm with a friend and drove the trails until dusk to check out the property.  We must have seen over 300 pheasants - they were everywhere there was cover, or cover nearby.  Saw quite a few deer - a few good sized bucks in the mix, too.

All in all it was a good day.  The fish did beat us this time, but that's part of the game.

I'll be back.       

Friday, November 27, 2009

Tom McGuane Awarded "Angler of the Year"

A well deserved award to one of the finest fly fishing writers of our generation.   Do you want to read a good book about the sport we love, read McGuane.

I couldn't have said it any better, so here's The Trout Underground (Tom Chandler) take on the award...... 

Tom McGuane Awarded Fly Rod & Reel Magazine’s “Angler of the Year”

Monday, November 9, 2009

Autumn is Also for Music, the Dogs and Fishing

After my wife and I worked around the house and yard Saturday, she was off with a crowd of friends to the city, and I to a concert with friends.  The concert was held at the very large barn of a local man as a fund raiser for the Raritan River Watershed Assn.  Michael Monroe, a one man acoustic folk band from Minnesota performed mostly with his guitars, but also with flutes (one made of glass), and other instruments played on his guitar and synthesized into drums, cellos, violins and other voices for harmony and sound that was electronically looped - so well, that by the time he was a few mintues into the song that if you closed your eyes you thought was coming from a good-sized band, complete with back up singers.  Very cool stuff, and the barn had the chops acoustically to pull it off beautifully.

On Sunday we were up early and off to the OMB FTC field trials.  If you like being outdoors, dogs, horses, good people, good food and lots of exercise - yep, in that order, sort of - this was a great day.

Field trials are contests between dogs that show their ability to perform, in the field, the things they were trained to do.  In this case, all the dogs competing were bird dogs - dogs trained to find upland birds, stand on point while the hunter approaches and flushes the bird, and then retrieve it after it is shot.  (Although live birds were used, no birds were shot as the dogs handlers used blanks.)  The dogs, and handlers, compete against each other for placements and points, which are assessed by two judges on horseback that follow the "braces" - two dogs at a time compete against each other.  The better a dog is at finding birds, pointing and following its handlers orders, the more points it is awarded.

We were on a large estate just down the road that is full of fields, hedgerows, thick brambles and dense tree lines.  When a brace goes off, first the dogs move into the first field, followed by the judges and as many spectactors that want to follow and watch the action.  The "hunt" follows the same route for each brace, and in this case it was about 2/3-3/4 mile from start to finish.  You start and finish in the same field, essentially going in a big circle.  The entire area was planted with many quail and pheasant prior to the trials.

So the brace goes off and the dogs run off and scour the field, sniffing, turning and shifting as they go in one direction to the other.  When they sense a bird, they slow as they approach, then stop, point (most of the time), and their handler walks up and the bird takes flight.  A shot is fired, and then the dog moves on - the entire time each handler is shouting directions and/or blowing a whistle to signal the dog.  It's fascinating, fun, and very social.   Some dogs are very smart and well trained, and others just seem to go through the motions.  The birds, well, the quails are small, swift and erratic in the air.  The pheasants are big, and quite quick for their size and take a straight path to the next area of cover.

Working the dogs early in the day.
Working the last field in a brace.

And finally, today I took off and hit the river with a friend.  The water was clear under warm skies and hazy sunshine.  The trout were looking up, which was good as I decided before I even got the river that I was only going to fish dry flies.  I was not disappointed - brought many browns and a couple of rainbows to hand.  Here are the only two flies I used today - well-chewed and ready for retirement.

Do I have to go to work tomorrow?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Autumn Is For The Birds

No I haven't been fishing in a couple of weeks, so I'm a little wife would tell you I'm always that way, and maybe she's right.

The first "bird" we'll discuss is of the two-legged species. An older bird, who's wife is of the blue haired variety and one that generally takes an obstreporous view of even the slightest change. On Saturday morning, volunteers assisted Trout Unlimited in planting trees along a section of the Musconetcong River as part of their stream restoration project on this fine New Jersey trout stream. There were about 30 of us, mostly unshaven, unshowered middle-aged men like myself, some of whom smelled of the prior night's drinking activities. When all was said and done, we had planted over 300 trees along several hundred yards of stream bank. (Go to the NJ Trout Unlimited link in the right margin for more info and photos of this gnarly crew - and the two youts that had to put up with us.)

So anyways, this old bird calls the state and tells them he is going to kill all the trees we planted.  He also tells one of the volunteers he is going to spray them with Roundup.  Seems he thinks we did a bad thing planting these trees.  He prefers the grass - nevermind that he doesn't own the property - that grass is his and dang-it, them trees don't belong there, even if they stabilize the river bank.

On Sunday morning I did my usual greeting of the day - slowly opening the bedroom curtains to expose the wilderness surrounding the house so as not to frighten any creratures - and there drinking from our pond was a huge, ten-point buck with his harem of does nervously millling about the grass behind him.  By the time I got my camera, he had moved into the woods and out of clear range.

But all was not lost.  In the tree just off the corner of the house there was a pair of Pileated Woodpeckers.  Beautiful birds, clinging to the bark and turning their heads this way and that, as they crept along and studied the surface for burrowing bugs.  Here's one working away on its quest for breakfast.

And here are the two of them after they moved to a new tree further from the house..

There are birds and there are birds, some are so-called for their attitude, and some for their altitude.

I prefer the red-headed variety.