Monday, April 30, 2007

There's nothing like a nice piece of hickory.

Members of Congress and leaders in fishing, boating and aquatic resource conservation met at Fletcher's Boat House in Washington, DC today to do some schmoozing, lobbying, eating and, of course, shad fishing.

Hickory shad, and I think I'm correctly identifying the one I'm holding as such, seems to be the smaller and less desirable of the two types. The other is American shad, which apparently are larger and brighter. They all look like baby tarpons to me. But someone had fried up some shad (I don't know which kind) and was passing it around. It was delicious.

Also of note was a display from the fish and wildlife department that included a tank with two snakehead fish in it. These things were creepy and large, but did make me think they'd be pretty fun on a five weight. for those of you who don't know, snakehead fish are fish that, so we're told, will go to a pond, eat every living thing in it, then get out of the pond and walk to the next pond and do the same thing.

Extra credit will be given to whoever names the movie that inspired the title of this post.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Assignment America: Project Healing Waters

This Friday, CBS News is going to preview three stories for their Assignment America segment. Viewers then go online and vote for which story they would like to see covered on next week's show. One of the stories is about Project Healing Waters, an organization near and dear to me.

Project Healing Waters serves our brave Armed Forces and Veterans who have come home wounded or injured by aiding in their physical and emotional recovery by introducing or rebuilding the skills of fly fishing and fly-tying. Since 2005, PHW has been offering its fly-fishing and fly-tying program to the patients at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, with proven results for over forty recovering wounded. This year, additional programs have cropped up all over the country.

If the voters select the PHW story, CBS will send a crew on Sunday to cover an event we're having on Long Island and run the story next Friday. So if you can, please go to after the Friday evening broadcast, click on the Assignment America icon, and vote for the Project Healing Waters story. The exposure that CBS News can give to such a worthy cause would do a lot of good for a lot of truly remarkable men and women.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Mon Freakin Tana

While I was busy hauling in spectacular eastern sunfish, my friend Joel and his brother in law were on the Clark Fork in Montana hauling in these beauties. Because we are such good friends, he gave me a detailed map of his secret spot and said I could fish at the 'X' any time I wanted.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Pond Fishin'

This pond is conveniently located directly across the street from my house. We're friends with the people who own the property and they let me fish there any time I want. The pond's been there for a long time, and there's a lot of sediment. I never had the water tested, but talked to a few people and it seems like the quality of the water prevents anything but sunfish to thrive there. There are no predators, so the sunfish go nuts. There are times when I've practically caught one on every cast! Of course many of them are about the size and thickness of a business card, but there are some very large sunfish in there too.

I wanted to go smallmouth fishing today but the river is a raging torrent of chocolate milk. So although it's a little early in the season (my best sunfish days have been in the heat of the summer), I decided it was too nice out to not fish, and I only had a couple hours of sunlight left. But, like smallie fishing, the advantages are the small amount of tackle involved. The only thing I brought not shown in this picture is a pair of hemostats and additional beers.

I've tried bass poppers, small ones, but there are two kinds of flies that these sunfish typically like more than anything else: Damsel flies, and any kind of hopper looking thing with rubbery legs. The more and the rubberier the better. I use my 3 weight, and when a big sunnie's on the line, it's a lot of fun. But small fish are fun too, of course, and I love that I have a place to do some kind of fishing that's a one minute walk from my front door.

This monster is the only little guy I caught today. But in a few more weeks I think the water will warm up and, especially on a warm evening, I'll be able to see them feeding off the surface from my kitchen window, and I'll have that 3-weight handy!

Friday, April 20, 2007

Snakes, TV, Firearms and Comedy

Just a few miscellaneous ramblings today...

She's still small, but Belle is growing quickly. I've been trying to get a clear picture of her head since we got her back in February, but that delay that digital cameras have gives her more than enough time for her to get out of focus. Finally lucked into this one yesterday.

This series on Discovery Channel, or, more importantly, on Discovery Channel HD, is breathtaking. If you've been looking for a reason to spring for that high definition flatscreen, this may be it.

The Model 94 on top you've seen here before. The Ruger GP100 below it is new, and I'm hitting the range with it today. It's been many, many years since I've fired a handgun, I'm looking forward to trying this beauty out.

This woman is really, really funny. You may have seen her on Comedy Central in a few things, but she's got some funny little videos on this site.

That's all I got. Hopefully my next post will contain a picture of the first smallmouth of the year, caught on Sunday!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Antique Fly Rods and Reels

Today I was given a box of old fly fishing stuff by a good friend. It belonged to her father, a WWII veteran and survivor of Pearl Harbor. He is still living, but moved out of a house filled with a lifetime collection of fishing gear. I was lucky enough to get the fly portion.

Many rods, some complete, some not. Some bamboo, some not. And several reels. I have not started to look any of this stuff up, so if anyone knows anything about anything pictured here, don't hesitate to chime in. This one to the left is my favorite reel of the bunch. On the back it reads 'YALE / NICKEL SILVER.' No other markings.

In the photo at the top of the post, the reel in the middle, front row, has 'Montgomery Ward' stamped on the back along with a number. Probably not a priceless relic I'm guessing. Front row right reads 'SPORTCRAFT, NO. 60, H-ICO. USA.' Back left, the black one, says 'PFLUEGER SAL-TROUT NO. 1554.' The last one has no markings other than 'Japan.'

There were also these other four reels, the top two are 'OREN-O-MATIC,' some sort of automatic reel I haven't figured out yet. Bottom right says 'H-I, Uitca NY' on it, weighs about as much as a brick and might actually be a bell for a kid's bicycle. The reel on the bottom left is also shown here, it came in the box with paperwork dated 1961.

The rods will take some time to sort through. Sections were taped together that don't appear to be from the same rod. Much of these are long beyond repair, I'm guessing, but the man who owned these is someone I admire a lot. And I will try to identify the best of these rods and get it in good enough condition to at least hang on the wall. This one pictured above is probably going to win out, although it has no markings it is in the best condition.

This rod to the right, seven pieces, is very interesting. It seems to be the oldest item in the box, by a wide margin. The sock it came in looks ancient. The rod itself is very heavy, not bamboo. And the butt, which seems to be made of brass, is inscribed with 'C. Farlow, Maker, 191. Strand.'
The guides are interesting as well, they are rings that hinge and fold down. This rod I am most curious to learn more about.

So it's been kind of fun to go through this stuff. It will be interesting to try and learn more about it all. As I said before, if you've seen anything similar and have anything to share, please do.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

High hopes, Small mouths

I love smallmouth fishing. I love how they hit hard and fight harder. But mostly I just love the experience of fishing for smallies. Especially in the heat of the summer, wet wading, catching some rays, traveling light. Fishing all day with no vest, just some tippet, hemostats, clippers, some smallmouth-friendly flies, then adding some ice cold beer at the end of the day (full disclosure: sometimes I do not wait until the end of the day).

But I've always been a little 'under-clubbed,' to use a golf analogy from the days before I first picked up a fly rod and let my clubs gather dust. I've always used the 5-weight, mid-flex fly rod that fly shops are so fond of pitching as a good 'all around' fly rod. It took about a year to realize that around here, most of my trout fishing is better done with a short 3-weight, and util now to realize that the 5-weight is inadequate for throwing bigger bass flies on bigger and deeper water.

The worst part about not having the best gear for smallmouth fishing, is that I fish for smallmouth much, much more than anything else. The Shenandoah and Potomac rivers meet less than a fifteen minute drive from my house, and parts of the Potomac are even closer than that. But as much time as I've spent doing it, I have made little progress in how well I do it. Those rivers push pretty hard, and it's next to impossible to get any kind of streamer that you can throw with a 5-weight down to any depth at all. I think I'm catching smaller fish (the one pictured above is about the largest I've caught) that are relatively high in the water column.

So I have decided that it is time for my first very good fly rod. I have picked this Sage Z-axis fast-action beauty. And although I go back and forth between the 6-weight and the 7-weight, I am afraid the 6 is just going to be too similar to my 5 and I still won't be able to do what I want to do with it.

It'll be loaded up with this Rio Grand fly line, and I'm considering trying these poly leaders from AirFlo. You can get a set of variable sink speed leaders that might help get flies deep even in fast moving current. I haven't tried these before but I like the idea of these over a sinking or sink-tip fly line.

I also need to look into tying tippet material onto these. Whatever tippet material I have certainly won't be constructed the same as these, so I might need a tiny barrel swivel or something to make that transition. I know strategies and equipment will get tweaked as I go, but I think this setup will go a long way in bringing more success -- and bigger smallmouth --this summer.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Beautiful Steel

I found Eric De Witt's awesome Steelhead photos on the Itinerant Angler forum. I post them here with Eric's permission. I love this shot of the tail and the glove, such a unique perspective on a subject matter that typically shows -- and I'm guilty of this too -- little imagination or creativity. I'm adding Eric's photoblog link to my list and checking it often. Thanks again, Eric!

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Spring has officially reached Virginia

But maybe not for long. Tomorrow starts warm and then gets down to freezing again overnight. But this cherry tree in our back yard is blooming for the first time. Year one we bought it after spring and it had leaves on it. Year two it didn't bloom at all, not sure why but I was convinced it, like every other tree we've tried to plant at this location, was going to die. But the third year's the charm, and I'm psyched. Not a minute after I took this picture, four deer crossed the yard next to ours and would have been visible behind the fence you see in this photo. Would have made a really cool photo, huh? I know! Too bad I just stood there like a dumbass, trying to get my dog to notice the deer, pointing beyond the fence with the camera still in my hand. Oh well, wasn't the first blown opportunity for a good shot, and it certainly won't be the last!