Monday, December 8, 2014

December

No bait. No life. No saltwater fishing.

Sure is pretty when the sun shines.






So last week

Friday, November 28, 2014

Exploring


I once had a girl who moved cities to attend college a fair distance from our home surroundings, for new challenges and brighter lights. Going to college (university, we call it) and moving away didn't seem typical for our group and I hadn't seen it coming, but I liked her and I liked the idea of moving. Spurred by this early momentum, I haven't really stopped, and I suppose the consequences of whether to stick or twist have become what some might call an interesting subtext. Some of my childhood friends left too, some stayed home, driven by their own set of circumstances and people. 
I've come to realize that this is what I appreciate most about steelhead fishing on the Salmon River, Pulaski. In fact, there are numerous other things to enjoy. For a start, there's a 6 hour drive to detach you from whatever you were doing before your temporary purpose as an angler. There's cabin life, which you haven't let go of since you were a kid and which still excites you; all bunkbeds, flatulence, coffee and survival. Home cooking and wine and beer after knackering yourself outside all day.

A cabin

 
The Salmon has a bad rep for being crowded, dirty, and of dubious angling ethics. If you go to certain parts - within stumbling distance of most parking lots - you'll see why. But what it also has is some of the best fly water and the best freshwater gamefish in America's East: the Steelhead. Still, many anglers go there to be sure of as many fish as possible, standing shoulder to shoulder where most of the fish converge. Others hire a guide and drift the river, benefiting from an efficient conveyor of the best spots to cast for a take, and many more wake early to secure what they hope will be a productive pool, which they might fish all day. I've done this and it can certainly be good if you called the right spot, or have the pateince to be fishing for the short time when the fish decide to run, feed or otherwise be catchable. But the most exciting fishing happens when your plans head south and force you to move. A fishing partner with wanderlust has the desirable effect, too.

The desirable effect.

After two days of hard work and few fish, Todd and I were ready to roll home rather than fish our last half day. We retired for the night with no plan and no alarm call; not what you'd call dedication, but a river on the rise with dirty runoff will do that. We packed up the cabin (always melancholy), wandered our way to the middle river well after the morning rush, and began to move and fish across several of the meandering and unfamiliar ribbon streams that form this section of the Salmon. New decisions were needed as to likely fish yielding (and feasible fish landing) pools and runs. Water was weighed, ignored, and more path picked. We started to fish risky water that others wouldn't stop at (surely where a fish would choose to be?) One such was a deep gravel bend, inside of which was a rapid tapering into an unpassable torrent, nicely bound near and far by log jams that were really fallen trees. A long cast, rinse and repeat, and then the fish is taking line and backing downstream to certain departure. There's a point during the fight when you stop laughing at the ridiculousness of your position and knuckle down to the serious matter at hand, landing a steelhead and not drowning. You follow the fish through wader-high current but can go no further. It is coming back up on your side, but still has every option around islands and swollen side streams. You apply pressure in the clear knowledge that you have no control of what happens next. The net man arrives and sees what you see: a single 4' eddy and one shot to land the impossible steelhead. He does so, and it feels like the first fish you've actually earned.

Impossible.


The rest of the day was similar adventure. We picked our way around the high-water braids (in my case, falling often), finding the nicest, intimate runs and pools I've seen on a public stream. Each required us to learn new snags, drifts, overhanging trees, landing spots (we found no good ones) and places to drown. We fished in solitude, hooked and lost many more great fish, all unexpected and unplanned, all while on the move, hunting over the Salmon River rather than standing casting in one spot. As far from figuring out how to catch steelhead as you can get, but the last day of the steelhead year provided a most welcome reminder that satisfaction in fishing can, and probably should, be measured by one's efforts and endeavors exploring a river, with other technicalities, sedentary plans and hum-drum tackle left for when you get back home.

- Jonny














Thursday, November 20, 2014

Hemorrhoid Relief

Suppositories and Steelhead on the Salmon River. Say no more. I won't bore you because we're going back this weekend and we'll talk again in December once data collection is finished. We fished with flies and beads and lead. The river was real busy. We had two good dinners (we learned to bring our own). Todd bought a Jetboil, so now I have two influential friends. Here are some pictures. Pulaski has managed to dodge 12 feet of Lake Effect snow in the last week, but has still been snowy, windy and very cold. But signs are of a warming trend, so we've got that going for us.

There may not be a fishing video this year, which probably relates to tough fishing. To really experience the trip, I suggest you listen to this while viewing the photographs.







 

 














 Bonus points for the reader who can work out the connection between this post and the following picture from Pulaski: 



Sunday, October 26, 2014

Brayshaws

My old man, Brayshaw the Elder, had been doing well at a large well-groomed pond in a subdivision near home.  He asked us to drop by one morning a few weeks ago and fish it with him.  Brayshaw the Youngest was at a slumber party, but I brought along Brayshaw the Younger.

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He fished an old jitterbug that was in an old metal tackle box in the garage.  That old metal tackle box belonged to Brayshaw the Original, my grandfather, who caught more big fish than anybody I know.  I don't know that The Younger understood what it meant to me to see him fish his great grandpa's old bass lure, but he made it work nonetheless…

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Fishy genes don't come from nowheres.  Brayshaw the Elder, my old man, with the best fish of the morning…

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He managed a handful of smaller ones too…

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Brayshaw, T.J. didn't catch shit.

Four generations, three on the water and one in spirit.

The following day, at 6:00am, my dad went under the knife for some exploratory surgery to determine whether the tumor on his left kidney had fucked over his other kidney and/or bladder.  As it turned out, it had not and the prognosis is good.

Next time, T.J. catches fish.

-Brayshaw

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

A Warm Autumn Day for Trout


I have been working hard and have done little or no fishing these past months. I needed to relax and unwind from incessant work stresses.  

There’s nothing like a warm autumn day on a trout stream to meet the need. And so it was last Friday that I extinguished residual obligations and drove an hour or so to the Farmington River. I would be meeting Todd, who is the human embodiment of a comforting autumn day. His company, beside a clear running river, would be good for me.

I was almost there – around Collinsville, I think – when my left leg registered the merest slip of the clutch pedal. I imagined that I’d imagined the difference, the way we men hide from pending disaster, and drove on to the river. Boy, was it glorious out – warm, right enough, with caddis coming off and huge maple leaves floating by in perfectly welcome numbers. We’re only fifteen minutes into what will be a reassuringly long time by water, but it’s time to move up-river (Todd having already landed the first fish of the day: a very respectable brown trout.)

A respectable brown trout (Salmo trutta) 
There is a point in any day when one should face that you are well and truly fucked and should give up. Here  was that point, manifest as a clutch, depressed, never to rise.

Despite his protestations, I insisted (repeatedly) that Todd get back to the water. If I couldn't fish, he surely must, and my tow would be here before too long. Such was my imaginary hope of a quickly fixed car, all at  minimal cost.

Five hours in a parked car does not equate to the healing properties of a warm, autumnal trout stream [manuscript in preparation]. Multiple calls to an insurance company and to all manner of rural garage owners (many of whom don't actually exist) are no more medicine than are hours of false positives, during which time one could, had one known, have been fishing [Atherton et al, personal observation].

It is fall, and I remain, sirs, in need of relaxation from recent stresses.

Jonny