Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Nothing to see here

We fished in up-state New York over the weekend. After considerable planning and effort, Andrew flew in from India. The fishing had been painfully slow, and we confirmed this over three full days exploring the river.  Few fish were hooked, and fewer still landed.

Still, as this video of nothing happening shows, it's good to get away, with thoughts trained only on food, drink and fly selection. A rest for the brain, as Todd said.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 2, 2015

The Steelheading Male

  • Notes that it is November;
  • Welcomes the first jaded, brown leaves of late fall when all others recoil at the loss of vibrant color;
  • Considers fingernail length for the first time in a year, all the better to remove split shot with;
  • Consults lists from last year, and begins to source bottom toiletries, headlamps, swivels, foreign licenses (nb. there must be moisturizer);
  • Cares about food shopping for the first time in one whole year, thereby avoiding Stefano's pizza and damaged innards; 
  • Thinks of 3 days of carefree cabin life and all that smoking, whisky and whiskey that will come (I'm going to be a child about it and I can't help it);
  • Sends emails back and forth to fishing companion comparing recent wader purchases as would two men who know. 
That to hook a steehead is to truly be a happy fellow.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

It's silly to fret about squirrels

Ben is sort of a mix of about one part hippie, one part country boy and one part scientist.  And this turns out to be a good mix, because while in their purest forms each is almost always intolerable, when properly diluted and mixed each has something to offer.

After I fished with Ben once or twice, I mentioned to a friend that he seemed to rarely if ever swear.  I’m not a foul-mouthed son-of-a-bitch by any stretch of the imagination, but if there is any time when I let fly, it’s when I’m fishing.  When I gave my friend the news, he said “That’s really sad.  I hope he can get his life turned around.”

Well, he has.  Probably, he was fine from the beginning but was just holding back lest he offend me.  I wish I could take credit for teaching him to swear, but I know that’s not the case.

Anyway, we fished off and on much of the summer.  We fish well together. You know what I mean.  We’re both competent enough that the other doesn’t have to teach, but humble enough to take advice when we’re on one another’s familiar. We fish at a similar pace.  We tend to recognize the same attractive pools and lies, but are happy to hand them over.  And usually, we both catch very, very few fish.

Longear Sunfish


Smallmouth. Probably my last of the season.

Ben lands a bass.

We hunted together for the first time a couple weeks ago.  This was Ben’s second or third time out for fox squirrels, but my first time in about twenty years.  As I write that, I can scarcely believe it.  There was a time in my life when fishing was just what I did to pass the time until hunting season opened again, but for reasons that seemed fairly innocuous at the time, but somehow occupied two decades, I stopped hunting. 

We chatted about it, and Ben mentioned he had permission to hunt the woods behind his house for squirrels.  I decided to take him up on it, so I got out my .22 rifle, a fabulous Ruger 77/22, and we put a few rounds through it with the intention of sighting it in.  The gun has lived in a hard case all these years and, to my surprise, the scope was as I left it: five rounds at about 30 yards – my preferred squirrel distance – went almost into the same hole, so we called it good.  But not after we also let fly with my .22 revolver, a Ruger Single-Six that also has gone neglected for far too long.

We fished a beautiful stream that evening.  As the sun went behind the trees, the air cooled. Summer steps aside.  We got a few smallmouth bass and agreed to meet in the morning to hunt.

I had forgotten how much I like squirrel hunting.  Some forms of fishing are indeed a lot like hunting. Carp fishing, for example.  But they’re different in important ways too. For the most part, one’s ears play a minor role in fishing but hunting – squirrel hunting, anyway – is as much about hearing as it is about seeing.  I’d forgotten how simultaneously calming and invigorating it is to sit in the woods with all one’s senses on “high”.

To get to the woods from Ben's house, you must cross this bridge.  If you slip, you will fall to your death.

Powerline cut, early morning

Ben drops a squirrel solidly and we both visually mark where it falls.  But when we get there, it’s nowhere to be found. Squirrels are incredibly tough and it’s entirely possible that despite being hit, the squirrel may have managed to run off through the underbrush undetected. But we search for a long time before Ben finally says “Fuck it.  Circle of life.” and we move on.  The disappointment in his voice is evident and despite the fact that an outsider to the event might interpret it as callous, it’s clear to me that what Ben is disappointed in is himself.  This is confirmed some time later, after I’ve forgotten about the lost squirrel, when he grumbles to himself – but out loud – about hating to lose a wounded animal like that. It's silly to fret about squirrels, but he does anyway and it's why we hunt together well.  

Ben with one that didn't get away.

Ben scans tree tops.

We’ve now been twice and we both got squirrels each time. Squirrels are a bitch to clean and I’m clearly out of practice.  Ben was not quite finishing his second when I finished my first.  But it’s silly to fret about squirrels, so I didn’t. I pan-fried one that evening and poured the gravy over some mashed potatoes.  The rest are currently in the freezer.  We’ve had a glorious Indian Summer fall so far, so I thought I’d save the others for a hearty stew for when it’s colder.  My son and I picked over 100 apples from Dad’s tree and I’ve made four pies and two cakes.  The garden is spent.  I’m to join Jon for steelhead in a month. 

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Pay Attention

Pescuit la musca in Irlanda, anul 1955.Fly-fishing in Ireland, 1955.Video: British Pathe.

Posted by Retro Fishing on Monday, March 30, 2015

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Life Imitating Art

A True Story 
From a British fishing forum 

I had a friend who died in a car crash a few years ago after he had been away on one of his Carp Adventures. Fell asleep at the wheel apparently but that's another story. Vince used to make his own boilies and if you went around to his house it would stink of rhubarb and custard one night and the next it would be sour apple and raspberry and so on.

He was crazy about his Carping and he just went AWOL for days on end.

He was married with a daughter but he never hardly saw them so one day Stacey his wife had had enough and she left him a Dear John on the kitchen table and off she went with bags packed and the daughter. They moved in with her mother until she managed to get her own place sorted.

After a week and a half she hadn't heard anything so she went around to the house to see if he was there. Of course he wasn't as he was fishing. The letter was still there unopened so off she went back to her mothers. A few more days past and still nothing from Vince so she went back to the house again. This time the letter had been moved so he'd obviously been home but it hadn't been opened. It was on the floor under the kitchen chair. He must have knocked it off when he'd been back to the house for more supplies. Stacey thought about what she'd done and realised that leaving him wasn't the right thing to do so she went back. The thing is is that she'd left Vince for nearly 2 weeks and he hadn't even noticed!!!!

To be honest he was a kind, gentle, loving guy and everyone loved him. He just had this passion for Carp as many do and it took over his life until he died in the car crash. The car was full of gear. Rods, reels, bite alarms, bivvys, gas cookers. 

He was nuts really.