Been more or less living at the fly tying desk this week. Listening to music, dreaming about spring steelhead and Mexican Poon. Coffee and intruders for breakfast, beer and tarpon toads for dinner. If the apocalypse doesn't come tonight like the weather man is predicting I plan give a couple of these specimens a test drive tomorrow. Stay tuned...
It's been twilight-zonish week around here. First, there was the trip back to the old stomping grounds. A place where the beer flows like wine...where beautiful women instinctively flock like the salmon of Capistrano. I'm talkin' about a little place called Oxford, Ohio.
A trip back to Disneyland was going to kill not two but three birds for me- I'd catch up with a bunch of buddies for a night, see my little sis, and score a badly needed fish fix. I saddled up the Tiny Dancer and, needing a partner in crime, dragged Juan along for the ride.
All in all it was mission-accomplished, save for one crippling hangover that threw a bit of a wrench in Sunday's fishing plans. We persevered only to find that the fish had no interest in feeling "sorry" for us. A couple of players right off the bat was all the fun to be had for the day. We retired, tails betwixt legs, heading back to Oxford to lick our wounds in hopes of a better performance on Monday.
Monday morning found us back on the river ready to make amends. Our plans were interrupted however, for better or worse, by a riverside meeting with a couple kindred anglers several years our senior... never ceases to amaze me how a shared passion for sport can form a bond of friendship so quickly. Two hours, a few dozen stories and a couple nips of the flask later, we returned to fishing.
Then on Tuesday there was the run-in with the EnviroNazis that nearly cost me my career.
One minute I'm swinging intruders through a damn-sexy piece of winter steelhead water with a brand spankin' new two-hander, the next I'm being accosted by a group of militant birders, intent on defending the sacred breeding grounds of the "Chosen One" of all raptors.
Unbeknownst to me, fishing in a bald eagle breeding zone in a closed area of a national park without a fishing license on your person with a dog off leash is, apparently, not looked favorably upon. It took a little smooth talking (and me finally producing a current Ohio fishing license in the bottom of the 9th) to dissuade the enraged aviphiles from tar and feathering me in the town square. Alas, Victor and I escaped unscathed.
Went out lookin' to get tugged yesterday. Didn't care where, how or by what, just wanted to feel a pulse at the end of my line. That didn't happen but luckily I brought a case of Budweiser along as a backup plan.
Walked right into an episode of "Planet Earth" to boot. Ducks and Geese everywhere, but not-a-one to shoot.
A glance at the ten day forecast says it all. We're on a short leash. The window of opportunity is closing quickly. Now is the time. In a couple days we'll all be stuck inside again, looking longingly out the window, wishing that there was somewhere, anywhere, that we could go out and fish.
Today we did what anybody with a day to spend on the creek would do. Facing the inevitable cold weather, snow, and ice in the near future we went fishing. Our mindset wasn't all that different from yesterday; we didn't quite know what to expect, but then again, we didn't really care either.
The first hole we fished was productive, and within a couple minutes we'd landed a double.
Don Juan reminded me that mine was the smaller one.
And then he caught a big one.
With all the cold weather we've had over the past month in Cleveland, we'd been cringing to see what this last blowout had done to a lot of our fish. As hardy as our steelhead are, when its them vs. ice they usually end up losing. Beautiful, strong, hardy fish turn in to cat food. Much to our pleasure, this wasn't the case. With the warm water we had last week, some new arrivals had made their way in to the rivers as well.
Another good one.
"Tell me fish, what direction are your friends?"
They were over here.
See you later buddy.
As we ended the day we sat down on the bank and popped the top on some Dead Guy ale (one of Dudewater's favorite brews). At the end of any really good day of fishing, philosophical discussion is inevitable. Today was no exception. After rambling on about fishing, life, and the intersection of each we started reflecting on the day's fishing, and just how great the past couple days in general had been on the water. It's funny how after a day like today you come to one simple realization - these times are too good to last. In a couple days we'll all be stuck inside again, looking longingly out the window, wishing that there was somewhere, anywhere, that we could go out and fish.
As we finished the beer, and made a couple last casts in to the same run where we started our day, the wind shifted, the temperature dropped, and a steady snow began to fall. It felt like the beginning of the end. It was damn good while it lasted but boy, we're gonna miss it.
Fishing a midwinter thaw is always a bit dicy. There's been lots of ice around, and when that ice starts to scrape and gouge it's way down the creek sometimes steelhead get caught between a rock...and a hard place so to speak. The three of us headed out today thinking that we'd have good water conditions, but without really any expectations of what we'd find in it.
When we arrived a quick glance at the river told us that the first part of the equation was looking good. Now what about the second part?
After a three-way cosmic fish loosing streak, fast Jimi got on the board.
If you even still read this blog you're probably sick of hearing Brett and I talk about ourselves by now. Luckily, our buddy Joe-Doug sent me a short write up about a recent escapade of his. While we all wish we could spend more time on the water, life is exceptionally tough for fly fishermen in the Rotten Apple, as JD illustrates quite eloquently in this piece...
"Scratching the Itch"
It was Friday night in Manhattan and after a half dozen Bud Heavy pounders and a handful of poorly tied saltwater flies I had an epiphany—2 actually, however 1 is another story entirely. I need to go fishing . . . my mental health depends on it.
Fortunately, the weather forecast for Christmas Eve was good. Good being a relative term, implying that I wouldn’t have to unfreeze my guides every cast and that the possibility of catching fish existed. The fact that I’d be dredging for 8-inch fish was irrelevant. I was out of the concrete jungle and had only an hour drive to my local spring creek.
The aforementioned scenario may sound like heaven to some die-hardfisherman and hell to other equally dedicated anglers. My theory is that these diverging views depend entirely upon how spoiled you are. My assumption is that you are going to be hard pressed to find a year round resident of the Keys willing to fish in similar conditions. I on the other hand have been dodging yellow cabs and unruly Times Square tourists all too frequently. Freezing my ass off and watching a bobber was downright sublime. . .