Saturday, May 30, 2015

Chub Tales

Asher and I each caught a chub while we were flyfishing in the Chattahoochee River a couple of days ago, and each was noteworthy in its own way.

Asher's was just kind of funny. He was trying to make a cast and his fly line was coming out of the water as it should have. Although Asher is brand new to flycasting and his mechanics are far from perfect, our guide Jake couldn't figure out what Asher was doing wrong that was preventing his cast from working, so he took the rod from Asher for a moment, only to figure out that there was a 4-inch fish at the end of the line. He gave the rod back to Asher and let him land his prize.

My chub, which came from the same run a little later, had no good story, and it was about the same size. It was noteworthy only in the fact that I hadn't caught a chub yet in 2015, and it was species No. 20 on this year's list.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

First Fly Trout

Asher got his first taste of flyfishing today and definitely liked the taste. He and I took a half-day instructional trip on the Nacoochee Bend section of the Chattahoochee River, learning from Jake Darling, assistant manager of Unicoi Outfitters and a Unicoi guide.

Jake began with some one-on-one instruction with Asher, showing him the casting and line-management techniques he would need for the way we would be fishing, teaching him how to hook and fight a fish, and then walking him through rigging with a strike indicator, two flies and a couple of split shot. I listened quietly in the shadows, mostly hiding behind my camera, and learned at least as much as Asher.

Basics covered, Jake set me up beside a feeding trough and moved upstream with Asher, where he coached him through casts, mends and hooksets.

Asher and I each gave Jake plenty of work untangling knots or retying rigs that weren't worth trying to untangle, and we both got out-muscled or outsmarted (or both) by a big trout. That said, we also both managed to land a handful of Chattahoochee River rainbows and had a big time doing so. More importantly, I learned stuff that I incorporate into writing and got lots of photos, and Asher and I both learned plenty that we can apply during future trout outings.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Birthday Fishing x 3

I awoke a little later than normal this morning, and Nathaniel's truck was already gone. He had left just before daylight to meet a friend for a morning of fishing at a lake just up the road. Nathaniel turned 17 today, and birthdays and fishing tend together around here. He and his friend each caught one bass.

It was a little odd having Nathaniel already gone for his first round of birthday fishing, but I got in on round two. Traditionally, assuming everyone is in town, we'll do at least a lap around the ponds nearest home on a birthday, and Nathaniel, Asher and I did that this afternoon. The bite wasn't crazy good by any means, but the boys each caught a bass and I caught a few bluegills.

About half an hour after we got home from that outing, the same friend Nathaniel fished with this morning picked him up for round three, at another pond. He's still gone and I've heard no word, so I don't yet know what they caught. I know he's be happy to be fishing for the third time on his birthday, though.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Species No. 19

With Darl Black and I having tallied eight species in a day over the weekend, I figured I'd probably added at least a couple of fish to this year's species tally. When I pulled up this year's list, though, I realized I'd already caught at least one of seven of the eight species that we landed. The lone newcomer to my 2015 tally was a walleye.

The walleye was species No. 19 for this year. With that addition, Pennsylvania ties Georgia for the number of species added to the list. Each has contributed four. Through late May, species have been added from eight different states.

Looking back a year, a walleye was the last species added last May (from South Dakota). It was No. 17, so I'm two species ahead of last year's pace, for whatever that is worth.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Simply Fun Fishing

Darl Black and I see one another fairly often most years, being invited to many of the same media events. Many, if not most, of those events center around fishing, but most are pretty structured, and the fishing is in shifts with pros or guides with pretty targeted story- and photo-gathering objectives.
This weekend I was going to be within a couple of hours of where Darl likes to fish and runs guide trips, so we decided to get to get together for a day. And while we both always want to gather photos when we fish, there was no event dictating times or objectives. We'd just go fishing.
Because it was Memorial Day weekend, Darl chose Lake Pymatuning, which has virtually no fast pleasure boating traffic due to a 20-horsepower motor limit.
Because so many species are shallow and using similar types of areas during May at Pymatuning, Darl decided we'd make a game of seeing how many species we could catch. Using fairly light tackle for the most part and a variety of smallish baits, including Road Runners, hair jigs, grubs and the like, we ran from spot to spot, fishing weedbeds, stumps, downed trees, humps, points, rocks... Some spots were for specific target species. Others were just for whatever bit.
The light gear mult-species approach was just plain fun, and we ended up catching eight species. Interestingly, there were at least five other species that we could have just as likely caught doing the same stuff, along with a couple of other longshots.
If you're going to be in western Pennsylvania and want to do some fun fishing, I'd definitely suggest checking out Fishing with Darl Black.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Fish Before the Storm

I'm out of sequence with reports from recent fishing days because I got behind on blog posts, but a few days ago, Asher and I enjoyed a quick afternoon outing and had fun catching some bass and bluegills before a big evening rain and thunder not far from us pushed us off the pond.

Late in the afternoon, we decided to slip out after dinner, if it wasn't already raining. From the radar, I had my doubts, but I planned as if we would go and gathered a bit of gear when I had the chance. It was one of those patchy summer systems that was hard to gauge, so even as we got in the car, I wondered whether we'd have to turn around when we got to the pond, which is only four miles from our house.

No raindrops when we arrived, to we grabbed our junk and launched the johnboat. The pond is pretty small, so it's reasonable to retreat when needed. We only got in about 2/3 of a lap before the rain hit, and when it came, it came hard in a hurry, and we had to scurry. In an hour or so of fishing, though, we caught several bass and bluegills, including a bass of a couple of pounds that Asher spotted cruising and cast a few feet ahead of to draw the strike.

We were across the pond when the rain came, so it got up pretty wet. We returned home soggy but smiling.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Day of Almost Trout

Rarely have I ever caught fewer fish for the amount of activity seen than was the case yesterday. The trout are definitely plentiful in the Nantahala River right now (as they will be until the first Saturday in June, when the catch-and-release season ends), and they were chasing, swiping at and even hitting the baits that Asher and I was throwing all afternoon. The hits were mostly slaps, though, and we missed some fish that hit more decisively.

We didn't get skunked. We caught a handful of trout including at least one representative of all three species. It was just far less than it seemed like should have been the case.

I've seen the same thing occur before (although maybe not quite to the same extent) late in the season. Some of those fish have been caught and released for several months now, and even the newcomers, from the early May stocking, have seen lots of anglers offerings every day since they day they hit the river. That section of the Nantahala gets exceptionally popular during May. At the same time, more insects are hatching, so it can be a better time for a well-fished dry/dropper combo or dry midge on a fly rod than the spin-fishing offerings that I most commonly throw.

Despite no big catch, Asher and I had a big time stomping around in the creek. We arrived at the same time as a big summer rainstorm, but fortunately it didn't last long, and the day turned out to be beautiful. I also consider each day we spend traveling to a stream and fishing good training for the #RebelTroutTrek, which is now less than two months away. In much the same fashion as we often will be traveling this summer, we drove four hours, round-trip, to fish about six hours yesterday.