Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The Sky is Falling!

I hate to say it, but... actually I love to say "I told you so." Sorry!

Last weekend was supposed to be warm and sunny, both days, in southern Ontario. Instead, our cars got a pretty decent wash.

When I was pier fishing, I remember that there was a lot of pessimism among my local interlocutors with regards to the weather: "long range forecast isn't calling for rain for the next two weeks." In salmonid fishing circles, this is bad news because it means river flows won't be high enough or cool enough to entice fish closer or into streams.

But I had read an article in Ontario out of Doors , years and years ago (so I have no idea in which issue it was, or who wrote it) about watching clouds to predict rainfall; and I could have sworn, as I sat listening to that rant about blue Prince Crafts, that a weather change for the "better" was on the way. I had been watching the clouds, and it seemed to me that rain was definitely the forecast. But I'm not the weather channel, so I shut up about it at the time. And yet as it turned out, I was right. Good for me. Here's a cookie, me! Yay!

It's quite simple: if you see cirrus clouds, really high whispy & almost diaphanous clouds, a weather change is imminent. This is because cirrus clouds are moving in ahead of a front. Now, a front can be good or bad, but if the cirrus clouds are followed by altocumulus clouds (see photo caption above), it usually means rain is on the way. I found more confirmation of this at the Physical Geography.net website, along with other formation combinations that lead to precipitation. It's actually a neat site that explains a lot more about cloud formations, as well as air masses, with links to definitions for most of the cryptic scientific terms it uses.

This is not to say that we should never trust the weather people. It's just more proof that independent observation often yields a truer outlook than anything offered by large associations, and it's always a good idea to keep your own wits about you!


Friday, August 18, 2006

1/2 Day Cashed In

Laura and the twins are spending time with their Grammy and Auntie Colleen, this week, so technically I'm a free man. And since I still had a half day left on my father's day gift, and feeling rather "squeezed" - or maybe it was just missing the activity of tossing a line out - I decided to go pier fishing for chinook salmon last night.

The eternal curse of the occasional fisherman is invariably uttered thus: "you should have been here yesterday" or "the fishing was great all last week." My blessings are elsewhere these days, so I just tip my cap down and keep casting; to not much avail as it turned out last night!

Nonetheless, it was time spent fishing, for which I was deducted nothing more than an evening spent on calm, dark Lake Ontario. The lake was "turning over" which added to the general despondence felt by most of the fishermen on the pier. It means the salmon move out, beyond the reach of our casts, to more comfortably cool waters. Although two had been caught early, with mating colours already quite dark, that would be all we would see for the night.

As if to make things worse, and as a consequence of the lake's shifting, my side of the pier suddenly accumulated quite a mess of algae. What I had orignially taken for the promising boil of a surfacing chinook was, in fact, the bubbling up of large clumps of weeds, created by the wave and current action of the lake against the pier. It did not let up. As this made fishing unpleasant, if not impossible, and as I didn't wish to muscle in on anyone else on the other side, I broke out a cigar, snapped open a can of Warsteiner, and started chatting with one of the locals.

Our conversation covered everything from the fish I missed out on last week, to the bottom structure of the waters around the pier; from fish stocking in the great lakes to stories about poachers in the area & arrests that were made. Ironically, I also learned about the rudeness of "frenchmen" who come to the area to fish from their "sea of blue Prince Crafts." Apparently these rude people will follow too closely behind other trolling fishermen, scaring the fish. I say "Ironic," because I am a francophone, although without the unfortunate drawback of owning a Prince Craft. Tabarnak. But I didn't take offense, because I've experienced this very thing with Mike, in a place where the operator of the blue Prince Craft was definitely francophone. Coincidence, n'est-ce pas?

Also, I learned something quite useful that I didn't know before, related to tossing glow-in-the-dark spoons from piers at night. Always carry a camera flash. Used properly, it "recharges" the glow of your spoon in a fraction of a second, and it will not affect your night sight. Finally, always bring these two senses: humour and awe. The humour I hope was covered already, but of awe: how the lake looks at night, under an overcast sky with nothing solid on which to attach your peripheral vision; you no longer feel your feet, but are floating over the somnambulating waves, like a night bird edging off to flight.

Anyway, I no longer feel squeezed (or stressed)!


Monday, August 07, 2006

Loons & bass

So, for Father's day I got a one-day surcease from the foolish promise I made last May, and I chose to use it not on Steelhead, but on bass fishing in a small lake in the Kawarthas.

I was lucky enough to be accompanied by Laura's brother in-law, Steve, and we headed out early Sunday morning, before the twins could wake us up. Unfortunately, we had to be efficient, as Steve had a deadline to make. So as "luck" would have it, the results weren't great.

Other than three or four little bass, nothing serious was landed; although a fair sized largemouth bass (3lbs or so) chose to rest in the shade of my float tube for a few minutes, after deciding that the texas rig it had followed wasn't so appetising after all. It disappeared when, shortly after the wind rose, I had to kick to right myself.

The loons, however, were something else. The picture I have posted here is, unfortunately, not recent. I am forced to appreciate the irony whereby, for this fisherman, this was an opportunity where a camera would have been far more useful a tool, than a blind fishing rod. Quite truly, the lake on which Steve and I found ourselves fishing, was nothing less than an aerodrome for loons.

I didn't count them, but at one time there were at least 9 of them in one quadrant of the lake. There was lots of gesticulating going on, wing-skipping, taking off and landing; as well as it seems diving and fishing. Twice, a loon came close enough that I could have tossed a lure at it with high expectations of hitting it; and one of those times, the bird came so close that I might have touched it with my outstretched rod-tip, if I had tried (or had had the time).

No wonder the bass weren't biting. They were on the lam!