Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Broke Back Chrome

I hate to say it, but the picture in the caption depicts a fish that was not released and ultimately (merely) contributed to my bait can.

It's a long story and I hope you can stomach it.

Last Sunday, I was supposed to join a couple of friends to lay chrome waste somewhere south of Canada and Ontario. But perhaps it's a sign of aging, that we didn't feel too inclined to go freeze our nether regions to such a degree, and the trip was called off. I still managed to do a little bit of fishing in a local spot, but it was to be a big skunk for many of the foolhardy who showed up to de-ice their guides on that day.

This past Sunday, however, was a different story and an example of how fortuitous compromise can sometimes be. The compromise of course was to let Laura choose the time of my foray into chromeland; whilst I had already chosen the ground, a nearby tributary that allows for a quick return home at need.

This was lucky, because it was likely one of the least crowded rivers in the East on that day, and by all accounts it had still been on the boring side of unfishable in the morning. By the early afternoon, there were about 6 to 8 inches of visibility in the water: just enough to fish by. The time and place were right, the water was high and the fish were in. And to compound matters to the good, despite a parking lot brimming with cars, one of the best pools on the entire stretch was devoid of fishermen.

Less than ten minutes into the adventure, I hooked into this little fellow in a riffle at the head of the pool.

In short order, I had another fish on & lost. Then a few minutes later, the strangest steelhead I've landed in a long month of Sundays, lay feebly twitching on the river bank. At first, since it had fought so sluggishly, like a log with a piece of ribbon pinned to it to look like a tail; I thought the fish must already have been caught & released.

But then it looked to me as though some other less powerful fish's musculature (maybe a sunfish?) flapped beneath the skin of her aft. The rear of the fish, instead of enabling it to launch itself into the air even from a prone position, served merely to wave bye-bye and twitch like a puppy's tail. The tail fin was misshapen (though neither this picture nor the one in the head caption really show this), with the upper part at least 1 1/2 inches shorter than the bottom. I felt badly for the fish, which I assume was a NY hatchery byproduct, or had suffered from debilitating injury or disease. But I felt good for myself. Back home, the roe supply in the freezer was dwindling...

Things did slow down, during which time I hooked 2 more, and landed another chrome bright hen. This one was in fine shape, gave me a good rendition of wild chrome early spring steelhead, and darted back into the water as soon as I had her unhooked.

The best photographic opportunity of the day occurred when a fellow from Bolton asked to fish beside me. I knew he was not from around here because he actually asked! The locals don't normally attend to such formality, although if they are feeling good they may magnanimously apologise only if by some accident (which happens too often) or lack of skill their float ends up caught in your line.

Anyway, the 12+ lbs fish gave a good account of itself, given the close confines of this relatively small creek, and the fact that it had a 15' Frontier to deal with at the other end. I asked its gentlemanly captor if I could snap a pic of the beast before he set him free, and was most graciously indulged.

All in all, it was a nice way to spend an afternoon, and finally achieve success in accordance to what I was used to before I was "papa." And it's a long story for just a couple of fish; but what the heck. It's been pent up for a while!


Friday, March 16, 2007

in Just spring

As the world outside resumes for a short time its slumber, like a lazy riser snoozing on the alarm clock, I think about Spring. Spring is so close I can see it over the horizon, sailing on the ever brighter crimson blush of winter sunsets.

And I am excited about this Sunday, when I will join up with a couple of chrome-hound buddies to finally launch my first true all-day assault since last November, upon a lucky creek somewhere. If I close my eyes and concentrate, even as I type this, I can feel the current around me and the soft fins of timorous steelhead brushing at my ankles and my calves; I am standing knee deep in them, in enormous "Chromocupia." Or maybe that's just cabin fever + caffeine (I just polished off a tripple espresso)? Mike says I'm passionate about steelhead, and I guess I am that, too - and such long abstinence, if it does not kill passion will transform it into wanton, reckless zeal.

But now I realise what it is that has been humming in my head these last couple of weeks. Not just the prescience of March chromers and steely April droppies, or the pulsing quickening of Spring, but a poem. By e.e. cummings, my favourite poet. His poem went so far as to infiltrate my last entry, and it is the name of this one. If you did in fact read my last entry; if you are one of those poor souls whose lives are so barren that they had nothing better to do; I extend you just a little less sympathy than I do to myself (who actually wrote the darned thing): and I wonder if you detected the bits of poetry that slipped into the otherwise monotonous blabla.

In any case, if all goes well and the Chrome Gods smile upon us, I shall update this space again quite soon. In the meantime, I leave it to cummings and his bright, beautiful poem. I hope you enjoy it!

in Just- spring

in Just-
spring      when the world is mud-
luscious the little
lame balloonman

whistles      far      and wee

and eddieandbill come
running from marbles and
piracies and it's

when the world is puddle-wonderful

the queer
old balloonman whistles
far      and      wee
and bettyandisbel come dancing

from hop-scotch and jump-rope and



balloonMan      whistles

e.e. cummings

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Ice Ice Baby

March is here, and the march on the rivers is on. A little pre-maturely, in my case, as I am mostly motivated to stay close to home these days and most nearby tributaries are all but choked with ice.

It's ironic, really, because after last Wednesday's rains I expected more spring-like conditions. And although I travelled far and wee I found nothing that could be described as "mud-luscious" and only one tributary had any significant ice-free stretch of water.

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There were a couple of fish rolling in one of the sections of open water I found, but neither roe, nor pinkie, nor woolly bugger tickled their fancy. Either because of the frigid water or ample fishing pressure, belied by the numerous footprints in the riverside snow (most with toes pointing into the water), I went fishless.

Then the cell phone rang.

Samuel's air-siren shrieks were audible before I could even say "hello," clearly signalling the reason for the call. Yes, Laura's sanity is more important than any tangible success on the river: my fishing day was over.

Nonetheless, as ever, the simple exercise of stalking a river, looking for open water and fish; and then finally drifting a float for an hour or so, left me feeling refreshed and renewed. My blood pressure has tangibly improved; and the powerful benefit of reconnecting with the simple, primal occupation of the predatory "I," still inhabits my very cells.

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My prophetic soul mentioned in my last post that hours on the river would now be more precious than ever, and it has proven true. Maybe in a week, maybe in two; whenever the merciless grip of this latest deep freeze is loosened by the soft urgings of Spring, I will venture out again.

Please stay tuned for the next update!