Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Spring Song of the Steelheader

Give us the beautiful coldness.

Give us a cool mist passing slowly, blotting out the sunrise.

Give us a chill morning when all others lie in the indulgent trance and warmth of their beds, and give us a river whose cold water travels over our boots murmuring memories of ice.

Then, give us the silver steelhead that have dropped down like living chunks from the shattered floes, to ply hungrily the current for springtime’s little denizens; the brazen midge and swift stonefly, the timid minnow, the worm curling in futile aquatic struggle.

Give us the Battle of them!

Give us all their cunning and grace, and their indescribable beauty!

Take away your echoes of Summer, your midday sun, your blue skies and your swelter. Take away your heat.

Or delay it all, just a little, we beg. We plead with you – please! Why hurry? What necessity to push out roses, so soon after the tulips have gone? A week, a day – nay! one sweet, cool morning extemporized out of the wreck of the past season, before the coming chaos and flowering haze and heat – is all we ask.

Then, we Thankful, will seek our rest elsewhere, leave the river in peace, put the rods away, tuck our waders into closets, hang our hats and put our tackle aside.

And wait;

For the multitudinous be-speckled ardent Mykiss to return; at the Fall, when the cold breath again blows down from the eternal North, before everything must die; and we are unfurled again among your vigorous children, in your vast, scintillating bounty. 


Friday, May 16, 2014

Ontario Trout Opener 2014 - A Photo Epic

No, I can't say that I came away with quite the piscatorial success that I'd hoped for this Spring. Some reasons or excuses might be the equally expectant crowds, the unusually high water flows, the sudden upturn in recent temperatures; even age might be starting to creep in a bit.

But somehow it hasn't mattered much. My passion for the sport remains undimmed, and hope of numerically more successful tomorrows will probably only die with me. Whether it's being out on a fine Spring day when the weather's clement, or in the Fall with her early sunsets and chill drizzle; it's a fine thing to swing a rod for these fish, especially when the company is even finer.

I've struggled quite a bit with how to represent this year's opener to my scant readers, and I've concluded that I want to be a little lazy this time. I'll let the pictures do the talking.

Sam. The most intensely successful fisherman I met in my travels this Spring. Mike may have beat him in numbers, but he surely didn't go 0-5 in 15 minutes of white-hot night-crawler induced steelhead action. Needless to say, I am quite proud of his exploits! I hope they foretell even better days to come.

First fish. Sadly, I only landed my first fish near the end of opening Monday. I'd had quite a few hits early on, but was either late in the hooking or had had fish come off early - including a straightened hook.

Mirkwood. Even after the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies, "Mirkwood" triggers a spellcheck error. No, it didn't lead to giant spiders or elf kingdoms; only a quiet river with neither lots of fishermen, nor lots of fish. It was a sheltered place, perfect for enjoying a cigar quietly, out of the wind.

Me. Lucky me, to have Khalid stationed right behind me during one of my rare successful moments this Spring. Almost, one would swear, the gentleman in the photograph appears to be a master of the craft. Would it were so!

Khalidian success. My good friend caught this drop-back hen a day before the shot above. Classically beaten-up by its spawning journey, it was taken in a smaller stream less susceptible to the ravages of the intense rainfall we received during the opening week. 
Mike. Incredibly, he confided to me a sincere interest to join me on my home rivers. This after many years of swearing that he'd rather stick needles in his eyes. I kept all my needles hidden on that day. The Steelhead Ninja pose is still going strong, as is Mike's new site: Canada Fishing Guide. I'm glad to see him putting his considerable talents to good use!

Khalid. He caught the biggest fish I saw any of myself or my pals land this Spring. If it returns this fall, it could push 14lbs. 

My biggest. Note how well recovered this fish is. It's almost as silver - on May 2nd - as it was when it first entered the river. It gave an outstanding battle. I would've loved to have had a picture with it, especially as Khalid was just over the nearest bank. But he couldn't hear me when I called, and once a fish is ready to go, you really ought to release them.

Mike. "Ah so, Steelhead-san! You will not escape me now!" ... couldn't resist... :)

A release. Another steelhead goes free. This is perhaps the nicest thing my new Lumix point-and-shoot camera can do. Its wide angle lets you take some interesting release shots.

Sett'n'er up fer a rip. Ah NY state! We showed up late, as it turns out. Late in the season. As far as setting out, we did that early - 3 am. Richard himself wouldn't get back home until 1:30am. (Photo: courtesy Oliver Marx)

The Grass is greener. If there's a reason why I need to find myself at least a used DSLR somewhere, to take on fishing trips, here it is. Look how green that grass is! Not only that, but images and lighting are all superior. Envy!  (Photo: courtesy Oliver Marx)
Spring morning. Just looking for a likely place to start. It didn't take long to figure out that the water was a bit too warm for the Steelheads' liking.  (Photo: courtesy Oliver Marx)
Drifting... I hope to return to this stretch in the fall after a rain, when the river's on the rise.  (Photo: courtesy Oliver Marx)
Richard. When he pulled this one out, we thought it was a good omen - at first.  (Photo: courtesy Oliver Marx)
Richard again. The pics tell the story. Richard had the best attitude. As soon as this little silver dollar was landed, his day was made. Smiles all around!  (Photo: courtesy Oliver Marx)
Slurp. Tell me this isn't the life. Beer in one hand, schmoke in the other, rod tucked under one arm and river at my feet. This shortly after missing a rocket that had launched itself 2ft out of the water, after taking a blue bag. Surely this drift would spot us a few more fish? Surely not...  (Photo: courtesy Oliver Marx)
Oliver. Same as I was, enjoying a drift on a high, clear NY river. 
Downstream view. Note the bright, fresh springtime green of the birches on the left. At no time in the year is the colour of foliage more delicate or vibrant.
Richard, in the trees. Classic drifter pose!
Small Tributary. When fishing was decidedly slow, we ceded to the temptation of checking out a nearby tributary to the main stream. Idyllic beauty flowing through rural prettiness, with nary a fish to be seen.
A second wind. Re-rigging for an afternoon foray on a different stretch of the river. (Photo: courtesy Oliver Marx)
Sparking envy. Should any Canadian beer aficionados also be checking out this blog... (Photo: courtesy Oliver Marx)
Drop-back success. Ok, not really... More like a drop-dead. Somehow Richard managed to hook this recently departed fish in the nether regions. It was good for a laugh! (Photo: courtesy Oliver Marx)
Little ones. Lots of smaller yearlings were jumping around. Some of them that came to hand were atlantics, although I can't tell in this picture if this was one of them. (Photo: courtesy Oliver Marx)
Jig time. Countering desperation, when all else had proven futile, I started toying with jigs.(Photo: courtesy Oliver Marx)
Tying one on. If you observe closely, you might get the pun. Sorry about that. Mind you, I do think (notwithstanding the subject) that Oliver took a great picture here. (Photo: courtesy Oliver Marx)

Getting one on. And taking it for a rip! The surprise and delight are not feigned. (Photo: courtesy Oliver Marx)

What she took. I got some love from bass with this jig as well, but wouldn't land another fish. 

Botched. Despite botching a fish picture, it ends up being quite expressive nonetheless. I like it. (Photo: courtesy Oliver Marx)

Friends on the river. Richard's venerable 14' Raven IM8 finally succumbed to statistics on this day, after the tip section snapped at the ferule. In this picture, Oliver is giving him a hand untangling his spinning setup. Richard tried a few plugs and spinners but, in the end, to no avail.

Putt'n'er away. Now looking forward to a dinner at Five Guys, we started putting our stuff away. I used to hate this part of the day, but fishing with Richard, Oliver and Chesley has renewed my appreciation for it. Recapping has its own special place in the order of every fishing day. (Photo: courtesy Oliver Marx)

Storm cometh. A presage of our home receptions? Not really, thankfully! But it was quite a site to see this giant alto cumulo nimbus roll over the countryside. I had images of twisters sprouting from it, but we didn't see any materialize.(Photo: courtesy Oliver Marx)

Adios! I hope you enjoyed this latest post and that you'll forgive the lack of steelhead pictures! There were more than what I show here, of course, but not that many - and nowadays I just don't take as many pics as I used to.

Thanks for reading!

Oh, and finally, where all this "rippin" came from...