Saturday, March 30, 2013

Busy Busy Busy

Holy crap.  It's been nearly 2 weeks since my last post, and at that...the one from St. Patty's day was pretty weak.  Sorry.  Been busy.

Busy you ask?  Doing what?  Well, let me tell ya.  Mrs. MacLoosh was out of town on business for a while.  That left me home alone with two kids and a puppy.  For those that remember the last time this happened, these things rarely go smoothly.

Well, true to form, this go-around had its bumps too.

Let's start with the dog. Generally he is a good puppy.  However...he has his moments when I would trade him for a case of beer and a good sandwich.

Exhibit A:

Those who follow MacLoosh Chronicles on Facebook have already seen this, but just for fun...In this picture, he sorta bears slight resemblance to a certain friend and fellow blogger...
I think it's the goatee...but I just can't put my finger on who...  Any guesses?
Turns out, the dog digging up the yard was just the tipping point.  Things were really going pretty well up until that moment.  From there, we moved to the world of parenting.  I'll say this right up front:  Try as I might, I routinely wonder what it would be like to be a competent parent.

My daughter came down with a sudden onset of the stomach flu.  She also has a flare for the dramatic, so when she yaks in the middle of the night, she goes big.  I'll spare you a full description of the carnage--you're welcome.  I am, however, a sympathetic puker.  So as I responded (from a VERY sound sleep) to the cries of my sick daughter, not really knowing what was happening I opened the door to her room and was overtaken immediately by the smell.  Oh Yeah, you know the smell.  And she was COVERED in it.  Hair, clothes, hands...it was everywhere.

In a moment I am not really proud of, I slammed the door shut again, retreated to my room and wrapped a towel around my head.  I then swooped back into the room to help.  Picked her up and carried her as far from my body as my arms would reach, and set her down in the shower.  Told her to take her clothes off in the shower, then had her rinse herself while I collected myself.

Well...to a 6 year old who is sick and scared from being sick, seeing your dad barge into your room with a towel wrapped around his head like a crazed jihaddist soldier was apparently also unsettling for her.  Who knew?

After some scuttle, and a lot of scrambling (including a late night Google search on "How to clean up vomit with vomiting") I did manage to bring things back under control. Fortunately she doesn't seem to be showing outward signs of trauma from the events of the evening.

Chalk one up to the forgiving nature of children.  My only hope is that she doesn't remember this moment in time when I am old and relying on her to care for me.  (If she does...I'm screwed)

My son, thankfully, slept through all of it.  He too is a sympathetic puker, so the next morning as I was trying get him ready for school (and was in a relatively poor mood), he was unusually cooperative.  Never seen the kid so cooperative that early in the morning.

My daughter, has now run the full course of her flu symptoms including throwing up's ugly cohort in crime...the runs.  On the upside, I think a solid life lesson may have been learned about trying to squeeze off a fart when stomach issues are involved.

I am happy to say that once she felt well enough to leave the couch, she did help me work on some poppers and tied up a killer butterfly pattern of her own.

So. Serious.


Paint by Bean.  Owl Jones, eat your heart out
Once her mom got home from her trip and settled in, she gave me a much needed break. I made quick for the nearest stream.  Nothing resets a frazzled mind quite like a few precious minutes swinging for takers on a spring afternoon.  Well....rum works too....but I didn't have any Captain handy...

The fishing started off slow.  No obvious signs on the surface, and only a handful of half-assed swipes underneath the water but no fish to hand.  At that point where I was almost ready to pack it in, I moved out of the woods and into a meadow.  Just about ready to break my rod down, I noticed a couple of fish rising just on the outside seam of current.  These were the first risers I had seen since opening day so I was stoked!  (I truly love dry fly fishing...I will nymph for them...but only if I have to...)

Post haste, I dug out my dry fly box and started thumbing through for a #18 Griffiths Gnat.  Midges were all I had seen, so I figured that HAD to be the bite.  Turns out I was right.  (I am only good at "matching the hatch" when it is so obvious that even I couldn't screw it up...)

I managed to land both of the fish that I had seen, and another handful after that.  All small.  The big boys stayed home.  Shortly after that, I watched a couple of robins working the areas where the snow has melted.  And it was then that I realized, spring has sprung.

Thanks to an impromptu outing where my wife and daughter met up with their cousin at the mall to see the Easter Bunny, my boy and I were left with a brief opening later in the week to get out.  We decided that Black Earth Creek needed to be the destination for the day.  Field runoff was heavy, and we didn't think the fishing would be great, but we both decided that poor fishing would be better than not fishing.  Besides, On The Creek Flyshop would be nearby so at the very least, we could stop in and chat with Todd.

We were right, the stream was well on its way to blowing out...but it still didn't stop us from trying.

Despite not having lost a step on casting or line management, and excellent fly choice (San Juan Worm),
the high water proved unproductive
With the temps up, snowpack in full melt and rain in the forecast, looks like we will have to wait for a bit before conditions improve.  Oh well, better days ahead.  Right?

Til later, 

-M

Sunday, March 17, 2013

St. Patty's Day groove

After several attempts to write something profound, or at least funny...I just don't have it in me tonight.  My creative energy is low.

No biggie, right?  It happens to everyone right?  Just take this little pill 30 minutes before you engage in.....  Um.  Wait.  Nevermind.  

Anyhoo....Today I fished the new "secret" hole that I was shown a couple of weeks ago.  Funny how fishing a new place on an "old" water feels like you are in a totally unfamiliar stream.  The high fast water last week appears to have flushed some of the silt out, so the water was in great shape.  Kind of fun.  And...

Slump. Broken.

It was REALLY good to somehow just "know" that raising your rod tip would be rewarded with weight at the other end.  That instant where you say "NICE" under your breath, then set to the business of making sure the fish doesn't toss the hook.  Good stuff.

I promise not to post a picture of every fish that I catch this season, (several were brought to hand today) but these two are important.  They are the first brown and first brookie of 2013.  I also had a follow by a nice little rainbow, but no take.  Bummer eh?  That would have been the cat's meow.

Of note: This is the first brook trout I have caught in this stream.  Hopefully a good sign of improving water quality.

The magic bug: #14 bead head hares ear
Magic bug: #16 bead head Pheasant tail
Til next time when I'm feelin' some creativity.....

-M

Sunday, March 10, 2013

I knew better

I couldn't help myself.  I HAD to get out.  The weather was crappy: 35 degrees, and steady rain (for the last 24-36hrs) on top of a solid base of snow.  I knew it would suck out there, and I also knew that Mrs. MacLoosh was lukewarm at best about me going out.  (She is going every bit as crazy as I am from cabin fever).

So why did I bother going?  Because I needed to go.  And, I had this mistaken romantic idea that I would somehow be more hardcore, more dedicated, and maybe even LOOK cooler to all those folks driving by in their cars.  In short, I pictured myself in one of those badass pacific northwest photos of a guy standing in a perfect stream in a stunning landscape, casting effortlessly and presumably landing big fish as the snow falls all around me.

This is not me and this is not my photograph.  But this IS the way I pictured myself
 I didn't stay out very long.  While I did stay dry, I was chilled through my bones.  Some days are like that I guess.  And the obvious question that begs an answer since this is supposed to be a fishing blog?  No, I did not catch any fish.  Again.

My first stop was the homewater.  It was effectively blown out.  I could have skipped going to the stream by simply paying attention to the warning signs along the way.

Bad Omen

Field run-off with more CFM that some streams....
Since this is a stream that traverses quite a bit of agricultural land, I expected turbidity.  I even expected high water (thanks to the sign), but once I got there it was clear to me that the vision I had in my head would not be representative of my day.

Blown. Out.
The good news was, that my other "close to home" haunt is a different sort of stream.  It doesn't suffer the same way in high water situations.  It doesn't blow out quite as easily so headed up to Poynette.

Higher than usual, and off color, but still  fish-able
So, to try and salvage that image in my mind, I suffered through the rain, dropping temperature, and wind that was picking up for another hour.  I have had luck before in water like this before with streamers and San Juan Worms worked in the margins, but again, today it just wasn't meant to be.  My heart wasn't in it.  I was still dry, but like I said...I was cold..and once a person lets that type of chill set in, it the only thing that cures it is to get the hell out of the rain.  The final straw was a wind knot of epic proportions.  Under the circumstances, it was the final morale killer.  I packed it in and went home.

Once home, I decided I still wasn't done thinking about fishing, so I set to the task of photographing some midges that I tied up last night.  My friend Tim had come over and we managed to knock out a bunch of flies to help fill our respective flyboxes, worked our way through a 12 pack of Spotted Cow, and generally talked smack about all of our fishing experiences.  Good times.

Here are a couple of my best efforts:




The nice thing about tying midges is that they go fast.  You can tie up an army of them in very little time, so I think I am set on them for a bit.  I was going to name them, but a glance through a book that Tim had left with me about tying and fishing midges showed me that there are so many versions of every type and color of midge or emerger that I just don't have the creative energy to name them.  So they will go down in my books as more from the "Betta effing work" series of midges/emergers.

Maybe some day folks from all over the world will tie them and call them simply BEW midges....  Right.  This has the same promise as that mental image of me on the stream that I started with:  A nice thought...but not likely to happen in real life.

Til later,

-M

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Opening weekend recap

Like so many other things in my life...Opening weekend served up a giant slice of humble pie for me.  I got skunked.  Both days.

Ouch.

One would think that over the years I would have (a) gotten good at handling the humility and (b) learned not do things like brag publicly about how Sun Tzu was providing the perfect primer for me go out and fish like a pro.  Apparently, a local named "Sofa" who was a regular fixture a bar that I worked at in college was right when he waxed poetic about how  "You can't teach stupid".  He went on to rationalize that you can teach people knowledge, but their natural, unteachable tendency to be stupid will eventually take over.  After all these years, I suddenly realize that my Crown Royal fueled friend may have actually been talking about me.

Ouch.

All was not lost though.  I did come back from the stream with a couple of bits of knowledge that I hadn't left with.  First of all, after having not really fished since mid September, I shouldn't have been surprised when I flubbed the first couple of casts on a fine bend pool and spooked the local trout population into submission within 10 minutes of arriving.  OK.  Duly noted.  Next year maybe a few practice casts in the driveway before I head out.  (My casts did eventually improve, but I had already fouled the best hole of the day)

The next lesson was a bit less obvious, and took a little longer to realize, but was no less important.  Once learned, this one stayed with me for the rest of day. Those neoprene waders that I rely so heavily on during the winter...yeah...next year I'll go ahead and double check that patch on the left leg, just above the boot BEFORE I head out.

The third lesson was that snowmobilers are apparently not used to seeing people standing in a stream casting to fish on a 25 degree day as they blissfully race through the woods with their throttle wide open.  I'm pretty sure I was the cause of at least 5 near miss crashes.

Lesson # 4 was that the Griffiths Gnat isn't the ONLY midge imitation that a person should carry.  Methinks it might have been useful to have some midge emergers on hand when I stumbled on about 5 fish feeding happily on the surface, but flat refusing the GN.   So........it was back to the lab again yo....

I call it the Size 20 betta effing work midge emerger
And the last lesson learned was about Karma.  In a nice change from the norm, Karma was good to me, and came quickly.  On Sunday, I had stopped fishing a run near the parking area of my "home water" to help a guy who's car was stuck in the snow.  I was glad to do it because god knows I have needed help before and people have stopped to help me.  Well, after having gotten him out of the parking area, he invited me to fish with him in a couple of holes that he knows in an area rarely visited by others.  In a leap of faith, I traipsed off through the woods with this gentleman.  I'd be a liar if I didn't admit that at one point I sized him up...just in case he turned on me and was an axe murderer...I wanted to have an idea of what my odds were.

Turns out, he is a hell of a nice guy who knows his way around the stream pretty darn well.  It also appears that he is dead right when he says he knows where some fantastic water is.  Unfortunately, due to the day before's mishap with the the hole in my waders, I wasn't wearing any and had planned on shore fishing only.  Not being able to get into the water meant that I was limited in the parts I could fish.  At the end of the day, we exchanged contact information with invites to fish together again some time.  I hope it works out that we can.  Oh, and hey Jim...Thanks....see you around.

With regards to that fishy water he showed me....I will be back.  Often.  And I don't usually keep fishing spots secret, but this one...I think I will keep between my new friend and I.  Sorry.

And finally, getting to spend so much time out on a stream did wonders for my psyche.  This winter has taken its toll on me, and getting out to fish...even though I got skunked...was probably the best thing that has happened in a long time.

Til later,

-M

Saturday, March 2, 2013

The Art of War

Sun Tzu was a freaking genius.  Seriously. For a literary work that dates back to the 2nd century BC, this cat had vision.  The kind of vision that reaches so far into today's world that it is almost creepy.

My paperback copy is worn, tattered, dog eared and generally beat to hell.  It is also never very far from me and almost always offers me a few, succinct words of clarity.

So this morning, as I drink my coffee and gather myself to get out on the stream for opening day, I also turn to this old classic to find a little extra inspiration and reassurance as I prepare to head out...quite rusty and probably a little over excited....



In chapter 1, "Laying Plans" (Lionel Giles translation  from 1910) Sun Tzu reminds me of a couple of basics. Here are parts of the section that have hit home form this morning:

"According as circumstances are favorable, one should modify one's plans"  

"All warfare is based on deception. Hence, when able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must seem inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away"

"Hold out baits to entice the enemy. Feign disorder, and crush him"   (Don't get your panties in a ruffle...yes...I know it is artificial lures only during the early season...)

"If he is secure at all points, be prepared for him"

And finally..."Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected".


As a last bit of morning inspiration, here is the first fish from 2012.  I can only hope that 13' will be even better.


See you on the water,

-M