27 February 2011

Having Fun with Small Weight Rods

The purpose of having small weight rods, such as a 1 or 2, is to enjoy catching some of the smaller fish in nature and still have a good fight without harming the fish.  The Austin fishery stocked trout 23 January 2011 (a week earlier than posted on the TPWD website) at Lake Springfield.  We fished Lake Springfield 11, 15, and 25 February 2011.  I enjoy learning a spot's personality and am always amazed at how rapidly it can change.  Springfield has been a different spot each outing, and based upon the trend we've seen with warming temperatures, some carp would be beneficial.  (No, I don't want to fish for carp; I am somewhat of a snob who snubs the carp, unlike Cody Bell and Malcolm Duke.)  Regardless, the 2# rods have had some fun!

19 February 2011

2nd Annual Al Crise Day

Al as a 2009 CfR River Helper
To honor the memory of a beloved friend, fisherman, and member, the Fort Worth Fly Fishers held the Second Annual Al Crise Day on the Paluxy River in Dinosaur Valley State Park located in Al's hometown, Glen Rose, TX.  Cody and I chose to attend this event because the monies raised supports two of Al's favorite charities, Casting for Recovery and Reel Recovery.  Cody and I enjoy being River Helpers for the North Texas CfR retreat for the past two years and see its positive impact on the ladies it supports (click on the link to read a wonderful thank you note from a 2010 participant).  In addition to attending to support the charities, we just like to fish, and this event was a fun outing.  TPWD also chose to help out and stocked 1,000 Rainbow Trout--a first for the Paluxy!

Originally, after donning pink waders and greeting friends, I headed off just downstream of the Blue Hole with my 2# rod and Beadhead Prince Nymph--a huge hit with the Springfield Lake trout (i.e. Austin stocked trout) to participate in the Trout Derby.  (I did forget to bring my creel, so it was going to have to be in name or photographic documentation only.)  Now, there were already a dozen or so fly fishers lining the near bank and nymphing to the far side, and two fly fishers chose to move even closer to Friday's stocking point.  I saw people to the left of me catch fish and people farther to the right catching fish, two being the DFF's president and vice-president, but because we packed the river like sardines, I really couldn't move to a better spot.  Anyway, Cody had said 35 minutes earlier, that he was going to the car to get his gear on and bring my 4# rod with him.  Having only one hit, I headed back to the car.  Unbeknownst to me, I dropped my fly box of Guadalupana's--sad face when I learned it!

Cody Bell was nowhere to be found, neither was his chair, his 4# rod, my 4# rod; no sign of the Boy anywhere.  So I headed back down to the river and continued to walk farther downstream.  As I walked along the elevated path, I noticed some beautifully deep runs that just looked fishy from the bank.  I ended up almost to the second and most visible Dinosaur tracks, and there were a slew of Boy Scouts (skipping stones upstream--ugh!), and I knew Cody Bell would be nowhere around that place.  I headed back up to towards the pavilion and finally ran into my man.  Cody had been hiking, and he was tired and sweaty and not dressed to fish.  I listened to his tale, and the man must have hiked a mile or so around this section of river--crazy, yes!

Cody unfolded his chair along the bank, drank his Dr. Pepper, and watched me fish.  Asking if Cody brought the prized Cody and GirlieBuggers, Cody said he left them in the car and was off to retrieve them.  I thought I was nicking the bottom or rocks and accruing moss on my hook; instead, they were timid hits from a shy trout.  About the fourth retrieve, the trout emboldenedly inhaled my fly--an amber Bonefish Bitter!  I couldn't believe it.  I had his head out of the water and fiddled with my stupid net (I will be buying a new one--ASAP!), and I decided to have compassion on the fellow, so I allowed his head to dip just below the water surface.  Still messing around with my net, I raised the ol' boy's head out again and brought him up to get a better look.  The trout amazed me with how pale he was colored, looking nothing like the two-week old stocker trout at Springfield, nor its counterparts existing in the wild; its scales were very shiny, though.  In frustration to unclasp that net from the back of my vest, I dipped my rod tip well into the water and needing the net became a moot point! 

Cody returned, tossed his fly canister to me, and I tied on a very pretty CodyBugger with red lips.  I cast four casts, and it was FishOn!  Yeah, I was finally catching fish.  They wised up pretty quickly, and it was a change of the fly, again, but, oh no, I had lost my fly box holding my Guadalupana's (a Lefty Ray Chapa pattern I learned at this year's Houston Fly Tying Festival).  Cody decided he couldn't stand it any longer and walked downstream about 50 feet.  Tying on a CodyBugger too, he fished it from bank to bank.  Standing about 15 feet above the river, casting maybe 20 feet out into the river, and fishing for all of five minutes at the most, Cody had FishOn! himself, a nice Rainbow Trout!  Of course, I snapped his photo.  I tied on another fly, a shortstrike Black SMP, and it's FishOn! for me too.  These crazy little Rainbows were hungry!  Cody fished just a little while longer, because the footbridge traffic 50 yards downstream was too voluminous and too boisterous, so Cody headed back to the pavilion for bar-b-que!  Of course, I stayed to fish.

Feeling pretty sure my spot was played out and needing something other than a 10 ft incline to climb so I could leave the river, I moved upstream to another deep run.  Getting tired, I chose to cast across the bank, and seeing that the black SMP wasn't working, I tied the Bonefish Bitter back on my line.  Fine decision since it imitates a crawfish, as best as I can tell.  A Bluegill liked it, too and paused long enough for me to snap his photo.  Two casts later and near the same spot, I had a BassOn!  His size merited the net, oh the curs├ęd net!  As I attempted to unclasp the net, the bass wriggled himself off my hook.  In frustration, I slapped at the water with my pole, which was enough movement to entice that same bass to bite my fly again!  I failed not in landing him this time, and boy was I glad I did.  I caught a Spotted Bass, a new species for me--wahoo; it is #40 on my species list!  Now, it was time to call it a day, so I left others on the river to head for bar-b-que.

Cody and I met up on the path, and I had fished past dinner.  I changed clothes, talked with friends, enjoyed the raffles, and tried to snap some photos, but my camera battery is way past needing a charge--it is d-e-a-d!  Someone found and turned in my fly box, so I was able to get it back.  We vowed to see friends on the water, at rod-building, or at the next meeting, and off for home we went.   When I think back on the day, the camaraderie, the laughter, the fun, and the fish, I know Al was once again with his fly fishing club.

17 February 2011

From Pond to Plate to Palette

I love to fish.  I attempt to fish often.  I think fish are gorgeous and have exquisite color palettes.  Fish taste delicious and make for an excellent meal.  Until last August, I never practiced catch and keep, but since I was fishing for Coho Salmon, which will die once they return to freshwater, I kept six males I caught.  Tuesday, I once-again kept fish for table fare.

Cody returned home from the Burnet Ranch, and I regaled Cody with tales of fishing Springfield Lake.  Well, Cody decided it was time to catch his first fish of the year.  Armed with his GPS, general directions from me, his float tube, fins, and rod with a Flashback Beadhead Prince Nymph tied on, Cody waded out in to cold, clear water.  I arrived about 30 minutes later and heard a tale of a nice bass who broke off.

Prepared to catch fish, I explained where the previous Friday's honey hole was located, we selected our spots, and began to cast.  Before long it was FishOn! for Cody Bell.  Bam!  I followed and we were FishOn! double.  Cody called that his Rainbow Trout was big enough to keep and so we paddled towards the middle.  I wasn't paying attention and accidentally let my trout out of the net.  Cody stocked the creel with his catch and challenged me to catch some supper, and catch we did.  Cody ended up catching 18 fish for the day, and I caught 13.

We chose to keep four pretty, pretty rainbows.  Cody cleaned and gutted them, and we were homeward bound.  Now, I don't mind eating animals, but being the purveyor of their death has never appealed to me.  As Cody pan-fried, in butter, those fillets, I kept looking at their heads.  Great smells to the right, death to the left, and so it went, much like a good tennis match.  We prepared rice, green beans, and corn bread (in bream shaped pones) to accompany our tasty fillets. They were tender, flaky, and oh so fresh--delicious, just delicious, and not much meat left on the bone!

Since dining on our trout, I dreamt: the headless fish was after me as I waded in a stream; fish heads ate my toes, and, of course returning to the crazy childhood dream, it was no longer safe to go to the potty.  In the future, I do not know if I will practice catch and keep, but I do know, I'll keep on catching!

11 February 2011

What's a Fair Deal?

All my life, my Mom has striven to instill in me that life is not fair.  On my grandparents' wall hung a gorgeously decorated Serenity Prayer, which is probably one of the first poems I learned.  As sincerely as Mom tries, through no fault of her own, Mom fails.  For me, life is very black or white, with no gray whatsoever, which makes life easier to handle, because things are right or they are wrong.  So, what happens when things aren't fair?  I thought about this on my way home tonight, and I feel I need to rectify an unfairness.

Did you know that you do not need a fishing license to fish waters in a Texas State Park's boundaries?  Did you know that during the late fall and most of winter, that the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department stocks almost 1,000,000 trout throughout Texas' state parks?  Did you know the stocking is done cost-free to the public?  So, what is a fair price to pay to get to fish in a state park where they have stocked trout for the public to catch and keep, limited to five per day?  Would you believe me if I told you $2.00?  I think that is a ridiculously unfair price--unfair for TPWD, that is.

On Monday 31 January, I headed to Fort Parker State Park, because about a week prior, TPWD stocked a 1,000 trout in Springfield Lake.  The park's boundaries encompass the historic town of Springfield; only the ghost town's cemetery and 4 acre lake exist, today, and what a fine fishing lake Springfield is.  I did not have my float tube with me, so I waded in to the waters, but the heavily silted bottom keeps the wading pretty close to shore.  Not catching anything this day, I left after a two-hour foray, but I vowed I would be back Tuesday with float tube in hand.  The winter storms came, and so, the waders stayed in my car.  My vinyl lunchbag rested near my waders.  What a valuable lesson I learned, when I retrived my lunch bag .  There were these strange brown things all over it.  Upon further inspection, they were brown scuds, or from the fishes' perspective, dinner!

Armed with the knowledge of the fishes' diet, today, I set off with my float tube.  I tied on a size 14 Flashback Prince Nymph, and I reaped rewards.  After about 15 minutes on the water, I hooked up with a nice size Rainbow that jumped no less than six times!  Wahoo, I was having fun with my 2# rod.  I land it, take photos, release the trout, cast, and FishOn! again.  Bluegill this time.  I land it, take its picture, and release it, and cast.  FishOn! again.  Small Rainbow who squirms off my float tube before its picture is taken.  Cast and FishOn! Aaahhhgain, Yes, four casts; four fish!  It was another small Rainbow.  I touched the leader and was putting him on to the float tube net when he flopped off.  I receive about a 15 minute reprieve, and then it was FishOn! again, and this time it was a Redbreast Sunfish, a new one for my species list, and this boy was a p-i-g hog!  He really engulfed that fly.  Once retrieved, I cast a few more times with no success, and then I hit that same spot the Sunfish occupied, and it was FishOn! again.  This time, a small Smallmouth Bass chomped down on that nymph.  He gets his photo taken, and I release him back to the drink.  I cast and move around the western end of the lake.  The sun is beginning to set, and the fishes' strikes are becoming lethargic, when this little Rainbow decided my nymph was supper.  Resting in the net, I snap his photo and send him on his way. 
With a numb backside, hands, and legs, I decided to call it quits.  Eight fish/four species (with a new one to add to the list) in less than two hours is waaayyy better than the $2.00 entry fee.  I built my 2# rod; I chose my fly, carefully matching a food source; I fished from a float tube.  Yes, I really increased the odds that I should catch fish, but I feel that TPWD is getting an unfair deal, and I have no idea how to get them back on the right side of fairness; it would take a lot, considering the day I had at their place.  A good work day had turned really rotten, and then a $2.00 deal made everything good.  One of my favorite columnists is Regina Brett, and so I shall end with one of her 50 Life Lessons..."Life isn't fair, but it's still good."  Ohhhh, yeahhh!

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