Tuesday, September 13, 2011

open gym

went to Bainbridge High to check out the open gym. i haven't played competitive basketball since april. i had no idea where the gym was. i wandered around campus, sketchily looked in on the girls' volleyball practice and then found the gym, where a few guys who looked like high schoolers were suiting up. i walked in and went up to one kid. "is this the open gym?" i asked. he looked at me and said, "uh, yea, this is the high school open gym... the old man open gym is downstairs."


Sunday, September 11, 2011

Coastal Cutthroat Trout

I have been fishing the beaches a fair amount since moving to Bainbridge Island exactly two weeks ago. While I have had minimal success to date, I understand that part of the nature of this beach fishing game is just finding the fish. My collection of fishing spots is small, but growing, and I'm trying to learn which spots fish well at different tides, different times of day, etc. I've caught a handfull of cutthroat and silver salmon in the 4 - 6" class, which was fun the first two, maybe three times.

A day or two after I arrived on the Island, I received a message from an old friend from my hometown, Silas. He would be in Seattle for a conference and was staying through the weekend to fish and wondered if I would like to join him. Yes, I would, I told him and the plans were made. We rendez-vous-ed at perhaps the most unlikely place for two anglers to meet, a mall, and caught up while we made our way to one spot I know of that I had caught some small fish at before. No fish were caught that evening, but we knew we had an early morning outgoing tide waiting for us the next day.
We reached the beach the next morning before sunrise and made our way to a spot I found where a lagoon drains on the outgoing and a good flow of water passes by a little spit. I had caught a few nicer fish here earlier in the week but hadn't quite hit the tide right. This morning we timed it perfectly and we also had a huge tide that would drain most of the lagoon, giving us a solid two and a half hours of outgoing current.
With any foreign water or species, there are many questions and doubts that cross an angler's mind, especially when not catching fish. In this case, I was fairly confident that we were in a decent spot and that if the fish were around, they'd eat our flies - clousers in some combination of white, chartreuse, pink, olive and green. That said, I hadn't really gotten into them yet, so any theory I had to that point could be thrown out the window. We could philosophize about it all day, but in the end, fish certainly won't eat flies that aren't in the water so we started fishing.

Fifteen minutes or so into it, a strike.

The fish were there and they would eat our flies.

Between the two of us we landed a dozen or so before 9:00. It was the best luck I'd had since I arrived on the Island.

These coastal cutthroat are an awesome fish! Consider: a 14" coastal cutthroat will absolutely hammer a size 1 clouser minnow and fight hard enough to put a solid bend in an 8 weight, jump and spit your fly, take line off the reel and speed away when released! As Boone would say, I'll fuck with that! Finally getting into these fish let me get to know them a lot better and I'm thoroughly impressed.

When the tide finally slowed and the bite turned off, Silas and I began the walk back toward the car and breakfast. Walking and talking about the morning's great fishing we were suddenly stopped in our tracks by a huge splash and then a large cutthroat leaping two feet completely out of the air, directly in front of us, 60 feet away. Silas might have uttered "Dude...", but we looked at each other and in an instant ran into the water stripping line off our reels and false casting like madmen. I got one cast out pretty quick and the fly landed in the still-disappearing rings from the fish's splash. Nothing. I made another cast and started stripping when a yell from Silas came. I looked over and Silas was tight. His two casts were 10 or so feet to the left of the fish's jump and the fish had headed that way. It was quite a scene as we both couldn't contain ourselves and he battled the fish. It turned out to be the nicest fish we'd land that day.

From what I'm told, these fish push 18" and a 20" fish is a monster. So this healthy 16" fish was solid and put up a good fight.
The rest of the day was spent in search of new waters. Private Property and No Trespassing signs frustrated us as we made our way around the Sound. We found a few more places to fish and got into a few more fish, but nothing quite as productive as the morning. At any rate, I'm in. I've been used to frequent fishing for a while now so I think this will fit right in.
The day was also a great reunion with an old friend. Exploring new waters and new territory can be frustrating business sometimes and it definitely helps to have a positive face in the passenger seat and next to you on the water. Sometimes all you need is for someone else to tell you to take a right or a left. There are so many roads...
I've also heard there are salmon around.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

th'OP, take one

with three days off in a row (!) i make my first trip to the Olympic Peninsula.
water levels were quite low. one river is currently running at 80 CFS. a fishy co-worker likes to fish this same river at 3,000. so the fish were spread out pretty good. the bite was not consistent on any one fly, but ol' jess is an angler. i was able to entice strkes on a black sculpzilla, a skated caddis fly and also trusty patrick rubberleg.

it was a great feeling to know that these waters would be filled with steelhead and salmon soon. i got the feeling i was standing in something important and famous.
and new. i think this was my first solo fishing/camping trip since i left new zealand. it had been a while. while it's awesome and great to fish and camp with friends, it's also nice to be on your own. the only schedule is yours and you can do whatever you want; fish where and how long you want to, eat when you want, go to bed and get up when you want.
on monday morning, after two days of fishing, i drove out to the coast, Rialto beach, to look around and get my first glimpse of the Pacific Northwest coast. as i've said before, in anyone's travels, you'll inevitably come across places that look like, or remind you of, other places. and inevitably, you'll come to places that don't look like anything you've seen yet. this beach had a touch of new zealand in it, the offshore rocks specifically, but the whole scene was something i had not taken in before.
i will be back to the OP soon.

caught the outgoing and low tide at the beach when i got back to the Island. bird "activity" was fairly low:
and so was fish activity. at least in my casting range.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

White Lightning was my steed

and so i drove. no surprises, the destination was made.
so was the journey.
lots of long, flat, flat. thought of explorers, of lewises and clarks, crossing the land. i knew there were mountains ahead, and beyond that a sea. they knew neither. how did they keep going? White Lightning was my steed and she rode true.

not far into it i wish i had more time. to explore, to look at that and that. will come back to do that.

first stop, Jackson Hole. in a meadow there runs a creek. in the creek in the meadow there are trout. i had stepped into this creek before and when i left it i had not had the pleasure of catching success. the last time i stepped into this creek, i knew it would be hard, and i knew not much else. this time i knew the game better, knew the opponent and his ways, his lair. i had a game plan. a parachute hopper was my bait. and he would eat it. and he did. we danced until he was tired and i netted him, admired him and let him go. a fish called redemption and/or unfinished business finally finished. good feeling.

great friends awaited, two a bit older, two a lot younger. good evening! hugs from the big ones and goodnight hugs from the little ones. water and fish awaited early anglers. went there, no fish. went there, no fish. went there, fish. Boss spots. thanks Boss.
missed fish, bad casts, tangles. laughs. love fishin with ya Boss. brain saucin'.
Boss asks, 'what did i do wrong?' thanks for asking, but you know more than i do.
drive. a lot. fourteen hours White Lightning flies. a friend awaits. talk fish, fishing, life.

fish. arrive by dark, when the steelers are active. for our flies they are not, on this day. no matter. laughs. fishing.
drive. more friends. four older, one younger, one negative.

ahh, campfire. i see you wherever i go and you are always welcoming, intoxicating, full of wonder. and laughs.
fish. want to catch for the little one badly. the little one in her fishing headband, sweats and sandals. fickle fish!
would like to have seen this thing blow up:
drive. destination in sight. arrive by dusk. road fatigue.

the back yard:
some birthday fish! enjoyed the flies i tied for them:
many, many thanks for all the birthday wishes! still love my friends and family. always will. will see you soon.