Monday, September 29, 2008

Stock market tanks, but do the fish care?

Market dropped 777 points today. Unbelievable. Know who doesn't care? Fish.

I've added my list of states I need to catch a fish in to complete my "Fish per state" goal - might be able to knock off Iowa next week. I'll update that list in red as I progress.

Just a quick note about the blog - all the pictures posted were taken by me, or are pictures of fish I've caught. As the blog goes on, you'll see some trophies, and some that might have you wondering "Huh?" They're all good memories for me. I've caught a lot of pretty big fish - some very big, in fact. But I've never really considered myself a trophy fisherman. I'd rather catch a bunch of small brookies, for example, that 1 or 2 trophy fish. I've always leaned that way - don't really know why. I also prefer smaller streams to big, roiling waters. I think I feel like I have a better chance to catch the proverbial big fish in the small pond, and the guy at the top of the food chain always presents a challenge, no matter how small the water.

I have a few fishing opportunities coming up in the coming weeks - trout in Iowa, smallmouth on the upper Mississippi, smallmouth on Lake Oneida in NY, smallmouth on the Connecticut River. Hopefully the weather will cooperate and I'll be able to share some pics . If not, you can commiserate though the words.

Tight lines!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Naming names, protecting small streams

You may have noticed that teh high mountain stream mentioned yesterday, and shown in the photo, went unnamed. that was not an oversight. When I write about fishing a famous river, or a popular, well-known spot (like the Colorado River or Big Thompson River, also from yesterday) I will freely talk about them in as much detail as the situation warrants. But small trout streams, especially those located in a heavily traveled National Park, are different. They can't tolerate the heavy use that can occur with publicity. (I realize it is presumptuous of me to assume anyone will ever read these words, but what the hell - I can dream!) For me, and many other small trout stream enthusiasts, a big part of the joy of small streams lies in discovery of them. Get yourself a map, look for blue lines noting creeks, and take off. Sometimes you find great spots to be treasured, sometimes not - if the worst thing that happens is that you spent a day walking in the moutains, seeing beautiful scenery, you still had a great day. Take pictures.

A brook trout from the unnamed stream. Pretty clear water!!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Fly fishing the Rockies 9-15-08

I LOVE to fly fish for trout in the Rockies. The problem is, I don't get there very often anymore, and my fly fishing for trout has been limited to once or twice a year for the past 7 or 8 years. There was a period in my life when I worked in the fly fishing industry - 1996 to 2000 - and for those 5 years, I fished with nothing but a fly rod. Most of my fishing was for trout, but I managed to get in some saltwater adventrues, too. Since my current situation has me living outside of Chicago - in an absolute wasteland as far as trout are concerned - I try to make the most of my occasional trout opportunities. Ideally, these opportunites involve trout, bugling bull elk, and the Rockies - specifically, Rocky Mountain National Park. This year, the stars aligned, and I made it out to Colorado on the 14th.

Rocky Mtn. National Park (RMNP) is one of the most beautiful places in the US, and never moreso than in Sept., when the bull elk start the rut, and begin bugling and fighting for cows. It's also time for the brook and brown trout to get serious about spawning, and preparing for the coming winter months.

I've fished throughout the park on and off for the past 20 years. It contains miles and miles of my favorite kind of trout water - small streams. the kind that are never more than 4 or 5 steps across, the trout aren't too selective, and 3 wts. are perfect. These streams are found in some of the most visually stunning areas in the country. I simply love the area.

Sunday afternoon found us on the Colorado River headwaters catching small, but beautiful, brook trout. Elk were bugling and herding cows - so close we could smell them at one point. On the way back to our rooms that eveninig, we saw 2 small-ish bull moose pushing each other around along a stand of willows. The next day was spent on a high mountain meadow, where our brook trout filled stream meandered through a mile long meadow ringeded by snow capped peaks. Its hard to concenttrate on fishing when you are surrounded by such magnificent sights. our trip ended up on the Big Thompson River on the lower part of the canyon, where we were faced with larger fish and more technical applications on a slick bottomed river. We saw a half dozen of the resident bighorn sheep that make their home on the vertical walls of the canyon.

We caught fish - a lot of them on the mountain meadow. Some larger fish, too, on the Thompson. Pictures tell the story betterthan my words can, so I'll leave it to them. If you ever get teh cahnce, get out to RMNP between 9/15 - 10/5, enoy the spectacle of t ehelk and the beauty of the mountains, and catch a few wild trout. It's a terrific way to spend a few days.

Colorado River headwaters

High meadow stream filled w/ brookies (elev. - 10,500')

Brook trout from the meadow

Clear waters of the Big thompson River in the lower canyon

Friday, September 26, 2008

About me, and why I want to do this

On some levels, I can't believe I'm writing a blog. I don't really follow many blogs, and most of the ones I have looked at weren't worth looking at a second time. Maybe that's exactly why I want to do this!

I've been fishing, with varying degrees of intensity, since I was a young boy. My first recollection of fishing is, hard to believe, with a cane pole on my Grandpa's pond. Since then, fishing has played many roles in my life, from fishing for food as a hungry college student, to fishing local club tournaments, to guiding, to being the focal point of my career as a sales rep and sales manager. It's almost a prerequisite that there be some kind of water involved in the family vacations. My first date with my wife of 18 years was a canoe / fishing trip on the Susquehanna River.

Rivers and streams - all water, actually - captivate me even if I don't have a fishing rod in my hands. I've spent afternoons on trout streams watching cased caddis crawl across the stream floor, and watched as trout intercepted March Brown nymphs on their way to the surface. I always look into a stream, river , or pond as I drive across a bridge. My wife asks "What do you expect to see?", and I'm not really sure, but I know if I don't look, I'll miss something good.

I don't really know what to expect from writing the blog, but I find the uncertainty of it sort of exciting. I've written fishing articles for a few websites, and will put them here as well, hopefully for your reading enjoyment. I plan to put up a lot of pictures. Many will be fish, some will be trophy fish. Some will be small. ALL will be another piece of the puzzle that is my fishing life.

I've been fortunate enough to fish in many waters around the world, and have caught a myriad of species. Maybe I'll try to figure out all the ones I've caught - a life-list, so to speak. One of my personal, odd goals involves catching a fish (of any kind, in any legal manner ) in all 50 states. I've got 39 down. Maybe you'll enjoy the ride with me trying to fill in the last 11. At one point in my life, I wanted to catch as many sub-species of trout as I could. That task became almost overwhelming - how do you decide which sub-species count? I still love to pursue various trout, though, and have caught: greenback cutthroat, Bonneville cuts, Rio Grande cuts, coastal cuts, and Yellowstone cuts. I plan to try for redbands in the Steen Escarpment in Oregon when time permits, and goldens in the Sierras are always on my lists.

While fishing , and fish, are certainly the focal point of this blog, I plan to interject some photography, philosophy, maybe some hunting into the mix as well. My master plan is to update the blog at least weekly, but hopefully much more frequently, as thoughts, ideas, reports, ... present themselves.

I'll end this intro entry with a few fish pics, and the following: I don't know where this blog will lead, but I'm excited about the journey. Come along and see where we end up!

Alabama brim

My first billfish - Pacific sailfish

Striper and largemouth from the Sacramento River Delta

Rocky Mountain National Park brown trout