Friday, June 25, 2010

Bumblebee quest

After looking over the pictures from yesterday's post, and the one's I didn't include, I decided to just let the camera do the work and quit messing around with specialty "SCENE" options. I went back to auto-focus and went after a good bumble bee photo.

I don't know if they are any good, but they were fun to take. My wife thinks I'm nuts for stalking the yard insects, but I like it. There are always some surprising pictures when I download them.

Here are a few from this afternoon's "Bumblebee Quest". And, a few new flower pictures.

Enjoy. And, as always, click on the picture for a much better view.

White coneflower

a cool looking Rubeckia

A little bee in the center of a Rubeckia. We always called these "Sweat Bees" when I was a kid.

Gaillardia, or "Blanket Flower"

Trumpet Gaillardia

Thursday, June 24, 2010

This ought to be a post and picture fest about smallmouth bass, but it's not.

I was supposed to be returning from La Reserve Beauchene today. For the uninitiated, Beauchene is one of the absolute best smallmouth waters on the planet. No, you won't get fish as large as May smallies on Lake Erie. But you will get big bass, big numbers, and stay at a terrific resort while fishing beautiful, private water. We've had a reservation for this trip for about 6 months. I've been there once before, about 8 years ago, and can't wait to return. But, alas, some things are just not meant to be. At least until next year.

One of our party of 4 FINALLY got an offer and contract on his house. Naturally, the closing date fell while we were to be fishing. If he changed the date, it would have cost him 10 GRAND, and possibly lost the sale. We negotiated with the lodge and they allowed us to move our deposit to next year. So - no bass for me.

Toad and Gargoyle


Instead of fishing for my favorite fish on a great piece of water, I got to stay home and literally watch my grass grow. We've had non-stop rain and warm temps, and I've had to cut the grass every 3 or 4 days! THAT part of the yard maintenance is getting old in a hurry. But the flowers are growing, so I take some pictures of them when I see something I like. So if you were expecting bass pictures - sorry. The only ecosystem I've been seeing recently is in my back yard, so that's what you get. I might sneak out Saturday morning for catfish, just so I can post a picture of a fish.

Our lillies have been really nice and colorful this year, so that's what you'll get on today's pictures for the most part. I need to make some shutter speed adjustments to capture the bumblebee's that are flocking to the freshly opened bee balm, but I'll post what I have. Enjoy.

And, finally, my lame bumblebee attempt

Sunday, June 13, 2010

More pictures from PA

I had a bunch of pictures from a week ago that didn't make it on to the original post, so I figured I'd post them as "stand-alones". Most are self explanatory; some have captions. Enjoy. And, as always, click on the photo to view it in full size. It really DOES make a difference.

A typical scene on a PA trout stream.

This fawn is less than a week old. A little too far for a good, clear pic, though.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Trout fishing - Finally

It's been way too long since my last post. I've actually done a little fishing in that time, but also had a LOT of work, and just haven't been able to carve out the time to do a post.

(Make sure you click on the pictures to see them full sized)

The cabin - I LOVE IT here!

The view of the creek from the cabin

The big palamino trout just downstream from the cabin

This adventure took place on June 2nd. I got a chance to spend a day back in PA on some trout waters. It's a lot of travel for a day's worth of fishing, but I think it's worth it. When I get back to PA and have only a day, I really need to make a decision beforehand as to whether I'll fish the stocked, larger streams, or spend the day on the tiny, unstocked Class A Wild Trout waters. The stream where the cabin is located is a very popular stocked trout stream. I've had many happy days on this water, and basically learned to flyfish on it. As you can see from the picture, it is a beautiful stream, and has some pretty nice fish stocked in - at least occasionally. The palamino trout in the picture was at least 18", maybe 20" long. Even though there are trout literally a cast away from the cabin porch, inevitably I am drawn to the remote tributaries.

Windfall Creek

This was no different. I spent my one day there on a small feeder stream to a larger feeder of the main stream in the valley. This is SMALL, skinny water inhabited by wild native brook trout. The prevailing wisdom says that if you can get a dry fly over them without spooking them, they'll hit it. It's not about the right fly choice - I fished a red #16 Humpy all day. So, at face value, it really shouldn't be that hard.

Little native brookie

Well, it is. The grass/ tree limbs/ fallen trees limit EVERY cast. Most of your casts are roll casts. Nothing is longer than 30-35'. The best looking plunge pools - the ones with the longest deep water - are actually the toughest to catch anything in. Why? You inevitably spook a coupe of 5" brookies in the tail of the pool, and they madly dash into the heart of the pool and scare the hell out of every fish in the area. I found out years ago that the best, most productive water on these streams is the short stretches of pocket water. Might only be 2 feet long and a foot deep, but the current hides the fish (and you) and they don't spook as easily.

Love these natives!

Tough to be stealthy here

I've never been able to pinpoint the allure of these tiny trout . I've caught hundreds, if not thousands of them in PA and NY, and have caught a total of 2 over 10". My fishing partners all think I'm nuts for chasing with them, but I love 'em. They're beautiful, and they're SUPPOSED to be there. They just belong.

I caught a bunch of fish on this day, all small. My weapon of choice for these streams is a 5 pc., 6'9" Winston 3 wt. LT rod. A small box of flies, some dessicant and floatant, extra tippet material, and you're ready to go. And, of course a camera.

Fallen tree

I saw some interesting things on the roadless valley I fished. As I was walking out, I saw a female grouse ahead of me on a dirt road and, as I neared her, she put on a terrific "crippled bird" display. She would come out in the open, drag her wing in the dirt, call to me, and try to lure me away from where I was standing. I had heard about this, but never seen it personally. There was obviously a brood of chicks nearby. I saw the grass move, and smiled as I walked toward the hen. After she "lured me away", she flew back to her chicks. Very cool.

Grouse on a dirt road - sorry for the blurry image

I also saw something that I've never seen or heard of. I welcome ANY AND ALL comments as to this behavior. I was walking and noticed a bunch of butterflies ahead. That's not unusual - there are a ton of butterflies in these mountains, mostly along the creeks. But as I neared, I saw that they were on an old, not-quite-stripped deer carcass. Why would butterflies gather on a deer ribcage??? Did I miss the evolution chapter where they became carnivores?

Butterflies on a deer carcass

More "Carnivore Butterflies"

I stopped along the stream that this tributary feeds into as I left. It is a stocked stream with a fair amount of natural reproduction, too. A pile of stocked rainbows were stacked up under a small bridge. Even though they were very picky in the gin clear waters, it just wasn't the same as fishing for wild fish. I watched them for a while and left. On the way back to the cabin, I saw 2 Eastern Box turtles on the road, which I "assisted" on their journey across the road. Then I came upon a less gracious turtle crossing the road. He wasn't nearly as happy as the box turtles to let me help him along his way!

2 visible trout below the bridge on Cross Fork Ck.

A snapper crossing the road

Living in Illinois is OK, but when I return - even briefly - to the mountains, be they PA or COL, I remember how much I miss them. Short of moving, I really need ot figure out a way to spend more time in the mountains.