Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A Morning with Shakespeare

A Morning with Shakespeare

Water flows the gradient
‘round logs, rocks and over stone
Trickling ’tween narrow passages
with poetic unadulterated tone
Undressed trees stand abreast
their wears litter the brook
In ambers, orange and yellows, they lay
in vibrant elegant look
Shakespeare and I dawn the morn
to pleasure ourselves before
this scenic piece of pleasant earth
'long cool waters and autumn shore

Like Cotton, Barker or Ritz
I now swing my timeworn fly-stick
In search of aquatic life within
this subtle forest crick
Fur and fiber sway beneath
a shadow appears below
I hook and play the foolish fish
Shakespeare and I retrieve the ‘bow’
We fish the morn in shallow water
in concealment and with ease
We’re justly rewarded by our patience
and thus justly pleased
The ‘brooks’ we land we cherish
from the quaint cool water drink
They are just as vibrant as
the leaves stacked upon the brink

As morn passes pleasantly
the fish be it known we're present
I cast one last, without a take
my Wonderod now silenced

As rays of sun filter softly
through firs that shade the banks
I turn my back from the gratifying affair
Upon quietly leaving, I give thanks


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A Slower Pace

 I met up with a couple of friends last sunday for some trout fishing on oil creek. Hans doesn't get to trout fish much and just got a new custom made 2wt. rod from Mill Creek Custom Rods he wanted to try out. Kevin joined us on the stream and got to toss some nymphs and dries with his Orvis Super Fine rod. I used my newly acquired bamboo rod and my new G2 Scott rod. It was a relaxing day with the creek practicaly to ourselves.
 Here is the story coming from Han's point of view.
A Slower Pace
 Eagerly wanting to try out my new 2wt I set out on my journey to Oil Creek. Upon arriving I found DoubleTaper all ready waiting in the parking lot. We BSed a little as he rummaged through boxes gathering his assortment of offerings. By now the sun was starting to climb into the sky lighting up the beautiful fall colors of the mountainside.
 We set off towards the creek as the chilly night air still lingered heavy within the valley. Standing in the stream the mist wafted as the sun continued to climb higher in the sky.

Fumbling through my assortment of flies and tying on what looked to be a good trout breakfast. I began working the moderate swift water in search of a slight tug.

By the time the mist had lifted neither of us had latched into anything more than a passing leaf or the occasional stone.
 After numerous changes I finally found an offering that was to the trouts likings.
 I set the hook as my line came to a rest in the current. A few quick shakes and the fish came into sight from the murky bottom. I had waited for some time to feel my new rod bend. After a short battle the fish was to hand, a fine first fish for this rod.

Soon after it was DT's turn to flex the new boo.

 As we worked the deep pool a familiar face appeared along the shoreline. Kevin had arrived to join us in the peaceful stream. As we stood fishing and bsed DT put on a show with the old cane stick.

 As the day wore on we moved around seeking new fish picking at a few here and there. Before we took a break for lunch I had noticed several fish rising. After grabbing a quick bite we set back out in search of some top water action. After a few tips I had managed to get the hang of slamming 4-6" creek chubs on dries.
 After a couple of clean misses on trout DT put one to hand. As the wind began to pick up we ventured back downstream to our starting point. Clouds now dimming the water, DT put another bend to his rod. However this one was differant something new from the stream. To our surprised he had pulled a nice little smallie.

We lingered around for a while longer as the sun started its decline in the sky we called it a day and headed out. My peaceful day had come to an end. As I drove home the only thing I could remember hearing was the haunting sound of the locomotive bellowing down through the creekbed and the sound trout poping bugs from the surface of the stream. A nice relaxing slower pace.  ~Hans

Hans in his fishing state of mind

 After Hans drove off back to Erie I cased my two fly rods and put away the rest of my gear. I straightened up the back of the van I've been living in for the past two days and drove out of the parking lot. Up on the bridge, over Oil Creek, I stopped to have one more look over the water.

The evening sun shined down upon the slow moving water and colorful trees that lined the creek. It was definitely a slower pace of fishing.
 A Fuente Curly Head Deluxe Maduro, for the way home, put a fitting touch to a peaceful outing with friends, fish and fall foliage! 

 Hans is a streamside guide with 'A Day Away Fishing Adventures' for steelhead fishing in Erie, PA. He grew up and lives there still. I highly recommend him if you want to enjoy a steelhead outing.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Genuine Tonkin

Genuine Tonkin

 I just couldn’t wait for Sunday to fish my new bamboo rod, at Oil Creek, I received at the ‘One Fly’ competition last weekend. I couldn’t wait to feel the cork handle grip or cast the slow action stick. After work Wednesday I hurried home and dressed for some evening fishing. I hurriedly nail knotted a 5X tapered leader to my new 5wt. Cortland Sylk fly line. I grabbed my camera, rod,  jumped in the van and headed to the nearest brookie stream.

I pull the brown cloth rod sock out of my homemade cardboard cylinder tube. Unwrapping the sock I pull out the bamboo fly rod. The smooth mustard colored cork grip feels soft in my overworked tradesman hands. As I continued to slip the rod out of the cloth I take notice of the royal blue thread wraps shining against the golden yellow cane shaft. I began to feel how Jeremiah Johnson must have felt when he pulled the flintlock musket out of frozen Hatchet Jacks stiff fingers during that winter in the Smokey Mountains way back when. I felt that twinge when he grasped the balanced musket and realized he was holding a Hawkins, a genuine Hawkins muzzleloader. I was now holding the cane fly rod, ‘my’ genuine Tonkin Cane fly rod.
  After fitting it together it looks like a piece of art work. Some admirers wouldn’t even think of fishing with this restored antique but just hang it on a wall so others can admirer it with him. Some fly guys might only use it once or twice just to get a feel and then display it in their fly tying room above their tying bench or the like. In my hands it is going to be fished, fished like it was meant to be. It is as if I'm giving it a new life. It is almost as if I'm taken a step back in time. Away from the graphite, boron and other resins that make up today's modern fly rods
 I slip the reel seat ring over the reel foot of the Martin Classic mc78 reel. I thread the leader and Sylk fly line through the double foot rod guides and through the tip top, the reel clicks with each pulled length of line. The rod is a bit long, at 8 ½ feet, for the small creek so overhand casting will be nearly impossible with the closeness of the trees and brush that line the creek bank. Sidearm casting and roll casting will have to be my choices. With the creek running clear and low the fish will take a pattern easy like in the slow water so I feel I should use a pattern I can see beneath the surface. I decide to knot on an orange egg pattern. I put a small quid of Red Man in the side of my cheek and head towards the water.

 I spot two fish holding in a slow shallow tail out. Fresh fallen colorful leaves line the shore and the bottom of the stream. A few fallen leaves flow with the current both below and upon the surface. I stand back from the creek bank and begin my sidearm false casts to draw line out. I plop the orange egg pattern just upstream from the two fish. The slow current turns it away from the fish. A few more casts and I get a good drift towards the fish and one takes notice. The egg drifts within range of the trout and he takes it in without much lateral movement. I pull back the cane shaft and my first bamboo fish rushes upstream in anger as the rod bends half way down the shaft. I let the reel click a few rounds before palming the reel to a stop and the cane rod bends into the thicker bottom section of the shaft. The trout retreats with quick jerking tugs towards the pressure as the stick dampens any sudden movement by the trout. He circles downstream and I lift the rod and bring a rainbow to shore. The other trout is aware of the danger and swims away from my next cast and drift.

 I slowly move downstream to a more quicker current and sit on the heels of my boots. The trout beneath are visible through my polarized glasses that block out the glare of the shining evening setting sun. I cast upstream and follow the drifting leader with the tip of my rod. The golden yellow Tonkin cane extends like a branch above the leafy rocky shoreline and clear running water.

 I watch as the orange egg pattern disappears in the mouth of a trout that’s oblivious of my presence. I lift the hook set and the noticeable orange belly brook trout swims ragged through the shallow moving current. Again I feel each quick jerk through the rod shaft and watch the bamboo fluctuate with each movement of the fighting fish. Surface water swirls as the brookie turns and scurries downstream towards a fallen log. I lift the rod tip quickly and palm the reel spool tight keeping the fish from fleeing to the log. The strength of the fly rod now turns the trout towards me and he flips helplessly along the water line.

 I move down further and see a pod of trout holding close to the downed log. I move behind the trout and work downstream from them into a riffling draw. After feeling I gave the trout enough time to settle down I cast upstream and let the egg pattern drift into the pod. After no takers I try a couple of nymph patterns and settle on a white San Juan worm pattern. I have a taker but I’m late on the upstream hook set. Upstream from the pod I notice a swirl and see a fish sip something from on top of the surface of the slow moving current. My heart skips a beat, my eyes squint slightly and a smirk forms on my face. Can I make one rise to a dry I wonder? I spit tobacco juice on a lucky stone and make my decision.
 I clip off the San Juan and while tying on a #20 Blue Quill I’m still smirking and look over my cheater glasses frame at the lead fish. I make sure the dry fly is secure and pull line out of the reel. I gently start an angled false cast keeping my line above the water. I feel the slow action of the cane rod flex with each swing. It takes a few sidearm forward casts to lay the dry within the fishes sight but still far enough upstream for a short drag free drift to fool the trout. He takes notice as I see his tail fin swiftly sway and watch him rise to the dry. ’Fish On’ I say to myself out loud as I grin and let the brook trout tire himself out fighting my line and rod. I spit a wad of tobacco onto the colorful leaf covered bank before bringing the fish to hand.

 The evening darkens and I succeed in catching one more brook trout on an orange sucker spawn before calling it a day. The cane rod fulfills my trout fishing need for the day and met my expectations. After wiping it off I slip it back into the rod sock and slide it into its case. I find a Macanudo Robust Ascot in my wicker creel and light it up for the short drive home. I can't wait to try the bamboo rod out on open water to feel a long overhand cast of 30 feet or so of fly line.
Heck, Sunday's right around the corner!!


Thursday, October 7, 2010

Combat Fishing Parade

Combat Fishing Parade

We stood, at 5:30 am, just off the lake shore as two foot waves crashed against our knees and shins trying to push us back on to dry land. Donny assured me that the lake would calm down as the morning progressed.
 There were 5 of us total who stood in the darkness, forfeiting sleep, just to get a good fishing spot in the hopes that steelhead would gather in front of us wanting to make a run towards the shallow creek. The lack of rain kept the creek very low and the chance of a steelhead crossing the shallows of the pebbled and sandy beech to the creek were slim. Inevitably they would come, shallow water or not, and we were there to greet them.
 Like every year they would come by the hundreds sooner or later. We also knew, like every year, we would be joined by other steelhead hunters, how many we weren’t exactly sure.
 The lake air wasn’t just chilly, for early October, it was cold, at least compared to the warm and mild September. Duofold undershirt, fleece sweat and insulated flannel button down kept my upper half warm and wind resistant under my fishing vest. My 3mm neoprene hip waders kept my bottom half dry and warm from the lake temperature.
 We stood patiently as the first sign of light appeared in the east behind the peninsula. A red glow found enough space between the heavily clouded sky to filter through and give us hope it would be light soon.

 I’ve stood many a morn in the deep forest gazing out through the early darkness, in hunting season, quietly waiting for a sight of a deer. How many dim lit early morns I sat against a tree watching for a lone squirrel foraging for nuts? This morning was different. The only reason to be out this early for steel was to get some pleasant angling in before combat fishing with the soon to be crowds.

 As Donny and I stood chatting in the darkness, streaks of light would be seen across the shore from headlights turning into the parking lot behind us. The more daylight appeared the more headlights would grace the lake shore.
 I didn’t need much light to cast my white bunny leech out into the darkness of the lake. Being bored I started my wind up and fished the tide. Soon Donny followed suite with a white woolly bugger. The indicator and bobber fishermen stood with their lines still connected to their hook keepers. It was still too dark for them to see out onto the lake to see their indicators. Soon the waves calmed down as Donny predicted and as if someone turned on a switch, the lake shore lit up with daylight. The rest of the group started to cast and fish into the opaque water. It was quiet along the lake shore as a cool breeze blew in now and then. We stood with eagerness but content under the gun metal gray clouds that hovered above us waiting for that first steel!
 Donny hooked up first with a good fight of a rambunctious steelhead. His Sage rod took on the beast as it flexed with each pull and quick turning movements. Donny got the beast to shore and a big smile lit up on his face.

Facing the fish towards the lake the fish took off in defeat. Hook ups were sporadic in the early morn with only a few fresh fish brought to hand. We early guys had gotten the best location with action as compared to the parade of late arrivals. Occasionally we’d hear a fish splashing behind us upon the shallow pebbled sand trying to make their way to the shallow creek. Other times I would turn to see one retreating back towards the lake.
 It was within the first hour of daylight when I felt a line tap my hat brim and I felt a tug on my vest. Donny had somehow got out of rhythm with his fly stick and his wild false cast landed his bugger into my vest. We laughed as I jokingly said I was glad I had my safety sunglasses on. He commented that I should have worn a Kevlar vest.

Soon we could see swirls atop the water made from schooling steel beneath. Hook ups were more frequent. Donny and the tandem fisherman next to him were connecting more often than the rest of us. From behind us some kid squeezed between Donny and the next guy to his right. Donny let him know about the closeness in other than kind words. The kid gave him a little more room forcing the other guy a bit to his right. I noticed the tandem guys were hooking up more often than the rest of us. I also noticed they had more disconnects and the ones they did get in usually had a fly hooked to the dorsal fin or a pelvic or pectoral fin, just saying!
 The bait casters to my left and I kept a comfortable distance between us so we had more room to cast and fish in front of us. We shared the space and kept track when one was fishing deep, with a bobber or streamer fishing to keep from tangling.
 Two guys had a double going as we waited for them to get their fish under control and nearer to them. When I seen the two getting their fish to cooperate I roll cast my sucker spawn out into the lake not too far out. It didn’t take long for my orange top indicator to go down and pull towards the open lake. I yanked back the rod, the line tightened and I felt the massive weight on the other end as I called out “FISH ON’. Wet fly line flung water as it raised from coils upon the water in front of me, through my fingers and rod guides. The clicking reel gave alarm to the speed of the rod bending fish. The fish stayed below the surface as it pulled with more of its weight than speed of a steelhead, if that makes much sense. I wasn’t in a hurry to force this guy in, I seen too many escapees and snapped lines from earlier hook ups. Only I knew the strength of this fish through my clinched grip and tightening arm muscles when I tried to turn him towards me. The fish finally broke water in front of us just enough to show its bronze brown dark spotted back. I kept tension as the big brown went deep again and pulled line out to my left.
 The guy beside me asked if I wanted him to net the big fish. I accepted his voluntary request and tried to keep the brown at bay while he retrieved the net from the bank. The brown was only a few feet from two fishermen on the far left and got a good eyeball on the big brown. He rose displaying his thick back and dove again as I kept tension on the line. Beneath I felt the shock in the line as he tumbled beneath and my line went slack. Bringing in line I saw the tippet shown signs of the line breakage at the hook knot. That’s fishing!!
 As time went on more fisher people participated in the parade. Soon colored power bait would be seen flying through the air like jawbreakers being thrown from parading fire trucks. Sucker spawn and streamers were being cast along with bobbers and indicators displaying an array of candy looking objects. Spectators sat on lawn chairs, or stood, on the beach to watch this undeniable spectacular event. Caught fish would be seen taking air in acrobatic fashion as kids watched in astonishment. Fly lines were tossed in the air with uncontrolled loops by amateurs but also straight lines and perfect loops would be seen gracefully air born by those with more experience. Caught fish splashed upon the watery bank and then displayed to loved ones or friends for a classic memorable picture.
“FISH ON” “RIGHT, RIGHT, FAR RIGHT” “LEFT, HARD LEFT” were shouted be lucky fishermen like a conductor giving orders to their marching band.
I even saw a few clowns among us……

 Swirls of fish would come in and with that things got more hectic. On my next big catch my indicator sunk instantly. I set the hook hard and the fish took off like a “‘hell cat’ with tail afire!”
“FISH ON, RIGHT” I called out. Guys quickly reeled in as my fly line danced across the lake surface following the fish. There was no way stopping him and when I seen my white 20lb backing shoot through the guides I double clicked the drag knob tighter to slow him down. He felt the excessive pressure and leaped, exploding, out of the water some 45 yards away. We watched as the big fat fish cleared water and showed his athletic ability in somersaulting back into the “Big Pond.” I put the screws to him and he reluctantly followed, briefly. My line went slack and he won the scramble freeing himself. That’s fishing!
Sometimes you can do everything you think is right and still not bring a steelhead to hand.
 I brought in the line and noticed my sucker spawn was still dangling from the 6lb tippet. Within the next fifteen minutes I hooked up 4 times, briefly, before I inspected my sucker spawn only to find that the hook was bent open. Lesson learned!
 Donny and others were still hooking up while I was tying another spawn on. All of a sudden a guy splashed his way over and squeezed in, within arms length, between me and the considerate bait casters. Our comfort zone was now lost to the ignorant fly fisherman. He instantly hooked up before my next cast. I took a couple of steps back as he took two steps forward to keep from elbowing me. By the time he got the fish in my patients were thin and I was about to say something to him when Donny noticed he knew the guy. I kept quiet as they talked about walleye fishing.
 More late new comers started to squeeze in and jockey for position. Kayakers, out on the lake, paddled closer for some action. One actually got hooked up with a shore fisherman as their lines stretched from lakeshore to kayak. Hooked fish were being lead in or being fought on tangled lines, limp flying bobbers and indicators. Elbow and rod flinging combaters were raging havoc over the once mild mannered crowd. Spectators watched as the world of steelhead fishing in Lake Erie became a combat zone.
 I was standing still waiting to cast when a line passed by my eyes and a hook lodged into my rod gripping finger. I yelled, to stop any further action of the two fishermen untangling their lines. The pain shot through an arm nerve to my brain as I winced. I quickly dislodged the hook with a tug and I was glad to see blood flow from the puncture, hopefully seeping out any loose metal or would be infectious germs from the fish hook.
 I had enough at that point and gave up the combating parade. I didn’t have the ignorant mannerism that was now so prevalent among the parade of anxious fishermen. I stepped back and joined Gary and the parade spectators on shore.

 Gary and I left for new water to explore. A new creek and mild Fuente cigar calmed my nerves and I was almost back to normal by days end, almost! Ha!