Saturday, March 8, 2014

In like a lion, out like a lamb.

I'm going to take a stab and say it was 1990. Kindergarten at Millville Elementary was going well. Colors, sights, sounds, words, letters and new friends flooded my infantile neural pathways and exploded into a mash of incoherent repetition of blerbs as I reported on my class to my mother. One lesson was memorable. We were learning about March.

It comes in like a lion with angry gray paper rain clouds, and out like a lamb with Elmer's-glued-on cotton ball sheep and yellow sunshine.

March 2 saw record-breaking low temperatures in Omaha that had us all bundled up, wishing it all to be over. Temperatures have been in a steady climb, and Sunday March 9 is looking to be in the 60's.

Not THAT kind of 60's. Thank heavens. Scare the fish away.

The wife and I are working hard to get the money in order, as always. (I've been working two jobs since October 2012. She's now a crisis counselor for Boys Town.) Good thing is, we've budgeted slush money for both of us! My $10/month is piling up for a fishing license. April 1 is go-time, baby, as long as I can quit buying Swedish Fish for a nickle and betting people a dollar that I can lick my elbow.

Given the money tightness, other challenges presented themselves. Last year, Fishing my 6wt, I broke the line. That was easy to fix. I saved up some pennies and bought some carp line on sale at Bass Pro. After that, I broke my 6wt POLE. Then, my 5wt line broke. Game over 2013. That one never got fixed. I didn't know what I was going to do for fly line.

Huge plug for LL Bean here. Their Lifetime Satisfaction Guarantee is off-the-charts awesome. My wading boots had popped an eyelet and a 4 year old sweater my mother-in-law had bought me had popped a seam. I sent both in. They let me know they didn't have either product in stock anymore, so they just sent us a check. With that money, I was able to buy an upgraded pair of boots (without eyelets that can break) and, queue the music: 5w fly line!

6wt pole is still broken, but now I've got a viable option for both local fishing and Minnesota Pike in the 5w. You better believe I'm going to be taking it easy, though, fishing up there with a 5w for old Toothy McGovern Bazillion. Hinted to the wife I wouldn't mind a Streamlight II 6W for the birfday, but we'll see what happens.

Tight lines everyone! Good to see pictures of people hitting the water!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

A short season - damaged equipment

It's amazing how quickly busted gear can set you back in the season.

It was some time when it was still warm - September, maybe? - that I'd stopped off at a carp wallow while out on a service call. I had gotten out to check for wandering shadows in the water, had been successful then had hurried back to the trunk of my car only to hear a deadened ripping sound as I pulled my 6wt out of the trunk.

Tip had snapped off.

During the family's vacation time earlier, the 5wt line had snapped as well. I had a square knot in it, but  I was worried it would wreak havoc on my pole, so I haven't been using it.

Now, it's frigid. Sub-zero is common-place. I'm thinking of modifying an old tent to serve as an ice fishing shelter and using my daughter's bright-pink barbie pole to try for sunfish and bass.

Winter represents a significant entertainment shift for me. My entertainment time shifts more towards computer games and hardware. This year's fun has been doled out by two big names:



Big thanks to my buddy Nate Romesser for introducing me to the first one. My brother-in-law Chris and Aleks my coworker are responsible for the second.

Eve Online is a spaceflight-based MMO (Massive-Multiplayer online) that can only be classified as a true sandbox. Choose your path carefully and fly with the best. Or the worst.

Skyrim is the fifth installment of the Elder Scrolls series from Bethesda, a personal favorite since Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall was released back in the late 90's. Bethesda has since released that game for free download and use from their company site. Find it here.

That being said, only about 4 more months until warm up. Water usually hits 50 degrees in early-to-mid April, and that's when the carp get exciting.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

My Experience with StraightTalk (Straight Talk, like, from WalMart)

Friends: We purchased StraightTalk service online. 

The phones were shipped to us with SIM cards installed. Our port request failed from US Cellular because US Cellular - our current provider - issued a separate ID number to our accounts with a billing upgrade. I updated the information after speaking to US Cellular and port request was successful. Was assured by StraightTalk that our phones would work.

Woke up, both phones didn't work (US Cellular and StraightTalk.) After 3.5 hours of phone time, find out that SIM cards we were issued were for a GSM network not covered in Omaha, that they need to ship new SIM cards, 3-5 days. 

I called and explained that this time without service represents a risk to our family and demanded overnight shipping or near to it. Escalated twice. Was informed process was automatic. Asked what they recommended we do about the risk this situation presented.

They could not give me any recommendations because it wasn't part of their procedure.

Explained my voice, although just one man, would be used to eplain - to all friends and family possible - this experience, and that if there was a manager available that could speak to me and try to work something out, it wouldn't have to be that way.

The manager I spoke with said, "There's nothing I can do. Have a nice day."

Obviously, this product is about price, not customer experience. Mine may have been a one-off. Make your own decision, but I do not recommend StraightTalk.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Headed out tomorrow.

Or is it today?

Headed out to the muck hole in the AM. Box includes some attempts at the Jamie's Krazy Carper.

Here's hopin' for some action!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Prayers and Lily Pads

Slipped in a small bit about looking for big carp during evening prayers last night. Might have slipped it in this morning, too, but the mornings are a blur.

An old Big Lake walker and his wife recommended I try the larger body of Big Lake, that around this time of year the big carp are sucking air. Figured that was as good a place as any to pursue the hunt. "Seek and ye shall find," etc, etc.

As you can see here, I saw a sea of lily pads from the edge of the water.

My actual port-of-entry into this muck hole was straight ahead in the above picture and on the other side of the "jutty out thing."

The view was like the picture below, as far as the eye could see, with several large breaks and open spots, without flowers... and pretty, in a mucky way. With silt squishing underfoot - sometimes knee deep - I trudged on.

I was on that water for about an hour. Saw what looked like a crocodile. Maybe it was a gar? Maybe a long-necked turtle? Maybe a real friggin' crocodile? I approached.

Found it to be the part of the carp from about the shoulder to the snout as it gulped air.

I peppered tailers, gulpers and bubbles for the latter quarter-hour. Snags abounded with my double-fly rig, so I snipped off the back one and hooked FAR less pads. Had a couple investigators, but no baptisms.

Then, I blind cast to some bubbles. Stripping in slow, I hooked a lily pad. I kept tension, trying to remove the root hold. My heart started pounding as the familiar fluttering of a tail fin set action through the line and revealed the lily pad's true identity.

Oxygen starved. Well fed. This is what this fish had to deal with as it pulled. Runs were strong, but very brief. When I say it ripped line off, I mean it RIPPED line off, but for about 15 feet. After each, it would lumber around against the tension of my line.

I got it to hand and attempted to net, but it was too large in the shoulder. I got my hand around it and attempted a lift, but juggling the pole and watching for the hook caused just the right amount of shift in the fish, and it unbuttoned.

You skeptics may claim I didn't catch a carp this morning... but I had it in my hand. I was waist deep in nitrogen and phosphate rich, excrement smelling muck water and didn't want to chance more than the above on my cell phone. I promise I caught one, and I promise it was awesome.

Also, a word to the wise... fighting a carp around lily pads is tough. Make sure you angle well around those babies. Might as well wrap around a tree trunk on those larger ones.

Again, those little things we're blessed with in answer to our prayers seem so insignificant. I do believe we have a Father that cares. Heck, if my daughter says she wants to catch a fish, you better believe I'm doing everything I can to help them. (John 21:6)

Tight lines. I know I had some!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

A Site for Grandpappy Glasses

I'm starting to understand the need for good optics. This is crazy!

It was about 6:30 when I made it out to Big Lake a couple weeks ago to look for carp. I headed for the spot by the railroad tracks pictured here. There was something wrong. The distance between the weeds and the water had gotten wide.

This was a view from about 100 yards from the road looking north on that first picture linked in the article.

This is a picture of a small area where water was seeping in from the main body of Big Lake. I'm facing East.

The level of the water was way low. This made me excited, because it bode well for visibility. (I don't have my grandpappy glasses yet.) If I can see a tail fin, I can guess on where the head is.

Saw a lot of fins, but I was mistaken on  what they were, for the most part. A couple were golden beauties, but with globs of catfish fry near shore, other fins were other fish.

Alas, the carp didn't want to play that day, but the gar sure did!

Foul-hooked in the back. Woops!
Legitimately pursued and ate the fly. Because of the construction of its jaw, they are nearly impossible to hook. It came in because it didn't want to let go.
Last and largest of the day. Also not foul-hooked.
Not much to a gar as far as fight. Big and floppy like a pike, but not near as energetic. Hooked into a monster at one point, but they just feel like wavy logs moving through the water. The smaller ones like to run for a little bit. 

I took the girls to the companion pond there in Big Lake yesterday and they both caught fish! Eva's was about 3 inches long. It got off before I could snap a picture. Here's Ruth's:

Self-casted, self-reeled and self-held. Not self-removed yet, though.
The cool thing about yesterday's trip was that Ruth, unprovoked and with confidence, said, "I want to try and hold a fish today."

Not too many days hence, and this girl will be unhooking her own fish.

This morning I went out to the really low area and looked for more carp. Water was even lower. Didn't get to cast to carp fins until it was about time to leave. Had a large gar try to grab on to a bunny leach I had as a dropper. That was kind of scary, actually. They are very shark-like and it was near my legs.

I have some gear reviews to do still, but man I wish I could do a review on those grandpappy sunglasses. I am dying to be able to see what I'm casting to! The fins I cast to at the last were in such a position that, had I been able to see below the surface, maybe I could have gauged the length of the fish better. If I build it, they will come.

It was a huge fin. What a site for grandpappy sunglasses. 

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Vacation/Birthday with friends, family, and fish.

Received news from my best friend that his wife had a mole turn up as malignant melanoma. This is the deadliest form of skin cancer you can contract. The door can swing one of two ways for her.

Step 1: deeper tissue extraction to determine likeliness of spread.
The results of what they did under this nasty incision will determine those two ways: either the mole removal will be enough and she's good, or not.

Ruth, my eldest, has been praying for Aunt Jenny to feel better. We all are.

Josh and Jenny and their kids are our best friends. We enjoyed two nights with them at Branched Oak SRA  over the weekend. It was a good time, with plenty of bug bites and funny conversation, jokes, fishing (including a massive catfish on a tiny fly), and swimming. I definitely consider this time as a cherished part of a wonderful birthday celebration.

We returned home PM Sunday. Found a box from LL Bean on the porch. I asked Meredith what it was since she had her name on it. She told me to open it. I may or  may not have squealed like I was wearing pig tails.

These, my friends, are a pair of Men's Flyweight II stocking-foot waders and a pair of West Branch Aqua Stealth wading boots. My beautiful, wonderful wife - coordinating with wonderful family - added to my fly-fishing repertoire. I was thrilled.

No, nothing died near my left foot. Well, I guess the dog killed a marker.
Thus began the preparations for a wonderful few days at Platte River State Park for my birthday. We packed up the car with more camping supplies - sans tents, etc., since we rented a cabin - and I put the wading gear in a bag in the trunk.

The cabin wasn't available until four, so we had a few hours to spare on Monday. We went to the Henry Doorly Zoo Wildlife Safari just up the road. Here are a few pics:

A warm day in elk.


Ruthie and her antlers.

Sporting some whitetail.

Eva Diva, as we like to call her.
I HIGHLY recommend the Safari. For the money we spent, we took two hours to get through it, got plenty of foot time and ended at a playground. Great fit for our family. That and we got to watch the penned bobcat hunt our dog. Gave me goosebumps. Not going to lie.

We still had time to burn, so we went over to the Mahoney observation tower. Meredith took the girls up to the top while I stayed down with the dog and ran barefoot through the trails. Wonderfully cool and packed earth felt good.

Eventually, though, I took the dog all the way up.

Lo and behold, we STILL had some time to burn, so we went to the amazing Mahoney playground. We broke out Ruth's new bomb-bird kite. My wife and I played with it after Ruth became bored and returned to her kingdom of sand and woodchips.

The cabin was great. I found bedbug sign on the full-size box spring, but it was inactive. Probable old infestation from a previous state park from whence they had rotated. Monday night we had hot dogs, watermelon and dutch-oven peach cobbler. Then it was bedtime. Meredith and I played Pictureka until the girls were asleep and chatted. I love that woman.

Got up early and headed over to Louisville SRA to try out the waders. Beautiful, mossy but clear two ponds with great weather. Saw and caught several fish.

Biggest bluegill caught.
I love the waders, but a review will be separate.

The rest of the day continued. We got a lot of activities in. After a morning activity in, we decided to take a trip to Ashland to explore. Saw Salt Creek on the way in. Looked for fish. Found lots of them. Local pointed me toward access to the creek at water level. Marked it for a later visit. Explored Ashland, then made it home for nap. Wife encouraged me to go back to creek after lunch.

Before lunch was over, my beatiful Ruth melted my heart and said, "I love doing things with just me and you! Maybe you and I can go to the lake? Just me an you this evening? For a date?" She would have asked me to dance ballet and I would have fashioned a tutu from the brown cabin-curtains from the 60's and done plies right there.

Went back to the creek when they laid down.

Make a left.

Then a right.
Ominous below-the-tracks entrance to creek access.
Waded. Sank in silt. Spooked like 30 carp all at once (what a sight). Hooked into one only to lose it as it started running. It was glorious.

Came back to sleeping children. Chatted with wife, then she decided to take dog for a walk. I napped.

We went to dinner then, sampling Breaddeaux, a pizza place in Ashland. It was yummy!

We decided to go to the Mahoney water park after we all got done, but we were early for the 6 PM opening, so we went to the park.

Sadly, a storm rolled in so we decided to go see Despicable Me 2. Loved it!

Finished up, went home, went to bed. Got up early and hit Centurylink Lake at Mahoney. It was wonderful. Fished soft-hackles for bluegill, then upped the size to Chugger with a Bugger dropper for wipers. Caught some LMB. Then waded in to unsnag someone. It was a good Wednesday.

Fishing with daughter at the family lake at Platte River SP was next. That little girl is growing up.

She opened the bail, held the line, cast the bobber/soft-hackle combo, hooked the fish and reeled it in, then held it for a picture by herself. Only thing she didn't do was unhook it.

She loved it. I was very impressed.

We played and played for a while longer, then headed home.

It was a great trip, and a welcome respite from routine. I love my wife dearly for making it all possible. I love my friends and my baby girls. I also love the land we live in and what we can experience.

Too bad I'm going to be deported. I failed the citizenship test. I'll have to get the link from my wife, but I guess Thomas Jefferson wrote the Constitution, and there are 456 voting members in the House of Representatives.  60% is a fail, people.

Now, be amused.