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.