Monday, October 31

Opening Day Goose Season - 2010 (was in draft and never posted..out of Chronological order)

Date:  11-20-10
Where: Near Claiborne, Maryland
Who: CP and JLP
Area Hunted: Field of cut soybeans, with grass growing. It was a late cut of the field

Harvested: 2 geese
Weather: Mid 50's, sunny, high clouds, full moon
Time of Day: 15:00-17:30
Gun:  Benelli Super Black Eagle II
Choke: Carlson Extended Super Steel Mid Range
Ammo: Hevi-Shot 3"/ #2 /12 GA
Decoy: Dozen magnum shells and 18 silhouettes
Wind: 0-5 MPH from NNW
Clothes: Bean Boots, thick cotton socks, Patagonia thermal, Browning Shadow Grass shirt, duck pants, Drake boonie; Parka (but did not wear)
Personal Comfort: very comfortable, feet warm
Left Behind: goose flag; more powerful flashlight (Princeton Tec); consider bringing Powerbelt for ammo, as it is always there. Bring pruning clippers for blind brushing and clearing "view holes".  
What I learned: Focus on the eye of one bird, swing through the head and yank.  I was looking at the body and missing.  Take your time and wait til they are closer; there is enough time. They are slower than clays. Deliberate Action.  If there is a cripple, wait til the shooting stops and let everyone know you are going after it. Unload your gun and high tail it. Load a slapper round (#6) and aim above the head. Consider trimming some branches in front of blind to see better.
Calling:  Eastern Shoreman. I was rusty and needed to practice, but had a few good calls. Lost insert of Dad's old wooden goose call while hightailing after wounded goose.
Decoy Pattern: Long C with X at blind

Wednesday, October 12

45.02501, -110.18206: A Yellowstone Creek to Explore and a Fly Rod

Leaving the ranch, we ventured downstream to find pools that held trout, mostly cutthroat in this part of Montana, but also browns (check this fact). The grass was high, as we approached the creek, and it covered gopher holes of the dinner plate diameter, leg breaking variety. Avoiding these, we marched on in cadence with the soft ding of the bear bell on my pack.  We were below the small falls and rapids and at this point of its path, Slough Creek began to flatten and started to follow a slow “S” shaped route.  The Gore-Tex did not keep my feet dry once my leg was in a foot of water, as I trudged from bank to bank.  The plan was to recon downstream and then fish up.

My partner, Joe, found a pool where trout were “sipping”, as I walked further down toward a part of the creek, I had seen from a hike along a parallel wagon trail. There are no motorized vehicles allowed so the trail provided the route for food and dry goods for those at the ranch.

By a leaning pine, I found a pool along the bank under the riffles of a gentle drop.  There I lost my first fly, a green hopper. Walking upstream, I came upon a pool with two dead trees and a nice hole.  I worked my cast, concentrating on the water. My line seemed lighter. Odd, I thought as I reeled it in. This is not good, I reflected, looking at the broken loop on the end of the backing. As a neophyte, I was unsure of the fix for this as I did not have a leader. I continued my recon up where Joe was fishing a pool. The concentration of his crouch as he watched his fly float indicated that this was a hot spot. “They are all around here”, he whispered.  His tone signaled that this was the best spot yet. As I watched him and mentally took measure of the fluidity of his cast and precise presentation of the fly, I witnessed the swirl and shadowed broadside of a trout. Joe reeled in and showed me exactly where to cast. Under the opposite bank were at least two submerged trees providing cover from the sun and the current flowed right by, sweeping any unlucky bugs [t] into the kill zone for the trout.

Letting out line, I swept my rod from “10 to 2 o’clock”.  Joe provided patient instruction, as I tried to keep the line off the water. The line dropped, the fly landed shy of the hole, but drifted out in an arc away, then back toward me. Letting it float, watching patiently, reeling it in. The next cast (or perhaps the hundredth and next cast), landed in the sweet spot of the hole and I was rewarded by watching the fly getting pulled under the gin clear waters by a hungry trout.

Now I understand that it was in the specialized gear and technique that fly fishing offers which provides the best way to deliver a lure to these trout: the presentation. 

Isn’t that what it is all about? Using the tools at hand to provide the highest probability of catching a fish. And having a great time with a good friend.

Sunday, October 9

In the Waters Off Aquinnah

Standing hip deep in the gentle waves on the west coast of Martha's Vineyard, the water was blue and near seventy degrees. Looking down, I could see stripers swimming around my legs. Stripers swimming around my legs. 15”  to 20” sleek striped bass swimming along this sandy trough uncaring of this interloper among them. Exhilarated at the thought that we shared the same space and just coexisted, I almost took my rod to shore as I bathed in a Cousteauian moment of Utopian harmony. Almost.

I was “fan” casting with an eight foot rod and a trusty Penn Reel (Made in USA version) about 40 feet from shore in four feet of water when it happened. I had been working a Hopkin’s spoon with a dressed hook and had a few bites, but no hookups. Startled at first, seeing a 30” fish in gin clear saltwater within an arm’s length was incredible enough, but watching him curl around my lure as he bumped it and took a taste was freaky . As quickly as it registered that dinner was taken care of, the large blue turned tail and swam away.