Shifting Gears

It's summer - so it's time to shake the funk, have some fun, and slowly get back into the swing of all things warm weather-ish. And by that, I'm referring to fishing, first and foremost, with a smattering of vacations/camping, swimming and riding motor-x thrown in for good measure.

And maybe just a few fireworks, as well. Ok, maybe a lot of fireworks, being that I am still a primate at heart, and a huge fan of fire and it's integral role in the act of making things explode in epic fashion.

More on that in the July post...

Anyway, summer couldn't have happened at a better time - with the inner workings of my gray-matter still reeling from some heavy situations during the first part of this year, I'm in wicked need of an attitude adjustment to get me back on the path of all things righteous and less...big people-ish.

In other words - I'm sick of having to act like an adult, which means it's time to make an executive decision and shift gears back to play time.

Ironically, I can do that, being that....I'm an adult. *sigh*

And kids are the perfect vehicle for getting your 'childish' on. Whether it's playing a painful game of Ouchy Ball in the dark, or wasting an hour getting my ass kicked at Wii bowling, kids allow us grown-ups to be silly - if only for a little while.

It's also the only time I hit the warm water to bully the panfish - which is what we did on our self-proclaimed Weekend of Epic Fun tour.

As the name implies, the weekend was full of fun activities, the most obvious being fishing. Which we did in spades. We caught so many damn fish that my son lost interest in using a pole, and opted instead to just use the net.

"How much do I get if I catch a fish in the net?" he asked me, while standing knee-deep in the pond. "$30 dollars," I replied, never believing in a bajillion years he'd pull it off.

Guess what? I owe him $30 dollars. And another $10 for the dragonfly he snared, as well. Obviously, I'm someone you can fool all the time.

And once he got the technique down, he wound up snagging another 15 or so fish...with just the net alone. Fly rod? We don't need no stinking fly rods!

The highlight of the day was biting into a sizable cat that kept skirting the edge of the pond like a junk-yard dog on patrol.

Yeah, I wasn't geared up to be hitting a 15-20 lb. cat. Hell, I didn't even think I'd hit pay-dirt to start with...but tying on a version of a worm that the other fish seemed to love as well, I drowned the poor fly with a ton of split-shot just as this prehistoric beast took his pass by my perch.

And I'll be damned - he took it, which surprised the hell out of me.

The surprise soon turned into panic as I realized that this...thing, on the end of my line, could easily snap my 5wt like a toothpick. The sheer power and solid weight of that fish on my line was unlike anything I've ever felt on a long rod.

Lucky for me the line snapped about 30 seconds after I sunk my hook in it's mouth - but I'm thinking I may have to get myself a heavier rig and focus a little heat towards the catfish from time to time.

There were also several carp - much bigger than the cat - that could be fun as hell to land, too.

I just need to avoid those sucker bets that are draining my wallet so I can afford some gear.


Perfect Strangers

Yup - I've been slacking again. But this time around, I can't fully blame it on being a lazy primate...although I'm going to try my best to do so.

Between work, psychotic weather patterns and the passing of my nephew, it's been a little tough to make it to the river, let alone, show up in the proper mind-set.

Case-in-point: I hit the Canyon a couple weeks back, only to realize that I had left quite a few 'essentials' back at the truck - namely: all three cameras, my sunglasses, lanyard (which was still sitting on the bumper), most of my water, and my cope.

Yeah, it was one of those kinds of trips - seems like I'm always good for one, every year, so I'm just glad I got it out of the way.

With about 2 hours of sleep under my belt, I was up and on the road by 3:30 am...weekends in the summer are not the most ideal time to fish - especially with most of the local waters blown out from run-off.

My plan was to hit the lower sections first, and then move up the canyon before 7 am...but once I got to the water, my plans quickly flew out the window.

Levels were down. Waaaaaay down. It was December/January levels...but the fish were out in force. And most of them were big.

The first hour or so was a Monster's Ball - I swear, there wasn't anything swimming around under the 18 inch mark - and I took 'em to the woodshed.

And they returned the favor on my line. I was running 7x all the way, and one by one, after a brief run, roll or jump, they wound up snapping me off.

All of them, except the biggest of the bunch. Get this: I was a little slow on my set, so the fly actually wound up inside his mouth, with the line stretching out past his teeth. It took me a good 5 minutes to get him in, through numerous rolls, shakes and two jumps - but the line held.

Go figure.

Oh yeah, and there was a creepy little black bird who, for some odd reason, felt he needed to ride my ass for the better part of the morning. I first noticed him when he buzzed me. Afterwards, he ended up on shore, about 3 feet behind me...screaming his head off.

How do I know he was yelling at me? Because when I turned around, he was staring RIGHT AT ME.

At first it was kind of funny because he was so irritated. But after a while, he got into my head, and I started to wonder if maybe I did do something to piss him off. Cut him off in traffic, perhaps? Made fun of his bright yellow beak and he got wind of it? Who knows....

I tried to go into the pack for the camera to get some evidence, but the little shit would fly away any time I turned around. Once I went back to fishing, he'd show up again. Yelling his head off.

Finally, I decided to buzz him on my backcast...and eventually, he split. Which is a good thing, since the last thing I needed was to get into a tussle with a bird I didn't know.

Anyway, the water levels were down, but the fish were out in obscene numbers, so some advice to any of you planning to hit this stretch - get there early to hit the hogs. They're not spooky at all, but they do take some effort to stick. They're more interested in playing grab-ass with each other than eating an artificial fly, so wait for them to quit monkeying around and then tag them in between play-time.

Smaller is better right now, with the levels as low as they are - 6, 7 or even 8x would be my advice (I switched to 6 after the millionth line-snap...and the hits dried up). I know - it's damned if you do, damned if you don't...throw heavier line, and you'll strike out. Throw lighter stuff, and they'll snap ya' off. Pick your poison.

However, they're active, and getting to play some fish, is better than no fish at all - by 1 pm, when I decided to leave, I was a miserable 2 for 18. But hey, I got to ride a lot of ponies, and I did manage one real nice one, so there's no complaints here.

Next up, some warm water fishing with my son - who is dying to put the hurt on some bluegills, and I am more than happy to oblige, since I don't have to spend the week on the road...