Tuesday, March 28, 2006

I forgot that I actually have a picture of the infamous Koi I've been chasing. This was taken last fall while hiding in the bushes with Elia. It was actually my first time seeing this fish, and if anything, he is even bigger now!

Hopefully I can figure out how to catch him!

Monday, March 27, 2006

Once again my daughter Elia reminded me of a fundamental joy in life. We all need to take the time to stop and smell the flowers.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Despite terrible conditions, I headed out after that big koi I have been chasing. I figure, you might catch a fish in bad conditions, but only if you get off the couch!

I got to the lake, and things looked pretty ugly. High, overcast clouds, with no sun peeking through at all. I walked around the lake once, and visibility was only inches. With the recent rain and zero sun, I couldn't see into the murky water at all.

Just when I was about to give up, I got lucky. I looked up the bank and from 30 feet away I spotted a bright orange beach ball with a tail heading right towards me. I looked again at the water at my feet, and still couldn't see 2 inches deep, but I guess visibility is not that important when your number one target is the color of a highway cone.

I hunkered down in the brush and waited for the koi to get close. When the fish was about 10 feet away I flipped a hare's ear in front of him...which he completely ignore. he got closer and I made another attempt, only to be snubbed. Wisely, I avoided a third cast and let the big koi swim slowly by, never aware of the fisherman kneeling in the mud amidst some brush. After he sauntered by I leapt up and ran down the bank to get ahead of him. This time I found a small pine tree to hide behind, and I again awaited his approach. As the fish closed I switched flies to the Peacock Hackleback (of WT fame) and prepared to cast. Again I waited until he was about 10 feet out, then flipped the fly towards him. It was a poor cast and the fly landed about halfway down the fish's body, and 1 foot to his left. The koi quickly turned and came eye to eye with my fly. I stripped gently, hoping to feel the line tighten, but he didn't have the fly. In an insant, the koi had turned back around and continued down the bank. I made a quick second cast, which was ignored, then waited for the fish to move on by me so that I wouldn't spook him.

In this manner I followed this fish down one entire bank of the lake. I would rush to get ahead of him and find a place to work through the blackberry bushes, then hide amongst the thorns in order to get in two quick cast. Eventually the fish changed tactics and disappeared into the middle of the lake, but I must have cast at him about 20 times...and all I had to show for it was that one, brief look at my Peacock Hackleback.

After the koi disappeared I looked around and realized that the sun had come out! In my zen-like focus on that big koi, I had failed to notice that I could suddenly see the bottom, and my odds of finding a common carp had drastically improved! I moved back down the bank to an area that the carp seem to frequent, and immediately spotted a nice fish slowly cruising a few feet from shore. I placed rubber legged hare's ear in his path, and the fish immediately dipped his head to the bottom...Fish on! With a quick strip-set I had hooked up, but before I could even begin to grin the carp had managed to throw the hook. I kept moving and spotted another fish hovering near a tree, not really doing anything. For those that don't carp fish, the stationary carp is probably the second most difficult carp to get to take a fly, behind only the fast-cruiser. I knew I would have to drop a fly right in front of him in order to get a take. I took a quick second to change flies to one without a bead head, as I wanted it to sink really slowly, and hopefully entice the fish to bite. I stripped out some line and made a 15 foot cast that was right on the money! The fly sank ever so slowly, and the fish suddenly inched forward and sucked it in...Fish on! This one stuck and after nice fight I brought him to the net, where he weighed in at 9 lbs.

With that nearly perfect moment, I clipped off the fly and headed for home. The big koi still eludes me, but I do know where he lives!

My dad wanted me to put up this picture of his first trout of the year. Caught on the east side near browning, he says it was 21 inches and about 4 lbs. Nice fish! It won't be long before he gets a bigger one...things are heating up in Montana!

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Just a terrible night of basketball if you are a Gonzaga/Duke fan like I am. First, Duke is a no show against an athletic LSU team. Redick disappears and Duke goes down by 8. Ugly, ugly game that only served to remind me what a warrior Shelden Williams is. The rest of the Duke team just didn't play with any passion.

Later, Gonzaga plays a brilliant 30 minutes of basketball, proving to the whole world that there is no such thing as a mid-major. Morrison nails his usual tough shots, but the role players step up and play a great game as well. The wheels come off down the stretch, and somehow they Zags give up the lead with 4 seconds left. The last likely image of the great Adam Morrison will be of him falling to the floor in tears.

Rough night for a Gonzaga/Duke fan.

Monday, March 20, 2006

So this morning I get out of the shower and I'm getting dressed over by the closet. Elia comes running into the room, sees me and turns and bolts back out of the room. I can hear her in her bedroom opening and closing drawers, and she suddenly come flying back into our bedroom laughing madly. In her hand she had two hairclips, that she proudly showed me. I knelt down and she tilted her head toward me so that I could put the clips into her hair. Once in place she turned and sprinted back out of the bedroom gleefully chirping:

"yaya pretty...yaya pretty..."

What a great start to the day!

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Elia and I went for a walk today today, and of course I brought the fly rod! Unfortunately Elia wasn't in the mood for the backpack, so I didn't get the chance to use the flyrod. We went to a lake I know in search of a monster koi that might go 20 lbs. It has been too cold for a few months for him to be out and about, but we found him today! That fish is an absolute beast! Elia and I followed him around the lake a few times, watching the ducks and nutria swim around. Along with that massive koi we saw tons of carp, most looked to be about 8-10 lbs, but there were several larger fish in the mix, as well as a few little ones. After Elia got tired I took her home and put her down for a nap. Kelly came back a few minutes later and could see the carp-crazed look in my eyes! I quickly threw my rod in the car and rushed off to the lake.

The fish were still there, and for a couple of hours I threw flies at carp in various states. Some were cruising fast, and not interested, others seemed to be sunning, and were equally tough. Eventually I spotted a couple of slow movers and got a couple to look at the fly. I missed at least one or two of these fish before hooking up on a gold ribbed hares ear. After a couple of nice runs I got the chance to test out my new net. It works well, and the fish weighed in at 7 lbs. At this point the big koi still hadn't shown up, so I kept at it. Just a few minutes later I managed to hook a really nice fish that took me into my backing not once, but twice! My Hardy was screaming, and I drew quite a crowd of dog walkers as the fish kept screaming out into the middle of the lake. After a prolonged battle with a full audience, I managed to bring the fish to net. He weighed in at 9 lbs and fell victim to a rubber legged hare's ear. A father and his two young girls walked down to the edge of the lake to check out the fish.

As I stood there retying some knots I looked up just in time to spot the big koi. He came floating into the area I was fishing. I quickly finished my knot and made one false cast well to the side of the fish to check line distance...He bolted out of there like I jabbed him with a stick. That was it for the day, one shot, and I never even got the fly to the water.

I'll get that fish eventually. It was good to see my backing today!

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

A few pictures of the Deschutes River. The first one is a beautiful redside taken on a copper john in December. The second image is of a gravel bar with some spawning fish. If you look closely you'll spot a few fish. Every year we need to be careful of spawners. Avoid these types of areas and do not harass these fish! Let them do their thing and we'll have better fishing for it. The third picture is of me chasing a steelhead downriver. I had hooked this fish on a 4 wt rod trout fishing, and foolishly thought I could keep up. Shortly after this picture was taken, I fell in, and quickly lost the footrace! The Deschutes is a special place!

It has been entirely too long since I've taken a serious fishing trip. I'm sure my skills are eroded, my knots not as tight, and fly line coiled beyond belief. I need to get out on the water soon! This weekend is the start of the NCAA Tournament, so even if the opportunity to spend some time on the water presents itself, I'll be hard pressed to get too far from the basketball games. I enjoy the tournament every year, and look forward to watching Duke and Gonzaga play (hopefully for several rounds each!) Once the tournament ends, I'll have to find some time to get out on the water. Carp, Trout, Steelhead...at this point I'll chase anything that can bend a flyrod! I am finding myself missing some of the beautiful water of the Deschutes. This picture of Chris with a beautiful redside is a good reminder of how special this river truly is.

Yesterday my wife had an ultrasound, and we found out that Elia will have a little brother! Thrilling news for us! We are both excited, and wondering what new challenges having a son will bring. This past year with Elia has been special, and it will be fun to go through the experience in a new way a few months from now.

Here is a recent picture of Elia, playing games with our friend Erica.

And of course, our future son waving hello!

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Still no fishing to report. Yesterday would have been perfect for a quick carp outing, but from 9-12 Andy, Scott and I gave a clinic at NorthWest Flyfishing Outfitters in Portland about carp on the fly. Good turnout for the event, and I think everyone learned something. Andy really knows his stuff and did a great job presenting. Scott and I pitched in where we could, and tied some go to carp patterns for everyone to try at home. All in all a great event.

I'm hoping to get out next week! Looking foward to the water getting warmer, it won't be long now!

The picture is of a carp Justin caught in MN. Nice fish, I hope we can find some feeding carp during my trip to out there in May. I figure my goal of a 20 lb carp is as likely to fall in MN as here in OR. Watching some of the video Andy shot and presented really got me excited to chase some carp. In one sequence a nice fish was taking snails right off of the side of a boat moored to Andy's dock. Now I need to come up with a snail pattern!