Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The annual ACC/Big 10 challenge came to an end tonight, with the ACC dominating for the 8th straight year. The final tally was 8 games to 3...that's right, 3 wins for the mighty Big 10. Despite the total dominance by the ACC, I think this year's National Champion will come from the Big 10. I watched the entire UNC/OSU game tonight, and the Buckeyes are for real. They have great athleticism and guard play and they are absolutely fearless. They attack the basket, shoot the three and in general fly all over the floor with reckless abandon. Really a fun team to watch, and on a neutral floor this game could have gone either way. The kicker...Greg Oden is still on the sidelines for OSU. Once Oden gets back OSU is a real threat. Oden is a special interior player and will dominate games defensively. His offense might not be there but after what I saw tonight offense won't be a problem for OSU. Watch out for the Buckeyes.

Is there a better way to watch a great basketball game than with both your son and daughter? While JJ doesn't seem to care whether Duke or Gonzaga is playing, Elia has taken to watching basketball with her dad. She intently watches the game and adds commentary such as "the men in red are running" or "they missed!" Every now and then she even points at the screen and says "they dribble, " but the highlight came in the Duke/Indiana game last night. Early in the game Demarcus Nelson of Duke nailed a three from the corner. I pumped my fist in celebration and Elia saw that, stood up, raised both hands and yelled "Yeah!"

I love being a dad.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

For all my friends in MN, home of the mighty Big Ten...did you happen to notice this score?

University of MT 72

University of MN 65

Andrew Strait led the way for the Grizzlies with 17 points while Brian Ellis added 10 assists. The Gophers are now 2-4, even losing to Marist. So much for the power conferences.

Carp fishing at its finest during the warmer months is an excercise in stealth, presentation and most importantly, observation. You can be as stealthy as a kingfisher and present the fly as accurately as Lefty Kreh, but if you don't focus on and observe the changes in the fish in relation to your fly, you'll go home without so much as a hook up most of the time. Fortunately, when the waters are warm you can expect plenty of opportunity to have these three items come together to meet an active, hungry fish. In November, when the waters cool the challenges don't change too much, but new ones are created. First, the water is usually much less clear here in the PNW where continuous rain through the winter months causes most of our waters to be discolored. Second, the cooler water slows the carp down and the sheer number of active fish is considerably less. In other words, you better make the most of your opportunities!

I spent a couple of hour Saturday with KB trying our luck at two of our go to spots. The sun was out off and on, and it was as warm as it had been for several days, but our expectations were still fairly low. At our first stop we saw thick chocolate milk, with only a few inches of visibility. Undaunted, we proceeded around the pond with KB in the lead. We carefully stalked the shoreline knowning that our only chance was to spot a fish in the margins where we could see him. 4 ft off the bank the water was impossible to see into.

I spotted a fish quickly. Not a large carp, but his head was really light in color so I was able to make him out as he moved from deeper water into the shallows, slowly picking his way along with his nose dipping to the bottom to feed. I made a short cast and quickly pulled the fly back a foot or two so that it sank slowly, about 12 inches in front of the fish. I expected the fish to continue forward and my plan was to twitch the fly when he got right on top of it, but to my surprise the fish spotted the fly while it sank and quickly closed the gap, pausing right where the fly should have touched bottom. No gills flared, no tail twitched, but I knew that fish had the fly and set the hook. Immediately the rod bent with the weight of the small carp. The fight didn't last long, even on my 4wt sage as the cool water has the fish pretty lethargic. I scaled the skinny little fish out at 3.5 lbs, KB took a quick picture and we released the fish despite the onlookers saying "Keep him! Eat him!" KB and I got a chuckle out of that.

We continued around the pond and KB stopped to change flies and work a mud cloud that was likely a carp in a little deeper water. I spotted a fish circling under a willow tree and poked my rod with about a foot of tippet out of the top guide through the branches, but I just couldn't get the fly into position. We checked another spot and I had a similar chance at a fish feeding in the shallows. Again, I reeled up all the line except about two feet of tippet and snuck my rod through an opening in the bushes. This time the fish was within reach and I gently set the fly down next to his head. The fish quickly turned and flared his gills and I attempted to set the hook, only to bang my rod on a branch before I could bring the line tight. I have no idea what I would have done with the carp had I actually hooked him, but it was a thrilling moment regardless.

KB and I hit one more spot but the cool, muddy water was really limiting our chances. At this point, the only fish Kim had actually seen was the one I landed. As we came around a patch of brush we saw a familiar orange color in the water. Sure enough Highway Cone was cruising the margins. KB ran to get ahead of him and I settled in to look for any fish following HC. I did get one cast at a big carp, but no take. I just couldn't see well enough to spot anything else. KB returned a few minutes later. He had crouched into position and seen HC moving toward him through the brush. Every few feet HC dipped his head to eat. Kim said he made a good cast, and when HC came into position he twitched the fly. That big orange head turned, spotted the fly and HC immediately spooked for deep water. Tough fish to fool.

All in all a great day. No carp in November for KB, but a fun two hours of fishing. If we can have action like that throughout the winter I'd be satisfied!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Huge win by Gonzaga last night! The mighty (and hated) Tar Heels of North Carolina with their 12 man rotation and multiple 5 star recruits went down to the scrappy Zags in a really entertaining game. A few thoughts:

Hansbrough is a beast, but Coach Few completely took him out of the game. Is there a doubt Few can gameplan?

Free throws...For all the whining that INSTANTLY pops up when Duke takes makes more free throws than their opponents attempt (see BC and FSU last year and the subsequent media response) the Tar Heels had shot 32 free throws to 7 for Gonzaga up until the point where they tried fouling to extend the game. 32 to 7 and I nothing will be said, but Carolina fans will scream if Duke has a similar discrepancy this year. I found that rather funny.

Gonzaga is a real team this year, and they are missing three guys that could have real impacts in Downs, Burgess and Theo.

This team is just easy to cheer for.

One more note, check out La Revolucion (I just added a link on the sidebar.) Good stuff from another Zag fan.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Just a week ago (actually Saturday, November 4th) Elia and I headed to the mall to do some shopping for Kelly. With her help I picked out a nice sweater for Kelly and a camisole to go underneath (Kelly looks really good in it too!) On the way home I decided to swing by a go to carp spot and just take a peek at the water. It had been raining hard for days, and I knew water levels were up beyond belief everywhere. This is a man made and contained pond, but with all that water, it had to be up. We pulled up to the pond and the water was indeed flooding the sidewalk in some spots, and the rain was still coming down hard. Sitting in the car Elia spotted some geese and wanted to go look at them, so we put on coats and hats and stepped out into the deluge. I hadn't walked 10 ft down the bank (with Elia happily splashing along at my side) when I spotted a nice carp feeding right up against the edge. The water was solid mud, but the fish was in so shallow he was easy to spot. I grabbed Elia and ran back to the car to rig up the 4 wt. We carefully walked back into position and I dropped a hares ear to the rooting carp from a rod length away. The hungry fish pounced on the fly and the reel began to sing! Since Elia wasn't in the backpack I quickly knelt down and handed her the flyrod. Her eyes lit up and she nearly dropped the rod as the fish made a strong run. I had to rest the rod on my finger about 6 inches up from the grip to keep it upright, but other than that she held on with both hands and did really well! When the carp quit running I reeled with one hand and Elia kept pulling on the rod, laughing and smiling each time the carp would make another shake or short run. After a few minutes of smiles from Elia we got the carp close to the bank. I looked at Elia and asked if I could have the rod to land the fish. "No, No..." she cried and quickly pulled the rod to her shoulder and started running down the bank! With a nice carp still attached she couldn't get far and I manage to grab the rod and land the fish. She smiled and touched the nice 7 lb carp and said "Elia caught fish!"

When we got home she ran into Kelly to tell her all about it. Hopefully the first of many for Elia, and certainly one of my best ever days of fishing.

I have not had much time for fishing lately, but I've been having a good time around the house. Here is a shot of Elia at 8 months and at 22 months. She it getting heavy, but still loves to fly! JJ is getting bigger by the minute, and is wearing some of the clothes that Elia wore when she was 1! More pics of the kids to follow, we have been having fires in the evening, and Elia is ready for me to start one tonight!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

It was good to be back in MT, and also unmistakable that I was home. There is just something about is a special place. My dad and I had planned on fishing the reservation lakes for big bows, but a winter blizzard came out of the mountains and dumped something like 18 inches of snow on the plains, so we changed plans and fished this beautiful river near Libby. It was the first snow of the year, and first real cold spell. The fish knew it. Despite perfect looking water the fishing was tough. My dad landed the first trout of the day, a beautiful 14 inch wild as they get! Unfortunately it was the only fish he landed, though did connect with several more throughout the day. I ended up landing 3 trout and seven fat whitefish, and hooked 5 or 6 more fish as well. If we could find a nice looking slot in the sunshine, we hooked fish. The trout were perfect specimens, just amazing creatures but I couldn't get a good picture of one. We fished in the snow and cold, and had an outstanding day. I spent a lot of time just looking up into the mountains and ignoring my flies completely. The setting was such that the result was of no consequence. As always, it was great to fish with my dad, and being at home in MT surrounded by the mountain I love was all I could ask for on this trip.

Great trip to MT! It was wonderful to see my dad and mom spend time with both Elia and JJ. After having a second kid, I realize that my mother truly was a saint. She had 4 kids under 5 years old, two of them in full body casts (Dani and Darby were born without hip sockets) and my dad was usually on a train. And to think that at times I feel like Elia and JJ are a handful! We also spent time with Dani, Josh and Tanner. Elia loved Dani and they had a great time together. Tanner is full of energy, and I think he gets most of it from his mom! I wish we got to spend more time in Whitefish, there were a lot of special moments with the kids and my parents.