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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Fishing with Michael

We're getting towards the end of Pink Salmon season. The fish, the males in particular, have taken on a different look. The humps are more pronounced definitely showing why Pinks are also called Humpies.

My son, Michael, was able to get out with me. He got into some fish and that pleases me no end.

I have wondered what would happen if a thousand fish, heck, even just a couple dozen fish, with teeth like this decided they didn't want me in the river with them. I wonder, would Simms take a warranty claim for teeth holes in my waders?

Morning dew:

This was a great season of Humpie fishing; there were tons of fish and the weather was unseasonably warm and pleasant. Oh yeah, there was that thing about "giving" my camera to some guy I've never met but I'm over it now. Life is good.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

A new camera to replace the one I LEFT at the river

Getting towards the end of Humpy season with my dang, new camera...

Approaching the river I didn’t see any fish rolling. I knew there were still fish in the river but not in nearly the numbers as there had been in past weeks. This was a good opportunity for me to move and explore some new water. I moved farther up the river than I have in the past. The males definitely have their distinctive humps now; they are changing colors and are sporting their kypes (hooked jaws) and quickly growing teeth.

Pink Salmon can be distinguished by the large, oval spots on their backs and tail. (caudal fin).

Even though there were not nearly as many fish in the river there were still plenty of guys out trying. Moving away from them, albeit to less desirable holding water, gave me some pleasure. I got a some fish to hand that helped me baptize my new camera.

A female:

A male:

The Fall colors are beginning to show in the leaves. The air is getting colder. I am reminded that as I turn 59 in just a matter of days, I am very much in the Fall of my own life. I get colder my easily. Like the leaves I am experiencing changes; those that come with aging. Winter will come soon as will the winter of my life. I have often felt that Fall is the best season. I hope it is my best season of life.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Pink Fishing in the Freshwater

Pinks are one of the five species of Pacific Salmon here in Washington. They spawn in freshwater, migrate to saltwater, spend two years there gaining maturity, and then return to the freshwater to repeat the cycle. Here in Washington Pinks run in the odd years. As soon as Pinks enter freshwater to spawn they begin changing color. Part of the change that the males undergo is acquiring a significant hump on there backs; hence the name Humpies.

The past couple weeks, I had been to the freshwater 5 times. I had well over 100 pictures on the memory card in my camera. There were plenty of fish who posed for pictures. More important to me, I had taken about 15 pictures of fish underwater along with pictures of a deer, and some other scenery. Of those days, I had two good days of fishing where I reached a point where I was tired of catching fish. I was catching virtually all of my fish on my very simple Salmon Slammer.

Pausing after taking some underwater shots of a male with a major hump, I sat down on a log to eat my Clif Bar and savor a good day. Casually, I set the camera on the log next to me to dry the lens. I had caught enough fish that I was content to go home, or, to maybe fish for awhile more. Again, casually, I picked up my rod, put the chest pack back on, and walked over to the water and fished for another hour. I got a few more fish, paused, and gave thanks for such a good day. I headed for home.

After dinner, I wanted to show Katy some of the pictures I had taken. Looking in the chest pack I was so disappointed to find only an empty camera case. I looked in my truck, I looked in my jacket pockets, I looked again in the chest pack. I did it all again, knowing that may damn camera was still sitting on that log. Well, at least I hoped it was still on the log.

I got up very early the next morning to go “fish” for my camera. Somehow, I knew I was going to get skunked on this quest, but I still hoped. Pink fishing is not exactly a wilderness experience. When the Humpies run almost everyone is a fisherman. When the weather is nice then anyone who was still home comes out to fish. I was pretty sure someone else took my camera home but I had to go look. Sadly the log was empty. My camera being gone was a disappointment but so was the memory card. I lost all the pictures from 5 days of fishing, plus some pictures from a hike. Damn it.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Simms StreamTread Vibram with Star Cleats: a Brief Field Test

I was anxious to see if the new generation of Vibram sole wading boot would stack up against felt. As a fair amount of the water I wade is challenging I was very concerned about Simms discontinuing felt soles. If you are 29 or 39 then not much of any wading is challenging for you. You believe you are a mountain goat and that you always will be. You may always be, but 30 years from now you won’t be quite the mountain goat you are today.

For me, its thirty years from back then, when I too believed I was a mountain goat. I probably never was, but either way, as I am only days away from being 59, I’m not quite as steady on my feet as I once was. I’m not clumsy or unable to fish anymore, it’s not like that; I’m just aware of being older than I used to be. Anything that will help me wade securely and comfortably adds to my overall safety, enjoyment of the day, and even success chasing fish.

On learning felt was to be discontinued by Simms, at first I thought I would just stockpile some felt sole boots in my garage. There were none to be had in my size by the time I began looking. I wanted to test the Vibram sole boots and the Star Cleats to see if they were at least a suitable replacement for felt and studded felt. If not then I was going to buy felt sole boots from Chota or some other brand before they were discontinued also.

I am planning to fish in Alaska next year and I have heard that felt is, or will be, banned there in 2010 or 2011. If that is going to be the case then I needed to be exploring options that would keep my middle-age butt dry and safe. Either that or I could just stay home. Nahhh… I’m not that old yet. I still want to make that trip to Alaska next year. Melissa and Nathan, I’m really looking forward to it!

I recognize clearly that the time I spent in the river shown in this video is a very small amount of time and doesn’t constitute a serious, extensive, field test. That will only come with a season of use. I wanted to test felt, plain StreamTread Vibram, studded felt, and the StreamTread Vibram with Star Cleats all at the same time. I wanted to make the comparison on the same water the same day. That way, even though it was brief, I wouldn’t experience any memory lapse of sorts about how one sole performed. I wanted the comparisons to be side by side.

I began the trial skeptical that the Vibram would even be a close second to felt. I had purchased an earlier version of Vibram sole wading boots some years ago and was quite disappointed with them. Coming into the comparison I admit my bias was that Simms was doing something that at least looked good for the environment, but really, they just wanted to reduce their SKU count. In talking to several dealers, a few of them had the same thoughts. I should point out that none of them who panned the boot had actually used it yet.

Again, my field test, or trial, was not extensive. I will need to test the Vibram soles with Star Cleats in more settings through different times of year. I guess I think of what I did as being like going to Road Runner or Jock and Jill to try on new running shoes. They let you go outside and run around for awhile to try the shoes. We all buy the shoe that feels the best to us and then we go run in it. Or in my case, walk quickly or shuffle pretty dang slowly. Through use, most of us continue liking the shoe that felt best when we tried them on. What I did was sort of try these different wading boots on in the river. My first impressions and some follow up are in the video.


My First "School Day" fishing

September 8, was the first day with students in Marysville. It was very weird for me to go fishing but in the end it was good. I have been busy with my new career and enjoying it. First period started at 7:20 for approximately the past 20 years. I wanted to catch a fish right at 7:20.

I dilly dallied after the alarm went off; at least for now I'm still getting up at 5:00 AM just as if I was going to get ready for school. I didn't make my first cast until 7:27. I guess that sort of makes me tardy on my first "school day" of fishing. Bad boy.

There was very little movement in the tide this day. I think that effected the fishing. Slower fishing couldn't possibly have anything to do with something I was or wasn't doing. I had didn't even get a dang strike until 9:45. I was ready to "go home sick" on my school day of fishing. I got a fish at exactly 10:20. That's when first lunch started so that was good. I released the fish and ate my lunch right on schedule.

In the next 2 1/2 hours I got more fish but I didn't have nearly the strikes that I had the week before.

I had some good pictures of fish and scenery from this trip but alas they are all gone. Where they went is for another post. The picture in this post is from last week.

My First "Workshop Day" on the Water

I had hoped to keep up with blogging each day I fished. Events have conspired against me; I must have a hard life. I have been busy with my new job and with other tasks. And I’ve gotten out fishing some too.

I was born in October. My mother took me to kindergarten when I was still four. I was so surprised when she left me there. I have been going to school every fall for the last 54 years. The school schedule is engrained in me.

As a real estate agent my schedule is very different. Well, I’m just going to have to do my best to deal with working weekends and fishing during the week.

Monday, August 31, was the first workshop day for teachers in my “old” school district. I wanted to fish on this day. Chasing Pink Salmon in the saltwater can be a lot of fun. It is often feast or famine. There were an extraordinary number of them this year. That doesn’t mean they will always take the fly but when they are jumping all over everywhere it sure feels like they ought to take the fly on every cast.

I got a nice fish on the third cast. That told me, at least I hoped it told me, I was going to catch fish all day long and that I wouldn’t have to wait more than 4 or 5 casts to get another hookup. Things don’t always work out that way. There are a lot of short strikes with Pinks and a fair number of them get off. I believe I had 11 to hand. I had one fish on that I never saw and I never really got him moving in the direction I wanted. I was chasing him down with the boat; I’m pretty sure it was a Coho or maybe even a King. Yikes that fish was strong!

A very notable part of the day was when I was fishing down from the launch point. I was anchored near the shore casting to schools of fish. Two boats came over to where I was. The smaller boat drove on the shore. The larger boat started putting out a net. At first they were heading straight out from shore. When they began to make the turn I started to wonder if they would circle the net around me. With all the open water I couldn’t believe I was going to get netted. I should have moved as soon as they got there but I really didn’t know what was going to happen. They closed me in eventually. I had to lift the motor and row across the darn net. Mark Simpson, from my fly club, has property near this spot. His wife watched me get netted. Mark rowed out to talk for a bit when I had the large fish on. It was a hot day and Mark was very nice to bring me a bottle of water.

I worked my way up the shoreline looking for schools of fish. About 2 hours later two more boats came. Lo and behold, just like the first two, they wanted to put their nets exactly where I was anchored. Go figure. I knew better this time. I just pulled up the anchor and moved away 500 yards. It was a beautiful day and a great way to spend what would have been a workshop day for me in my previous life.