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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Lessons From the Carp Lodge: Episode #1--Early Season Fishing

It is the Winter Solstice today. It is the shortest day of the year. Tomorrow we will have 5 seconds more of light! That makes me smile. To celebrate, I'm posting the the first episode of Lessons from the Carp Lodge.

I was able to render the video without any problem and I was able to get it to upload to YouTube without any problem. I thought I was home free. I tried to embed the video into this post with YouTube code. It embeds but when you click the play arrow you only see part of the screen. You can click the first orange link to go directly to YouTube. Or on the picture, after you click the play button, you can double click on the video and you will get a full screen view. I'm not sure if this is a problem with my template, eBlogger, my upbringing, my limited understanding of the world, or what. I'll keep working on it. Enjoy.

(Edit after original publication: I believe the screen for the video is small enough to fit now courtesy of some blogger coaching from McTage.)

Early Season Fishing: Episode #1

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Winter Solstice (And Carp Fishing)

Already it has been good and cold this winter. We have not had snow yet. It is 32 degrees at my house right now. That seems warm compared to 21 degrees just days ago. Winter is upon us in many ways.

But wait. What season is this? Today, Tuesday, December 20, 2011, right now, what season is this? It feels like winter, it looks like winter, it must be winter. Hmmm… It’s still the fall.

The Winter Solstice comes this year on Wednesday, December 21. Here in Washington State, it will occur at 9:30 PM. Our earth rotates on an axis. The Winter Solstice is the time when because of the axial tilt of the earth we are the farthest away from the sun thereby receiving the least direct sunlight. It is also the day when we have the fewest hours of sunlight and the most hours of darkness. For me personally, the long hours of darkness have always bothered me more than extended periods of rain.

It is cold and wet, and yet it is still the fall. The days are short and the nights are long. The coldest and harshest weather is still ahead of us. Winter will “officially” begin here soon.

Even though we are beginning our nastiest season of weather the days will slowly begin getting longer again. I appreciate the irony or paradox of winter beginning as the days begin getting longer. Maybe those aren’t the right words; maybe it’s the symbolism I appreciate. As I have aged the cold weather bothers me more and more. I like winter less and less. It doesn’t feel like it today and it won’t feel like it on the many cold days ahead but the Winter Solstice signals the beginning of change. Even as we prepare for the worst weather of the year change will begin slowly on Wednesday. Longer, warmer days will come again.

In times of reflection, as always, I pray for the good health, overall well being, and safety of my family and friends. I work to trust that during the coming winter, change is already beginning. On Thursday the days will begin getting longer again. Thursday will have 5 seconds more of daylight than Wednesday. The light will return. And I like that.

As the winter begins I will do, and enjoy, winter activities. Fly tying is so satisfying this time of year. We will also do some snow shoeing in January and February.

I accept the bad weather and at the same time I look forward to the spring when fat Carp return to the shallows. As part of looking forward to those warmer days, tomorrow morning I will post a YouTube link to the first episode of "Lessons From the Carp Lodge."

Thursday, December 15, 2011

"How To" Carp Video

Having read a piece I wrote four and half years ago, the publisher of North American Carp Angler magazine asked me to write some articles for him. He asked me to write some more pieces like what he had read. That piece he read was what I would describe as a combination of humor and something useful about fly fishing for Carp. He also asked me to write some “how to” articles along with some tackle and fly selection articles. I wrote some “how to” articles but never chose to submit or publish them.

When I started blogging I thought I would publish my “how to” pieces. Just about the time I was ready to publish them I decided to try and capture video to support the articles. That was late in 2009 before the 2010 Carp season. Sigh... My 2010 video was mostly useless. I did get some good clips that year but didn't really start to get better at it until 2011. That said, my print articles have been waiting patiently on my computer for me to use them in some manner. This winter I have been quietly working on a "how to" Carp video series. The series is called “Lessons from the Carp Lodge”. It incorporates material from my earlier “how to” articles with video and narration.

Since the summer my goal has been to publish my first video in the series on, December 21, the day of the Winter Solstice. If episode one renders without problems and if it uploads without problems then I will make my goal. I actually have some of the work completed for Episode two.

I have put a LOT of time into this. On several occasions I have wondered, “…
Are you doing!?...”

I shake my head at myself.

The first challenge:

I had to learn to take the video while I’m fishing. I am not a professional videographer and that of course will show in my work. In many of my early efforts the camera is not pointing where I thought it was. In time I got better at that. The video is HD though and I have captured some clips clearly showing different Carp behavior. I have what I think are some cool clips of takes too. I have some clips of Carp clearly turning away from my fly. How could they?! My flies are so nice. Well they do.

The second challenge: (Hats off to you Dewey)

I had to learn to name, catalog, and file my raw video in a way that was consistent and useable. I had NO idea what this task would involve. If all I had was 20 clips it would hardly matter what I did. I have more video than that. I needed to be able to look at my catalog in three years and understand what it says. I needed to be able to add to my catalog in three years in a way that is consistent with what I had already done. Ideally a stranger could look at my catalog and have an idea of what is there. Again, I had no idea what a challenge this would be; in fact it just devoured time.

Each time I hit approximately “50-title increments” I found new problems with my primitive, evolving cataloging system. More and more I realized that I needed to be able to look at a title and understand what was basically in the video without the name being a paragraph long. I realized that I also needed to be able to search my own catalog to see if I had a clip showing something. I had to anticipate what my search queries would be and then adapt my work accordingly. I had to re-name, re-catalog, and re-file my early efforts a few different times. About the time I had 350 video clips my system was getting refined.

In time I had over 700 clips. I deleted approximately 130 of them because even compared to some of my “not so good” clips these were just plain no good at all. The primary measure of “no good” is that the camera wasn’t pointing where I thought it was.

At this writing I have 578 saved clips. They are all named, cataloged, and filed.

The third challenge:

In my videos, I wanted among other things to be able to have titles, music, and arrows pointing at fish. That meant I had to learn to use a video editing program. It took time but it was much easier than capturing the video in the first place.

The fourth challenge:

The whole project has been somewhat challenging but actually enjoyable. Well, mostly enjoyable. The movie camera I used is small and light. As light as it is it got “heavy” late in the summer—not physically heavy more like “emotionally heavy” I think. I felt like I was starting to focus more on taking video (and pictures) than on just enjoying the fishing. I can do both but I needed a break from the cameras. When I missed capturing video of some excellent takes from large Carp I ended up being frustrated with the day instead of feeling the joy that I could have and should have been experiencing. Actually I got sick of the cameras; having them with me became oppressive. I intentionally left the digital camera and the video camera at home on a couple trips. I intentionally did not blog about those days. I just fished and reflected. It was relief.

Lessons From the Carp Lodge:

In this series I am not going to just publish video of me playing fish. Well okay, there will be some of that of course but not primarily that. I do have some good takes on video and some clips of fish just peeling backing off the reel. One of my goals is to show different Carp behavior in different settings. Another goal is to explain and show strategies and techniques for stalking and catching Carp on a fly.

Episode one of Lessons from the Carp Lodge is called, “Early Season Fishing: Carp Behavior, Strategies and Techniques”. I am planning , well hoping anyway, to publish a new lesson periodically with the video I have already accumulated these past two seasons. I plan to take new video this coming season also.

The images in this post are from Episode one. They are not digital pictures added into the video, they are images taken from the video.

On the Winter Solstice, next Wednesday, December 21, there will be a link in my blog to the first episode.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Indicator Fishing: Part IV--Marker Float System

As a result of the previous three posts about indicator fishing I know that I have certainly learned a lot from the comments and emails from other Carp anglers, Gregg and JM. JM made a comment in the previous post explaining how he uses the marker float system. He tried to post this picture in the comments but he wasn't able so he emailed it to me to post.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Indicator Fishing for Carp: Part III (Stocking Stuffers)

This a follow up to the two previous posts on Indicator fishing. This is from a continued email exchange with Gregg who really go this discussion started along with another email exchange that started as a result of these blog posts. Thanks Gregg and Kyle.

There are some other things I forgot to put in the blog post about how I manage fishing Chironomids under an indicator in a lake of varying depths. Often I will carry two rods in the boat. They are set up with two different length leaders. Sometimes, though not very often, I will even take three rods. I do this at Dry Falls Lake where there are fish at decidedly different depths in different parts of the lake. I have rods set up with 10 foot, 15-16 foot, and 28 foot leaders. I measure them by the way so its not an estimate. When I am in the boat I have the "My Buddy" fish finder on the transom. In terms of finding fish it is totally useless. And I do mean totally. It is inexpensive so I am okay with that. It is good for determining depth though and that is all I use it for. With the My Buddy I know exactly when I am over 28 feet of water.

I have fished with Chironomids under an indicator from shore with success also. I just have one rod and typically the fly is not far from the indicator.

Not using a tapered leader allows you to easily move the Quick Release Indicator a foot or two as needed.

When I said to NEVER put the fly in the boat when fishing a long leader that is because as soon as the fly is on the floor of the boat it begins a decided and focused effort to self tangle all of your leader. It is almost a certainty that the fly will succeed. You can count on it. If the fly is in your hand it can be inside the boat. If it isn't in your hand then hang the fly over the side of your boat or float tube as you working on your leader.

I do also indicator fish with one rod in settings where the depth varies. As I said when the leader gets long it is very important to have the indicator near the line. I manage the changes by connecting pieces of leader with loop to loop connections. I take out or add sections in the middle as I move from spot to spot. The loops need to be big enough to get the fly through. I know there are anglers out there who say the fish can might see my connections. The tippet is long so I don't think the fish see the connections. I suppose the fish might see the loops but I still catch fish and sometimes I just don't want to have more than one rod in the boat.

Another thing that really helps with placement of the indicator is a little device I made about 10 years ago. It is a small alligator clip with weight on it. I use this instead of my hemostats to get the fly to the bottom and then place the indicator. Typically I fish the fly a foot off the bottom. I put the clip on the fly. I hold the indicator and drop the clip over the side of the boat. When the fly hits the bottom I push the indicator a foot under water and peg it to the leader. I pull the fly back up, take off the clip, and cast out.

Here are the devices. Number one is an early effort. I started by using Power Pro braided line. It won't cut with regular scissors by the way. The stuff is tough but it does wear out eventually. As a result I started using nylon coated wire. It is used for tippet material for toothy fish. (Like a Pike or Muskie--not a Carp) The wire is held in place by a crimped, barreled, leader sleeve. The plastic cover easily slips off the handle of the clip and there is a convenient hole already there to tie on the braid or wire. Its as if the alligator clips were never really intended for electrical applications; they were really meant for indicator fishing.

These could make great stocking stuffers for your wife. Or your girlfriend; she'll know are interested in a long term relationship. Or your husband. Or your boyfriend. Or your mother-in-law. Well, you get the picture...

Gregg, thanks again for sharing your experience and expertise. You have prompted me to try some indicator fishing for Carp in the 2012 season.