Monday, May 24, 2010

Friday's Freakshow

Friday was one of those evenings when everything worked in my favor. After several days of blue skies, Friday was overcast and rainy all day long. I fished from 4 to 8 pm and fish were rising as soon as I hit the water. They looked to be taking blue-winged olives and I caught a number of fish from two different runs on BWO patterns. Later I saw a couple of sulpher-like bugs in the air and switched over to a #16 sulpher pattern. At that point fishing picked up even more. I finished the night off taking a couple of fish on streamers. It was a great day, following all the bluebird days earlier in the week, all conditions favored the angler on Friday and I was lucky enough to take advantage.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Searching for the happy angler

I'm searching for the happy angler that lives inside of me. Been out on the black a couple of nights this week. The wate is up from the recent rains, which makes it harder to find fish. The gar haven't been rolling as much as they were. Not sure why-maybe the higher water.

Went trout fishing this morning for a few hours before work. -got a couple to hit on terrestrials. Its early, but by far one of my favorite ways to catch trout. Taking Jr out tomorrow.

downstream on the Black


gar fly

Monday, May 17, 2010

The listless angler

To read this piece, you will need the following definitions:
1) The Happy Angler: One who is single-mindedly focused on fishing. Not reading about fishing, not philosophizing about fishing, not purchasing gear, not developing new fly patterns, but instead being on the water with whatever ideas and gear one has.
2) The Philosophical Angler: One who spends a good deal of time reading about fishing, reviewing gear and other fishing related products, researching fly patterns and places to fish, etc...
3) The Listless Angler: One who has little interest in fishing or thinking about fishing, but one who is still, deep-down, an angler.

Figures 1 and 2: The ratio of time I typically spend fishing and thinking about fishing and correspondance with the three attitudes defined above.

I typically alternate through these three attitudes toward fishing during the calendar year reflecting the ratio of time I spend fishing to thinking about fishing (Figs 1 and 2). Each attitude has positive and negative attributes, even listlessness. I'll start with winter. Strangely, I am not listless during the winter period, despite weather permitting very few fishing opportunities. I (and I think most other's) spend the winter researching the where's, what's and who's about fishing. In comparison to my listless periods of fishing, I actually spend a good deal of time on the water, but not enough to be a Happy Angler. I hate this period of time and the attitudes I develop during it. It is during this time that I develop strong opinions about the way I and others fish, opinions I will later dismantle during my Happy Angler phase. In short, too much reading and thinking about fishing and only small doses of actual fishing make for a well-educated, highly opinioned, jerk of a fisherman. I know people who never make it out of this phase.

Late winter/early spring brings about a period of time when gear, method, and who is doing what loose all significance. It is during this time of year that I become so obsessed with being on the water that I no longer care about anything else. The Happy Angler is Opie Taylor on his way to the local fishing hole. This is a magical time for me. I will again be the Happy Angler in July, after finishing up a short (and strangely out of place) stint of listlessness and again during the fall when I realize that my fishing days are numbered by the oncoming winter.

I am a listless angler right now and am for most years during late May and early June. Saturday morning I was to head out fishing at 5:30 am. Instead, I slept in, made breakfast for the family and worked on the house and played with the kids. By mid-May I'm typically finishing up my Happy Angler period and have been on a fishing bender of sorts. I just can't keep up the pace. Combine this with the nice weather and urge to accomplish house projects and what you get is a listless angler. I don't mind this time period. I can honestly say that I care little for fishing at this time, which preserves relationships with others. But why should I go through this attitude at a time when the fishing is so good? I suppose it has to do with the time spent during the previous few months as a Happy Angler. Also, the streams start to get crowded in late spring, which eats away at a Happy Angler and starts to break him down. Fear not however, because the Happy Angler will return in July as a response to the Listless Angler. And he/she will have banked some family leave hours from all that house work and family time.

July is a strange time to get back into fishing because the trouting is not that great. Terrestrials are out and about, which makes for some fun top-water fishing. But the big trout seem to turn nocturnal and I've never been much of a nighttime fisher. Because the fishing isn't great, the Happy Angler isn't around for long during the summer. But the Happy Angler returns in fall when the fishing days are numbered.

Theoretically there is a ratio between how much time one spends fishing and how much time one spends thinking about fishing that determines how interested one is in gear and how opinionated one gets regarding method. For me, that ratio is somewhere around 50%. Where is it for you? Are you OK with that?

Monday, May 3, 2010

Shorthead Redhorse

Some good stuff about the Redhorse sucker from Craig Springer, contents from Chicago Wilderness Mag

When the river redhorse turns its energies to spawning, all of its fins turn a brilliant, bright red (they can be at least partially red the rest of the year). The redhorse also develops pearl organs, or tubercles, on its skin around this time. These organs give the skin the coarse, raspy texture needed for spawning. The adults make runs upstream, moving mostly at night to find good breeding habitat. Most suckers seek out rocky riffles in the shallow water of small streams, but some local biologists believe some river redhorse may actually be breeding in larger river mainstems in Chicago Wilderness. The males move onto the riffles and either excavate gravel with their tails in a sweeping motion or plow through it with their heads, all in an effort to free up silt so oxygen-rich waters can percolate through the gravel where the eggs will incubate.
Facing into the current, males lie in wait for females. When one approaches, the male shows his worthiness, darting back and forth in a sweeping courtship dance. Ripe females are attended in the spawning act by one, sometimes two, males. The pearl organs allow the male and female to cling together and maintain a station over the excavation while the eggs — upwards of 50,000 of them — are simultaneously fertilized and dropped among the clean gravels.
The parents promptly abandon the area and head back downstream, but soon swarms of newly hatched fish take temporary station in the slow-moving shallows. Here they provide food for predatory fishes, such as black bass and sunfish. Herons, too, eat the smaller fish. Those lucky enough to move into deeper waters could reach two feet long and eight pounds at the end of their 12-year lifespan.
In Illinois, the river redhorse is protected as a threatened species. Though biologists have found the fish in stretches of the Fox, Des Plaines, DuPage, and Kankakee Rivers, pollution and sedimentation from agriculture and urbanization compromise many of the clean spawning gravels the fish needs and reduce populations of the filter-feeding animals it depends on for food. For these reasons, scientists now treat the sensitive redhorse as an indicator species to show where river conditions have declined or improved. – C. Springer