The Kings, then Browns, then Steelheads. That’s the order of fish that will swim up this river during the months of October through February. Currently, browns are supposed to be swimming here. I drove up to the river alone, I wanted to focus on nothing but fishing this day. It’s gotten colder here but it’s still manageable with warm gear (soon it will be too cold even with warm gear). It’s actually been a while since I put on the vest, since I usually force myself to fit everything into a small waist bag. I clamped on my new steelhead landing net, and I was ready to meet some browns. I arrived at the water much later than I planned, so I wasn’t expecting much… I just wanted to see some sign of fish, so that maybe I can come back early some other morning. As I carefully waded through the water, I saw a few smaller browns holding in tight spots along the other bank. I threw in a few casts, switching out the flies, but no takes. These fish are not actively taking them, they just sit there getting ready to spawn. Basically I needed a rig that was going to allow me to get the fly right into the fishes mouth. The river is small & shallow, so the currents change speed & direction frequently. I tried various heavier flies, bead head nymphs and stone flies, but I could not manage to get it into the fish’s mouth. With each drift, the fish spooked and I had to find a different holding spot. Fortunately for me, there was fish holding in lots of places, and this was forgiving to my lack of skills. I watched another fisherman upstream catch a couple fish. He was making short, almost snagging casts to the fish. I could not believe he was that close to the fish and not spooking them, but I guess these fish are that way when they are spawning. I put together a simple split-shot and a streamer tied close (10” close). I threw the fly as close in front of the fish as I could, then carefully drifted the fly into the mouth of the fish. The fish was on. The first fish was a smaller brown, and it must have been at the end of its spawning cycle, it gave a short fight, then into the net. The net was too big for the fish, and it made this medium sized fish look tiny. I let the fish go as quickly as I could, as it only had a few more days of its life left in it. I slowly waded upstream then started to spot larger fish. The next one I was going to target was under some branches, and this was going to be a tricky cast. I missed the target and my fly was snagged in the branches above the fish. I waded over to unhook the fly and the fish took off with different kind of energy. This was encouraging, to see fish that were still strong and promised a good fight. I spotted another fish a bit further upstream next to a log. I hooked the fish and it gave me the best fight I experienced with a trout. In fact this was going to be the largest trout I ever caught, so I took my time in bringing him in. This time the net size was more appropriate. I hooked a few more, landed one more then I wrapped up for the day. As I walked back to the bridge, I saw a remains of a king. Something must have gotten to its body, likely a raccoon and only the remains of the head was there. It rested on the dry bank, proud, having finished her duty for her kind. It was a good day.
Posted by gone fishing at 11/20/2008
I was fishing recently and it occurred to me that as I approach the water, I had to crawl on my hands and knees to not spook the fish. It was uncomfortable and then I thought of something I had recently seen... and liked. I can buy the pebble rug ( http://www.2form.no/Rug_other_pebble.htm Design by: Ksenia Movafagh) and then I will be home free. Or free to walk around and be disguised as a rocks.
Crap, it’s back. Got the first burst of snow flurry. I hope it’s milder than the last one. Time to get that fly tying vice out and go buy some feathers & elk hair. Today was the first day of this coming winter that I felt cold…didn’t like it.
It’s hard waking up early. It’s even harder to wake up early in the winter time… unless I am planned to go fishing. It was 5am, still almost hour and a half away from any day light, but I was up, geared up in my waders, and lacing my boots. I checked the headlamp to make sure I had enough juice to last me till the sun came up. As I walked out into the cool morning air, a country dog greeted me. I can hear the stream in the distance, and I stared up into the night sky, hoping to find any sign of light, even moonlight. This was my mini break away from the busy week that’s kept my mind running at full throttle. I knew my friends would not be up till another 30 minutes, so I decided to take a walk down to the stream. It would be too dark to fish, but I couldn’t wait to get my feet wet. Perhaps there will be a larger trout, that wanted to take the last fly of his evening meal.
I carefully hiked down the bushy hill near the lodge we were staying at. I can see the glitter of the stream in the little light that was present, I can hear the water close to me feet. I stood there for a few minutes, just taking in the early morning, think about the day that was ahead. I turned off the headlamp, and soon the stretch of the stream became visible as my eyes adjusted to darkness. I unhooked my line, and threw a few casts into the darkness. The strike indicator on the line was faintly visible, drifting in the shallow stream. Daybreak and I can hear my friends getting ready near the car. We drove a short distance up the mountain, to a spot my friend had in mind. As we drove up, we can see a car with two people in it, and instinctively we knew they were fishermen. As we unloaded, one the guys stepped out and greeted us with a kind “an-nyung-ha-seyo”. I asked if he was waiting to fish, and all he said was “fly fish” in English. To our surprise these were two American guys, waiting to fly fish here. They’ve been fishing this stream for three weeks, making some good catches. They were kind enough to share with us what flies were working, and to alert us of snakes (vipers) in the area. They asked if we were going to fish up stream or down, and let us take first pick as they knew I was here only for the day. We hiked up the rocky banks of the stream for about 30minutes, just until the car and houses were out of sight. Manchurian trout were in season, and I fished a nymph with a football indicator. I few smaller chubs here and there. The three of us split up an hour into fishing, and didn’t meet up till lunch time. I have always like fishing alone, there is a sense of intensity and focus that comes with it. There is also less pressure to show off the fish that is caught, so I can enjoy the catch completely. We regrouped for lunch, and had some homemade tofu meal at the lodge we were staying at. We were moving to another spot in the afternoon. I was a little more relaxed in the afternoon, spending time to watch my friends make long casts, and to discuss holding spots. It drizzled all day, and the cold was starting to bite into our bones. I climbed on some huge rocks, casting 10-15 feet below into rapid waters. I wasn’t sure what I would do if I actually hooked a fish at that distance, but I guess it was an OK plan to figure that out when I got to that situation. My friend caught a small trout, and the rest of us only met a lot of creek chubs. My friend called these the bluegills of Korea, and I knew exactly what he meant. Like the seasons, people and situations continue to change. Sometimes you get on that same drift, sometime you don’t. I am perfectly fine not catching fish sometimes, although I tend to say that only when I don’t catch good fish. I stood there in the late afternoon and wondered about the road I’ve travelled in the past year, and the road that lays ahead of me. I like what I see, and I can see as far as I should be seeing. Like standing there in the dark, sometimes what you can’t see can be as comforting as what one can see. Till the next time.
I wrote earlier about fishing in Taiwan with Caddis & Wesley. Here is their blog site (Wesley & David) about fly fishing in Taiwan and other parts of world. (http://natureflyanglers.blogspot.com/ ). Caddis also has an on line store (http://www.fly-house.com/), which he promised to translate into English version soon. These guys are true pioneers of fly fishing in Taiwan. They are doing a lot of work to help protect the environment, as well as introducing fly fishing to the Taiwan. If you are travelling that way, shoot them a note and perhaps schedules will line up. Certainly check out their site.
I took a day trip out west with my good friend Jeff to visit the Apple Canyon River & Kishwaukee River. Jeff camps every summer at Apple Canyon River with his family , and had some good small mouth bass fishing there. We left early and got there just as the sun was coming up. The water was lower than normal, so the fishing was not as good, but it was still beautiful. We walked and scouted the river, throwing our lines here and there. After we had lunch, we headed back east to the Kishwaukee River, somewhere neither of us had been. It was larger river with less wading access, but was supposed to be good for pikes and small mouths. We walked and marked the points. I sighted some fish towards the bridge and threw in a brown woolly bugger to check out what it was. It seemed to be a sort of carp, although I am not sure what exact species it is. It was sizable, and fun to catch. I threw some smaller poppers and caught a few blue gills in the resting pools. It was good trip, just catching up on life, on changes that were coming, and transforming into new chapters in our lives. All things change, sometimes a little unexpectedly, but we remain hopeful that it is for the better.
My brother & friend, Jonathan paid me a visit on his way home to California from Europe. We managed to take a few days off to do some local fishing in the Midwest. Jonathan and I took up fishing about the same time a few years ago, so it’s always been a good gauge to watch each other develops in different fishing styles. We live is different parts of the world, and fish very different waters. I live in the Midwest, fishing a lot of lakes and smaller creeks, and find myself slowly become a specialist in bass fishing. Jonathan, fishes the high mountain streams of eastern Korea , so he’s turning out to become a trout (Manchurian, Cherry) specialist. Fortunately, we’ve been able to make time to visit each other and share knowledge about fishing in each of our home waters. We also occasionally find opportunities to visit places that’s new to both of us, where we can both learn new fishing styles and techniques. Although Jonathan did not catch the 5 pound bass we hoped for, he caught plenty of smaller bass and bluegills. Jonathan has become more skilled at many aspects of fly fishing than I am, and he is turning out to be a pretty good mentor to some of our friends who are just picking up fishing. I do give him some crap that I think he’s becoming too narrow minded about his fishing, as he recently seems to insists on dry fly only. I am trying to convince him to be open to all types of fishing, and this time we agreed we would both seek one new fishing style until we meet again. Jonathan thanks me for introducing him to fishing, but I thank him for keeping me interested in fishing. Fishing is about catching fish, but in the process, you sometimes land priceless friendships. Good seeing you brother.