Posts Tagged ‘lessons

17
Dec
15

Time is swift….

“Time is swift, it races by; Opportunities are born and die… Still you wait and will not try – A bird with wings who dares not rise and fly.” A. A. Milne

rapids-river-swift-SwittersB

17
Nov
15

passage of time…

“It does not take much to make us realize what fools we are, but the little it takes is long in coming.” Flannery O’Connor

faith-dusk-sunset-SwittersB-2

06
Oct
14

Creationist & Fish

midge pupa-chironomid-SwittersB-macro-photography

A pleasing component of fly fishing is tying your own fly patterns. It is a past time that allows for varying degrees of artistic flare. It requires one to study insects and their behavior, to study the traditions of fly patterns around the world, to study the behavior of fish that consume insects, invertebrates, critters and other fish, to study the habitat, in which, fish and their food reside.

Yes you can just order flies on line or buy some at the local fly shop or big box sporting goods store. However, you might want to enhance your fly fishing experience by taking fly tying lessons and then improving your new skills with online research. There is something, after decades of tying, that gives me great pleasure to seduce a fish to a fly I tied and then to release that fish to safety (anti Catch & Release? Get over it!).

Fall is the time many fly shops and community colleges offer fly tying lessons. The lessons are usually offered in reasonably priced allotments for beginners. This is a nice gift for someone to give the fly fisher. Classes are often provided through Winter into Spring. Consider it. Create your own flies that either match traditional patterns or create your own magical experiment.

trout-fly fishing-SwittersB-photography

13
Sep
14

Getting Stuck…

“God writes a lot of comedy… the trouble is, he’s stuck with so many bad actors who don’t know how to play funny.” Garrison Keillor

Life is like standing about, watching, observing, assessing, waiting, anticipating and maybe helping.  You see the guy driving over the hard packed sand. But, you watch as he ventures into the deep, soft sand, pulling a heavy load. As in life, you wait. You observe and know, this friend, this neighbor, this stranger is about to get stuck. Maybe you wave at him, yell to hold up or maybe you let him do it his way. Yes, it happens. He is stuck and he keeps making it worse. He erupts in anger, in a display of denial. Then, maybe, you offer to help dig him out, push him out, pull him out. And, then you watch him drive on and hope he learned his lesson.

beach-sand-stuck-tire-photography-SwittersB

07
Oct
11

Fly Fishing: Prep & Common Sense

Lately my life, like many of yours, has been consistently diverse and problematic. I learned yesterday that a pesky upper back issue requires surgery, and soon. Persistent pain indicated something was not right.

Well geese! Surgery? I will miss out on fishing after surgery. I thought I better get in a little fishing while I could. Silvers, late Summer Steelhead and a few Chinook were pushing up the river. Out I went. I would don my waders and try the two hander. I hadn’t had any chance to use it since last Winter.

I was pretty much alone. Maybe a half dozen anglers, mostly gear guys, & a few ladies, lined the bank. Salmon were breaking the surface. Mischievous Jack's jumped into the air, no doubt avoiding an aggravated mature male. The clouds hung low and only the faintest sprinkles hit my lens.

When I put on my waders and packed away the needed tools and prepared the rod, I felt pretty relaxed. I walked to the river’s edge and felt energized and care free. I had very nice conversations with some fellow fly fishers and lit my briar. What an afternoon…yes, indeed.

The crossover, lifting the line up and back. Pivoting with the bottom hand (not the top...an impulse I may always fight given how infrequently I get out)

There was a hint above: my spey rod hand not been used since last Winter. The Skagit line and 15′ cheater were still on the reel. I gave no consideration to the balancing of the line to the water’s depth etc. I stood out there attempting to get the hang of it all and frankly I sucked. I did not have the proper line on…where was that Scandi…oh, back up at the truck. Too impatient to re-rig or study in advance and re-rig.

I could not get the proper movements down and soon felt this odd sensation in my upper back. Next lesson: passion for fishing…the obsessive drive once on or near the water is a force we praise and cherish. But, sometimes common sense suffers. What a bozo! I had just, this day, received word from the Ortho Surgeon about the need for surgery….he explained why. Definitive…no nonsense advice to ‘take it easy’.

Nope…hear I am on the river needing to wet a line because I could foresee it being a cold day in hell…or December before I fish again. And, by then I will be cold, further out of shape and struggling….yes better to get out there now!

Soon the pain intruded each time I lifted the rod to raise the line and recast. Eventually, I was making a sound like a tennis player who yells each time they hit the ball. I looked about to see if anyone was looking at me. I think they were if only for the crap casting.

I thought perhaps a fish would grab this pink little morsel, plus it was easier to cast. The larger pink Intruder pattern was just that much extra wind resistant calamity upon the water's surface. SwittersB

Eventually, I did the unthinkable. I decided to leave the water at the prime time for the salmon bite. My gut wrenched. My brain quaked. My damn spine was ready to explode. I considered getting the single hander rigged and slinging some egg pattern beneath a strike indicator. Hello!!!

All those considerations went by the wayside as I felt nausea and broke out into a cold sweat. I hiked up the embankment and made it back to my truck. It took all I had to break down the rod. I put it in back with out putting it into its case. I struggled to get into my truck. I didn’t take off the waders. I knew I couldn’t. It was a long drive home. Terrible pain. My guardian angel guided me to safety this evening.

So, as obvious as it appears: balance your gear to the waters at hand. Be prepared. And, recognize fishing’s OCD vs. Common Sense (Risk Avoidance) Dynamic. I am writing this today, slightly medicated….I hope it makes sense. 

 

23
Apr
11

Fly Fishing’s Wisdom at Water’s Edge

Now, I am saying the following knowing there are exceptions, but in my life time not many that I can recall: almost every true learning experience for fly fishing came standing beside a man older than me. I have watched younger anglers and studied their ways, but to actually stand at the water’s edge and receive advice, suggestions, see into a fly box at a suggested pattern….that has, for me, for the most part come from men older than me.

Just an observation from my life. So, if you are an older beginning fly fisher, you are going to have to work harder (humor intended) to find that elder fly fisher. Now, as it were, the other day I encountered such a fine gentleman. I was exploring the access points to suitable fly waters around Eugene/Springfield, Oregon. Killing time, wasting time probably, while on a business trip. As I attempted to look at the river and not run over a jogger, I saw a silhouette out in the river. I thought pull over and go watch. I couldn’t fish at that moment, but at least I could spend/waste a few minutes watching someone else. I parked by the only rig in the area (his) and donned my coat. It was still brisk out. I walked a trail until I came in line with him, then made my way down to the river. Now, what did I learn by eyes and ears:

The man was fishing a spey rod, running line and a smaller head. He effortlessly cast out against a rock outcropping that plopped the smaller, darker fly into a quiet slot, which then took it swinging downstream into a seam and the nicest, chattering riffle. He let the fly hang after the swing and twitched the rod tip. Then he would strip in the running line, gather the loops into his bottom, steering hand on the butt and start over.

He was using a wading staff that he managed to use and then secure out of his way. He was fishing some 40′ out from shore, and the current was hitting him right above the knees. The pressure of the water against the back of his legs suggested the current was faster than it appeared and he moved with caution while using the wading staff.

He soon reeled in and tethered the dark fly and put a neoprene reel cover over his Sarcione (spendy) reel.  Once the reel was protected he turned the rod around with the tip to the rear, secured his wading staff and started a slow wade toward me.

As he arrived to land, I could see he had all the accoutrements of a more seasoned fly angler that been used and broken in. We exchanged all the pleasantries and he chuckled as he maybe felt obligated to answer what I had thought, but really didn’t know the current status: he explained why he was out steelheading alone  in April for Summer fish. He explained what site he went to in order to check numbers of fish over the falls below; he told me how many had come over and statistically how many fish he thought likely had made their probable way to the area. Then he again chuckled that he was trying to find just one of those maybe one hundred fish. Just a low probability gamble on a low probability pursuit.

He was happy, bubbling, vital. Just into his 70’s he had that energy. Probably why he proudly had that SB decal on his rig. So, now we talked and it was an easy going conversation. He talked about the oversized turbo disc on his smaller dark fly for agitation/animation; he talked about his travels (impressive bona fides), he remarked about the river being about a foot to high, hence the slower wading; and how it taxed him (would probably me too then). And, the explained contours, and buckets and tubs and ledges and skating flies with riffling hitches. He did all this in the softest voice. No brashness. No arrogance. He had no clue what I knew or didn’t know, but out of all this observation and hearing I learned several knew things for this spot and the area. It was an easy going encounter of the perfect order. 

This is the type of encounters I have had over the years. I can picture the old gents on the Wilson, Trask, Deschutes, Crooked, Minam, East, Tunkwa….I met and who shared their subtlest of tips that changed my success and enjoyment of the sport.

As I made my way back to my rig, I felt lucky to have met that man. I hope I have that vitality and twinkle when I am his age in the not too distant future. And, I hope I continue to share with reckless abondon (no, no I won’t give up the spot…that’s just understood).  

Grog’s Knots     Turle Knot      Riffling Hitch     Sarcione Reels (Oregon Made)

10
Feb
11

Life = Pilliing (Livin’ It?)

Life = “…pilling is the formation of small, fuzzy balls on the surface of a fabric. It detracts from the appearance of the fabric, making it look old and worn, and it is often difficult to restore a garment with fabric pilling to its original condition. Certain types of fibers and weaves are more prone to fabric pilling than others, but it is often a normal part of wear and tear.”

Pilling Along The Way (SwittersB)

Live your life. Pills are a normal part of life. If you haven’t got any, what the hell are you waiting for? If you do, embrace them your sorry son of a bitch!  Ok, I just watched “We Were Soldiers” A bit over inspired, perhaps.

No, I recently ran into an old acquaintance from another life of say 25 years ago. A life boxed and compartmentalized for  sanity’s sake. He remarked about some ol’ timers he had run into from the old, hard days and how those men all were stuck back in negativity and the past. We shook our heads knowing it was wasteful, but looking over our shoulder to be careful negativity was not looming. I raised my glass to that old friend and saluted where we had been, and more importantly, where we were now. In the present! To the past (if you can remember it) and to the present and future. Rough up that fabric. Oh, psycho babble aside, if the lid on the box is ajar; close it.

03
Jan
11

Friends, Snow & a Shovel

The Shovel's Reward (TMuncy, 2010)

A cold, crisp Winter’s day, New Years eve day, beckoned Zack, Blake and Tony up into the snow near Davis Peak, above Woodland, Washington. They were going to kill time and coyotes. At least that was the plan. In due course, the marauders were axle deep in the snow. Moving neither forward nor backwards, they spent their calling~hunting time digging out. Tony’s new shovel came in handy. The accomplishment of springing the rig free, prompted a thirst. High on a ridgeline, they enjoyed the Widmer Hefeweizen. Good friends enjoying the moment. Blake is destined for Afghanistan. The boys, the young men…will remember that cold afternoon.

26
Dec
10

Fly Fishing: High Sticking

In fly fishing (actually fishing in general) there are two  descriptions for ‘high sticking’.

First, and most common, is a method of nymph fishing, whereby the rod tip is held high to theoretically put the fisher in more direct contact with the offering (fly, bait) and reduce line drag (fly line, tippet, mono). This, generally, involves a short line and is different than Czech Nymphing, which is more akin to dredging.

But, there is another kind of high sticking that deals with fish fighting and unfortunately often rod breakage. I thought about this while reviewing a TFO Rod ad, which contained a short blurb about rod breakage due to high sticking. I have broken three rods, while fighting salmon. Once, while playing a Chinook in heavy currents, I felt the fish make that fateful turn broadside in the current and then turn. Not familiar with the power of big fish in heavy currents, I torqued down on the drag and leaned back on the rod, while holding the rod high on the butt section for torque…SNAP!!!!  Lesson learned.  As Clint Eastwood would have said..’a mans got to know his rod’s limitations’.


But, twice more, with smaller salmon, I fought the fish in close and to control them, I held the rod high (butt section vertical) and kept the line pinched to the cork. The fish thrashed and surged. With the rod held high, the tips snapped into multiple pieces.

I always admonished my kids to ‘keep the tip up’ to avoid a rod horizontal and all the stress on the line/tippet. All that is fine, until you have a bigger fish at your feet, alone and trying to control the fish.

Avoid lifting and trying to hoist/control a strong fish by putting excessive bend into the top third of the rod with the butt section of the rod nearly vertical. Often this is done while lifting the rod to steer the line into the non-rod hand to gain control of the fish. This is a difficult dance indeed. Easy with a trout, but much harder with a bigger fish. If the fish is not on its side yet, be careful when you lift the rod while reaching for the line!


29
Nov
10

‘When Memory Is More Than Prospect’

Sir Grey

“The time must come to all of us, who live long, when memory is more than prospect. An angler, who has reached this stage and reviews the pleasure of life will be grateful and glad that he has been an angler, for he will look back on days radiant with happiness, peaks of enjoyment that are no less bright because they are lit in memory by the light of the setting sun.” Sir Edward Grey of Fallodon

A bit morose and too reflective for some. But, it does either elicit reflection, acceptance or reaffirmation that there are many more prospects before one. Either way the passage serves the purpose to reflect.





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