Tuesday, October 11, 2016

BWCA 2016 Day Four
August 30, 2016

Nephew picked up three nice SMB morning of the fourth day.

Both kids boated all three species before returning to camp around 9-10 AM.

Pretty long mid-day break.  Poking around camp, looking through gear.  Even rare nap for a kid.

Snorkeling off campsites.  Looking at shoreline detail and thinking through where the land-bound casual casts would cut through water and snag.  Two for one: cleaning up a bit and also gaining some tackle.

First time I've had to deal with a capsized canoe.  Not first time in history of Dad's camp but first in some decades.  This one was triggered by a front seat failing: Dad and cousin were just paddling out maybe 125 yards and a screw gave out; the fall of the front paddler jolted such that the roll was initiated and not stopped.

The boys and I were on shore when it happened and my estimate is that we were on site lending a hand within sixty seconds; good response time; the boys sensed the urgency and acted well.  Nobody hurt; minor gear losses; much gear was saved by dedicated paddlers.

Evening session of this day got pretty silly.  Immediately.  Our notes indicate this fish was taped at 19.5" - one of the biggest SMB of the trip (we taped two at 19.5, no one could quite break 20).

Nephew was beating them down with a Hula Popper.  Think this one was 17 inches.

Biggest LMB I saw on any of the days: 19" taped.  Beauty of a bucket for a mouth.  These fish were just ripping topwater; right off the boat; sometimes right as the lure hit the water; it was a show.

This was approx 30 minutes after that big LMB; thought maybe he had two-specie-19s but our measurement said 18 inches.  Great fish to end the night.

And then to top it off back at camp he found via headlamp Grandpa's tacklebox  - the only substantive gear that had been lost in the capsize incident.

Day four totals for our boat: 9 pike, 8 SMB (half of which were 17-19.5"), 4 LMB (one 18 and one 19 incher).

Thursday, September 29, 2016

BWCA 2016 Day Three
August 29, 2016

Morning session; more of the same.  Doubles.  Many of the cookie cutter pike; nephew got three nice smallies.

Taped at 18 inches.

Think this one was a year (or two) older than the plague year class that they couldn't keep off their lures.  Long and skinny; demon-headed predator; I think one of the top burst speeds of any freshwater fish.

My viewpoint.  Slow paddling; holding steady; a lot of treble hooks and photographs seasoned with fish slime and blood.  Day three and I still had no urge to fish with my own hand as I was thoroughly enjoying manning our canoe and watching these kids do good work. 
Right up to the canoe and this SMB shattered the spinning rod.  He proceeded to land the fish anyway; then stated flatly I'm going to have to give my brother twenty bucks.  Nice fish taped at 16 inches.

Daily down time generally 1100 AM to maybe 230-400 PM.  Not many campsites have sweet beaches; this one is very desirable in that respect.

Evening session.  Both kids hooked slobby largemouth.  Nephew's may have been the biggest LMB of the trip to this point; got it to the boat and even got his hand on it; in course of landing, it broke off his hula popper.  I felt bad re a number of instances of difficulty because as sternsman I couldn't help him land fish; whereas son was literally two feet in front of me in the center seat, so he was afforded more assistance.  In the end they both caught plenty of fish.  This one taped at 17 inches.  Nice work handling and releasing; they got a lot of practice on this trip.
Thirty minutes later boated SMB of same length - 17 inches.  Topwater ripping.  Enough to run a guy's glasses askew.

Nephew pointed out that the cloud formation had appearance of a footballer.  We had this glass condition most nights; like wind was just laying down to make things right for kids looping giant casts with poppers.

Day Three totals for our boat: 11 pike (topping out 4-5 lbs), 9 smallies (18" max), 3 largemouth (17" max).

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Venison Pastrami

Recipe from coworker.  Calibrated here for 5 lbs roast but I used three whole forelegs instead; adjusted accordingly.

Added some wire loops under the hood of barrel smoker; used bungee hooks to hang.  Stacked two barrel smokers to provide enough vertical. 

First use this morning as breakfast meat with eggs from yard.

Monday, September 19, 2016

BWCA 2016 Day Two
August 28, 2016

Kid made this lure at a workshop some years back.  This pic was taken 8:27 AM on day two to document the scratches and the fact that we had already replaced one of the treble hooks after the ~dozenth fish claimed one.  Some good wear.

Morning LMB taped at 18 inches. Really clean fish with a giant mouth.
Usually take afternoons off but went out with cousin and he logged this fish at 3 PM.  He and The Kid combined for quite a few bonus fish out there in broad daylight.

Campsite is ideal for swimming: large particle granitic sand as far as I can tell.  I thought the whole world up there came of bsalt but I think I looked a map a while back and saw that granite is present at land surface in this particular area.

Evening fish for nephew: 6:45 PM.  Both boys brought exactly three pike and two SMB on this evening, topping out at 16 inches for bass.

Calm nights; topwater was supreme; that RatLTrap made giant splashes ending exceedingly long casts.  Sternsman enjoyed the great arcs.

Night goings-on.

Day two totals for our boat: 16 pike, 6 smallies (16") and one largemouth (18").

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

BWCA 2016 Day One

August 27, 2016

Our party of seven included three youngsters; three cousins of whom two are my nephews and one my son.  Been waiting for these days to start and now they are here.  This development puts a serious demand on the food rations, as indicated by breakfast plates in Ely MN.  Our tradition is to leave Dad's place on the lake around 4-5 AM and eat a last meal-under-a-roof around 9 AM.  Then off to the landing.

Can't quite carry it yet but I suppose next year.  Or in a pinch he could make it happen.  This canoe is approximately 37 pounds and a really pleasant portage.

My own first cousin provided two canoes this year one of which is a MN III.  I'd paddled our family canoe with a kid in the middle but this was a first: 20 footer with three seats.  A coworker owns one and he warned me that it is pretty tough to handle in even moderate wind, given extra surface area.  I confirmed this difficulty and learned quickly that careful packing for good balance was even more important than in a standard craft.  My thought was to put the least experienced kid in the middle so I could help him with fishing logistics; the veteran up front on his own.
Our path included a 2800 foot portage and a bit of a scramble to find a campsite, so we were left only the evening hours to fish.  Even in moderate winds, with no gear in the canoe, I had a heck of a time handling the MN III.  My 200 lbs was too much relative to these wiry-strong boys' combined weight.  I ended up paddling backwards for much of the evening, which worked really well in the end.  They bombed casts and I kept us on a decent path; helped handle fish as needed.  Kids began banging pike and bass immediately.  I enjoyed watching them use spinning gear; been a long time since I've given it any sort of look.  Great for kids; they just bomb casts and cover a lot of water.  Good for these tight quarters with three dudes in one canoe.  The Kid started us off with this nice 18.5 incher on a Rat-L-Trap that he built and painted himself.

That mark is 18 inches; pinching tail and closing mouth was 18.5.  To quote Jerry Burns "There are many ways; many MANY ways..." to accurately measure a fish.  A tape.  A marked paddle.  A known span.  These are all devices that if wielded by one who can read the markings are clearly acceptable for "registering" a fish length.  
Little did we know, although there was some suspicion, that this year class of Esox would be a plague on our existence over the next week.

On this first night alone the boys in our boat landed ten of these pikers.  Action shot here which I really like.  The fish now free of its bond and capture.
First double of the trip; also recorded via video by the sternsman.  

The water wolf; the machine aquatic.  Eating whatever lure; striking at whatever point in the retrieve including often just at boatside.  Some instances were dramatic, despite relatively small fish all ten.
Brother and nephew took a differnt angle and searched a weedline for walleye.  Found this one and some other fish that I did not record.

Right away first night the boys confirmed that the time in camp required just as much focus as did time on the water.  Fire building, trap setting, capturing, live well building, etc. all in play.  All things that young dudes should do; all things that parents like to see their kids doing.

Day one totals for our boat: 10 pike, 2 smallies (18.5" max).  Approx two hours on water.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Various Dooryard Canning Matter

Last year's garlic.  Eggers.  Peppers in various stages of ripe.  Looking to pour hot vinegar over the works.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

August Trout

Driving to Decorah to pick up my son and figured it should be a many-faceted outing.  Started with a guy who gave me the instruction drive east out of the little town and we're the first drive on the left going north.  Look for the house across from the goat herd.  I asked him about the goats and he said he's lived there a long time and he still doesn't know what the guy does with them.  They come and go.  I bought a couple old aquarium pumps from the guy; for my boys to use.  They are getting into hobby fish keeping and it's been a good lesson regarding economics biology toxicity; also on how much of a good thing (e.g. food) can be a bad deal; also how to use an aquatic vacuum cleaner; how to catch wild invasive koi fish and bring them back to their roots; etc. etc.  So I want to help them along and this was one way to do so: make this stop right around 0700 hours by the goat herd.  And then from there take it easy and find some pasture water; meeting in Decorah later on in early afternoon.
Driving through good country is more and more pleasurable as years pass.  Big sky, clouds, green lands and cows ripping grass as God meant them to do on the sideslopes and rolling pastures.  Good pasture is a good system and it doesn't leak.  Look at the soil water under a pasture and find very little nutrient leaving the land surface leaching downward.  The living roots hold it tight.  

Actually achieved moderate relaxatioin this morning being so late in the year; didn't have to look over shoulder.  Easy walking because I went to pasture section.  First fish of the day had a pretty nice big mouth.  I think around 14-15 inches.

Came from the point of that V.  Cast streamer up ahead and let it drift down, sinking.  Slowly pick up and come tight.  Was no retrieve before the eat.  Pretty nice water right there.  Many fish.  I didn't catch many fish because I was making a point of not nymphing.  Streamers and hoping for terrestrials maybe.  Funny that one would deliberately catch fewer fish but it's what happened.  Trying to diversify and be better with various methods.

First off the fish in the riffles were coming from very subtle gray pockets and slashing at streamers presented down and across.  They were socking them pretty much seconds after the fly slapped the water.  This made me think maybe they were looking for a splatting grasshopper but it was not so; or better said it didn't work when I tried it.  The streamers were splatting harder and I figure that got attention better in the riffles.  I tried hoppers along the grass banks and never drew one strike.  Streamers pretty good though  

Stomach contents of doomed trout.

Good water; just had to walk the streamer pretty much up in the film to keep it out of the macrophytes.

This whole deal doing everyone favors. Living roots in the ground.  Cows eating as they should, in the free air.  Cropping the grass tight so guy like me can walk freely.  And then protein comes out of it in forms of fish and beef.

One little gray water here did produce a trout.  The pool above was slow and shallow and showed many creek chubs.

Another morning later on

I've stood in this water quite a few times; some with WFF.  Waiting for a trico spinner fall.  We had mugs of coffee hooked on our belts and we logged some notable events e.g. tricos laying eggs before our eyes floating by on the meniscus; a living gray cloud above the water building peaking and then coming apart; many trout eating dying mayflies.  I was looking for these things so I drove to the very place and waded into the water.  Another low stress deal; no one going to come in here this late in summer on an off day.  So I stood around for a while and watched.

Fish were rising.  The gray cloud was there and coming apart although it was an order of magnitude smaller than I remember.  But fish were paying attention so I addressed them.  On first cast with an emerger caught a brown trout.  That year class that is right around nine inches; seems to be everywhere.  Probably killed that one.  I then commenced to try various flies in the film; various dry flies including a trico spinner.  Only hooked five more fish and I think landed only two of those.  It never got really silly like it has in years past.  

I decided to leave that water and walk downstream; to turn around and fish up.  

Don't have the citation in front of me but just reading about how the main controlling factor in terms of density of aquatic vegetation is vertical fall.  Which one can observe and verify about anywhere.

I think I did break down and do some nymphing this morning.  Not much for risers.  Threw streamers for a while.  But nymphing the handful of good deep holes produced the majority of the fish to hand.  No big fish at all; just a nice load of those aforementioned nine inchers.  Few that I took to be one year older at 12-13 inches.  Seemed like a good population from which to extract a creel of fish so I did it.  

Another hole at which the banks don't tell the story.  Eroding banks; would be labeled "bad" by any metric out there.  But there is enough current to conduct the sediment downstream thereby keeping the substrate clean and keeping some decent depth.  This water was thick with trout.  One broke off a streamer on the strike.  Some others came to hand.  Walking out finally got a fat trout to rise up from a pool belly and eat a foam hopper; not a bad deal.