wordsfromanneli

Thoughts, ideas, photos, and stories.


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Fish Foolery

No, we don’t eat bananas with our trout, but it’s there to show the relative size of the fish.

You’d think it’s easy to be smarter than a fish, but have you ever tried to catch one that didn’t want to be caught? You might be surprised how wary they are, and if you try to lure them to bite a hook, you’ll learn that they are choosy too.

Fish basically eat insects, and each other’s babies. Nasty little critters, aren’t they? And yet, when I’m lucky enough to get one onto my dinner plate, they don’t taste nasty at all. The trick is to get them there.

So I’ll defer to the Captain, who has been trying for a lifetime to outsmart a fish. He loves the art of tying “flies” (lures made with fur and feathers and other components), to suit the mood and appetite of the fish at any particular time. Appetites change with the season, the temperature, the weather, and a few other factors.

Assuming you have a fishing rod and a boat to get out onto the lake to try fishing, here are some things the trout might look for. What we are trying to do is to create a lure (a fly) that simulates something the trout might be attracted to. We need to be a little bit mean, and hide a sharp hook in this “fly” to catch our dinner.

When flying ants are hatching, the trout love to make a meal of them near the edge of the lake where the swarms of newly hatched ants are crawling on the overhanging branches and often drop into the water. The simulated ant below has wings made of window screen mesh.

Another favourite food of the trout is the nymph dragonfly. The eggs are laid near aquatic plants in the quiet waters near shore. Sometimes in as few as five days, the eggs hatch into the nymph stage of the dragonfly. This is when they are often picked off by trout. The nymphs who survive, split their skin up to twelve times on their way to adulthood (rather than sitting in a cocoon to wait for development to be completed), and this series of molting can take up to four years. Once adulthood is reached, the dragonflies mate and the female lays eggs. Both male and female dragonflies only live about four or five months after mating.

Below is a dragonfly lure simulating the nymph stage. The nickel is placed in the photos to show the relative size.

 

Below is a shrimp “fly.”

And of course there are leeches in many of the lakes. Not nice for swimmers, but lovely for a trout’s meal.

And this nasty little critter, below, is a bloodworm, the larval stage of the midge fly. It lives in the shallow lake bottoms and can give people or animals a venomous bite that hurts like a bee sting.

When the bloodworm changes to the pupa stage of the midge fly (Chironomidae) it floats up to the surface of the water, and then in the next stage it turns into a small fly.

In the above flies, the one on the left has a white bubble that floats the pupa to the surface where it rests for a while until its wings dry and it can fly away (if a trout doesn’t snap it up first).

 

Trout have no scruples when it comes to eating other fish’s babies.  Here are some of the lures made to look like minnows used to entice them to bite.

But now comes the lure that I find the most fun. It is made from a small piece of rabbit fur. Yes, rabbit fur!  Made to look like sculpins and bullheads, fish that stay near the bottom, these lures have an amazing action that simulates that of these bottomfish.

 

Here is a short video showing the action of one of these lures.


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Practical Project – Fly Rod Sleeve

When you go fly fishing, sometimes you have to walk through dense brush to get to the lake or river. Carrying a fly rod can be a challenge when shrubbery seems intent on grabbing at the rod and you walk by. If you have your rod ready to go, with the line through the guides and that special fly you tied already attached, you don’t want to get hooked up on every twig as you pass by.

Even if you have a clear launching place for a skiff and you plan to motor to your special spot on the beach some place farther along, what do you do with the rod? You don’t want your expensive Sage rod and your almost equally expensive Islander reel to smack against the aluminum sides of the skiff with every bump of the waves.

Have you ever tried to thread the fly line through the guides on the rod while you’re sitting in a boat? Not so easy. So it’s often better to have the rod ready to go. But then it is so long and unwieldy. Nine or ten feet long is not unusual.

So you separate the parts of the rod after you have it all “threaded” and now you are dealing with half the length. The reel is already fastened onto the end of the rod.

Now all you need is a safe way to carry your ready-to-go rod and reel.

That’s when you want a cloth sleeve to put your fly rod and reel in. I put my amateur sewing skills to work, looked at an old sleeve we had kicking around and made up some sleeves to fit two nine-foot rods and then, feeling encouraged, I made two more that were a bit longer to accommodate the ten-foot rods.

Now the Captain is all set to take the rods to “work.” He’s having so much fun, I may never see him again.

Photo courtesy of Ken Thorne.

If you haven’t checked out my second blog, why not give it a try. I do a lot of writing tips, but there are also stories from time to time. Today’s story is called “A Lousy Story.”

https://annelisplace.wordpress.com/


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Valor

It’s good to have a hobby. In the case of the Captain, fly fishing is no longer just a hobby, it’s … well … to use his father’s words, “an obsession.”  But when you’re obsessed with something, and you do it a lot, you get to be good at it.  Fishing from the beach in the fall when the cohos are hovering nearby, is one of the big thrills of the Captain’s life.

Photo by Ken Thorne

Here is a coho, thumbing his nose at the Cap, just after the line has been laid. Chances are good that this very salmon might swim near where the Cap has gently landed a fly he has tied. The coho won’t be able to help himself. He’ll snap at the fly and then wonder why he is being  dragged slowly towards the shore, no matter how hard he fights to swim the other way.

Photo by Ken Thorne

But things are not always so easy. Sometimes the Cap arrives at his favourite beach to find that it is already occupied. It’s a family having a picnic. Mama Bear is near the shore, easily turning over 70+-pound rocks with one flick of her wrist, to expose little rock crabs that scurry for cover after they get over the shock of the sudden daylight. Mama Bear grunts for her two cubs to come have breakfast. See the second cub way over on the right, by the big log?

This day, the Cap putters on a little farther in his skiff to find another beach. Mama Bear can get a bit tetchy over unexpected company coming near her cubs.

This photo was taken by the Cap with his point-and-click Fuji. A bit blurry, but it’s the best that tiny camera can do.

The Cap gets up very early to take his place on the beach, but apparently bears get up even earlier, and since they are bigger than he is, he abides by the well-known saying, “Discretion is the better part of valor.”


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I Can’t Bear it

If only that fisherman would catch a fish, I could help him lose it – maybe steal it away from him.

I can smell the fish jumping.

But he’s not a great fisherman or he’d have one by now.

Oh, I give up. I might as well go catch my own someplace where I can have peace and quiet.

Just thought I’d show my face though – “fly the flag” a bit – so he wouldn’t think about coming ashore to fish. They do that sometimes.

Gotta claim my territory.

I couldn’t bear it if he took my fish right from under my nose.

 

*Pics taken by the Captain with his little Fuji and shaky wet hands.


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Putting Your Best Foot Forward

Chapter One

It’s easy to laugh at someone else when they do something silly, forgetful, or just plain stupid. I don’t think there’s any harm in it as long as the “someone” is laughing too. Then you’re laughing “with” them rather than “at” them.

On a weekend fishing trip one summer, Gary and I had fished for trout on the lake and stopped to stretch our legs on a gravelly beach at the mouth of a creek that fed into the lake.

IMGP0664After a while, a fish jumped and made quite a big splash at the mouth of the creek. Gary grabbed his flyrod and cast towards the ripples the fish had left.

Fishing [1]

The fish was a tease, jumping repeatedly, just out of reach. No problem, high gumboots meant Gary could wade into the water and get closer.

But not quite close enough. Gary is a good flyline caster but still, the fly landed just a little bit short each time.

“Aw…darn,” he said. “My boot has a leak. Oh well, might as well go in a bit farther. I’m already wet. I think I can get close enough. Darn it all! Should’ve brought my waders.”

Wading outfit

Persistence paid off, and the fish was hooked and released. Now for a well-deserved rest on the gravel bed. The rocks warmed the fisherman with the wet pants and sopping wet feet.

As he lay down on the gravel to soak up some warmth, I took his photo and noticed….

Two left feet up close

Not only was there a split in the bottom of one boot — the cause of the leak — but the boots were for two left feet. Somewhere at home in the garage were boots for two right feet.

Chapter Two

This may seem to be a whole other topic, but I assure you the chapters are related.

I have troublesome feet, so I wear orthotic inserts. I also have had trouble finding comfortable shoes, so when I discovered some Brooks runners that fit my feet comfortably, I bought them and wore them happily nearly every day. At last they started to look slightly worn. I went back to the same store and bought exactly the same thing again. Well, they were ever so slightly different in colour, but basically the same shoe. One would be my good pair and the other the “beater” pair. See the “beaters” below.

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For now, until I would get a second pair of orthotic inserts, I put my orthotics into the shoes I wore most often (the beater pair). Last summer I bought a pair of Costco Dr. Scholl inserts as spares for the time being and put them in my new runners.

The other day I put on my shoes to go out. The left one was a bit tight, so I loosened the laces. That was better. I was going to loosen the right shoelace as well, but then I realized that, although it was snugly laced, it was comfortable as it was.

“Hmm…I wonder why that is.” My right foot should be bigger if anything, and a tighter squeeze, so why is that shoe more comfortable?” I put my weight on one shoe and  then the other. Definitely, the right shoe felt better on my feet. I had a closer look. You can take a look too. Do you see what I see?

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When I discovered what I was wearing, I went looking for my other pair of runners. In the garage was a pair of Brooks, as mismatched as the ones on my feet, but my mumbled “OMG” got louder when I discovered that the “odd couple” in the garage had the Costco Dr. Scholl’s inserts in them. Remember, I had bought these inserts months ago, so if there was one Dr. Scholl’s in each of these shoes, they must have been like this since last summer.

Gradually a growing horror dawned on me. I had been wearing mismatched shoes since last summer and this is now almost December! I thought of all the places I had been and the homes where I visited and took my shoes off at the door.I had even been to the doctor to get a referral for new orthotics!  “OMG! OMG! OMG!”

It must be my punishment for laughing at Gary’s two left feet.