Saturday, June 28, 2008

That trout better stop laughing

This trout appears to still be laughing, although I have a pretty good grip...ooops, there he goes back into the water.

I can hear him laughing. He's out there, taunting me, egging me on to make a careless mistake and perhaps make a big splash.

Then he could laugh some more.

Or, I could depart from my normal routine and GUT THE BUGGER AND COOK HIM UP.

We'll see who gets the last laugh this weekend.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Girls in bikinis catch fish

These girls may be fishing in the mountains this weekend, which would be some distraction for some.
It won't bother me, though, because I plan to spend at least a few minutes at each of the neighborhood (including the adjacent county) bridges where I know wild trout, and at least one huge trout, hang out making jokes about silly men waving sticks in the air.
This time, I vow, the joke will be on them.
I hope some of this recent rain raises the water levels. I am forced to fish a lot of puddles that a few years back were called "pools."
How quickly it all changes. And we hardly notice when it occurs.
The drought we are experiencing was described last year as "a slow-motion Katrina type disaster."
Pray for more rain.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Stupid trout ignores wonderful fly

Well, a bug in the hand is worth at least two fish in the water. caught this little stonefly while fishing the Pigeon River last weekend, so I tied on a hopper that had some yellow in it and was about the same size as the real thing.

I spotted a trout finning in the water by a rock, taking bugs off the surface every now and then, so cast upstream and let the fly bounce merrily along and along and along and right over his nose and the stupid trout ignores it.

Stupid fish ignored my ant, my midge, my cahill AND the hopper, all proven and worth flies. What kind of fish is that?

Well, upstream a little I managed to catch one brown trout but you'll notice from the picture that he jumped out of my hand before I could focus the camera for the required "hero" shot of my little wild brown.

I am also shown in one of the photos, but since I have on a camoflage shirt, you might not be able to see me crouched by the water.

It rained tonight. Hope my streams, creeks and rivers got a good drink. In the French Broad River headwaters, even little tiny trout make waves across the surface, like "Jaws" cutting a path through the water toward its unsuspecting prey.

Low water makes for wary trout.

Let it rain.

Perhaps I'll fool that stupid fish this weekend.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Fly fishing four bridges

The first trout I saw I spotted from a stone bridge just off the Blue Ridge Parkway early Tuesday. The water was clear as whiskey out of a jar and the sun was achingly bright. It was going to be tough getting this little wild trout to hit my fly.
Turned out, though, he loved hitting it...or rather at it. I had seven splashy rises to my fly, and seven splashy refusals.
The fish rose gently to the surface, looked at my fly floating gently on the current and then gave a not so gentle splash as he turned up his nose.
I tried later in the afternoon, for the same fish, in the same spot. He was there. The fly floating nicely over him and he just kept refusing to gulp it in.
I had planned to hit five or six bridges in two different counties on three different rivers. I made it to four.
I scared the other bridge fish on the other side of the parkway, then moved down to the bridge closer to home.
I couldn't even get them to look at the fly.
I had two bridges left. The fire station bridge and the church road bridge. I had hooked and lost a couple of heavy trout at the church road bridge Sunday night and I thought I might try again when it began to get dark.
But the trout were rising at the fire station. No need to move.
I never leave fish to find fish.

In the hour before dark I caught more than a dozen bright browns and jumping rainbows, even with the water about a foot lower than the previous week.
With the only rain being gentle afternoon storms, I can pretty much count on the river getting lower and the fishing tougher.
Pray for rain.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Fishing lure big enough to catch a bar

Ain't this thing something else?
I like to fish with big flies at times, mainly because they all say you have to use a big fly to catch a big fish.
But seriously, folks.
This 5-foot fishing lure, which cost $447 at GreatBig, must be something to behold and probably is more useful as an ornament hanging from a ceiling or over a bar.
Over a bar?
How about fishing for bar... as in black bar in the Smoky Mountains?
That's a man's sport, especially when one attempts to net the furry catch.

Friday, June 20, 2008

She loves fish, but can she fish?

I have never been big on cats.
Never had one.
They generally don't like me, or else they just act weird around me. Like the cat at my sister's a few years ago. That stupid cat bit me. Bit my sister too. Sis got rid of that cat, which she actually inherited from her teenaged grandson.
Liza, shown here, is different.
For some really weird reason, she likes me. When I am not looking, she will jump into my lap and stay there the rest of the night purring contentedly away. I haven't the heart to toss her to the floor.
I of an age where you don't toss love away, no matter where it originates.
So, I guess I will have to teach her how to catch a trout. She's fair to middling with the butterflies, so perhaps she can hone those predator skills for fish also.
Or, more probably, curl up in a ball on the riverbank soaking up the sun's warmth, waiting for Daddy to catch her a trout.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Fly fishing, the contemplative sport?

Fishing is what we do when seeking solace from an unfriendly and noisy world. It is a contemplative man’s sport and, hence, we savor our silence while on the water. The soft bouncy song of a trout stream is as soothing as momma’s lullaby.

And that’s all we need.One of my favorite spots, one of my go-to when I absolutely “must catch a trout before dark spots,” is near the fire station one mile from our cabin. I sneak down there almost every weekend for at least a couple of casts. I sometimes catch fish too.

Last week I became frustrated fishing the tiny creeks upstream. Nothing was happening. Trout were not feeding. Mayflies and stoneflies showed up sporadically but were few and far between. Mosquitoes nibbled at my exposed legs. I decided to move on to the fire station hole.

I was doing pretty well fishing with a light cahill, which was close enough to the prevalent hatch of the moment. Trout were busting water to get at ‘em. I was hauling in fish, flicking them off and casting for another.

All was right with the world.I was at one with my karma.Then, I heard some sticks breaking and bushes being brushed. When I turned around, there was this short, stubby fellow stumbling down the bank. I was under the bridge, in mid-cast, trying to catch another feisty rainbow.

He had a round face rimmed with a scraggly dark beard. At the other end were well-worn boots just below faded baggy jeans. I guess him to be about 45 going on 50. He has at least one grandson, who fishes for trout.

Buddy turned out to be one of my neighbors. That’s OK. I like my neighbors, though I have met precious few of the breed in the past six years.

Buddy, it turned out, likes to talk. He’s not much for contemplation.

He notices my car every time I fish at the bridge. He also told me he saw another neighbor’s teenaged boy toss a stick at me the previous week while I was fishing the same spot.

That was no stick, I corrected him.

Yeah it was, I saw him throw it at you, said Buddy.

It was a snake, Buddy.

The snake spooked a rising trout I was trying to catch, and I reeled in after that dead snake went ka-plunk into the water.

Tell him not to do that any more, I requested.

My new talking buddy could not stop. Would not. Did not see any reason to stop.I learned that the Willie Nelson music sifting softly (OK, not so softly) through the trees was not a CD or a radio … it was Buddy’s Daddy on the karaoke. Daddy was not bad, either; fooled me.

Buddy says Daddy performs all over, even as far as Seattle.The fish continued to rise all around. Buddy kept apologizing for the neighbor kid tossing a stick at me.

It was a snake, I said again.

Now, Buddy decided to talk about great-granddaddy, the one who bought all the land halfway up the mountain from the Cherokee back in the early 1900s.Those fish kept rising.

Buddy also told me about fishing for a huge brown trout under that same bridge years ago. His Daddy came out to see his son try to catch the fish, then left. When Daddy returned, he took careful aim with his deer rifle and blasted that brown trout … all 27 inches of him … right in the head.

The report from the gun, especially for the son fishing under the bridge, had to have been awesome. Perhaps that’s where Buddy got his disdain for contemplative fishing.

My trout did not stop rising.

Where’s all my peace and quiet? I need some contemplation, Buddy.

Now, Buddy proceeded to give me some more family history, with Willie (Daddy) wailing in the background from across the road.

He said he just put several hundred dollars worth of trout in his little stretch of the river – the portion with the No Tresspassing signs freshly nailed to the trees.

He even put some of those golden trout in for his momma. Buddy doesn’t care much for ‘em.Splash … another big fish rose.

Buddy was friendly enough, but was beginning to get on my nerves since he neither offered me a cold beer or invited me to dinner.

Buddy just made a lot of noise. He’s not exactly Mr. Rogers.

And that was not what I came for.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Will monkeys fly fish too?

I thought I saw some of these guys on the French Broad River last weekend, but they had fly rods then and funny-looking hats.

BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) - Long-tailed macaque monkeys have a reputation for knowing how to find food - whether it be grabbing fruit from jungle trees or snatching a banana from a startled tourist.
Now, researchers say they have discovered groups of the silver-haired monkeys in Indonesia that fish.
Groups of long-tailed macaques were observed four times over the past eight years scooping up small fish with their hands and eating them along rivers in East Kalimantan and North Sumatra provinces, according to researchers from The Nature Conservancy and the Great Ape Trust.

A long-tailed macaque monkey looks for fish in a river in Lesan, East Kalimantan, Indonesia, in...
The species had been known to eat fruit and forage for crabs and insects, but never before fish from rivers.
"It's exciting that after such a long time you see new behavior," said Erik Meijaard, one of the authors of a study on fishing macaques that appeared in last month's International Journal of Primatology. "It's an indication of how little we know about the species."
Meijaard, a senior science adviser at The Nature Conservancy, said it was unclear what prompted the long-tailed macaques to go fishing. But he said it showed a side of the monkeys that is well-known to researchers - an ability to adapt to the changing environment and shifting food sources.
"They are a survivor species, which has the knowledge to cope with difficult conditions," Meijaard said Tuesday. "This behavior potentially symbolizes that ecological flexibility."
The other authors of the paper, which describes the fishing as "rare and isolated" behavior, are The Nature Conservancy volunteers Anne-Marie E. Stewart, Chris H. Gordon and Philippa Schroor, and Serge Wich of the Great Ape Trust.
Some other primates have exhibited fishing behavior, Meijaard wrote, including Japanese macaques, chacma baboons, olive baboons, chimpanzees and orangutans.
Agustin Fuentes, a University of Notre Dame anthropology professor who studies long-tailed macaques, or macaca fascicularis, on the Indonesian island of Bali and in Singapore, said he was "heartened" to see the finding published because such details can offer insight into the "complexity of these animals."
"It was not surprising to me because they are very adaptive," he said. "If you provide them with an opportunity to get something tasty, they will do their best to get it."
Fuentes, who is not connected with the published study, said he has seen similar behavior in Bali, where he has observed long-tailed macaques in flooded paddy fields foraging for frogs and crabs. He said it affirms his belief that their ability to thrive in urban and rural environments from Indonesia to northern Thailand could offer lessons for endangered species.
"We look at so many primate species not doing well. But at the same time, these macaques are doing very well," he said. "We should learn what they do successfully in relation to other species."
Still, Fuentes and Meijaard said further research was needed to understand the full significance of the behavior. Among the lingering questions are what prompted the monkeys to go fishing and how common it is among the species.
Long-tailed macaques were twice observed catching fish by The Nature Conservancy researchers in 2007, and Wich spotted them doing it two times in 1998 while studying orangutans

There were plenty of fly fishermen out over the weekend and Monday, especially on the Davidson River. The trout were hitting hoppers, I was told by a fisherman who said he had caught 20 or so fish that morning.

I on the other hand had errands to run and stuff to buy and a wife to please so I waited until nearly dark both days. There were some yellow stoneflies and some giant white drakes dancing in the gentle breeze, and I managed to catch a couple nice browns Sunday night. Monday was frustrating, with just one fish brought in until I hooked the pig. I had let my fly drift lazily ldownstream where I had spotted some rises. It drifted and drifted. I almost forgot it was there.

Then ... WAM ... the line shot through my fingers like a scared snake. The reel sounded like a little motorcycle ripping down the montain. The fish ran this way and that way and then came right at me and ...

... got off.


He was fun while he lasted and I will return.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Fly fishing mojo

Some people ask how I know which of the hundreds of flies I carry in my vest to use when I'm on the water. So many flies, so many flies...
Simple, I say. I get out the little bag Mrs. Koontz gave me and dump out some bones and feathers.
I study them for awhile.
I drink dark beer.
I contemplate the symetry of the mojo items as they fall to the ground, looking for a sign that tells me ... WHAT FLY TO USE.
It all has to do with how the turkey, crow and hawk feathers land in relation to the mysterious jawbone, all of which the fishing nymphs left on the banks for me.
I look at the mess on the ground, check out what's fluttering in the air above the trout and look for spider webs that may have caught one of the local trout favorites.
Then, after much cogitation, I tie on the appropriate feathered hook and proceed to rip some lips.
Simple, I say.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Good weekend for fly fishing

This should be a good weekend for fly fishing for wild brown trout in the mountains of Transylvania or Haywood counties, my home stomping grounds.
I expect the first two rivers I pass driving home - the North Mills and the Davidson - will be packed with weekend anglers.
I won't stop.
I can find another creek with no one around.
Good news about the fish kill in the Davidson River a couple of weeks ago is that the spill did not get into the Catch and Release portion. The private waters downstream of the old paper mill were hit pretty hard, I hear, but all the big trout were not killed.
I thought that abandoned plant would be trouble when it closed and the new buyer showed no interest in getting the place back into production.
It was a hand grenade with the pin pulled, waiting to go off.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Slam dunk catfish

How on earth this catfish half-swallowed a basketball I do not know. Perhaps he was on his way to the Lakers/Celtics series.
This supposedly occurred somewhere in a lake north of Houston, so I am betting that my sister got this from our Texas resident cousin.
A boater got the fish close to his boat and stabbed the air out of the ball so it could be removed.
And I was almost ready to tie a basketball dry fly.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Where're the trout streams?

I found this astonishing graphic on the Fly Fish Chick blog and downloaded it from another web site when I punched up :Global Distribution ... etc.......

Rivers, not all of which are clean and cold enough for trout, make up 1.6 percent of the world's total supply of freshwater.

Freshwater makes up 2.5 percent of the world's total water; the rest is oceans..

More than two-thirds of the freshwater is glaciers (68.7 percent) and nearly a third (30.1 percent) is hidden from all trout in groundwater.

So little (trout) water, so little time....

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

A fly fishing slam

I was halfway back to the cabin when it dawned on me - I just made a slam.

That is, I caught brook, rainbow and brown trout on dry flies on the same outing, with all the fish coming out of the same little wild creek near the Blue Ridge Parkway ... on a tourist-laden Sunday afternoon.

The temperature in nearby Asheville was 94 when I left.

It was 80 at the stream.

What a wonderful day.

Flea-fishing dog catches another rainbow trout

I have a border collie/ something else mix who loves to sneak out of the yard, cross the highway and roam the banks of the North Fork of the French Broad River ... in search of rainbow trout. I guess he's seen me catching 'em, so he thought he'd give it a try.
I'm guessing he's a dry flea fisher.
Last week out intrepid canine angler brought Mrs. Koontz another rather stiff-as-a-dogbone fish that probably had been lying on the bank for a week or so.
I must teach that dog something about catch and release.

Trout fishing in the summer air

It’s summer. I can tell by the smell.

I left Shelby last week with the scent of magnolia filling the car and freshly cut grass in the air as I headed for the mountains to try and catch some wild trout with my flyrod.

Riding through Henderson County the air was rich with fertilizer from a freshly plowed field, the smell so strong it slowed my car down. Then, it thankfully shifted to the soft, sweet scent of honeysuckle.

As I drove through the entrance of the Pisgah National Forest, I entered a darkened tunnel of green. That nice, pungent piney tinge added a nice touch. I breathed deeply.Along the banks of the river, wild multifloral rose laid it on thick as syrup, and I rolled the windows down for its full effect.

It felt good to be alive and en route to a trout stream.Up the darkened tunnel, past camping families around down tree limbs I found a spot to pull over where no one was. It was late afternoon.

I caught a few trout.Monday was special, though. I found some new water I had never fished, hiked about a half mile up a well-worn path and began casting little light cahills. I got four or five grabs before landing the first fish, a little wild brown.Then, I caught my first brook trout of the year. Then another.

The banks were aglow with pink, red and white rhododendron, along with a smattering of wild violets. The water was still cool in the headwaters of the Pigeon River.I kept changing flies, tying on a yellow one and then a white one and then a cream-colored parachute one. And I caught trout with each.

The crowning glory was just around the bend in the stream, where it opened wide as a basketball court with a 70-foot long pool of smooth, quiet water.In the middle of that glassy surface, a single ripple appeared.

Then another.I threw out a soft cast, let the fly settle on the water like a flake of snow and then watch the splash as the first brookie nailed it.Add the smell of fish on my hands and shirt to the smells of summer.

And I love it.

Friday, June 6, 2008

The bridge trout

The wild rainbow trout that hangs out near a bridge in my neighborhood was waiting this past weekend for me to show up and try to fool him again with a scruffy looking dry fly. I have caught trout at this bridge before, though I doubt they were the same fish I saw Monday as I drove into the next county over the Parkway.
I was careful not to let my shadow hit the water while I took the photo. He looked like a good-sized trout, all alone in the little pool of water just off the main road.
I crept under the bridge and, still bent over at the waist, I let loose with a fine cast that landed softer than a baby's sigh.
Trouble was, though, at that exact moment the fish was distracted by a REAL mayfly and scooted away to make a splashy meal.
My next cast was a disaster. Ka-splash! the line went. Goodbye! the trout went ... upstream.
It got better in the afternoon and I caught dozens of little wild brook trout over in Haywood County up near, uh, those big rocks or something.
They were hitting light cahills and loved my parachute flies. I saw some little yellow stoneflies in the air also.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Trout country "right pretty"

Our neighborhood, I remarked to Mrs. Koontz the other day, is looking "pretty" this time of year. She said that word did not quite seem right for our country-style hood, so I revised my comment to say the neighborhood looked "right pretty" this time of year.

Mrs. Koontz said, "Right pretty will do."

The fish, though slow Sunday afternoon, was marvelous Monday near the Blue Ridge Parkway. I caught a dozen little brook trout and some wild browns.