Thursday, December 31, 2009


Went down and fished the Current River for most of the day, though fishing was awfully slow. Nothing special really, fished from Baptist downstream to the first big, slow hole, the water low and very clear. Had a few hits on Pat's rubberlegs, heavily weighted and chucked through runs and the tails of pools, and a few half-hearted smacks at wooly buggers and other streamers. Nothing eventful, and I'm hoping things pick up in 2010.

As for resolutions, those are fairly easy. Fish harder- not necessarily more, though that'd be a lot of fun too, but I think I'd be a more productive angler if I simply tried harder. We'll see. Find a job, figure out grad school, write more, learn more, read more, perhaps invest in a vehicle with four-wheel drive, take some trips...

As for trips, that's been fomenting in my mind now that it's cold and snowy. The coast sounds nice- Texas, Louisiana, Florida- somewhere with redfish and, ideally, snook. Peacock bass in the canals around Miami still tempt me, as does another trip out west this summer. Something about chucking big terrestrials for big, happy cutthroats amongst big meadows or freestone pocket water and huge views seems delightfully comforting. Where I'd go though, that's still up in the air. Perhaps the Flathead drainage, or Idaho...

Spring- a trip to the Wisconsin driftless or Michigan seems like a good idea, perhaps coupling it with some trips for steelhead or big ice-out pike and musky. We'll have to see though, money is always an issue, though there's hope.

Talking at the flyshop last night the subject was broached of South America- Argentina specifically, next year, fishing for trout in Patagonia and golden dorado in the northern part of the country. It sounds awfully tempting, and if I could scrape together six grand, I'd do it in a heartbeat.

We'll see. That's the nicest thing about a new year, I suppose- the opportunities are boundless.

Happy New Year, I'll see you in 2010.


I got it in my head to go visit Maramec Springs Park, mostly because it's close, the fish are fairly dumb, I wanted to get some neat pictures, and there's a real chance to get into some hefty smallmouth there in the winter.

No smallmouth, and very few trout. I hooked a few briefly on WD-40's and small size 20 or so parachute Adams, but never was able to bring one to hand.

did catch a bunch of these guys, though, cubby little rock bass 7-10 inches long, that'd rise straight up from the weedbeds and rock crevices and smash those flourescent-tailed wooly buggers I'd tied for stocker rainbows the week before.

And I caught a number of these guys, who'd intercept my dries before they floated over the pod of trout I was working.

And this guy, who's identity I'm not entirely sure of.

And this mangy little bugger, who seemed entirely unconcerned at my presence.

It was okay. Not great, but okay.


I haven't been out fishing in too long, almost a month. A few days before Christmas I finally got the shack-nasties bad enough to head out to one of the St. Louis urban lakes which are stocked each winter with trout. I'm not personally fond of the idea- to me stocking fish which are fated to die seems rather cruel, and few of the lakes stocked seem really geared toward the "urban youth" the Department of Conservation is determined to target.

The initial idea was to try a "stocker slam," fishing a half dozen or so different ponds and catching a few fish at each. It seemed like a fun target, though as the day wore on, I nixed it. Instead I tied a half-dozen wooly buggers, black with various flourescent-colored tails, and headed to Busch Wildlife Area in St. Charles County.

Fishing was pretty uneventful, about what you would expect. It was chilly, and the water was only about 1/4 open. I fished for three or four hours, only getting a single bump. Saw a few deer, a couple turkeys, and some ducks, but otherwise the whole thing was pretty lame. It was nice to get out though, especially so close to the holidays.



It was fun, the family went down to the farm, ate too much, and I wandered around for a few hours, taking pictures of the little wet-weather branch which runs behind the house (where I fell in, and fell in love, with water), the "old pond" (where I learned to fish, where I learned to fly-fish, and where I caught my first fish on a fly I tied myself, and where, as an eight or nine year old boy, seemed about as wild and remote as anywhere on the planet), and various other things which struck my interest at the moment.

Perhaps just the onset of winter, but wandering around like that on a place that's so familiar to you, you begin to get the sense of finality- the realization that things won't stay the same forever. That your life, that the world itself, is always dynamic, always changing, always altering and sometimes even re-inventing itself. Little remains truly static.


On the ride back from James Bridge the night before, I began thinking to myself, waxing sentimental about my rod. It's not anything particularly fascinating, a low-end St. Croix model I bought on clearance at a big box store. Nine feet long, graphite, and rated for a 4 weight line, it'd been my fishing partner when I was all alone, it had performed admirably for me on several dozen trips, it was, in a strange way, a fishing companion and my magic wand. I thought about naming it, as I suppose you're supposed to do with the things you love, whether they be a car or your dog. And the only thing I could come up with was Victoria, if only because the song by the same name, written and sang by the Kinks decades before I was born, happened to be playing on the radio at the time. Little did I know I had jinxed myself.

I was hoping to catch a wild rainbow today, all I'd caught all weekend were browns. They were fun, but even the little wild fish on the North Fork of the White are pretty powerful fish. I'd caught several last March up to fourteen inches, and it was amazing the fight in those fish.

I had no such luck, though. I worked my way up the run just outside the River House, up to a nice-looking gravel bar which dumped into a deeper tub. It looked fishy, and I tied on a big, heavy rubberlegs with a #14 Red Ass as a dropper. I lobbed the rig onto the bar and let it all tumble into the tub, when the indicator stopped and I set the hook.

I felt the tension of the fish, then heard the swift snap of the rod, and watched the top half hinge into the river. Stunned, I grabbed it and began towing rod, line, and fish through the water. The fish came to hand, a little stocker brown, foul-hooked directly in the caudal peduncle. this was what I had broke my rod on.

I yelled and cussed and waded back to the house, putting the rod back together as best I could with some aluminum foil, epoxy, and single-strand waxed nylon. No dice- it broke again after only a few casts. Disheartened, I decided to head south into Arkansas. There was a decent-sounding rodbuilding shop I'd read about in Mountain Home, and I figured I could perhaps make something happen there...


Fished the same stretch as the day before, Patrick Bridge to James Bridge, though this time I was in the drift boat with Creepy and Craig. Water was still up but very clear, and most of the day we spent casting heavily weighted rubberlegged stoneflies, with soft hackle droppers, and getting into fish.

Each of us caught around a dozen, Craig's biggest a 15 inch wild rainbow and myself with a pair of 15 inch browns. The real treat was the weather- sunny, clear, and in the 70's, I was fishing in short-sleeves and sweating!

Later in the day we met up with Dave and Damian, who were each fishing out of pontoons. Dave had caught a massive brown, easily in the 8 to 10 pound range. he showed us the photos, absolutely gorgeous fish.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009


I’d been invited a month or more before to go fishing on the North Fork of the White River with a bunch of folks from the fly shop. I’d been a regular there in middle and high school, taking fly tying classes there on Wednesday nights. I’d gone fishing with them last April on the same stretch of water; it was a lot of fun, and I managed catching some gorgeous wild rainbows and a few small browns, too.

The program was pretty simple, namely fishing heavily-weighted stonefly nymphs and a couple split shot under an indicator through deep runs and riffles, probing for fish. I was in Creepy’s float boat, one of those personal pontoon boats with the two oars that seems like a mobile fish vacuum. “It’s easy,” he had told me, “it floats like a cork.”

It was true, the thing did float like a cork, and I assume they’re not as difficult to maneuver as it seems. But it doesn’t take much energy to set the thing in motion, and it doesn’t take much effort on the oars to get the thing spinning in circles. I spent a fair amount of the day doing that, though within the last two miles, when I finally gave myself over to utter and total failure, things became quite a bit easier.

I did manage to catch a few fish though, all browns and all at the smaller end of the scale. The biggest around fourteen inches, the smallest around ten, and all on rubber legged stonefly nymphs. I missed two or three, though still not big ones, and had one that may have been pretty sizeable break off my 4x tippet.