26
Oct 20

My kingdom for a farm pond

My first fishing memories are of dunking worms for bluegill in a little creek not far from where my dad grew up in Corning, CA. The little creek, Hall Creek, moved slowly past almond and walnut orchards and resembled a series of ponds more than a creek. I love those memories.

We would get worms and an orange soda (the secret weapon and special treat for when we’d go to Hall Creek). I loved it. I even caught a bass one trip that was the biggest fish I caught for years.

I always wanted to take my kids to Hall Creek to fish for bluegills but things don’t stay unchanged and the few times I checked on Hall Creek it was dry as a bone. A combination of drought and agriculture are probably to blame, but where there is no water, there are no fish. My dad keeps hoping the kids will be able to fish there some day, but it seems an idea from a different age.

This last weekend we stayed at an AirBnB while my wife was doing a virtual conference. It was rough, two adults and one kid trying to access the internet at the same time, but the highlight was the pond. The pond had bluegill and bass. It was like a dream come true.

Ponds are few and far between in the Bay Area, at least so far as I know of them. So, this was special.

The boy… he liked it. He caught some bluegill and he loved everything about the place. We saw a Great Blue Heron and I ass-hooked a turtle, he found a Praying Mantis egg sack and there were loads of deer. Victory.

Big joy from such simple things.


25
Oct 20

Reunited and it feels so good

Lockdown and COVID are tough. One thing that it has really impacted for me is how often I see my daughter. She’s down an hour south with her mom and she’s not in our “pod.” Add that she’s 13 and hanging out with dad is generally low on the list of ideal 13-year-old activities and, yeah… I haven’t seen her much and when I do it has mostly been me driving down there to hang out for an hour or two. It feels like I sent her off to college.

Fast forward to last weekend and the girl needed some dad time and I figured we’d go fishing. She was game. The spot we were going to head to was actually closed, so I went to Plan B, which was to bring her back to Alameda. She hadn’t been to Alameda since February. Great having her back on the Island.

We went fishing right by the house. Odd it took us so long (~5 years) to figure out we could fish the 2 minute walk to San Leandro Bay.

What I’ve discovered is the bay is a nursery for Leopard Sharks. There are a lot of them. They aren’t big and they aren’t there all the time, but when when you find one, there can be a LOT there.

It was just a joy to have my girl and my boy fishing together. They both had a great time and we got a little bonding time all together. There just hasn’t been a lot of that over the last few years and I cherish it. They won’t have other siblings. She has 1 cousin, he has 0. There are no other kids. This is it. They are half-siblings, but I tell them to round up.

The girl was always a lover of sharks and the boy’s interest has shot up 100x since we started regularly catching them (looking at them and then letting them go). There’s a 7 year spread here, but they both love sharks and a little mutual interest is great.

This is bait fishing and I’m grateful for ditching the “only fly fishing” mentality I had at one point as I would have missed a lot of great time on the water had I stuck to that mindset.

Thank you Bay. You’ve been great.


22
Feb 20

The raft in the Bay

I’ve been thinking about this for a while and today was the day. I put the raft into SF Bay and went fishing.

The tide was falling, and a bit faster than I would have liked. We had some trouble settling/finding a place to launch, but new friend Josh and I made it happen. Josh is getting into raft fishing himself and MacGyvered a trailer for himself, which we used to launch my raft.

Worked well. I want one.

The wind was up, about 17-20, and cutting cold, but we fished with the wind to our back. I was worried the wind would make it impossible to row, but it didn’t and it wasn’t.

When we finally got on the water we noticed fish… rising? Certainly a lot of fish were breaching in one form or another and it wasn’t long before Josh was onto a fish. It got off just before he landed it, but I thought I knew what it was. It wasn’t a striper and it wasn’t a halibut. It was the third and lesser of the fly-eaters in the Bay. It was a Jack Smelt. There were thousands of them.

So, we wailed on the Jack Smelt for a while and it was entirely entertaining. I don’t know how many we caught, but it was more than Skunked and less than Too Many. It was just a good time. – Side Note: I caught all of mine on a bonefishing fly.

Getting the raft back OUT of the Bay was more challenging as the muck and mud were where the water had been when we launched. We made it. We were mud caked and tired, but no one threw their back out. At this age, that’s certainly what victory looks like.

A fun foray with the raft (I’m still working on a name for her). We will do it again.


14
Oct 19

Captain

I have a boat now. It isn’t going to see much, if any, saltwater, and it won’t see a bonefish ever. It takes a lot of effort to put together… yes… put together, and then take apart. But, it’s a boat. I’ve made it to 45 without having a boat and you’d be well within your rights to say I don’t have one now. It’s rolled up in my garage at the moment and in pieces.

It’s a raft. A 13 foot raft with a fishing frame. I call it the green goddess. I don’t have a trailer. I have to strap the frame to the roof of the car in pieces and the rest has to make it into the back of the Highlander. I’ve managed to get it out twice now. Once on a shakedown cruise with a couple buddies and once with my dad and a buddy. Fish were caught. I stayed on the oars. We did a short drift I’ve done probably a couple dozen times in my life, but had only rowed once on my own before now.

It was hoped I’d get my dad out in this and maybe it will happen. His reactions have slowed, his casts have gotten shorter. It was hard for him to get to the lane or stay in the lane. He missed fish and his back hurt, but he got in the boat and out of the boat without injury, which maybe is what victory looks like at this point.

The drive from here to Redding to float the Lower Sac is about three hours and it is about an hour to assemble the raft and about 5-6 hours to fish. Then an hour to break-down and three more to get home, where I have to unpack the frame, at the very least, so some tweaker or opportunistic scavenger doesn’t make off with the aluminum tubing. Long days. Maybe I’ll learn the Yuba, which would reduce the drive by an hour each way, but the Lower Sac and her rainbows of unreasonable size are closer to my home waters and, to the extent I know anything, they are what I know.

I’m contemplating taking my daughter down the S. Fork of the Snake this summer, or at least doing a couple drifts out there with her. Kind of depends what girl I have at that moment, which is hard to predict. She’ll be 13 and sometimes hates being in the car (that’s about a 900 miles roadtrip, so…) and other times she’ll barely talk to me and others she’s still my girl who wants to fish and hang with her dad and look for snakes and frogs. I don’t know what planning looks like for a fishing trip with a 13 year old. These are the known unknowns.

I also need to get my 5.75 year old boy out in the raft. Maybe in the flat water of San Leandro Bay, right by our house. I haven’t figured that out yet, but I will.

So, don’t call me Captain just yet, but I have a raft and a frame and I’m figuring out how to use it… where everything goes, what needs to be tighter, what needs to be left at home. Hoping I see a lot of water in the green goddess and that I get to share that water with my friends and family until I tear a shoulder loose or get a bulging disk.

See you on the water.


18
Mar 19

How to Skiff

A solid video from Huge Fly Fisherman and probably suggestions most folks reading the blog are already aware of.

I’ll say… the one thing I won’t do on here is offer to let the guide fish if I’m paying $700 for a day of guiding. I want to be cool and all, but I have limited days on the water and that’s a lot of scratch. Other than that… yeah… make an effort. Be kind to the skiff.

(Yes, offering to pole is probably aimed at friends fishing in skiffs belonging to friends. There are a few skiffs I’ve been through friends, but living in CA, most of the skiffs I’m on are ones I’m paying to be on, which does change the math.)


16
Feb 19

On not getting the runs

I had heard pretty much everyone who goes to Xmas gets the runs at some point. I’m here to tell you this is not the case.

The risk is certainly on Christmas Island, however, and caution is your friend.

The Villages provides purified water in a pitcher in your room. Use it. Use it to brush your teeth. Use it to rise your toothbrush. Use it for anything.

Don’t put water in your mouth in the shower. Just don’t.

I had a phone appointment before I left with the Kaiser Travel Clinic and they got me a 3 pill prescription for antibiotics specific to what I might encounter there. I didn’t need to use them.

It was frequently the case that guides missed days because of GI bugs. Water borne disease is pretty rampant on Christmas and the locals are very much not immune. Many guides powered through their days even with their stomach bugs and would simply excuse themselves to take care of business. It’s life on the island and that guiding money isn’t going to come from anywhere else.

Only one guy out of our 16-17 anglers had any issues and that was minor, treatable with Imodium (which is NOT how you treat sever diarrhea). Caution and prevention is where it is at.


26
Jan 19

I’m at that point…

I leave for Christmas Island in two days. I’m at that point where I have almost everything together for the trip and I’m sure I’m forgetting something, but I don’t know what that thing is.

I have… two eight weights, two ten weights, a twelve… three 8 wt. reels, three reels for the 10, one for the 12. I have leader material and tippet and about 300-500 flies, depending on how you count them. I have my boots and socks and pants and shirts and sun screen and body glide (for that chaffing you can get on the inner thighs). I have cameras and chargers and plugs and… the list goes on and on.

So… what is the one thing I’m forgetting??????

We shall see, and soon.


01
Jan 19

2019 – A Preview

When I look out at 2019 I can’t look much past what will happen at the end of the month. That’s when I’m going to be heading to Christmas Island.

I mean… Christmas Island.

Yeah…that’s a big one.

That’s my big trip for the year. Very much looking forward to that trip. My gear is in. Lots of tying still to be done, but it should be a very, very good time.

Spring Break with my daughter is still a bit undecided. Planning on camping in Kauai, but I need to get that reserved. If it is full, well… not sure where we’ll go. Planning on being somewhere fairly tropical. Trying to do something on the cheap, so we’ll see what I put together. Fishing is always a part of this, but not the main thing.

There is a planned trip to Hawaii, but we are going to the BIg Island this time, so I won’t get to fish with Kenny in 2019. I don’t know what the fishing is like on the Big Island, but I have the impression it’s a rare thing to catch a bone there.

Hope to get the kids back camping up in trout country.

I need to get my now 5 year old son into more fish in 2019 and I’m suspecting Jack Smelt might be the way forward. They are plentiful and they are close. These are two key attributes.

I’m hoping to get a trip up to the McCloud in there somewhere too. It is one of the most beautiful rivers in the world and there is some thread that ties me to it. Each year I don’t fish it I feel some pang, some faint discordant twang on that thread.

Where are you fishing in 2019?


08
Dec 18

Nightmare – Belize Edition

I almost never remember my dreams. Maybe once every couple of months I’l wake up with a vague notion of what passed through my brain in the middle of the night or a random comment during the day will unlock some stored and normally inaccessible memory. There is, however, one way I get a little glimpse into what’s flowing through my head in the slumbering hours.

I have an almost 5 year old.

He’ll walk into our bedroom at very odd hours and interrupt his parents’ sleep because…

  1. His music has turned off.
  2. His sheets are messed up.
  3. A book has fallen off his bed.
  4. He has to pee.
  5. He’s had a bad dream.

Usually, it is 1-4, rarely 5. You can get an idea from the list that these are not exactly 3:00 AM emergencies, but, he’s a good boy, so… we allow it.

Last night he came in and not only did he interrupt our sleep, but he caught me in the middle of a bit of a nightmare of my own.

I was either in Belize or on my way to Belize. I had WAY under-packed. I found myself with a simple backpack and a rod tube. One rod. I had brought an 8 wt (probably my favorite, my Helios 2). But… where was my 10 wt? Where was the tarpon stick? Where was the cuda rod?

You can see what a nightmare that would be, right?

Now… because I tend to believe dreams actually do relate to the real world, I have traced back that particular dream to two places.

First… I saw this pick on good ole’ Facebook:

Image may contain: outdoor and water

That’s a tarpon caught out of El Pescador in Ambergris. It happens to be the lodge where I spent my honeymoon and where I got my Grand Slam.

Second source, I believe, for this dream/nightmare is that I’m going to Christmas Island in about 2 months and I am WAYYYYYYY behind on my tying (I’m about a dozen flies into what should be about 5 or 6 dozen flies tied).

That which is left undone is one of those underlying reasons for many a nightmare or sense of anxiety (or so I believe). When you feel like something isn’t totally right, it usually has roots in some task or job you haven’t taken to 100%.

So… I guess I better get tying.


20
Oct 18

Getting a bit of Lefty

Lefty Kreh meant a lot to a lot of people. If you’d like to get a piece of Lefty, you can, and in the process you can benefit his family.

There’s an action going on now for some of his possessions and proceeds go to his family.

You can find it here.