March 24, 2019

Brigadoon


My hometown of Gays Mills is an idyllic small village in the Ocooch Mountains of Crawford County.  My series of photos from the hillside above makes one think maybe they had stumbled on the mythical hamlet of "Brigadoon" from the 1947 Broadway musical. 

March 23, 2019

Mother Nature

Caught this huge male brookie in this hole.



He had a companion that lived with him in the hole that made him look small.


The leaves made the hole hard to fish that Fall.  I tried numerous times.

I returned the next year with no results.


Big brookies like those two stick in your memories.

I went in search of big brookies again that next spring.

Mother Nature took care of my problem for me.


March 22, 2019

Trip Report Four Four Forty-Four

Hit the water today at 11:30am.
Outdoor temperature was 44 degrees.
The stream temperature was 34 degrees.
The stream was about a foot above normal.



Two hours in I sat on a log and checked in with the Barb.
Told her I was skunked so far.
She told me to just consider it a hike/exercise and I was losing weight walking.
I drank my half way through outing pop and on I continued.



Three hours in I broke the skunk and landed one tiny light colored brown in the bend upstream.
The outdoor temperature was now 51 degrees and the stream temperature had gone up to 36 degrees. Not a cloud in the sky.  Water clarity got worse as the temperature rose.

I continued on towards the car.  There is a nice feeder stream near the end of the stretch and I typically do well there.  Three casts into where the feeder came in and three trout.  No more trout the rest of the outing.  The water temperature near where the feeder came in was 40 degrees.



Four trout in four hours and a four degree water temperature change at the only feeder on the entire stretch.

Beats sitting in the recliner at home wishing I was on stream.

March 21, 2019

Seafood Soup

50    ounces chicken broth
1.5   large yellow onions diced.
1      celery heart chopped
2      heaping tablespoons chopped garlic
1      original rotel
2      baby octopus cleaned quartered and trimmed
4      ounces squid rings
12    ounces whole baby clams
16    ounces jumbo shrimp
12     ounces scallops
12     ounces mussels
8       ounces pink salmon fillet
10     ounces chopped okra
16      ounces Jimmy Dean Sausage
8        ounces chicken "white meat"
12      ounces andouille sausage chopped and added to finished soup for spice folks.

Not all at once...added in stages.


March 20, 2019

Out And About Scouting

The weather was warm today so I jumped in the car and went scouting streams. Scouting is code for fishing at bridges and near the road.  When it is warm in spring it always brings back memories of my childhood.  I pointed the vehicle due west to scout Crawford County.  I don't fish for trout there often anymore due to the streams near where I live are better for big browns and that is my target fish these days.

I saw a guy working n his field and wanted to touch base with him again to make sure it was "ok" to fish his land again.  I parked the vehicle on the main road and walked down the driveway to talk to the landowner.  I was halfway down the drive when a huge white dog came up the drive.  Its body language was not the best.  It was too big to kneel and try to pet.  I figured getting bit in the legs was better than the face.

My mind was racing and I was trying to remember the dog's name.  I thought if I could remember the dog's name and call her by name it might de-escalate the situation and save me from a big angry dog.  I patted my leg and said come here sweetie.  The dog took up a defensive stance and then it came to me.  I said come here "Princess."  My memory served me correct and her ears changed and her wary stance morphed to a happy wiggling and tail wagging.  She ran right up to me and demanded to be petted.  The land owner was amazed his guard dog was not guarding.  I told him I remembered her name from 2 years ago.  But 2 years ago she was much smaller and a puppy then.

Two years ago



https://lenharris.blogspot.com/2017/08/wacky-conditions.html


The land owner and I talked a while and the dog was leaning on my leg so hard she nearly knocked me over.  I told him about the last time I had fished with her and she was kind of a pest and was in the water more that out.  He told me she had grown out of that now and she was not a very good swimmer anyway.  The giant white fur ball followed me to the water.  The owner called a couple times for her to come back.  I told him she was no problem and she could come with me.  The trout were use to seeing her so she shouldn't be a problem now that she was not a water crazed puppy.


Every cast I made she watched the splash and got excited.  I had to block her a couple times because I was worry she might try to eat the trout I was landing and get a lure in the face.  She was like she was on a pogo stick a couple times when I was unhooking the trout.  Bouncing all over the place and way up in the air.

I was interesting as long as I was catching fish.  The other times she was rolling in dead stuff and cow manure and going way ahead of me.  Then she decided I was going to play with her.  She pulled my net off my back and ran a ways away with it.  The only way I got her to drop the net was to have a trout on and then she waited at the edge of shore shaking all over.  I released the trout quickly and got my net back.

I walked and fished with Princess at my side.  She wanted to bite my cork handle on my rod a couple times so I held the rod up high until she lost interest.  I was basically forced to pet her every 10 feet to keep her rambunctiousness in check.

Then came another trout to land.  I unhooked it quickly and let her sniff it.  Mistake....it was in her mouth before I could react.  I told her "NO!!"" and she ignored me.  I was not wrestling a trout out of the mouth of huge dog that had to go 100 pounds minimum.  I decided to try to get a photo of the dog with the 10 inch trout hanging out of its mouth.  Had the camera out and ready for the photo when Princess sucked it down like a piece of spaghetti.


The rest of the outing was releasing trout quickly before the big white trout eater could strike.  She even put her paws on my chest to make herself taller once when I raised my hands over my head to unhook a trout.  A couple of times she chased the trout in the water when I released them.

I fished for about an hour and had a couple close calls when releasing trout.  I told the owner and his kids about their trout eating dog.  They got a laugh about it.  I think I will fish somewhere else next spring.

March 18, 2019

A Long Hard Winter

I didn't even have the trout on and it haunted me.  My friend Andy's encounter with it was chapter one of the saga.  I remember reading his email at first and dismissing the possibility of a monster in that stretch.  My left knee was at full "I hate you" phase and I dismissed the fish story partially because of my knee not cooperating. I was suppose to be with Andy that day but I chickened out because of my knee. 

 I was on the bench near the end of the season. I was looking at photos and thinking about season coming to an end.  I read Andy's email again and it lite my fire to fish. The quote in the email that he could not control it really got my juices flowing.  I thought what the heck.  I had talked to an angler a couple years earlier and she showed me a photo of an absolute monster she had caught very near to this hole. The potential was there I thought.

 How much more could I injure it?  I was scheduled for knee replacement surgery early 2014.  My friend Floren was in town and season was coming to a close soon.  I was going fishing.  Floren is a big guy and I thought he could help me off stream if I became incapacitated. 



We fished our way up to hole Andy had talked about being abused in.  It just so happened by fate that I had caught a fish just prior to getting to the hole so Floren was up to bat.  Floren had his fish of a lifetime on the second cast into the hole.  The battle was over in a blink of an eye due to Floren being woefully under gunned with a flimsy fiberglass rod and closed face zebco reel.  I remember seeing her surface right at shore.  She was the skinniest and longest small stream trout I had ever seen.  Her markings were stunning.  She had lots of really dark spots very close together.  Her image was seared into my memory.  

I was really gimpy after that long walk/wade and thought I was done for the season.  The neighbor boys talked me into one last adventure on the last day of season.  The giant trout left the neighbor boys just as shell shocked as Andy and Floren. She hit before the youngest neighbor was ready and caught him with his pants down. The line was tight for about 2 seconds and the kid was not ready.

Season closed with three encounters with the ancient female to mull over during the closed season.  The enormous female brown took my mind off my left knee pain and my impending knee replacement in January.  I figured I could get that knee replaced and be ready to fish by March opener.

It was the longest winter I can ever remember.  It went terribly slow and rehabbing my knee took a long time.  I was not fully ready when opener came and only chased the infamous female brown a dozen times in March.  She seemed to have disappeared.

April came and no giant trout.  I decided she was way up in the head water that September before because nature was calling and the urge to spawn.  That skinny dark spotted legit 30 incher had long ago dried up but nature still called her in September.  

I was fishing like it was still September.  It was April and I thought she might have moved down stream to winter in the deepest hole in the area.  I knocked on some doors and got permission down stream for another 2 miles.  I asked each land owner about deep holes on their property.  This one land owner recounted a swimming hole on his property that he swam in as a kid that was seven feet deep that they always had fish running into their legs when they were swimming.  I had such a big smile on my face I almost broke it.  

It was a little sunny that day but I was determined to give the "swimming" hole a good try in search of Gargantua.   It wasn't an easy walk to the hole.  Lots of barbed wire fences down and lots of loose barb wire at ankle level.  I fished my way to the hole.  I landed this big brooder bow in the junk that was laying in the water.  A washer and a dryer were at the end of the hole in the water.  I was very disappointed in the landowner using his waterway as a junk yard.


The barbed wire was every where and I was walking very gingerly and avoiding anything that might injure my new left knee.  I was close to the swimming hole and continued on with care.  The sun was high in the sky before I got to where I thought the giant female brown might have taken up residency for the winter.  I was hoping she was still there.

The stream was banked hard due to spring flooding and I got down to the water level before I got to the swimming hole with high banks.  I didn't want my shadow or movement to spook the old girl before I had a chance at her.  The hole was worth the long meticulous quest on a new knee.  The hole was a "WOW" place.  I was certain I was going to score.


It had back eddies and it had fast water and step drops.  I could not have designed a better hole to be Gargantua's home.  I was down in the shallow water on the bottom right of the photo.  I cast for 1 hour in the hole with zero hits.  I threw everything in my box.  I varied speed and lures numerous times.  Nobody was home. 


 I had an encounter a few years before with such a beautiful hole and finding no one home.  After much scratching my head I decided that the enormous female brown lived exactly here.  When trout get old they are very territorial and testy.  That was the reason I didn't even get a hit in this hole.

I decided I needed a photo of the hole when I was done casting to evaluate later.  I crawled up on the bank for a better photo.  I sat there a long while before I took the photo.  I was dissecting the hole in my mind to make sure I had cast everywhere she might be laying.  I had cover everywhere I thought.  The sun was warm and I sat there for quite a while.  I stood up to take this picture.

The water tight to the bank at the end of the fast water in the main hole at about one o'clock erupted. The swell of the trout spooking was huge and then I saw the dark close together spots and I knew it was her.  She flew down stream out of the hole like her tail was on fire.  I was certain I had cast exactly where she blew out of at least 40 times.  I returned to the swimming hole numerous times that year and I still do to this day.  She was gone.





March 17, 2019

Old Stuff











Before the weeds and mosquitoes

In about a week the window opens for excellent angling in these parts.



Easy walking due to snow being gone and lack of weed growth.



If the rain holds off this spring should be a banner year.




March 16, 2019

"This I Wish For You."

“This is my wish for you: Comfort on difficult days, smiles when sadness intrudes, rainbows to follow the clouds, laughter to kiss your lips, sunsets to warm your heart, hugs when spirits sag, beauty for your eyes to see, friendships to brighten your being, faith so that you can believe, confidence for when you doubt, courage to know yourself, patience to accept the truth, Love to complete your life.”


Ralph Waldo Emerson













My life is complete

March 14, 2019

Soon

can't wait for the water to go down...I remember a 58 brown morning not that long ago.




March 12, 2019

Trip Report "Before The Big Melt"

Went to visit my mom at the nursing home this morning.  When I went back to the vehicle I noticed it had warmed up considerably. The forecast say 50s tomorrow and maybe 60 the next day with rain both days.  I had put my rods in the car this morning.  I decided to hopscotch home and stop at some bridges.

Six bridges later and 12 browns and 1 brookie I was satisfied.




March 11, 2019

Before the weeds grow streamside

Take note where the tiny feeders come in.  You can't see the trickle feeding in during the summer.


That tiny swamp/spring feeder can change the water temps 6 degrees year round.


Browns know where the oxygen is more concentrated in the summer and where a six degree water temp change can feel balmy for them in the winter.

March 09, 2019

Cabin Fever

Patiently waiting for this endless winter to leave.



March 07, 2019

Steel Daze


Looked at my log books and it has been seven years since I chased steel.


Driftless