Thursday, April 19, 2012

Took an Old Friend Fishing Today....and got goose-egged. Literally.

I took my longest-running partner fishing today.  Headed up to the Mettowee in Middle Granville, New York.  Beautiful day!

Water was incredibly low and clear.  Nothing happening, so I thought I'd take a photo of my old friend:

I built this old friend in 1981, while a grad student at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.  Three decades plus a little ago.  First rod I ever built, and rarely fish anymore.   During my summer research on whitetail deer in western Kentucky and Tennessee, it got fished every day on Kentucky Lake.  It has caught hundreds of bream, crappie and largemouths.  Eight feet long, a 6 weight.   Its action makes you slow down and enjoy the day, something I needed to do today.  I just wanted to spend a day swinging streamers and soft hackles.

But there was nothing doing on the Mettowee, other than a gear fisherman that pestered me for half an hour about fly fishing.  Man, did I want him to go away.  I know, I know, coulda shoulda made a convert, but sometimes I just can't go that extra mile.   My bad.

So old Orvis friend and I, headed down to the Batten Kill to finish the day.  There were two gents enjoying lunch in the shade where I wanted to park, so altered the plan a little.  But had to walk past them to get into the river.  From out of state and very friendly, they even gave me a big pretzal.  Enjoyed the chat.  But needed to get into the river.

Started wading, heading downstream.  An island splits the river; I took the right fork.  Flood-piled debris everywhere, as I clambered over a big stump, a canada goose jumped up squaking.  I almost stepped on the reason why:

Obviously, she and her partner aren't choosey about the neighborhood!  They hung around, she honking at me as I fished through:

I finally got around them.  She made her way back to the nest while the gander stayed behind in a little back eddy.  All is right with the world again, I thought.

Wrong.  I was jerked back to reality with a great thrashing in the water behind me.  It was the gander.  He did it a couple times, and I thought he was just having a great old bird bath.  As I watched, I couldn't see his head.  He got out into the current, would thrash about for a second, then float 10 feet towards me.  Again, I couldn't see his was like he was locked in a sleeping posture...with his head underwater.  Not good.  What to do?

I have handled hundreds of live birds in a couple of my past lives, from woodcock to grouse to wild turkeys to...canada geese.   Time to get involved.   I laid my old Orvis friend down along the shore and got out into the current  anticipating the bird's likely float line.  He would still thrash, and finally saw me and really thrashed.  But kept losing ground to the current (and likely a lack of oxygen since his head was underwater more than it was above it).   I got to him and saw the problem:

That lure had his face pinned to his leg.   There was space between his body and where his head and leg were "attached".   I jabbed my wading staff into that space, locking him next to me.  One thing I learned about handling birds long ago was:  be decisive.   Tentative has no place here.  Reached down, grabbed that SOB Rapala, and yanked. 

Bird flies away.  It's all good again.

Mini-rant:  If you need that many hooks to hook and land a trout, take up golf and get the hell out of the river.

Rant over.

Oh, as I was leaving - after a long day on two rivers - fish started rising to big caddis in the deep pool near where I parked my truck.  Thirty years ago, when I built my old friend, I would've wadered back up and gone for 'em.  Not anymore.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Double Duty Pickup Rod Rack

A Rod Loft Pro rod rack for your vehicle costs about $129.99 at Cabelas.  It holds six rods, and is supposed to work in just about any vehicle using a variety of attachments on the end of the rods that support the whole deal.  Great.   But I didn't have $129.99 and I don't tote 6 rods around and I drive a plain old very long F-150 with aluminum cap.  Hmmmm, what to do?

I've had one cargo bar to keep things from heading all the way up to the front of the 8-foot bed for a long time.  But I've always put it down low.  I got it at Tractor Supply for $24.99.   Surfing around at Cabelas some more, I found that they sell just the 3-rod holders without the bars and clamps and ratchets for $29.99 the pair.   See where we're going with this?

So, back to Tractor Supply for another cargo bar, order the rod thingies online from Cabelas, and I now have a 3-rod rack in the making for $79.97 plus some tax and wicked high shipping from Cabelas.  Let's call it 90 bucks.

The rod thingy attaches to the cargo bar with a couple hefty zip ties:

You may notice that both my cap and my truck's cab have sliding windows.  And its a crew cab truck with an 8-foot bed.  In fair weather, I can haul 13' rods fully assembled.

In crummy weather (admittedly that seems to be most of the time) I move the forward bar back towards the rear bar and break the rods down into two pieces, no problemo.

And I still have my cargo bar!

By the way, you math whizzes out there have probably already figured out that you can buy the two cargo bars and two sets of rod thingies for about 110 bucks....cheaper than the Rod Loft Pro gizmo, but you don't get all the hanger doo-dads.  You just have a nice heavy duty set-up that might work in other vehicles, too.  Happy rod racking!

Oh, here's the beast at rest: