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Sunday, January 8, 2017

Season #6 - A Pictorial Review (Because I'm Lazy)

I hereby proclaim myself the worst blogger on the interwebs.  3 posts in 2016.  In my defense, 2016 was a busy year.  I came across my goals for Season #6 while looking for a picture, however, so I thought a review of said season would be in order.

Six years!  I can't believe it's been that long.

Season #6 was the year my cast improved 1000%.  Anxiety about Beaver Island forced me to learn the double haul and practice it.  Sure, I still get caught in trees.  Sometimes my line takes a sharp left (WTF?).  Sometimes I take too many false casts and it all falls apart.  But most of the time, I can now fire that line out there in a way I never thought possible in Season #1 or #3.  Or even #5.

Look at that loop!...

Season #6 was a season of new species.  My goal was to add one - a white bass - to the species list.  I didn't get the white bass, but I did get 4 other new new species - a sucker (might actually have been a golden redhorse, according to roughfish anglers with much more experience than me, but I'll never know for sure), a sauger, a walleye and a king salmon.

The sucker was definitely the most exciting new species.  I researched and scouted Minnesota sucker runs all spring with no success.  Water levels were raging or I couldn't find them or I just couldn't get them to eat.  We were just about to call it quits this summer day when I FINALLY got this one to eat.  I flopped it, screamed, manage to recover it from the weeds like my life depended on it and finally got my picture.   I may have even done a little dance upon release of that fish.  Those I was fishing with did not understand my excitement.  I don't care.  Rough fish rule.

The sauger and the walleye were both on the same day.  On my favorite river.  They were miniatures, but they still count.  Have I mentioned I love this river?  Never know what you might catch.

The king salmon was this fall while attempting to get my first steelhead.  Have I mentioned steelhead are the supreme piscatorial assholes?  I give up on them.  But I digress.  The salmon was the second fish this season to jizz all over me.  This carp was the first.  Look at those waders!...

I digress again.  Back to the zombie salmon.  Purists may scoff.  It was half dead and I caught it nymphing an egg, but it was a hell of a fun fight.

Season #6 was also one for personal bests.  All on the same trip.  For the full trip see Part OnePart Two and Finale.

Best carp...

Best pike...
Best smallie...

I guess they can't all be personal bests in Season #6, however...

Season #6 was full of beautiful bass.  I never, ever, ever tire of them.

And then there was the one accidental trout...

My best catch, however, was this guy...

He asked me to go carp fishing, proceeded to outfish me (one time!) and pretty much stole my heart that day by the dam.  He talks like a zombie salmon until I almost pee my pants.  He makes me guacamole when I'm hungry.  He gives me flies he meticulously ties, even though he knows I'll lose them within the hour.  He anticipates my anxiety and helps me through it.  He knows all my shortcomings and likes me anyway.  I can finally be exactly who I am.  Does this mean I need to change the name of the blog?

Season #7 starts in 3 days with a little winter trout trip with the guy who got me on my very first fish.  Also looking forward to a spring smallie trip with my favorite guide.

2 simple goals for 2017:
1.  Catch a gar
2.  Learn how to cast a two-handed rod

2016 was amazing.  Fishing life, personal life.  All of it.  I always wondered when my life might start the upswing.  I think that time is now.  I'm such a lucky girl.

- FlyAnglerGirl

Sunday, June 19, 2016

The Trip of a Lifetime - Finale

Writing about this trip over the past week has allowed me to relive it all again.  The pictures never cease to make me smile.  But my home waters are calling me.  I have a list on my phone of spots I spy or hear about that I want to investigate.  The list keeps growing.  So, one more Beaver Island post to wrap it up neatly with a bow before moving onto other (mis)adventures.

Fishing Day #2 started out just like #1.  Copious amounts of coffee and a ham and cheese omelet in the bakery.  Day #2 found me in the capable hands of Indigo Guide Service head honcho Kevin Morlock.  Beaver Island carping is his brainchild.  Kevin's passion for this place is unrivaled.  He has an intimate knowledge of the fishery.  And the island in general.  He talked about various shipwrecks off the island.  He knew dates and ship names and the circumstances behind each's fateful demise.  He knew the story behind the lighthouse and its female keeper.  Kevin is basically a walking Beaver Island encyclopedia.  Not only that, but he also seems to know every local by name and their place in the Beaver Island community.  This kind of knowledge stems from a deep respect for the island.  He loves it.  You can tell.  And he also loves to share the ecology, history and sociology of the place with those who visit. 

This would be the first day I'd share the boat with another angler.  Evan was the host of the outing.  He was in charge of wrangling us all and making sure we all had a great experience.  Like everyone else who played a part in this trip, he never faltered.  I have him to thank for not being cold in the boat.  His email shortly before I left caused me to throw in a coat and long underwear.  As someone who is always cold, I would have been miserable.  Thanks Evan!

My anxiety levels had dropped to half, but it was still new captain, new boat and new conditions.  At least I no longer felt as though I might pass out from nerves.  The wind was much calmer (yay!) and even though it wasn't sunny, visibility was fairly decent for sighting carp.  Kevin quickly found us happy, tailing (!!) carp.  A sight to behold.  Batter up!

Kevin and Evan helped me pick out a good first target.  I threw a giant crayfish pattern its way and literally held my breath.  This is what I came to the island for.  This is where the intrigue lie.  I wanted to sight fish to big, aggressive, tailing carp that would chase down a fly.  And I wanted to watch it all happen in crystal clear water.  I told myself I would be happy getting one follow from one fish.  But this happened instead.  I actually hooked into that fish on my very first cast of the day!  I'm pretty sure I did a little dance while fighting this fish.  Unfortunately, the fight didn't last long.  He took off like a freight train and broke off.  No worries.  There were other targets and now I knew what to expect.   A bit later, I took a shot at another one and then waited for the "Strip!  Strip!  Faster!  Stop!  Wait!  Twitch!  Stop!  Got him!" from Kevin.  And got him I did.  The first hookup happened so fast that I didn't really see it coming.  But this time I did.  Time stood still.  It was 10 seconds of sheer anticipation.  The fish almost got into my backing.  I wasn't in Kansas anymore.  Eventually, he tired and Evan was able to net him.  I did it.  I actually caught and landed a big, beautiful Beaver Island carp from the boat...

My grin in that picture is unmistakable.  All I wanted was one follow, but I ended up with much more.  I shook with adrenaline and excitement and pride after releasing that fish.  Kevin and Evan were just as excited for me.  It really was a team endeavor.  I couldn't have done it without them.  

Visibility seemed to lessen as the day went on and we'd run out of tailing carp options, so we headed to a small harbor to hunt for smallies and pike.  We'd cast over submerged weed beds and then strip like hell.  A florescent green flash would come out of nowhere and smash the fly.  Redemption for the one I flopped the previous day...

Caught pike after pike in that area.  Caught a couple really nice smallies too.  They never get old...

Pretty sure I would have fished until dark if they had let me.  I didn't think it was possible to have another perfect day.  I'm such a lucky girl.

Thank you Kevin.  The tears upon my departure were a testament to the gig you have going here.  This trip meant more to me than you will ever know.

Fishing Day #3 found me paired with Steve Martinez for the final half day of fishing.  The third and final guide.  And, honestly, the one I was most intimated by.  While I fished, Steve and I talked about our vices, how he came to be a guide and how damn much food our kids eat!  We laughed as I caught pike after pike, including this toothy personal best...

Steve wasn't intimidating at all.  He was a warm, personable guide with a great sense of humor and a very real snake phobia (I love not being the only one with irrational fears!).  His love of catching fish was absolutely infectious.  I would fish with him again in a heartbeat.

So, the trip was done.  Time to head back to reality.  It was hard to climb into that plane, but the thought of seeing my kids and dog again helped.  This trip was the pinnacle of a lot of hard work.  This trip far exceeded my dreams.  I will carry these memories of new friends and beautiful fish with me forever.  I am so grateful to all involved.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a bake sale to organize so I can get back there sometime soon :)

- FlyAnglerGirl