Sunday, April 28, 2013

First Decent fish of 2013 (Updated with pics)

As I drove the old Chevy across the dam, I was met with an amazing sunrise that laid out the lake before me. The calm water was practically begging to have a top water lure thrown across it and I could barely keep from driving too fast in my excitement. The banging of the aluminum canoe in the bed was a reminder to drive slowly, lest I lose the boat in the middle of the dirt road. 

In its usual fashion, the wind kicked up the moment the boat touched the water. I'm not sure how many of you have ever paddled an empty canoe by yourself in high winds, but it's probably considered a form of torture in some countries. Somehow I managed to get the boat to the far side of the lake and a little out of the wind. 

After only a few casts along the Lilly pads, the water under my topwater erupted and the fight was on. The wind had, of course, caught the canoe and began crashing it into all sorts of objects as I attempted to land the fish. But against all odds, I pulled the hefty little bass alongside the boar and lipped it. 

I recently purchased an iPhone (which I'm writing this case anything looks weird), and I'm still trying to get used to taking pictures with it. Since I was by myself, this was the best picture I could get. I figured the fish went about 4lbs. Soon after this, the wind picked up even more and I was forced to call it quits. The canoe was simply too much for me to control alone. 

In the not too distant future, I should have some coworkers with me to help weigh the canoe down a bit. To add, I'll be picking up my kayak in about two weeks so the whole "canoe" thing will be short lived. With it, I'll be grabbing my 8wt fly rod and with any luck, I'll be landing some good bass on the fly. Only time will tell. Stay tuned!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

The Dry Run

One would think that over the years, an outdoorsman such as myself would only get better at preparing for an outdoor excursion such as a fishing or hunting trip. This, however, couldn’t be further from the truth.  As an outdoorsman ages, he accumulates more and more gear. And not only does the gear grow in numbers, it also grows in complexity. That cane pole with the foam cork has transformed into a fly rod and with it comes an assortment of flies, fly boxes, and so on. Most often, the accumulation of gear is the direct result of taking an already difficult task, like deer hunting, and making it nearly impossible by bow hunting. But that’s a rant for a different day. The point is, outdoorsmen have a lot of stuff. 

So in order for an outdoorsman to actually step foot outside, he has to prepare properly. But the preparing stage is often a complete failure. I personally prepare for a hunting or fishing trip about like I prepare to go buy groceries. There’s certainly no list, or even planning involved. I sort of just browse the isles and pick out things that I think I’ll need over the course of the week and inevitably, forget to buy about a thousand things. The same thing holds true for getting ready to go on a fishing trip. I look over a bunch of my gear, pick out what I think I’ll need that morning, and then head out. Only at the dock do I realize I’ve forgotten something vital like a fishing rod. It’s instances like these where one prepares as best as they can, only to forget that vital piece of gear, that leads to what I like to call a “Dry Run”. 

A Dry Run is actually great practice for the outdoorsman. He gets remarkably good at doing everything he needs to do in order to hunt or fish, but without actually getting to step into the woods or make a cast. A prime example of a good Dry Run was during my hunting season a few years back. I was hunting outside of Andalusia Alabama, over 2 hours away, and I was packing everything I’d need for a weekend hunt. After a few hours of gathering gear and packing it into the truck, my dad and I took off for the woods. But after about an hour and a half of driving, I got that sinking feeling like I’d forgotten something. 

But what could it be? I thought to myself as we continued down the highway. I’ve got my rifle…tree stand…ammo…hunting lic…crap

Frantically, I pulled out my oversized wallet (I honestly don’t know why it’s as thick as a bible. It has literally no money in it), and began rifling through it in search of my Alabama hunting license. I’d practically given the state of Alabama my left arm in exchange for the absurdly priced out of state license, so there was –no- way I’d left it behind. 

But alas, a quick phone call to my mom back home confirmed that it was sitting on the kitchen table. My dad and I had executed a fantastic Dry Run. A little more practice and we’d get this hunting thing down pat.
But it’s not only small things like licenses that can lead to a dry run. Last summer a friend and I got ready to go canoe fish in a lake a few miles away. We loaded up the truck making sure we had plenty of lures and gear. We even remembered to bring some rifles in case we ran into pigs along the way. About fifteen minutes later we arrived at the boat launch. I lined the truck up so that we could back the canoe right up to the water’s edge. I shifted into reverse, looked over my shoulder, and realized we had no canoe. It was still at the house. 

And sometimes it isn’t even your own fault that leads to a Dry Run. Mother Nature often intervenes and makes sure you get plenty of practice preparing for trips without actually getting to go. If I had a dollar for every time we’ve gotten everything ready to go fishing at some ungodly hour of the morning, only to arrive at the launch during a hailstorm or gale force winds, I’d be a millionaire. Sometimes there’s nothing you can do but head back home, unpack, and go back to bed with the satisfaction of knowing you had excellent practice and getting ready to go fish. Optimists will inevitably say things like: “Well, at least we don’t have any fish to clean”, but thorough disappointment is enough of a reward. 

Dry Runs are, however, actually good for the outdoorsman. They ensure that you’ll almost –never- forget to pack that hunting license or canoe again. To add, they make you appreciate days when you don’t forget to pack a thing. Even if you didn’t catch a thing, or see any deer, at least you managed to get out and avoid having a Dry Run. 

Tomorrow will be my first “real” fishing trip out on the water for 2013. Hopefully I’ll dodge the Dry Run and come back with stories to tell. Stay tuned!