fishing for words

(and tossing out random thoughts)

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day trippin’

Last Friday Chris and one of his friends went to work with me so that I could drop them off at Nicasio Reservoir to try some fishing for crappie. The morning was uneventful — both for the boys and myself. The plan was that I would pick up the boys about noon and we’d head home. However, as luck would have it, on the way out to the reservoir we saw the Marin French Cheese Co. (I didn’t know it was on the road we would take) and Chris later realized that the Drakes Bay Oyster Co. (which we had seen on a Food Network show) was about 30 minutes way from Nicasio Reservoir.

It didn’t take much for me to agree to the drive out to Point Reyes National Seashore on the Marin Headlands. Trusting my GPS to get us there, we arrived at Drakes Bay Oyster Co. after winding our way through the dry hills of Marin County, the town of Inverness and the more lush landscape of Point Reyes. The modest-looking Drakes Bay Oyster Co. is nestled up against the shore of Schooner Bay in Drakes Estero and is surrounding by stacks of oyster shells. Even the unpaved road leading to the cannery is composed of crushed oyster shells.

We found the shop is quite small, dominated by whiteboard signs with prices for oysters of various sizes and quantities, in the shell and shucked. It was much more modest that we expected, and when we asked if we could get some barbecued oysters, the response was, “You can use our grill out back, I think it’s fired up.” Chris secured a dozen medium-sized oysters, which we placed on the grill with another dozen purchased by another visitor. The oysters steamed, sizzling and popping, while we enjoyed the somewhat chilly but otherwise nice day. After about 20 minutes, we pulled a few oysters off the grill, sprinkled on some lemon juice or Tabasco sauce or a chili pasta and munched away. They were awesome…probably the best oysters I’ve eaten. (Chris has already asked to make a return trip.)

With four oysters each, our stomachs were content and it was time to head back to the “mainland,” but not without a stop at the Marin French Cheese Co. Marin French Cheese will always be that “stinky cheese place” in my mind, and image created by a visit years ago. We didn’t take the tour, but if we did I am sure that the storage room would still have that musty, stinky smell. But now that smell isn’t so stinky to my more mature nose. In typical Konoske fashion, we descended upon the samples and finally settled on buying some blue cheese and triple-cream brie. While Chris and his friend walked around the nearby pond, trying to lure bluegills and carp to their hooks, I munched on some olives before we left for home. A nice day trip that I’d recommend to anyone, oyster lover or not.

P.S. The National Park Service doesn’t plan to renew Drakes Bay Oyster Co.’s lease when it expires in 2012.


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fathers day fishing

Though we shifted from our original plan to head over Sonora pass to the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevadas, Chris and I had fun weekend of (mostly) catch and release fishing. We left about mid morning Friday, taking our time driving into the foothills and stopping for lunch along the way. A stop at the Mother Lode Fly Shop convinced us that it wouldn’t be too productive to spend the three hours driving over Sonora pass or even to venture into any of the local rivers as water levels were high enough to be dangerous, much less conducive to fishing. I got similar advice from Ken’s Sporting Goods in Bridgeport: Just avoid the rivers for now.

So after settling into the cabin about 2:30 p.m., we headed up to the canal for a look. We tossed a few lures and Chris got one strike. Then he hooked three small rainbows and landed in two, giving one to a nearby angler. (We are using barbless hooks exclusively, but if it looks like a fish may not survive because of an injury, we “donate” it to a fellow fisherman.) But Chris wanted to get down to Moccasin Creek, and about 35 minutes later we were there.

Moccasin is pretty much a “put and take” stream, supplied by a nearby hatchery.We typically avoid the top of the stream at the base of the Moccasin Creek Power Plant dam, and skipped to some pools downstream. Chris had ventured to the other side of the steam and we eventually lost sight of each other. Threading my way through overgrown blackberry bushes I found an attractive looking, dark green pool in front of a big boulder after a few casts and a single strike, I decided to toss the little Panther Martin lure (red body/gold blade) past the boulder with the idea of bringing it up behind any fish that might be in front of the boulder. To my surprise, I had a fish on almost as soon as the lure hit the water. I shifted my focus to the shallows behind the boulder and over the course of about an hour hooked eleven decent-size “stocker” rainbow trout and landed seven. Chris caught up with me, hooked one trout, but the bite slowed and we left shortly thereafter.

I stumbled out of bed at 5 a.m. Saturday to be told by Chris that he needed another hour of sleep. An hour later, he was not showing any signs of strong motivation, so I shelved our plans for early morning fishing, hoping that on this day we’d have the same experience in the afternoon as I did Friday. I arrived back at Moccasin Creek about 11:00 a.m. with plans to wade as far as we could downstream, maybe even to the inlet into Don Pedro Lake. Fishing as we went, we made our way downstream, but found little action. Chris had a few strikes, I had one. In the end, while we may have gotten close to the inlet, the banks of the stream became so overgrown with blackberries and the water grew so deep that we turned around. Heading upsteam is much more difficult and one of my knees shows the scars of such a battle.

About mid afternoon we came up on the same pool and shallows that were so good to me the previous afternoon. Another fisherman and his female companion had set up on the shore. Apparently, with bait, he had plucked five fish from the stream (the limit) over the course of most of the day. Chris and I approached the area from the opposite side and started casting lures. Near as I can figure, over about two hours Chris and I together hooked about 12 fish, landing about half of them. I was having fun throwing lures on the shore, then pulling them into the stream right where the water undercut the bank a bit. Numerous times I was caught off guard by a fish that took my lure almost as soon as I had reset my bail. After a while, lures seemed to fall from favor, so, despite our typical avoidance of bait, Chris and I set up for salmon eggs and PowerBait. We caught another three or four fish with bait.

As the day entered the twilight hours, we moved upstream to “the pipe” (where the water exits the dam) and met a local guy who had retired to the area and regaled us with fish tales. According to him – and he seems correct – the fish start biting just about the time most folks leave. He invited us to set up next to him and after a few minutes he had a fish on. Chris stuck up a conversation with this gentleman, who is originally from San Jose, and found out that he had a special trick for floating earthworms past a boulder deep in the pool. In the meantime, Chris hooked two more fish and gave him to our fellow fisherman, who decided three trout was enough. As he departed, he left the remainder of his earthworms with Chris and I. A bit later, a father and his young son started fishing a bit downstream from us. Employing our newly learned earthworm trick, Chris and I had double hook up and gave the two trout to the father and his son. (This father was there because his son loves to eat trout.) We finished out the evening, about when it was too dark to see and after we had exhausted our supply of earthworms, plucking a few trout out with PowerBait. It was a “troutfully” fun weekend!

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GPS data & the secrecy of fishing

It seems to me that we fishermen can be quite the contradictory crowd. Many of us might agree wholeheartedly with W.D. Wetherell, who in his book “One River More” wrote,

[…] So, my fellow fly fishers, the time has come to bring secrecy back into our gentle pastime — the tight lips, the polite shrug, the knowing wink. […]when it comes to your favorite spots, cherish them in secret, keep your mouth shut — and leave the godamn electronics at home.

Yet in an age when technological proficiency often goes hand-in-hand with the knowledge of knots that may have originated in “The Treatyse of Fysshynge with an Angle”, who among us doesn’t rely on at least one marvel of modern times in the pursuit of those fish in the genus Oncorhynchus. For those of us willing to acknowledge this truth, I would propose that a more pertinent question might be how one might reconcile the traditional secrecy lends a mystery to the sport of fishing (especially fly fishing) with the use of “godamn electronics?”

My own philosophy is that what matters most is not the secrecy of one’s favorite spot or strategy, but the tangible act of fishing. Isn’t that why we tolerate getting up before God and a four-hour drive just to challenge our abilities and skills in a cold stream? And why we will repeat this ritual two weeks later, even though a previous trip left us tired and cold and fishless? You bet it is. The combination of the scenery through which a river flows, the sound of the water, the occasional conversation with a passing angler, and many other facets that lead up to fishing, and of course, the fishing itself, add up to an experience that is only sweetened by hooking and hopefully landing a fish.

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fun book… …even if it is about bass fishing

Fishing on the EdgeOn those days that you can’t get out to the water — at least those of us who aren’t yet leading the life of retirement — you might find some enjoyment in reading Fishing on the Edge by Mike Iaconelli. For those who’ve never inadvertently accidentally found themselves watching a bass tournament on ESPN during the early morning or late evening hours, the Philadelphia-born and New Jersey-raised Mr. Iaconelli (aka “Ike”) is one of the pro fisherman “blamed” for stealing the spotlight from BASS’ traditionally southern anglers. He weaves a whopper of a story about a college-educated kid with tattoos and a hip-hop soundtrack climbing through the ranks to take first place at the 2003 CITGO Bassmaster Classic. He has attracted both fan and foes for his antics, but one can’t slight his enthusiasm for fishing. While “attacking” bass is very different from stalking trout, Fishing on the Edge is a passionate, informative and often hilarious tale of a truly amazing personality.

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got my rod, got my line…

I’ve finally taken my first big step on the way to learning about and/or how to fly fish. A big envelope arrived over the weekend, which I opened to reveal my very own and first fly rod. While the idea of fly fishing bring to my mind the possibility of great adventures and big trout, the size of this thing is a bit intimidating…it’s nine-feet long. To be more specific, it’s a nine-foot 5-wt. rod; the type recommended for beginners who might drop a fly in the steams of the Sierra Nevada. Though I am sure that I’ll try using it a few times during the early summer, now I’m truly looking forward to our basic fly fishing class in August!

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partial radio install

After resigning myself to having a pro install the power line for my Icom IC-2720 radio (VHF/UHF amateur radio) in my 2003 Honda Accord, I spent Saturday pondering the position of the head unit and speaker. I knew where I wanted them to go, but it took a bit of pulling and prying to get some of the trim out of the way so I could pull the CD container at the base of the center console. Here’s how it ended up…

Radio Close Up

Radio close up.

The rest was pretty simple, though time consuming. I used a block of wood cut to fit the bottom the CD container, then mounted, via some bent brass straps, the radio control head, with the speaker behind it. Though it might not give me the best sound, I can throw the mic into the compartment and close the door and every thing is out of sight. I ended up running the control cable and speaker wire through the back of the compartment, then underneath it, and since I had the trim removed both wires run underneath the coin pockt/power outlet cover and the shifter cover and emerge alongside the passenger seat, where the main body of the radio will reside. Below is a close up of the radio control head and the speaker.

Radio from Driver's Seat

Radio close up.

The mic holder is, of course, made of bent coat hanger and is attached inside the glove compartment door. (Why do we call them “glove compartments” when rarely will on find actual gloves inside?) The mic holder took all of about 30 minutes to fabricate and install.

Though it didn’t turn out exactly as I had envisioned, I thnk it will work well. Particularly since I now have the control head angled towards the driver’s seat, so it should be quite visible. (The LCD on this unit doesn’t have a wide range of visibility to the side.) During the next week or so I’ll have the power line in and have to decide on an antenna mount.

Oh, also finished re-screening all the screens this weekend!

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summer’s around the corner

My nearly daily commute never fails to alert me to the fact that summer is just around the corner. Is it the flowering of the weeds alongside the roadway? Perhaps the blessing of sunlight during my early morning drive? The shimmering of heat waves above the highway in the afternoon?

None of the above. It’s the traffic. Near as I can figure, it’s not so much the vacationers; it seems to be the folks who work out of doors who compound my commute. The start of their day corresponds with the rising of the sun. (Making hay while the sun shines.)

This year it is especially bad. The number of big trucks — most semis towing bottom dump trailers (for hauling or moving dirt) — seems to have exploded this week. I don’t have a clue as to why, but my windshield is sure taking a beating!