fishing for words

(and tossing out random thoughts)


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when it absolutely, positively has to fool your friends (and people you don’t really know)

It’ll be like you’re once again big man on campus in high school as you amaze your buddies. It’ll rain down shock and awe and bring a smile to your face as you confound retired friends formerly secure in the knowledge that your payments into Social Security allow them to fish more than you.

Cloud Girlfriend Screen

Let’s face it; we’ve all jumped into the digital multiverse, “friending” anyone and everyone with the remotest connection to the hobby. Even that gray-haired guy on the river who would have been a fly fishing mentor in the more refined days of yore has adopted social networking, and now he’s one of your thousand-plus friends validating their devotion to the sport with a constant stream of grip and grin hero shots.

Fortunately, in watching the bleeding edge from on high, we may have a solution in sight. Rather than lament that Cloud Girlfriend didn’t exist when us nerdy types were in high school, we can soon look forward to Cloud Fishshot.

For an as-yet undisclosed fee, Cloud Girlfriend will provide a living/breathing female to act as your girlfriend for the purposes of Facebook updates. No bodily fluids will be exchanged, nor will you be seeing any naughty pix or paying for’ ‘hot chat,’ but you will appear to be less of a pathetic loser to the world at large.

It’ll be unbelievably simple to suitably adapt Cloud Girlfriend.

Step 1: Define your perfect fish.
Step 2: Specific photo: rod/reel model and preferred background or headless hand/arm shot.
Step 3: We generate your photo.
Step 4: Post the photo publicly on your favorite social network.
Step 5: Repeat as necessary to intimidate impress friends and gain their admiration.

Sort of like Tenkara, but without the rod. Or the line.

Cloud Fishshot Splash Screen

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a blog exclusive you won’t find on my wall

This post brought to you by the photo prompt
Most Un-Frame Worthy Outdoor Photo You Got
from the Outdoor Blogger Network (OBN)

Let’s be clear. Fishing small high-country streams means the trophies taken home are usually limited to skinned knees, a sore back or scratches inflicted by any one or multiple species of vegetation.

Those who ask how the fishing was probably won’t understand that the trip is more than just fishing. It’s fishing that entails a walk that, longer than expected, become a hike; the stalking of trout so skittish its remarkable they aren’t afraid of the bugs they eat; and the creation of memories that draw a fisherman back time after time.

Where I fish, at elevations of 6,000-plus feet in the Sierra Nevadas and often above 8,000 feet, there are incredible opportunities to sink back into forests most notable for the lack of human visitation. In the small creeks and rivers found under lodgepole and western white pines, red firs, mountain hemlock and aspens, wild trout live a hardscrabble life during a summer that rarely lasts more then eight weeks. The small size of these trout truly belies their spirit.

But that’s not why they don’t end up in a framed photo on my wall. These trout are so darn small that holding a fish in one handle while using the other to fiddle with camera’s macro setting invariably results in a photo that’s too fuzzy to be called “arty” of a fish that would be a snack for what’s traditionally deemed a trophy trout.

But since so many of these high-country trout to obligingly rise to any of the customary trout flies, seemingly regardless of size, the outcome of a photo op can be a bit unpredictable.

Unframeable Fish Photo

the photo that shall not be framed

However, the one photo that will never be framed I also hesitate to share in the blogosphere. Because the fish is so small? Because the photo is so blurry? Yes to both questions.

…but mostly because I don’t know what the heck it might be it’s not a trout.

Pikeminnow.Squawfish.Hardhead

From the South Fork of the Tuolumne River: Pikeminnow? Squawfish? Hardhead? Your guess?


P.S. I’ve since upgraded to a better and waterproof camera to compensate for my lack of photographic skill.


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Mother Nature wins, but it’s okay (and accumulatingmy 15 minutes of fame, a few seconds at a time)

The thought last weekend was to get away for a rare five-day retreat, spending some time at the family cabin, entertaining ourselves with visits to wineries in nearby Murphys, squeezing in a bit of fly fishing on one of the few open rivers in the Sierra foothills and generally stepping away — far away — from the everyday.

We had enjoyed three weeks of spring-like weather prior to our departure, but the moment we publicly announced our plans, Mother Nature decided she knew better.

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A better use of snow.

The drive that got us up to Hwy 108 was easy enough, with stops along the way for lunch and gwaking at Bass Pro. It was after the last stop at Covers Apple Ranch that Mrs. Nature gave us fair warning with steady snowfall as we wound the seven miles to the eastern (and higher) edge of Twain Harte. By the time we reached town, the inches of snow that frosted the familiar with a fresh coat of newness also dictated extreme caution.

While I don’t mind clearing the white stuff to pull into the driveway or the nearly two feet of snow that that muffled and covered the world outside the next morning; I didn’t like the resulting power outage, the excavation of that 60-foot driveway a second and third time, and the increased release of water in the only nearby and fishable tailwater. Though we were thankful for the propane-fired heater, stove and water heater, the lack of power for 48-plus hours wasn’t fun. It was dark by 6:00 p.m. and it’s difficult to read, much less tie flies, by candlelight. Fishing was out of the question the next day as flows on the Stanislaus rose in 40 hours from less than 250 cfs to nearly 1,100 cfs.

We surrendered about 42 hours after our arrival. In that time I learned the value of a snow blower after shoveling the driveway three times, clearing an estimated accumulation of four feet of snow. (My arms agreed with rusty mathematics that suggested I moved over 1,900 cubic feet of the stuff.) Proving that Mother Nature maintains a healthy sense of irony, we were greeted by blue skies just as that last of the gear was packed into the car.

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Mother Nature, The Joker. The skies cleared after nearly four feet of snow snuffed out
the power and we went about departure preparations. (More photos below.)

However, we both enjoyed being in a winter wonderland for a while, spending one afternoon tucked into The Rock resaurant with a good draught of Smithwicks ale, a few appetizers and a cozy view of dime-sized flakes floating to earth. I personally enjoyed introducing The Wife, for the first time in her life, to real, heavy snowfall. We also learned that the Prius can do well enough in the snow.

I don’t begrudge Mother Nature for cutting our trip short with piles of snow; it’s the resulting runoff that’ll keep the trout happy and make for excellent Sierra fishing in the late summer and fall.

A Few More Seconds of Fame

It’s nice to know that Orvis Fly Fishing Guide Podcast host Tom Rosenbauer thought enough of my comment on Facebook to mention it in his latest podcast. If you’d care to listen, you only have to wait until about 1:30 into the podcast.
[audio:http://media.libsyn.com/media/orvisffguide/15_tips_on_Sight_fishing_for_Stripers.mp3|titles=Orvis Podcast-2/22/2011]

I responded to Mr. Rosenbauer’s podcast of a week ago, “Gear Maintenance in the Off-Season and Ten Tips for the Aging Angler,” with a personal anecdote that there are indeed exercises that could help the aging angler. Though I have yet to be officially recognized for my longevity, a gym membership put to good use during the last year or so seems to have improved my balance during wading, something I attribute to core exercises, namely crunches, bridge, planks and rotational movements.

Admittedly, as a generally lazy meditative lot, exercise may be foreign to most fly fishermen, and the most widely practiced workout is casting, which coincidently builds up muscles used to also hoist a beer or scotch.


More of what we saw during our shortened stay at The Cabin last weekend:
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what we see… (02/09/2011)

  • The Unaccomplished Angler and Trout Underground step up when John Walsh doesn’t: http://bit.ly/hztyUN, http://bit.ly/hA4G4K
  • Going on my “I Want that Job” list, because of the trout; nothing to do with co-host Hilary Hutcheson. (Look out Rich Birdsell.): http://bit.ly/gpDlMf
  • What trout will you chase? And what’s this “Other Trout” some folks will be waving sticks at: http://bit.ly/hGIAyd
  • Below, a day at the Oakland Zoo (The Wife declared this date “Spontaneous Saturday.” We ended up at the Oakland Zoo and enjoyed dinner with the San Mateo nephews and their parents.):

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