Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Overwhelming Flies

This post comes from a column I submitted to the Kings County Record.  It was published June 18, 2013 in the paper.  It is a follow up to a previous post - Crown Surprise.  I am incredibly excited to be going to Depot Pool to try my luck salmon fishing.

It has been a wet spring but it hasn't dampened my enthusiasm about my upcoming fishing trip to the Miramichi.  I wrote in an earlier column that I am a novice fly fisherman and I have been reading as much as I can about fly fishing techniques and requirements.  I have been practicing my casting regularly and I think I have that skill set to a passable level.  My challenge now is learning about the flies and what flies work best in what conditions.
Wow, I have a ton to learn.  What is the difference between a wet fly and dry fly?  Streamers, nymphs, and terrestrials all have different applications and target different fish species at different times.  Different flies work better in different geographical regions.  Different size hooks will likely yield different size fish.  So I have been trying to find out what flies will work in the Miramichi for early season salmon.
Cossabooms, bombers, blue smurfs, green machines, shady ladies; the names alone are enticing and poetic.  The colors are as varied as the names and when you gaze upon the shelf at a fly shop its like looking at a rainbow without the rain.  The difference for a novice angler like me is that you feel overwhelmed and not awed.  I'm starting to think that I might be just as lucky to close my eyes and pick a few off the shelf.
From some accounts they are already catching chrome salmon, a salmon that is coming up the river to breed, on the Miramichi and so my odds are improving.  I will spend 2 days fishing for the famed fish and I want to make the most of my time so I need to understand what flies work and go from there.  Contrary to some belief, anglers are willing to provide novice casters like me with pointers and tips.  There are a ton of online resources and chat communities dedicated to the sport to prove it and I have yet to come across and angler on the water who won't talk briefly and quietly about his fly of choice.  Again these conversations are increasing my odds and if I can't at least raise a fish then I'll have no one to blame but me.  Honestly, I think that is part of the hook of the sport. 
About three years ago my journey into fly fishing began with a workshop organized by the Kennebecasis Watershed Restoration Committee.  They are hosting their third "Beginner's Fly Fishing Workshop" on July 10th & 11th so if you have an interest in this sport you should check it out.  They will provide the rods, flies, and some great instruction and the cost is free.  Not too many activities come at that price anymore, nor do they offer the scenery and peaceful enjoyment you'll get while casting a fly onto the waters of Trout Creek and Cedar Camp.  Registration is needed so find them online and sign up.

Monday, June 17, 2013

A Moment that Clicked

There are certain moments in life when things simply "click"; when you wish the day would last forever and that you could bottle the feeling inside your soul and keep it for a rainy day.  Father's Day, 2013, was like that for me.  Proud, loved, blessed, joy, are all adjectives that understate how I felt that day.  It was not about the gifts but rather about the family that surrounded me.  It was about kids playing and laughing with a garden hose and some buckets, it was about a trout on a fishing line, it was about the smell of barbeque hamburgers, the taste of a cold beverage, and the sound of laughter and conversations all around me.  It was life as it is meant to be.

How do you hold on to something like that?  Is it possible?  If I hold on to it, will it diminish the feeling I have?  Honestly I don't know the answer to any of these questions but I bet if I could hold on to it all the time I might not appreciate it as much as I do now.

Thank you God for those little moments that have a big impact.  Thanks too, to my wife who provided me with this great family and to my Mom and Dad who led by great example.  To all of you who have ever contributed to one of those "click" moments in my life, thanks so much.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Appreciating Flood Plains

The sun is finally shining after an unbearable week of gray rainy weather.  Despite the weather I have been completing some ecological site assessments for work lately.  In some cases, the wet weather makes my job more challenging, even if more enjoyable.  Recently on a stream bank not far from Town, matter of fact it is on the Town boundary, I found a real nice flood plain area.  Flood plains are not rare but they’re not common either, or at least not as common as maybe they should be. 
Flood plains are a diverse.  Various trees, flowers, birds, and other animals utilize these zones either permanently or periodically.  When you take time to observe all this biodiversity a flood plain becomes a truly engrossing lesson in ecological balance.  You need to really look at it from various angles at a slow pace to appreciate it.  If you move to fast you’ll scare the toads sitting in a vernal pool which will be dry by August.
Flood plains are a great area to wander and I have been known to explore more than my share.  I can sit on a large stone and convince my self the flood waters placed it there just for me so I could watch the king fisher chase his lunch.  Whether the waters are high, low, or in between, there is always something to watch for in the flood plain.  Put on some rubbers and you can watch fish scurry around at your feet in grasses that will be harvested later in the summer for hay.
One of my favourite drives is along the old highway to Fredericton.  Between Jemseg and Fredericton north, when the Saint John River is at flood stage, this drive can offer an entire episode of a nature show.  Foxes scurry along the road, osprey fly over head, ducks dive amongst the maples, and deer sit in higher portions of the fields, and you struggle to keep your eyes on the road.  The river is an expanse of water pinched between thin rows of maples on each side as it moves lazily towards the Bay of Fundy.
Another flood plain which buffers another sort of river that heads to the Bay of Fundy is on the Little Salmon River.  This river is not pinched by supple trees; this river is jammed between steep rocky walls.  The flood plain is not made of maples but of transient alders and low growing shrubs that struggle to keep their place in the constantly shifting gravel bars. 
Flood plains are integral to any river but more than that, they are the fulcrum in the scales that helps balance the relationship between river and man.  The balance is as supple as the maples on the shores of the Saint John River or the poplar that we often see laying in the flood plains of Trout Creek.  To keep from tipping the scale we need to preserve the flood plains, we need to slow down and appreciate the natural beauty they possess and take value in that more than we value a view of the river from our front window.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Garden Update

It was a month ago that we planted our garden.  At the time I was worried that it might be a bit early to put it in but so far it seems to be doing fine.  I have had to place blankets out on three nights to protect the new growth from frost.  This evening I took a walk around our house and snapped some photos of what we have blooming and growing at this point.  We have been busy weeding and we use the garden to dig worms in for our fishing trips and most of all the kids have been learning a bit about where food comes from.  Our vegetable garden is a new venture but we have a few flower beds that we have been working and learning about since we bought our house in 2009.  I hope you enjoy the photos below.  They were taken on June 4th and will serve to remind us later when certain plants bloom.  We have taken other photos as well of others but they occurred inside the month of the vegetable garden being planted.
This iris sits along the southeast side of our house and smells great when we leave the house in the morning.

This flower beds is along the front of our house and the onion is now in bloom.

I'm actually not sure what flower this is and I'm hoping someone can tell me :)

Again not sure what these blurry bells are?  I said in the entry above, I'm learning.

These are our peas one month after we planted them

Our beans are approaching 6" in height and look healthy despite the frosty nights.

Our carrots are almost ready for a thinning.

Our lilacs are in full bloom and have attracted lots of bees.

Like the lilacs our snowball tree is crowding our drive way but doing great at masking the gas smells coming from the car.