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Monthly Archives: November 2012

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Strictly Fishin

Today features a great big storm raging across Northern California, and I mean to tell ya it is pouring out there right now. The storm isn’t so bad really if one imagines sitting in a little cabana staring out across a little inlet in front of you from between dancing coconut palms kissed by the mid-80’s temperature somewhere around the equator. Ah tomorrow, a day with the captain hunting dorado or sail fish. Yep, it isn’t so bad.

All that crazy dreaming aside, I did spend the day at Strictly Fishin with Gary Manies talking about fishing, and his beautiful character crafted rods. I found Gary to be a wealth of knowledge honed by a lifetime of fishing here in Northern California waters, and guiding other fishermen covering said waters for 15 years providing them with coveted catches.Business Card

He began building fishing rods as a hobby at an early age, and just kept it up through out the following years. His attention to fish behavior combined with rod behavior gave him valuable insight on how to pick the best character of blanks to perform in a manner he feels worthy of staking his a name on.

Gary’s name and reputation for building these character crafted specialty fishing tools has earned him a good following among anglers all over the place. He told me of orders for rods in Africa and Europe both, but admitted most of the word of mouth reputation has come from west coast steelhead and salmon anglers. It was my understanding that many of those lucky anglers learned  of his rod work from playing Sacramento River Chinook out of Gary’s guide boat.

Gary spent a good deal of time showing me his line of salmon and steelhead/trout rods with explanations of each instrument’s character. The character is how the overall power of the rod transfers to the fish. The positioning of lift versus flex in the rod will be unique to each blank, and Gary looks for the exact blank with the feel he knows is perfect for the desired experience.

Although I have not been fortunate enough to plunk down the cash for the really high end salmon, or steelhead rod, I have at least studied and test drove a few. I put the rods Gary showed me today in the high end category. They have the look, but most importantly, these rods have the feel of a tool than can be as comfortable using at the beginning of the morning as it will throughout the day.

It has been my experience with medium high end rods to have them break at less than opportune times. Gary was proud to tell me his return for breakage was about two rods in a hundred. His policy for returns is a limited warranty for the first year of service, and parts cost for the remaining life of the rod.

In the weeks to come I will be taking a more in depth look at each of his models and displaying my review here. This time of the fishing season has turned to the big winter steelhead, so I plan to review the steelhead rods first. I can tell you now that the rods he demonstrated today are Sweet.

I look forward to this task, and may my research go a long way to help you be Ketchinnee.

Mr Hook

So Begins Steelhead Fever

Fresh Steelie
Object of Extreme Fever

 

The experience of bringing an adult steelie to hand was so overwheming it was as if I was caught in the throes of an extreme ailment not unlike a fever. In order to quench the malaise an angler just has to go fishing right? Otherwise how could I shake the sleepless nights, or the constant thinking of when and where to go next? How could I find the money for more gear. and when will I stop getting the sweats? Almost as bad as the beginning of a love affair!

Too hot to register

Phew !!

Well I did all of those things and more trying to recapture the euphoria of hooking another steelie on my fly rod. But do you know what? I wouldn’t bring another steelhead to hand by fly casting for a very long time. I did manage to catch plenty of other smaller trout, and some of them were quite lovely, but the raw thrill of a steelhead would elude me.

What to Do

 I did catch more steelhead, and began to be pretty knowledgeable about how and where they would be, but hooked by a fly just couldn’t make it. I would bait cast when the frustration set in. I always had two outfits with me and resorted to the spin reel set up. I found worms, sand shrimp, and roe would always get results. Then my dad sent me these thingys made by a friend of his at work called Glo Bugs.

The Glo Bugs worked great with pretty much any color in the assortment dad sent. I even tried to use them with the fly casting outfit, but the darn little yarn thingys wouldn’t get down deep enough. As a matter of fact the thingys actually floated on the top. I was pretty certain the Glo Bugs needed to get down, so I just drifted them with lead. I tried putting shot on my fly leader too, but only succeeded in bonking myself in the back of the head with it! “*$@*” was a topic of foul air when this happened!

At least my steelhead fever was quieted down from using other angling techniques, and I really began studying the fish I was pursuing. This course of study lead me back to the salmon fishing I did with my dad earlier in life. The rivers I was fishing has a run of salmonid called a Silver. In some other areas these same salmon are called Coho. These salmon were much different than the Chinook salmon I had caught on the Sacramento, and Trinity rivers. These fish traveled in a large school that was in one spot one day, and then gone a couple days after. I learned to chase them up river.

The blue link for Coho above will take you to a NOAA site for the fish.

Identification points for this fish

How to tell a Coho from a steelhead

The first year I tried to follow the silvers up the Sandy river, I lost them after about a week. No matter where I went on the Sandy could I find them, and none of the other guys would say anything. They had major lockjaw. The second year was different, because I spent the time to study the watershed, and found a tributary to the Sandy. The salmon went up that creek to the hatchery they were spawned in.

That is all for now, but I will follow this with a little more of the Silvers, and an introduction of the Deschutes River Redsides trout in a few days. Stay tuned for more whopper stories here at Ketchinnee.

 

The Continuing Quest for Balance

Just a little training

Need some balance here huh?

The muscles in the legs (yeah, I know I keep harping but stay with me) are the longest, and strongest in the body. They are also some of the easiest to stimulate for growth. If they get used, they stimulate the circulation, and that is a good thing right? Good blood circulation tends to make everything else work as best it can too. But if these muscles are just taken for granted, and not stimulated they will take the lazy way out!

When older leg muscles have been given the choice of working or lazing, and settle on being lazy, they will go along with the program as long as they are allowed to. As the muscles lose their strength, keeping balance becomes a very real issue.

To get the leg muscles out of their comfort zone is easy. Change the way they are used by doing repetitious things out of the comfort zone these muscles have slipped into. There may be an outcry from such an undignified prod to work in the form of tightness, and soreness at the onset, but these muscles rebound quickly. If there is actual Pain, please stop and consult someone about why. There should not be outright pain!

The second exercise of this series will again utilize a straight back chair, and will begin to build strength both upper and lower leg muscle groups. Other muscle groups will be affected, but we are focusing on the leg groups now.

Enough Blathering for now and on to the Fun!

  1. Begin by filling a glass with water and drinking some of it.
  2. Walk over to the chair and sit in it. (Pretty easy huh) Sit forward though, not all the way back. The goal is to stand back up.
  3. To stand back up comes next, but before you do, take a nice full breath of air and exhale as you slowly lift off the chair, back to a standing position. Remember to use your legs muscles to do this, and lean a little forward while lifting.  Please use the chair for support if you need to.
  4. Take another full breath and sit back down taking care to keep your legs in contact with the chair legs, and lean over a little bit as you exhale.
  5. Drink a little bit more of the water, and try to finish the glassful by the end of the exercises. The water and air help feed the muscles as they work.

Repeat this exercise as many times as you feel it is easy. If the motions become difficult, Stop.

If you begin to be sore for a couple of days, you may just want to quit. Not good! Remember why you started in the first place.

So in  summary;

  • These squat like exercises are going to shock your leg muscles into a growth pattern.
  • Growth brings added strength.
  • Strength aids with balance.
  • Balance allows you more freedom and confidence in everyday activities.

That is all I have for this post. I hope you find your own special value in it. I will have another exercise for you in a couple of days in The Continuing Quest for Balance.

Mr Hook

 

Balance Is Key

Enjoy the Wade

I was talking about wade fishing with friend of mine the other day when he mentioned his inability to safely wade in swift moving water. My first thoughts were of how depressing this would be for me, because some of my favorite experiences have been while wading some beautiful stretch of river, or creek. I vowed to study up on some exercises to help overcome the balance and strength needed to accomplish a fishing excursion to include possible wading.

I have been reading articles, and watching videos about leg strength exercises by the dozens. One of the first issues, in my mind, about beginning a program to improve leg strength for older people is Balance. If there is less than complete confidence in balance, how can the exercises even begin?

Lets look at balance exercises. Balance exercises help build strength in your leg muscles in order to maintain balance and prevent falls!

Knee Raise

This first exercise is to help strengthen thigh muscles and hip flexors. All you will need to perform this exercise is a straight back chair for support. If you are worried about falling, please make certain someone is with you. Maybe a  partner would be fun.

  1. Stand beside the chair with the back of the chair next to your left side.
  2. Place your left hand on the back of the chair. Put your weight on your inside (left) leg. Leave your knee slightly bent.
  3. Pick a spot in front of you to focus on. Take a deep breath.
  4. Now as you exhale, raise your right knee and bring it towards your chest. Try to maintain your standing posture without bending over. Don’t worry if you can’t raise your knee too high either. Practice will make it so.
  5. Inhale and hold this knee up for a count of one, two, three while holding onto the chair.
  6. On the exhale, return your foot back to the floor.
  7. Repeat this three to five times and then switch legs.

With a slight variation to this balance exercise you can add some challenge for building strength and improving stability. While your knee is still bent and in the air, point your knee outward to the side, and then back in. Return your leg to the front before placing it back on the ground.

In summary

This exercise will challenge your brain to step outside of the every day routine. Your muscles will respond to pretty much anything you tell them to do, but you have to actually do the action for the response. I have just outlined a simple, exercise for flexibility and balance for you. You can adjust the repetitions as you feel confident. This whole exercise should take no more than ten minutes, so make the most of each repetition.

I have a few more exercises that will help with balance, flexibility, and strength for the legs. I will add a couple more of them in a few days. By the way, I am doing these same exercises before giving them to you. Balance is the key to wade fishing, and the muscle memory and strength will increase in your legs with a little practice.

Mr Hook

Beginning Bigger Water

 

First Big Water Fly Fishing

This water rages here but I learned

After the small water, massive boulder and trout filled creek I began with, the challenges of higher water volume soon became apparent. I wanted the opportunity to catch larger fish. The picture above is very near the exact place I first started on the Sandy River. This photo is courtesy of OregonRafting.org

The Sandy River is fed by snow melt from the majestic Mt Hood where the river begins its journey to the mighty Columbia near Portland, Or. During the winter months when the snow is falling, and not melting, this portion of the Sandy is clear as can be. But during the spring and summer seasons the melting snow makes this section of the Sandy a raging, turbid (muddy really), torrent. It is really tough to fish during these seasons.

Of course I would be attacking this water with my new found fly fishing techniques during the summer runoff. The only fish I managed to fool were juveniles no larger than the ones I was catching in the little creek. That didn’t deter me though. I persisted to try different patterns in the muddy tumultuous flow to little avail.

Driving to the section of the Sandy I was working I was passing the Salmon River near Brightwood OR, and wondered at the clear cool river that runs beneath the highway 26 bridge. So I decided to try it out.

Ok so this is much different! I have vegetation to deal with on the banks, and that is completely opposite of where I had been casting. Lost two flies on two attempts. Grrr, darn little things are expensive, and I just lost my two favorites. Now begins my first wading to avoid the tree traps on the bank. Not much fishing going on here, but a huge amount of learning.

A couple of more trips to GI Joes for flies, and numerous trips back to the Salmon River, I started to catch fish. The trout I caught were somewhat bigger than from the first creek, but not much. I was wondering if I was making a mistake about this fly fishing thing, and maybe go back to my spinning outfit. Then it happened. My rod went thunk and the line straightened right out. I thought I had a snag. Looking back I wonder at how I could have possibly thought it was a snag. I had floating line, a mosquito pattern that was meant to stay on top, and the water flow was at least 4 feet deep. Duh!

I lifted the rod and the reel began to go zing, zing, zing. Then the rod started to buck. Oh boy, I have a fish. Somehow, despite my best efforts to lose the fish, I landed a fabulous steelhead about 7 pounds. I was so excited I killed it and took it home. I didn’t have a camera, and darned if I could find someone who would take a picture of me. It sure would have been a great testimony to show when asked Ketchinee.

Next; Steelhead Fever

Humble Beginnings

In 1979 I had relocated along the wind blown banks of the Columbia River, and underneath the shadow of Mt Hood in Oregon. This is where I would begin my road to fly fishing. I had found a small creek on the north western slope of this magnificent peak that was just chock full of trout. None of them were very large, but they were everywhere in this little stream, and I began to learn their feeding habits.

Daunting view of the snow fields

Great outdoor recreation magnet

Reason to Begin Fly Fishing
At first I tried a spin cast set up with a Pautzke egg and a split shot. It worked kinda, but the shot was constantly getting stuck, and to retrieve the rig I would have to spook a hole wading out to get it. So I began casting the egg without the shot.

I noticed that the motion of casting an egg was much like fly casting, and decided to get a fly outfit and try that. I had a lot of fun that day with the egg toss, and caught who knows how many fish. This would be great place to learn fly fishing!

First Equipment
Off to Payless Drugs I went to shop for a fly casting outfit. I really didn’t have a lot of money to spend, so I settled for a combo rod and reel. The rod was an Eagle Claw, and the reel was a Phleuger. The combo pack was under $20.00, and the line was over $30.00! Imagine my surprise.

Gear Set Up
A couple visits to the Multnomah County library helped me to get the fly line on the reel, and a home made tapered leader attached to the line. I didn’t even have backing material, just the 90 ft floating fly line. Heh, heh. Gotta giggle looking back.

Flies and Catching Fish
Next stop was GI Joes discount sporting goods for some flies. I chose some dry flies to begin with, and headed to my honey hole stream the next morning! I caught a bunch of fish despite myself, and ended up losing every fly in the cup.

I caught fish with each of flies I had bought mostly because of the number of hungry trout in the creek, but learned how to drift the offering into the feeding zone. That was the first lesson for me. It didn’t matter what technique, or equipment was used, what mattered most was presenting the bait or lure in a manner that entered the feeding zone. Learning the flow of the stream was key.

I will have another installment about this key to catching trout in a few days time. Be sure to check back in for it so you can use this information to be Ketchinnee.

 

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Leg Power

Legs are the largest muscle group in the human body and many times the most ignored. Heck, you walk around just fine right? Well if the opportunity to go with some friends fishing to an extreme totally gnarly honey hole arises you might just be surprised how much your legs will hurt for the next few days after. Of course were assuming you can make it at all. Or maybe it might be the leg power you need to battle a black marlin from the back of a charter boat. Conditioning your legs will save you!

I know the two fishing conditions above may be out of your zone, but they are just a couple of examples about the importance of this topic. Strong leg muscles will set the tempo for any strenuous activity, and many fishing experiences are filled with the need for endurance.

I am going to describe a couple of exercises to help you add tensile strength for your leg muscles. These are simple, easy to do, and will not go unnoticed if done regularly. Be prepared for a little soreness a day or two after the first session, but the discomfort should go away and not return for the future if you keep it up. These exercises are low impact. You should experience no joint strain. It will also help if you begin with a few minutes of cardio to get the body’s temperature, and pulse rate up a little.

  • This is the target position

    Lasting Strength

    This is the correct position

    First exercise is to stand back against a wall. Your feet should be placed a comfortable distance away from the wall. Take two, slow, big breaths, and then slide down the wall until you feel your thigh muscles respond. They will begin to become tight. Your goal is to have the thigh muscles parallel to the floor, but don’t despair if you can only make it half way. Hold this position for a count of 5 and then stand back up.

  • Second exercise is to turn around and place your finger tips as high on the wall  as you can reach flat footed. Raise up on your toes and count 5 again. You will do this exercise 5 times in a row. Remember to rest briefly between ex1 and ex2 and so on. Maybe rest as much as 20-30 seconds, or maybe enough time to get a drink of water.
  • Third exercise is a repeat of ex1, but this time you will hold the position for a 10 count and then prepare to repeat ex2.
Ex2 is more even better is standing on something like a book

Extend the heels of the foot over the edge

Calve extensions.  Extend the heels over the edge if standing on something

The goal for these exercises is to get through 5 sets of them adding an extra 5 count to each of the positions for the first exercise. Don’t worry if you can’t hold the fourth and fifth set. After a couple sessions like this you will be able to increase your hold count. Don’t do these every day either. Do them every two or three days. You will notice the strength in your legs increasing almost immediately. After all the legs have the largest and strongest muscles in the human body. They respond to stimuli very quickly.

Tough Love Bassin

The wet stuff subsided for a few days this past week. The weekend temperatures soared into the low 80’s, so some research time on Lake Shasta was in order. Sunday was the day for me. Unfortunately the wind was blowing up a gale across the bay behind Shasta Dam, and creeping to a sheltered cove to fish in white capped water was a tense bit of work. But I made it with only a little spray. (Actually the spray soaked my ball cap!)

Okay, now I am all rigged up and trolling in the zone where I had been hooking bass. I have had good success with a brass/chrome dodger trailing a blue wiggle hoochie about 20 inches back at 33 to 41 feet on the wire. Spots (spotted bass), smallies (small mouth bass), rainbow trout, and Chinook salmon have all been produced using this tackle.  The other pole has a copper dodger with 15 inches of leader and a snap swivel in order to change lures quickly. I also have a slider for experimenting with weight. I am using about 1/2 ounce on it this day and began with a Rebel jointed lure.

Troll, troll, troll, but nothing was happening. Now I begin to alter depth, and switching lures. Still nothing. My sonar is showing almost nothing in the places where just a week before was full of fish, and the wind is blowing my little boat in a manner almost exactly away from my target areas. Grr! But I kept at it.

After a good 4 hours trying the techniques mentioned above, and quite a few others, (even dunked some worms), I decided to give in. On back to the launch ramp I went, and examined what I had learned this day. The best I could come up with was the sharp decrease in water temperature. In one week the temp went from 67-68 degrees to 62-63 degrees. The fish I had been targeting moved into different feeding patterns, and territories. I think the cooler water now up higher in the water column will send fish into shallower feeding zones, and will be striking offerings all the way to the top.

I will try again next week if the weather permits.

Jewel of the Waters

Take, for instance, a precious gem like an emerald that has been cut and polished. Besides the deep rich beautiful color of the stone, beveled edges can be seen on all sides with a flat surface for the top. The beveled sides are called facets. These facets showcase smaller, added richness to the dazzling beauty already striking warmth in the observers senses.

“What the heck has this got to do with fishing?”, you may be asking. I think fishing is much the same. massbassin.com as a blog is yet another facet of fishing experiences for me. I spent time with a lot of fly fishing enthusiasts this evening, and spent more time on the phone with a fly fishing friend this very morning.

The common factor between this blog and the time I spent with the fly fishing community is a facet of fishing for me. Fishing is much like the flat plane that is the top of a beautiful gem. The richness of the gem can be seen from straight on, but to understand the entirety of what is being observed one must look at the facets for a total understanding. Fly fishing can be seen as one of the facets of my passion that encompasses fishing overall.

Also for me there is spin casting, bait casting, trolling, and just plunking. I enjoy all of these angling techniques. When given a choice to use one technique, and not going at all, guess what I will do.

I am going fishing.

 

 

 

 

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