Saturday, October 27, 2012

Create Nail Knot with Looped Mono as the Tool

   I was cruising the internet and ran across this video from the Itinerant Angler.  It is very well done, but what really got my attention was how nail knots were created with a loop of mono vs. with use of a nail knot tool, or similar.  He ties the knot twice:  backing to fly line and fly line to butt section.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Tying One On at Java Java

   There will fly-tying again this Saturday, Oct 27, 2012, at Java Java, located at 836 E. River Drive, Davenport, IA.  Tying will start at 9:00 and last until at least noon or until close.  As an added plus, folk/Irish musicians are coming!  Expect Joe Nobiling and others to be plying their strings and sticks while we anglers play with flies. Rumor has it, the coffee is the best in town!  All are welcome!!!! 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Salmon Camp & the lisagene

   Salmon Camp is held yearly for 1 or 2 consecutive, extended weekends at the end of September/beginning of October as the king salmon make their annual run up the Pere Marquette River.  Friendly fly anglers converge on John and Rhonda Bueter’s property, located in Baldwin, MI, for a few days of camping, hardcore angling, & a major disruption to the normal sleep cycle.  Most fishing begins when regular folks are donning their pj’s, and the campfire festivities slow as regular folks wake up to start the day.  In the daylight, anglers can be found tying flies, napping, or telling stories about the previous night.  And, as one person said, and I know it to be true:  If you aren’t a nice person, you don’t belong at Salmon Camp!    

   The fictional fly fishing story you are about to read is based entirely on facts & the kindness of fellow anglers.

   Kate and I started the 6.5 hour drive from the IA/IL border to Baldwin, MI, Thursday morning on Sept 27th.  We avoided rush-hour traffic on I94 and found our way cruising into a world filled with color.  Our first fly fishing trip to Michigan was occurring near the peak of the fall color change.  Lovely.  We purchased fishing licenses from the helpful folks at BBT, Baldwin Bait & Tackle, who also directed us to Barski’s for lunch.  At the bar, we enjoyed chef-created pierogies and Kahlua cheesecakes, & then headed down the road.  At the Cloud 9 Resort, we met John Bueter’s wife, Rhonda, of whom John would later speak of with great respect.  She directed us to the Salmon Camp property.  

   After camp host John Bueter gave us hugs & a good ribbing, we got settled.  Gene, a tall, fit man with wavy, whitish hair, was on our right also setting up camp.  That evening I turned down Bueter’s offer to go fishing.  They were ready to go and I was not, and my license was not good until midnight.  While I also debated the wisdom of fishing this new water for the first time at night, I regretted not going.  But, a couple hours later when it was darker yet, another offer came & I headed out.  Kate stayed at camp.  Brian drove and Gene sat next to him, acting like a passenger-seat driver.  Good-natured bickering ensued.  I sat in the back with Mike.  Another tall man who I immediately liked; at first glance he had an unassuming personality, but displayed great character, humor, and intelligence.

   We drove to ‘Claybanks’, the flies only, catch and release section of the Pere Marquette River.  We came upon Bueter’s party of anglers after clumping down 144 wooden steps bedecked with a salmon slide -built years ago, when snagging was legal & there were no fish limits.  Bueter had just hooked into & landed a fish.  It was fitting that the ‘king’ of Salmon Camp would be the first to be recorded in my pictures of the trip. 

   While John Bueter had claimed that the use of a net was primarily to carry out trash, our fishing party planned to use one for fish.  But… we forgot it.  Soon after I hit the water I had a sizeable fish hooked.  It was my first salmon of the trip, and it was fair-hooked in the mouth!  I successfully fought it.  It did break off, but we considered it a catch.  Gene had attempted multiple times to land it by the tail, but it continually garnered enough energy to elude the experienced angler.  Then, my tippet finally surrendered.  If we’d had a net, fish and fly angler would’ve posed for pics.  I headed to shore to rebuild my leader under more light.  Gene followed and sheepishly asked, “Are you mad?”  I laughed.  It was a nice first fish, hooked fairly, and we’d had a fun fight.  I’d had a great introduction to night-fishing for salmon!

   The next day, I assured Kate that the night fly fishing came fairly easily with use of headlamps, and under a full moon that would light the water near midnight.  Watching a string of headlamps bobbing along the shore, listening to the loud splashes of salmon, and watching others ready their tackle around small tents of light elicited feelings only truly shared by experiencing them.  On this 2nd night on the water, I returned to the bank to sit with Mike and Brian, talk of fly fishing, enjoy the moonrise, and share their flasks of brandy and vodka.   I also photographed Kate with her first salmon. 

The lady beamed as she posed with a salmon whose tail symbolized it was no longer ‘fresh’.  She caught many more and many ‘fresher’ fish during her 2 nights on the water, but I knew she loved this style of fishing after she bagged that first salmon.

   The night of the lisagene was a bit of a blur.  Was it the 2nd night or the 3rd night of fishing?  Was it the night preceding the:  ‘til 530 AM campfire with the communal sharing of a variety of fine alchohols?  Or was it the following night?  Salmon Camp is for the hardcore angler and there is a reason it only lasts a few days/nights.  We were looking & feeling pretty rough after the 1st couple nights!  What I do remember from that 2nd or 3rd night were the lessons given by a tall, wavy-haired man and our lisagene.

   That night, Gene put me on some good holes and had me experiment with his rod, loaded with floating line and a different leader set-up.  We fished together and separately, but Gene remained nearby.  I yelled ‘Fish on!’ a few times, but then the line would go slack. 

   Many fish had come up onto what we termed ‘the flats’, and we were excited.  Gene soon hooked a fish and I heard, “Lisa, come over here”.  He wanted me to fight his fish.  I didn’t want to, partially due to ego (I wanted to hook and land my own) and partially because I wanted the man to enjoy the pleasure of fighting his fish.  He persisted & said, “Lisa, come over here and fight this fish!”  I did it for Gene, because he was so kind and because instinct told me he had a reason to be so persistent.

   Before giving me the rod, he quickly asked if I knew how to set the drag with my finger.  I shrugged and said sure.  Well, I didn’t know how to set it for king salmon but I learned quickly.  Whoaa!!!!!  Then I knew why Gene had been so persistent.  A main attraction for fly fishing is that one can never stop learning how to become a better angler.  However, the anglers I meet continue to teach me that one can never stop learning how to become a better person. 

   I recalled the lessons given by Gene the first night and from Bueter earlier in the day.  I did not high stick and I kept the fish less than 90* from the rod tip.  No trout, bass, pike, or musky had ever pulled line off the reel like that and I traded off between setting drag with my fingers to attempting to control the fish from the reel.  The latter attempts left me with a bruised finger but got me laughing that night!   I followed Gene’s instructions, attempting to guide the fish toward the net.  Mostly we enjoyed the excitement of the fight, having the greatest of fun!  Then, the fish streaked downriver and I didn’t give enough slack.  It was gone. 

   Back at shore, Gene re-rigged his leader and I was honest with him about what I’d been feeling when he asked me to fight his fish.  I thanked him for what he’d done.  Then, we were back on the flats, fly fishing.  I felt excitement when he called me over again after hooking another strong fighter.  There were no arguments & this time I brought that fish in and Gene netted it.  We were alone on that stretch of water, so I posed for pictures with the lisagene.  When the camera flashed, I wish Gene and I could’ve stood together holding that fish.

   On Sunday, I helped Gene pack up his tent.  Most of camp had broken up and headed home.  Brian and Mike had left.  Kate & I said our good-byes to Gene, and that evening we announced that we were heading to Claybanks ahead of our small group.  I wanted her to see the Pere Marquette in the daylight.  It is a beautiful river.  We passed other anglers but by the time we were ready to fish, it was dark and the water had become our own.  Kate started fishing first and I waded upstream of her.  No sooner had I started casting when she told me she had a fish on.  I waded back to her, helped her land it, took pictures, and we headed back out.  I scouted the holes as I waded back upstream and spotted 2 fish.  One was very large and ‘fresh’.  I targeted that fish but it wasn’t destined to be mine.  Kate was on a roll so I headed back to her.  It was fun to help Kate land fish as others had done for me.  Also, I’d never landed a sizeable fish by the tail, and was excited to do so.  By this time, headlamps bobbed along the banks and soon the remainder of the ‘Salmon Campers’ shared our water.

   That night, ‘Jackfish Kate’ landed too many fish to count.  I never got the chance to target that large fish again, but other fish made up for it.  By then, I’d figured out how to cast to avoid many foul hooks and did not set the hook when I felt I would snag fish.  However, I used that knowledge of the fishes’ positions to adjust my cast & eventually hook and land fish.  The ‘newbies’, as we had been called, were doing well.

   My first fish was a ‘fresh’ male, large, and a good fighter.  John, a young guy with a soothing voice, asked if I wanted help netting it.  He was fishing but was magically present to help land all my night’s fish.  After we removed my fly from its mouth, and others’ flies from its back and fins, that fish and I posed for pictures taken by Kate and John.  As taught by John Bueter, facing upstream I placed the fish between my feet.   After it recovered in security, I released it.   

   Throughout that night, Gene, John, John Bueter and others were at my side or at least their words and actions were in my thoughts.  Every time younger John netted my fish, Gene’s instruction to use the rod to lift the head of the fish and then release the tension on the rod to let the fish slide into the net, would resonate in my head.  I enjoyed sharing the water with our small group.  The lisagene did not take my fly that evening, but that fish’s job was done.  It had rooted lessons of kindness, giving, and sharing in me and then moved on.  It’s written that Pacific salmon (including king salmon) spawn once and die.  However, the lisagene is an exception.  That fish works its way upriver yearly, fighting hard to spawn new learning and life-lessons in others. 

   While I did finally land a fair number of salmon, none remotely compared in power, fight and spirit to the lisagene.  If you ever wish to fly fish for king salmon, I recommend visiting Salmon Camp.  I suspect the lisagene times its arrival to coincide with the appearance of those friendly anglers.