Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Shallow Waters

Supposedly derived from the Abenaki word for shallow waters, we returned to Umbagog Lake for the first time in almost 10 years. On prior trips, my wife and I stayed at one of the remote campsites managed by the Parks Department for the State of New Hampshire. This trip, we decided to rent a house on the lake and enjoy the additional amenities not afforded to those at the remote sites...not that I missed the pit toilet.

Nowadays, I often find that places change so frequently that they seem to have a different flavor each time I return. I was very pleased to see that the lake and its surroundings had not changed, at all, since my last visit.

We arrived at our rental house late Saturday afternoon and I must say, I was blown away. Having booked hotels or houses in the past, somehow the images of the places always look better online. This house blew away my expectations and in no way did the images do justice to the actual home.

back yard
As the boys and I were a bit anxious to unpack the most important gear first, our fishing rods, I climbed on to of the tire, threw open the cargo carrier and tossed the gear to my two willing helpers. We immediately headed down to the dock and I tied on some Rooster Tails for the boys to toss into the lake. No joke, my oldest's first cast and he was into a beauty.

First cast and Fish On...
Sadly, I must admit that I did not remove a fly rod from the comfort of its tube the entire trip. Spin rods ended up being the order of the day. While I really wanted to sneak away and locate some quality North Wood's riffles and cast for a few hours in solitude, I decided that the looks on my boy's faces as they nailed fish after fish was something I could not miss out on this trip. We had rented a small motor boat from the homeowners and trying to manage 3 or 4 people spin fishing simultaneously was challenge enough.

just the right size
A trip to local outpost, L.L. Cote, in Errol NH, provided us the opportunity to stock up on lures for the week. The gentleman working the fishing department took plenty of time to explain the various lures and show us what was reported as being hot in recent days. As I snuck out with a bag of lures, that required me to hide the bill from my wife, the boys were giddy with excitement to use lures they had chosen for themselves.

Days were spent fishing, hiking, fishing, swimming, fishing, boating, fishing and fishing. Did I mention that we managed to sneak in some fishing during the week. After a few days, my better half even got into the action and landed a few on her own. My youngest took home the prize for the 2 largest fish of the week. When I fish with the boys, if they hook up, they are one their own. It's their job to reel in their catch - how else ya gonna learn? So Nate lays into a decent fish and his little spin rod is bending to a point that am I not sure how it survived and yet, I resisted the urge to help him reel in his prize. I played net man and coach as I instructed him how to get the fish nearer to us and in range of my net. I'll let the picture finish the story.

As it was only our second day, Bear was not ready to hold the fish for his money shot, that took a few more days...we continued to fish for the remainder of the week and caught more than I could count...

Toothy bastard
a nice fight
warmed up to bigger fish and lookin' the part
need to work on the fish handling skills a bit :)
The Great North Woods remains on of my favorite places. The ability to hop of the grid, not have a cell phone signal and really, not see many other people for a week was just what the doctor ordered.

I have had the good fortune to travel to many places across the globe and have yet to find a sunset that can rival Umbagog.
amazing colors
photo credit: Vaggie
As we have now decided to make this an annual trip, I can only hope that the change that permeates our lives continues to bypass these shallow waters. Special thanks to Bob and Donna Folsom, the kind folks who allowed our kids the run of their beautiful rental home.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

One turning 1

Wow, I almost missed the day. I knew that I started this project about a year ago and only realized over the weekend that August 16th would mark 1 year of The Weary Angler.

Looking back over some of the entries, especially the early ones, before I had any direction, I am reminded of so many other events that occurred over this time period. I was never much of a journal person growing up and didn't often write stuff down. I guess I've found it much easier to sit in my office, at home, and take some time to reflect on things I choose to blog about on a regular basis.

I thank all of you who have stopped by and to those of have commented on posts over this past year. I'm starting to consider what I would like to blog to become as I enter year 2. With the low water and warm temperatures of late, I haven't had much of an opportunity to fish as is evidenced by the lack of entries. I have however, had many thoughts that might have made for some good reading had I decided to sit down at whack away at the keyboard.

I've decided these next 12 months will be about everything and anything. Whatever strikes me at any given time may become fodder for the blog. Fishing will still remain a primary focus however, I hope to incorporate more gear reviews, travel stories, family exploits and commentary on daily life.

So, thanks again for stopping by and I hope you continue to visit and enjoy the trials and tribulations of The Weary Angler.

 ~ Steve ~

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

In need of some rain.

Having spent the weekend reacquianting myself with my log splitter, I decided to make the 5am run to the river before heading off on a 2 day work trip. I was optimistic when I walked out the front door and was greeted by a cool crisp pre-dawn morning.

Having not even passed the river in over a week, my optimism quickly faded as I was blown away by the water levels in some of my favorites spots. I opted for some of the deepest water I could find and sporadic rises greeted me as I entered the water. I thought I saw some Tricos and, based on the very subtle sipping that was going on, I tied on a sz 20 Trico to my 7x leader and proceeded to miss the first bunch of takes that came my way.

At this point, it's only about 6:30 and the water temperature was reading 64 degrees. The rises seemed to slow down dramatically and I decided to change to a larger prospecting fly as I worked my way back down stream toward my car.

I managed a couple of browns around 16" and, as I was removing the fly from the first one, I noticed that the fish appeared to feel warm. I decided to skip the photo op and get this guy back in the water as quickly as possible. I laid into the second brown pretty quickly thereafter and it was at that point that I just didn't feel like it was prudent to continue fishing so, I soaked in the cool and quiet of this fine morning and enjoyed the walk back to the car. I hope everyone out there exercises some smarts as they are out and about!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Signs, signs, everywhere a sign...

After a week away, I was itching to be standing, knee, deep, in some water. Given the current water levels, finding knee deep water isn't easy with many of my usual haunts running very low. I got the grill going at home a little earlier than usual and, after an early dinner, I was on the water by 6:00. I was surprised to see this stretch of water devoid of any other anglers. The bank offers some deeper water that was, no doubt, a little cooler that other areas.

Sign # 1 - most nights in this area and the rises are steady and there are enough willing playmates to make the evening very enjoyable. The recent rains and funky weather seem to have put the bugs off a bit. While there were risers, there was no detectable pattern and I was left to do a lot of prospecting. Whatever the fish were taking was microscopic and I just didn't have it in me to tie on anything smaller than a sz 18. So I went to the next best thing and tied up a big ol' ant with an orange indicator. This got me into some fish fairly quickly but it was still a weird evening.

a bunch of these fell to the ant

Sign # 2 - after moving around this pool, plus or minus 150 yards in either direction, a beaver comes out of nowhere and starts cruising the pool. I've run into beavers before and, most often, they seem to have a purpose to them and swim on by and get on with their business so I can get on with my casting. Not this time and not this beaver. He, I'm assuming the sex, starts swimming up and back pretty close to my position and, at this point, I figure it best for me to retreat to the comfort of the bank and perhaps that will diffuse the situation.
where's Bill Murray when you need him?
I began my walk to shore, backwards and mindful of said beaver only to become a bit alarmed when he ramps up the speed and makes a beeline for me. All bets off and I am scrambling fast for the comfort of an elevated bank.

I wait it out for a few as it was getting to a point where moving to a completely different stretch of water was out of the question as dusk was fading. After a solid 20 minutes, my friend decides he has had enough and swims downstream not to be seen again.

Sign # 3 -  I wade back into position and am immediately the target of a couple of massive dragon fly. Again, I been buzzed before but you would think I doused myself in dragon fly pheromones given the attention being paid to me. However, I ignored this sign as well and took up position.

Now, I know I'll have a hard time seeing anything so I decide to tie on a beautiful Wulff, around a size 6?, that I purchased from Eldredge Brothers Fly Shop in Cape Neddick, Maine. Great shop and I make it a point to visit every trip to Maine. This fly is truly a work of art - buggy, nicely sized and proportioned and just aching to become a meal to an unwitting brownie. After a couple tosses, to an area where I last saw rises before the moon rose, a strike! I worked the last brown of the evening to net and decided to call it a night. Happily, there were no more bizarre happenings this night and I made uneventful trip back home, all the while planning my next outing.