have a wonderful holiday; the camera went swimming
The Report from Spotted Tail 12/26/10
in this issue:
the holidays are here!
a cosmic thought
Fly Contest Winner, Fly Contest Cancelled
Yesterday was Christmas, no news there. When we watch TV now the ads will be about something other than Christmas.
I hope at least part of the day was holy for everyone. Even if you're a pagan, the winter solstice was only a few days ago. The winter solstice! A GREAT reason for a celebration!
And of course on December 25 Christians the world over celebrate the birth of Christ. He certainly had an impact on a lot of human souls! He certainly had an impact on human history!
In a few more days we celebrate the calendar turning over. My most sincere wishes to all for a happy, healthy, prosperous, and peaceful new year.
Reader Steve Sugarman sent me the following: "I've been flyfishing down here for a bit over four years and often find myself on the Banana in my yellow Tarpon 120. My primary target is generally reds and big trout but when there isn't a tail to be found, I usually end up frustrating myself on those black drum. I've tried everything but can't seem to get one to eat. I've hooked a few but the hook always pulls out. I had one giant that obviously took my 1/0 black matuka and I had him on for a good 20 minutes but broke him off. What's the secret? I've heard everything from big fly to small, black or dark to white, slow strip to no strip. Can you point me in the right direction? I'm an experienced tier so a good pattern would be appreciated. Thanks in advance."
I usually use a #2 bunny booger, or a #2 black over forest green Clouser Minnow, or a #2 or 4 dark brown merkin. While I've caught them on a variety of things, it's important that it sink with feeling and be worked slowly right along the bottom.
My #2 flies use a 1/50th ounce lead dumbbell eye, not brass or other less dense metal. They must have a weedguard. I like a double mono prong. Whatever fly you use get it right in their face and keep it there as long as you can. Don't expect them to move more than a few inches to take it.
Spotted Tail has an official sister, Cheryl by name. She works in glass, both stained glass and fused dichroic. I may be biased but she does awesome work (and loves commissions!). Some of her recent work can be seen on Facebook at this link.
If you like art it's worth the time to check it out.
A Cosmic Thought
I enjoy watching the National Football League on television. (That's not the cosmic thought.) There's no rational explanation for it. I'm not proud, or ashamed, of it. It is what it is.
I also enjoy reading Gregg Easterbrook's weekly column about the NFL, Tuesday Morning Quarterback (ESPN.com p.2, after about noontime on Tuesday during season). Actually, I model this blog after his column! Besides having thoughtful commentary about the NFL, and photos of hot cheerleaders, he discusses other topics, including this week's cosmic thought. I shamelessly copied verbatim:
"A Cosmic Thought: Each year at this time, TMQ reminds us of the majestic scale of the universe, conveyed to some degree by this graphic.
"The fine new book 'A Grand and Bold Thing' by Ann Finkbeiner, about the Sloan Digital Sky Survey project, reports that researchers believe there are at least 100 billion galaxies. A century ago, only one galaxy, the Milky Way, was known to exist. Now the count is 100 billion and climbing.
"This recent study led by Yale University cosmologists found there exist at least three times as many stars as previously thought. The star count is now at 200 sextillion, a number that is very hard to conceptualize. That's a two followed by 23 zeros. What's a two followed by 23 zeros? The universe, thought to be 14 billion years old, has not yet existed for 200 sextillion seconds. Get this: The universe has not yet existed for a thousandth of a percent of 200 sextillion seconds.
"And stars are still forming -- even in our neighborhood.
"To us, the universe seems immensely old; compared to itself, the cosmos glistens with the dew of morning. The present universe might exist hundreds of billions of years, if not forever. Creation contains at least 100 billion galaxies and far more stars than there are grains of sand. Don't let this make you feel small. Quite the contrary; it should make you feel important. Life is what grants the immensity of the universe meaning. Who can say what the purpose of the cosmic enterprise might be?"
Last week I wrote, "To me, there is nothing that says 'Adventure coming right up' more than the end of a canoe visible through the windshield while I'm driving." I got to see that grand sight again this week, and again there was adventure.
On Tuesday I picked up Dr. Todd Preuss, post-doctoral researcher and one of the world's leading authorities on the structure and function of the human brain. I always enjoy fishing with Todd because the conversations are wide-ranging and stimulating. We drove to KARS Park. Goals- a 20 pound redfish, a 20 pound black drum.
The weather was as close to perfect as it's possible to be, a high of 70 degrees, no clouds, wind light and variable. As expected, we found fish tailing.
Todd hooked a nice drum on a black bunny booger, fought it well. I jumped in the water and leadered it. The tippet parted- no photo. I so wanted to drop that puppy in his lap.
There were lots of shots and Todd hooked another. He fought it well and I hopped into the water to leader it. I grabbed the fish and dropped it into Todd's lap. Photo below.
A gentleman by the name of Mark had introduced himself as we were prepping the Dagger for launch. Mark was a kayak fisherman. Later in the day he passed us, heading south.
South of where we were fishing is a shallow bar. Mark got down there and started calling to me. "John, I need your help" we heard faintly. I thought, "What the hell…" but headed down that way.
It turns out Mark was fine. A dolphin had stranded itself in shallow water. Mark wanted help pushing it across the shallows into deeper water. By the time we got there all the heavy lifting was done. The poor dolphin, probably exhausted from its stranding, was just lying there resting. What a photo opportunity!
I grabbed the camera and started to photograph Mark and the dolphin. Todd said to me, "Give me the camera. I'll get a picture of you." Now I know Todd has a minor balance problem. I know Todd was out of the canoe. But I gave him the camera.
He did take a picture of me with the dolphin. But then he lost his balance and down he went. My beautiful camera went swimming, effectively killing it. Wahhhh!
Mark gave the dolphin another push. The dolphin took the hint and swam off. Mark asked us, "Did you see my sunglasses?" No we hadn't. He had taken them off and dropped them without realizing it while performing the dolphin rescue.
That dolphin cost me about 1400 bucks and Mark another $170, a pretty costly rescue. But I'd never touched a dolphin before and likely never will again. That was pretty cool. I just wish the ticket had been less expensive.
Todd and I weren't done. He had a shot at the 20 pound red, a tailing fish in about a foot of water. The cast was good, the fish ate the fly, and Todd missed the strike, heartbreaking. We saw some other big reds but didn't get a shot. Todd got two little rats and a 20+ inch trout while blind casting.
Technically he got a slam. And he did get the 20 pound drum. I guess we need to go back for the 20 pound redfish.
Friday the wind blew chill as I launched the kayak in the Banana River Lagoon. I paddled into foam streaked whitecaps for two hours before seeing a fish, a pair of big reds, which swam right up to the boat and spooked before I could even touch the rod.
Not too long after a black drum tail broke the surface. I waded to it and made a cast- the fish spooked off the fly.
I spotted one other black drum but did not get a shot.
Three slot reds were found in miles of shoreline paddling. Shots at two resulted in two spooked fish.
In five hours and about eight miles of paddling in that cold wind I saw seven fish, did not get a bite. It was a beautiful winter day though, and I had the whole place to myself. It's a good thing I enjoy paddling. I got to do plenty of it.
The Fly Contest
The contest went on for a month. Four people sent me pictures of flies. Only two also sent in tying instructions. Those two were Gary Griffin and Vince Staley. Thanks, guys!
Because of what I perceive as a lack of interest I'm dropping the contest. However, I would like to announce the winner of this month's dispute. It's-
and Vince Staley!
A double winner, how democratic is that?
Gentlemen, email your snail mail address to me email@example.com and I will send you a copy of Flyrodding Florida Salt. No you don't have to share it, one for each of you.
Thanks again for your submissions!