Thursday, April 27, 2017

Godspeed II Son

DJ and I hung out today. We played disk golf. While walking
the course we came across these marsh marigolds.
He wanted to photograph them and I wanted to photograph
him getting the picture
My son leaves on another grand adventure tomorrow. If you read my blog in November he got a job at the Grand Canyon working in a restaurant. That lasted a couple of months. He came home a couple months later for reasons out of his control (girl problems)

Now he is newly single and ready for adventure. He got a job at a restaurant in Lake Village in Yellowstone National  Park. He starts his new job on May 4 but he is leaving a week early to give himself a vacation on the way (first stop- Niagara Falls).

I really admire his sense of adventure. He clearly gets his love of the outdoors from me, and for that I am grateful. However, he is his own man, and he is willing to take risks many of us only dream of. Imagine having the guts to drive across the country alone to work in a strange place and not know anyone there. I give him a lot of credit for having the guts to do so.

I've been to Yellowstone and I have seen many of the wonders. However to spend the next six months exploring off beaten trails, mudpots, and waterfalls, that I envy. So for the second time in a year I write a post wishing my son the best. I know he will be much happier this time and he is really going to love it.

Godspeed buddy,
I love you

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

White Faced Ibis

Very tough to tell in the photo but the ibis on the left is a white faced
My son leaves for a new job in Yellowstone on Friday and is working right up until Thursday. He had today off so it was one of the last times we could hang out before he leaves. We would have liked to go for a hike, unfortunately the weather is just miserable, It has been pouring most of the day. I did not want to waste a chance to hang out with my kid and I didn't want to just go to a movie or be indoors.

Along comes a Facebook post of a rare bird in Rhode Island. The bird is a White Faced Ibis. I asked my son if he would want to "chase" it, then go out to eat at one of our favorite restaurants. The ibis was seen this morning at St. Mary's Pond in Portsmouth. After I got out of work we drove down. At first we didn't see the ibis. The White Faced was mixed in a flock of Glossy Ibis. We decided to walk down a path to the pond. From the path we could see the flock near the road. So we walked back to the car and went up the road. We saw the flock then scanned it for birds with white faces.

After a few minutes we found one and then another. We only got a good look for a few seconds. Long enough to clearly tell what it was. The flock flew a few yards behind some reeds. Since we were being rained on, parked in a bad spot, and accomplished our mission we left. As soon as I started to drive the sky opened up big time. We were glad we saw the birds.

After that we went to Beck's BBQ in Middletown for some of the best pulled beef and cornbread on the planet.
Part of the flock of glossy ibis flying from one spot to
another

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Words I have never wrote before- Fishing was very good at Wachusett Reservoir!

I had Friday and Saturday off this week. Friday was was a miserable raw rainy day. I already have a cold from slight hypothermia standing in cold water on Wednesday. So I decided to be smart and stay inside Friday. I guess staying inside beats pneumonia but I was bored out of my mind. No matter the weather on Saturday, I couldn't sit in the house another spring day. I was hoping the wind would die down over night. For over a week I have been trying to go tautog fishing out of my kayak but the wind has either been toostrong, wrong direction, or I had to work.

When I woke up this morning I checked the ocean forecast. Winds were out of the north 16 mph. The ocean was still kicked up from yesterday, so kayaking in the open ocean was out of the question. The inland forecast was about fifty degrees with on and off rain all day. This weather effectively cancels out some of my daytrip ideas such as birding. However, the one place that fishing can be good on a raw day is Wachusett.

Keep in mind that fishing at Wachusett is never "hot and heavy" or "lights out." In my opinion trying to catch lake trout and salmon from shore is the hardest type of fishing I can think of in New England. If you read my blog a lot, you see that I blank most of the time there. I'd bet my next paycheck that at least two out of three people trying to catch lakers and salmon at "the Chu" blank.  Catching deep water lakers and roving salmon from shore is hard, plain and simple.

The weather was right for uping my chances for success. Both salmon and lakers like crappy weather. Salmon cruise just a couple feet under the surface if conditions are right (comfortable water temp, low light). The lakers seem more active, and maybe come a little shallower if it isn't bright and sunny.

I started my day using a shiner under a bobber for salmon and another shiner fished deep with an egg sinker. I rested my rods and sat there. I never expect a fish at the Chu, but I always hope. An hour later, the bobber dropped. I reeled in a salmon! It was only my second landlocked salmon ever. I got it to shore and it kept jumping. Instead of sliding it up the rock I allowed it to keep fighting, jumping over and over. You can see where this is going? Yup the hook popped out. It was a legal size salmon about 16 inches. Not a trophy, but you can imagine how pissed I was I didn't get a picture. Yet watching it jump was fun, so I have mixed emotions.

As I was casting my bobber out again, the deep water rod started bouncing. I was using my
Bad light, and I had my fishing pole in my other hand
but I assure you, that silhouette is a bald eagle
baitrunner reel and the fish pulled line. It kept pulling line, but when I set the hook nothing was there. None the less, two hits in five minutes, and I caught a salmon. That is the hottest action I have ever had there.

After all the excitement I didn't get any hits for an hour. I did have a laker follow my shiner once when I was checking my bait. I watched it come to within three feet of the shoreline, but wouldn't commit. That, in my book, was still pretty exciting. I decided to switch to a Kastmaster spoon for lakers. I have never caught a lake trout on lures, so again, I was not expecting to catch anything. So I as ecstatic three cast later to land a 15 inch laker.

Things went quiet again. I had my bobber drop twice (small salmon?) but didn't catch anything at my spot. So I decided to take a long walk to Bull Rock. This is a big rock that sticks out from a point and has deep water around it. It is a forty minute walk that feels a hell of a lot longer when carrying a bucket of shiners. I stopped at one rocky point to fish a while on my way to Bull Rock. I caught another lake trout on the Kastmaster! It was the same size about fifteen inches. Certainly not a big laker, but for me, this was great getting two on lures.

That laker was my last fish. I didn't get anything at Bull Rock or at the Route 12 Causeway before I left. Still, catching two lakers, a salmon, and having multiple hits felt like an all out blitz at this place. It rained a little while I was there but for the most part it was just overcast and I never got cold. All in all, I made the right choice for a daytrip today. It was fun.

Things to know
If it looks skinny, it was

I caught the salmon on a small shiner fished three feet under the bobber

The lakers were caught on a 5/8 maroon and gold spoon,

Distance matters. I was using seven foot light saltwater rods. My egg sinker was one ounce.


Monday, April 17, 2017

A Whale of a Patriots Day at Race Point

These are not rocks but feeding right whales

While a  lot of guys went south to fish the Rhode Island coastal beaches for stripers I went east. Very, very, far east. Laurie had today off from work because of Patriots Day in Massachusetts. I had to work but decided to go in extremely early so I could get out int the early afternoon. If I could get out early enough, the plan was for us to go to Race Point, Provincetown and hopefully watch the whale show.

Right now the waters off of Cape Cod are home to 130 of the 524 total right whales in the world. No one is sure why so many are there, but the theory is while the Cape feeding grounds are healthy other places whales eat are not.

So we left for the Race at 1 pm. It is 130 miles so it took close to two and a half hours to get there. However we were rewarded with a whale sighting before we got to the ocean. Before going to Race Point parking lot we stopped at the National Seashore Visitor Center to use the bathroom. While on the deck we could see the ocean a mile away and saw whales from there.

So naturally, we were excited and swiftly made our way to Race Point. Right in front of the beach were loads of small pods(2-5) of whales. At any one time there were ten in view. I had never seen a Right Whale before but here is what I learned quickly. They feed very slowly and they feed with there mouth open. While walking the beach we were gaining ground on whales going the same direction. Also, sometimes if  a whale got high enough in the water we could see their baleen,

The big white gull is a Glaucous, the black headed ones are
Laughing Gulls
We watched the whales for a couple hours making our way to the point where there was close to a thousand gulls (mostly Laughing Gulls but also a couple Glaucous). We also saw two seals, a Piping Plover, and Sanderlings on the beach.

Another highlight were all the Northern Gannets. If you have never seen Gannets feed, it is a treat. These birds dive full speed head first into the water. They make a huge splash. There were so many Gannets feeding it looked like bombs going off everywhere.

After we watched the show at Race Point we went over to Herring Cove Beach where we hoped for an encore. There were about eight whales offshore, but they were much further out. After being completely spoiled, it was a little disappointing.

Laurie coming through a tunnel
We still had a couple hours of daylight so we went for a bike ride. The bike trail at P-town is the best I have ever been on. The  loop trail goes up and over sand dunes. It is just incredible. It is tough as it goes up and down. There are sharp turns and great views of the ocean. Everyone should do this trail once if they have any interest in bike riding.

We didn't do the whole thing today. We just rode from Herring Cove back to Race Point. This part of the trail is five miles round trip. It goes over some of the best dunes. When we got back to the Race there were still a couple whales but not nearly as many. We only stayed a few minutes and went back to the car. I had a long ride home ahead of me.

So needless to say, today was epic. I probably wouldn't have taken the drive to P-town if Laurie didn't want to go. It is such a long boring ride. I suspect the whales will be around for a while. If you want to see whales without paying fifty dollars a person the trip might be worth it to you. It was to me. More pictures below


There were a lot of birds




Dunes on the bike path

Piping Plover



Gannets blowing up the water

Friday, April 14, 2017

Photo of the Day- Catogory- Something good always happens



Tried a pond today rumored to have pike. I didn't catch anything. I decided to look at a few spots on my way home for birds and frogs. While checking out a marsh two coyotes crossed the road. Managed to get a couple pictures. This although cropped a little and slightly out of focus was the best one.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Enjoying the many aspects of spring with tigers,kings, and schoolies

Tiger Trout
DJ and I had plans to go to Race Point today. The plan was to ride the bike path and look for whales on the ocean. On the way home, I was going to trout fish one of the state parks while DJ rode his bike on the trails. This was a good plan in theory, but once 6:15 came around, he no longer wanted to get out of bed. Plan B.

I didn't want to take the long drive to P-Town alone so I improvised. The state has started stocking tiger trout into some of the ponds. I wanted to catch one. So I went to the closest pond to my house they were stocked. It is a little shallow pond. I hoped I could catch a few trout early and start the rest of my day around 8 am (I got to the trout pond before 7 am). When I got there, two Powerbait guys were packing up and leaving with three trout. Another young guy got there at the same time as myself and started fishing where the other fishermen were. Within minutes he caught a trout (rainbow) on a spinner.

The fish were extremely fussy for hatchery raised trout. This guy had the best spot and caught three fish in 90 minutes. I caught one rainbow on a Roostertail. I had tried most everything in my box starting with a casting bubble/ brown wooly bugger. I tried spinners and spoons. Finally I went back to the casting bubble but put on an olive wooly bugger ( I had also tried a hares ear). For some reason the olive fly did the trick. I started getting hits every three or four casts. The fish were not very aggressive and I missed a lot of tail biters. Still my numbers started to build. I ended up catching eight rainbows. This sounds like a lot, but I really had to work for them. Also, as happy as I was to catch any fish, I really wanted to catch a Tiger Trout. Finally on my ninth fish I caught a tiger trout. It was about 13 inches. I forgot how hard they fight. They are much stronger than the rainbows.

After I fished for trout two hours longer than I planned I thought I should at least look for whales
A few herring in the run
since that was my original plan for the day. So I headed to the Cape. As I said, I wasn't making it all the way to P-Town. I figured I'd have a pretty good look at Cape Cod Bay from Scorton Creek. So I went there. The water was a little rough and I knew I wasted my time. I brought my spotting scope down and scanned the water  for 20 minutes with no luck of seeing whales or spouts. The highlight was seeing a few Red Throated Loons.

I guess I could have went further down the Cape but chose not to, Instead I headed towards home. I made a quick stop at the Herring Run to see if the alewives were in. There were a few herring but it wasn't loaded yet. I did see the King Eider again. Today was by far the best conditions I have seen it. The light was at my back and the Canal was glass calm. I took some more pictures of it but only watched it five minutes.
The last picture I'll post of the King Eider, I promise

After lunch at home I went back out again. I tried fishing a fly fishing only pond I had never been to.  The pond is nothing more than a mud hole, but it was well stocked. I fished it for an hour and caught a decent rainbow. I also saw one other one caught. I could tell as it was edging toward evening the fish were really becoming active. There were a lot of splashes around the pond.
Rainbow at the fly pond

I had other ideas. Instead of fishing a mud hole for stocked trout, why not fish a pretty ocean backwater for stripers. So I went back to the same spot I went Monday and Tuesday. I met my friend Dave and we fished the last hour before dark. Combined, we averaged a fish a minute as they were really keying on our Zoom Flukes. They were small fish, but I did land one decent one that took a little drag.

If you take anything from this post, it's this- spring is finally here. So many outdoor things are really starting to get good. Trout are stocked, stripers are in, Migrating animals are on their way back (such as birds and whales). I'll write a separate post about spring, but this really is the best time to be outdoors!

Monday, April 10, 2017

Jacked Up!!!

For the past two weeks I have been fishing for carp and trout. Most days were decent with the occasional goose egg to remind me Mother Nature is all powerful. Mixing in some birding with the fishing and I can safely say I've had a good time. However, today was different.

Today I went striper fishing. I got a call to see if  I wanted to go fish for holdovers ( sorry guys, the "fresh" fish were not here quite yet, although the countdown is on). I jumped on the opportunity to fish for stripers before the invite was finished. Then after I already committed, he told me that a lot were caught over the weekend.

Well, I'll tell you what. At that point my heart started racing and my adrenaline started flowing. I had the exact same feeling one would have when they open up their last Christmas gift and inside are tickets to Disney World. No joke, no over the top exaggeration. I was so excited. I can't even explain why striper fishing, even for holdover schoolies gets me so jacked up, but it does. 

So we go fishing. We don't get anything for an hour. But, I don't care. I'm fishing a backwater. I have my new seven foot rod that I only bought  two weeks ago. No fish, but I am on cloud nine. Then Dave hooks a fish. It's a tiny little guy. We wonder how a fish that small ever migrated up the coast, nevermind over wintered in New England. Then nothing for a few minutes then a bump, then a hook up. I'm on! I reel in my first striper of the season. 

After my first striper, Dave goes on a run of four consecutive fish and a few other hits. For me, nothing. I start to wonder at first to myself then out loud if he is getting so many fish and I'm not because I'm using braid. Then boom! I get a real solid hook up. It's not a big fish, but it is spirited. I release it.

And for the next 90 minutes we catch stripers. They are not big but they are plentiful. We catch an embarrassingly lot of fish. Neither of us go three consecutive casts without a hit. Truthfully, I'd have been happy to get four or five fish combined. We got twelve times that. Then as quickly as it started, it was over. We fished the last ten minutes without a bite. Did the fish move on? Did they just stop feeding? These are important questions that we discussed. Of course, we will never know the true answer. 

What I do know is the striper season has started for us. I enjoy fishing for carp and trout. I get a thrill out of catching exotic fish such as bowfin, landlocked salmon, and even weird green sunfish. But to catch those seven lined bass on a warm spring evening. That is something I love.