Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Jewels in the Forest

Bee and Cardinal Flower
 I had yesterday off and was visiting family but decided I would like to do a little hiking and trouting early in the morning.  The day started with a beautiful sunrise and cooler than usual temperatures for a day in the third week of August.  With no humidity, it felt more like late September which is more than fine with me.  It was the kind of day where there would seem to be a surprise around every turn in the trail.

Orange Jewel Weed or the Spotted "Touch me not"
When it comes to colorful blooming flowers August is not April or May but it does have it's own moments.  Orange Jewel Weed is one of my favorite flowers at this time of year for more than one reason.  If one is susceptible to Poison Ivy, like myself, it's a great medicinal plant for helping to alleviate the itching. 

"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder" the saying goes.  There is no more truthful statement when it comes to walking through the woods.  If flowers are not your cup of tea maybe you would prefer birds, insects, or mushrooms.

Add some rain and overnight the forest floor could turn into a riot of mushrooms in all shapes, colors, and sizes.  I found a number of the fungi pictured above (unfortunately, I can not remember the name of these guys, my knowledge of mushrooms is lacking compared to that of plants and animals in a forest) growing streamside adding their contribution to the palate of color.  But on this day all of these little sights were icing on the cake. I was after jewels of a different sort and luckily for me today I found them in abundance.

My idea of treasure.
 Though many were small I was able to land quite a number of brookies in the few pools that I visited yesterday.  Pictures do no justice to the colors that a brook trout can display but when you mainly practice catch and release that is all I have left of them when I leave.  I have said it before and I will say it again I'll take a day like this over any other (with the exception of time with my wife and kids) any day of the week.  Any day spent in pursuit of the treasures that can be found streamside in a forest will provide rewards that can last a lifetime.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Traveling Sakasa Kebari Fly Tying Kit: UPDATE

The Kit's Contents
Every once in a while I examine the stats section of my blog just to satisfy my curiosity.  I am always facinated by the search terms people use and where many of the people who view the site come from. I also take note of which posts people will tend to view the most.  This would include an earlier post on the very topic presented here.  I have been meaning to update this one for a while.  I have always liked to create small portable kits that would be complete have many uses.  This would include kits for fishing, survival and hobbies.  The traveling sakasa kebari fly tying kit was just an extension of that little obsession.  Once created, I usually continue to tinker with these "kits" to improve on them in one way or another.  This portable fly tying kit is essentially the same as I described before except that I have added several more components to increase the fly pattern possibilites.

Various flies can be tied using this kit including but not limited to those pictured above.  Pictured above are Stewarts Black Spider, Orange Partridge, Bubble Sakasa Kebari's,  olive Takayama Sakasa Kebari, Brown Watchet, and a black s.k. with gold wire rib and male pheasant hackle.

List of Materials and Tools

1 Bobbin
1 small hackle plier
1 small sisccor
1 needle
1 small vial with head cement
1 small pin vise

"prepared" hackle feathers from the following:
Hungarian partridge
male pheasant
Indian hen back
peacock herl

small gold wire (for ribbing)
midge sized sliver-lined glass tiers beads
Mustad C49S size #10 & #12 scud hooks
Standard Mustad dry fly hooks size #14 & #12
Pearsall's silk thread in Olive, Hot Orange, Black, and Brown (when I pack it tight)

It might be unbelievable but I can pack all of the materials and tools into one Altoids tin and if you try to tie every conceivable pattern with the included materials there are well over 50 types or variations of flies that can be done.  In addition, I can now tie a number of great North Country Spider patterns as well.  These would include the Orange Partridge, Stewarts Black Spider, Light Needle and Brown Watchet.  With the addition of larger hooks I could even drop the vise to tie with only my hands.  And the use of the four different colors should allow me the flexibility to cover a wide range of insect colorations. As I stated in my original post, this kit will never replace my usual set up but It's nice to know whether I'm on the road or stream side I have a kit in my pocket that will allow me to tie up some flies whenever I want.

Monday, August 8, 2011

My Favorite Kind of Fishing Trip

Bella and her "Barbie Rod"
 I do all kinds of fishing in all sorts of places.  There are some kinds of fishing that I find more appealing than others.  I love the fight a striper puts on when I'm down in the harbor but I'll always prefer fishing for small wild brookies in a remote forest stream.  However, there is one type of fishing that I prize most of all...and they are the trips that include fishing with my daughter.  We have not done too many trips this year but I always enjoy them.  This past Saturday we headed down to the millpond for some bass and bluegills.  We spent about and hour catching and getting a quick look at a number of fish before releasing them.  But like any 5 year old her attention began to drift and I soon began to hear the familiar "Can we go now?" 

The next thing she said took me by surprise however.  Bella asked "Can we go down to the dock?"  I knew she meant Stony Brook Harbor, which leads to Long Island Sound.  I have never fished with her down there before... but a chance to fish a little more...who would pass that up?  I have been doing real well with cocktail blues and there were plenty of snapper blues around so I thought it would be a good idea and it was only three minutes away from the millpond.  When we arrived there were a number of people down there with their kids doing the same thing.  The bottom line was that I pulled in one bluefish and Bella lost a plastic worm to a fish which made her scream with excitement.  In the end, she told me it was OK she didn't catch a fish because she had a lot of fun.  To me...that meant the world.  It's not the number of fish caught that matters but the quality of the time spent doing so and the company who spend it with you.  That is why a fishing trip such as this can not be beat and will always be treasured.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

An Early Morning Stroll Through Time

Split Rock on the Coxing Kill has been carved out of the quartz conglomerate over the last 10,000 years.
I went home this past weekend to be part of a wedding for a friend I have known since 1st grade and to visit my folks.  As I do every time I get a chance to go home to the Hudson Valley I go for a quick hike in the Shawangunks and this trip was no different.  I chose to stroll along one of my favorite streams that I have spent a great deal of time exploring over the years.  In every trip I manage to see something for the first time or things I have already seen in a different light.  This trip was no different.

However, on this particular hike, I didn't see any spectacular animals or encounter any new blooming flowers.  The stream was running at about normal levels for this time of year and all of the sights, sounds, and smells suggested that it was business as usual in this forest.  What did stand out on this walk was my sense of appreciation.  At one point I took off my Teevas and placed my feet in the cool clear water of this little pool I love to visit and just took it all in.  After a while I was somewhat startled by the rising of some beautiful 3-4" brook trout within a few feet of my toes.  It was at this point that I began to feel a deep sense of appreciation for all that I was enjoying around me.  Thousands of years of water sculpting rock and cycles of birth, death, and birth again have given rise to these beautiful hardy little creatures at my feet.  Their ancestors may have endured here since the last ice age despite hundreds of years human influence.   If one thinks about it, how can you not come to appreciate it?  It may have only been a few moments in time that I spent in contemplation of this but literally thousands and millions of years of biological and geological events had to occur for this to happen.  If moments like this do not create a deep sense of awe, reverence, and appreciation for what is around, I don't know what will.