Thursday, October 13, 2016

The Photo Bin - September 2016

The Photo Bin series hit the jackpot in September. Not from a quality perspective, mind you, but from a quantity perspective as the camera got out a lot as I took on the Orvis 20 Days in September challenge. To date, I've shared one shot an outing, as you've seen in my previous quartet of posts, but there were a fair amount of interesting images beyond that. Here then, are a few.

Above, an abstract of the first signs of Fall, taken as I bushwhacked along the western edge of our neighborhood pond.

"I feel so relaxed here." - Marc Payne

Sometimes you just have to set up a slow drift, sit on a rock, and close your eyes to soak it all in. Then hope that the fish don't interrupt you. Dodging hurricanes, I escaped for a perfect visit to western NC waters, the Davidson River, with a good friend. Marc's and my fishing habits are diametrically opposed. I am a hit and run fisherman, constantly moving up/downstream. Marc can sit over a run for hours, patient drift after patient drift. He's able to narrow his focus, push everything out of his brain but the moment, and be perfectly content within it. I admire that in him.

But I'm still on the move.

A look down the power lines. An old fishing haunt I hadn't visited in years. A skunk. Now I remember why it's been years.

September wasn't all fishing. Soccer season was in full swing, though "full swing" is a relative term, especially considering 8:00am games. Too early for old men to be playing kid's games.

And after such weekends, everything needs to dry out. Me included.

A bit more abstract. I've enjoyed capturing reflections while on the water. Odd, centerline compositions, but fun. Here, crooked shapes found while kayaking in local backwater floodplains.

I finished the 20 Days challenge, quite literally, at the end of the road. Old highway 64 disappeared into Lake Jordan Reservoir some fifty years ago...

...but still exists if you know where to look. Two lanes of blacktop fading into the woods, but kept alive by the boots of fishermen

Despite the dire warning (and the possibility of a crap soundtrack), I found the bass near Chicken Bridge both numerous and willing, though a bit on the small side. Let that be a lesson to you, hip-hoppers.

What, exactly, that lesson might be I'll leave to you to decide.

So September turned into a fun month with the camera, from foggy sunrise to brilliant sunsets. Just right for the Photo Bin. Hope you enjoyed the images.

What is a Photo Bin?

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Orvis 20 Days in September: 16-20

Day 16 of 20 Days in September. Took a stroll through The Rock Garden, a few miles downstream of my usual haunts. The fishing's usually suspect but it's a rock-hopping paradise. A big kid's playground. Sometimes you go just because it's fun.

On the homestretch for my twenty days. Hoped to add a little saltwater action to the mix during this final run but the previous week's weather stirred things up pretty badly down east. The prime flood tides were thoroughly negated by the dirty conditions so we pushed our plans into this second week of October. Right into hurricane Matthew. We can't catch a break.

So I kept it close to home and mixed it up a bit more.

Day 17 of 20 Days in September. We danced around one another for more than an hour; he understandably uncertain about me and I unwilling to scare away the first fishing companion I've had in a couple of weeks. Here he poses on the Saxapahaw spillway.

Day 18 of 20 Days in September. Was supposed to be floating a downeast flood tide today, looking for tailers, but the conditions said otherwise. So, instead, stayed close to home and dragged the kayak back to those Lake Jordan flood plains. Fascinating waterscape.

Day 19 of 20 Days in September. I mailed one in today. Simply wandered down the hill to the neighborhood pond for an hour and pitched poppers to bluegill. Didn't stress over an image. Didn't chase the hawg in the back corner. Every day out doesn't have to be epic. A lesson worth learning.

Day 20 of 20 Days in September. Seems appropriate to finish the challenge down old Hwy 64, two lanes of ancient blacktop that disappeared into the waters in the late 60s as the reservoir filled. That part of roadway that held higher ground is still quietly melting into the surrounding woods after fifty years. Quite literally, it's the end of the road for this 20 Days in September.

Here's a huge thanks to Orvis for putting on this 20 day event. It put me back on local waters that I haven't fished in years and pushed me to places I've been eyeing forever. It challenged me to look for opportunities as I traveled with family. It stretched my fishing. It stretched my photography. It, simply put, was a blast. Hope it was for you too, whether you got your 20 in or not.

Couldn't end it any better than that.

Note: To see all of these 20 Days posts, look here. Thanks!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Orvis 20 Days in September: 11-15

Day 11 of 20 Days in September. After a week on the road it felt good to be wading home waters once again. Bushwhacked a half-mile down an overgrown power easement, followed bouncing whitetails along faint, winding deer paths, to a section of river I've not fished in a couple of years, only to remember WHY once I got there. Skunk #3. Still pretty, though.
The problem with fishing almost daily at home is that you need to figure out a way to mix it up. It would be easy to wander down the hill every day for a few casts, but what's the fun in that day in and day out? To make this interesting I needed to find new waters, return to old waters unfished in ages, or do things just a bit on the odd side for variety. Thats how I'd get through the second half of the challenge. Doing things differently. So I did.

Days 12 and 13 of 20 Days in September. Clear skies and a full harvest moon could mean only one thing. Night bassin' on the pond. I slipped in the kayak, pitched poppers at the edges, and listened in the dark for the strikes. Best of all, since I fished on each side of the midnight hour, I got two days toward my twenty. Sweet!

Day 14 of 20 Days in September. Caught the last rays (and a few small bass) upriver at Chicken Bridge. The way it stormed all day, I would never have guessed that I'd be on the water this evening in such beautiful conditions. Persevere.

Day 15 of 20 Days in September. Can't get to twenty if you won't fish in the rain. Dodged intermittent showers all afternoon on the Rocky River. Nothing beats a good rain shell.

Heading into the homestretch...

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Orvis 20 Days in September: 6-10

Day 6 of 20 Days in September. Paint Creek, WV. I've driven along this stretch of water a hundred times over the past couple of decades, cruising along I-77 to/from Chicago and Indiana. Daydreamed about it at 70mph. The 20 Day challenge finally made me stop. Having no clue what might be in it (if anything) I went with my if-something's-there-it'll-eat-this pattern, a #8 olive woolly bugger with red gill wraps, and, as the 18-wheelers whizzed by overhead, picked up a red-eyed bass on my third swing. Mission accomplished.

I feared that this week would be my real challenge, traveling north for a family visit and Mary's high school reunion. Packed my Orvis Safe Passage Carry It All with a 4, a 6, and a 7wt and hoped for the best. As it turned out, I need not have worried. I managed to sneak in some water on five of the six days we were on the road, including a couple of unique places.


Day 9 of 20 Days in September. Can't let non-fishing travel get in the way of a good challenge. Borrowed a bike and cruised the Lake Michigan waterfront in search of feeding carp, freshwater drum, and smallies. The Windy City skyline is quite the fly fishing backdrop, don't you think? My thanks to Jon at Chicago Fly Fishing Outfitters for the great intel.

Day 8 of 20 Days in September. Four days, four states. NC, WV, IL, IN. Checked in on sister-in-law Margie's backyard pond and found that 2014's stocking has been wildly successful. A quick circuit picked up four 14-18 inch bucketmouths who had never seen a fly before. Fun stuff!

Day 9 of 20 Days in September. In between t-showers, reunion social commitments, and the Manchester Derby, I introduced a few more of Margie's fish to the ways of the popper. I could get used to having a bass pond ten steps out the back door.

Day 10 of 20 Days in September. Last day on the backyard bass pond. Halfway there.

So I came home with ten outings under my belt. Much better positioned than I'd imagined. Maybe I could do this!

Mother Nature, however, decided she'd not make it easy...

Monday, October 3, 2016

Orvis 20 Days in September: 1-5

Day 1 of 20 Days in September. Nothing epic. Just a saunter down to the pond. Low hanging fruit. But then, that's what this is all about, isn't it? A chance to rediscover those neglected local fisheries. Yeah. I'm in.

Orvis called me out. Called us all out. Could we manage to go fishing twenty days in the month of September? With travel commitments and the arrival of hurricane season and, let's face it, life in its infinite uncertainty, could I get on the water two out of every three days for a month? That's what Orvis suggested in its 20 Days in September challenge. Fish, take a picture, and share on Orvis's Facebook page.

What the heck. Figured I'd give it a try.

So for the next few days I'll share my efforts here. Parcel them out a handful at a time and include the text that accompanied them on my posts. I hope you enjoy them.

Day 2 of 20 Days in September. Tucked underneath some stream-side cover. Sneaking in a birthday tradition, morning's first light on the Haw, before Hermine arrives in earnest and blows this place out.

Day 3 of 20 Days in September. Put a few hours between me and Hermine and hit the Davidson with my good buddy Marc Payne. Perfect day for western NC waters.

Day 4 of 20 Days in September. A gift. Hermine wobbled east and spared the Haw and its watershed, giving me an afternoon on my home waters that I didn't expect for a while.

Day 5 of 20 Days in September. Spurred by this challenge, I hit some Lake Jordan floodplains that I've been eyeing for years. Sorry I waited so long. Shadows are as close to a selfie as I try to get.

A quarter-way there. It's a start. But with family travel on the horizon, things get more interesting...