Weather…

2022 has been a weird year in regards to weather. We really didn’t have much of a Spring season here in Oklahoma. I’m sure a lot of other places experienced the same thing or worse. We’ve had many more days over 100F than I ever remember and we’re still experiencing those temperatures this late into September.

Like several other places, we need some rain. We haven’t had any meaningful amounts in months. Our vegetable garden has not produced much in the way of food all summer. In fact, we are just now beginning to see tomatoes on the plants. Even our Okra, which usually does well in sun and heat has suffered and is only about 24 inches tall, which is odd.

Our fishing has suffered as well due to high temperatures as well as low water conditions. Fortunately the Velox is a resilient species and we hope they continue to thrive.

We did manage to complete one of our projects and that was getting a solar power system out to the barn and shed. It is a small scale system at the moment but we will expand it as funds are available. I was tired of running extension cables out there to do any work. I still need to get a pure sine wave inverter and one more battery but I can at least charge tool batteries and have lighting out there. It’s a start at least and moving incrementally forward is still better than going in reverse. Solar is far from perfect, but maybe it will help in some small part.

As stated before, I am not a climatologist and have refrained from making statements or announcing my “position” because I don’t have all of the data. But just by using pure observational skills, it is clear that something isn’t quite normal. We already try to reduce or conserve what we can and with the supply chain issues around the globe, this situation can and may get more “interesting.” And I am sure it will probably impact our fishing even more. Time will tell.

Blog Update…

My apologies for not posting anything to the blog for a couple of weeks. My work schedule has drastically increased to include longer hours and weekends as well. We are still experiencing temperatures in the upper-90’s to 100F+ so we haven’t been fishing at all. The good news as far as I can tell is that the temps will start slowly decreasing next week.

Yes, we could hit the rivers and fish but we haven’t had any measurable rainfall in over a month which will effect water levels. At times like that, it’s like “shooting fish in a barrel,” so I feel that it isn’t very sporting. I prefer to have a sustainable population of fish for the future as opposed to “getting mine now.”

Some people may disagree but I prefer to have an ethic when it comes to this sport. This isn’t a rant, nor am I pointing fingers. Rather, it’s just my ethos and I will not deviate.

I definitely have upcoming blog posts which I think readers may like. They are still a few weeks off but I promise they will be forthcoming. Stay tuned for those and I hope everyone is doing well.

Simms Flyweight Access Boots…the Good and the Bad.

I had high hopes for these boots but ran into a major issue-at least for me.

SImms Free Salt Boot and Simms Flyweight Access Boot

First the GOOD- they fit like a tennis shoe and the traction was far superior to the Simms Free Salt Boot. And they definitely felt less clunky and bulky. I felt more nimble while traversing across rocks and boulders. They are light as the name implies and I could’ve worn them all day.

Now for the BAD- no matter what I tried, I couldn’t keep sand and microgravel from getting into the boot. It got to the point where enough got inside that it was uncomfortable wearing them. I know that I have skinny ankles and as such I expect some sand/microgravel to enter in through the top of the Simms Guide sock but there was a lot inside the boot. Way more than what was inside the sock.

As you can see from the photo the Simms Free Salt is quite a bit taller which gives the Guide Sock more surface area to prevent ingress of sand/microgravel. The tongue design and height of the boot might be the culprit.

I plan to try my Simms standard wading socks and separate velcro gravel guards to see if I can get a better seal to prevent this issue. As of now, I’d rate them at a 5 out of 10 on a sliding scale. I’m not ready to give up on them, but as is, I shouldn’t have to stop and empty the boot out just to keep fishing-that doesn’t work for me.

We’ll see how it goes from here.

Cossatot River Trip Picture Gallery…

All of the photos will be included here.

Centerpin Reel Practice…

We managed to get all of our morning chores done by 0630 and decided that after coffee, we would run down to one of the local lakes so she could fish while I practiced casting the centerpin reel.

We are so sick of this wind and there is nothing we can do about it. Day after day of 20+ mph winds gets really old. And it didn’t help with me trying to learn the Wallis cast and the BC Swing cast. I’ll have to wait for a calm day or drive 2 hours to the river to practice.

My original plan was to just cast lead weight to get a feel for this centerpin reel but I opted to rig up a float, some weight and a hook baited with earthworms and go fishing.

First cast and I hooked into a very healthy Bluegill that put up a great fight. The only rod I had that was close to a float rod was a 10ft Crappie jigging rod which didn’t work out too well, but I managed to catch 11 fish on it.

Mrs. Velox Seeker caught 8 Crappie and 1 Largemouth bass on her spinning setup. We were both constantly battling the wind as well as weeds. I managed to catch 6 Largemouth bass and 5 Perch, all of which were fun on the rod and centerpin reel. After the wind picked up with gusts over 30 mph, I switched to a spinning setup but couldn’t catch a cold. Zilch, zero.

All in all, I was impressed with the potential of the centerpin reel and the ability to make long, controlled drifts. With a legit centerpin rod I think this will be a highly effective method to fish a river for Smallmouth bass.

Sentimentality and Fishing…

I honestly believe that the sentimental aspect of fishing is what keeps me going. Sure, there are social media posts that have the “wow factor” that lights a fire in the imagination, but equally important is the memories of times and places and people I have fished with in the past. Trips with my father to fish for trout in Colorado, or walleye and smallmouth bass in Minnesota and Canada. Local trips with my family and friends. All are special and memorable in some way.

I sit here surrounded by the technical marvels of fishing gear. I don’t do “ugly” and as such, all of my fishing gear has an aesthetic aspect that appeals to my soul. I have reels that are almost 100 years old and some that are fresh off the line. None of them are displeasing to the eye. Some are a perfect blend of current technology and classic design while others are true classics.

It is left up to us to imbue these technological wonders and craftsmanship with mind, body, spirit and ethics to accomplish our individual goals and ideals. And I know that I’ve done it right when time slips away and 5 hours of fishing have passed, yet I feel like I just stepped into the river mere minutes ago.

The gratitude I feel for each fish I catch and the respect given to the quarry. The shared moments of success or failure with companions. The river is a metaphor of life, yet I tap into it to recharge my essence, time slows just a bit and the rat-race is forgotten. Memories are all that are left and it’s enough for me. Unlike Maclean who was “haunted by waters,” I find that I am healed by waters. And I relish every second of it.

Clarification.

In hindsight, on my last post the title seems a bit dubious. I just wanted to clarify that it really wasn’t an abject failure and I plan to continue to learn the Euro nymphing method.

Anytime I’m able to get out and fish is a WIN to me. And if I’m able to learn something new, it’s even better. I’m not going to make excuses for my poor choice of words and I should have slowed down and put more thought into the title. I just didn’t catch any fish on the nymphing rod and was kind of bummed. Lesson learned. I was going to change the title but have decided to let it stand.

And interestingly enough, I didn’t get frustrated while attempting to learn how to Euro nymph! Quite the opposite. It was actually quite fun and it brought out my “inner nerd” as I contemplated how to get better and what I needed to change. I just need to adapt this style to the type of smallmouth fishing we do.

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more. Sincerely, Velox Seeker

Biding My Time…

With the weather being what it is…I decided to get a couple of projects done. First up was to upgrade the bushings/bearing on my Shimano Stradic C3000. Again, I ordered hybrid ceramic bearings from Plaig Bearings out of Australia.

My Largemouth Bass Finesse reel
Top to bottom: Replaced the spool support bushing, the rear oscillation gear bushing and the line roller bearing.

Next up was new jig heads. After fishing last weekend, I decided to try and find some heavier jig heads to get down into the deeper pools. I still wanted a short shank hook since these fish (Neosho strain smallmouth bass) don’t get very big. I found the Owner Cultiva JH-89 4.5gram jig heads and ordered some. I also picked up a few packages of the Owner Cultiva JH-86’s in 3.0grams. We normally fish 2.2gram jig heads.

Heavier weight!
Trying out a new method to carry my jig heads.

I enjoy fly fishing but some days the wind is really bad so I switch to conventional spinning gear. Being relegated now to fishing on the weekends, I like to maximize my time on the water. It isn’t a big deal to throw a pack rod and reel into my pack just in case.

I had planned on getting these projects done yesterday but when my Dad sent me a message about our local weather alert, I rushed out to get all of the mowing done before the rains came. So I got up early this morning to get some of these done.

Next project on the list was leaders. Store bought tapered leaders are great…I just don’t like paying their asking price. So I generally tie my own. Years ago I bought this Mangrove Leader Wallet and have never looked back. This has been one of the best additions to my fly fishing gear and I use it all the time.

It has a zipper on the end that accesses a section that goes the full length of the leader wallet. That’s where I keep my cheat sheets, sighter materials, mucilin, nippers etc etc. I love this thing!

If I could be a Super Hero, I think I would choose the name…”the Piddler” since I quite often find myself “piddling” around with my fishing gear. Tweaking this or modifying that. Countless hours are spent doing just that, in the hopes of creating something better or more effective. And I know I’m not alone!

See you on the next one…

More Practice…

This morning I got out early and started practicing my fly casting. I feel that one can never practice enough. And since there was very little wind this early in the day, why not practice?

I started with a Fenwick Fenlite 5wt which is a fast action rod. I do not feel that my casting ability is up to the level where I can achieve the full benefits of a rod like this. So I switched over to a Redington Classic Trout 9ft 5wt which has a medium fast action that is more suited to my casting style.

I am really beginning to like this rod.

And before anyone starts calling me out on practicing over gravel…it’s the straightest, most open place I have to practice on. Also, I don’t throw out my old fly lines, but rather save them for practice use.

Remembering the lessons my Dad taught me when first learning to cast…I set up a feed bucket and began practicing. To me, accuracy is more important than distance so I focus on that. In time I will increase the distance.

First distance is 30ft…I moved up to take the picture.

After about 30 minutes I was able to put approximately 3 out of 10 casts into the bucket. The rest were either over and past or right beside. I am trying to focus on accuracy, minimal effort and consistency.

Success!

I’ve probably watched every Lefty Kreh casting video on YouTube which to me is a good thing. That legend could CAST. But everybody is different so it takes time to develop a style you are consistent and happy with which is why practice is so important. I hope to take what I learn to the river and fine tune it some more.

And I agree with Lefty… “clocks are for telling time”

WIND…

I apologize for not posting anything to the blog that was fishing related. We have been dealing with high winds for the past 6 days which has made fishing almost impossible in our area. Average wind speeds have been around 17mph with gusts up to 48mph and after this next round of storms moves through tomorrow, we are hoping that it will calm down some.

TROOPER…2009?-22MAR2022. R.I.P

He was a good boy!

(This dog was abandoned at a campground. We have no firm idea of his actual age and the vet estimated him to be about 4 years of age, hence the question mark.) It was the end of August and temperatures were over 100F. We noticed him hanging around the bathroom facilities while the entire campground was empty except for us. We put out a bowl of water for him and hoped somebody would return for him.

My wife and I were there to do an ultralight backpacking trip and were staying one night at the campground before starting our hike. This dog wandered over to our tent and slept beside it all night. Early the next morning we didn’t see him and after putting out water for him, we started on our way. We ran into the camp host on our way to the trailhead and asked him about the dog. He said people dumped dogs there quite often and that if this one wasn’t gone by the end of the day, he’d take care of it. We knew what that meant and didn’t like it.

About 2 miles into our hike I heard something coming through the undergrowth and stopped to see what it was…it was the dog. My wife and I looked at each other because we knew we were in for a long hike and were concerned that the dog wouldn’t make it. But considering his alternatives, we opted to let him hike with us.

Needless to say, this hike turned into a disaster. All of the watering holes had dried up as we kept hiking from one to the next hoping for water. With the temperatures hovering around 105F we were burning through water faster than expected considering we were sharing with the dog. At the 18 mile mark I began to develop issues with the iliotibial bands in my legs, which made bending my knees very painful.

The 2-mile long forestry road we used to hike up to the scenic overlook.

We had a quick pow-wow and decided to call an end to the hike. We decided to hike 2 miles up the mountain to a scenic overlook and hopefully catch a ride back to the campground. At this point, I was walking like Frankenstein and carrying the dog the last mile to the overlook. His paws were raw from the rocky trail.

My wife reached the overlook first and waited for us. As she saw us coming up the hill, it must have been a sad sight because she decided to jog the 5 miles along the highway back to the campground to retrieve the car and come back for us. Bless her! I couldn’t have done what she did.

On the ride home, the dog was curled up on the back seat sound asleep. We talked for awhile and decided to give him the name “Trooper” since he soldiered on and covered the 20 miles with me. He was a tough little dog!

When we got home, we could tell he was grateful for a meal, a bath and a soft bed. I’ve never had a dog that snored as loud as this little guy did.

He got along well with the two other stray pups that our daughter brought home, all the while, we were questioning our sanity and decisions.

The Three Amigos
Trooper had a knack for always being comfortable.
He even made Zip feel welcome.

As a family, we mourn his passing and take solace that we tried to give him love and a better life than his previous owners. We had 9 good years with him and know that he’s in a better place, free from infirmities and old age. He was truly a member of our family, a gift out of the wilderness. He always greeted us at the door with his tail wagging and was constantly by our side. He kept a watchful eye out the window for anything out of place and alerted us to everything unusual with a bark that was way above his weight-class. You were a good boy Trooper and we miss you, Love Mom and Dad.

Expectation Management…

This is my Kryptonite. I have failed so many times when managing my expectations. I plan something to the nth degree and nothing goes according to plan. Then I get really frustrated and sometimes angry which doesn’t do me any good.

I have made plans to recon fishing areas only to be informed that “we” have other plans for the weekend. I tend to just withdraw and stop making plans for awhile. And that’s not healthy.

I need to figure out a better way to manage my expectations. I don’t want to use the military style PACE plan. Primary, Alternate, Contingency and Emergency to where I have to develop 4 separate plans for a single outing. Obviously this isn’t a life or death scenario for me.

Perhaps I should just focus on priorities and effective communication. Maybe I should just create a “rough outline” and go with the flow. Maybe I should just step back and postpone it. Or decide to go it alone.

So many factors go into a simple scouting trip. Weather is a critical factor in my area. As an example, we were in the 50’s on Thursday but received 3-4 inches of snow on Friday with temps in the teens to 20’sF. And we will be up near 80F later in the week. These narrow windows of decent weather make you squeeze stuff in when you can.

My wife has to return to her office after 2 years for no good reason other than a ” because I said so.” I kind of figured that a road trip might do us some good only to realize she wanted to relax and hang out on her last weekend. Frustrating but understandable.

However, I do need to figure this out and get better at managing my expectations. If you have any suggestions feel free to share them and thank you for reading this.