Sunday, January 17, 2010

Ice Fishing ... Kinda

Well, I started off on my quest to fish every month of 2010. My neighbor John and I headed up into the Jemez this past Friday. The weather forecast called for clear skies and temps near 50. Of course, things were a bit cooler up in the mountains, but it was still very nice up there. The first stream we stopped at was pretty well frozen over. There were a couple of spots where the ice had cleared. We saw a couple of fish hanging out down there, but we couldn't fish to them. They were hanging just under the ice at the head of the clearing. Hard to drift a fly down to them under a long stretch of ice. Still, it was a blast to get up in the mountains and hike around. I hiked through a couple of drifts were the snow was knee high. Our waders kept the snow off us and helped keep us warm. Crossing the frozen-over stream was fun, too. Every once in a while I'd hear the ice start to "pop", telling me to get across a little quicker. After a couple hours trying our luck on this small stream, we decided to head off to another spot.

The second stream was completely frozen, no chance of fishing there. We headed back down towards Jemez Springs where we'd find a bit more sun and warmer weather (less ice on the river). We stopped off at a popular picnic spot, well at least it's popular during the summers. The river was mostly ice free in this spot and there looked to be some good holes. There was a fair number of midges in the air -- too bad we couldn't see any fish rising to them. We fished there watching our nymphs for any subtle takes and had a great time; however, I managed to catch only one 7" rainbow.

So, for my last two fishing trips I've caught two fish total. I need to do more catching on these fishing trips! Oh well, it's as much about getting out and enjoying being outside as it is about catching fish. Still, I'm looking forward to some good dry fly action later this year.

One month down, 11 more to go ...

And I've got to get me a camera ... any suggestions?

Friday, January 1, 2010

Papa's Tiger Eye 4wt (Rod Build #3)

Almost every summer, all the guys in the family get together for a week of backpacking, camping, and fishing, or as we refer to it: "Extreme Mountaineering".  (side commentary: It does appear that our adventures have become less "extreme" with each passing year -- we must be getting softer, or at least older ... On second thought, we did have a pretty extreme hike this year -- nevermind ... )  Well, Dad has an old 7wt fly rod that he uses when we get together.  I know that 7wt means a lot to my Dad.  I'm sure he's got a lot of memories tied up with that rod. But the rod is probably older than I am, and I just didn't think that a 7wt was working too well for the streams and rivers were we have fished together recently.  So I decided I'd build a new fly rod for him.  I'm hopeful that we'll be able to create a lot of new memories with this new fly rod, just like his 7wt.

I thought a lot about what type of fly rod would probably work best for Dad's rod; length, weight, action, etc.  Michael and I talked it over too and decided a 4wt rod would work best for him, especially considering the small to medium sized rivers we fish when we get together for our summertime adventure.  I decided to build a 7'6" 4 pc 3/4 wt Tiger Eye.  Now the 3/4 wt designation means it's intended to use either a 3wt or 4wt fly line.  I expect the rod to be a fast action 3wt or a moderate action 4wt, which I think will be a great fit for Dad.

I really like the way the rod came out, from the feel and fit of the grip to the light and somewhat flexible Recoil guides.  I'm sure Dad will like it too ...

Here are the rod details:

--  7'6" 4 pc 3/4 wt Tiger Eye (tiger eye brown color)
--  Titanium colored window reel seat (aluminum) with burl rosewood insert
--  Full-Wells style grip made with Copano exotic cork with Burnt and rubberized cork ends
--  Forecast light titanium winding check
--  Fuji titanium SiC stripping and taming guides (size 10 and size 8)
--  REC Recoil snake guides (one size 2, seven size 1 guides)
--  H&H chrome large loop, thin wire tiptop
--  Gudebrod chestnut thread with Sulky light copper trim
--  Pheasant and jungle cock feather inlay

Here's Papa's new rod:

You know it's Papa's rod because it's got his name on it:

Just like Michael's rod, I kept with the subtle earthtones in the wraps -- no color preserver and chestnut wraps to match the blank.  I did a five-turn spiral thread inlay on the ferrules using the light copper thread. 

I actually did the feather inlay for Papa's rod before I did the one on Michael's.  I spent a good amount of time thinking of feather combinations to try.  I knew I didn't want anything extravagant.  I wanted something personal.  Well, I finally came up with the perfect bird: pheasant.  Some of my favorite memories growing up are from times Dad and I went hunting, and came back with nothing to show for it.  Well, there was that one time deer hunting when Dad emptied his shotgun (full magazine) to kill a jack rabbit.  At least we shot something that trip (we got rid of the rabbit before getting home -- we still haven't brought anything home from a hunting trip).  Anyways, I thought back to the times the two of us would go out pheasant hunting.  Most of the time, Dad was the hunter while I was the "dog".  I was okay with that too, except I never did like the idea of bird shot coming in my general direction as the pheasants were flushed out.  I also seem to recall most of the birds just running away from us on the ground rather than flying off and giving us a shot at them.  Nevertheless, I have good memories of "attempted pheasant hunts" so, a pheasant feather it was.  One pheasant feather on the rod with a single jungle cock nail on top.  Perhaps I'll make this my "signature" on my personal rods ...

You can see the inlay again in this picture along with the stripping and tamer guides and three snake guides. Without any trim on the guide wraps, the guides blend in nicely with the rod.

A final rod picture ...

I wish I would have taken a picture of the rod tube for Papa's rod, too. It's an brown-grey-bronze color powder coated aluminum tube with golden copper anodized end caps. It looks sharp.

I'm looking forward to fishing with you this summer Dad. Now get out there and practice your casting on the lake behind your house (as long as it's not frozen over).