Thursday, December 11, 2008

Long Absence

It seems like a long time since I've added to my blog. In early September I was diagnosed with stage 4 kidney cancer which had metastasized to my lungs. On September 19th I went under the knife for a full left radical nephrectomy. I'm still quite sore from the surgery but am gaining strength daily. A CT scan earlier this week showed that the spots in my lungs seem to be stable at the moment - and quite small. I don't know what the future holds but I may be on some kind of chemo at some point. Until then I hope to get some fishing done whenever possible. Perhaps I'll get a few posts up.


Saturday, June 21, 2008

Encounters with Carpkind

It has been much too long since I've been fishing. A combination of work and Carpal Tunnel struggles.

I fixed that briefly today however. Though steelhead are in our local river I got out between 1 and 3PM and did some carping. Things were slow at first. Pods of spawners were cruising the surface but I could spot none in the shallows. I finally fished the smaller pond and managed to hook 3. The first wrapped my line around a pipe sticking out of the water. The other two fought well - one a 9 pounder and the other a 5. Nothing spectacular but a nice wiggle the end of the rod.

I did meet another carper who frequents the place I fished - apparently on different days. He's off on Monday and Tuesday, I usually come on Friday or Saturday. Nice to see someone else motivated to catch and release these hard fighting fish.

Here are the two fish that made it to shore. The larger is the first one.


Thursday, May 15, 2008

Warm Weather at Last!

After several months of "unseasonably cool" temperatures we had a heat wave predicted for today and tomorrow. Well, 85 and 95 degrees f. probably doesn't seem warm to some but to Western Oregonians it is a real shock when your daytime average has been in the 50's and nights have been in the 30's. Weatherman says it may crowd 100 before the weekend is over.


I couldn't bear the long fishing dry spell any longer. We had talked about going north to the trout lakes but the $3.75/gal gas price really hurt when we filled the Durango so we opted for the carp ponds instead. Of course Mrs. zonker doesn't fish so she just dropped me off and she and Otis, our 6 month old Labrador spent half a day tooling around Eugene.

That left me free to pursue the fish - which I did with gusto. It's been a long winter and a long, cold spring. With the suddenly warm water, lots of spawning carp were about but it took me some time to find feeders. This chunky 10 pounder decided she liked me.

Some time passed before I found another active fish but this one finally moved. It weighed 8 pounds.

Mrs. zonker called me on the cell just as I hooked up with the largest fish of the day - this nice 13 pound small freight train. It was nice to see my bright orange backing again as she took off for the opposite side of the lake.

Great to get out again. My hands are steadily improving with the therapy. Looks like I might not need surgery.


Saturday, April 12, 2008

New Float Tube Mods

My fishing has been limited by the shape of my hands lately. Carpel Tunnel still. So, I've been doing a little work on my float tube. I often fish trout and bass from it using flyrods, so I decided to go all out and make something with that in mind. Here are some photos. Most of the mods are inspired by the ideas of others - especially those on the Big Fish Tackle Float Tube Forum. In the pic, the yellow pool noodle is attached to top of floating fish wire basket. I use this when I fish our in-town lake for stocker trout. Yum! Also seen in the pic immediately below are the blue/red inflatable PFD, the Fishin' Buddy fish finder, and the green Wood River fly fishing bag. Not seen in picture are the net, anchor bag, and fins.

The rod tubes are drop slotted for holding fly rods. Net slides in "T" attachment on far right. Slots are cut to keep net from turning. Gravity holds it in and it is offset so it doesn't tangle with rods.

Here's the frame disattached. It is held on the tube with clips and bungie cords. It can be disassembled into three parts by removing two bolts. Dark gray padding is foam pipe insulation held on with zip ties. Fishfinder holder is 3 inch black pipe held on by three hose clamps. Frame is bungied to bottom d-rings on tube.

Here is a shot of the shaped tubes, cut with a Dremel tool. All PVC is 1 inch shedule 20.

The cross bar in back that gives frame rigidity.

Fishin' Buddy finder attached.

Quick rod holder designed for holding rod while tying leaders, flies, etc.

Handy Wood River tackle bag (no longer made) fits perfectly into left hand pocket. In it I can carry all of my fly gear. Other float tube pocket holds extras like air horn, lunch, raincoat, bottled water, etc.

Here's the tool used for shaping the PVC. A $5 attachment to a $20 dollar tool.

I've had the tube on the water one time for a trial run since the remodel. It works very well keeping everything within reach. Fun to make. Fun to fish.


Monday, March 10, 2008

Quick Carping Trip

I had a little time this afternoon and though a storm was supposed to hit in the late afternoon I decided to go out for a bit anyway. I hooked and landed only one fish - this 8.5 pound Carp. Rain and wind hit about 5 PM which sent me running for the car. Naturally I didn't bring a rain coat. I did spot several more nice carp working around in the dead weeds in an area where I couldn't cast. As I was watching them a guy came up and asked me if I had caught any fish. When I told him I was fishing for carp with a flyrod he was instantly full of questions. We talked for 15 minutes or so and spotted several more carp in the area where I couldn't cast because of a high bank. Fish always hang out in that spot. Guess they know they're safe. Even if I could get off a cast to them I'd never land a fish as it is near some pretty heavy cover. It's nice to see fish in the shallows again.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

First Carp of 2008

I played hooky today. When I got up I checked the weather. It showed rain for 10 days -- except today where there was a big, bright, sunshine icon for the whole day. Predicted temp was 60 degrees f. Maybe this would warm up the water enough to get some carp active.

Once the thought was in my head I couldn't shake it. My secretary was sick. No appointments. Try as I might, after working the first half of the day I tossed my flyrod into the car and headed for the carp ponds. As cool as it has been, I didn't hold out much hope. I got out of the car and didn't even string up the rod. Quickly I started walking the perimeter. The first pond had a flyfisherman. I watched for a few minutes and determined that he wasn't having any action and didn't seem to know what he was doing. Not wanting to horn in, I walked around his spot to the next pond. No sooner had I arrived than I noticed several thick mud clouds in the murky water. A carp flopped on the surface. Water boiled over in the corner of the cove. That was all it took. I sprinted back to the car, strung up the rod and was back. The fish were still there. I tied on a fly -- one of my new yellow carp bitters -- and started casting. I could see several individual mud clouds, though no fish were visible, which is typical for this spot. I was just getting into it when a small dog came up behind me, rushed past, and jumped into the water. Fish went everywhere. Needless to say, that spot was spooked, but at least I knew they were there. The dog's owner showed up shortly after and called her dog saying that she "didn't want to scare the fish." Too late, but I've learned that I'm better off saying nothing and letting the event pass. Sometimes the fish come back. I exchanged pleasantries and the dog owner moved on. Soon the fish were back.

This first shot is just a mood maker. Look at that bright sun! In Oregon we learn to really appreciate these days.

With new mud clouds forming in front of me I tossed my fly out into the fray and tried to keep a tight line while retrieving ever so slightly. The indicator twitched and I set up on the fish below -- a nice little 6 pounder. Ah, that felt good!

Later I had another slight tap and on the other end was this portly 12 pounder.

The two hours I had set as my limit soon expired and I had to leave for an evening meeting. But this was really nice -- the first carp for 2008. Based on my records from last year I expect the next three months to be the best of the year for carping with the largest fish available in shallow water. From now through the pre-spawn I expect to break my last year's record of 28 pounds. Great day on the water.


Monday, March 3, 2008

Finding His Place in Our Family

My new fishing buddy, Otis, has made himself right at home with Mrs. zonker and me since we brought him home. Boundless energy, pirhana teeth, and a natural desire to retrieve everything including socks, shoes, towels, and his legitimate toys, has made him a very popular new edition to our family. It's a lot like having a new baby in the house! Ain't he cute?


Take a Kid Fishing

That's what I did this last Saturday. I didn't fish much myself but tried to make sure my charges connected. Grandson Matt and his friend Cody ended up with 3-4 nice trout apiece using small jigs. It rained on us and was very cold. My not yet healed Carpal Tunnel hands really felt the cold. They turned blue.

It was a good trip though. Glad we connected, Matt and Cody!


Saturday, March 1, 2008

Tyin' and Dreamin'

Hours spent at the vise do much more than provide flies for empty spaces in fly boxes. They inspire dreams of fishing days gone by and opportunities for days yet to come. Being there again in one's mind isn't as good as the real thing, but on a cold, dark, rainy winter day it can really lift the spirits.
These Carp Bitters are modeled after the Bonefish Bitter, an epoxy-head creation made for its namesake in salt water. They appear to contain all of the right qualities for the carp flats so as the feeling in my hands comes back I'm stocking my boxes. Yellow is a good color for the carp that inhabit the small lakes I fish.
Click on the pic for a more detailed view.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

That Moon Thing

If you were fortunate enough to live in a place that didn't have cloud cover last night you may have seen one of the versions of this time lapse composite of the lunar eclipse. Not fishing relatate (though the moon phases certainly effect the fishing - especially when the moon is full) but cool, nonetheless.


Thursday, February 14, 2008

New Buddy Has Arrived

We brought him home Monday night. His name is Otis. We gave him that name because his litter was born in Otis, Oregon. He weighs 17 1/2 pounds and is 17 weeks old. I'll be training him to accompany me when fishing on foot and also to ride in the canoe and motorized fishing boat. I've had four labs before him so I generally know what to expect. Nice to have a fishing buddy again who can go when I can.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Looking for a New Fishing Buddy

It has been over six years since I lost one of my best friends, a 70 pound chocolate Labrador Retriever named Tiger. I fished and hunted more with him than with any other being. His last year was very difficult and required nearly constant attention. I had a tough time having him finally put down. I said then that I didn't think I could do it again.

Now, well... maybe. Tomorrow I'm going to drive over to the coast to take a look at a few Lab pups. Perhaps I'll bring one home.


Friday, February 8, 2008

February Carp - Nada

Looking at pictures of fish on the Internet is very motivating sometimes, especially when you've been cooped up for an extended period. Today, even while knowing that conditions were lousy, I broke my medical exile and got out on the water for a few hours. I didn't expect much and the results lived up to it. It was dark, rainy, and windy at times. Water temp was very low. It was nice just to get out and carry a fly rod around again even though I never found a target for my fly. All my favorite carp spots were deserted of fish including the nice lake shoreline above and the river stretch below. In fact, the river was completely blown out as you can see.

It will probably be at least a month before I can expect to find some fish venturing out of their winter lairs. Maybe I'll tie some flies. I did cast a bit to see how my wrists would respond. Things went well, though I wasn't completely without discomfort.

I dream of warmer days.


Thursday, February 7, 2008

Flies in Waiting

With the feeling coming back into my fingers I'm beginning to think about some fly tying. These were tied last year during May when I was catching and tying up a storm. Maybe one of these guys will be the one that helps me break 30 pounds this year.


Monday, February 4, 2008

Checking In

A quick note to say that I'm still down and out because of the Carpal Tunnel thing. My hands have improved somewhat with the therapy I'm taking. I still don't do well in the cold. Makes my hands turn blue. I'm hoping that surgery won't be necessary since the recovery would probably take me through the prime spring fishing months.

Right now I'm remembering all the nice flyrod carp I caught last year. Hopefully we'll get out of this deep freeze we've been in around Western Oregon and see some good old fashioned 50 degree winter weather soon. I haven't tried casting since the diagnosis, but I just may be able to do it if the weather warms.

In the meantime its Internet fishing and reviewing fishing logs.

A blast from the past... The fish above is last year's big one.


Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Plans Delayed

I haven't posted for awhile because about four weeks ago I discovered that I have carpal tunnel syndrome. It has really put a kink in my fishing. Voice recognition software is helping some, but it won't hold my fly rod. I don't know how long this will continue as I go through the therapy. It will probably curtail the steelhead fishing I had hoped to do. We'll see.