Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A Day in the Life


A Day in th Life (of a screwtrapper)
Here it is, the much anticipated video documentation of what a screw-trapper does on a daily basis. Now, I know all you whipper-snappers out there are thinkin' to yerselves, " I wanna play with fish all day and drive boats on the river!" Well, let me tell ya it ain't just all that. There's danger involved. I tell ya, this road is frought with peril! Peril so perilous, it's perilous to mention the perilosity! I've actually seen fellas lose their minds, they just SNAPPED when subjected to these kinds of perils. anyway, enough about the perils.
So 7:00 each a.m. I gets to work, sets me lunch bucket down on me desk, checks me emails, then sets to work readying the boat.
Loaded up with sampling gear we head out of the parking lot 'round 7:30 and head for the diversion dam across town, then it's a short fast ride from the boat ramp to the traps. After about a hundred attempts to gently dock to the trap and finally ramming the hull onto the pontoon, tossing you and your lunch into the river, you hook up, hurry up, and get ready to get ready. Set up debris tubs, the sorting table, check the "cod" end of the cone for sticks and general Debrius, and ya start scoopin'. Imagine if you will, an eight foot wide 800 pound stainless steel sieve with spiraled baffles inside all powered by 10,000 cubic feet of water moving 3 feet every second. Then, my friend, you have yourself a Rotary Screw....add a 4'x4'x2' live box in the back...Trap .
Now, these things catch everything that comes down the river within their radius, sticks, logs, briars, lawn clippings, dead birds, live birds, leafy detritus, ducks, dead deer, stinky beavers..trash, treasure, and other sorts of trappings, syringes, needles, bees, bats, bok choy, you get the picture. Our job is to scoop everything out with a net, sort through it and pick out the fish. Once we get the debris sorted out from the fish, we set the fish up for a little probin'! Take a dip net full of fish, put them in the anesthetic, record their species, sex, disposition, maiden names, places of residence, intended destinations, what they had for breakfast, why their cousin Vinnie doesn't call no more, then put them in the rehab bucket, let 'em get clean, then send them for a ride down El Rio de los Sacramentos.
That's it in a nutty shell. It's good work. Keeping the fleet running, executing field work like a champ, and making sure the stock for Pepperidge Farm Goldfish stays on the ups is my day to day job. Not bad I'd say. It's got it's moments, sure, but what job don't? Enjoy the montage and soon enough, I'll have you wasting another 5 minutes of your time watching me and a wet, sandy chunk-o- furnace filter material have a staring contest.

Apologies for the Youtube link, Blogger is not loading the vids.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Watch for "A Day in the Life"

HAHA! So, to date, I have had 3 views from Russia and one view from Canada!  I am officially an international sensation to a recently thawed Canuck, and one, maybe two dudes who thought my blog had potential for some quality barely legal porn...I joke!  Pretty stoked about that, though I hear that there is an increasing percentage of adult males near my age bracket that get stoked on a regular basis.  News to me, you should check it out on Youtube.  I didn't know I was a victim. 
In other news, I am really really thinking about going fishing on Wednesday. Maybe Thursday too...Yeah, definitely Thursday too.  I'll let ya know how it goes.   Meanwhile, I just felt like posting, you know, keeping the blog fresh.  Gah, I feel like such a poser with this thing.  Anyhow, werkin on that video editing software to produce some better vids, but I got filler in the meantime, and soon, my most unenlightening piece of all, "A Day in the Life".  Yup, I take you on a magical journey, that keeps me in the ranks of the employed.  The wondrous world of fantastic failures and frugal fixtures ( I use these words because I don't wanna mention the other "F" word that comes to mind), a look inside a typical day of work for a "F"isheries Biologist.  Hahaha, and you thought it was gonna be a six-lettered word rhyming with ducked.  For shame!  Ahnjoy!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Hogsback Road

You know it's been a long day when your dog's snoring is keeping you awake within 10 minutes of arriving home.  I'm not even kidding, this snoring has to be some of the loudest I have ever heard.  That includes human relatives, friends...hell, she's even out-snoring the great Kelly Rhodes, loudest snorer this side of the Attoyac.  Haha, If you time it just right, you can lift your leg and squint your face just a little bit, and it sounds like you are ripping a monster fart.  I love my dog.  Again, I've begun on a tangent...now, where was I going with this....Oh yeah!
So, there I was...I'm waking up 2 hours before the crack of noon (That's 10 a.m. for all of you who are near panic trying to find the calculator).  No offense to anyone in my audience, but you know who you are!  So here I sat, same as ever, took a dump and pulled the lever.  Then I thought to myself, I really need to get out and take Billie with me.  But where, in all this vast Northern Californian wonderland shall I go.  I had heard that the fishing in Antelope Creek was pretty good, and one could wander around unmolested, so what better place to take the dog and let her run while I fish.  I had also heard that Hogsback road, which more or less parallels Antelope Creek from afar (WAY AFAR, I would come to find out), was a little bumpy and that I would be best advised to go out and around the long way to come into the road from the top.  You know that point at which you begin to ask yourself, "Should I keep going this direction, or just tuck my tail and return the beaten-up, rocky, gully-ridden, don't exceed 5 miles per hour unless you want to rip the rear axle from underneath your truck way that I came"?  I apparently missed that sign somewhere between Red Bluff and HOLY CHRIST, THANK THE LORD I ONLY RAN OVER A 1/2 TON BOULDER AND DIDN'T SLIDE OFF INTO THE 4 FOOT DEEP RAVINE WHERE THE ROAD USED TO BE!  Let me put this into perspective for you.  Any of you that ever saw my driveway back in Nacogdoches, take the worst holes in that and that was the good driving.  This "road" was chock full of soccer-sized rocks, 8-10 inch vertical steps of volcanic bedrock, potholes as big as the truck and twice as wide.  It would be classified as a jeep trail anywhere else, only the jeep trails actually feed off of this road.  Lord knows what those looked like.  I traveled, get this, 12 miles in 2 hours.  Hopefully by now you get the picture, because this next part isn't nearly as dramatic, the video doesn't do the "road" justice, and the photos I took for the day, including my fish pictures, somehow got corrupted.  Damn, SD card gnomes!!

So after a few stops and a few jaunts over barbed wire fences and rock-ridden fields, I come upon the gate to Ishi Road.  Well, according to the trusty GPS, this road crosses Antelope Creek, but as luck would have it, the gate had been locked just one month prior, so only foot traffic was allowed.  So I says to myself, "Self, let's get down there and do some fishing."  Did you know that when you walk a -25% grade over a mile, at some point, you eventually have to walk a +25% grade for that same mile.  Let me tell you kids, Shiddy B was feeling pretty....well, you know.  This road was closed for good reason.  +12" drops, gullies cut across the road, switchbacks that would have put your front tire within mere inches of a near vertical drop-off.  It was NASTY.  I was on the verge of kicking in my 4WD on multiple occasions.  The fishing was decent.  Caught a few small fishkas on dries and nymphs, the biggest probably barely breaking the 10" mark.  Sure was wishing I had brought the 3 weight.  So it's back up the road I goes.  Thank goodness I brought plenty of water.

After that lovely stroll, I hop back in the truck and continue on up the road.  It was at this point I reached a bit of a "point of no return".  I hit a point in the road that gave me three options.  Showcase number one is a lovely slab of volcanic bedrock with a nice vertical downhill edge that only a rock-crawling jeep could traverse.  Showcase number two is a real winner with beachball sized rocks on the left, an exactly truck width patch of smoother ground with another 8" bedrock wall, bordered on the right by a 2 foot deep gully.  Aaaand showcase number three....we're not even going to consider that one.  Let's just call it impossible, so NUMBER TWO IT IS!  I start creeping up this thing, not sliding off on the right, so I'm good.  Then BAM! I rolled my front left tire over one of the beach balls, only thought in my head is "Holy NUMBER TWO!!!!"....Luckily I rolled on past that little barrier with only a little minor dentage under the driver's door, and escaped the next two barriers unscathed.  Long story short, I made it out of the Tehama Wildlife Refuge relatively unharmed, and no worse for the wear.  On to Tips for a few medically prescribed brews. 

Friday, May 4, 2012

Cat Skwurl brew and Fishies too

Howdy everybody!

So, the posts are few and far between. Apologies, but I am still getting used to being here.  Lots of people to see and things to do, but I am finally settling in. 

I started a new batch of brew today.  Within the next month, I will have another 5 gallons of Cat Skwurl IPA to sample! 

I also recently discovered Skype!  What a wonderful tool that is.  Really makes a world of difference being able to share a little "face time" with Shauna.  We chatted it up the other night while I made dinner and again tonight while I was brewing.  I gotta admit, when I heard the squeak of that old screen door across the computer, I felt a strong tinge of "homesickness".   But all is well on that front.  Shauna just got her new violin, that she should be mastering over the next few months.  Now, if I could only force myself to sit down and actually learn the guitar, we can start a travelling duo!

Had a STELLAR day down at my favorite creek the other day.  Marc, ever the mastermind of manipulating me into going fishing, suggested an after work special on one of the local creeks.  All week, the reports were that the water was high and that it likely wouldn't fish well....oh contraire!
As far as numbers go, maybe it wasn't your typical excursion along this particular stretch, but the quality...magnifique! 

Starting out at the first little run, my thoughts were on the downswing.  Perfect drift after perfect drift and not even so much as an imaginary fish!  I'm thinkin' "This is NOT how I want to start this place out!"  This creek has a very special place in my soul, because time after time, I never cease to be amazed at the quality of the fishing and of course, the fish's eager cooperation.  Not to say that it's easy, but the fishing is rarely less that good, and to go home skunked, you've really gotta try hard to be a hopeless mess. 
That's where I started out.  I was getting takes and breaking off flies.  It then occurs to me that instead of using 5X tippet (4lb test) I would probably fare a lot better with 3X (8.4 lb test) in these higher than normal flows.  Suddenly, it's all clicking into place.  I start landing fish, and it becomes a game again.  I reach my point of zen in which I totally relax, my drifts become sewn to the rippling seams in the current, and the headshaking of the fish is rocking my arm.  Marc and I traded off, each wise-cracking and heckling the other about the monster bassmaster sets when a rockfish takes the fly, and whatever aspect of life seems funniest at the time.  In between the jokes, the circus has begun and the trout perform their acrobatics, and we laugh at their expense. 
But as soon as the jumps are over, and the headshaking that is so characteristic of these wild fish subsides, each fish is adored, admired, and praised for the beauty that keeps us casting, and released somewhat wiser and completely unharmed.  It truly is a grand feeling to be totally at peace and in a deep state of meditation while poised atop a bowling ball shaped rock covered in snot and freezing your cahones off because it's not quite warm enough to wet-wade.  I'm sure I'll be coming back to haunt these runs again soon.  I really hope to be able to fish the entire length of the stream (within the bounds of the law of course) by the end of the trout season.  Thanks to my good friend, Aaron Caldwell (chroniclesofcod.com) I have begun to compile a "Year List" of fish species I want to catch and bodies of water I want to mark off the list.  I met Aaron on his quest for Redfish down in Corpus shortly before I left, and hope to fish with him again on his return to Calgary from Baja where he is currently on the hunt for Roosterfish.  Helluva guy!

Well, we are far too deep into the night, and I've still gotta catch up on my Weeds.  Hope you've enjoyed the photos, and stay tuned for more videos (as soon as my broke behind can afford some better movie editing software).
Until then, after-work special highlights: 2 'bows at 18", an instant set and tippet break on yet another bruiser, good laughs with a good friend, and my first taste of Bud Light Platinum.....GAHBAGE!!!

Stay Shiddy, my friends.