Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Fishing opener!

No motorcycles were harmed in the making of this post...

The Minnesota trout fishing season opener was last weekend. I know that “fishing opener” in Minnesota means “walleye fishing opener” but there are more fishes in this state than walleye, just ask the rough fish fanatics. I chose to avoid the crowds on Saturday and Sunday and meet up with the retired guys on Wednesday after work. I got to the hotel just in time to visit the supper club for fried cod and salad bar with the boys. 

The cast included my father-in-law, his brother-in-law and a couple of their old high school (probably) buddies. All of whom are retired and have been attending this annual outing for years. My father-in-law is the old trout bum of lore, haunting the creeks and valleys with a box full of night crawlers and a creel full of fish. I had a great time hanging out with them, after all they spent most of their days without internet, when movies had real people with real dialog, and the art of BSing was in full form. All great men.

I played the role of “the kid,” up with the sun, climbing up and down the river banks, and running down stream with my fly rod in hand to see if the fish were biting. I’m happy to report that the fish were indeed biting, and my rusty fly fishing skills came back fairly quickly. I managed to catch fish on nymphs (tiny bugs fished below the surface), streamers (a walleye jig without the lead head), and dry flies, a hat-trick. All the fish were big too. (no really, they were good sized.)

I fished a spot that I’ve visited year after year for the past ten years or so. The river is always changing and I’ve seen the fish sizes get bigger an smaller as year-classes have good and bad winter/spring runoff seasons. The last few springs have been easy on the fish and I think that was reflected in the size of the trout. I feel that these places are reasonably resilient in the long term, as long as we don’t do anything too foolish to destroy them. (Some of the biggest issues include increased storm runoff from drained uplands, heat from industrial cooling water and stormwater, and eroding river banks from the lack of any protective buffer.)

All the little silver things in this photo are fog soaked spider webs.

Uncle Dick

The photo opportunities were outstanding on this particular morning.

Carpe di Salmo!

- Ride North

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Special Days

What a perfect day. A father son day at the park, neighbor kids running around, a motorcycle ride, two trout streams and a wiener roast at grandma and grandpas. Time to beer and blog on the deck while Mrs. North unwinds. The cat says that my pants smell awesome, a combination of wood chips, campfire smoke, smores residue and fresh air. 

The boy, at 3 1/2 years old has picked up the strider bike, a mini bicycle with no petals. The kid cruises on it and is always asking to go for a ride. So we strided up to the park and made some new friends. I dug out the old skateboard and we raced there and back. 

Little man had his first nose bleed, poor guy got smacked in the face by a big plastic chair swing. It laid him out and sent me running. The poor kid was scared and bleeding but otherwise fine. He asked for mom, he asked to go home, and after about two minutes he asked if he could ride his strider. Within a few minutes he was back in the saddle. 

Eventually we headed for home to play with the neighbor kids. No fights, no crabbing. It must have been the beautiful weather, everyone was just happy to be out. By the time nap time rolled around, little man's face was covered in jelly, blood and sidewalk chalk. A successful morning.

After Mrs. North got home from flea marketing with her mom, I fired up the Triumph and pointed my nose towards Wisconsin. This ride officially kicks off year two of our relationship. Whenever I buy a used bike (which is to say whenever I buy a bike) I know that the purchase price is just a starting point. There's always a sorting out period and someday I'll figure out how to speed that process up. Today however was not that day.

After a fork rebuild, new tire, new brakes, and new tank vent, I attempted to fix a small oil leak. I installed a new seal and gasket on the shift lever shaft and sprocket cover. I looked and looked for other sources of my oil leak and couldn't find one. As it turns out, the oil is coming form somewhere above the sprocket cover. Time for some more digging, or to seek professional help, and a mechanic. 

But the leak was small and the sun was shining brightly through the cotton balls, so I pressed on. Highway 35 was as lovely as she's ever been, and somehow I managed to have no one in front or behind me. In fact I didn't have to share the road with bar hoppers until I got to Diamond Bluff. 

On a sunny spring day in Wisconsin the bikes are parked in front of bars all across the land. I can't say that I've never done that (I and my riding buddies always kept it to a beer) so it would be hypocritical to judge. But nope, nein, no, ne, no more for this biker. I steer clear of the crazies. I trust myself but my trust ends there. Time to head for the hills.

That's just what I did, heading up another old haunt, county road O and the Trimbelle River. That cool little trout stream was flowing gin clear through coulees of western Wisconsin today. Its deep pockets were tropical-water blue, masking the George holding up in their depths. (a George is a big trout, usually a Brown Trout) 

I made a quick stop at the Trimbelle River Recreation area on O just south of Highway 10. This spot is almost always deserted. It's just a handful of picnic tables under pavilions and a pretty section trout water. This section of the river has been worked over by the Department of Natural Resources, and probably Trout Unlimited, although I saw no TU signs. It has man made plunge pools, large slabs of limestone rock that have been pressed int the banks and tree trunks protruding from it's runs and pools. (known in the business as Large Woody Debris or LWD).  All of this makes for good fish habitat,

This is what you see when you peek into a trout stream.

This is what you see when you peek through polarized glasses, a whole new world opens up. I chased big pods of white suckers around and kicked up some decent sized trout as I walked upstream. 

After some slow speed practice in the parking lot, I parted ways with this pretty creek (pronounced ker-ik) and headed for Elsworth Wisconsin, home of the cheese curd. Heading down 10 a ways I found the Rush River. 

Just before my turn off at County Road A is 400th street and  Vino in the Valley, a whinery (no beer here) that serves pizzas and wagon rides. If you and your special someone are into relaxing beautiful afternoons in the valleys of Wisconsin, you could do no better than to stop in for a while. You'll find Lost Creek, a special little trout stream, there too.

Continuing down A took me back to 35 and Lake Pepin. I had a hot dog and baked bean party to get to in the cities but I made time for a quick stop at the scenic overlook. It was truly the perfect day. 

On the way home I found myself wondering, what do I like more? Hanging out with my family and bumming around the neighborhood or going for a ride on a beautiful day. In my mind, there's a clear winner but I'm glad I got out for a ride anyway. When I pulled into the party, there was my son with his bike riding down the hill. 

These are special days. 

- Ride North