Thursday, October 29, 2009

Fall on the River

No, not fall in the river, I mean Fall on the Manistee River!  I got a new pair of winter waders for the steelhead season.  Darn ole rubber soles!  I hate them as they as so slippery.  Will have to get some "chains" for the soles!

Here is the Fall view of the path to Cardiac Hill and those dreaded 200 steps to the river.

Fall is in the air.  The leaves are coming down and maybe the steelhead are running.

This is a view of above the Coffer Dam at Tippy Dam.  There are two waders and then a boat with two guys in the middle between the two trees, and then two more waders to the right.  I guess the first run has jumped the Coffer Dam but I want to fish down below the Coffer Dam.

Not as many fishermen below the dam so there is room to spread out and fish.  I head down to the gravel bars at the first bend.  Every once in a while I see a fin or tail of a fish coming up.  I know they aren't feeding on top, but just exercising.  Now if I can get one to bite my fly!

I spent about 2 hours drifting the 'hot flies' I tied last night in class.  I told them they were 'hot flies', I guess I exaggerated a little!  I saw a few fish on and only one or two fish landed on the North side.  Why do the fish always seem to bite better on the opposite side from where I am fishing?

The Fall colors are already past peak but still look good.  They are coming off the trees and the trees will be bare soon.

I decided to give it up for the day and started out.

This shot is above the Coffer Dam and just to the left of the black spot between the trees is a ladder with a PVC pipe holding a fishing rod!  Someone carried the ladder out into the stream to fish from.  Now, I have seen something new!

Once again, I have a feed bag full of garbage from the Salmon fishermen.  The South side is pretty clean now.  I'll have to clean up the side across from the Handicap Pier next time.

Now, I have to climb those 200 steps up hill dragging a feed sack of trash.  OK, I didn't get into the fish but today was Day #153 of fishing for 2009. I don't leave for Key West until Nov. 19/20th so I have some time to get back in the water.  Next week, Gary & maybe Mikey-Pikey will come for Fall Fish Camp. There is always tomorrow!

Monday, October 26, 2009

'I use to live in a Barn!'

When I lived in PA, I bought an empty 50' by 40' bank barn and 4 acres.  I thought I was going to tear it down and build a house.  My friend convinced me to re-model the barn into a house.  We started the project in February and moved into it in late August.  At that time we had no inside doors, no heat, and no water.  We had a drywall party with about 10 couples helping.  Only 5 people had ever drywalled.  We put them in separate rooms and handed the crew 16" sticks.  "That is what you use to know how to nail the drywall." 

After a few years of work, room by room, the barn became a home.

Two thousand square feet in the basement, 2000 sq. ft. first floor, 2000 sq. ft. on second floor, and about 1200 sq. ft. in the attic.  It had 4-5  bedrooms, 2 1/2 baths, a 2 story entryway, and a 2 story setting room off the end of the upstairs.  In fact, you can just see a 6' hexagonal window near the peak.  That was the highlight of the setting room upstairs.

Most of the siding was from fir strip  batten boards that I got from the Amish lumbermen. We bought the windows and made our own framing.  All the trim wood was 4" or 6" pine boards.  The flooring on the first floor was from old boxcars.  The flooring was tongue and groove, 4" thick boards that were 1' by 12' long and made of laminated strips.  I bought a whole truck-load of them for $400.  I had to hand chisel off the old bolts.  After the flooring was layed down, remember this was an empty barn with nothing inside but hay, I rented a large drum sander for a week to sand the floors.  Then I put down 2 coats of gym sealer.

A funny story about the stairs.  I had a section of scaffolding set up in the entry room with a piece of flooring  running on it over the stairs to the beam so I could put up drywall.  I had to go down the stairs and get some more nails and as I was hurrying back up the stairs, I forgot to look up and wham, my head hit the plank across the stairs!  My head was bleeding across my forehead.  I hurried to the ER and had 6-8 stitches.  Feeling like I better get some more work done, I headed back to the barn.  As I started back up the stairs, I suddendly remember the plank across the stairs.  Yes, you got it....back to the ER to have some more stitches!   Twice in one day,  Did I ever have a lot of explaining to do!

The scaffolding was right beside the stairs and over to the beam.  Every beam was preserved and visible in each room.  I had to frame around the inside to make the walls.  Finally, we had to cut the beams in several places for doorways.  I wasn't sure the structure could take cuting the beams, so I hired a guy to put steel rods across the barn in both directions and bolt them to large steel Ss on the outside.  We carefully cut the doorways one at time and the building held!

This shows the front of the house and the 2 story entry room.  I saved some of the old roof slate and covered the bottom half of the entry hall wall opposite the stairs.  Some more of the slate became the panels for kitchen cupboards.

The counters and center kitchen island were made with some of the flooring.  This window looks out the north end of the barn and the deck.  I boxed in a walk-in cupboard for food and pantry items.  There was an old iron stove converted to propane in the corner that was used for holiday cooking.  We used the new stove for everyday use.

Off of the kitchen was the dining room.  The kitchen and dinning room were 20' by 20'.  You can just see the plank flooring in the kitchen.  I lined several doorways with small barn beams. All the decorating was done by my talented wife.

This is a middle setting room between the dinning room and the living room.  On the left side of this picture would be the back of the barn.  Being a bank barn, the first floor starts at ground level in front and looks out the back one story up.  Understand?  On the back wall I installed  double glass doors that opened to nothing...but a 16-18' foot drop. Why?  It was cheaper to use glass doors for window that were floor to ceiling. Never got around to putting on a back deck 16-18' tall! But I did keep the doors bolted and locked!  Not to keep people out, but to keep people in! :-)

This is a view the back half of the living room which was 20' by 40'.  To the right was windows on the back wall and straight ahead was the south wall. It really looked like a place out of "Country Homes" thanks to my wife.

This is the rest of the living room and shows the handcut barnstone fireplace that continued up from the basement, past the living room and then up into the upstairs setting room and out through the roof. I started building the chimney and got up to the first floor when I assessed my work.  Then I hired a stone mason to finish the fireplace.  It had 4 flues.  One for an oil furnace, one for a wood-burning furnace, both in the basement, one for the fireplace and one for the small wood-burner in the setting room.  It was very difficult to heat this place, after all, it is a barn.  I had insulated it as much as I could and still keep the beams showing in each room.

We hand-cut 14-16' christmas trees for the entryway for a few years, until we went green with a very large artifical tree.  It just wasn't the same as hiking out to the woods to cut our own tree.  You can see the grey slate wall behind the tree. This was a great house for the holidays and celebrating.  I had many of my graduate classes out for the last class of the semester.   I once found high heel marks/holes in the flooring after one such party.  I was in 'hot water'.

This is the deck off the kitchen on the north side of the barn.   It had some nice shade and was handy to use by being right off the kitchen.

The basement held the two furnaces and we cemented in the floor.  I sided the back overhang in as a 15' by 50' garage.  I then took my chainsaw and cut a doorway into the basement and straight out the middle of the garage.  I found 4 large glass doors for windows and made two large sliding doors for the openings.
What a lot of work!  My Dad came over for a week to help me when I was building.  I hired two recent HS graduates to be my work crew and together we got most of the siding and framing done before I ran out of money in June.  Then I worked by myself and friends would come over and help on the large projects.  It was fun but it was impractical for just two people.  We did have over 10 university students rent rooms 1-2 at a time, each semester.  They became part of the family.
 What happened to the Barn?  It is still there in Slippery Rock.  When I divorced, my ex-wife got the Barn and I got my retirement $$!  Not a bad deal!  She is happy and so am I!
Besides,.......did you ever see the movie, "The Money Pit".  I lived there!  :-)

Friday, October 23, 2009

Steelies on the Pier!

The steelies have been around the Manistee Pier for a few weeks.  Guys have been getting fish off the beach and on the pier.

These guys wade out as far as they can and throw out and then let line out as they wade back to shore.  The fishing pole is put into a rod holder and they wait for a fish to hit the spawn sacs.  Four steelies were caught by the beach the other day.

This is the South Pier and as long as the wind is NOT out of the south, they can fish!  The next day a south wind was crashing waves over the pier and everyone moved to the North Pier.

I got there around 7:45 am and the pier was filled already.  Some of these guys are up very early to get the best spots. Everyone has PVC pipe strapped to a metal rod to hold the fishing rods up.  Most are using 1 oz pyramid sinkers that slip above the swivel.  A small plastic bead between the sinker and eye of the swivel helps protect the knot.  Then a 2 to 3' leader is added and a spawn sac attached to the hook.  Cast it out, tighten the line, set the rod in the holder and wait.  It is easy way to fish, if you are patient.

When ever a rod starts jumping, the guys yell, 'Fish on!'.  Someone always helps land the fish.  You need a long handled pier net.

This spot is clear of rocks, but some places are very rocky and hard to net the fish. The guy next to me had a nice 6 # brown that was with the steelhead.

I saw about 5-6 fish landed before 10:00 am.  By 11:00 am, guys were packing it up.

The run started again around 3:00 pm yesterday, so some will stay and come will return.  This won't last too much longer as the fish will head in to winter in the Manistee River.  The first wave has started up the river and it won't be long now before they reach Tippy Dam.

Steelies do not die when they enter the river, so they are fresh and strong. They come in in the Fall to eat the salmon eggs and some go back to Lake Michigan and lots of fish stay in the river until Spring to spawn.  You can fish all winter for the steelies.

Come on up, you just might catch "steelhead fever"!.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Wild Boar!

Over 1,800 lb. wild boar shot and killed in Conroe , Texas near the County Airport , East of I-45 and near the community of Cut and Shoot. Killed by a medical Radiology worker...         The guy had a 458 magnum in his work vehicle.

What would you do if this beast was coming at you? Run for dear life? Climb a tree? or simply get run over?

Pork chops for dinner?  Don't want to 'boar' you but thought it was interesting!  I suspect I'll hear from those of you with more information about these pictures.  Somehow, hunting in Texas could present a problem for some, especially after seeing these pictures.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Did you ever wonder?

Did you ever wonder why there are no dead penguins on the ice in Antarctica - where do they go?

Wonder no more!

It is a known fact that the penguin is a very ritualistic bird which lives an extremely ordered and complex life.

The penguin is very committed to its family and will mate for life, as well as maintaining a form of compassionate contact with its offspring throughout its life.

If a penguin is found dead on the ice surface, other members of the family and social circle have been known to dig holes in the ice, using their vestigial wings and beaks, until the hole is deep enough for the dead bird to be rolled into and buried.

The male penguins then gather in a circle around the fresh grave and sing:

"Freeze a jolly good fellow, Freeze a jolly good fellow ."

"Then they kick him in the ice hole."


You didn’t really believe that I knew anything about penguins, did you!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

North to Alaska!

I met Annie, my friend Bill's wife in the grocery store.  She asked for a favor.  "Sure, I said.  What is it?"

"Will you please go to Alaska with Bill.  He wants to go and if I go I want the cruise and Bill wants to fish."

The stage was set.  We decided on August for our trip. I think my airfare was about $600. We flew out of Pittsburgh to Dallas and then on to Anchorage.  There we rented a car for two weeks and drove to a friend's house to get our fishing and camping gear we had mailed ahead of our trip.  We headed north and drove up Route 3 to Willow Campground, which would be our base.  It was only $10/night for a campsite.    The campground was only partially filled.  Getting our tent up and gear un-packed we headed down through the woods to look at Susitna River. If you have never seen a glacial river, let me describe it.  It was moving pretty fast and was very dark except for about 10' out from shore where the fresh water from the streams feed into it.

This was our first look.  Yes, it was crowded!  It is called "Combat Fishing" and the Alaskans are fishing to fill their freezers so they are pretty intense about it.  Whole families are fishing so they can keep more fish.

We managed to catch a few and Bill landed a nice Pink salmon, which we kept for supper.

The next day, we decided to explore and try to find a fishing spot away from the crowds.  This met hiking through the thickets.

This was the trail we followed.  It was wet, slippery and muddy.  Several days of doing this hike caused me to slip and pull a groin muscle.  Nothing to do but to keep fishing.

If you look carefully, you can sell the shadows of about 15 salmon in this pool on a small feeder stream.  Bill started in casting his fly rod.  We only brought our fly rods but noticed everyone else had spinning gear and heavy spoons to snag the fish.

Bill and I were using 8' fly rods with 8 weight lines.  We both had tied up a bunch of salmon flies before we left.  We were going to need them.

Bill get into a nice fish and the battle is on.  I hooked about 6-8 salmon and only landed 4.  Bill caughjt at least 15 salmon in the deep pool.  We went back to camp for PB and J sandwiches and went back out fishing until 7:30 pm.  We slept from 8:30 pm to 7:00 am.  It rained all night.  And then it was back to fishing.

Each day we explored more and started finding fish.  We supplemented our store bought meals  with fresh salmon on the grill.

Bill caught this big dog salmon back by the 'Combat Zone'.  We released all the Dog (or Chum) salmon as even the natives don't eat them and just feed them to their dogs.  Bill is an excellent fisherman and one of the best fly fishermen I have ever fished with. 

Finally, a Pink salmon! Every dog has it's day!  It was my turn to get into the fish.  We hiked up stream to the second large pool.  It was loaded with Pinks, Dogs, and a few Coho salmon.  Most of these fish are cleaning out their gills from the glacial silt in the main stream and not ready to spawn.  We missed the Silvers but we had plenty of fish.

A local camp worker had his motor home parked right beside us and we chatted every day. He couldn't believe the number of fish we were getting and releaseing.  He was stocking up his freezer so we made a deal.  He would come out around 11:00 am and bring us sandwiches and we would give him our fish.

Bill is fileting out several salmon and packing them into bags for Gene.  He brought us great meat sandwiches that were much better than what we had in camp.

I managed to catch a few Humpies.  They are beautiful salmon and fight very hard.

It was raining every day.  We made a few side trips to find some other streams.  We fished Deception Creek and Montana Creek.  We walked out to the main outlet and Bill was slaying the salmon.  Everyone was watching Bill.  He must have caught 50 fish and released them.  I managed to catch about 25.

Next day, we drove up to Talkeena for a visit.  It was a nice little town.  We got ice cream and some split shot to weight the line.  Then we stopped at Montana Creek and got into the Chum and Pinks.  Some even ran us into our backing!

When we came back to camp for lunch.  We noticed a small camp squirrel.  Gene had been feeding him so he stayed around.  He would come up to the table and eat out of your hand.

By this time, we were getting tired from all the fishing and enjoyed playing with Gene's pet squirrel.  Later when we made a 15 mile ice cream run, we saw a dead squirrel in the road about 5 miles from camp.  Bill stopped and got it.  He said it looked like Gene's squirrel.  Back in camp, Bill put the squished squirrel near Gene's motor home.  Later we heard Gene yell!  "Who would do such a thing?", we thought that Gene was going to have a heart attack, he was retired, after all.  .  Suddenly, we didn't think the joke was so funny.  We walked over and told Gene that it wasn't his squirrel.  Bill was quick to add, "Don did it!"  Putting all the blame on me!

My finger got cut from trying to hold the salmon by their jaws.  It became infected.  Finally, I couldn't sleep and red streaks were going up my arm.  It was throbbing and hurt.  I stayed in camp and put antibiotics on the sore.  The next day, I decided that I had to get medical attention.  It was about 45 miles to Masilla Hospital.  There I saw a Dr. for 5 minutes and got a RX and tetanus shot for $395!  It rained all day again today.

The next day we fished Casper Creek.  We caught a few Red salmon and brought them back to GEne for a peace treaty after the squirrel situation.  Later found out that the Reds were protected in that stream.  You really have to read the regs because it is different for each stream.

It was raining almost every day and night.  The next day, we came back to find our sleeping bags and sleeping bags floating inside our tent in a pool of water.  Everything was wet and we had 4 more days until we flew out.  So, we packed up the wet mess and headed out.  We drove down to Wasilla.  Had we known, we could have visited with Sarah Palin.  We found a laundry mat that had $4 showers.  We were in heaven.  I know se shouldn't put un-washed wet things in the dryer but we were desperate.  While we took one of the best showers of our lives (it had only been 11 days) our wet things were drying.  We drove over to Palmer and camped.  Then we visited museums and public libraries.  That night it rained again and we had wet gear.  No problem!  We knew the drill and found an all night laundry mat.  Problems solved but we ended up renting a motel for the next night ($100) because we had to pack and ship out our gear and we didn't want to ship wet gear.  We drove up to Hatcher Pass to see the old mining town.  Then we went to a movie and saw "Teledaga Nights". Saturday morning, we drove to the airport and got there about 1:00 pm.  Our flight was at 9:45 pm.  We checked our bags at 6:30 pm and took our fishing and camping gear over to  be shipped back by mail.  That was $180!

At the airport in Anchorage, you can see this giant Grizzly

There are several stories about this Grizzly.  It has be reported to habe been over 14' tall and weight over 1200#s.  One report said it had killed at least two people and it's last meal was an unfortunate hiker.  It was said that when it was on all four's, it's eyes would  be level with your's.  If it was standing , you would be looking at it's belly!  Gee, I'm glad this bear was displayed in the departure area and not the arrival area of the airport!

We had a long wait for our flight but the weather was rainy and we were tired.  So we camped at the airport.

Leaving Anchorage at 9:45 pm, we arrived in Dallas at 6:45 am and left at 10:45 am.  We arrived in Pittsburgh at 2:20 pm. tired but with stories to tell.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Everything has it's season!

Yes, everything has it's season.  And now the salmon have had their's!  The fall salmon run has peaked and it is slowing down.

I could tell from the small number of cars in the lot that the season is winding down.  We had a lot of fisherman visiting this year and the container below is proof!

At least some of the fishermen are picking up their trash.  Now, down to the river.  It is 44 degrees and windy.  It has been in mid to low 30's at night.

Notice the change in numbers of fishermen.  Not nearly as many fishermen from three days ago.

I talked to and fished with this native American couple two days ago. They were having a great time.  She didn't want to stop fishing that day.

Today, when I talked to them, they had only gotten two fish and were leaving the river.

I waded down to the bend and was alone in the area.  I could see a few fish moving and some jumped every so often but no bites today.  I switched flies and moved a little bit but no action.

One salmon and one coho!  The coho are gobbling up eggs.  I saw a few small trout around but they tend to hide when the big fish are running heavy.

As I walked up the 200 steps of Cardiac Hill, I had my limit, limit of trash!  This time I took out 4 bags of trash from the Manistee River.  It will take me 2-3 weeks to clean up the mess left behind of visiting salmon fishermen.  I try to take out a couple of bags every time I fish, I guess I'll just have to fish a few more times each week!  I'll let you know when the fall steelhead start.  It is cold so maybe soon!

Tight lines!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Montauk - The End

'Montauk, The End', that is what my t-shirts says.  Montauk is out at the end of Long Island, New York.  It is a neat place to visit.  My buddy from PA, Bill, called me several years ago and suggested a striper fishing trip to Montauk.  His friend, Brian, had lived out there,  fished it and would be our guide!

Excited about striper fishing, I started assembling my gear.  None of my freshwater gear would work out there so it was time to order some new gear.  Bill gave me a list of things and showed me what they looked like.  I needed a surf box, a surf rod and reel, heavy braided line, heavy popper plugs, heavy spoons, heavy-duty pliers, heavy cleats for the waders....are you getting the picture? ............  Heavy - Duty fishing trip!!!

This is the surf tackle box that fits over your shoulder.  It contains lures, spoons, poppers, pliers, heavy leaders and Ibuprofen!  This tackle is heavy and after slinging it all day, you ache!

This is my huge salt water reel.  It is holding 20 # braided line.  The SS-65 is 26.4 oz. and holds 260 yards of 20 # line.

Here is a sample of the plugs I took.  I had about 8-10! The big poppers were my favorite.

 Here we see the spoons and jigs.  They were 1 1/2 to 2 oz. jigs.  Again, I carried 6-8 of each color and type.   Chah chink, chah chink went the cash register!

The wading boots had heavy-duty rock studs in the strap on cleats.  There was no way to get a picture to describe the surf rod.  It is standing beside the freezer.  It is a 12' rod with a 15-40 # line weight capability and up to 8 oz lures.  If you fell in, I could hook you and tow you to shore!

So when my credit card stopped, it was hovering  around $450 so far.  This was going to be a trip!

We loaded up in PA and headed straight across to Long Island.  The Expressways there are not too Express!  It was crowded and packed with vehicles.  Finally we made it out to the end.  We found a campsite on the beach with a large dune between us and the ocean.  Thank goodness!

We are set up!  We do have Annie's car, slight probem.  Think three guys on a 5 day fishing trip in Bill's wife's car.  Augh, we'll deal with that late.  Lets go fishing!

We are at the famous lighhouse on Montauk point.  This is it!  We start looking for a good place to fish.  You are looking for feeding fish, or feeding birds, or fisherman catching fish.

The north side of the lighthouse is tough fishing.  Slippery rocks, pounding waves and scrambling around huge boulders.

Note, we did not fish there on the rocks to the north, we chickened out and went back south to the beach.  It is important to try to find a big rock to stand on.  When you wade out far enough to cast, the waves crash over you.  Finding a rock is hard.  All the good ones are taken.

Brian, to the left, found a small rock, and Bill got a taller rock.  It still is tricky.  The waves can still get you.  Ask me how I now!

I find a rock and start flinging.  You try to cast as far as you can and then you pop the popper hard.  It gets tiring.  Suddenly, you see bait fish schooling and jumping.  All right!  The blue fish or the stripers are surrounding the fish and a feeding frenzy is taking place.  You want to cast right into the middle, but don't do it!  You will have your equipment torn up if you do.  As instructed,  I wanted to cast to the edge but couldn't help myself.  I threw that plug right in the middle of the frenzy.  Wham!  Pop!  Snap!  One $10 lure gone, cut the 20 # line like butter!  Do you know how hard it is to re-tie and get your equipment ready when the fish are feeding fast and you are perched upon a small, wet rock getting waves crashing over you.

OK, that was the first couple of days.  Fun and a real learning curve.

This is the parking lot right at Montauk.  Notice these are serious fishing autos.  These guys know what they are doing.  They fish all the time here.  So what do we immigrants do?  We sneak into the camp to steal some knowledge.

We moved as close as we could.  The first table has Brian on the left and Bill on the right.  Note our attention to what these guys are doing and saying.

These are Brooklyn boys and they talk rough!  This is not exactly what they said, but you will get the drift." Those freakin fish were so freakin hot today. I almost lost my freakin balance when a freakin big one hit my freakin lure.  He hit so freakin hard, I thought I had freakin lost it.  How freakin cool is that. Anybody in their freakin mind would have freakin left here but the freakin fish were hiting  every freakin thing I threw at them"  Somehow, they managed at least 16 "freakin" phrases into every paragraph!  Ok, tomorrow we use the info and get back to those 'freakin' fish'.

Whooee, finally a fish!  It was the thrill of the trip for me.  I managed to find a feeding frenzy, they only last about 15 -20 minutes so you have to cast like you mean it and then sock it to them when they hit.  Sometimes you get a Blue, sometimes you get a Striper.  I was so happy to get a little
15 # Striper.

Back in camp, Brian shows me what a real Striper looks like.

Some of these babies can be over 30-40#s.  Man, do they fight.

We had put in our time and paid our dues!  Tonight we celebrate.

Fresh fish with a cold one!  Man, that is livin!

It is a real gamble going Striper fishing at the ocean.  You never know for sure when the run is on or off.  You take your chances and pay your dues.

It has been a couple of years, my rod and reel are ready waiting in the corner. 

What, you say you want to go there?  Ok, I'll pack up my gear and we're off!