The Same Old Thing

There is a lightning-scarred hemlock on a “corner,” where a small cove projects from the main body of Fish in a Barrel Pond. I know that casting a red humpy into the shade of that tree will often bring a trout rocketing to the surface from six feet down, up the face of a submerged ledge. If a humpy doesn’t do it, a fluttering stimulator usually will.

Down the shore a bit, that same ledge is more exposed, and it’s always worth skating an elk hair caddis over the drop-off on a warm afternoon. Adding a pupa imitation, about 18″ down, can add to the excitement, creating the potential for double hook-ups.

In the gloaming of a late spring evening, yellow drakes can come off so thick that it’s tempting to catch one fish, to show I can, and spend the next fifteen minutes just watching the orgy. Anglers lucky enough to hit the Hexagenia hatch will talk about it for years and if they never hit it again they’ll say things aren’t like they were in the old days.

I am always ready for the ant falls of August, carrying imitations as early as Opening Day, and I like going out on gloomy days because drizzly afternoons bring hatches of blue-winged olives.

blue-winged olive

Stylishly Fringed Wings

It’s possible to scare up a trout or two more often than not and, after ten years of fishing this one small lake and nowhere else, things are sometimes so dialed-in that it almost appears I know what I’m doing. Dark visions fill my head of ending up some earth-bound Mr. Castwell, doomed for all eternity to catch those same fish at the same corner “for ever and ever.”

(“Mr. Theodore Castwell” by G.E.M. Skues can be found in many collections of fishing stories and belongs on every angler’s bookshelf. ~QG)

The so-called “major” hatches of mayflies are done for the season, but there is still plenty of activity. The flies are smaller and less noticeable (some are darn near transparent) and smart anglers carry a selection of “terrestrial” patterns like beetles, spiders and ants to cover rising fish. August fishing means patience, observation and creativity, so I put my keen skills to work the other evening and was able to narrow my fly choices to six. Six flies, total; three #14 cinnamon flying ants and three #16 rusty spinners, based on the content of that morning’s spider webs.

rusty spinner

Late-season flies are just a little smaller.

Nothing doing with the ants, under the lightning-scarred hemlock or anywhere else, for that matter. As the shadows stretched to the east, I headed to one particular cove I know (just upwind from the aforementioned spider webs), tied on a rusty spinner and waited for the fish to show.

The wait was not long. Two silvery lines traced the surface as a pair of trout cruised in from the main lake. The rings of their rises rippled the reflected sky and I covered the closest fish with a cast that went where it was supposed to and landed without commotion.

Nothing.

Another rise, another cast to cover, another refusal. I shouldn’t say it was a refusal, though, having seen not even the slightest interest in my offering. My sixth cast shot out, and came down, with a bit more authority than intended and two silvery lines traced the surface as a pair of trout cruised back to the main lake.

I drifted over to where they had been feeding, to see what they had been feeding on, prepared to kick myself for choosing orangey-red flies over yellow or white. As it turns out, color was not the only thing a wee bit off.

Hexagenia

Evidently, late-season flies are not always smaller.

Reeling in, I clipped off my tiny, insignificant, totally wrong fly and headed home, happy and content to have, once more, been saved from the terrible fate that befell Mr. Castwell so many years ago.

It should be noted that I was saved the next evening, too, when I headed out with nothing more than a few big #8 Hex patterns. Oh, I landed in the middle of a spinner fall, alright; dozens of rusty-colored ones, all size #16.

Never the same way twice.

Never the same way twice.

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Fly Fishing, Humor, Vermont | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

That’s All?

As if surviving at the bottom of a lake or stream, passing through two dozen or more life stages (instars), shedding their skin each time wasn’t enough, mayfly nymphs eventually rise to the surface and shed their skin one last time, emerging as winged adults. Having dodged all manner of fishes on the way, they breathe air for the first time and then fly off into it, also for the first time. Bypassing the traditional insect pupal stage, one morning a nymph is eating algae off a sunken log and that evening it’s flying for its life, trying to get to a bush or a tree before the birds and the bats can get it.

I wonder if mayfly nymphs realize what’s coming and how their lives will change. Would they do anything different?

Mayflies rest and get their bearings after their initial, panicky flight. One might think they’d be hungry after all they’ve been through, but it just doesn’t matter; they have no working mouth parts and couldn’t eat if they wanted to.

Everything's Different Now

Everything’s Different Now

Even after a complete change of form and relocation to another world, mayflies are still not mature. They shed their skin one more time, trading their dull, lightly fringed wings for shiny ones that sparkle like crystal, sometimes changing the color of their bodies, even to the point of becoming nearly transparent. Plus, their sex organs function! All grown up and decked out in new duds, now it’s time to get it on. Continue reading

Categories: Humor, nature, Vermont | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Girl with Kaleidoscope Eyes

Deer Fly

Deer Fly

Deer flies are persistent and their bites are painful. In some places they are important pests of both humans and livestock. Strong fliers, they can move several miles from their breeding grounds in search of a meal or just following their chosen target, waiting for a chance to strike. Males are typically mild-mannered, feeding on pollen and flower nectar; females, however, feed on blood, using two pairs of “blades” to lacerate skin, soaking up flowing blood with a sponge-like tongue.

Some species have iridescent eyes, which almost makes them pretty. After nailing me but good on the arm, this deer fly agreed to sit still and let me take a few close-ups of her eyes. Actually, gripped in the jaws of a pair of pliers, she agreed to nothing, having no choice in the matter.

Deer fly

Look into my eyes…

Continue reading

Categories: nature, Vermont | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

For Want of a Nail

Beyond dues, assessments and other monetary considerations, there is a price to pay for membership in an organization like the Neverwas Nonesuch Angling Society. They say a person can’t truly enjoy fly fishing until they have a family of their own to ignore, but ever since the first shower was installed, all those years ago, part of that price has included, at minimum, a weekend at Fish in a Barrel Pond with at least one’s spouse, maybe even the grand-kids.

Not steeped in the lore and traditions of grand old fishing clubs like this, those spouses and extended families are prone to confusion, fear and misunderstandings. It often falls to me to assuage their fears and explain how things are done around here, though I think some anglers harbor secret wishes that that everyone will be so miserable they never want to come back.

This spring I was approached, for the fifth time in as many years, by one of those disoriented spouses I find wandering around from time to time, who said, “Quill, there’s a spider in the shower.”

He was clearly distraught but there wasn’t much I could do since I’d been paid good money to put that spider in the shower in the first place. Continue reading

Categories: +The Neverwas Nonesuch Angling Society, Fly Fishing, Humor, Vermont | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

They Have Very Short Bucket Lists

Having reached the ripe old age of 420 minutes, there’s not much left for these two to do. They don’t even have mouths. If you look closely, though, they do have little moustaches like Salvador Dali.

Click to Enlarge

I’m sure these two will be sharing their wealth of life experience and dispensing advice to this evening’s duns before heading off to procreate and die. Their get-ups are pretty elaborate for a one night stand that will last only a second but at least they’ll go out in style.

mayfly

You can click this one, too.

Categories: nature | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Nearest Fly Shop

The nearest fly shop is not all that near to here and sells a lot of stuff besides flies, but it’s better than nothing, I guess. With a couple hours off and a specific pattern in mind, I motored over the mountain this morning, hoping for the best but willing to settle for a nice drive.

Hay fields and the Battenkill gave way to signs of civilization as the road passed through a golf course, and I once again wondered if golf wasn’t really invented by fly fishers, to keep a certain type of people off the water.

Just past the Range Rover dealership, I turned right, in front of the kind of hotel that has real bellboys stationed at the door, wearing plus fours and argyle stockings. Proceeding through one of those five-way intersections every New England town has at least one of, I was soon at the doors of the closest thing to a fly shop in this neck of the woods.

Above the Doors

Above the Doors

Continue reading

Categories: Fly Fishing, Vermont | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Flashback Friday: Want to Touch It?

It used to be that, when someone caught a fish good enough to keep and showed it to you, common courtesy dictated that you at least touch it. Pumping gas at the marina offered plenty of opportunities to do just that, as shown in a Texaco ad from the May, 1959, issue of Outdoor Life magazine.

texaco

Tickling another man’s bass.

Common courtesy is fine out in public, where others are looking or tickling another man’s bass is just part of the job but, as illustrated by a dusty batch of recently found photos, among family, such courtesies only extend so far. Continue reading

Categories: Flashback Fridays, Humor | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

“Some are born anglers; others have anglers thrust upon them.”

“Some are born anglers; others have anglers thrust upon them.” ~Quill Gordon

The summer season is upon us and millions of people are hatching plans for a little recreation, adventure, and a chance to be closer to nature. The View from Fish in a Barrel Pond is dedicated to those who work hard so they can play hard in the Great Outdoors but it is especially dedicated to those who take care of them when they get there.

Here’s to the guides and drivers and pilots and the people who keep the roofs on. Here’s to the guys and gals who keep the water flowing properly (both in and out). Here’s to those who handle the reservations and scheduling. Here’s to the folks who make the beds and wipe whiskers from the sinks. Here’s to the outfitters, medical staff and rescue teams, the dish washers and cooks and the guys who clean septic filters. Here’s to the people who bang the nails and turn the wrenches, stock paper towels and stack wood. Here’s to the people who try their darndest to make things as right as possible when things don’t quite go as planned, dust everyone off and move on. Here’s to those who pick up the trash, fold the towels and clean unmentionable messes.

To everyone who works hard so others can play hard (or at least pretend to), here’s to you. Continue reading

Categories: +Uncategorized, Fly Fishing, Humor, nature | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pink and Purple Pictures Because People Are Like Pistachios

Some are quite average and run of the mill. Some are pleasant, others merely tolerable, while still others exude goodness and make you wish there were more like them. Overall, as a group, they’re not so bad, even easy to take, but every so often one finds a bad taste in one’s mouth.

A really bad taste. The kind of taste there’s not enough root beer in the world to cancel. Jarring and traumatic, it lingers long after the initial shock has worn off, inspiring great trepidation at the thought of chancing another experience like it and putting one off one’s feed in general.

People are like pistachios. Continue reading

Categories: nature, Rural Life, Vermont | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Back by Popular Demand: A Timeless Product from Eugene and Purly!

Originally introduced in December of 2012, Eugene and Purly really hit the mark with this one!

Listening to the radio while painting a barn last fall, my friend, Eugene, and his pal, Purly, were inspired to create another timely product. Originally planned for release but delayed by concerns about toxicity, I am pleased to announce those concerns have been addressed. Once again, against my better judgement, I present one of their ideas to the general public:

Eugene and Purly’s Political Discourse Paint by Numbers Kits

We are faced with many issues in these troubled times, and some people would have you believe that these issues are complicated, difficult to understand, and worthy of thoughtful conversation.

Poppycock!

Everyone knows it’s winner-take-all these days, so quit screwing around with careful reasoning and listening to the other side! You need bold rhetorical strokes to shut the other guy up, and you want the broadest brush possible to paint him into a corner when logic fails. Our selection of new products gives you everything you need to win any argument!

Available in a variety of sizes, our large-capacity brushes will allow you to slap it on, real good and thick. Go ahead, load ‘er up and marvel at the complete coverage!

Our 12" 'mini' brush.

Our 12″ ‘mini’ brush.

 Our 12″ mini-brush is just the right size to put a stop to those pesky “conversations” at the dinner table. Your guests will be stunned at how quickly you put them in their place, even those at the other end of the table, who will be surprised as all get out by the extra long reach of our six foot handle! Other models include proverbial ten foot poles for touchy subjects, and our extra-large, two-handed model (currently under development for internet use) will cover any subject simply, completely and thoroughly. All of our brushes are sturdy enough to be used with all the force you can muster, filling corners and gaps with ease. For especially stubborn opponents, they also work with tar!

With our new Political Discourse Paint by Number Kits, stupid stuff like “subtlety”, “nuance”, and “facts” will be things of the past. “Details”? Who needs ’em? Not you, when you’re spreading it thick with one of these babies! Those things just get in the way for some folks, but with these kits you will achieve smooth, even coverage and a flawless finish that will leave those morons speechless.

Just as “facts” and “logic” can gum up the works, many people find themselves also struggling with complications like “choices”, but we’ve got that covered too! No more messing around with green, red, blue, or any of those other confusing colors used by eggheads and dummies, because we have narrowed our selection down to the only two colors that matter these days!

Choose one:

#1- BLACK

#1- BLACK

#2- WHITE

#2- WHITE

Our own special proprietary formulas ensure that these two colors absolutely will not, under any circumstances, mix together, enabling you to make your case with no shades of gray! They actually repel each other, and are also permanent, so no one (not even you) will ever be able to change your mind!

Our Political Discourse Paint by Numbers Kits will allow you to cover any issue you can think of simply and easily. Everyone else seems to have one, shouldn’t you?

Stop thinking and order yours today!

(Specify color, brush size. May not be available in all areas.)

Other products by Eugene and Purly include Vermont Hand Crafted Tenkara Rods, Vermont Hand Crafted Tenkara Flies and Mouse Pie.

Categories: politics, Stories About My Good Friend, Eugene | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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