Posts Tagged Black Crappie

When Sunsets are Sudden

When Sunsets are Sudden . . .

 

Bluegill in November (NYC 11 2016)

Bluegill in November
(NYC 11 2016)

Sunsets are sudden in November. A day filled with fine mist and nimbus sky can open up, sprint into a quick dip of the sun, a sudden appearance by the moon, indigo sky meeting a horizon silhouetted for a brief period before an almost liquid tangerine infinity.  Venus glows star-white bright low to the southwest.

Leaves give tannin to the color tone of darker autumn water. Some lower branches of the Norway maples hold onto pennants of green and gold. Ginkgo like old gold coins pile into wind-drawn patches along the pond path. The oaks above and behind keep a full coat of the most russet leaves that whisper in low passing passages when the weather is best for angling. Mitten weather, still air, cold enough for a fingerless weave if dressed for comfort.

 

 Mitten Weather: Autumn Impressionism (NYC 2016)

Mitten Weather:
Autumn Impressionism
(NYC 2016)

A city park light switches on and the scattered bite of bluegill juveniles ceases. The bite become as light as the feather and fur assembled onto a crimped barbless salmon hook. The size 8 shank gets nibbled in and a light set of the rod raised connects to heaving sideswipes repeated four or five times before the fish in net measures out to ten inches, a quarter pound. Small fish this time of year bolstered by the stronger resistance the finned ones use in the angling wrestle.

Black crappies by the light of the night, and then, after a final fish, an early “Good night.”

Days follow that might be bright and cold and clear. The city soars into Holiday Season. The coated oaks then chatter and even roar in a strong sustained blow from the Canadian west. Days bright, best spent recasting, spent writing.

 

Black Crappie at Dusk (NYC 11 2016)

Black Crappie at Dusk
(NYC 11 2016)

 

– rPs 11 28 2016

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Minted in March

Minted in March . . .

 

Two for a Cent (NYC 03 2016)

Two for a Cent
(NYC 03 2016)

“Two for a Cent” is an early short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald. The author describes with a mannered eloquence the ember at the end of a lit cigarette. That scene from a mellow night remains one of my favorite descriptive passages in American Literature.

My essential pattern, the “one fly” for the tenkara fishing I most often do, begins with The Green Guarantee, two of which are pictured above with a wheatie from Fitzgerald’s era. Coins and fly patterns model well together and give me a chance to combine two of my interests in a single frame. As for the pattern, its universal color and shape viewed from a fish’s underneath perspective, dressed in fur and feather activated by motion though water, attracts all of the pond’s residents at some various points in the season, including season’s start.

 

Fifty Cents for a Quarter Dozen? (03 2016)

Half Dollar for a Quarter Dozen?
(03 2016)

 

“Half Dollar for a Quarter Dozen” is a possible title of three Muddy Moreblack arranged with an American half dollar to scale. The Muddy Moreblack continues the use of the double consonant and offers a pun on the mirrored famous last name of an acclaimed guitarist whose band’s music I hear played on fly shop playlists all the time.

This pattern matches tan and black on a size 6 or 8 streamer hook and, being weighted, smokes under the water. The effect conveys the colors of late winter, something waking, emerging from the water bottom’s silt and leaf litter. The dobsonfly nymph, hellgrammite, crayfish, and stonefly all the Muddy Moreblack may be. The pattern worked along banks, within the sticks that dropped those bottom leaves, can produce the one earned fish of a day when sudden sun chases the fishes from more open areas.

Freshwater fishes may suspend in tough spots as a defense mechanism. The clustering of various species of Centrarchidae also brings to mind an expression of conscious social interaction. May such gatherings be a fishes’ summit to plan the following growing season? Perhaps territories within the pond’s perimeter are hashed out here with the whiskered bullhead given free reign along the bottom and the entirety patrolled by a few scattered schools of carp prone to basking just out of conventional and fly casting distance.

Carp have been nowhere to be seen during the Ides of March. Sudden sun and warmth during the winter to spring transition has pushed New York’s sunfishes down or into what dense shaded cover may exist so early in the season. Fallen trees and a nest of limber overhangs then present the long fly rod throwing a line a more complex scenario. The fishes, still hovering, appear to challenge:

“Catch us if you can!”

 

"Catch Us if You Can!" (NYC 03 2016)

“Catch Us if You Can!”
(NYC 03 2016)

 

I did.

 

Bluegill (NYC 03 2016)

Bluegill
(NYC 03 2016)

 

Minted in March Black Crappie (NYC 03 2016)

Black Crappie
(NYC 03 2016)

 

Sunfish the color of a penny nestled in the sticks. Black crappie as iridescent as a silver coin.

Minted in March: Season’s Start

– rPs 03 18 2016

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“Let Me Go”

“Let Me Go”

 

Home to a Swan Prospect Park Lake (12 30 2015)

Home to a Swan
Prospect Park Lake
(12 30 2015)

The news of the passing of Ian Fraser Kilmister, Lemmy, hit me as hard as his pulverizing yet melodic bass solo on “Stay Clean” – the Motörhead track that has fueled my final kick during many a road race. On the eve of New Year’s Eve, bearing the news of this loss in a year full of it, including childhood role model, Leonard Nimoy, my own friends, John Mutone and Ketan Ben Caesar, and extended family, my uncle Andrew Amici and grandmother Marie Amici, there was only one thing I could do to find peace.

British angler Dominic Garnett helped to point the way. I have just received his new book of stories, Crooked Lines, in the mail and a recent post on his blog of the same name describes “Casting into the Wind” along gray canals lined by dry, tan reeds. That angling image offered me some light.

“Let me go,” I said to myself. “Fishing.”

I decided to repeat last year’s example with a visit to Prospect Park Lake in Brooklyn. Unlike the bright and blue day I enjoyed at the close of 2014, the weather this time was gray, cold, with a hanging damp in the air. The lake sat gray and calm, the surrounding woods brown and still. The light tan of the shoreline reeds offered the only warm color to the scene, which was quiet but for the bird song of coots, geese, ducks, and gulls.

With the theme of “Letting Go” floating in mind, the decision seemed natural for me to also relax the rigidity in my fishing approach by bringing along a conventional nine-foot 5-weight matched with a floating line. The idea was to compare and contrast the equipment with my Ebisu tenkara rod with traditional furled line to learn how my casting (and hopefully, catching) may have evolved after four years spent focused on stillwater tenkara.

The lesson learned to my experience is I now cast rod and line better. I find myself entering into that easy rhythm of The Zone much more easily than before tenkara came to my attention. I fished the 5-weight in a fixed line manner, lifting line and leader off the water with very little use of the reel or stripping in of line. Slow swimming lifts were used to bring my size 8 Green Guarantee home to the bank.

 

Ebisu in the Winter Reeds (12 30 2015)

Ebisu in the Winter Reeds
(12 30 2015)

 

What's This!?! Conventional 5-weight for comparative fly fishing. (12 30 2015)

What’s This!?!
Conventional 5-weight for comparative fly fishing.
(12 30 2015)

 

Fishing? Yes. Fish? I missed one light tug on the Ebisu. I switched to another section of the lake where I brought the 5-weight into action. Like last year, during the last hour of light, a connection was at last made.

Not a perch, not like last year. This time something intercepted the fly along the far edge of some reeds where a few sunken branches also projected. Slow and solid, the taker pulled in rippled descending waves of resistance. The rod bent in a deep way as the fish, a large black crappie, rolled, splashed, and at last reached the surface and the mouth of my beaten but unbroken Brodin net.

 

The Best, The Last, 2015 Black Crappie (12 30 2015)

The Best, The Last, 2015
Black Crappie
(12 30 2015)

 

One fish, a nice one, allowed one more catch, photo, and release for 2015. Finished, the fish darted from my underwater grip. The sky had become noticeably darker. Low clouds began to roll in and my breath steamed. As I had been reminded far too many times over the course of this year, time races more than passes. “Letting Go” is necessary.

 

“Let me go,” I said to myself. “Home.”

– rPs 12 31 2015

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Harlem Meer, Blue Again

Harlem Meer, Blue Again . . .

Free at last: Harlem Meer without ice.. (photo taken 03 21 2014)

Free at last: Harlem Meer without ice.. (photo taken 03 21 2014)

The wind was up. The sun set the high cirrus aglow. Harlem Meer reflected deep blue and, occasionally, bare trees. Rippled, the winded surface did not deter the birds. Canada Geese, Mallard Ducks, and Hooded Megansers all utilized the resource. I found myself, too, with colleagues Fergus and Jesse. We three angled urbanely for an entire Friday.

The water was clear and dark, free of weed. Only the bottom, where we worked our offerings, hinted at the ragged rooted bases of plants yet to rise.

I decided to employ one of my own finished fly patterns:

The Green Guarantee; a bucktail streamer

Green Guarantee: bucktail version.

Green Guarantee:
bucktail version.

Recipe:
Size 6 hook
030 wire for weight
Deer hair for tail
Olive floss for body
Peacock herl for thorax
6/0 Green thread for wrapping

ATURAL DEER HAIR, OLIVE FLOSS, PEACOCK HERL, and OLIVE BUCKTAIL.

Where others using conventional fly fishing outfits and ultralight spinning outfits failed, tenkara succeeded. One fish fell for the delicate dance of the pattern. The limber tenkara tip had provided again.

Crappie as long as your pine handle: Tenkara USA Ebisu and a black crappie. (photo taken 03 21 2014)

Crappie as long as your pine handle:
Tenkara USA Ebisu and a black crappie. (photo taken 03 21 2014)

First black crappie of 2014

The day’s fishing ended on a silent moment. We three stood abreast and watched, as time lapsed in front of us, the bend of a cove letting go the last of its lock of ice.

Harlem Meer, blue again.

– rPs 03 31 2014

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Tenkara in the Dark

Tenkara in the Dark . . .

A Crappie Photo: This blurry view simultaneously reveals the author’s tenkara angling skill and flash photography limitations. (photo taken 06 28 2012)

Summer has arrived and with the season comes heat, humidity, and an angler’s need to modify both the technique and time of the fishing in order to optimize the sport’s chief objective: outdoor action.

I usually fish alone, and during the day, but my most recent tenkara trip was an after-work group outing of urban anglers. Tony, Edwin, Jesse, and I, as well as a couple of other friends in the observer role, spread out around the west side of Harlem Meer at dusk in search of a refreshing breeze interspersed with bluegills, largemouth bass, and black crappies.

The slanted evening light spilled over the towers and tree tops alike as I worked a Deer Hair and White soft hackle along the pond’s weed edges. A few bluegills fell for the fly, enough to keep me busy. When I did pause to look up and around me, I was surprised to see another angler, not of my party, also fishing with a long rod. As our trajectories brought us closer and closer together, I took notice of an interesting detail. Something was missing . . . his reel! Yes, I encountered my first tenkara stranger outside of cyberspace. He carried two rods with him so, after introducing ourselves, we took a few minutes to speak the praises of the streamlined simplicity tenkara has given to our city fishing.

Meanwhile, the sun set and conditions changed: the bass remained elusive; the bluegills vanished for the most part. My three compadres had by this time clustered along a favorite strip of shoreline near the southwestern end of the Meer; a spot known for large nighttime bass. Their presence soaked up a majority of the spot’s bank space, so I walked farther east to where a small island forms a channel about thirty feet in width. I was now out of sight, without a light. Night was falling quickly, so before I lost all of the available light, I tied on a small (size 12) Brown Woolly Bugger with a bead head.

A black-crowned night heron and a foraging raccoon joined me by the water as I began to cast into the darkened depths of the Meer. By this time only anglers remained. The joggers and dog walkers had gone back to their air-conditioned indoors.

The pattern’s bead head changed everything. On my first cast I felt a light jiggling take that soon revealed the full extent of the Ebisu model’s flexible 5:5 action. I raised the rod perpendicular to the pond, which coaxed the fish to the surface. The headshaking commenced as well as an impressive spiraling dance. The limber tip registered all of its variations. This back and forth ballet lasted for over a minute before I had control enough to lift a silvery foot-long black crappie onto the bank.

The real challenge (as opposed to the reel challenge) occurred when I attempted to photograph the fish. The most daunting aspect of night fishing, for me, falls under the documentation department. I have a fairly good eye for composition, but my mastery of lighting remains to be seen in the exact sense of the word. The absence of sun, the resulting use of flash, left me with a well-composed, yet blurry, portrait of a big crappie resting parallel to the Ebisu on the damp grass. At least the scale of the fish was documented.

This trip was a group effort, as I mentioned, and that comradery soon proved its worth. Tony was the first to stop by to see why I had disappeared behind the island. The blurry image of the crappie, and another solid jiggling hit right before his eyes, answered him better than any loquacious verbal explanation. He switched to a bead head as well. Soon all four of us were back together, sometimes pulling in a quartet of crappies simultaneously. The action was so good that each one of us was satisfied to pause occasionally to take a snapshot or two . . .

Not as big a black crappie, but a much better picture. (photo taken by Tony Panasiti on 06 28 2012)

. . . Thanks, Tony!

– rPs 07 02 2012

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