Posts Tagged New York City

September’s Small Reward

September’s Small Reward . . .

 

Pickerel weed in bloom surrounds a NYC lake in September.
(NYC 09 08 2020)

A September afternoon spent around a pond in a NYC park marked my return to a more conventional tenkara setting. After a salty summer spent exploring the coastal back bays, the sweetwater spot was familiar, the fishing exercise gentle, even easy, yet it held a surprise in the catching.

Despite my practiced casting and improved fly tying, there was the problem of the elusive fish. The water looked reasonably healthy, the solunar tables were in alignment to my time and place, yet not one fish met the net after several hours of focused fishing. No bass, no crappie, no perch, not even a juvenile bluegill.

Perhaps it was the bright sun, a high UV index, which kept the fish off the bite. I had adjusted from the start, beginning along a bank of tall pickerel weed, working the cover of the pond’s shaded bank drop offs. Not a bite, not one.

Tough fishing in the form of no catching can shake the confidence of someone who has just been on a roll, catching bigger game fish consistenly all season. But here, at summer’s end, in the backyard water, a sudden lull.

It wasn’t until I had fished an entire lakeside and back before I felt a strike around the base of the same pickerel weed where I had started.

At the end, both of line and day, a bass. One little fish in the hand, a small reward to end another summer on a positive tip.

The little largemouth that saved the day.
(NYC 09 08 2020)

Tenkara never fails to challenge, teach, and surprise. Now let’s see what autumn holds.

— rPs 09 30 2020

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Late Summer Salt

Late Summer Salt . . .

A sweet spot for the salt tenkara experience.
(08 01 2020)

One rod. One line. One fly. Many, many ways and places to fish. One of these, the salt, continues to fascinate and engage a nascent facet of tenkara’s potential.

The more mellow environment of the sod bank back bay flats gives one a perfect place to wade and cast for game fish in close quarters in the salt.

The primary species remains the summer flounder, the fluke, although as August progresses, juvenile bluefish, called “snappers” by the locals, have returned to provide additional action.

The rigging could not be more simple; a Clouser minnow, Lefty’s Deceiver, or a Gotcha tied directly to the 10-20 lb. tip of a flourocarbon level line.

Fluke rig in the field.
(08 21 2020)

Practice in action reveals the best time to fish, and catch, is during a low tide when fish are more concentrated and feeding. In the case of the fluke and bluefish, feeding on spearing, mummichog, and other small baitfish.

Spearing.
(08 20 2020)

These fish fight exceptionally well on tenkara tackle. Fluke, even shorts, and bluefish, even snappers, fight like stream trout of the 20-inch class. Both species are built for strength and bursts of speed and provide a wonderful, sporting fishing experience during the freshwater doldrums of late summer.

A “keeper” fluke landed on a mudflat during low tide.
(08 19 2020)

 

Bluefish of “snapper” size.
(08 23 2020)

— rPs 08 31 2020

 

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Carpe Mensis

Carpe Mensis . . .

First Carp in the (Much Too Small) Net!
(NYC 06 12 2020)

Something new and exciting in my fishing experience has emerged from the extended lockdown that has kept my angling local. I have at last figured out how to catch carp on the fly with some consistency.

“Carpe Mensis” — seize the month — has been the pun in play this June.

Carpe Carp
(NYC 06 26 2020)
* photo by James Wu

Warm weather with little rain has permitted plenty of comfortable fishing time over the last several weeks. The theme has been expanded by a focused pursuit of Izaak Walton’s queen of the fishes, the common carp, which when hooked fight like a knight.

Many of New York City’s lakes have a solid carp fishery: Prospect Park Lake in Brooklyn, Van Cortlandt Lake in The Bronx, and The Lake in Central Park. The best fishing of all may actually be found in Queens at Meadow Lake in Flushing-Corona Park as the carp is the dominant species there.

I had noticed cruising and tailing carp earlier this year when tenkara fishing for my regular trio of bass, bluegill, and crappie. I knew from past experiment that I could hook a carp on fixed line tackle. But the powerful run of these fish in hemmed in bank settings would also result in a quick snap of the leader, so I brought along my conventional BVK fly rod that Lefty Kreh designed and gave myself some slack as I learned to tackle a new and bigger fish on the fly.

Carp were the large fish catch in my youth when I caught several on doughball using spinning tackle. I have since read as many articles and seen as many videos on carp fishing as the next angler. What changed, perhaps, in late spring of this year was the desire for change, and some challenge, anything to distract my attention from Covid-19 and urban riots.

The carp obliged. The precise roll cast under overhanging branches to large wary fish I could see, and that could see me, was a big change from my usual subaqueous gamble of reading the water and twitching a fly blind in the hope of making a connection with a panfish below the surface.

I find carp are receptive to nymphs and patterns that imitate berries or bread. Presentation is most important. Precision is a must. One has to place the fly right before, or right on top of, the fish, almost bumping the beast on the head to coax a reflex strike.

Size 12 Sucker Spawn tied with white chenille that by pure coincidence resembles a cheesy snack found along the bank!
(NYC 06 12 2020)

Alone, or when paired or in groups, as long as the fish can be seen, and the fly can be landed softly with precision, there  is a good chance of an explosive strike and several long runs from a carp, which in every way remind me of the bonefish I have caught in the tropical salt.

Carp are very much “golden bones” and I have become, like the ones I have caught, hooked!

Carp in the 10 lb. + class are the average catch in NYC lakes.
(NYC 06 12 2020)
* photo by James Wu

— rPs 06 30 2020

 

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Light at the End

Light at the End . . .

The Lake in Central Park
(NYC 05 29 2020)

The sun, often hidden during this strange spring, has at last emerged to take its place as the season begins to brighten and warm at the end of May. Such conditions are not necessarily good for fishing, but given what we have all collectively had to endure, day after day sheltered indoors, it’s good to get out at last, and go fishing.

 

Silver Dollar Crappie
(NYC 05 29 2020)

Bluegill in the Shade
(NYC 05 29 2020)

And the angler is not alone. Sometimes it seems that nature’s other creatures are also happy to see you out fishing again (if only in the hope of a free fishy handout).

Old Mossback
(NYC 05 29 2020)

I have been fishing New York City’s parks for years and there is always on every trip a moment or more worthy of a story. That fact might be the brightest light at the end of this long tunnel of pandemic time.

Follow the Rules and Have Fun
(NYC 05 29 2020)

— rPs 05 31 2020

 

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“A Good Excuse”

” A Good Excuse” . . .

Line on the Water During the Lockdown
(NYC 04 20 2020)

Late April is a period of “peak fishing” in and around the New York region: spring trout, spring striper, as well as bass and sunfish just before the annual spawn. This stretch of fertile time provides “a good excuse” to pause what obligations one has by day and wet a line.

 

This April has been a cruel time, to paraphrase the poet, and I have experienced my share as an essential (healthcare) professional. It has not been inclement weather or religious holidays tying one up from some quality time on the water. We wish it was just that.

 

Life continues, however, and given the concept of Social Distancing, which has become a global directive as well as common sense, it seems to me fishing offers a natural unforced way  — “a good excuse” —  to spend some socially responsible time outdoors even within New York City, the American epicenter of the Covid-19 health crisis.

Going Green: a Silver Lining to Solitary Social Distancing in the Spring of 2020.
(NYC 04 20 2020)

— rPs  04 30 2020

 

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RUSH-ing to the River

RUSH-ing to the River . . .

A fraction of Neil Peart’s philosophical artistic output
(NYC 01 10 2020)

(for Neil E. Peart, 09 12 1952 – 01 07 2020)
My fly fishing path has been often navigated by mountain bike. Ears free and open to the sounds of the way give my interior radio a  playlist, sometimes stuck on one incessant earworm, sometimes an album I have apparently memorized down to the mix, but always, either way, in music in mind rather than reflection or reminiscing thought.
The latter may best be for the page giving room to describe. Images, personifications,  full characters may dwell in music. There is the narrator of “2112” and the postcard report from “Xanadu.” Song sounds wave to me as I depart and welcome me at the end of an expedition. The tunes in between shift and lift my mood as needed.
Power and drive help me to pedal, later to cast. There are times when only the beat of my mental stereo can coerce the thighs to reach the smooth glide on the downward slope, or over the hump to the opposite bank. Such rhythms, internalized, get set in synch with the necessary speed and intensity of the physical motion, making a kind of yoga out of the outdoor sport. This is why I always have a little or a lot of RUSH.
For its combination of power, nuance, ad road-worthy imagery, I begin my day with the friendly voice of RUSH. This Canadian trio of rock remains relevant, having been the subject of several compelling documentaries over the last decade. And there is that little big thing of the band inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
RUSH also resisted the sentimentality circuit by staying a recording and touring together outfit for 40 years plus one. Retired now, since late 2015, and now, we also now know why. Farewell to “The Professor” — lNeil Peart: percussionist, lyricist, cyclist, and philosophical traveloguer.
The outpouring publishing since his passing reveals how broad and deep the man’s audience is. The irony not stated thus far, though, may be this that I noticed — for such a private man, he did share a heaping helping of his life in hindsight. Deep details is words and still images and instructional videos. He in fact shared far more life story than his two bandmates. I find this amusing, and bet it might even be a kind of chuckle already shared in the private world of RUSH.
Fans, deep and frequent listeners like myself and several I know, can usually mention this band now without enduring the rolling eyes of opinionated cynics. There was a time during university in the 1980s when an individualist would squeeze Peart into an art party circle discussion extolling Morrissey, Dylan, Lou Reed, and Leonard Cohen. “Hey,” I would say, “Peart is Canadian like Cohen, too.” At least the Whitesnake fan gave an affirmative nod.
Legitimacy established by perseverance and the Change with a capital C upon which Neil Peart often ruminated, RUSH remain in radio rotation.

First paragraph reveals joy of opportunity for an author to in print shout out “sources” even those contemporaries of philosopher status.
Excerpt from Small Fry: The Lure of the Little
(NYC 01 2020)

My appreciation of RUSH is doubled because drummer and lyricist, Neil Peart, the band’s primary engine and eyes, is an avid cyclist and speaks to those rhythms and BPMs. He began riding an “acoustic bike” between some cities during tours in the middle of the 1980s and explored China, South America, and West Africa off the road, literally.
Motorcycling and related writings then emerged as his passion after a period spent recovering from the trauma of losing his first wife and daughter within one year in the late 1990s.
When the band together again returned in 2002, “Ghost Rider” became my summer song, the song I would even attempt to sing as I road farther and farther to find fishable water.
That season was hot and a dry one, dust in the streets of Philadelphia, and New York, borne by winds of smoke from forest fires in . . .  Canada. Irony.
More simple, less worldly, then my main concern was how I felt unrequited love living in the townhouse next door and career stagnation in my day vocation. I escaped the workplace to write, or to fish, both often and hard, cycling twenty miles back and forth to smallmouth bass and brown trout rivers I could reach by bike from the city limits of Philadelphia.
“Sunrise in the mirror lightens that invisible load” . . . just like the song penned by Peart! My life at that time emulated musical art.
Reason(s) why? Peart can paint clean landscapes even in phrases of four words or less. Another lyrical talent is his use of strong nouns of place – “white sands / canyon lands / redwood stands / barren lands” – such images can alone describe an entire seasonal narrative along the water. Each works its way specifically because of the generality (the complex conveyed by the simple). Words of rock that speak to the full sensory experience in a manner still personal to an individual listener.
And that drumming! Percussion as complex as a Spey line with a wallet of tips, yet tempered as one switched to a steelhead, or tight to a smallmouth by 5-weight or tenkara rod; a stick, of sorts, not unlike that one for the drum.
Casting a line is rhythm after all, and Neil Peart composed “Mystic Rhythms” that continue to conjure moving pictures in the mind. That alone may explain why Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson, and Neil Peart make my day’s road music.

Fly Rider:
Excerpt from Philadelphia on the Fly
(NYC 01 2020)

Rock and Ride and Write in Peace, Neil Peart
— rPs 01 14 2020
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“The River” . . .

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The Second Fish

The Second Fish . . .

The Lake in December
(NYC 12 2019)

The day, overcast, the sky white, and the water of the lake reflects a deep chocolate gray from tree leaves now settled on the bottom.

The bare branches and dry rushes speak within the wind as waterfowl patrol the lake. Mated pairs of mallards share the water with flocks of geese. Two swans, their sheer size impressing, provide the brightest sight to be seen.

End of the Year Gathering
(NYC 12 2019)

That’s until an equally white fly, chenille and herl imitating a baitfish, fished very, very slowly, gets picked up with a sudden flash and grab near the bottom. The rod bends, the weight ascends until the surface of the lake ripples and a slab of silvered black and white comes to hand.

The First Fish
(NYC 12 2019)

The black crappie is the primary cold weather fish of New York City’s lakes. A few largemouth bass and yellow perch may be encountered, too, but the crappie predominates.

Near evening the geese descend until dozens begin to call to one another across the water. The white sky turns gray and a steady mist begins to fall. Just before the shivering angler’s will decides to call it a season, as it is the end of December, another strong take awakens the inner heat and happiness as one more battle of catch and release takes place.

The white fly has done its job and the second fish gives satisfaction in the knowledge that the first fish was not a fluke. The second fish is the grand finale for the year.

The Second Fish
(NYC 12 2019)

That’s a whip finish for 2019.

— rPs 12 31 2019

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October Orange

October Orange . . .

October Icons: Caddis and Columbus
(NYC 10 2019)

The sugar maples turn orange and blend with oak red and locust gold. The October Caddis, primarily orange, well imitated by means of orange floss.

Orange on the water in New York City is the space occupied by the pumpkinseed sunfish. Small, yet spirited, and still at times encountered in October when the trees hold onto their color just before the leaf hatch.

Pumpkinseed Sunfish (Lepomis Gibbosus)

Oranage everywhere. “Boo!” without the hoo.

Happy Halloween.

Portrait Of My Halloween Costume
(10 31 2019)

– rPs 10 31 2019

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The End of the Regular Season

The End of the Regular Season . . .


Basepath Around the Pond
(NYC 09 2019)

Evening falls fast  for the tenkara fisher now that the Autumnal Equinox has passed. The lingering, almost lazy, evening hours have been replaced by a quick race into darkness that can add a bit of urgency to a fishing trip taken after work.

The local ponds have begun to turn over, weedy waters turning clear,  and the fish appear paler and more actively feeding, which, if one is lucky, can result in a grand slam:

Bluegill

Bluegill
(NYC 09 28 2019)

Black Crappie

Black Crappie
(NYC 09 28 2019)

Largemouth Bass

Largemouth Bass
(09 28 2019)

The largemouth bass came at last light, making it a grand slam, an appropriate finish alongside  the final weekend of the regular MLB season.

— rPs 09 30 2019

 

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The L Word

The L Word . . .

The Stream Behind
(08 2019)

Low water, light tippet, little fish, and lots of fun over the Labor Day weekend.

Redbreast Sunfish
(08 2019)

Smallmouth Bass
(08 2019)

Mornings have begun to dawn later, and evening falls faster. The truncated time in between spent fishing is a day labor . . . of Love.

That’s the short story near the end of another summer.

The Road Ahead
(08 2019)

— rPs 08 31 2019

 

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