Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Yellow is Mellow - - and Effective Too

photograph courtesy of Lotfi Sayahi
This time of year is often called the “dog days of summer,” because of the sultry, heavy weather.

Popular wisdom is that fishing is mediocre at this time of month.  If you fish a pond or stream that dries up, this is certainly the case.  But on many lakes and ponds, the fishing can defy the dog days.

Low light is always an angler’s friend.  Since June, low light has become more of a friend, with the loss about 45 minutes in the morning, and in the evening.

Over the last two weeks, Adel, Lotfi, Allen and I have been investigating summer angling with great results.

Our biggest successes have come with metal jigs with yellow plastic bodies, and worms fished on standard hooks.  Adel discovered that allowing the jig to sink and then retrieving it slowly drives the crappie crazy. 

Using this technique, he and his brother Lotfi boated 17 fish on an early summer morning.  They hooked even more fish but they either were too small or slipped the hook.  For a brief period, the angling duo had a streak that rivaled the action on those morning fishing shows.  First one brother would get a fish.  By the time we had that fish released or in the cooler, the other brother would have a fish bulling into the deep and putting up an awesome fight.

The technique works on other fish, such as pickerel and bass.  On this trip, the pickerel and bass gave a spirited fight but we released them as they were under the legal minimum.

Pickerel caught on a jig with yellow coloring
Photo courtesy of Lotfi  Sayahi
This past weekend, Allen and I returned to the same lake, but later in the morning.  Despite the later hour, we had a lot of fun.  We replicated the success with the yellow jigs.  Allen caught large bluegills on worms.  It was impressive to watch Allen fishing; usually with worms, the smaller panfish come in a clean off the hook.  Somehow, he was able to attract the larger fish.  In the spirit of experimentation, I trolled and casted a Flat Fish, which yielded a good bluegill while trolling.

On both days, the fishing was made even better by the setting and the company.  As you can see from the photo below, our lake is sometimes so calm that it’s hard to tell which end is up and which is down.  This past Sunday, the cloudy water from previous trips had settled out and it was possible to see dozens of feet below.

Which side is the real lake and which is the reflection?
Photograph courtesy of Lotfi Sayahi
Labor Day is coming up sooner than most of us would like.  But don’t despair.  The summer fishing is great.  Then as September progresses, we can enjoy autumn fishing.


Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Gardens and Streams

The garden: Good things keep coming out of the garden.  This year has been particularly wonderful for tomatoes, corn and carrots.  The beans and eggplant are not doing as well as last year, but maybe they will make a late-inning move that will compensate for the quiet progress thus far.

Even with the desirable plants being well-established, it is still amazing how many weeds there are.  It would be nice if there was more rain, as daily watering has been required this week.  But hearing about California, we will just keep watering and take our lumps here in the Northeast.

A harvest from earlier in the week!
The streams:  Stream levels are down considerably.  Perhaps some forecasted rain will perk things up.

On a New York trout stream Sunday night, I hooked a small rainbow trout on a Light Cahill wet fly.  This fly was one of three on a cast that included a Woolly Bugger and a Lead Wing Coachman. 

Later on the trip, I tied on a number 20 Elk-Hair Caddis (with a peacock herl body) that my friend Dennis tied.  The fly took a short hit and perhaps will do even better the next time there is more and cooler water. 

The great thing about fishing with this fly was that I found a six and a half feet long 6x leader in the fly vest, a leftover from a Trout Unlimited flea market long ago.  Having a short leader made casting on a small stream, with lots of inconveniently located brush and, a much easier experience.
A small rainbow trout, caught on the Little Hoosic, that
is similar in size and coloring to the one caught Sunday night

Saturday, August 1, 2015

A Tricoastal Summer

Summer meadows are full of wildflowers!
It’s been a great summer so far.  Here is a random selection of experiences that are making this such a noteworthy time.

On the East Coast: The Garden

We have lots of rain followed by warm sunny days.  The community garden and plants in the yard are all doing very well up to this point.  In the garden, the seeds from last year’s cherry tomatoes and sunflowers are growing into large and healthy plants.  Being more alert with weed control and regular meals of nitrogen fertilizer has the corn growing well, too. 

The cornstalks now have ears of corn, with tassels on them.  We have picked over 20 tomatoes in the last week and made two containers of sauce! and the tomatoes.  The carrots have come in like gangbusters.  When you pick a dozen or so, they weigh a pound and their weight and length is like those found at a farm stand or in a supermarket. 

Fresh carrots and a baguette are a great road food snack.  They are filling without being weighty, as happens with deli sandwiches or fast food.

On the North Coast: The Senate Restaurant, Livonia, Michigan

We went to Michigan for our nephew’s wedding and enjoyed seeing family.  We stayed in a Courtyard in Livonia and one morning, we got to the hotel lobby about 90 seconds too late for breakfast.  Unlike other Courtyards, the staff was not in the mood to put out two more meals.  At first that seemed to be poor hospitality.

But after looking online, we found a restaurant about five minutes away, called George’s Senate Restaurant and Coney Island.  The Senate, which serves breakfast all day, is on the edge of a golf course.  The breakfast menu has a good mix of traditional dishes and healthy choices.

The Senate’s menu says they have the best rice pudding there is and we got two orders to go.  When George Dimpoulos says he makes the best rice pudding, he is absolutely right.  The rice pudding was custardy with the just the right balance of rice, sweetness, vanilla and cinnamon.

On the West and North Coasts: Handel’s Ice Cream

 My friend, Seymour, who lives in Los Angeles, has in-laws who live in metropolitan Detroit.  On a lark, I mentioned the Senate to Seymour and asked him if his father-in-law had ever eaten there. The answer was “yes” and both the food and the golf course got good marks. 

When we went to southern California for our daughter’s graduation from graduate school, we were driving around and learning about the communities.  Going down one street, we saw an ice cream place called Handel's

Dorothy grew up in Youngstown, Ohio and there was a Handel’s that was the ice cream powerhouse of this steel city.  After looking online, we learned that the California Handel’s is in fact owned by the same family as the one in Youngstown.

Handel’s ice cream tastes just as good in California as it does in Ohio.  It has a creamier and custard-ier flavor than typical ice cream.  It was a riot to be able to eat a Handel’s cone at 8 in the evening and know that a flight to Cleveland and an hour drive the next day would allow you to have a second cone in a different place.

This idea of flying between coasts for Handel’s ice cream may not be as far fetched as you might think.  Some people in Youngstown, Ohio, which is the home of the DeBartolo family owners of the San Francisco 49ers, claim that when the team was in Youngstown for a visit, they liked Handel’s ice cream so much that the team had it packed in dry ice and flown to San Francisco.

On the North Coast: Buffalo in summer

On the way to the wedding, we stopped in Buffalo.  If you have experienced the stereotype of Buffalo as a snow bound citadel of depressing weather, you need to go there and in the summer.   The downtown and the adjoining Arts District are supremely walkable. 

The Arts District has lots of
restored old homes like this one

This sycamore tree in the Arts District is
reputedly the oldest tree in Buffalo
This was important because I ate too large a dinner at D’Arcy McGee’s Irish Pub in the City’s Theater District and needed to walk it off.