Friday, November 21, 2014

What Is A Guide's Real Job?

Memories! That’s what a guide creates. Good or bad.
                There are weather conditions and fish and game availability that a guide can’t control. But, they can control many other things like a clean boat, being on time, being honest, 
providing functional equipment, knowledge of the area and landscape, empathy, good story telling, and a willingness to help the not so talented sports to learn about the quest at hand.
                On any given day a guide meets a sport who is very talented at the quest and on other days is presented with rank beginners. It is the guide’s job to provide a day of activity which is memorable. It doesn’t necessarily mean catching the most or biggest fish or shooting the biggest deer or a limit of winged challenges.
                I had a man and his young son come fishing for striped bass a few years back. The father made it very clear that the day was all for his son. The little guy could hardly cast a small spin rod. I helped him all trip long. Fishing was a little on the slow side, but he did manage to catch a few with his limited talent. During the lull in fishing he got a little cranky. So I made a quick decision to change the trip plan to a nature quest, suggesting he might like to see some seals. Oh yes he would. So we did. And then I suggested we just might find a bald eagle if we got lucky. We did. Would he like to see a family of baby ducks? Yes he would. We did.
                . I said it might be several weeks before he got his pictures. He was disappointed because he wanted to tell his mom how big the fish were.
                The biggest fish he caught was about 14 inches. So I asked him to stretch his arm out straight to the side. I measured from his arm pit down his arm to 14 inches. There, I told him he could show his mother the size. That measure went well beyond his elbow.
                Last year the same father and son team came fishing again after several years had past. The little guy was now much bigger.

                During the day of fishing the now young man said he remembered that big fish he caught on the previous trip. I asked how big. Raising his arm out straight and pointing from his arm pit to the original point on his arm where the fish would have stretched to, this big. . Well, that 14 inch fish memory had grown to a 30 inch fish! We all laughed and his dad said that was a really big fish, ha? Memory created.
Another time I had guided this sport over several years. This day was a cold, mid July day with winds howling out of the southeast. I offered a trip cancellation because of the conditions, but he said no, he wanted to fish.
                He called this winter after many years of not visiting Maine. He had moved to Florida and decided he couldn’t stand it in August and September and wanted to come to Maine during the period to get away from the heat and fish with me a couple days a week.
                During our talk he mentioned the big fish! Oh the memory on that miserable weather day. His wife laughed on the other phone saying, “ya, that photo of the fish has been in our wall ever since”.
                We had been catching medium sized busting fish all morning and getting beat up pretty good by the rough water conditions. It was suggested that I might have honey hole in a lee that might hold a larger fish.
                I pulled into a spot and anchored up, something I rarely do. Quite quickly my sport was onto a big fish using a very small fly. His experience brought the fish in quickly. It was difficult to get the monster in the boat. No question, it was over 50 pounds taken with a 12 pound class leader and a fly I called the Every Ready. The fish was quickly released. Sport shipped his rod in the rack, reached into his vest pocket to haul out his traditional end of the day cigar, prepared it, lit it and took one drag. Then he said, “It’s been a great day Doug, let’s call it.”

                We both agreed that without verification, the fish was likely a tippet class world record. Look at the photo, I think you would agree. Memory created!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

New Fly Rod Development Provides Comfort and Function

New innovations for fly rod development have been fast and furious the past ten years. Most new rods have become lighter, better casting and better fighting tools. Small details sometime go unnoticed. Temple Fork Outfitters new Mangrove series of fly rods have a neat, new feature - a built in hook keeper on the left and right side of the real seat. A groove is on each side of the reel seat that extends, up under the grip, providing a location for the hook to be stored.

The left and right grooves allows storing the fly on the opposite side from the reel handle. I have always disliked hook keepers just in front of the rod grip because I usually keep my index finger lapped over the grip for comfort, control and feel. A traditional  hook keeper is most uncomfortable, pressing against my index finger. So I usually cut them off. Just a little thing, but very functional. This new TFO system eliminates that little problem. Love it.    

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Cape Cod Canal History

If one fishes striped bass in Massachusetts very long, they become aware that the fish is somewhat of a god there. Anglers fish by boat, beach and rock ledges with great skill. Striped bass fishing there is almost a religion.
They are really good at their craft, be it plugging, jigging, live bait or chunk bait fishing. Years of experience has been past down generation to generation. When, where and how to fish for the big ones is well known within fishing families.
One of the where to spots is the famed Cape Cod Canal connecting Cape Cod Bay and Buzzards Bay to the west. Here, shore fishing is the only permitted techniques. Rods, reels and lines are prepared specifically for the location as distant casting is most important. Tidal currents are very strong. When bait enters and is trapped in the canal, it becomes a six mile feeding station for stripers.
The canal has a small, six mile roadway on both sides from end to end. Vehicles are not permitted so people use bikes specifically built for fishing with rod racks and baskets for equipment. Light poles are numbered for reference and each is known to be a good, bad or somewhat ok fishing location.
It has been determined that the Cape Cod Canal fishermen should be memorialized with a bronze statue of a somewhat oversized Canal Rat as they refer themselves as. A plaque identifying the statue reads:  “The Fisherman – A Tribute to Past and Future Striped Bass Fishermen and The Great Cape Cod Canal. Inspired By Local Fisherman Stan Gibbs.” The statue is located at a public park on the off Cape side of the canal near the railroad station in Buzzards Bay (Bourne) Massachusetts.