Saturday, March 23, 2013

Ice, Wind, Ugh

Be careful if you're venturing out onto the ice. Myself, I'm done ice fishing for the year based on my father-in-law's sage advice of "don't go out there, the wind really messes things up." I'm sure there's plenty of thick, safe ice around but use caution near the edges. The rise of the lake as well as subsurface rocks make this ice go first. It's a really good idea to have a life jacket on and carry a throw rope. A little preparation and forethought can probably save your life. I've heard that the oxygen levels in Pastorius are extremely low, hopefully we won't see too much winter kill. We took a trip out west today to check how the fishing was in House Creek canyon. Road closed. Checked some other places but low temps and high winds chased us out. We stopped at Summit reservoir on the way back and fished the 10 feet of water between shore and ice. No go. Puett is still 100% frozen. Note to future self from next year: when you decide to go out fishin this week, stay home and tie flies!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Futile attempts...

Like Holly, the shipboard computer of Red Dwarf once said... "It's better to have loved.. and to have lost, than to listen to an album by Olivia Newton John... ANYTHING is better than listening to an album by Olivia Newton John." If you don't try, you'll never know. As many of you know, I enjoy fishing many of the high creeks and rivers around here. I even dished out a heap of cash for an ultra light 5' flyrod that makes the tiniest Brookie feel like a hog. With this cute flyrod in hand (I need to bring this thing to the Juan on day for the funny looks,) I plunged through feet of snow down to the La Plata river. I drug some heavily weighted nymphs through the deepest pools I could find but had no luck. The river is running at about 5cfs. I did see bugs, so maybe I'll try again earlier or in a different spot. It seems like every year I get into that canyon earlier, and earlier when I know damn well that there won't be active fish. After a particular frustrating snag in a tree, I decided to just pack it in and head home. That's when I stopped for a second to look at this stunning river as it trickled through the snowdrifts. It made the only sound to be heard and the sight was just utterly stunning. Yep. This beats listening to an album by Olivia Newton John.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Summer Salmon Dish

You've all heard me crying about being ready for spring and summer. We caught 9 Kokanee through the ice in a couple hours yesterday and I made this distinctly summerey dish from them. I got the idea from a post my cousin made on Facebook from a restaurant in southern Florida. Salmon in Florida? Where there are so many fresh fish available? Odd. But I like the dish that resulted. Kokanee are readily available in Vallecito, Lemon and Williams Creek. They like shiny things and they love the smell of Anise. I soak kernels of white shoepeg corn in Anise oil (not the baking stuff, that's got alcohol in it, get real Anise oil) and then put a kernel on one hook of a 1/8oz Kastmaster. Don't be afraid to change depth, we found the Kokes from 2 feet to 15 feet from the bottom. Drill lots of holes fairly close together, when you catch a fish in a hole, change to a different hole to let the first hole "rest."

Summer Citrus Salmon

Serves 2
4 Fresh Kokanee Salmon Filleted (The Kokes I used here were about 13")
1 small orange
1/4 thumb fresh ginger, minced
Small Jalapeño, seeds removed, diced
Fresh Cilantro
6 or 8 Cherry Tomatoes, halved
6 or 8 Fingerling Potatoes
Rice Vinegar
Olive Oil
Green Onion or Chives
Salt and Pepper

Boil the potatoes for about 20 minutes or until slightly soft, and then cut into even size slices, about 3/4 inch thick. Cut about half of the orange into small 1/2 inch pieces and mix with diced Ginger, Jalapeño, Tomatoes and Cilantro. This is your Salsa, sprinkle it with salt and lemon juice and set aside and let it come to room temperature. Juice the remaining orange, and mix with olive oil, some lemon juice and a bit of rice vinegar and salt. Stir well and taste. Let this come up to room temperature as well. At this point, I melt some butter in a small pan and throw in the potatoes to crisp the outsides, salt and pepper to taste. Time for the Kokanee... Get some oil in the pan and get it nice and hot. Salt the Kokanee fillets and add them quickly to the pan, skin down. Let'em sizzle! Flip briefly to make sure the tops are cooked and then right back to skin side. The object here is CRISPY skin, it's the best part of the Salmon if you ask me. Plate the potatoes in the center of the plate, flat sides up, and then top with the Salmon fillets, skin side up. Top THAT with the fruit salsa, and drizzle liberally with the vinaigrette. Let the vinaigrette pool up on the plate, it's nice to dip the crispy Salmon bits in it. Garnish with chopped chives and serve. I was slamming Mexican beers with this, however, for you culinary studs out there trying to make clothes fall off, I'd recommend a chilled Pinot Grigio, or, when it is warmer, a Vinho Verde.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Ice, Ice, go away...

We took a little trip over to Mancos State Park to lend a hand with the Perch again. We caught some bigger fish this time, no monsters, but more in the 7-9" range than the 4-6" range. The new auger is so dreamy. The ice may not be here for long, if you click back a year on this very blog you'll see it disappearing from Pastorious any day now. Remember the ice is often weakest right at shore. Be careful and keep your ears open. For this angler, the melt couldn't come fast enough. Don't get me wrong, ice fishing is a great pursuit when you want to nibble on some fresh fish in mid winter. It's a great way to spend a day, and sure beats sitting in the office. All that being said, I'm ready for warm days, long casts, and high mountain fly fishing. Ice off is a great time to fish. April and May are two of the best months on the water, look for hungry fish close to shore when the ice starts to melt. Good luck!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Slushy ice and deeeeeep holes.

We got out three times in the last 5 days but they've been quick jaunts at best. We ordered a new auger, Lisa's dad's needed sharpening and I sharpened it and it was actually doing ok, but not good enough. Then I tried to resharpen it and made the mistake of touching the bottom of the blade, and then it wouldn't bite. We wondered if years of use may have bent the auger itself and when we saw that an entire new auger was only about $25 more than a new set of blades we figured what the hell. The new auger is identical to the old, a Strikemaster hand auger. The big difference is the new auger breaks down into two pieces making it easier to transport in packs if we ski in somewhere. We took it to Vallecito to test it and it took about 42 seconds to drill through 20 inches of ice. Oh baby. We only caught stockers, but what do you expect on a bright sunny day. I had dreams of catching some big sunnies at Pastorious so I ventured out there yesterday. The ice is slushy but thick. I bet it won't be thick for long. My first hole landed me right in weeds and mud about 2 inches below the hole. Nowhere seemed deeper than 8 feet or so and I didn't have a bite. Today we did what we said would be fun all season: skied into Little Molas Lake. The ice/slush combination was so thick we were laying on the ground trying to get the auger through. We did finally and found we had 5 feet of ice and about 3 feet of water under it. Sigh. The skiing was fun and on the way home we shot out to Lemon where we caught some little browns, little rainbows, and a lot of sun. Lisa caught biggest, I caught first. I think we both caught most.