Monday, July 28, 2008

I Finally Found a Tackle Shop in China!

Qingxi (ching-she) Town, DongGuang, GuangDong, Peoples Republic of China is about as far away from the clear clean waters of Minnesota as one can get. Qingxi Town is located 30 miles northeast of the Hong kong/Chinese border crossing of Lo Wu. It is a mountainous area with peaks rising to 3000 feet amongst the numerous valleys that are home to the industrial factories making almost everything we buy from flat panel televisions to plastics to toys. This area was one of the first to be developed in modern China because of it's proximity to Hong Kong, which serves as a focal point for trade coming out of the area. It is sub tropical in nature with many small rivers feeding reservoirs which in turn supply water to the 30 million people in the area (bottled water for me!). In restaurants if ordering fish you usually are given a choice between river fish or ocean fish. One look at the rivers solves that question pretty fast! Although in this area one sees little fishing going on, it does exist in the form of privately owned fish ponds where families go for a day of entertainment. Knowing almost everything we buy today in the fishing world comes from China and the fact that the price we pay is at least 4 times the manufactured cost, I have always been on the lookout for a place to buy fishing tackle. Well, I finally found one just 2 blocks away from our hotel. I was excited to see what was offered, how they fished, and the prices. In GuangDong Province the people are know to eat anything that walks, swims, or crawls. To some the dozen shiners we pick up on the way to Mille Lacs would be a great meal for their family. The tackle was indicative of finesse type bobber fishing with a variety of pencil type bobbers, line stops, and simple terminal tackle. Very few if any lures were available and their rods were long telescopic type similar to those used in Europe. I was very taken back by the pricing. Some special bobbers were selling for 125 RMB (6.75 RMB to 1 US dollar) for 3 which amounted to over $6 each. Interesting enough there was little negotiation as with most baitshop owners, they were small family run enterprises with honest, hard working individuals just trying to make a living, just like my good friend Bill. My goal of finding a place to get good deals on reels have been dashed. Although the reels they had were of good quality, the prices were at least the same as what you can find in the US. So much for that goal. The bait was in the form of prepackaged dough balls and gunky looking bulk concoctions which reminded me of carp and catfish bait we use in the states. I did buy something for a couple of my close friends that fish the reefs on Mille Lacs with leeches and bobbers. The systems are similar to our slip bobber and for night fishing offer small light sticks that conveniently fit on the top. The light sticks were cheap, about 2 RMB for a package of 2 so I did load up on them hoping to see how they work. I am off to my next destination Wuxi (Woo-she), located west of Shanghai where there is much more water, lakes, canals, and evidence of more extensive fishing. Hopefully I can report better success from there. Zaijian (zi-jee-ahn).

Monday, July 21, 2008

Ed Enos, Smoked Carp...An Evening From The Past

Eleva Wisconsin was not much different than many midwestern towns established in the late 1800's to early 1900's. Nestled in a river valley had many advantages, flat and expansive flood plains left over from the glacial times made excellent farm land. Availability of water to power grist and saw mills, as well as means to transport goods such as logs, furs, and other goods was vital. Of course rivers also did a great job of being a convenient sewer for those living by them. These valley's became natural corridors for the rail roads as they expanded. Eleva sits at the junction of the Buffalo River and Big Creek. The Buffalo River is a confused river. There are 4 major communties associated with this river valley. Osseo is on the upper end, then Strum, Eleva, and Mondovi before it cuts to the southwest through some of the most beautiful bluff country in the US finally meeting up with the Mississippi River. Upstream from Strum the river is called the Beef River. Downstream from Strum it may be referred to the Beef however it is better known as the Buffalo River until it finally empties into Beef Slough at the Mississippi confluence. The Buffalo River is a relatively clean sand bottomed river that literally winds it's way traveling 2 miles for every mile of real distance. There are many oxbow sloughs and swamps, remains of the river's ever changing course. Around Eleva, it's fish include suckers, carp, redhorse, sheepshead, catfish, northerns and the occasional trout escaped from the local streams and planted mill ponds. My best fishing buddy was (and still is) Kevin Aiona. We would exploit every aspect of this. As stated in my "about me" we would dig worms on the south side of building while there was still snow on the ground to hit the early sucker and redhorse run. Often we would get a nice carp, which was a special bonus. Carp were excellent fighters often challenging the basic equipment that we used. Kevin's grandpa was Ed Enos. Ed was the local barber for probably 50 years. There were many guys past 50 whom Ed probably gave them their first haircut. Ed had a small shop on mainstreet and himself was a legendary fisherman. He had the foresight to plant nightcrawlers behind his shop which eventually became the premier spot for catching bait during a rainstorm. Ed could also smoke carp turning it into a bonifide delicacy in the area. Although his recipe was simple, mix salt and water till an egg floats, soak the carp overnight and smoke till done, few had the process down to produce what Ed could do. Any carp that we caught in cold clear water of the Buffalo River in the spring was destined for Ed. On Sunday night I decide to fish a local lake near my home. Driving away I stopped by my neighbors house only to see his riding lawnmower start on fire. Running home I retrieved my extingisher and promptly dispatched the flames before it totally engulfed the machine. Having killed 40 minutes, I had lost my travel advantage and decided to simply fish the Mississippi River behind my house. I live about 2 blocks from the river and can get access through many of my friends that have river lots. With nightcrawlers, simple tackle, a cooler with a few beers, and a pack of sunflower seeds I headed to one of the docks along the river. My first fish was a small fiddler cat (small channel cat) which poked me good with one of it's side barbs. I bled like a stuck pig as it was a bad reminder of how hurtful these little buggers can be. After missing 2 more I finally had a substantial hit. Setting the hook the fish took off like a torpedo. I had completely forgotten how exciting a carp can be. After a 5 minute battle I landed this 8 pound carp. The night ended with another nice catfish before the sun totally set. The carp is destined for either the smoker or eventually helping my garden's general well being. Either way Ed would understand and be proud that we carry on the traditions. It's funny what can bring you back to 12 years old again.

Monday, July 14, 2008

The Tables Turned

Having received this from one of my colleagues it reminded me of a discussion I just had with a friend so I decided to see how hard it would be to post a video. It worked!!!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

33 Days and Counting

Anyone who flies commercially with any frequency understands the role the internet has played in making the experience much more interactive. I was checking on my current flight reservations and noticed a message above the information that our flight to Anchorage is 33 days away. Wow, there is someone other than me keeping track! Anticipation is what helps to keep us young and I am starting to get giddy about our trip this year. It prompted me to think about past trips and as long as I was just sitting here I thought I would share two of my more interesting pictures. The first one on the left is my cousin Greg holding a very nice yellow eyed rock fish he caught out of Seward. Greg is returning this year after taking 2006 off because he had lost an argument with a ladder. This is the actual color of the fish coming out of the water. The only thing that would have made this picture complete was the addition of Greg's teal colored rain pants. Not only are they a handsome fish but are excellent table fare as well. Our Seward trip turned out to be one of the most memorable fishing trips ever. We caught a variety of rock fish, halibut, lingcod, and sea run silver salmon. The action was non-stop. In 2006 we attempted to repeat ourselves but the weather was not very cooperative. The boys are going to give it one more try again this year and hopes are high for a repeat. I still think Greg should get a graphite reproduction as this fish was truly a trophy sized Yellow Eye.
This is me with an average size silver salmon caught out of the Homer Fishing Hole. This is about a 3 acre hole that was dug out just a few yards from the ocean. The tides in Homer are hard to imagine for a Wisconsin boy like me. They average over 18 feet with some months exceeding 25 feet. Tides are a result of the gravitational pull from the moon and because this also causes a bulge on the opposite side of the earth, 2 high tides occur each day as well as 2 low tides. They are in sync with the moon and high tides are the highest during a full/new moon when the moon is working with the sun and lowest at the quarter moons when it is pulling at right angles with the sun. Because the moon's rotation around the earth is slightly longer than 24 hours, these tides are about 6 hours and 25 minutes apart. If you use the average tide as 18 feet, then the level of the sea changes 18 feet in a little over 6 hours then back down 18 feet during the next 6 hours. Breaking it down to 3 feet and hour, the water level is rising (or falling) at little over 1 inch every 2 minutes. At the Homer Fishing Hole they have an outlet (you can see it behind my head) that only lets water in on a high tide and is at least 10 feet above the low tide ocean level. The Alaska Fish and Game plant salmon smolts into this fishing hole and when they are ready to spawn, they return to this small area, coming in when the high tides reach the outlet and water starts pouring in like crazy! You can stand at the edge of the fishing hole and in a matter of minutes your shoes are covered with water. They will plant Chinooks and Silvers as they are the most prized of the salmon. What is unusual about this picture is that if you look close (you can click on the picture for a larger view) one can see that it was caught with a number 7 fire tiger Shad Rap. Trust me, there isn't a Shad Rap to be had on the Kenai Pennensula! I brought it along just to see if it would work. Unfortunately after catching another fish and losing one, it literally fell apart. I am not sure if it was the salt water or something else but my shad rap lasted about 30 minutes. Being a walleye guy, one never leaves home without a few in the tackle box, and for what little time it gave me I was happy to add this fish to my list of species caught with my favorite bait.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Traditions and Tom's on the 4th

The 4th of July holiday means many different things to different people. Fireworks, picnics, yet to me it usually means the opportunity to fish with my 2 great friends the Tom's, Mr. Emmons and Mr. McAtee. These two guys are the the reminents of a once great company, CPT, where I had the pleasure of meeting both of them in the early 80's. I would bet the mature combined weight of us three is at least 200 pounds greater than it was when we met! Both Tom's are excellent electrical engineers with one recently returning from a long stent in Austin Texas while the other is hopelessly tied to South Minneapolis and hates Kool Aid. As you see in the picture Mr. Emmons is much more outgoing where Mr. McAtee is still the shy young school boy. We usually get together for a Christmas vacation ice fishing adventure or a day at Mille Lacs on the 4th of July. This year we met at noon and headed to the pond. The surface was like glass as we headed for the first spot to cast for smallies. 5 minutes convinced me we needed to move. My strategy was to deep troll #11 tail dancers and reef runners in the mass expanse of nowhere land. Trolling in the deep waters off the 4 mile gravel for about a mile produced nothing. There was still nary a ripple on the water so I headed to 3 mile reef for some sight seeing. The water is incredibly clear and the view of the reef was nothing short of spectacular. The house sized slabs of rock looked like an underwater ballroom. The reef was full of smaller smallmouth bass and we caught a number of them on tubes including the 17 incher above. Leaving the reef we once again headed for the deep to endlessly pull the lures exactly 150 feet back of the boat. We did land 2 more walleyes then settled down to bobber fish while getting ready to watch the Garrison 4th of July fireworks. What seemed forever waiting for both a bite and the show to start it was decided that we had enough. Back to the landing and on to Hardee's, we called it a night. Certainly the fishing could have been better but the company was as good as it always is.