True Food

by Timothy,

The morning sun filters in through my closed tent flap and gently wakes me. My eyes open to the glow and immediately I feel the chill in the air. Although hot elsewhere, the mountains still retain a measure of the cold easily felt in the first rays of the morning sun. Before the sunlight lifts the cool veil, I shrug off the confines of the sleeping bag and step out into the day.

My first, long exhale plumes into a white cloud before me and withers away as I step through it to stoke the morning fire. Brought to life by a shower of sparks, the flame licks at the damp wood and curls back the bark. Allowing myself small moments to tune in to the subtleties around me is one of my favorite aspects of camping. The little things tend to be the easiest to remember.

The fire’s crackle is a soundtrack as I proceed to assemble my gear for the morning activities. Rods, reels, baits, and bags are corralled into a pile and wait patiently until I smother the fire. Its smoke swirls up through the pine trees and wafts through the air mingling with other woodsy scents. The important bags are donned, rods gripped in one hand, and the camera hangs from my neck eager to immortalize these moments in voiceless pictures.

My walk begins. The hunt for breakfast is afoot.

Taking my time to the lake, my eyes dart constantly between forest and floor, the former glance in search of a break in the trees, and the latter making note of my sure-footing. The gear around me rattles and claps with each step. Small hops dropping the heavy backpack down upon my shoulders as the campfire scent lingers further and further behind me.

The crunch of gravel greets me upon my arrival at the pristine lake, nestled in a mountain basin.

Although the sun has not yet crested the mountain tops, I can just barely see the dark silhouettes of cruising trout. Nearer the water, the plucking of rising fish is a strum on my instincts and my hands begin to work, tie, and cast a rod into the depths. The water is clear enough for me to watch the worm, sourced from beneath damp rocks, sink ever so slowly, its ends twirling tantalizingly in the new aquatic realm.

I settle in and wait.

The subtle thrum of my heart slows and the breaths I take are deep and full.

Sunlight pierces the water and the click of my shutter is the single disturbance to the picturesque morning.

The fervent bouncing of a rod tip commands my attention and as the sun raises higher, the silver, frantic flash of my prey shines in the water. The pumping reminds me of my heartbeat that was felt just moments before.

I land the creature and end its life with sharp taps from a stick, breaking the spine to show it a quick and merciful death. My breath plumes again as a sigh of respect escapes my lips.

The gear is stowed away and I begin the trek back through the woods. I follow the deepening scent of wood smoke and begin the transformation from hunter to cook. My mind stays focused yet the task and manner is different. Where once my goal was primal, an urge to kill, the urge is now to feast, to cook, to transform my energy spent into energy consumed. The sun stretches our shadows as hunter carries prey.

Upon my arrival the fire is stoked to a raging inferno and a mountain of embers are born. The fish is set nearby and begins the transformation between raw and cooked.

At first, the stench of the fish is akin to algae and mud, something not wholly appetizing. Its slime dries and adheres to the skin while the eyes grow cloudy. As time continues however, the scent becomes meaty and pleasing. The mouth waters as the skin crackles open revealing succulent, steaming flesh.

Breakfast, no longer trout, is removed from the coals and set on a plate.

Bones are fed to the fire, skin is fed to the dog, and meat is consumed, proudly, by me. The meat was taken respectfully in the most intimate of pursuits. Not a bit is wasted and as the day truly starts, every spark of the energy will be put to good use.

Starting my day like this means I have a greater respect for myself and the food I eat.

Most people never form the understanding of where and how their food actually comes from. They have no relationship with real food. Because of this it’s fair to say that hunters and fisherman have more than hobbies; they have a way of life.

Simrad GO5 XSE - Advanced Kayak Fishfinder

The Simrad GO5 XSE is an advanced sonar system for small watercraft which incorporates navigation, fish finding and obstacle avoidance in a single unit. It is in effect a device which gives any boat an understanding of the underwater environment previously reserved for large naval vessels with complex sonar arrays. With the Simrad GO5 XSE, any bass boat or kayak can have a complete map of what is in the water below, including the presence or absence of marine life. This makes the Simrad GO5 XSE a must-have for those traveling in unfamiliar waters, or waters with a high degree of underwater sediment movement.

The Simrad GO5 XSE is built around an advanced combination of sensors which combines the GPS and sonar readings to confirm not only a vessel's location but the likely and actual conditions under the water. This enables captains to pilot their vessels in shallow or untested waters easily, with the five-inch screen giving them a clear display of where they are and if there are any hazards they should be aware of. Proposed routes can be planned, and the computer can even calculate the best, fastest and safest routes between two points. The display is fully customizable, and the layout can be changed or adjusted to ignore irrelevant data or provide the user with additional displays. This ensures that its use can be changed or customized over time, for example enabling it to serve as a navigation aid on the way to a likely fishing spot, then used to determine the presence or absence of fish upon arrival.

The Simrad GO5 XSE is capable of updating using any standard Wi-Fi connection, and can thus be pre-loaded with the latest map and navigational information before heading out. Additionally, if wireless internet can be obtained via the cellular network or satellite communications, the Simrad GO5 XSE can be continuously updated while the voyage is underway. Proposed routes can be plotted out, with the system assisting any vessel pilot in navigation by suggesting headings and changes in heading in light of conditions, as well as warning of underwater hazards. This not only ensures faster transits to and from established points, but it also helps ensure that the transit is safer, with known hazards being avoided, and approaching hazards being warned of.

The system does all this by using a variety of sonar systems, all transmitted through transducers attached to the underside of the boat. The first is the ForwardScan forward facing sonar, which scans the area in front of the vessel, looking for approaching hazards. This combines with a downward-facing SideScan and DownScan Imaging to look for potential hazards to the sides and beneath the vessel, and also inform the user as to the nature of the underwater structures. Finally, the Broadband Sounder CHIRP sonar can detect the presence of free-floating or otherwise non-structural objects beneath the vessel, most notably schools of fish, or individual fish of significant size.

Additionally, the Simrad GO5 XSE is NMEA 2000 compatible, which means that it will be able to serve as an interface for compatible onboard sound systems as well as display pertinent engine information. Most importantly, engine information can be fed in while underway, enabling the operator to be instantly alerted in the event of oil pressure, fuel or other problems. This can enable the Simrad GO5 XSE to basically serve as a ship's computer, controlling and providing information about much of a vessel's electronics, without the need for the purchase of additional machines.

However, the GO5 XSE does have some limitations. The primary downside of the Simrad GO5 XSE is that, in order to achieve its full functionality, it is necessary to buy multiple compatible transducers. While some multi-function transducers are available, in general, they can only function as one type of sonar at a time, limiting the functionality of the device. Additionally, at only five inches, the screen may prove to be rather small for some, especially when mounted in larger vessels. This is compounded by the rather low resolution 800x480 pixel screen, which seems outdated in an era when even entry-level smartphones have 720P displays.

Still, the Simrad GO5 XSE, when paired with the proper transducers and securely mounted, is capable of providing an incredible amount of useful information to any boat operator. From current underwater conditions to the presence or absence of fish, it is a digital eye for pilots who want to get where they are going quickly and safely. Its small size, while inconvenient on large vessels with plenty of room, does mean that it can be mounted on very small craft. As such, it's an ideal accessory for small boats and kayaks.

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Legend of Lost Rod

by Timothy,

There’s a fishing story in my family that is the tale to tell when reminiscing of old lakes and past rods.

During the months after ice out, Lake Trout will swim up out of the depths they normally hide in and hunt the shallow water in search of young rainbow trout. It’s during this time that shore fisherman can test their tackle against some of the hardest fighting fish that freshwater has to offer. Being so carnivorous, the standard bait for lake trout is chunks of cut Sucker meat lashed upon a treble hook. The meat is large and heavy enough to be casted far distances without the use of any extra weight.

Fishing in this way means constant attention to the rods because these fish pick up the meat and tear off towards the darker water. It’s easy to imagine the small whales perusing down the shoreline just out of sight of our eyes. Once in a while, one of them will cruise down right in front of us and elicit shouts of excitement. These shouts grow louder when the fish fly through the water like gray torpedoes after schools of baby trout. Their huge toothy mouths open wide and completely engulf their prey. It’s amazing to see the few moments it takes for one more fish to be taken out of the pool.

It was on a hunt for these fish where the legend began. I was young. Young enough to tangle my line into knots even Houdini couldn’t escape. Inevitably, my father would walk over and proceed to untangle whatever mess I had made with exclamations of “How did you manage to do this?” coming from his lips.

During the entire trip everything had gone smoothly. We each had a few fish to our name and the weather was offering the perfect conditions to peer through the water. My family had decided to join my father and I that day but they wandered off through the woods surrounding the lake and left the fishing to the two of us.

Normally, my approach to fishing is to have one bait rod sit on shore and then I take a lure rod and walk the shoreline nearby. When fishing high mountain lakes, my lure rod is inevitably my fly rod and so on this trip I casted an Elk Hair Caddis to rising trout while I kept a careful eye on my rock weighted rod. When a fish struck, I’d fly back over and set the hook.

As the day went on we had only managed decent sizes of fish mostly within the 16 inch range. None yet had surfaced that would pull line out in screaming runs.

A period of time passed where the sun was beating so strong that it pushed the shallow fish deeper into the water. We chased them down with further casts but the catching of them had considerably become less frequent. I contemplated checking my bait for the fourth time and as I reeled in, the line suddenly stopped. I tangled it.

I called to my father who had been in the midst of reeling in his own bait and he set his rod down over a bundle of coiled line sitting on shore.

He teetered among the rocks toward me and took the rod from my hands to untangle the mess I had made.

Suddenly, there was a frantic clattering of rocks behind him and he jumped in surprise enough to drop my rod and sprint to his. The coiled line was whipping out into the water at lightning speed and the rod went with it moments before my father reached it. He took several frantic steps into the water before running back out and letting out a groan.

I ran up the sloping hill and perched on a rock so I could look out further into the lake.
There, in the deeper water, was the slender shape of a white rod being pulled steadily through the water and within moments it was swallowed into the depths.

We never did see that rod again.

Remembering the Inlet

by Timothy

This story represents my unorthodox introduction to fly fishing.

We fished all day with only one skinny brown trout to show for our efforts that barely made our 10 inch minimum rule. ( Anything below 10 inches doesn’t count towards the daily fish count.)

The day itself just felt dead and lifeless. The sun beat down relentlessly and even the wildlife seemed to be taking to their hidden shelters.

I was hot, tired, and my hands twitched like an addict suffering withdrawals. We had tried everything, yet neither bait nor lure seemed to make a difference.

It was the end of the day and the yellow-orange glow of sunset bathed the scene in one small consolation for our time spent.

As we began to consider our departure, a man walked up from behind us and asked if he could take our spot. We obliged and packed our things but continued to putter around the area for a while and observe him.

I recognized his attire immediately; waders, fly rod, fishing vest. A fly fisherman. This was intriguing to me as at this stage of my fishing career I had not yet attempted fly fishing. His obvious goal was the inlet mouth that ran, inaccessible to us, a small way away from the sandbank we stood on.

I felt like an audience member to a concert, watching on in envy over the spectacle before me that I had not the power to experience myself. I yearned to feel the cool flow of water around my legs and the power of a stream that ran freely for miles upon miles until it ended up trapped in the man-made lake.

The ripples spun off as his legs broke the waters movement and the gentle sloshing was loud enough to be heard even as he walked away from us.

As if cued by a hidden voice, the fly fisherman stopped and unpinned the fly from the rod and whipped it out in front to begin his casting. It was magic.

A great Heron in human form. Gracefully moving through the water, eyes locked on a sub-surface point only known to him. The line unfurled behind his form like great wings and flew forward in the looping arc credited as one aspect of fly fishing’s unique beauty.

The man was silhouetted by the orange sun, a natural painting. The last cast settled upon the water and the man’s figure froze, save for the hands that drew up the coiled line as it drifted towards him.

All this is now familiar to me; the wading, casting, and stripping of line is just second nature to a fly fisherman. In this moment however, I noticed each piece separately as they began to seamlessly flow together into a dance. A choreographed work of art took place before me, highlighting the connection between this man and his chosen prey.

As I continued to watch, a desire sprung up from within me to fly fish. To experience for myself the majesty of this pursuit. This feeling was made stronger by the man’s next cast.

It was not unique compared to its predecessors. The line flew and fell like snow on the water’s surface. This time however, the fly at the end of the line vanished in the deft swipe of a trout’s mouth.

The line snapped off the water’s surface and spray wafted through the air as the hook was set. The rod was bent. The arms were raised.

This was the second moment of awe. This lone man had accomplished in a ten minute span what a group had tried to achieve in a day.

“What power there is in fly fishing!” I thought.

I yearned to shed my socks and shoes and walk out to the man, not exactly sure what I would do whilst beside him. See the fish? Ask what fly he used? Surely at this point this man was a celebrity in my eyes. A fly fisherman.

Though I don’t know who he was and never exchanged words enough to find him again, he gave me my love for fly fishing. Something that I will never take for granted and continue to pursue until the day I die.

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