Monday, October 9, 2017

Summer of '17 Whirlwind: Part 1: School's Out

The summer of  2017 was an interesting one to say the least. I caught fish in seven countries, 26 of them being new species. Although it was busy, the summer rewarded me bountifully. Thus began an international adventure I will not soon forget.

The refreshing release from my sophomore year of high school couldn't have come soon enough. After my last final, I decided to do something I hadn't done before: fish the school pond. 

Our school pond was not exactly the most aesthetic of waterbodies—with a visibility of around 3 inches, it also kinda smelled. Nonetheless, there were fish here, and I was determined to catch them. My friend Sam and I, after our finals, went over to the pond to get some fly fishing practice in. 

Before we started fishing, however, I spotted movement in the grass and quickly snatched up a large, angry northern watersnake. Watersnakes aren't exactly the friendliest of snake species, in quite a stark contrast with the pacifist garters I had caught earlier in the year on the campus. Although their teeth are small, watersnakes (this one especially) seem to come from the darkest depths of hell and will stop at nothing until they've bitten you, your mother, and your dog. I admit it got me a couple times before I could secure a grip on it behind its head. 


Upon casting our first flies into the water, we immediately found droves of small, but ravenous green sunfish, pumpkinseeds, and bluegills. I did catch one of note: a pumpkinseed x bluegill hybrid that was the first specimen of such that i have photographed.


The sunfish got tiring quickly, so we set out some cut sunfish for bullhead bait and some corn for carp. The corn never produced, although we did see some koi swim by. How to catch them will be a mystery for another day. On the other hand, we did find a plethora of solid-sized brown bullheads, which did prove to be good fun on light tackle. And by plethora I mean it, we had bites on cut bait almost every cast.









Nothing too significant for this rushed beginning to the summer, but more was to come. Besides, I had found my new favorite brown bullhead spot. 

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Bliss

Sometimes you need to just kick back and relax, take it slow. Remember your roots. Hit up on some big bull 'gills with shoulders. Enjoy a warm spring day. 

It's quite refreshing, to be honest. To be able to get out for a couple hours and free yourself from the real world, wrapped in the simple bliss of luxury, away from new species, away from the alluring call of strange and mysterious fish in the distance. The willows are swaying in the breeze, the cicadas are emerging, and a bluegill the size of a plate is running those zig-zag lines like they always do.

It's always nice to be back.













Ecuador!!!!

What can I say?

Probably one of the most, if not the most exciting experience of my life happened in the spring break of 2017. But let me cut to the chase: Primarily, it was a botanical research expedition, but some fishing was to be had. Unfortunately, the fish were few and far between, and so were the fishing opportunities. I did get 2 species, though:


The first species was small, but an exhilarating catch nonetheless: the photo above and to the right is my reaction to the little silvery guy in the bucket.

While fruitlessly tossing worms and lures into the muddy, swollen banks of the Nangaritza, I noticed small dimples rising near the flooded underbrush. Not knowing the cause of these dimples, I sent out a piece of worm under a small float, and was promptly received by multiple enthusiastic strikes. Knowing these fish were too small, I armed myself with a small #20 hook. Unfortunately, they were letting go of the hook before I had the chance to set it. I took away the float, but was unable to get the distance I needed to reach them. Then I tried awkwardly flailing the line around until it got where I needed it to go.

The take was instantaneous, strong for a fish of such minuscule size. I was unbelievably thrilled. Not only was the flopping, silver fish in my hand a new species, it also was my first fish from the South American continent, adding Ecuador as the third country I had caught a fish in!

Bryconamericus oroensis: Only recently described

After that one fish, all of them disappeared to whatever third dimension they came from. The Nangaritza bear me no more fruit. 





A little while later into our trip, we explored a waterfall area (and discovered some plant species new to science), and I of course had to pull out the old stick and string. Upon seeing small fish in the pools below the falls, I was ecstatic, like a kid on Christmas morning. 

Worms produced the first couple of fish in short order: Piabucina elongata!!!! Beautiful high-altitude pocket water fish, with an unparalleled aggression. Their powerful jaws would click in warning if my fingers got too close. They reminded me of wolffish, and i do believe they are related. 








To the best of my knowledge, I do not believe that photos of Piabucina elongata have been published before — making this catch all the more exciting!

P. elongata would conclude my fishy endeavors on this expedition. It's a place that still is truly wild, with many undiscovered treasures (mostly plants :D ) in all its breathtaking majesty. The people, the biodiversity, and the pure atmosphere of the place made this trip one of my most memorable by far. Ecuador was a tough mistress, but it did give up some of its gems and I cannot wait to return.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Early Spring Warm Lulls

It was a warm February day, and the golf course was calling. Nothing eventful, but it was a great feeling to have a rod in my hand after a long dry spell, and the bass were cooperative. 






My neighbors happened to be there as well, and I helped the older sister catch her first bass!












Well fed fish, although small.




It feels great to be back.