Wednesday, June 17, 2015

"Vole-Vasion": Year of the Mouse 2.0

All the ingredients are there.  It could be good.

A couple weeks ago I found myself perusing the local newspaper during a slow moment at work.  While scanning for a captivating headline I happened upon an article titled "Vole-Vasion." It was in the farm and ranch section. Words like "plaque," "mild winter," and "epidemic" were used to describe the current rise in vole population. If you are a farmer, rancher, or like having a yard less holy than a priest, this is bad news.  As I read through the article I couldn't help but think of the implications on the mousing expeditions yet to come throughout the rapidly approaching summer.  The gist of the article was that voles (and I am assuming mice fit into the same category) were already a big problem going into our previous fall season and Idaho never really got the hard freeze it is so accustomed to. The harsh cold usually kills and slows rodent populations.  The result was the already burgeoning vole population from the previous fall has exploded.  The population supposedly grows and shrinks with a regularity like a pendulum swinging back and forth.  It's a 10-12 year cycle and we happen to be on a peak.  Bad news for the green thumbs and country folk who like their lawns less pitted but such good news for an angler wanting to chuck a fly that resembles a little furry mammal.

It was with these high hopes that we hit the road about 9:30 in the pm.  It was a cloudless and dark night.  Cruising down the empty highway we spied the intermittent critter scooting across the road. "Why did the mouse cross the road?"  Who knows, but there were a ton of them!  All the mice on the road bolstered my confidence in hitting the water.  After parking we climbed out of the car to cool air and a star-filled sky.  The milky way is so stunning on moonless nights, especially when you get away from civilization.  We quickly rigged up and hit the water.  First cast, SPLOOSH!  The characteristic toilet-bowl-flush/water-exploding sound gets the adrenaline going! It was a swing and a miss, but it still instilled confidence.  The night was spent with far more misses than hits, but there were so many explosions it was a hoot.  The Artimouse worked stripped and dead drifted. These browns tore line from the reel like crazy.  One even gave me a line burn. Mousing is so addicting!

I had taken a break from fishing and social media over the past month. It was a fitting trip to resume angling. The article had it right.  It's like Mars Attacks, only with mice/voles.  The implication?  This summer could be epic.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Armor and Muscle: Year of the Carp

Idaho currently has a very large rain cloud looming over it.  If only it were a real one.  The snow-pack in most Idahoan basins hovers around 30-60% of what it should be.  It's a dismal outlook to say the least.  To add to the problem, things have warmed earlier than normal.  It doesn't bode well for the coming summer with the various water needs. Water levels are sure to be low, even draining some reservoirs. It doesn't look well for our poor trout either. They are sure to struggle in the inevitably warm water.

We're certainly not hurting as bad as other western states. California's dreaming is now more about the "winters day" than the hot days of summer.  Is it bad to find some good in a situation as dire as drought?  Current conditions have presented perfect spring fishing weather and conditions in our neck of the woods.  I have a feeling the salmon fly hatch will be going any time now, if it isn't already.  It's so early!  The good fishing makes it tough to decide how to spend the intermittent day I can break away. I find myself asking whether to chase trout, or the excellent and early carping.  I have a hunch the warmth and water levels will make for a superb and long summer of carping.  It has already been excellent.

For guys who can't stand the thought of carp the hottest parts of the summer may be a downer, but I can't lie, I'm excited to spend the hot summer days chasing armor clad muscular fish who look like they were bathed in gold. So if you want to find me on one of those precious fishing days, I'll be giving the heated trout a break, wading shin deep in mud and cattails, basking in the sun, and stalking the tough mothers we call carp.

Armor and Muscle

Pork and beans

He's outta there...

Big scales, little scales...

Doubled up

Mud bath... but who is bathing who...

Slippery buggers

Dynamic duo and a mirror image

Mixing things up. Mowing down some livestock with the carp gun. "I hate cows... worse than coppers!" "Oh George, not the livestock."

This may just be the year of the carp...