Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Lessons from a Heron

I've learned about fishing from a lot of people, books, movies and personal experience. Out of all of these resources it is the Heron that probably taught me the most. When I first started fishing I used to ignore herons and mainly thought of them as neat wildlife to look at but nothing more then that. There are certain fishing spots where a certain heron will be every time. These birds were my only company and tolerated me until I'd get too close. They'd often get annoyed and leave with a loud squawk or fly away to a high perch and yell at me for stealing their fishing hole. As I fished more I started to watch heron more and I began to realize they hardly ever got skunked. Sometimes it's good to watch the best fishermen. It's hard to beat the heron. These are the main lessons the heron taught me.

1. Wade slow and observe
I've never seen a heron run or in a hurry. Their movement is very proficient and even when they feel threatened they move at a pace that is hard to imitate. I learned that if I waded slowly and observed, things would reveal themselves. Standing as still as possible has the same benefits. If one can stand still enough you will often times find fish swimming near or right next to you.

2. Use Your Energy Wisely
How often have you seen a heron randomly stick its head in the water over and over? You probably haven't. This is because they stay calm and poised until the precise moment. I've tried to incorporate this more and more and as I've gotten older and hopefully become a better fisherman. I notice I cast a lot less than I used too. I also catch more fish. Casting blindly with no purpose really does nothing for you. If you can stay focused and wait until the proper moment you will likely be rewarded more often.

3. Try to Blend In
I can't tell you how many times I've been fishing then I get a glance of something out of the corner of my eye and it is a heron across the river. I never saw it until I got close. I'm sure many fish have had that same experience and found it to be fatal. If you can be sly enough to look like part of the environment the fish will feel at ease. In this element fish will usually feed and hit flies they might not otherwise when threatened.

4. Be Cautious of Your Shadow
This is a biggie and many times I over look it. Sometimes you have no choice but to have your shadow go over fishable water. I try my best to make sure it is away from where I am fishing. It's really important on small trout streams where the fish are already on the look out for anything peculiar. Moving shadows mean predators to fish.

5. Know When to Leave
Herons know when to take flight just as the danger gets close. It seems there motto is "live to fish another day". Take heed in that. If you're fishing somewhere and you think or KNOW the water is rising. Get out. If you see lightning bolts and it is obvious a storm is coming, take shelter. There's no glory in a fish story about someone dying from a lightning strike. When kayaking or boating and the swells are not looking good. Don't chance it. Listen to the heron, live to fish another day.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Waiting out Irene

Looks like fishing will be put on hold this weekend. I was thinking about checking out a local river after the storm. The thought is maybe the fish are going to be feeding like crazy with all the food being flooded in. Honestly the change will probably turn the fish off. It might be a good fly tying weekend. Our club recently had Anthony Hipps do a presentation on his famous flies. He ties a foam popper that is probably one of the best around. Another one of his creations is called the HellCraw and he says it has been a good producer for all species of fish. I have posted the videos and fly tying intructions for both. They can also be found at. WarmwaterFlyTyers.com
Anthony Hipps - Soft bodied foam Popper

Anthony Hipps soft bodied popper at TFF from Christopher Martain on Vimeo.


Anthony Hipps ties his HellCraw from Christopher Martain on Vimeo.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

New Places

A member of the fishing club posted a trip for a new section of the Haw river I have never fished. There were promises of big bluegill a pound or bigger. I'm always skeptical of these types of claims especially with out seeing evidence. The place was a good distance away and I probably wouldn't have gone if a friend hadn't agreed to carpool with me. The section we were fishing ran right through a neat part of town. It was a mixture of other rivers closer to home but seemed to be more clean. The water was low and boulders stuck out like islands. We entered the river and kept walking upstream towards the dam.
From Summer2011
There's always an eerie feeling when walking close to a dam. I always look for escape routes in case there's an all of a sudden release. This dam doesn't do scheduled generations and I'm sure if it did plan a release it would be highly publicized. I felt safe but not too safe. The pools near the damn were stagnant and filled with algae. I tried my luck where there was at least a little flow. I rock hopped and got in position to fish poppers under the shade. There were fish hitting the surface for what looked to be midges. I switched up and went to a crawfish pattern. While kind of just slowly stripping the fly in I felt resistance. The fish didn't fight that hard and I didn't quite recognize it at first.
From Summer2011
I have never caught a crappie in the summer. I thought the water was too warm for them. I've always heard where you find one there will be more so I kept working the section this fish came from. I thought I had a few more hits but no more fish came to hand. I tried various other spots and met up with a friend. He told me about a mayfly hatch that was going off downstream. Apparently bluegill were stacking up against the bank and gorging themselves. He kept trying to talk to me about fishing in the mountains and other places and I tried to be polite while hiking fast but my main focus was getting to where this hatch was. I worked my way to the section he talked about and I did see bugs coming off the water. I have never heard of mayflies on the Haw. I didn't believe it when he first told me. The bugs did look like small sz14 rust colored mayflies. My first cast hooked a nice fish but it came off quickly. The next few other casts resulted the same. I decided to put on a bead head soft hackle. That was the ticket. I either had a fish or hit on every cast. The bluegill ranged in size from a small 4inch fish to the monsters that were rumored to be here.
From Summer2011
My buddy caught a bluegill that was even longer. We spent the rest of the morning just working the bank and catching one gill after another. I couldn't have asked for more. It was a great trip and I'll definitely be back to check this place out again. When we got off the water we ate at a general store that had great sandwiches. We discussed what kind of mayflies those might have been. I started to talk about how I thought there weren't any mayflies around and maybe those were caddis. Then I glanced at the window.
From Summer2011

Sunday, August 21, 2011

A Special Day

Most kids learn how to fish from their father's. My father wasn't around very much so my mother had to play both roles. She taught me how to fish for trout in the high sierra's and I can still remember the first time I actually hooked a fish. A boy ran through the camp yelling "the trucks here!" A large rumble from a diesel truck came closer and a stock truck pulled in and parked right in front of the campsite. A man gets out climbs up a ladder and dips a net into the tank at the back of the truck. He lifts the net and almost can't handle the weight of all the flopping fish inside. Almost as quickly as he climbed the ladder he works his way over to the creek and heaves the fish into the water. Was this man actually dumping all these trout near my campsite? I couldn't really understand what was going on. Everyone watched intently as the man dumped 3 nets of fish into the water. As quickly as he came the man jumped in his truck and moved down too a new section of the campground. People ran for their fishing poles and my mother yelled at me to get mine. We hurried over to the pool where the fish had been dumped. The fish were in a swarm and in shock from going from a cool tank into a stream with current. People outlined the bank and many were armed with Velveeta cheese. I had Patzke's Balls of Fire.They were a version of salmon eggs. It was a staple bait of my family for years. I threw the eggs into the water and tried to will the fish to strike. My mother just kept telling me to leave it there. The fish were just sitting there not moving. I saw other peoples cheese balls drifting around the fish. A fish finally inhaled one of the balls and for the first time I saw what a hooked trout looked like in the water. It wasn't much longer when a fish charged my salmon eggs and head butted them knocking two of the eggs off the treble hook. I kept staring not being sure what to do. The fish ate one then two of the free floating eggs then went for the last one on my treble hook. My mom yelled. "HOOK HIM, HOOK HIM!" I lifted the rod and felt the electricity of having something alive on the other end. I freaked out and handed the pole to my mother. There was a few seconds of us passing the rod back and forth and her yelling "NO you reel it in!" The whole experience was too much for me, I couldn't comprehend what was really going on. She reeled in the fish and said "You caught your first fish!" I started crying and said with a sobbing voice "no you caught it, you reeled it in." Everyone at the pool as well as my mom told me they were sure I'd have another chance. I did have some fish hit but I couldn't hook another one. I felt like my only chance was lost. It was only about a day or so until I did indeed hook a fish on my own. I brought it back to my mother very proud of myself. She was happy too but started to get annoyed when I kept bringing fish after fish to her. "Why are you doing this?" She asked. I didn't know how to unhook them. So every-time I'd catch a fish I'd run back from some random part of the campground to have her unhook it. She showed me how to unhook the fish and tie on a new hook. She also bought me a creel to store the caught fish in. I owe my start as a fisherman to her.

Imagine how happy I was when my mother moved out to NC to be closer to the grand-kids and said she'd like to learn fly fishing. I was skeptical of how much interest she really did have. I told her about wading and how much different it was than spin fishing but she still wanted to learn. Yesterday was our first adventure on the water. I was apprehensive but excited for what the day had in store. Would she be able to wade? Would she catch anything? Would she hate it? In a few moments we were going to find out.
From Summer2011
Teaching someone is always a little awkward. Trying to explain the feel of the cast and it is hard to show someone with out pulling line out. This gives the false impression that you need to pull line out to cast properly. My mother tried this at first and got the worst tangle in her leader. She also complained about not being able to see her fly and leader. I had forgotten about the 6x tippet that was on the line from when I fished for wild brookies. I explained that line is hard to see and it does take time for your eyes to adjust. I was using a 5wt with a heavier leader and I thought about switching with her but I was dealing with a bad fly line tangle myself. My mother kept casting and eventually wrapped the leader around the rod and made it knot itself. She worked at it but couldn't get the knot out. I finally got the tangle undone on my reel and made my way over. I assessed the situation and realized that her leader was pretty much done for. I gave her my rod and just hung out with her explaining that right now as a beginner accuracy is far more important than distance. I pulled out a certain amount of line and told her once you can cast this where ever you want then we'll pull another few feet out. If you can cast that accurately then we'll pull out more and so on. This worked out great and as I was showing her the accuracy of a short distance cast I had a few strikes from sunfish confirming my teaching. She listened very well and I realized women are far better students mostly because of their tolerance and patience.

It didn't take long until she was able to cast 30ft and hook up with her first fish. There was a pool with fish hitting at the back end. I knew if she got her cast with in a 2ft window she'd be sure to catch a fish. Her casts would land close but they'd miss the window by about 8inches. Eventually she got a cast close and as I told her to just let the popper sit and we held our breath, PLOOOP! The fly went under. She set the hook instantly which was pretty impressive. Her first instinct was to go to the reel but I kept saying "STRIP, STRIP" and went to grab the line. She pulled the rod away from me so she could do it herself and started to strip the line in. We were both ecstatic, my mother had caught her first fish with a fly rod.
From Summer2011
While I was unhooking the fish she said "hurry up I want to catch another one." Which didn't even bother me and I was tickled at her enthusiasm. It didn't take long and she had another fish in hand. The day went on with her casting well and hooking fish. She learned faster than anyone I have ever taught.
From Summer2011
I never had to worry about her wading. She took her time and moved through the water with no problems. Then I was reminded of those days when I used to run back to her every time I caught a fish. My mother had just caught her 8-9th fish and held the fish suspended over to me. I finally said, "you need to learn to unhook these yourself." I showed her a few times and after that I didn't have to worry about her for the rest of the day.
From Summer2011
I was amazed at how she was finding pools on her own, made accurate casts and caught fish with ease.
From Summer2011
It was fun to just sit back and watch her enjoy herself. After her first couple fish she told me "I can see why this is addicting." Standing in the water gave her a new point of view that you can only get while fishing.
From Summer2011
The beauty of the water and the soul of fly fishing had claimed another victim. I was really impressed with how she did. Not just because she was my mother but how she dealt with everything. It was definitely one of my best days on the water. I'm really happy I could share something I love so much with the person who started my passion for fishing.
From Summer2011

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Gotcha Sucka!

I was going after carp last week with a black wooly bugger I tied. It was one of the first flies I tied years ago and pretty ugly. The fly action in the water was great though. The carp wanted nothing to do with it and worked there way around the fly turning their noses up at it. The carp at my work pond get leery quick. After a few casts they know something is up and go to deeper water. You can tell where they are at times by bubbles that come up to the surface. Many times I will cast at the bubble and I've actually had a few hits doing this. It is really hard because you are doing everything blind. I can't tell which way the fish is facing or when they see my fly.

A carp came close and I watched it and tried to measure my cast. It started to move to the darker water with horrible visibility. I cast maybe three feet in front of the carp hoping the fly would sink and land in front of it. Once my fly hit the surface a catfish charged and engulfed the fly. I was surprised but ready. I set the hook and the fish made a nice sprint for deeper water. Then it did what all catfish do and headed right back towards me just as fast as it swam away. It kept doing this pattern and I thought maybe this was the same catfish I had lost at the bank earlier the week before. It fought the same, it would come within feet of shore then swim off peeling line into deeper water. Once I had it near the bank I saw my fly was barely in the corner of the fishes mouth. I tried to lift it up over the grass on the bank but I could feel the 10lb test line was at it's limit. The fish was no where near 10lbs but I could just tell by the tension and feel of the line that it was about to pop. I gave it one good yank and SNAP! The line broke right at the knot. I just stood there at first expecting to see the cat flip off the grass and go back in the water but it was spent. I tried to figure out a good way to grab it but the fish was almost too big to wrap my hand around. I eventually grabbed it by the wooly bugger in it's mouth. The fly had lodged in the rubbery corner of the cats mouth. I pulled it up the bank and the fish looked enormous.
From Summer2011
From Summer2011
I estimated the fish to be well over 30inces. I had my neoprene socks in my backpack and I used those to grab the fish and pick it up to test it's true weight. This fish was no where near as heavy as I thought it was. Maybe 4-5lbs.
From Summer2011
I tossed it back in the water and it swam away as if nothing had happened. Catfish are brutes. When I got home I looked at the pictures and measured last night on the rod to see just how big the fish was. I grossly over estimated the fishes length. The length of my rod to the first eye is only 26inches this fish is a good distance from that. The fish was probably more like 21inches. Still my biggest cat yet, just interesting how much my eyes exaggerated the size when I had it there next to my rod.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Yeah I Take This Seriously

I arrived at the spot we agreed upon early as usual. There was no sign of Rick's car. I knew this was probably a bad idea. People always tell me they want to fish with me but I don't think they ever understand how serious I take it. Rick asked if he could fish with me and had that kind of cocky attitude of I know how to fish. He had no fly fishing experience but figured it had to be easy since he watched A River Runs Through it. Rick finally pulls up about 15min late. Since he saw the movie A River Runs Through It, I gave him my favorite line from that move. "Didn't you learn there's 3 things you're never late for? Church, Work and Fishing." Rick kind of snickered but never apologized for being late. He opens the back of his car and shows me the rod he bought just for this trip. I think he wanted me to oooh and aaah over his new Orvis Helios but I was still ticked at the lack of punctuality. "Where are your waders?" I asked. I don't need any I figured I'd just wade in my shorts and shoes. I said "You don't even have any boots?" No, I have high tops they should be fine. I explained "It's fall the water is about 50degrees. Really you need wading boots too." I figured the shop would have clued him in on this when he bought his rod. I'll be fine, I'm from the north. You know we should go to this other spot I know about.

Interesting that Rick has never fly fished has no wading gear and somehow with the purchase of a fly rod has become an expert on fishing locations. "We'll stay here if you don't mind, what flies do you have?" Rick wasn't sure what kind of fish we were going for so instead of asking what people use around here he bought a box full of salt water, bass and trout flies. Maybe 3 of the 50 were going to work for what we were fishing for. We were finally ready to make our trek towards the river. Rick holds up his beer and says "got to keep hydrated." I smile while inside dreading the decision I ever agreed to fish with this guy. My concerns were confirmed when partly down the trail I hear a ting tang of a aluminum can being thrown. "Did you just throw that can?" Rick had the look of surprise and seemed defensive about the question. "Yeah, someone will pick it up, probably the forest service. We got to pay them for something." he said. "Do me a favor and pick that up." I said. Rick looked at me and I could tell in his eyes he didn't want too. He could also see in my face that if he didn't pick the can up this trip would most likely be over. The hike to the creek was in silence. Only too be broken by Rick hocking loogies every five minutes. I spent my time just ranting in my head about what a moron this guy is while I waited for him to catch up. A few times I thought about just leaving him on the trail. "You hike fast." He said. We made it to a section and I explained where the best places to fish were. Then with in about 10 seconds I heard Rick exclaim "!##% this water is cold!" I usually would have said told ya or something along those lines but I just said "I bet it is in the high 40's." I pointed to a good spot where Rick should fish then made my way upstream. As I waded and tried to watch the water and finally take in some of the scenery I was deafened by the sound of sloshing and splashing behind me. I turned around to see Rick tap dancing in the river. Without wading boots every step he took looked like someone walking on ice. He stumbled a few times and barely kept himself from getting fully wet. In about 10min he was out of the water.
From Summer2011
I tried to forget about him. I just concentrated on the fishing. I was able to catch some fish too. I was actually having a good time until I heard really loud from behind "What fly you using!?" I told him come here and I'll show you. Rick stumbled in and I showed the hairs ear I was using. He had the same fly and I watched as he tied it on with 4 overhand knots. I can show you a better knot for that. After tying an improved clinch I sent him on his way. "You're all set" I told Rick and instead of walking back to where he was fishing he cast right into the section I was fishing in. I knew what to expect now so his behavior didn't bother me. I tried to explain how his drift needed to be and why. Partly through my explanation Rick said "yeah yeah, my feet are freezing I need to get out." He was ready to go and honestly so was I. We started walking back and instantly he got his rod tip stuck in a tree. He started to yank and bend at the rod. I told him he was going to break it if he wasn't careful. I grabbed the rod and freed it from the branches. I then explained if he pointed the rod behind him when he walked that stuff wouldn't happen as much. I got the expected answer "Whatever." The trail was pretty silent on the way back except for the cursing from Rick every time his rod was caught in a tree. Secretly I wanted to hear a snap. The rays of the sun started to shine through the trees and I'd stop to enjoy the views while waiting for Rick. I could tell he was getting close by the heavy breathing and spitting.

I noticed a few fish holding near the bank. I pointed them out and in the middle of my sentence about needing to be stealthy Rick shot down the bank. Snapping branches and dislodging rocks as he made his way down. The fish were gone after his first few steps. "Where'd they go?" You spooked them. Then Rick said the funniest thing, "dumb fish." This is where I couldn't hold my tongue anymore. I said "Well they are smart enough to where you can't catch them." I then went on to try to explain how he could have used cover to hide his shadow and he should have took his time getting down there. "Whatever, you take this too seriously." he said. That had me thinking on the hike back. Do I take fly fishing too seriously? Yes I do. Fishing is "my time." I try to make the most of it. It takes me away from my family who's time I take seriously too. If you don't understand that you're wasting "my time."

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Day Hike

I used to have a summer tradition of going to the Sierra Nevada mountains to fish and camp. One year I decided to hike to some of the upper mountain lakes. It was an idea inspired by a book called Best Short Hikes in California's South Sierra. The definition of "short hike" varies greatly depending on who you talk to. I hiked with my wife Kristin who was just my gf at the time and we decided to try the Big Pine Lakes hike. The reward was supposed to be trophy sized golden trout. When I read the description of the hike it said six miles. I figured that would only take maybe a couple hours. We started the hike early and hit the trail with tons of excitement. It's always fun to explore the unknown. The view from the campground itself was spectacular and the canyon is surrounded by crags with small glaciers.
From Sierras
The air and environment felt pristine. The hike started near a creek and and it gave glimpses of the hike we had in store. In the book it talked about people hiking up with horses and gear to camp near the upper lakes. It wasn't long until we got our first good look at one of the glaciers.
From Sierras
It seemed so close. Then after we hiked about a mile or so we realized just how far it really was. It was becoming later in the morning and we had left the shade of the forest and started making are way up some switch backs. We past various people with full daypack gear and they had a puzzled look on their faces as they passed us. "Is that all the water you have?" They'd ask. We had two good size containers of water but not a lot in what you'd call supplies. We had a few granola bars and some jerky but nothing else. We were packing light because we figured this was a day hike, no tent or sleeping bag would be needed. The switchbacks were punishing but they gave a nice view of the progress we were making.
From Sierras
The trail seemed to go on forever. It veered off away from the creek deeper into the canyon. You could hear water far off in the distance. It sounded like a pretty good size stream but it was camouflaged by foliage.
From Sierras
It got louder and louder with every step we took. The elevation was starting to get to us and we had to stop several times to wait for horses or hiking groups to pass. The idea did start to swim around in our head that maybe this was a bigger undertaking than we thought. I made the comment about just checking out the stream then we could turn around. Once we got under the next tree line we could see what was making all of the noise.
From Sierras
It was a good size water fall. It's hard to believe how much water is created from snow and ice melting. The power of the water was impressive and showed off by making a thunderous roar as it cascaded down the hill. We worked are way to the crest and the view just kept getting better.
From Sierras
The falls just inspired us to continue on further. There were times we'd stop in the shade and just enjoy the view. I kept getting distracted by beautiful looking fishing holes that I'd have to test out before going forward.
From Sierras
They were just too inviting and called to me. I did end up catching a little golden trout out of the hole above. After taking a picture we moved on and kept working are way up the trail.
From Sierras
Looking back it was hard to figure just how far we had actually gone. I figured maybe 2 miles. Then as we looked ahead all we saw were more switchbacks. The switchbacks were out of the tree line and it was later in the morning. The sun seemed to bake us and you could feel the heat almost rising up from the ground. There were several times we wanted to just give up. I kept saying lets see what's at the top of that next ridge. What was at the top of the ridge? Another set of switchbacks. Some how I kept moving us on and in the book all it talked about was the color of the first lake. I kept looking and looking and expecting to come over a ridge and be greeted by the prettiest water I had ever seen. I was almost at the wall of my hiking point and getting ready to tell Kristin we need to just go back when something caught my eye. I thought maybe it was an optical illusion at first. What I thought was the blue sky behind the trees was actually in the canyon. There is no way the sky could be showing there. Could that be water? As I thought this the trail started to branch off immediately in that direction. This gave us some new energy and we quickly worked are way to where the glowing blue was coming from. It got brighter as we worked are way closer. The color didn't seem natural it was too blue. When we finally found a clearing and saw what it was we both just stared in silence.
From Sierras
It was without a doubt one of the most beautiful views. The picture does not even compare to how this lake glowed. We just looked at the lake for awhile then I checked the book again to see how far the other lakes were. We had been hiking almost 5hrs and I figured we had to turn back soon. The other lakes were less than a mile from each other. We hurried to lake two.
From Sierras
It was interesting how this lake was a different color it wasn't as blue as the first lake. Apparently it's the minerals in the lake that give it the color. Some upper lakes are black or green. The crags behind the second lake gave it a postcard like appearance. It was amazing.
From Sierras
3rd lake was supposed to have the big golden trout in it. I surveyed the water but didn't see any fish. I cast a few times with a small ultralight spinning rod. I didn't get any follows or takes. I was more worried about getting back down the mountain before dark. I checked the book again and read something that made my anxiety even worse. What I thought was going to be a 6mile round trip hike had turned into a 12mile round trip hike. I started to freak out a little. I'm not sure if it was from lack of food, dehydration or just being a wuss. But I had almost a little panic attack. I started to realize if one of us was hurt or attacked we were 6 miles away from civilization. I ate a granola bar, drank some water and calmed down. I told Kristin "I think I'm getting altitude anxiety sickness." Kristin said what? I didn't even really know what I was saying. It was something I thought I had heard of before but wasn't sure if it was legit or not. So Kristin said so you think you have A.S.S. You have ass? Then she just started laughing uncontrollably. At first I was a little offended that she was taking what I thought was a serious threatening situation seriously. Then I started to think about it and if the situation was reversed I probably would have said the same thing. I couldn't help but laugh myself. A feeling of relief came over me and we started to work are way down the trail. The trail was steep and rocky. It was almost as hard walking downhill as it was up hill.
From Sierras
My knees started to kill me and we stopped several times to rest. It's weird to have to rest after walking downhill. We took our time and talked to several other hiking groups going up the trail. They were all amazed at how far we had gone. They also had a look of how dumb we were to not have taken more supplies. I stopped a couple more times for some last chances at golden trout. I wasn't lucky but at least I had one picture. Then as I was walking back I noticed Kristin holding the camera and she said, "there's no pictures on here." I said "WHAT!!!!!!!?" To this day we still talk about what exactly happened. I know the picture was on there after she took it and I'm sure she accidentally deleted it. But she is adamant that the pictures just some how disappeared. I was more mad at the fact that I had just hiked all day and finally got the fish I was looking for only to have it be erased in a second. It took awhile for me to realize the really great photo was imprinted in my mind and that can never be lost. We made it back to the campground safely. In a genius move we had already packed up our stuff before the hike because we planned on staying in a hotel that night. Probably the smartest decision we ever made. After a hike like that you want to sleep in a BED. After an experience like that you'd think we would look at the hike negatively. Kristin and I still talk about it as one of the best hikes of our lives. Some day we'd like to go back with our kids.
From Sierras

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Fly Fishing for Smallmouth with Poppers

I've been following RandR Flyfishing for awhile. In my opinion they make some of the best free fly fishing instructional videos available. Here is their latest about fly-fishing for smallies with poppers.

Advice from the Guides - Fly Fishing for Smallmouth Bass with Popping Bugs from Ian Rutter on Vimeo.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Pure Muscle

Its settled. August is catfish month around these parts. I've only fished three times in three different locations and caught a catfish. All of the fish were caught on a crayfish colored bugger pattern with rubber legs. All of the fish hit the fly with in seconds of it hitting the water. The key is do nothing. Letting the fly drop and sit was the only way I've found works. The amazing thing about catfish is their ability to dive. I caught one tonight on my 8wt rod and even when the fish was with in a few feet of me I could not pull it to the surface. It wasn't until the fish was exhausted that I could bring it up. There's something about catfish I find fascinating. Maybe it's the whiskers or the strange look of them.
From Summer2011
The fish seems to be pure muscle but also has a docile look to it.
From Summer2011
This was a healthy looking channel cat. The recent fish have been caught on flies I tied. I'm not sure if that means my flies are great or that the fish will hit anything. I don't really care either way. Hopefully I'll continue to catch them.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Here Kitty Kitty

I found a post on the blog Currents about tailing catfish. It inspired me to go after cats again last night. I hit a spillway close to my house. It is gross and has tons of snags at the bottom but it is perfect for catfish. The recent rains have allowed water to slowly run down the spillway. There were shad schooling right at the edge. Some even tried to run up the trickle that had to be no more than a quarter of an inch of water. The bigger sunfish and catfish seemed to be taking their passes through the shad. I threw out a brown DDH Leech and in a few casts hooked this guy. I think it is a bullhead although I have never seen one colored this way.
From Summer2011
From Summer2011
It confirms what I've read and experienced. The hotter the weather the better the catfishing. I read an article that said catfish feed heavily in 85 degree water. It has been in the high 90's for almost a month. It is unusual for me to catch catfish in back to back days. Especially at different locations. I might go out again today at lunch and see if I can continue the streak.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Cat Days of Summer

I had a Deja Vu moment fishing yesterday. It was at the work pond and I was trying out some new fly patterns. I didn't have any action and the fish seemed shy and reluctant to even follow the fly. Then I saw movement in the water under a tree. It looked like a fish swirling. I cast right in the middle of the swirl and with in a second my line shot away from the bank and headed for deeper water. I yanked back putting the pressure of the 8wt against the fish. Line started stripping and the fish wasn't slowing down at all. This had to be a carp. I watched my reel spin and kept an eye on the line that was rapidly unraveling. In about 5 seconds this fish had almost taken me to my backing. Then the reel stopped. I thought maybe the fish came off but as I kept tension on the line and reeled in the slack I could tell the fish was coming towards me. I tried lifting the rod to bring the fish to the surface so I could get a good look at it. The fish would have none if it. It was bull dogging and keeping to the bottom. Then it bolted again stripping line and I knew this was going to be a fight. The fish kept doing patterns of coming close then running out to deeper water. The fish rolled and I saw its tailfin. It was the unmistakable tail of a catfish. I had caught a catfish last year at almost the exact same time. It was the same scenario too, I saw movement under the same tree cast the line out and the fish hit instantly. I couldn't tell if it was the same fish. This one seemed smaller. It sure had the same fight.

Then at the end I even had the same problem of how to land the fish. I didn't bring my net and there was a small cliff I had to lift the fish up on to. I was using 10lb line but I was still worried about the knot holding. This fish was heavy to just lift straight up. I tried a few times and my line kept getting wrapped around weeds and sticks on the bank. I eventually had a free space to pull the fish up. I grabbed the leader and POP my fly just came off. I thought maybe the hook bent but it was in perfect condition. I have no idea how the fly just came out. When I caught a cat last year I grabbed the fly and tried to pulling the fish up the bank then it shook its head and unhooked itself. I kicked myself for not bringing my net. I'm not sure it would have been big enough but it would have helped. I estimated the fish to be at least 5lbs.

Monday, August 1, 2011

The Frog Hatch

I fished yesterday at a new location for Carp. I was told this place had a huge population. I really need to check my sources. The last few times I've been told "fish are everywhere" or "there's a ton of this type of specific fish," it has never been the case. The lake wasn't that bad and too be honest I can see carp being there. We had a recent rain that may or may not have turned the water an off color. There was plenty of cover and debris on the bottom to make great holding areas for fish. All I saw were bluegill and the swirl of a carp in the distance. It was too far and in too deep of mud to wade too. Isn't that always how it is? A fish is in an area where the casting is almost impossible or just out of the reach of your longest cast. I was trying some new carp flies that I tied based on ones from this site Missouri Flies. There other fishermen from the Triangle Fly Fishers and none of us were tearing it up. A few gills here and there.

I was fishing from the bank casting towards a back eddy when my line started to move. I tried doing a strip set and I didn't feel anything on the end. I kept watching and my line was still moving at a consistent pace. I stripped again until I felt a hook up. There was resistance and I first thought I snagged a log. But why was the log moving? Then the log turned towards me and came my direction. In the past I would have thought this could be a huge catfish or carp. But after catching those fish with in 5min I knew what I had without seeing it. I even called over to my friends. "I got a turtle." Sure enough, once the animal came closer you could see the shell. When ever I hook a turtle my first thought is I hope it's not a snapper. But even a decent size box turtle can give a good chomp. The turtle came closer and I realized the turtle was hooked in the foot. When pulling on the leader the fly came free and the turtle was released with no harm done.

The rest of the morning I walked the banks and did more exploring than fishing. The neatest thing I saw was a frog hatch. I should have taken a picture. I found this one from another site. While walking the banks I noticed movement by my feet. I thought maybe they were leaf or grass hoppers. I stopped, squatted down and saw the tiniest frogs. I guess they are called Eastern American Toads. They were no bigger than a fingernail and rust colored.The frogs were every where and scattered when you walked. I tried a fly that looked similar but nothing even sniffed it. I didn't see much other wild life except a faun that was feeding. Obviously used to people because she let me get with in about 30ft of her. The deer around here are a little out of control. I've heard it has gotten so bad they opened up bow hunting to with in city limits. The main issue I have with deer is the ticks that follow them. I can check this lake off my list. I doubt I'll come back there are better places to fish with in the same distance it takes to get here.