Monday, April 29, 2013

My First Red Drum

My buddy and I went out and chased reds yesterday. I had never caught one before and he warned me that the fishing is hit or miss. We came to an area that he said was good to him a month ago. After a few casts I had my first Red Drum.
Troy let me cast a few more times and I got another fish with in minutes. Then another fish, then another, eventually he couldn't stand it any longer and had to start fishing. He caught a fish instantly. He looked over and said "this isn't normal." The day got crazier as we caught fish after fish. We had doubles at least a dozen times.

Ridiculous things were happening like I'd have a fish hooked for a minute, it would come off and before I could get my fly in another fish hit it. I'd hook fish on my back cast, catch fish as the fly hit the water. It didn't seem to matter you were going to catch fish on this day. Then I hooked one and I could feel it's head thrashing even though it was far away. The fish started to swim away and I couldn't stop it. No matter how much pressure I put on the fish I couldn't move it. The fish went to one side of the pool then the other. I could sort of turn it around but this fish was doing what ever it wanted. When we first got a glimpse of the fish Troy said "that's a good one!" It seemed like I fought this fish for 10min and after a few tense moments we got it in the net. 
We both couldn't believe how the day was. Troy said I was ruined and this was the day of a lifetime. I could have left right then and been happy. A couple casts later I had the same familiar feeling. The fish stayed on the bottom and I couldn't move it. It took just as long to bring it in and it was bigger than the other fish.
26 inches on the nose.
We stayed in the same area and kept catching fish after fish. We didn't move more than 50yds the whole day and probably caught over 100 fish. All on the same fly! I never retied or changed anything all day. It was the best fishing day of my life.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Recent Ties

Recently I was sent a package from Stu Thompson. He is the originator of Dark Water Dubbing. The dubbing is what was used for the Damcraw fly that I submitted in the Carp Fly Swap. I asked Stu if he could come up with a white that had hints of chartreuse. He sent me a sample and at first I wasn't sure I liked it. The flies tied using the dubbing have a strange look to them. I kept thinking if Yoda had hair this is probably what it would look like.
I've fished these a few times and they work. I've caught catfish, crappie and panfish so far. I think larger ones will work for stripers and bass. I hope to find out shortly.
Carp Aficianado recently had a post about fishing for carp using midges. I took a shot at tying the flies he described. I didn't have any red beads so I tied some using the beads I had.
The flies are basically black thread, gold wire and a bead tied on a size 12 hook. Really easy to tie. Looking forward to testing these out soon.
The buff I ordered came in recently. I should have a review of that up shortly.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013


The 17yr cicadas are predicted to emerge this year. Experts are predicting huge numbers and they have published a map to predict where the first cicadas will be. I swore I have heard a few already but what's strange is I hear them right before dark then it goes silent. The usual summer cicadas can be heard well into the night. This makes me think I might not be hearing cicadas or these are the cicadas and they just aren't singing because they don't hear others. There might not be enough response to their songs for them to keep singing. Just a theory. The prime ground temperature needs to be 64 degrees. We've had 75degree and above temperatures for the last week. The ground temps have to be close to that. I'll try to keep you updated for those of you who care about these beautifully ugly loud insects.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Brook Trout Survey

A NC Biologist recently contacted our fishing club asking for volunteers to help out with a brook trout survey. Although my main interests were mostly based on selfish reasons I decided to volunteer. I felt worse case scenario I would know where brook trout are located. Emails went back and forth to setup where we would meet. The location of the survey was pretty remote and the recent rain made the approach less than desirable. The road was really a few steps up from a wide horse trail. Imagine that wet with large almost bowling ball size boulders here and there. The F250 quad cab creaked and moaned as it slowly crawled over the obstacles. There were more than a few times I double checked my seat belt. We made it to the starting site safely. We each were given specific tasks and a general overview of what was about to happen. The stream we were surveying was gorgeous.
The main way fish are gathered is looked down on by some. The biologist has a backpack that supplies an electric charge down to two poles with halos on the end.
Some argue that the shocking is too stressful for the fish. I wondered the same thing. After experiencing this first hand I can honestly say the effect is very minimal on the fish. The fish are only stunned for seconds and we missed almost as half as many as we caught. The fish many times revived before we could net them. If the halo stayed on the fish they stayed stunned. Once the fish were outside the range of the shockers they came to very quickly and disappeared.  I was in charge of the bucket at first. People would net fish than I'd hold the bucket so they could drop it in. The highlight was catching two smallmouth. It was strange to see these fish in what most would consider a predominantly trout stream.
Later I was able to take a shot at netting fish. In a way it was like fishing. There was a funny encouragement in the group. People cheered practically after each fish was netted. I guess it was reward for our efforts. When we felt we covered a considerable amount of water we returned to our starting point to record data.
Length and weight of each fish were taken. Then the PH, conductivity and temperature from the stream. We checked out 3 stretches of water and it was interesting to see the differences.
From a distance we probably looked pretty comical. A bunch of people with nets and buckets following a guy with two rods in the water.
We all learned quite a bit about the stream. I always thought seeing crayfish was a good sign. The biologist said that if the crayfish were a certain size it was bad for trout. It meant there was nothing keeping the population in check. We also literally saw the species change. In the lower section there were daces, chubs and smallmouth. Once we hit a certain elevation all we caught were brookies. Many were very small in the 3inch range. This means there are good reproductive rates but something could be keeping the fish from growing past a certain point.
Possibly it was these browns. This would make sense but we only caught 2 out of the 3 sections we surveyed. They were large enough to eat small brookies but not plentiful enough to cut down a population. There were no rainbow trout. The biologist we worked with was named Kevin Hining. He was a pleasure to work with. Everyone who participated was very friendly and fun. How could you have bad day in a place like this?
I wish I could take credit for these pictures but they were all taken by Harrison H. 

If you ever get a chance to do one of these fish surveys I strongly recommend it. It's a good chance to find out what exactly lives in a stream you fish. I really wish I documented and took pictures of our journey out of this place. We had to go out a different way we came in because of the rain and mud. The way we came out had steep hills and red mud. This stuff is basically clay and when it's wet it's like ice. The truck slid all over the road making me kind of happy I had to get out and push part of the time. At least I wasn't in the truck while it was sloshing around. There was one point where Kevin was bouncing the bumper to get traction. While moving up the hill the truck started fish tailing and Kevin went from trying to get traction to hanging on for dear life. The truck eventually got stuck. Even with that experience it was an awesome day and I'd happily do it again. It's worth it for these guys.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Holy Crappie!

During one of our clubs tying sessions I heard a rumor about a local lake. Apparently the crappie stack up in the spring. It seems that my fishing opportunities become less and less frequent. So when I have a chance to fish I have a hard time trying a place I don't know about. My daughter has been trying to get me to take her fishing since the last time. I figured this would be a great time to check out new water and take her fishing. The morning was chilly and while rigging up the rods we ran into the guy who told us about this place. We never planned on meeting I guess it was meant to be. We headed down to the water and in the first 5 minutes a fisherman had a fish. It only took me a few casts to land a little crappie myself.
I tried to get my daughter to use the fly rod but she was adamant about using her Dora pole. I finally gave in and put a small marabou jig under a bobber. I cast the line out and let her do everything else. Her first couple casts didn't get any results. Then I had her try reeling really fast then stop. Reel fast, then stop. The bobber twitched and moved after she did that. After a fast twitch the bobber went under and I yelled REEL FAST!  She did and the bobber went under for a second then came up and stopped. Right when I said "I'm not sure if a fish is on..." A fish shot out of the water right at our feet. The fish danced on the surface and I just kept saying reel it in. She finally had a fish that she felt she caught herself.
Her fish kept getting bigger and bigger. I'd cast the line out then glance over and she'd be reeling another fish in. Every now and then I'd have to remind her, reel fast then stop. Then another fish would come to hand.
I kept joking with her that I think she's catching all the fish in the lake. I was thinking maybe I was setting her up for disappointment. These last couple trips she's caught a fish with in the first 10min. What is she going think when the fishing is slower? Hopefully those trips won't come any time soon. This day was amazing. I was so proud of her. Every fish she wanted to pet and this last monster I just had to have her lip. 
The fish was so big she couldn't hold it with out two hands.
On they way home she asked why she caught all the big ones? Maybe I need a Dora pole.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Getting Buff

There is times on the water when you know you are getting fried. It's not painful there is just a certain feeling you get. The red glow in the mirror usually confirms your suspicions. I am trying to get rid of the usual farmer tan this summer. I have decided to try a buff. The question is will it work in NC's hot and humid weather? I have googled Bandana vs Buff and done some other research. I didn't really find anything that specifically proved a buff is better in hot and humid weather. My only guess it works is that many people use this on the coast where it gets sticky and suffers the worst humidity. So now the question is which one do I get? I don't want to invest a lot because I'm not sure how much I will actually wear it. These are the designs I'm debating over. All are $20 an under. 
The middle graphic is pretty machismo. I like the coloring. Even though these designs look cool on the web I'm sure they look different on an actual face. It is to bad the websites don't show a model wearing each one. I'll definitely snap some pics after I get mine.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

The Desert

Spring always makes me think of two things. How good the fishing is going to be and remembering the good times I had in the desert. Growing up in San Diego my family would often start gearing up for trips out to Ocotillo, CA. I know people's first thought is what is there to do in the desert? Honestly there's quite a lot. The desert isn't as desolate a place as one might think. I know this is a fishing blog but I was looking at some old desert pictures and I thought others might find them interesting. If not it just gives me a chance to reminisce. At a young age I was introduced to the desert and dune buggies.
My father built his first dune buggy and I remember a lot of times in the garage watching him tinker. I can also remember sand blasting fast rides in that buggy. I couldn't wait to drive one of my own.
I would always get excited watching my dad load up the buggy and three wheelers.
This is how it was done back in the day. Could you imaging doing that now?
This is how it looked loaded up.
My grandfather is the one who really got my dad into it. My mother had grown up going so it was just a natural thing for her. Some of my best times were going on buggy rides as a kid.
The great thing about Ocotillo is you had hard packed sand with gorges and not too far away was soft sand with dunes. At least one time every trip everyone would make it over to Superstition Mountain. This place had a hill called the Sand Dam.
This hill was super steep and people would spend the day racing each other to the top.
The great thing about the desert is my whole family would go. Every season it would be like a reunion. It wasn't too long before I had something to ride of my own. When I was 5 my cousin and I got Honda ATC70's. 
I don't know how much time we logged on those but we rode them many times from dusk till dawn. The 70's were amazingly durable and dependable. The one I had still runs to this day and is used by a friend of the family.
The desert most of the time does have drab colors. In the spring after a couple good rains you see a different side. The hidden colors of the desert come out.
As I got older I started to really appreciate the desert in a different way. When my wife and I first started dating I took her out on some rides. I knew if she didn't like it we wouldn't last long.
She loved it of course and we spent most of our winters and springs playing in the sand.
In my 20's I was able to buy a decent 4wheeler.
I thought about racing for awhile but it turns out I'm a wuss.  I was much better at doing dorky poses.
My grandfather sold his property and my uncle ended up buying a patch close by. The amount of trailers and vehicle containers seemed to grow more and more every year.
As I got older I started to lead rides and these were some of my fondest memories. Some of the destinations were planned but others were random.
We always called this place the bombslinger. I never knew until I moved to NC and researched the structure that it was actually for testing G-force on pilots. There was a huge turbine inside the building that would literally spin the pilots on a cable. The original cable is still there and we used to swing on it. Probably not the smartest thing to do.
I was always fond of going up into the gorge. The road would change with every flash flood. There really wasn't a road. It was a sandy wash that ended up connecting to an old mining road. The cliffs are rugged and I used to worry that sometimes the vibration from our engines would start a rock slide.

The main thing I think of when I think of the desert besides family is the views. They are spectacular.
As you can see there's a lot to miss. I could post pictures and talk about this all day. I hope you enjoy the pictures. I sure enjoy the memories.