Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Saltwater Edition

Since I have not yet added any content pertaining to saltwater so i thought I may dive in to it. Recently I listened to a podcast hosted by the Itinerant Angler interviewing up-and-coming guide, Will Benson, on fly fishing the Florida keys.

I found the podcast to be extremely entertaining and informative. As a person who has tested my skills in salt water, but not the Florida keys, I was all ears. Will covered his background as a fly fisher and growing up around the ocean. He has spent his entire life around the water and boats while idolizing many famous Keys guides as a youngster.

What I really found interesting is his obsession with permit. As many know permit are a fish that require a high level of skill and knowledge to catch, especially on a consistent basis. Will seems to have many of the skills and techniques figured out when it comes to this elusive game fish. On a side note Benson confirms that the permit fishing in the Keys is better than it has ever been due mostly to their protection and ability to target the fish.

His final comments refer to the "guide environment" in Florida. I had no idea that many of the top fly fishing guides are basically unbookable. They have filled their entire year's calendar with repeat customers who book for 5-7 days at a time. His suggestion was to try and find an up and coming guide and stick with him. He may not be the best initially but given time he may progress in to an expert who rewards you for sticking with him all those years with the best possible days to catch bonefish, permit, tarpon, etc.

Since I have not fished the Florida keys I do not have any media from the area but here is a video from a previous trip to Belize to satisfy.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Taylor River Weekend

Myself and buddy, Andrew Rowlan, decided to make a weekend trip up to the Taylor River in Colorado. After last years success this time of year and the cabin fever, the long drive seemed to be no issue. We arrived late Thursday night/Friday morning at our gracious host's house and a few hours of sleep sounded good.

Day 1
We were the first people on the river at about 8:00 and set in to fishing in solitude, which is a particular delight on the Taylor. After a few minutes in a favorite run a solid drift produced a big tug. The fish took off down river faster than I have maybe ever seen. I was on the reel and losing line quick so I took off on foot to chase the fish. The closer you are to that fish while fighting it allows you to stay in the best control of the fish. I knew this was the size fish Andrew and I were after in this great river but the first fish of the trip? I was pretty excited to start off like that.

Anyhow, the fish was too strong for me to gain any control but after a few minutes of constant side pressure on the fish and throwing it off balance we had him in the net. A pig of a 23 inch, male rainbow emerged from the net and we greeted him with smiles.

The rest of the day was tough due to the huge storm front that moved in, dumping snow on us all day with wind gusts also an issue. No more photo worthy fish were landed that day, but it was big fun nonetheless.

Day 2
The weather was a bit nicer in the valley when we woke up to find better conditions. However today was marked with difficulties. I felt as if the fish were not as active. The barometric pressure from that front had things definitely off kilter. When a good drift at larger fish was achieved often smaller fish were the first to respond. I took a decent brown on a streamer as well.

We were able to enjoy ourselves though. I would not rather be in any other place no matter the situation. Beautiful scenery surrounds you and is often all I need to be satisfied.

After helping a nice guy out in the parking lot with a dead car battery we decided to change our plan of attack. Hearing that the Roaring Judy fish hatchery had released kokanee salmon fry in to the East River to make their journey to Blue Mesa Reservoir, we tried our luck on the East with streamers. Breaking out the big sink tip and articulated streamers gets me fired up! This fishing style is my favorite on rivers other than the big tailwaters that contain mysis shrimp in their reservoir. We had some very aggressive strikes with some browns completely breaching the surface. It was a great way to end a long day!

Day 3
Against our will we had to limit ourselves to fishing the morning and leaving at 10:00 A.M. to drive the 12 hours back to Norman. The fishing was amazing. Quickly warming weather had fish feeding like crazy. I wish we could have had this entire day on the water rather than just 2 hours. I started at one of the less popular runs hoping to find willing fish. Within 2 casts I had a very large rainbow hooked. His head shakes resulted in the fish coming off and exposing the problem; knot failure. I was very upset as I cannot remember the last time I lost a fish due to knot failure. The 15 degree morning may have had something to do with a poor knot. My cold hands were not working at 100%, but that is still a bad way to lose a fish. As I wondered back up river I encountered Andrew who was pretty pumped. While we were spit up he had landed a beautiful 25 inch female rainbow.

An onlooker helped him get the hen in the net. The fish looked more like a steelhead than a trout! What a beautiful fish and the perfect way to end a trip. After seeking the caliber of trout found in the Taylor being rewarded is very nice. Long hours in the car and on the river paid off and I returned to Norman with 3 weeks left in my college career, very happy.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Tailwater

For many people across the country fishing is a year-round event from the heat of the summer to the frigged cold temperatures in the winter. We seek to find fishable water with fairly consistent flows and water temperatures that support the food base and habitat necessary to support our finned friends. Tailwaters provide us that opportunity

For those who may be unaware, a tailwater fishery is the work of our own hands. It often is a river where a dam is placed in order to form a reservoir and regulate water distribution to cities and for agricultural means. The dam then releases cold clear water from its base creating electricity as it runs through the generators. From there the river is classified as a tailwater. The water is consistently cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter because it is water from the bottom on the reservoir.

This scenario is a near perfect environment for trout as oxygen content in the water is high and bug life, which represents the major food source, abounds. However, do not be fooled into thinking you have the perfect situation for catching trout for the rest of your days.

Tailwaters are no secret and the fish inhabiting them are often the most difficult fish in the country to entice into taking a fly. With the low water temperature being lower closer to the dam structures, midges represent the highest percentage of aquatic insect in those areas and to mimic them with your fly requires a very small fly and light tippet attached to the fly. Sizes 20 and smaller are preferred along with 6X tippet. Successfully landing a fish on a hook no longer than your smallest fingernail and line that looks like a spider web is easier said than done. Also, most of the fish there are known for growing larger than average on the consistent diet and smart with the constant barrage of fishing pressure. You will many times see huge crowds of anglers flock to tailwaters for the reasons listed.

Tailwaters serve as an amazing resource to anglers but come with a price. After the crowds, weary fish, small flies and light tackle, anglers must bring patience with them. I have personally been able to hone my fishing skills and test my patience with the help of our nations greatest tailwaters. If this all sounds attractive to you head out to your local fly shop and ask about the tailwaters found in your state. Your next lunker may be swimming in one right now.