Archive for the ‘#minturnanglers’ Tag

Redds and Run-off   Leave a comment

Of Redds and Run-off

Every year I hear the same old crap about folks ripping spawning fish off Redds. Drives me crazy, infuriates me really.  How can you interrupt something as sacred as spawning fish?  That’s our guarantee for future fishing, and there ain’t nothing wrong with wild fish, or the fish helping out in the quest for more fish. Our respective game and fish departments can’t do it all.

Maybe some folks just don’t know what to look for, so here goes: look for water up to about thirty inches deep with areas that looked like they’ve been swept with a broom. Usually, this is a flatter section of the river, with slower moving water. Also, look for one or more fish sitting atop this swept out area. I’ve seen redds the size of a coffee table, up to the size of an auditorium. Both are equally easy to spot if you’re paying attention.

You may be thinking, “So where do I fish then?” The answer is simple, “Not on the redd, but above or below it.” Target the species not spawning on the shelves and pools below spawning fish. Hmmmmm, wonder what patterns to throw…You can certainly toss egg patterns in your nymph rigs and follow that up with the fly of the day, or the dominant hatching insect. No mystery, really, just do your best to be observant, step around the redds, and fish anywhere but on them.

Pretty dang obvious Redd. Just observe.

Run-off is bearing down on us as the water rises and goes off color. My day usually starts out nymphing two and three bug rigs under an indicator, using darker and sparser bugs. I like weighted flies (odd for me, but conditions call for it), with dark and sparse materials, to get the bugs down quickly and allow the fish to readily see them. The darker colors are easier for fish to see in off-color water. I tie my favorite flies in black, purple, red, and even throw in some true fluorescent orange and pink collars to provide for “hot-spots” and visibility.

Little dirt in the drink.

Lately, my days have been ending throwing the mini-rig (it’s in the book), with a black Chubby Chernobyl followed by a black soft hackle (DP643), and a size 18 purple Butt Crack Baetis.  Killer. The fish are moving to the edges and up into the riffles (not redds) to consume baetis swimmers and emergers, and the occasional skwala stones and migdes. You’ve all heard me preach about carrying two rigged rods, well this time of year is perfect for it.  So, mornings I work bottom up, afternoons, top down.

Don’t hesitate to rip streamers as the water’s rising, that can be as productive as it is fun. I like to run tandem rigs with a white or lightly colored streamer up front, followed by a Slumpbuster or similar 20# below on 2 or 3 X tippet.  I like to tie a loop knot to the trailing streamer to allow for a bit more movement. Typically, I’ll run a five to six foot tapered leader down to 2 or 3X to my first streamer, tie off the bend with the same to my terminal meat. If you’re not moving fish, you’re probably above their level, so employ more weight, casting angles, or mending techniques to get those streamers deeper. Vary your retrieves, strip set, and hang on.

Black soft-hackles during run-off

As we get into full-blown chaos with run-off, focus on the banks, edges, eddy’s, and sleeper seams out from the banks.  Just be damn careful stepping into crazy water. Dress appropriately, use a wading staff, take a friend, and show discretion and common sense. It’s not worth dying for.

A few nymphs to consider for run-off:

Black Pat’s Rubberlegs

Black Leeches

Cranefly Larva

Black Soft-Hackles (#16-18)

Purple Butt Crack Baetis (#18)

Purple, Pink or Red San Juan Worm

Various Egg patterns

Purple Butt Crack Baetis

 

Fear No Water…except during run-off

Long learner.   4 comments

Hidy Ho Good Neighbors,

I’ve heard it said, “If you’re the smartest guy in the room, you’re in the wrong room”. I certainly not only subscribe to that notion, but find it easy to not be the smartest guy in the room.

Recently, I had the opportunity to be a featured author at a book signing at the Blue Quill Angler in Evergreen Colorado.  This was not your normal book signing, not when you’re elbow to elbow with John Gierach, Pat Dorsey, Ed Engle, Landon Mayer, Marty Bartholomew, Steve Schweitzer, David McElwain, and Terry Grosz. Nope, this was something special for me and I was humbled and excited to be counted in the fold.

There are many ways to learn new skills, tactics, techniques, or perceptions about any endeavor.  Most folks learn

Wasn’t the smartest in the room this day….Lightening and hail in the high country and it’s me and my 6’5″ client…..

best by seeing or doing, while the rest learn by reading or study, and it’s always easier to learn from someone that already knows what you want to learn (think back to 7th grade Spanish class).  Therefore, when I’m in the situation where I am surrounded by tons of knowledge, I keep my mouth shut and listen, listen, listen.  I still have so much to learn about fly fishing.

I’ve been guiding a long time, before that, I taught school for 22 years, and I feel as if I have a pretty good handle on how to break things down, present them in bite-sized pieces and feed them to hungry learners.  I had great mentors that taught me the “teaching ropes” and that hastened the process.  Still, after 22 years, I wasn’t the smartest in the room, but was still the hungriest.  Hungry to learn, learning by listening and watching, followed by a healthy dose of “go do”.

I consider myself a life-long learner, and I realize I have a long way to go when it comes to mastering what I do, but that doesn’t stop the journey.  This year, I’ll be presenting to folks all across this country, a brand new fly fishing presentation.  I try to create a new one each year, to keep things fresh for me and my audiences.  Do I know everything? Not in the least, but I do know this, the more I teach, the more I learn.  More often than not, I come away from an evening presentation with more questions bouncing around in my head.  Stuff I can only answer by getting on the river.

During the slower months of winter, when I guide sparingly, I often look to put a bit of time into fishing.  Funny thing is, I never go just to catch fish.  I’m always working on or testing something.  I may be testing a rig wrinkle, bug stage modification, a specific drift mechanic, or a modified piece of equipment, but I always fish with a purpose other than trying to just put fish in the net. Often, I am fishing with folks that are nailing fish, but I keep testing, pushing the envelope, and trying to learn, while watching fish after fish hit the bottoms of their nets. It takes discipline and a pile of hard-headed stubbornness to not just blow-off what I’m doing and simply fish, but I remain steadfast in my mission.

I’m always looking for a new perspective, or a subject that receives too little attention, maybe a newly recognized (to me) cause and effect, or something that I consider obscure by the standards that I guide and fish to. Ultimately, I try to pass what I learn onto the folks that I guide, that read my books, or that see my presentations.  It’s worth it.

This years’ presentation is titled: The Dance, Landing Trout on a Fly Rod.  I’ve been thinking about this presentation for years, because everyone talks about everything from the cast to the drift, and the set, even how to take photos, but actual discussion of fish landing techniques and rod physics is rarely broached.  Gonna’ change that.  I truly hope folks will like it.

The Dance

Hidden in Plain View is doing great.  Thanks to those of you that have purchased the book. Proud to say it’s still in the top 10 of new fishing releases through Amazon after 3 weeks in.  Pretty humbling for sure.

So, you see, that extra work, the little touch of stubbornness (depends on whom you talk to), and the ability to listen while realizing you’re not the smartest in the room, is worth it in the long run.  Hopefully, at the next show, event, or club gathering, you and I get a chance to talk, I always welcome the opportunity to learn new things.

Fear No Water!

ps. the new speaking schedule is up.

Pss. There’s still time to purchase a copy of the book before Christmas (Amazon/Barnes and Noble)

Still time!

Hell or High water….   Leave a comment

Hidy ho Good Neighbors!

High water and run-off close a few opportunities for fly fishing moving water, but opens up the chances of fly fishing still waters.  I grew up on mountain lakes and fly fishing still waters.  I absolutely love it and always look forward to fishing and guiding the glass.

Back in May I took a trip to Arizona to present to a few clubs (Arizona Fly casters and Desert Fly casters) the Systematic Approach to Fly Fishing.  Some of you may not know that I am originally from AZ and remember the fly fishing more than I remembered the heat.  One hundred eight degrees in Phoenix one day!  So, I was overjoyed to travel up to the White Mountains, where I cut my fly fishing teeth on lakes, for a bit of lake fly fishing.

We arrived at Becker Lake, near Springerville, AZ, at around noon. The boys (Gentry, Joe, and John), were gracious enough to outfit me with a pontoon, booties, and fins.  I was fixated on dry fly fishing first, running streamers secondly, and nymphing as a last option.  Not that I don’t make a living fishing under a bobber or I have anything against it, but I wanted dry fly or streamer action, because I don’t get to do too much of that. I can never get too much of that!

Well, there were very few fish eating on the surface.  I could see size 18 chironomid adults sporadically hatching, but couldn’t raise a fish.  After about an hour of that, I switched to a tandem streamer rig.  I threw a black slumpbuster on a jig hook in front of John Rohmer’s simi leech (black and olive).  No love on that rig either.  I could see the writing on the wall, nymphing time.

Now these guys are running 18’ leaders and break-away indicators, with trolling motors and fish finders.  Pretty serious individuals.  I thought I knew how to rig a break away indicator, and had picked up a few before leaving Colorado. I couldn’t find the dang things in my waist pack, and finally asked for help getting that thing rigged.  I put on as close to matching bugs with what I could glean from the few guys that were hooking up, but soon realized that my formula left much to luck.  Soon, I took off the indicator, loaded up weight and fished it “Czech-style” right on the bottom.  I did have a couple eats, which I completely missed, but I did move fish.

Mercifully, the wind got big, and I got to cruise to the dock.  Not that I didn’t have fun, but I always like to feel I’m in at least a smidge of control.  I met my nephew on the way to the evening’s festivities as I cruised back toward Pinetop, and watched him fish for Apache and brown trout on a small stream that I don’t know the name of.  He moved more than a few on dry dropper rigs. I felt a little better.

That evening, as I lay there listening to my brothers dog snoring, I realized I needed to fish to my strengths tomorrow on that lake.  The White Mountain Lakes Foundation was hosting an annual event that raises money for the organization, which in turn, helps the organization support and enhance the fishing in the White Mountains. I was honored to be a part of it.  I was up early the next morning, drinking a cup of coffee and puffing my pipe, in front of a 7-Eleven, rigging a double dry rig consisting of a Royal Wolff followed by and adult chironomid pattern matching the adults I saw earlier.  My plan was to go back to my roots and walk the edges early morning looking for and casting to rings and noses.

I had just thrown on my waders, when a gentleman named Mike came up to me and Gentry and said, “There are fish coming up on the far end”.  “Where abouts?”, I asked. He pointed to a spot that was maybe a five minute walk.  I was there in four.

I stood for a moment watching the action and planning on how to fish to these noses from near to far, trying not to spook them.  First cast….bam, fish on!  What? Tiger trout? “Oh this is even gonna be better than I thought”, I mumbled, as another fish ate my second cast.  Mike had put me on a pod of small tiger trout on the munch.  He eventually showed up, and I thanked him for the intel again.  We both moved a few more (I snapped of a big one) and then it was time to head back for more festivities.

High river water offers the opportunity to seek out still water.  If you don’t fish it often, there is an adjustment period.  Go back to your roots, do what you do well and have confidence in.  I do want another shot at deep still water nymphing techniques because the systematic approach works well there too.  I always say that folks should fish to their strengths while working on their weaknesses.  Someday I’ll get back there better armed with information and techniques and flatten out that weakness. It’s all part of the process of becoming a complete angler.  In the meantime, Fear No Water!

Duane

El Tigre on a dry

El Tigre on a dry

Meat eater in the lake

Meat eater in the lake

Gentry in mid-cast

Gentry in mid-cast

Sylvan Lake, Colorado

Sylvan Lake, Colorado

Head for the Hills!   2 comments

I feel sorry for them, I really do.  Just finished guiding the South Platte near Denver over the Memorial Day weekend.  It was cold and rainy, but that didn’t stop the multitudes of anglers and “recreationalists” from enjoying time on the water.  I don’t have any ill feelings to folks getting out and using Mama Nature, I just feel a bit sorry for the fish.

Right now, the South Platte near Deckers, Colorado is one of the few games in town.  Because of our epic snow pack, and a very wet spring on top of that, the rivers are pissed and dangerous.  More water than I’ve seen in a long time.  The South Platte is a tailwater tucked close to Denver.  Certainly, she is going to feel the brunt of traffic, because amazingly, she is still below normal flows.  Oh, the water will come, but for now, she’s “it”.

I watched the fishing success dwindle in the last 3 days leading up to Memorial Day.  Oh, we were still catching fish, but it became more and more technical.  Drifts had to be more precise, mends more complete, and sets were on anything that looked suspect.  You just had to work much harder than usual.  I got to thinking, “How many times has this fish been hooked this week?” “Today?”

Where the fish would usually hold in a particular seam in a particular run in days prior, they just weren’t there.  You may think, well they just went deeper in the column and you can’t see them.  Nope, not in this case.  The flow is only a little over 100cfs, meaning, you could see a quarter underwater in most of the runs we fished.

No, these fish headed for the hills.  By noon on Monday, we were catching fish on skinny rigs (check the archives for more info), along the edges.  One big brown comes to mind.  He ate my Brachy Pupa, on the far bank, in about a half foot of water, on the first drift.  We didn’t know he was there, but assumed the fish had moved because they weren’t in the usual haunts. I know this fish, where he usually holds, and how he likes to eat.  He broke the rules, and he lunged out of my net before photos.  Salty bastard.

Have a few other thoughts as well.  One thought  centered around how grateful I am that fly fishers are so diligent when it comes to releasing fish unharmed.  The fish in this area are for the most part, clean, fat, healthy, and pound for pound will fight with any in the state.  My other thought is how grateful I am to be able to work on a resource such as this so close to home.  Shouldn’t feel sorry for them I guess, they’re doing fine.  When the fishing gets technical, the technical go fishing………….

Fear No Water!

Duane

Don’t forget FATHERS DAY is coming up.  Pick up a copy of the Fly Fishers Playbook for your favorite father, or son, or brother, or son-in-law or…….!

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