Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Looking Back at the Season of 2012

As another fishing season comes closer to an end, I look back at how the fishing gods always seem to throw their spin on every fishing season. Every year, my fishing seems to have an under lying theme, something that stays common throughout the entire summer. In 2010, it was a memorable year, because it was the year of the small fish. I fished many rivers and streams that summer, but everything I caught was in the 4-8 inch range, even a rainbow that I caught with a hopper on the North Platte River, just outside of Casper.

2011 on the other hand was the year of big fish. That year, I manage to land my 2 largest trout ever caught. A nice 18-20" brown trout, and a wonderful hard fighting 24" rainbow. This was the summer, that I really began to understand fly fishing, and how it works. This summer was also my first success at nymph fishing, which ironically enough, has almost taken over my fishing success stories now. It is rare that I break out a dry fly now.

A beautiful brown trout
A trophy size rainbow trout


So this year began with a trip to the N. Platte River with my Dad guided by the fine guys over at Wyoming Fly Fishing. It began with showing my Dad the ways of fly fishing, getting him into his first fish on a fly rod, his first brown trout caught ever, and several nice rainbows. Later that spring, as is my tradition, I ventured to a new water way to see how it fished.

This year, that river was the lower stretches of the Little Popo Agie River. I hit the river throughout the entire season learning how it progresses as a fishery throughout the season. At one point, the water grew to warm, so I had to stop going out there. However, fishing this water, landed me a brand new species, Mountain Whitefish. The Whitefish would be a reoccurring mini-theme of its own, as I managed to also catch one for the first time on Worthen Reservoir, also caught one on Granite Creek, outside Hoback Junction, and lastly I caught one on the Wind River outside of Dubois.

Back to this year's theme, which turned out to be new species of fish on a trout rod. In addition to my first whitefish, I also managed to catch large mouth bass, carp, and most recently a Yellowstone Cutthroat. The carp, probably the "heaviest" fish I have caught on a fly rod. Also a very technical catch, that I look back on fondly for the mere fact that I happened to notice the softest of any take ever.

A carp to big for the net
My first bass on the long rod
Another white fish!


The season isn't quite over yet. October brings some of the best fishing in Wyoming, without the crowds. Many fishermen hang up their rods for their bows and guns this time of year. I'm not a hunter, so that leaves the water open to me. However, I do temper my locations by not going back country hiking to stay on the safe side of hunters. I should get out another 2 times this month at least, and will continue to fish until my local water is iced up. Then it will be back to the fly tying table to replenish for another year, and excitedly wait to see what the fishing gods will bring in 2013.

So how about you? Do the fishing gods bring a common theme each year out for you? For me, it was a year of new species. It makes me wonder, what next year will bring.

Get on the water,
Paul

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Part two of fishing with my Dad

After returning from our family trip to Jackson, my Dad and I had 4 days to go fishing. Up first, was a spot guaranteed to catch fish on the fly rod. We made our way up to Worthen Meadows Reservoir and fished one of my favorite spots on the lake. As a result we both caught a lot of fish, and giving my father the better spot, I'm fairly certain he outfished me. At one point while we were fishing, I lost 4 fish in a row. I finally decided to take a look at my fly and noticed that the point was broke off, just above the barb. Well that explains that problem! This was the first time I've ever had a hook break on me. I don't recall hitting anything behind me, so maybe the hook was defective, or I caught it on a rock or something. Who knows. But I do know that after replacing the fly I started landing fish again. The day was a mix of rainbows and brookies.

The next day, we didn't go fishing. I needed his help to bring some cabinets home to make our new pantry. So we messed around the house and played with my daughter outside of our trip to the hardware store.

Wednesday, we decided to go explore some new water that was enticing to us both on our drive back from Jackson. We headed up to the Wind River, outside Dubois. This was a case where I realized just how much having depth perception is needed. My Dad has only one eye, thus has a hard time judging depth and size of rocks under the water, which made for a rough day wading the freestone river. Very soon, I'll be investing in a wading staff for me to use when needed, and also for him to have whenever we go wade fishing in the future.

Overall that trip went well for me, as I hooked 6 fish, only bringing two to net. A nice brown, and a small rainbow.
Wind River Brownie
After the day was done, we headed home, and got some ice on my Dad's ankle. He was battered, but still ready to fish. 

On Thursday we took the boat out to Bass Lake to do some bass fishing, primarily with standard tackle. I got on the board first with a nice large mouth, about 200 feet off the boat ramp.

First Bass of the morning
We continued to fish, along the weed line, both of us hooking up and bringing in fish regularly. The winds were calm, so I decided, it's time to see if I can get myself a bass on the fly rod.

For this fishing adventure, I decided to use my Orvis TLS Power Matrix 9 weight. It's a big hefty rod that handles large bass flies with ease. It didn't take long, I finally caught my first bass on the fly rod.

Another first on the fly rod!
Eventually the fishing slowed, and as we started to move towards a new area, my Dad got a decent fish on the line. The fish gave quite a few jumps, but eventually yielded and came to the boat.

Dad holds up a nice Largemouth bass
The day closed out quite warm. We decided, since we were out of water to keep ourselves hydrated it was time to head in. We loaded up the boat, and headed for town. It was quite the trip as usual with my Dad. They spent almost 2 weeks in Wyoming, we fished 5 of the days that they were here, and saw the sights in Jackson/ Teton National Park.

These are the trips that I look forward to every summer. I'm already excited and looking forward to their next trip to Wyoming!


Cya,
Paul

Monday, September 10, 2012

Need a Bigger Net, Short Fishing Day, and a Rainbow

As part of my job, I am on call once week every 7 to 8 weeks. As things worked out, I was on call for Labor Day weekend. As part of the deal, we take a half day off to make up for the fact that we are tethered to our phone, thus unable to enjoy the things that Wyoming offers. So, as a result I decided to take a Monday afternoon off, drive down to Lander and hit one of my favorite streams, the North Popo Agie river.

After gearing up, I hiked 15 minutes to one of my favorite holes. On my 2nd or 3rd cast, I had a strike, felt the fish, but unable to get a hook set. Not to bad I thought. It looked to be a small brown trout. I put my double nymph rig into a nice looking spot, a very slow drift. As it was drifting, I saw two large carp in the water, and they made their way over to my flies. My indicator, just did the slightest of turns in the water, almost like when your fly just bumps something on the bottom, but seeing that the carp were right next to my fly, I set the hook. I was quickly rewarded with a solid pull, and the carp running downstream take the line with him. I gathered him to the reel very quickly, at which point, he decided to test the drag of my Orvis Clearwater Reel. The battle was on. I would work him a bit, and then he'd take off again. This would go on for several minutes, finally I was able to start getting his head to the surface. I could see the lead fly stuck into the top of his lip. He continued to battle. Finally he was spent, I got him upstream of me, and as he turned his head downstream, I scooped him into the net. Another first! The Golden bone, aka, the common carp was in my net.

I think I need a bigger net!
By my guessimate, he was probably around 8 lbs. Afterwards, I found my arms were very tired, and extremely shaky. So I took a small break before gathering my fly rod and making a cast. Also I figured this would give the hole a chance to rest.

Having no further luck, I started moving a bit upstream, when my phone dinged with a text message. I took a minute pulled it out, and saw a text from my wife the meteorologist warning that it was about to get windy. I took it in stride, figuring if it got real windy, I'd just cast downwind or sit and take a break. However, the wind, also brought thunder. I saw the clouds, but figured it was just rain. Upon hearing the thunder I started hoofing it to my truck. However, a couple of strikes in the less than 1 second range had me looking for cover. As luck would have it a rancher was racing to cover up some stuff nearby. A quick call out to him, and he let me hang out under his porch until the lightning subsided.

Watching the storm from the comfort of a porch
I sat on the porch watching the rain, and eating a Clif bar (Love those things when I'm out fishing!) After about 15 minutes or so, the thunder subsided, and I headed back out. I fished a couple more holes, but quickly noticed another storm that looked much worse coming in. At this point, I decided to head straight to the truck, bypassing several fish, including one hole that I earlier saw have a nice 16" brown in it.

Ominous storm in the distance
I made it safely back to the truck, but decided not to breakdown my gear, or get out of my waders, as I felt the storm was just to close. By the time I was in the truck, the storm looked even worse.

That is a nasty storm
On the drive home, I had one of the craziest downpours in a long time.

Fun times...
Now my afternoon of fishing was cut short by 2 hours. Unfortunate, but on the bright side of nearly every storm in Wyoming is a rainbow. Now I bet when you saw the title included rainbows, you thought I was talking about the trout! Fooled you!!


The bright side today was the joy of picking up my daughter from daycare and watching how much fun she has playing there, then coming home and letting her jump in rain puddles for the first time.

Until next time, tight lines!

Paul

Friday, September 7, 2012

Friday Five


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Amateur Guiding

I'm not Hank Patterson, when I guide somebody, but I also don't confuse myself with Lefty Kreh. Like Hank, I've been fly fishing roughly 3 or 4 years now. I don't own A River Runs Through It, and I haven't even watched the entire movie yet! I know, I should be hung now.


My parents visited me during the middle part of August for 2 weeks. During the ten days I had available to go fishing (Ie. Not working!), we went fishing on five of those days. Some of those days were exploring the fun of GTNP, and Jackson in general with my parents.

Moose at Moose JunctionMy Family at Jenny Lake

During our time in Jackson, we took one day to do nothing but fishing. I would be "leading" my wife and my Dad on where to fish. My primary goal was to get them both into fish, but I had a personal goal of getting a leg of the Cutt-Slam, and getting my Snake River Cutthroat. Based on the fly shop reports, we headed out to the Hoback River and Granite Creek area. Both rivers were running low, and you had to hike to fishing spots, rather than having several fishy areas in a single run. We started on the Hoback River, and I gave the first fishy spot to my wife, helping her with the basics of fishing in current (MEND!!!, Strip!!!). Once she was comfortable I moved upstream to the spot my Dad was fishing. I was pleased to learn that he had a strike, but wasn't able to get a hook set. Eventually we worked all the holes in our first stop, hopped back into the van and made our way to the next hole. Only a couple of spots here as well.

We then came across Granite Creek. We took this road, it follows the stream nicely. There were a few fishy spots early on, but some fisherman were already on those spots, so we kept driving. Eventually we found a nice pocket water area. I decided that I wasn't going to take down a rod this time. I'd just help them out. We continued to work some fishy areas hitting each pocket a half dozen times then moving on. Eventually we worked our way to a very large boulder that had a deep cutout next to it. After a half dozen casts of nothing happening on the surface, I said, lets try to drop a nymph and see what happens. This spot was just to go not to have anything in it. I tied on the fly, put up an indicator and handed the rod back to my wife. I figured she deserved the first shot at this hole. She makes her first cast, The presentation is almost straight upstream, so no mending required. I am telling her to strip! strip! strip! (bad joke in there somewhere) and then I see her indicator dive, SET!!! Fish on! She starts stripping in the line, and I see the flash of a nice fish. I take the net off my back, and she worriedly tells me she thinks she lost it. I look down and still see the flash of a fish, so I tell her she's fine, and to keep stripping. The fish made a run down a boulder thus generating some slack in the line. Luckily the fish was hook in the upper lip, with the barb coming out the nose entirely. So this fish wasn't getting off by itself. She gathers the fish into the pool we are standing in, I reach down and net her fish.  Congratulations, my wife has completed a stage of the Cutt-Slam. She has a Snake River Cutthroat.

A wonderful Snake River CuttieProudly holding her catch
Now, this is the frustrating part for this blogger. I have yet to catch any of the native cutties in Wyoming. Sure, I have caught hybrids, grayling, etc., but never a pure strain Yellowstone Cuttie My wife has caught two. She caught a yellowstone cutthroat on our very first Wyoming Fishing trip, before I even took up fly fishing. In fact, this was the trip that I first took out a fly rod (you can see my fly rod below on the bottom right). I was flailing very badly, and had no clue what I was doing.
Wife with her first Wyoming Trout - Yellowstone Cuttie
She was satisfied, and handed her fly rod to me, in hopes that I could get my own. Within a couple of casts, fish on! I was excited, I got the fish to net, and Oh no! Whitefish!!

Gah! Whitefish!
I proceeded to pull out several more whitefish from the hole, but it appears my wife had caught the only Cuttie in that spot. After a bit, I handed the rod back to her, hoping to get her another fish (white or trout) before we moved on. Sadly, she didn't catch anything, and after a bit, we had a wind knot that would require a new leader to be put on. During this time, my Dad also took several shots at the hole, without having any luck either.

As it was starting to get late, we headed back to the van, broke down our gear, hopped out of our waders, and headed back to Jackson. The wife was extremely happy with her catch. I was satisfied to have the tug and fish to the net, but felt bad that I couldn't get my Dad into anything. The biggest thing I came away from this day, is that a guide with 2 people is extremely busy if both need his help. I fully understand now, why most guides only want 2 people maximum on a trip.

Well that's all for now, be sure to check back soon, and I'll update with our other fishing adventures, closer to home.

Cya,
Paul

Monday, August 27, 2012

Fly of the Week: Ice Caddis Larva

It's been a while, I know. Summer time, I don't tie much. This is my contribution for the August swap. It's extremely simple and quick to tie and fishes well.

Ingredients:
Hook: Size 12, Mustad R50. (Standard downturned eye)
Thread: Black Kevlar
Head: Tungsten 5/32" Gold Bead.
Ribbing: Green 26 gauge wire.

Materials

Epoxy coated version of the fly


Fly without the epoxy coating.

Top view of epoxy versus non-epoxy.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Fishing, Camping, and Ramblings

So the past few days, we took a long weekend and went camping up in the Wind Rivers. Upon arrival we found one of my favorite spots in the campground. This was our first trip with our 18 month old daughter. So we wanted to also be close to home in case things went awry. Luckily they did not.

Our daughter shovels up some dirt and tries it out for taste.
The view from our campsite.

Thanks to my parents, we had a new to us 2 room tent, that took a while but we finally got setup. We unpacked the truck, boat, and my wife's car. I think we brought the entire house with us. Though, I will admit, almost everything we brought was used, except the pack-n-play. It just turned out that it wasn't needed. Due to the chilly nights, she slept in between us each night.

After the camp was mostly setup, I went to my favorite spot and tried some fly fishing. My goal was to grab some brookies for dinner one night. The water was a bit low, ultra clear, and the fish were very spooky. During my fishing time, I managed to catch one brookie, and brought him back to the campsite for the cooler.

My wife, likes to fish, but doesn't get to fish as often. This trip though, she got in plenty of fishing. Upon waking up Friday morning, avoiding getting the baby changed and dressed she quickly dashed out the tent door, grabbed her rod and hit the water. She got in some good fishing while the kiddo and me got ready for the day, brewed up my coffee. She wasn't having much luck though. As the day went on, we both would take periodic turns fishing, and once our daughter was down for her nap, we both hit the water in earnest, keeping one ear turned towards camp in case she woke up. As before, not much luck, bust! A couple of strikes but no hookups.

That evening, I geared up in my waders and headed to my favorite spot, hoping that with the sun behind the trees, the fish wouldn't be so shy. It was also a magical event. It was a full moon night, there was a cold front moving in, so instead of the typical winds blowing down the valley, it was heading west, causing an upslope effect. This was pushing waves and the water in the opposite direction of the current. With the wind at my back, I was lining out casts 70' and beyond, all the way to the top of the inlet from the bottom area. On my first two casts, I had strikes, but missed on the hookset. On my third cast, I hit paydirt. I had a strong brookie on the line. They were quite feisty and he quickly ran directly towards me. I was able to strip in line quick enough and kept pressure on the fish. Eventually I brought him to net, and he was large enough for the creel. Next cast, I cast to a slightly different area. Again a quick hookset and the fish played strongly, and came to net, then to creel. Repeat with a few more casts, and I had plenty of fish for the creel and our dinner the next night, plus two smaller ones that I put back.

The next morning, the thoughts of how hungry they were on the flies, I decided to switch one of my standard rods to a fly on the bubble rig. I don't like fixing the bubble on the rod, so my setup is to put the bubble on the line, tie on a bearing swivel, then add 6' of tippet tying the fly to the end. In this case, I was dropping a beaded prince nymph off the line, so I also added a 1/2" thingamabobber just below the swivel. Within, a couple of casts with this rig, I hooked up my first fish on a standard rod. After catching the fish, I went back up to camp, and told my wife that the change worked. She grabbed my rod, and went down herself. Shortly thereafter, she caught her first fish of the trip. What was odd, was that all the fish we caught were rainbows, save two very small whitefish, the first I've ever pulled out of this lake. Most of the trout were in the 8-11" range. However, I did hook into one night 14" rainbow that even went airborn for me.

Since we did have the little one, we decided to head down the mountain and give her a proper bath (I think she brought half the mountain of dirt with her). We did a couple of other errands and made our way back up. I fileted the fish from the previous night and cooked them up for some nice trout for dinner.

The next day the sun rose, and another couple, who we are friends with came up, with their daughter. I avoided helping setup their camp fished while their camp was being setup. Eventually though, my wife came down to the lake, and asked for my help. I handed the rod to her (Hmmm... wonder if she just wanted to fish more) and headed up. Soon enough, we had their tent finished. Shortly thereafter we all sat around the campfire while the girls played.

Clouie, our beagle sits nicely between the girls as they play.

The next morning, we awoke as our friends prepared breakfast. It was also the day we had to pack up, making it a bummer. But all in all, we thought it was good.

Friend making breakfast... Yum!

Having another couple around, while packing up was quite nice. We were able to take down the campsite while we took turns watching the kiddos. After we were all packed up, we headed back down the mountain. Reaching the top of switchbacks, I found myself staring down a cow. After a bark from our beagle, she quickly moved out of the way.

Traffic Jam! Open Range!
It was great. Here's hoping our next camping trip goes smoothly, and that we get to spend more time with friends.

Cya,
Paul