Bigmouth Buffalo on the Fly

Sunday, September 30, 2012 , 2 Comments

I have a new goal for myself, a project if you will. To catch an Asian Carp on a fly rod. There is not much info currently but there are a few patterns circulating out there, some whispers in the nefarious shadows of the fly fishing world, and I have a few ideas myself. That being said, this week I tied up various patterns and headed to the Wakarusa River. I didn't see any Asian Carp, surprisingly, and am convinced that with any of these patterns I will need to sight fish them. However, what I did see was a Bigmouth Buffalo holding steady in the current on the opposite bank. I made my cast, had the ideal drift, she only had to move her mouth inches for the take--then it was game on. The fight lasted 5 or 6 minutes, with no long runs, she instead was merely a bulldog at about 15-20 feet out that just refused to come in. I was pretty excited, caught a new species, and feel I may be on the right track with a pattern as Bigmouth's are also predominate filter feeders though not exclusively. All else equal, it may be the ugliest fish I have ever caught in my life. 

Bigmouth Buffalo, Ictiobus cyprinellus. 8 lbs


Playing with Plastic

Thursday, September 27, 2012 , , 0 Comments

The life of a graduate student is irregular at best and schizophrenic at its worst times. Between the pressure to maintain a 3.5 GPA, yes that is the minimum I can have to remain in the program, and professors which assign 1000+ pgs per week, life can be stressful at times. Fishing is my zen, and behind learning, my greatest passion. Whether a fly rod or conventional, time on the water is precious. Ultimately, catching fish is no longer the point--though a much added bonus--for me its the equable quality of nature, the process of tying the knots, and the mental puzzle a piece of water presents you with. 

So the other day after several hours studying, I set down my books for an hour and headed to my favorite honey hole to throw some plastics at Largemouth. All in all the bite was great that night, with 12 fish caught within the hour. I started off with a Wacky Rig and later moved to a Jig and Pig. Something about the finesse of fishing plastics combined with the utter awareness and detail you feel through your rod makes it one of my favorite fishing techniques. 

Largemouth on a Wacky Rig. 

Jig and Pig. Always fun to flip and pitch into some dense timber. 

 3 lb Largemouth Bass. For the trailer on the jig and pig I really have been impressed with Yum's Wooly Bullee. 


Jazz and Fly Fishing, Slow Walking Water: Video Short

Wednesday, September 26, 2012 , , 2 Comments

A reflective piece by the guys at Jazz and Fly Fishing. Showcases fishing in the Swedish Lapland.



This Never Happened...

Wednesday, September 12, 2012 , , 4 Comments

The following is simply a figment of your imagination, it never happened, but if it had, well it would have been epic. Now in this dream, lies a make believe place entitled Clinton Lake and on it Clinton Marina. Day and night, swirling underneath the marina are large Carp, fattened off the fodder thrown to them by the marina's staff. The staff regards them with amusement and likens them to pets, there to entertain patrons. Any attempt to fish for these cherished Cypriniformes would be met with hostility and bereavement; and so the Carp lived imbecilic lives, unaware that in waters surrounding them laid anglers eager to catch them.

And so this continued: until one day a particular angler learned that the Marina would be closed on a certain day, leaving the Carp unguarded and vulnerable to his craft. Eager to capitalize on this opportunity, the young angler stealthily floated his kayak into position alongside the marina and cast to the unsuspecting Carp. Now if this had really happened, perhaps this would have been the result:

6 lb Carp. Topwater Fly.

Caught plenty of these guys as well. 

6 1/2 lb Carp. Photo kindly taken by a curious slip owner.

Picture doesn't do this guy justice. He would have been a tad unruly in the Kayak. 9 pounds. 

Welcome to Dreamland. 


One Fly Tournament 2012

Tuesday, September 11, 2012 , 2 Comments

The Free State Fly Fishing Club held its annual One Fly Tournament this past week. Last year I one with 44 fish and was hoping to hold onto my title. The rules are simple: it is essentially a numbers tournament; most fish wins, only fly fishing is allowed, and you are only allowed one fly; lose the fly and you're out. 

I tied the same fly as last year with what would turn out to be one regrettable twist. I used a larger hook this year. The hook had a wider gap and was much sharper, which I was hoping would result in a higher hook up percentage. This was a mistake, I had forgotten the size of the bass in this pond--I don't believe anyone caught a fish over a pound with most presenting a far more diminutive stature. Time and time again I felt a fish on only to have if come off a few seconds later, my belief is that it was on the tail of the fly and never got past the hook, this in turn probably cost me countless fish. Overall I ended up with 19 Largemouth Bass and One Green Sunfish. Proverbially, what they say is probably true: if its not broke, don't fix it. 

Regardless, I had a blast and the food spread after is enough to make even the most stoic angler salivate. Congratulations to Big Mike on winning this year with 27 fish. 

The fly I tied, a variation off the Crappie Candy. 

Stan and Will. Some of my friendly competitors. 

Average size of the Bass, as you can see the fly may be a tad oversized. 


Impromptu Driftless Trip

Saturday, September 08, 2012 , , , 2 Comments

At the last minute I decided on an impromptu trip up to the Driftless last week. My parents and my fathers cousins were camping on the Minnesota side and I decided what the heck, why not go as I had a few days and school hasn't really picked up yet. So I drove the 8 hours to camp with the family and fish for a few days. 

My father fished a few streams prior to my arrival but didn't have any success or for that matter even see any trout. Sunday when I arrived, we fished a stream about an hour away from our campsite and saw a few tiny trout but weren't able to get any interested. Faced with limited knowledge of the streams in Minnesota and unable to find any great resources, people to talk to, a very limited time frame, and difficulty deciphering the Minnesota trout maps; monday we choose to head to Iowa side of the Driftless to fish streams we were already familiar with. 

Monday morning we started out at Trout Run, just outside of Decorah. We fished for only about an hour or so before it began to rain and we decided to move on the French Creek--my favorite stream in the Driftless. However, I did manage one Brown on a Hare's Ear. 

Brown Trout. Tungsten Bead Head Hares Ear. 

Finding the French was a challenge, or rather, finding the particular segment of the French that I wanted to fish was a challenge. For those not familiar, the roads on the Iowa Trout Map are not marked, so its a bit of a guessing game. This is complicated during a storm with limited visibility. I was kicking myself for not marking it on my Garmin, a habit I will carry out diligently going forward. During our search, time ran out for my Dad and he had to head back home.

For months now, one of my goals has been to catch a Brown from the French. These fish are all wild and notoriously spookish, further the French is completely catch and release so some of these fish get to some size. Well I am happy to report I caught my French Creek Brown. Albeit in a severe downpour, though I would like to think that just lent to the epic nature of the hunt. He wasn't big, but I couldn't care less. He was a French Brown and I caught him. The segment I fished I wasn't familiar with, and was much narrower and further upstream from where I had last visited. When I left to find the another segment, I encountered several flooded roads, dared myself through some and turned around at others and eventually, though reluctantly, turned south to get out of the storm and find more peaceful waters.  

I first went to the Paint, a rather large stream system east of the French but after walking it for an hour and seeing only one trout I decided to head back to Decorah as it was getting late, and I was very wet and tired. I returned to Trout Run for the remaining 20 minutes of daylight and was able to catch three average Rainbows on a Hares Ear.

An absolute downpour the entire time I fished the French. 

Not a big guy, but I was very happy to catch him. French Brown. Lightning Bug Nymph. 

One of the many flooded roads I encountered as a result of the storm. This one I did cross. 

The next day I started by fishing two other streams I adore: the North Bear and Waterloo. I started on the North Bear which was running very clear with lots of fish visible and some that were quite large. In particular was a large, easily 4 lb+ Brown, guarding an underwater boulder from pesky Rainbows. However, no matter what I drifted, stripped, or taunted him with he neither moved for responded to my valiant efforts. Disappointed, I moved on and eventually caught two Rainbows on a Pine Squirrel Leech. 

North Bear. 

Rainbow on a Pine Squirrel Leech. 

Another view of the North Bear. 

While much more opaque than the French or North Bear, the Waterloo was still onerous to fish due to very low water.  I was also nearing the end of my trip and this may have made me a bit impatient but I only caught one Brown while on the Waterloo. That aside it was a nice fish and the scenery is some of the best in the Driftless. 

At times I need to remind myself that I am still in Iowa. 

The Waterloo. 

Nice Waterloo Brown. Hares Ear. 

On the drive home I stopped at Twin Springs in Decorah and fished for a half hour catching five small Rainbows, on a pink soft hackle. I wish I would have used it earlier and am curious what the results would have been. 

Pink Soft Hackle Fly. 

Small Rainbow. 

Water was low and overall fishing was a tad slower than I would have liked, but I had a great time and am very lucky to have had this be my fourth trip to the Driftless in one year. Truly this is one of my favorite places to fish. In retrospect I wish I could have spent more time at the French and would have focused my angling a bit more on streamers as the trout seemed somewhat reluctant on nymphs and dry flies. That being said I had a lovely trip and cannot wait to come back.