Beginning of Summer, Equals the Beginning of Carp Season

Thursday, June 27, 2013 , , 2 Comments

Summer is finally here and there is perhaps no better sign of the season for the fly angler than heads down and tails up of our wary friend, Cyprinus.  Water has finally risen somewhat at Clinton Lake; a few weeks ago we were down 6 ft and now are only down a foot and a half from normal pool. On top of that, the water was miraculously clear for this notoriously mucky lake. Mix in low 90* weather and it can only mean one thing--chasing Carp on the bank. I started off throwing an olive wooly bugger and landed two fish, while a third bent my hook. Winds averaged around 15 mph which, though it impacted my casting ability, allowed me to get much closer to the fish without spooking them.

However effective the olive wooly bugger may have proved itself that day, I soon grew tired of the fly getting tied up in the rip rap and switched to a hopper/dropper rig. With an egg pattern on the dropper end. This would produce two more carp for the day. 


Happy Birthday, Here's a Net

Tuesday, June 25, 2013 3 Comments

I turned 28 last month and for my birthday my parents gave me a new Muskie net along with a book on fly fishing for Bonefish. However, I think the net makes for a better picture. My girlfriend graciously volunteered to show to enormity of the net by sitting in it. Not to mention good entertainment and I am it sure will generate a few smiles. I am heading north to Lake Vermillion in Minnesota next month with hopes to test it out.


Driftless Doldrums

Sunday, June 23, 2013 2 Comments

June has not been favorable to me in the fishing world. Two trips planned that had great potential and two trips that turned out far less fulfilling than I would have liked. First, was the Keys earlier in the month and second was my trip up north to the Driftless region in Iowa. They had recieved heavy rain over the course of a few weeks and there was much flooding in the region. This had two impacts for me: first the streams which are normally gin clear were muddier than the Mississippi, secondly, the gnats--were horribly bad and even for a devout angler such as myself were thick enough to drive me away from several streams. Then I got sick and spent an entire day in the tent. Sorry for the bitching-fest, I am done. Trout were caught on the Waterloo and South Bear but nothing too notable, all small stockers, except--my girlfriend caught her first Brown. I was perhaps more excited than she was and in all the rush for me to get the camera ready we lost the fish prior to getting a shot. However, a weekend camping with a woman you love that loves to fish, well, perhaps that's enough to take you out of the doldrums and help you appreciate what you have rather than what you want. Another lesson learned through fishing. And for the Driftless, well I already have another trip planned for this fall. 


Family Fishing off Key West

Friday, June 21, 2013 , , 0 Comments

While in Key West as a family we went out together for a short trip, fishing off the reefs. Nothing too glamorous, but it was fun to fish together as a family and I was quite delighted to watch my sister catch several fish. We only had 2 hours, subtract the boat ride and things were a bit rushed but the guide put us on fish and we had fun. In the future I would recommend at least a 4 hour trip if you are in the area to maximize the money you spend on the water fishing vs a boat ride. Upon leaving the harbor we did see dozens of Tarpon rolling, but were unable to convince any to bite. I think my mother and sister enjoyed seeing the Tarpon and were impressed by their behavior and size. I think my sister caught five or six fish and I caught four. Again nothing too sexy or sizable but considering the short time allotment, not too bad either. 

My sister with a Porkfish. 

My dad fishing for Tarpon on the way out. 

Black Grouper, a new species for me. 

My mother may have not fished but she proved to be an excellent fish photographer. 

Sara with her 2nd Gray Snapper. 

My first Knobbed Porgy, Calamus nodosus.

My sister with a nice bend in the rod, Black Grouper on the other side of the line.

Rather than create a separate post, because it really doesn't need one, I thought I would also include a note about my trip to Bahia Honda. I fished the mangroves there and only caught one fish. A tiny guy. My trip was very short due to getting stuck waist deep in the mud. On a rising tide this proved enough of an adrenaline rush to scare me off for the day. 



Key West 2013

Wednesday, June 12, 2013 1 Comments

The image to the left pretty much sums up my latest trip to Key West. A tropical depression sat on us the entire week, eventually becoming tropical storm Andrea and left us with rain at least for a portion of every day we were there. I had scheduled 2 days with Keys guide Mike Bartlett with a flexibility between three days of openings but due to weather was only able to fish part of one morning. The palolo worm hatch had just occurred a few days prior and Tarpon were everywhere. It was really neat to see them porpoising in large schools. Fish ranged from 30 lbs to 200 lb +. Of the few hours we were able to fish for them, both my Dad and I were able to get a Tarpon to eat. Me a tiny guy and my father a notably large one, but even with them eating the fly we were not able to seal the deal. In some ways this was frustrating as you feel you learn from your mistakes but then due to weather we were not able to implement the changes. I did fish a little and had success earlier in the week in Miami, the previous post, and as a family we did a short two hour reef fishing trip on conventional and were successful, which will be the post to follow. Fishing is never a given but given the limited time one from Kansas has on the flats you always hope the weather will be ideal when you do get those opportunities. I was happy to get a Tarpon to eat and have noticed my cast has improved and precision, but still am obsessed in my pursuit of Bonefish, of which we saw none. Perhaps next time. 


Fly Fishing Miami's Canals

Monday, June 10, 2013 , , 3 Comments

The canal system within Miami provides one of the most unique urban fishing experiences available to anglers. During the 1980's the city stocked Butterfly Peacocks in the canal system, in an effort to control invasive fish species while still providing sporting capabilities. Now Butterfly Peacocks are native to South America, so the logic of stocking one invasive species to control another is beyond me, but regardless the situation is what it is. Beyond the Peacocks the canals are famous for, anglers will also have opportunities to catch Oscars, Midas Cichlids, Tilapia, Snakeheads and various other fish the residents have released into the canal system when they outgrew their home aquariums. The plebeian Largemouth is another standard within the entirety of the canals and at various times Snook and baby Tarpon may be taken as well. 

I had one day to fish the canal system and of course it was storming off an on all day with winds in excess of 15 mph. I caught only a few fish but given it was the first time fishing the canals I am happy given the conditions. I also learned a lot. First to the behavior of Peacocks--they are aggressive. If you  had one following your fly and you slowed down your retrieve at all, they would turn off. The biggest difficulty fishing for them was I was often elevated from the canal 3-6 above the water. The canals themselves are generally about 12 feet deep and are often straight down with very little cover or ledge.

Fishing the shelf seemed to bring about the most follows and strikes. For flies I used a combination of wooly buggers and clousers. Stylistically, it is sight fishing so all of you who enjoy chasing fish on the flats or pursue carp would really enjoy this. From the bank you can easily see the characteristically yellow and orange of the Peacocks. 

While I am sure you could blind cast to the deep parts of the channel and get a few odds and ends, on a fly rod you are going be most effective seeing and casting to you fish. If  you have access to a kayak or boat to fish the canals take advantage of it and I am sure you will have much more success. Many of the canals are inaccessible due to them being in neighborhoods or have banks filled with excessive vegetation. Wet wading isn't really an option either due to the steep drop of the canals and the fact that many of the canal areas I fished had signs posted for alligators. 

The greatest difficulty though would be where to start fishing. Especially, if like me you have very limited amount of time to fish and don't want to waste a lot of time driving around the nightmarish traffic of Miami. I fished two canals, C-2 and C-100. On C-2, also known as Snapper Creek, there is a very accessible portion at Dadeland Mall. 

In addition to Peacocks, this area had lots of small Largemouth as well. Though I reserved most of my casts for Peacocks as they are loads more fun. Think of a Smallie on steroids. 

On the C-100, the most obvious place is The Falls Shopping Center. I didn't see near as many Peacocks or Largemouths there but did see hundreds of Midas Cichlids though how to catch them alluded me the entire day. Also I saw many Oscars there but they were incredibly skittish and would leave for deep water the moment they saw a shadow. 

A more enjoyable section on the C-100 is the Coral Reef regional park where the C-100A and C-100B come together. Easy to cast, a place to park and lots of Peacocks with many Midas present as well. 

I only fished a day, so I am by far not an expert, but hopefully this will help you get a start and limit some of the research you have to do on your own. But please, if you are in Miami and have some spare time, throw some line in these canals. It truly is a very unique, challenging, and rewarding fishery. 

One last note: the Peacock Bass in the Miami Canals are Butterfly Peacocks--Cichla ocellaris. While they can still get 10 lbs + most are far smaller. Often it has been confusingly stated that Miami has its larger cousin Cichla monocles.