Sunday, August 7, 2011

New Friends...New Fish...New Water

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This year I've broadened my horizons so to speak and taken a lot more time to flyfish some of the warmwater environments I have available close to home. I've had a great time doing it and although I consider myself somewhat of a Trout Bum I gotta admit that I've enjoyed chasing what most folks consider "trash fish" in relative solitude while my favorite trout streams are overridden with the usual summertime crowds. I got the opportunity to try something new yesterday, a small group of guys from my local fly fishing club were getting together for a float down a local river to fish for longnose gar. New water...new fish... and a day on the water with some newfound friends , I wasn't about to pass on this chance.
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The first task at hand was doing a little research on flies and then tying up a few so I actually had something to throw at these prehistoric looking creatures. The internet is indeed a wonderful thing...google gar flies and you get pictures and patterns of gar flies. What did we ever do before computers? Most of the patterns I found were simple flies constructed of cotton rope and some sort of tinsel or other colored material for added attraction. Looked easy enough and seeing as I didn't have much time to get ready I whipped up a couple of simple rope flies for my trip.
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Definitely the strangest looking thing I've ever tied to the end of my flyline. It was a little over an hour drive to our meeting spot so the bus had to leave the station at dark-thirty for me to be there by 6:00am.
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On the drive over I began noticing occasional flashes in the distant sky off to the Southwest , I hoped that it was just leftover storms from the previous night moving away but I was glad to have thrown in the rain jacket just in case. By the time I arrived at our meeting spot it was obvious that the storms were getting closer and there was a good chance we might get a little wet. Never fails , in the middle of one of the hottest and driest spells I can remember in my lifetime and on a day when hot and dry would be beneficial , we get a nice cool rain. WTF?? After shooting the shit in the parking lot for a few minutes we headed down the road towards the river , canoes..kayaks and pontoons in tow. Everyone was excited to get at it so it didn't take long to gear up and get the boats on the water.
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We took off as a group and then slowly spread out as we began fishing our way downstream. The first thing I noticed was that my homemade flies were like trying to cast a sopping wet kitchen towel.
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It was all I could do with the seven weight just to get an ugly 30 foot cast out. I just kept at it and hoped that none of my new fishing buddies were paying enough attention to notice my shitty casting. About a half mile downstream we finally began seeing a few gar rolling , this got everybody casting with a little more vigor and it wasn't long before I heard a holler from downstream. I could see the bend in the rod from where I was at...and then it was gone. Such are the odds when you're trying to catch a fish with a mouth made up of 95% teeth and bone on nothing more than the hopes that he'll get his teeth tangled in the piece of nylon rope you're loosely calling a fly. Not long after this the rain set in , not a heavy rain , just a good light rain that lasted for an hour or so.
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This scenario didn't play into our odds for sightfishing gar as we had planned , it seemed we had chosen the wrong day for those "perfect conditions". We weren't about to let that deter us from our mission of trying to catch one of those toothy fossils though and we kept slinging away right on through the rain.
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After the rain quit and the clouds cleared a little we began to see more large gar rolling on the surface in certain areas. It got my blood pumping watching those fish , at times so close to the boat you could almost reach out and touch them with your flyrod. Exciting shit for sure and like nothing I've done with a flyrod up until now. We had several more hookups and LDR's and one fish that I'd call landed even though he didn't touch it . He was in a kayak and got the fish , about a three footer I'd say , right up to the edge of the yak and then as he started to lift his head up the fish let go and was gone. Again, when there's no hook involved you have a lot less control over when the fish is released. I can't say that I actually had a hookup but I did get to watch about a 36 incher come up and nip the tail of my fly as I fast stripped it about 12 inches below the surface. That alone was worth the loss of sleep and cost of gas to get there. While it would have been nice to hang out all day and wait for the weather to change, everyone had other things on the agenda for the afternoon. We made our way back to the vehicles continuing to cast in hopes of hooking up one last time. Back at the launch, boats were loaded as we talked about the ones that could have been and what we'd do different next time to improve our odds. I learned a few things from watching the fish and I'll be tying up some more realistic flies to try and fool one next time. I'm gonna try and lighten my flies up a bit as well , maybe get it to where it's like throwing a wet hand towel instead of a dish towel! I was the last one at the launch and my boat was still sitting at the waters edge , being as it was almost noon I decided to sit on the tailgate and eat my lunch I'd brought before I headed out.
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As I sat there I noticed a fish roll about 50 yards downstream ,might have been a gar I thought? Before I was finished eating I saw a few other unidentifiable swirls that were enough to make me slide my boat back in the water and fish around the area for another hour after eating. It was to no avail though , it just wasn't gonna happen today. No big deal...in my eyes the day was a huge success. I spent the day on the water with some new friends trying to add another fish to the list of flyrod catches and although unsuccessful in that endeavor I saw enough to make me want to regroup and come back with a better plan next time....and soon.
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5 comments:

  1. Sounds Like a good time. What water were you on?
    There are plenty of Gar in the James we should try a day trip. Carp too!

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  2. What a blast. It figures the rain comes when you don't want it to. Probably for the best since it has been so dry down there. Nice job getting to know the gar a little better. Those fish are crazy looking. Nice job and great pics. Tight Lines.

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  3. Kevin - I'm gonna give it another go soon and see if I can't actually catch one of those things.

    Trout Magee - Yeah...I really can't wish away the rain since we need it so bad but the timing was awful. Fun to chase something new though even if unsuccessfully. Maybe next time!!
    Jeff

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  4. Tying those rope flies into a streamer might just be the ticket for landlocked salmon.

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  5. HighPlainsFlyFisherAugust 15, 2011 at 10:18 AM

    Penbayman - I don't know anything about landlocked salmon but I will say those pieces of frayed nylon looked amazingly lifelike in the water. Great shad or similar shaped baitfish imitation. Thanks for following....Jeff

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