Monday, May 28, 2012
The first big weekend of summer... for many Memorial Day is the first chance at a three day trip to the lake or river as can usually be evidenced by the full boat ramps and fishing accesses on my local waters. This year the wife had the week before the holiday off so we made plans to try and circumvent the madness by leaving town on Wednesday morning and then returning on Saturday just as the masses were arriving. After some deliberation we decided to head South to Beaver Lake where the plan was to spend our days fishing , hiking, swimming and sightseeing. Any remaining time was slated for kicking back around camp and just relaxing! We loaded up as planned Wednesday morning and hit the road just after 8:00 (that's an early start for my wife!) , the highways that would be packed with holiday weekend traffic just 72 hours from now only held a few late work stragglers heading in to the daily grind. We pulled into the campground shortly past noon, after an uneventful 4 hour drive, and ate a quick lunch before getting busy setting up camp. At first glance it appeared as though the ploy had paid off , our tent was the only one in the primitive camping area and we had most of the campground to ourselves. While several groups did move in on Friday night ,we never had any neighbors until that time and were able to enjoy some true peace and quiet around camp for the majority of the trip. The whole idea was to get in some R&R with no real agenda to speak of and we were able to manage that nicely. I got in several hours of fishing below the dam each morning and we spent most of our afternoon hours lounging around on the lake side staying cool. We bypassed the Eureka Springs tourist trap and chose to do our sightseeing by driving around the lake, taking in some lakeviews and hiking a couple of trails. Of course with all of the spare time spent just kicking back around camp we managed to throw together some pretty good grub for a meal or two as well. Seeing as this is a Flyfishing blog I guess I should write at least a few words discussing my forays chasing trout below the dam. The Beaver tailwaters aren't nearly as popular with the flyfishing scene as the more storied waters in the White River system like Bull Shoals , Taneycomo and the Norfork. Those rivers are all great fisheries no doubt, but that acclaim also brings with it overcrowding at times, which I've witnessed on all three of those waters. I know from personal experience that Taneycomo can look like an oversized trout park on a holiday weekend , forget your stream ettiquette here and just hope you can find a spot with at least a short roll-cast distance between you and the next guy. I don't enjoy that scene much anymore and try to find other options when possible , Beaver was that option this weekend. If the Beaver Tailwaters lack anything as a fishery when compared to those other places, it makes up for it in spades when it comes to sheer aesthetic value. Winding deep in the Ozark hills , the upper section is definitely a beautiful body of water. I managed to find the solitude I was looking for and a few hungry fish as well on this outing. I can't say that the fishing was excellent for me (I'm sure someone had em dialed in , just wasn't this guy!) but I enjoyed the challenge of a body of water I hadn't fished in several years and some picky midging fish. My most successful setup ended up being 7x flouro with a palsa indicator and a size #18 or #20 midge dropped off between 12 and 24 inches below. I can't really say that any one color variation worked best as I never really got on a streak , the standard black/silver zebra midge as well as the copperhead midge both produced as many strikes as anything though. The fish were all relatively small , don't think I landed anything over 13 or 14 inches , and a mixture of both browns and bows. I think my best morning produced a bakers dozen in several hours on the river , a far cry from the fish every cast I can often expect from a Taney trip, but the peace and solitude of the river were a good trade-off in my opinion. Give me a beautiful river , my dog and a few fish rising in the mist on the far bank and I'm a happy man. While this wasn't a true fishing trip by any stretch of the imagination it was nice to get out with the family and enjoy the weekend. With our busy schedules these days there's never enough time to get away from it all and spend some "quality time" together , this kind of trip is just what the doctor ordered....
Tuesday, May 22, 2012
I havn't been doing much tying here lately , with the longer days and more outside activities to do it just seems like I never find the time. Oh , I may sit down and tie one or two of something that I want for an outing but no serious bench time to speak of. This past week while rummaging through my fly boxes I noticed there was a big void where one of my favorite patterns usually resides. This fly is one that I definitely don't like to be without , whether I'm fishing one of the small Blue Ribbon trout streams, a larger river like the Niangua or even chasing carp out on the flats at my favorite lake this fly is often my first choice. It just happens to be my go to , everyone's got at least one of those patterns in their arsenal...It doesn't look like much but it's a cinch to tie and for me it just plain catches fish. Various different color patterns work well on this fly but a good old olive variation is pretty hard to beat. I found a little time and sat down at the bench this weekend and knocked a few out to take care of that empty spot. If you're looking for a small streamer pattern that's an easy tie and catches a myriad of fish, give it a try , I don't think you'll be disappointed. Following is the recipe for my Mink Sculpin Streamer : Hook...............................................................................2x long streamer hook (size 6) Conehead...........................................................................Medium Tungsten Body.............................................................................Mink Strip Underbody..........................................................Ice Dub (or other flashy dubbing)- Picked Out for Fuller Body and flash Legs............................................................................Rubber or Spandex legs of choice Hope it serves you as well as it has me on many a fishing trip!
Monday, May 7, 2012
For the second year in a row I had the good fortune of being invited to attend a good friends small fishing trip that happens every year on Cinco De Mayo. The location has been moving around the last few years but this year it was happening at one of my favorite Missouri rivers , the Current. The number of attendees changes as well depending on those inevitable unforeseen circumstances we all encounter , this year there were five of us. Kevin , Terry and myself all arrived on Wednesday and got the party started , while Don and Mike graced us with their presence on Thursday evening. As with most multi-day get togethers that happen in the circles I run in , the week was filled with lots of killer camp grub , adult beverages on occasion and some fishing (of course). The first day was spent dividing our time between setting up camp , fishing and drinking. Not neccesarily in that order. We did a little wade fishing around the Tan Vat access since it was conveniently located right across from our campground. This river always seems to fish pretty good and this trip was no different , we were able to land a good number of rainbows and browns by nymphing and throwing small streamers. Nothing of any real size was caught , but no one fished terribly hard and it was a good start to a long weekend of fishing. The day ended the way all perfect days should , a good meal..a little drink and then a nightcap of stories around the campfire. Thursday we had plans to float from Parker Access down to Cedar Grove , a short distance of about two miles but long enough for a good afternoon of fishing. We didn't need to rush with such a short float so we spent some time around Tan Vat again first thing in the morning before breakfast. There were a few more people around than I expected to see on a weekday but I guess that's what you get when the weather is predicted to be so nice in early May. No worries for us as we were just killing a little time before hitting the river anyway , once on the water and floating we knew we'd have the place pretty much to ourselves. By the time we got the vehicles shuttled and gear loaded on the boats it was around 10:30 or so , with only a couple miles to float we didn't need to rush and took the time to enjoy the scenery and fish pretty much every likely looking hole we passed. The Current is indeed a beautiful river and at times it was hard to stay focused on fishing and not just sit back and take in the sites. As expected we didn't encounter any other floaters or fishermen and thoroughly enjoyed our short float , catching numerous bows out of most areas we fished. It was getting close to 4:00 when we finally pulled the boats up on the bank just below the Cedar Grove access , a little hot...a little tired and a lot thirsty! We downed a few cold beverages in the parking lot before heading back to pick up our other vehicle and settling around camp for the evening. I'm not real sure what "normal people" do for fun , but damn I sure can't imagine a better way to spend the day. Friday we had the whole crew on board and again planned to spend the day floating , this time a little longer stretch from Baptist to Parker. While still not a long float , this one was about 5 1/2 miles so we decided to forego the early morning wade fishing and head out after a big camp breakfast. We were pushing off by 9:00 , two canoes and me in my pontoon with nothing to do but take in some of the rivers beautiful scenery and try and catch a few fish along the way. Time always flies by when you're doing something you enjoy and it seemed like we'd barely gotten started when a quick glance at my watch told me it was already a good time for a lunch stop. There's something about eating outdoors , especially on the water , that just makes everything taste so much better. The food may not have been anything special but the scenic view from streamside made up for that in spades. After lunch the beer started tasting better , which probably didn't help out anyones luck with the fishing. I do know that everyone caught enough fish to make for a great day as everyone was nothing but smiles at the takeout. After getting the five guys and three boats all loaded into our one shuttle vehicle we headed back to pick up our other vehicles and then make our way back to camp. After unloading boats and gear we all kicked back for awhile and traded stories of the days float over a couple of ice cold beverages. Most everyone was satisfied to just sit around camp relaxing for the remainder of the evening but of course I had to be the oddball and decide to hit the river again for an hour or so before dinner. My hopes were to throw streamers up until it got too dark to see what I was doing and hopefully stick one of the big browns that I know inhabit the river. For the first time I actually had the entire access to myself , for as far as I could see both upstream and down there wasn't another soul. This is the kind of fishing that I enjoy most , an evening to wade the river tossing streamers for browns in complete solitude. Used to be I'd have said that most of my time spent stalking trout was done with nymphs and indicators but I've since seen the light. There's just something about swinging or stripping a streamer through the water column with the anticipation that the predatory nature of that fish is going to make him give chase and attack. It's a feeling you just don't get when nymphing or for that matter even dry fly fishing and it's what I seek each time I hit the water. Now if I just had a story and picture of the big brown that I landed that evening the tale would be perfect , unfortunately stories don't always end that way. I will say that my biggest fish of the weekend (he'd have went 5# pretty easily) gave me every opportunity that night , I was stripping an articulated sculpin pattern when a nice brown came from behind a boulder and swiped at the fly. He missed with his first attempt , then came back again and inhaled the fly , my adrenaline level was so high at that point that I set too hard and promptly snapped the 3X tippet I was using. Lessons learned...don't go after an elephant with a BB gun (I knew better than to use wimpy 3X while fishing for the big guys) and shit happens (sometimes the big ones get away , such is fishing). I finished out the evening catching a couple smaller browns and several rainbows before heading back to camp for dinner and a beverage. That night we ate like kings , wild pig loin cooked over an open fire..sweet corn cooked in the shuck..firepit baked potatoe and a pot of settlers beans. It's a good thing these trips only happen once a year or I'd have to renew that old fitness membership again! Saturday I had the task of getting packed up and hitting the road once again. The rest of the guys were staying another night but I had other engagements that required my presence back at home. It didn't take long to get everything packed back in the truck , although I just know that one of these trips I'm not going to get everything back in that I took out , it's always a little tighter fit on the return trip. I said my good-byes and thanked the guys for inviting me along. I hope they'll contemplate putting up with me next year when the time rolls around once again. Even though I had a 5+ hour trip back home the day was still young and I hadn't gotten my fill of fishing just yet (nor will I ever!) so I decided to hit the Baptist access for an hour or so before I had to get serious about the ride back. A couple last rainbows were landed before calling it a wrap , that's how I like to finish off a good fishing trip. Another great one in the books for 2012 , here's to the next , whenever and wherever it might be.