Friday, January 25, 2013

1/23..."Lacygne Lake...Cure for the Hard Water Blues"

Currently there aren't too many options here in the great state of Kansas for a flyfisherman looking for that tug. The small bodies of water are all frozen solid and the last time I looked even the large reservoirs were 3/4 of the way hard. I consider myself an adventurous sort , but even I draw the line at walking out on two inches of ice so I can reach some open water to fish. That only leaves option C , the power plant lake and hot-water discharge about 30 miles South of my hometown.
Not the most picturesque location by any means , but the waters still in liquid form and I know from experience that fish can be had if your timing is right.
This week when my day off rolled around (Wednesday) I decided that I couldn't let a fourty degree winter day go to waste. Other obligations were keeping me in town but that still left option C open. It didn't take much convincing to persuade my fishing buddy that it was a grand idea , if it involves fish..water or food of any sort he's always up for the task!
We arrived just before noon to an empty parking lot (big surprise) and quickly assembled some gear for the mile long walk into the area we intended to fish. With the sun shining and the water lapping at the shoreline of the lake it was almost possible to imagine it a nice Spring day , almost.
We fished our way around the section of lake just below the warm-water discharge hoping to encounter a few of the white bass or hybrids that frequently chase baitfish in this area.
The baitfish were there in droves , small schools of them could be seen rippling the surface of the water in every direction , enjoying the added warmth of the water just as Joe and I were. Unfortunately the predators we were looking for were nowhere to be found. We worked our way around the cove North of the outlet and then back again with only one strike to show for our dedication.
We sat down on a log to ponder the situation and have a snack , Joe's favorite , peanut butter crackers.
Unable to solve any of the worlds great mysteries (or determine how to change our fishing luck) I simply changed flies and continued our trek back towards the outlet.
I wish I could say that we caught fish , or even a fish , but we didn't. That being said we were just happy to be traipsing around the lakeshore and enjoying the company of the local herons , a group of mallards and a flock of turkeys that we spooked off the hillside at the back end of the cove.
We'll be back for another shot at those fish in the near future , it's always those fishless days that spark my interest , I know they're around I just have to figure out how I'm going to catch em!!

Monday, January 21, 2013

1/17....."A Mid-Winter Ozarks Float"

This last week I was finally able to hook up with a buddy from my local FFF club that I'd been trying to hit the water with for awhile. We both managed to secure a hall-pass for Thursday and decided to head South for a day float in search of a few trout and some solitude on the river.
The day started off cloudy and gray but eventually the sun broke through and warmed things up a bit. The high temperature for the day was only 36 degrees , but once the sun made an appearance it felt pretty nice if you could get out of the wind.
It's always nice to put a face to a name and Brian and I enjoyed finally getting the chance to fish together. With only two goals for the day , we were successful in accomplishing both of them. Enough fish were caught to make the day a success on that front and we never saw another soul on the river all day.
It's days like this , out on the river where the only company you're likely to meet is the family of eagles around the next bend , that make winter my favorite time of the year to get out. It won't be long before the next season arrives and the peace and solitude of the river will be replaced by the screams and paddle slapping carried out by throngs of enebriated canoers...oh what a joy!
In the meantime here's a few pics of what a wonderful place the same body of water is while those folks are still home on the couch inside their toasty warm houses.

"A little driving music to get the morning started"
"Signs of the Season"
"On the Water"
A couple of the more respectable citizens we encountered"
"Taking a Break"
"The long ride home"

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Streamer Season....Tying Big (Ugly) Articulated Streamers

I would have loved to have been on the water somewhere this weekend but unfortunately , as always , that four-letter word WORK had other plans for me. Working every other weekend is bad enough , but it never fails that a buddy will call and want me to hit the water! This seldom occurs on weekends I'm off , but I can almost count on a call if I'm relegated to a weekend at work.
I decided that the next best thing to fishing was filling a few holes in my flyboxes , namely my big streamer box. It's that time of year when I can't help but think about big water , big flies and bigger fish! I'm looking forward to a couple of trips down to the White River in the next month or so in search of a big brown and decided to lash a couple of chickens to some steel in preparation.
Streamers are much more fun to tie than your average nymph , simply because it's hard to go wrong , just start wrapping materials on a hook (or two preferably) and see where the process takes you. I'm not going to say that it's always pretty , because sometimes it's not , but generally you'll end up with something that will catch a fishes eye.
I like to take ideas and methods from other tyers and incorporate them into my own concoctions , sometimes I tie from a known pattern and follow the recipe , but not usually. That being said , I'm not laying claim to any new fly patterns for sure , these flies are simply variations of patterns created by other more talented tyers than myself. There are several guys that do some incredible work with big streamers and I've utilized many of their methods and recipes to fill my fly boxes throughout the year...Rich Strolis ( , Mike Schmidt ( and Kelly Galloup ( are three that come to mind right off.
I was on a limited time constraint this weekend due to work , but I still managed to turn out a few flies as was evident from the disaster on my tying desk (as my wife would say..."It looks like someone put a whole chicken through a wood chipper in there again!").
I'll be spending a few more nights at the vice working on the streamer box in the next week or so... more to come.

Monday, January 7, 2013

1/4 - 1/7 "Three Days , Three Rivers...First Trip of 2013"

With a New Years resolution to fish more in 2013 , I couldn't think of a better way to kick it off than to spend the first weekend of the year floating a couple of my favorite Ozark waters. With that thought in mind , when a buddy called last week and asked if I had anything going for the weekend...I gladly said "I do now!"
The original plan was to meet Jeff and a couple of his friends from Jefferson City down on the White for a weekend of throwing big meaty streamers in hopes of sticking a big brown. Unfortunately , as is often the case , the SWPA and it's ass-backwards generation routine totally fubar'd those plans. If you've ever had the pleasure of fishing one of our Southern tailwaters then you too might have experienced the joy of dealing with inconsistent and unreliable generation schedules on a day to day basis. The saving grace of the weekend was that they ran some water on the Norfork Saturday , albeit an up and down pattern which never allowed the fish to settle into a feeding pattern (notice how I worked that excuse in before I even told you how we didn't catch any fish...I'm an expert at the fishing excuse game).
I arrived at Copper Johns resort Friday afternoon around 3:00 , after tossing my shit for the weekend inside the lodge I quickly rigged up a rod and headed down to the water below the resort.
There was an obvious midge hatch and I could see small groups of fish rising up and down the river all around me. I'm not one to look a gift-horse in the mouth , so I rigged up with a miracle midge below a palsa indicator and proceeded to educate a couple dozen stocker bows. The bite was good and didn't wain until it was too dark to see my small white indicator anyway , unfortunately it would have taken two or three of these fish to even make a good meal for the trout I was in hopes of playing with.
Seeing as the others in the group didn't head down until after work on Friday I had most of the evening to myself. I kicked back , ordered up a pizza , and cracked open a cold one while I watched "Johnny Football" whip up on the Sooners.
Saturday morning we got up , checked the generation schedule and made plans for the day. To our dismay the White was scheduled to be dead low for the fourth consecutive day , not good streamer chucking water. The Fork was only somewhat better with a predicted 1/2 to 1 unit on for most of the day. The streamer thing wasn't going to happen on the White and no one felt like dragging boats across shoals all day so we loaded up and headed over to the Norfork tailwater for the day.
Upon arrival at the Quarry Park ramp you'd have thought we were putting in on one of the Wests famous fisheries , there were no fewer than three drift boats at the ramp (besides our two) and several more visible that had already launched. Obviously the high water and excellent streamer fishing of the past couple seasons have gotten the word out.
Jeff and I pushed off first , followed shortly by Chris and Nick. Jeff and I were determined to stick to our guns and huck meat all day , pretty much regardless of water conditions or results.
In the first hour of fishing we turned a couple of decent fish and had a 25+ roll on a big double deciever that Jeff was fishing. None of them hooked up unfortunately , such is the game when you're fishing big streamers. We did get several fish to commit and actually eat...a handful of rainbows , a couple of 15" browns and one nice brookie that ate a circus peanut.
Chris and Nick had pretty much the same luck , landing several smaller fish but nothing of the size we were looking for.
The water yo-yoed up and down on us all day which didn't help the fishing , as I'm sure the other six drift-boats all throwing streamers didn't either. Still there weren't any complaints at the end of the day as we were loading up the boats , a nice Ozark day spent on the river with friends sits right there at the top of my list of things I'd rather be doing pretty much anytime.
We got back to the lodge after dark and threw together a quick dinner , nothing special , KC strips..baked potatoes..baked onions..bacon-wrapped asparagus..garlic bread. You know , just your average fish camp food.
Afterwards we sat down with a couple of cold ones and watched a fishing video and a little football. It's times like these that a man knows he's living right!
Sunday the scenario played out the same , wake up and check generation schedules and plan the day. With no water scheduled to run on either the White or Norfork we started looking for a plan C. After a little discussion we decided to pack up and head over to the NFOW for our last day.
Another good friend of Chris's joined us for this float , Rusty , a local guide for ROLF. His description of the recent fishing wasn't exactly glowing but at least we knew there'd be running water. Like all of the other Ozark rivers and streams the NFOW is in need of a good push of water to pick things up.
We decided on a float from Patrick down to the new Sunburst takeout , probably the best streamer water on the river in my opinion . Jeff and I continued to throw streamers , although we did downsize just a tad for the fish on the NFOW. The other guys did a little nymphing as well as throwing streamers but in the end the results were pretty similar.
A few small rainbows and browns but nothing of any respectable size was brought to hand. I have to say though , if I'm going to float a river and have a mediocre day of fishing , I can't think of a more beautiful piece of water to do it on.
We reached our takeout just as the sun was starting to sink behind the surrounding hillsides. After loading up the boats and saying our good-byes it was time to start my long trek back to KC.
It was a good weekend for sure. I met some great guys , made some new friends and caught a few just can't ask for any more than that.