Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas!

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Here's hoping that everyone who reads this has a very Merry Christmas. Regardless which of Santa's lists you find yourself on, (I'm pretty certain my name can be found on the list that guarantees you a stocking full of coal), may you find happiness in time spent with family and friends during this holiday season.
And lastly, may Santa arrive bearing gifts in round, metal tubes and may your wading boots stay continuously wet throughout the New Year!
Many Thanks to everyone whos tops by on occasion to check out my posts and leave a comment, I truly appreciate it.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Streamer Time

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It's that time of year again boys and girls. That joyous season when the flotillas of bikini clad college things and the obnoxious drunken entourage that follows them are but a distant memory. Tis the season when cold, nasty days spent on a high, slightly off-colored piece of water dominate your thoughts at every opportunity.
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This isn't a numbers game by any stretch of the imagination. This is all about putting in your time, paying those dues and hoping that the fishing gods smile on you once or twice during the season and you can put that two-footer in the net.
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The fly boxes filled to overflowing with copper johns, prince nymphs and midges of every color don't even leave the house this time of year. This fishing is undertaken with flys that have names that sound as mean and nasty as the fish they're designed to catch. Flys with names like Hog Snare, El Chupacabra and the Sex Dungeon.
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This is 8 weights and full sinking lines hucked from the front of a driftboat all day.
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This time of year mornings call for a hearty breakfast and a big pot of coffee to kickstart the day.
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Long gone are the relaxing midday riverside breaks where it's fully acceptable to lounge around in sandals and enjoy the beautiful weather. This is a piece of cold fried chicken and pounding a beer (or two)every time you get back on the oars while still trying to put your buddy on the right line for that next good looking run.
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On most trips it just doesn't happen, you take what the river gives you and drink away the sorrows of defeat with your fellow miscreants while sitting around a warm fire at night.
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Sometimes you get lucky and there's a consolation prize at the end of the day, like a good old Ozark fish fry with freshly gigged suckers and hush puppies and cold beer...and good friends.
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No matter how the results pan out at the end of the day there's still nowhere I'd rather be...cold, wet and already thinking about that next trip...and that next fish.
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Thursday, December 3, 2015

Steelhead Flies

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Having just gotten back from my first steelhead trip a couple weeks ago, I've still been spending a lot of time daydreaming about the experience and wishfully planning my next opportunity. As you might guess it's a long drive from my home here in Kansas to the closest steelhead water (it's a pretty long drive just to reach trout water, it's halfway across the country in either direction to find steelhead!) so wishful thinking is all I've got at this point. With the itch still maintaining it's grasp on my psyche and no other method of scratching it I ended up resorting to sitting down at the bench and tying up a few more spey style steelhead patterns. Part of the motivation was the fact that my tying desk still looked like someone had thrown a multi-colored chicken into a box fan from the tying binge pre-trip. I figured I might as well knock a few more flies out before putting the blue-eared pheasant and guinea feathers back in the "seldom used" drawer.
I'm not going to blow smoke and tell you that these are great looking flies, but they're all based on patterns that I know can be successful under the right circumstances. I don't know this from personal experience, I only know because the patterns all came from the Oak Orchard Flyshop steelhead pattern page on the internet and are recommended by several of the gentlemen associated with the shop. I personally fished with these guys on my trip and besides being great people, they knew their shit when it comes to steelhead fishing. The purple/black spey and the blue/white spey both got bit on the trip, as for the others they'll just have to bide their time in my box until I can get back up there.
Unfortunately, maybe the only thing worse than my fly tying ability is my photography skills so the pictures aren't really much to look at but I'm gonna throw them up and make you suffer through it anyway.
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If you would like any of the recipes for these flies I would recommend going to the Oak Orchard Flyshops old website and checking out their fly patterns pages...lots of good stuff to keep you busy over the long, cold winter.
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Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Scratching One Off the Bucket List...Steelhead Trip

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Every fly fisherman has their own version of a bucket list...specific waters you want to fish, species of fish you want to catch or even just certain methods of fishing you'd like to experience. If you're like me the list is long and seldom does anything get crossed off (although new things are always being added). Last week I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to cross one of those long dreamed of trips off my personal bucket list, the steelhead trip. A large group of fellow miscreants, some that I'd previously met and others that I hadn't, put together a weeklong steelhead trip encompassing three different states and a multitude of waters along the way. When I got the call about going I wasn't about to miss out on the opportunity, come hell or high water.
After finagling the work schedule to allow me the 10 days I needed to accomplish the almost 16 hour drive and sweet talking the wife into still being around when I returned back home, I was able to start making plans for the trip. There were flies to be researched and tied, shooting heads and sink-tips to be organized and last but not least, I needed to work in some two handed spey casting practice. While the planning and prep kept me off the water for the couple of weeks before I left, this was one of those trips where getting ready is half the fun.
Talking to some of the guys who had actually visited this area and fished for steelhead before I was a little apprehensive about my chances of actually catching one. Obviously, with any anadromous fish, water flows and temperatures are a dictating factor in how many (if any) fish are actually in the body of water you're fishing. While I'm used to fishing in tough conditions where the fish seemingly have lockjaw, the idea of fishing in a river where there literally might not be any fish yet was a little intimidating. I was also told that if I chose to fish with indicator rigs and egg or sucker spawn patterns my chances would most likely be better regardless of water conditions. While the idea of catching a steelhead obviously appealed to me, I had already convinced myself of the fact that I wasn't driving halfway across the country to chuck egg patterns under an indicator. Come what may, I intended to swing flies on the two-hander and take my lumps as they or no fish.
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The first four days were spent with a smaller group of guys bunking at one of the locals houses. There were five of us from out of town and three or four local guys who showed us around some of their favorite water.
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Our first day of fishing started off tough, with waters that were off-colored and still high from a recent rain event. After a little on the road research we were able to locate a fishable river and although it wasn't the first choice, we enjoyed a great afternoon of swinging flies on a beautiful river and drinking some beer with a great group of guys.
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Unfortunately the steelhead didn't cooperate on this day and when the sun had set we headed back to formulate a new plan.
The next three days were all spent on a different section of river (several rivers actually) and on top of some of the most beautiful scenery you could have while standing knee-deep in the water, fish were actually caught. This Kansas boy was the first one on the board out of the group and I have to admit I don't think the smile left my face for the rest of the week.
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By the time we got around to packing it up and heading for our next destination I had managed a landed fish every day since day one, and every one of them was taken on a swung fly fishing the spey rod. If the trip had ended right then I would have been totally happy,but this party was just getting started.
The second leg of the trip was attended by a much larger contingent, just slightly over 30 guys descended on a large campground right next to the river and basically took the place over.
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From this location we had the opportunity to fish three different states all within a couple hours drive of base camp and before the week was over I owned a license from each of those states. The fish continued to cooperate amazingly and I was able to land two more fish in the next three days.
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While I won't lie and say that I wasn't thrilled with my success fishing, maybe the best part of the second leg was hanging out with a big group of like-minded individuals. In typical fashion we ate like kings, drank too much, stayed up too late and basically had one hell of a great time.
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Just the knowledge alone that I was able to glean from some of the folks I fished and visited with was worth the trip in itself. Without the help of others who were more than willing to offer instruction my trip might have ended up differently.
I'm pretty sure that at this point I'm ruined, the steelhead bug has taken a big bite out of me and I'm already trying to figure out how I can afford the next trip.
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If any of you reading this live in steelhead country and happen to have an extra bedroom to crash in....feel free to send me an invite, I'm all in!!