Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Boys Weekend Out...Springtime Thoughts in Mid-January

This last weekend felt more like early April than the middle of January around my neck of the woods. I had some time to play around with so I contacted my buddy Bryan and we made some plans to head out for a couple of days and try to fool a few trout. Joe and I headed out Thursday morning , filled up the truck with some gloriously cheap gas (for a change), and pointed the truck in a Southerly direction. We were meeting Bryan at one of Missouri's small Blue Ribbon trout streams that I hadn't visited in awhile and was looking forward to seeing.
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Bryan was a first time visitor to this creek so Joe and I did a little spotting and let him have first shot at most all of the prime holes , hoping to get him on at least a couple of the beautiful wild rainbows who reside here.
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While we didn't tear them up , we still managed to catch several fish apiece , which wasn't too bad considering the low , clear water conditions we were dealing with.
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It was a fantastic day to spend wandering the banks of a small stream , the warmth of the sunshine and the sound of the water tumbling over the rocky riffles was enough to make me think more than once about just lying down in a pile of leaves and taking a grand nap , especially after our mid-afternoon snack.
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You know how that goes though , too much water and not enough time.
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The sun was dropping quickly below the surrounding hills as we made our way back to the vehicles after hitting the last spot of the day. A few fish had been caught and better yet we got to spend a winter day with good friends traipsing around a beautiful little spring creek.
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After getting off the water we still had an hours drive to the area we planned to set up camp for the night so we headed out quickly after loading up our gear , trying to beat the sunset.
That night we had a good dinner at one of my favorite little places in the area , Danna's BBQ. I had my usual Catfish plate and surely wasn't dissapointed.
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Afterwards we made a trip down below the dam at Taneycomo to see if water conditions might be right for a little night fishing , they weren't of course. If there's one thing I've learned in all of my years of fishing the areas tailwaters , it's that the COE will always give you the exact opposite of the water conditions you'd hope to see. Show up with a driftboat expecting heavy generation...they'll shut her down tight as a drum. Arrive with grand plans of wading all weekend...break out the Ark and the water wings , cause they'll surely be releasing a deluge of water for some unknown reason. No worries though , I wasn't that crazy about wading around a body of water I havn't visited in almost two years in the dead of night anyhow. A good nights rest in a warm sleeping bag was sounding pretty good right now anyway , especially after filling my gut at the BBQ joint.
Friday morning we got up and made our way back below the dam to try our luck pulling a few fish out of the local ditch.
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When we arrived the water was still dropping out from an early morning jump up to three units a couple of hours earlier. The forecast was for one unit to run until 2:00 and then bump back up to two and then three units later in the day. Definitely not the best water conditions for what we wanted to do , but still something we could work with nonetheless. Unlike yesterday, where we walked miles of stream fishing any spot that looked promising (and never seeing another person) , today we simply picked the section of river that gave us the most distance from other anglers. I knew it wasn't the best spot available to us but I really didn't have any desire to stand within a rods length of anyone else , except maybe Joe.
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It was another beautiful day as far as the weather was concerned and we did our best to enjoy it while it lasted. Most of the other anglers were hanging out around the outlets or one of the other well known hotspots on this river , leaving us our little section of medium depth flats to ourselves it seemed. While not just loaded with fish , the area held enough fish to keep us entertained for a good part of the morning.
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Neither of us caught or really even saw anything of any size but we both managed to land a couple dozen or so fish apiece. Although these fish were far from the wild trout of yesterdays outing they still had some brilliant colors to show off.
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Around 1:00 we were startled by the agonizing sound of the generation horn starting it's announcement of a push of water. I stuck it out for another hour , fishing the rise , until I'd had enough for one day.
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I definitely enjoyed the day , but I can only handle 6X tippet and indicator fishing for so long (when you cast like I do , two flies..an indicator ..and some splitshot is just a windknot waiting to happen!).
Bryan was staying over another night so we said our good-byes and Joe and I loaded up the truck and headed for home.
When I woke up Friday morning I had a feeling that I might be coming down with something , scratchy throat and a nose that just wouldn't seem to quit running. By the time we'd made it halfway home I had a foot high pile of kleenex on the passenger floorboard and was beginning to feel even worse. Needless to say it finally caught up with me once we arrived back at home. Today's day four of the misery but I'm starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel , at least compared to saturday and sunday where I didn't even leave the house. Just writing this post was more work than I care for at this point...I think I'm gonna go have a cup of hot tea and take another nap.
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Monday, January 12, 2015

The Start of a New Addiction????

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Santa brought the rod for Christmas...purchased a Konic 4 to slap on the butt section...and just recieved the custom made Scandi line in the mail from Oregon this past weekend. Now I just have to learn how to cast this 12' monster and I'll be set!! If anyone out there has suggestions on good videos for learning to spey cast I'd be interested in hearing about them.
Can you say...New Addiction???

Sunday, January 4, 2015

First Trip of 2015...Chasing Streamer Eating Browns

Most fly fishermen have a "season" or two that they look forward to most throughout the year. It could be a stonefly hatch for someone out West , or a Green Drake mayfly hatch for a Colorado fisherman ,or maybe a Fall run of steelhead for a Great Lakes resident. For me there are two different times of year that keep me up at night planning the next trip in my mind. One of the two is the early Spring smallmouth bite and the other is the Winter streamer fishing for brown trout in the tailwaters and larger rivers in the Ozarks.
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The streamer game isn't for everyone for sure , it can be an all or nothing prospect most of the time and you have to get used to those times when the conditions just don't lend themselves to big predatory fish chasing big flies. Of course, the true diehard streamer guy knows that it only takes one cast to make two or three fruitless days on the water all worthwhile.
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That's why you continue to make cast after cast without so much as a roll or a chase , all the while knowing in the back of your mind that if you really want to catch fish all you have to do is put on a big ugly nymph and an indicator. No...those little bug eaters aren't what has kept you up late each night before the trip , working at the tying desk to create something that closely resembles a small mammal when retrieved through the water column.
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Luckily for me I have a couple of buddies that have the same passion for streamer fishing that I do , and this time of year we try to make it out to float some of our favorite streamer waters at least a few times .
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A forecast for overcast skies and rain with the probability of a rising river was reason enough to generate a conversation about making the first trip of the New Year.
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We drove through rain on Friday morning, headed for one of our favorite streamer waters, for the opportunity to fish in more of the same all day long on the river.
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Even with the cloudy skies and persistent rain , the crystal clear low water conditions made the fish skittish at best when presented with our flies. A few long distance chases and even a half-ass eat or two , but at the end of the day the only thing we had to show for our troubles were several empty beer cans floating in the bottom of the boat and sore shoulders.
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You lick your wounds that night at a local bar/cafe over several more beers and a greasy burger the size of a pie plate. Excuses are thrown around and in the end the final decision is that we really just don't know what the hell we're doing. Our best chance is to just cross our fingers and hope our luck changes.
After listening to the rain hit the metal roof of the camper cabin all night long , the first thing on the agenda in the morning is to check the water levels. Up to 750 cfs from 400 cfs the previous day...and the little line on your phone depicting the water level is on a completely vertical axis. We wanted things to be different from the previous day and it appears as though we got our wish.
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Partially dried out rain jackets and gloves are donned and rods rigged with still wet flies from yesterdays trip are stowed in the rod holders.
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The weather is of the low overcast , dreary type...but our attitudes are much improved from yesterday and we're excited to see what the fast rising off color water has in store for us as we push off. Todays float is half the length of the first days. The window of opportunity is short before the muddy , debris filled water catches up with you and renders the fishing miserable at best.
Before you can float out of the pool you just launched in you get your first eat of the day , of course the fish manages to somehow elude six inches of razor sharp hooks , but it's a good start. The next fish comes before you can even get into a rythym on the oars , this one eats like he means it and makes it into the net.
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In the next couple hours several of his buddies make their way boatside as well , along with many who simply flip us the bird as they somehow smack the fly and simply swim away unhooked.
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Two thirds of the way through the float the debris starts to catch up with you and the fishing slows down. Each cast ends with the task of removing bits of leaves or chunks of moss from your fly. Smiles are still the order of the day regardless , that small window of opportunity resulted in six fish for the day. Three of those pushing 20" and being of the variety that resemble footballs in their build.
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By the time you reach the takeout the river is at 1000 cfs and still shooting straight up , the fishing is definitely done for at least 24 hours on this river.
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Lady luck had thrown us a bone for once and we were in the right place at the right time.
There are bigger fish and better days ahead, with a little bit more luck , but this wasn't a bad way to start off the new year.
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