Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Fly fishing for the noobs.

For those new to fly fishing, it's not as sophisticated as it seems. The magazines promote their wares with great photos of wonderful fish. The truth is, there are anglers that will always out-fish everyone else. There are bait and tackle fisherman that shame me. I have a fishing app that allows folks to post their fish pics. Looking at them, I found that some anglers land fish such as I do. And there are anglers who just kill 'em.

I began this blog because I think that fly fishing has been promoted as a sport for the affluent angler. I believe that for fly shops to survive, they've got to hit that niche of -dare I say- "yuppies".

I buy at fly shops and hit larger chain sporting goods stores too. Don't let it be intimidating. If you can bend your elbow, you can fly fish. Fly fishing isn't just for trout or salmon and it's not A River Runs Through It.

You can fly fish for anything. The best thing to do is keep it simple. Do some research in the web, read some books or wing it at the local pond. I'm a gear minimalist. You don't need all the bells and whistles like the space suit waders. If you need a lanyard, so be it. But starting out, it may be best not to buy all the flies to fill your fly boxes.

Just grab some "all around" flies and get to know a piece of water. I guess it wouldn't hurt to take some basic lessons offered by the local fly shop for casting and tying flies. Joining a local fly fishing club could greatly benefit you too. Let me know if you have any questions about fly fishing.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Smallmouth knowledge . . . well, a little.

I've been out fly fishing for the past 3 days and haven't caught very many fish. But I still enjoyed going outside and splashing around in the stream. I did locate a few more spots for bass in some pools on the edge of some pretty rough riffles. Water temperatures have been bouncing anywhere from 80 to 55 over the past few weeks. The poor fish even have to deal with a 15 degree warm up in the afternoon. I guess that's October fishing for you.

I rarely fish past May or June. But I will say that this fall has been an absolute treat for me. I have caught between 50 - 80 bass . . . trying to think back and average the count . . . including small bass too. Most were small to medium with a few big ones thrown in here and there. I lost a couple of nice bass too.

This year, I landed most of my bass on Betts Poppers. I took quite a few on my custom foam hoppers. Clousers and crawdads helped to round out those drifting in the current. On the same stream I landed red eye bass, rock bass, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, spotted bass and a number of fall fish and panfish. Crappie were taken at a small lake. And I found a budget rod is just as good as a GLoomis fly rod . . . well, almost.

Crawdad, Clousers, hoppers, poppers and various other flies are obvious keys to landing smallmouth. BUT, the most important thing of all is finding a good stream. I used to fish a certain stream near my house throughout the year for about 5 years - for hundreds of times. It was good during the white bass run. From time to time, I landed bass but for the most part, it was panfish. The occassional crappie popped up here and there. The stream ran low in a lot of places. It's mouth wasn't always deep enough for fish to flow easily to and from the lake. It got really hot during the summer too. Some years, it would go through radical changes based on flooding or drought. That creek took it hard from Mother Nature. And I used to get so pissed off at that stream. I even used to question my fly fishing abilities.

I did fish other streams and lakes and did good from time to time. But I never regularly caught bass. One of my fallacies was that I would pull out the small rod and bream flies because I can always land panfish.

So, this year, I found a good stream. One with a healthy population of bass and not too many sunfish. One that did get affected by the drought but not enough to hurt the fish too much. I found that I do have skills to land bass regularly. I also found out that it is an ongoing learning experience.

This reminds me of why I started this blog. It is to help those who are beginning to fly fish. It's meant to try and put things in a tone as to place fly fishing into something folks can relate to instead of looking at it as something from a movie or perhaps a complicated sport.

In a way, I think that warm water fly fishing can help to provide someone with an easy beginning . . . i.e., fishing for bluegills on top. Anyone who can bend his elbow can cast a fly rod.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Learning the riffles. Educated by smallmouth and rain

I have been fly fishing consistently for about 13 years . . . involved with it for 23 years. I began learning on the lakes of Kamloops, British Columbia. I took tying lessons at a local high school in the evenings and learned how to cast in a hockey rink.

2 decades later and I'm still learning about how to land fish. I have never landed a bass as large as a Kamloops trout but I love smallmouth bass even more. And their awesome fighting cousin the bluegill.

Every year, I bounce around on different streams, lakes and ponds. This year, I hit the same location on the same stream for 10 weeks in a row. One key thing I learned was how important a swift current is for bass fishing on a stream.

I really stumbled on to a good stream. At least a portion that folks don't fish much. I had some success on this stream but things took off after it rained heavily one day. Remember, we had a drought this summer. So, maybe this stream is still not it's usual flow. Obviously, there are other factors to smallmouth fishing but I never was successful at it.

I began fishing this stream after a long day of raining. Well, about a week later. I had a lot of success at first but things have dwindled as the stream has dropped and the riffled slowed. I found a new location with fast running riffles into and through a small pool. It was a pretty successful day. I went out again yesterday, about a week later. The water level had dropped again along with the water temps. Fishing was lousy again.

I tried fishing other spots on the stream without any success. To me, it had to be the water temperatures, the lack of water flow and that it is becoming late fall.

I should have picked up on it. Seeing as how folks would hit streams after it rained. I'm sure there are folks who are good smallmouth fishers throughout the year no matter what.

This was the most successful year I have had catching smallmouth bass, red eye bass, spotted bass and shadow bass. I sure hope that next year this stream will yield the same numbers.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

S'more smallmouth and bass.

Water temps have been steadily dropping. I really didn't figure the smallmouth were going to hit anything on top. Saturday morning it was 41 degrees but it warmed up quickly. Water temps are hovering in the early to mid 50's. I've been using my 9 ft. 8 wgt. for a while now and decided to take out the 7"6' 3 wgt. and try for some panfish. The fish were active for a few hours in the late afternoon. I tied on a Bett's popper and hit the stream running.

I drifted the riffles and let the popper drift a few seconds before stripping the line a bit. I slapped the popping bug on the surface to attract immediate attention. I landed about 10 bass in some swift currents. I did also find a deep hole with a lot of large panfish too.

More specifically, I was casting into the riffles and letting it drift into a pool where the water was still running swiftly. I would pop it once and a bass would hit it or miss it. If the bass missed the fly, it would hit it again - the cork body fly was busted and was drifting a bit under the surface.

I rarely fish in October for smallmouth but I want to figure them out. I have been on those bass like a white on rice. Best year ever.

My father was looking at my Facebook uploads. I guess he wasn't too enthused with a lot of my fish pics. I think he was expecting to find a lot of big bucketmouths. He fishes stocked ponds for largemouth bass. I fish mainly for smallmouth bass. I told him that small to medium streams usually have a lot of small to medium bass with some large ones here and there. It's the big streams that hold good numbers of smallmouth bass.

I'm happy landing 1 pounders and less all day. I enjoy going outside and wading the stream, looking at nature, etc. Mostly, it is the challenge of finding these little buggers. I have fished a lot of new water this year and have been successful. I have gone out fishing for smallmouth 10 out of the last 11 weeks and have landed a good number of bass. Have they been juicy bronzeback smallies?? Well, here and there but I sure have enjoyed topwater action this year.