Monday, November 25, 2013

Tying Mike Schmidt's Double Deceiver - warm water fly fishing smallmouth bass.

My father showed me some of Brian Wise's articulated fly tying videos last fall.  I then met a few local guys on Instagram that were tying those flies for brown trout and doing well using the Sex Dungeon and Double Deceiver.  This past winter, I tied up a bunch of artiulcated patterns using Brian's videos but didn't fare so well on warm water species.  My Instagram buddies did pretty darn good with the Double Deceiver.  However, I stuck with the Shucker.  I went out last week and what would be deemed a horrible outing.  Luckily, a decent sized spotted bass inhaled my fly on the last cast of the day.  That Shucker pattern has caught me bass on every outing that I have used it - NO MATTER WHAT . . . that and I know where to throw it and some of those places not being great but do hold bass.

A link to Mike Schmidt's Double Deceiver by Brian Wise -

This year was the absolute best year for me in terms of size and amount of smallmouth bass landed.  Unfortunately, several locations I fish are not really welcoming to fisherman anymore.  I had to find new water and did pretty good with my Shucker.  Which is why I never really spent much time casting articulated flies.  I decided to tie the Double Deceiver.  I haven't gotten around to all of Brian Wise's flies but I have seen all of the videos.  I'm just being practical right now and will tie certain patterns when the time calls for it.  A lot of folks do know of these videos and there are a lot of people that don't have that privilege.  Which is why I am spreading the news.

If anybody is chasing trout, tightlines.  I've got someone building a nice 3 wgt. for me.  Hoping to land a few trout next month.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Protecting Mussels - The Importance and Decline of Mussels.

Earlier in November, the Arkansas Legislative Council Asked Attorney Dustin McDaniel to intervene in the federal government's proposed designation of critical habitat in Arkansas for two mussels with dwindling populations.  There is worry that dwindling populations of the Neosho mucket and rabbitsfoot mussels would have a potentially devastating impact.

It has been proposed to place both mussels under the Endangered Species Act. The critical-habitat designation would cover 2,138 river miles in 12 states, including 800 miles in Arkansas.  Public comment has been opened.  A coalition of groups seeks to reduce the proposed habitat designation in almost half.  The Arkansas Legislative Council recognizes that it would be potentially devastating economically on private, public landowners, farmers, ranchers, timber producers, oil and gas producers, utility providers, county and municipal governments, school districts, irrigation districts and countless small businesses.

A resolution was passed to urge congressional delegation to press the US fish and Wildlife Services to petition the US office of Management and Budget to use a cumulative economic analyses of the critical-habitat designation.  And, to reduce the proposed habitat area.  The legislative council questioned the economic impact on the state.  So, here we are again . . . "man vs. wild".  I appreciate the effort of the federal government to protect this vital species and the state legislation to protect the people and state.  I hope that the state and federal bureaucracy can come to some maximum level of protection for the endangered Neosho mucket and rabbitfoot mussels.

Importance of Mussels
Mussels play a key role in aquatic environments and are considered to be "ecosystem engineers" because they modify aquatic habitat, making it more suitable for themselves and other organisms.
One of the valuable functions performed by mussels is capturing organic matter from the water column when they siphon, processing it to build body and shell, excreting nutrients that are immediately available to plant life and then depositing the remaining organic material to the sediment making it available for other invertebrates and fish to consume. During this feeding process, the mussels "clean" the water they live in by removing phytoplankton and the bacteria and fungi that are attached to the non living organic particles they have removed from the water column. Other undesirable particles and chemicals are bound in the mussels' pseudo feces and deposited on the river bottom.
The mussel's shells provide an important substrate for algae and insect larvae to attach to. When mussels are present in large numbers, they may become underwater gardens that in turn attract fish to feed, including their host fish. Because mussels firmly anchor themselves to the lake or stream bed, they may actually stabilize the lake or stream bottom, thus minimizing the scouring affects of floods and wave action.
Mussels are also an important food source for several different kinds of terrestrial and aquatic animals, including muskrats and raccoons, as well several species of fish. 1

Decline of Mussels
Humans have been impacting the environment
of North America for thousands of years, with
the greatest changes having occurred since
Europeans began colonizing the continent,
especially during the last 100 years. Prior to
European colonization, native agrarian cultures
changed the terrestrial habitat by clearing and
burning forested areas to plant domesticated
crops. The clearing and burning of land
probably changed local aquatic environments
Freshwater mussel shell with button blanks
"punched" out.
through siltation and increased carbon ingress,
with minimal impact on the native fauna.

Indigenous cultures utilized many of the aquatic
natural resources, including freshwater mussels.
They used the shells, meat, and pearls of
freshwater mussels for food, ornaments,
currency, tools, and as a temper in pottery.
However, there is no evidence that any
freshwater mussel species went extinct due to
Native Americans. This is supported by the fact
that many aboriginal middens (refuse piles)
contained shells of species that were still extant
in the early 1900’s, when biologists began
intensively studying freshwater mussels.
However, there is one species believed to have
gone extinct before or about the time
Europeans arrived, since it has only been found
as dead, empty shells. Even though specimens
were found in aboriginal middens, it had
occurred in a stream basin that was impacted by
early settlers which could have caused its

As North America was settled, major cities and
towns were established along rivers and larger
streams at crossings or ports. As these cities
grew larger, the amount of municipal and
industrial wastes released into adjacent streams
increased and caused local declines of
freshwater mussels. As land was cleared and
tilled, the amount of sediment entering the
waterways increased at levels above that of the
Native American farmers.

For the next 60 years, large dam and channel
modification projects were completed
throughout the southeastern U.S. and other
parts of the country. Many large rivers and
small and medium-sized rivers were converted
into a series of lakes, converting river habitat
into lake habitat. Since most freshwater
mussels are/were riverine species, this had a
detrimental effect on many mussel populations.
The last major channelization/canal project was
completed on the Tombigbee River in 1984, the
most unpolluted, longest free-flowing river in
the Mobile Basin at the time, and one of the
most diverse stream systems in North America.
The extinction of mussels probably began 
around 1930, and has been documented as late 
as the 1990’s. However, this is not where 
extinctions will end. Many populations 
occurred in peripheral habitat that may have 
been unsuitable for self-sustaining populations, 
but were refreshed by fish coming into these 
peripheral habitats containing glochidia from 
larger source populations. The glochidia would 
drop off within these peripheral habitats, and 
thus sustain these populations. However, since 
the habitat for the larger source populations has 
been lost or changed into unsuitable habitat, and 
populations have become fragmented, many 
former peripheral populations are beginning to 
disappear. This process continues and where it 
stops, nobody knows. As it now stands, 36 
freshwater mussel species went extinct in the 
20th Century. 
Much of the information contained in this article 
was gleaned from Dr. Wendell Haag’s chapter 
on the extinction of freshwater mussels since 
the Holocene, as found in the book Holocene 
Extinctions (Oxford Press). 

1 Wickline, M 2013 'McDaniel asked to tackle mussels, Arkansas Democrat Gazette
  16 November, pp B1, B2.'

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Giveaway! Fly Fishing for Smallmouth Bass - Harry Murray

I'm giving away a copy of Fly Fishing for Smallmouth Bass by Harry Murry which I found at a used bookstore.  A few pages are crinkled and some will curl when opened but nothing torn, stained, etc.  It's in pretty good shape.  I am picking 3 winners who will "Share" or "Like" (new members) Panfish on the Fly @ Facebook.  While first place wins the book, those placing in second and third will receive some foam flies and balsa popper bodies.

If you haven't read this book by Harry Murray, it's pretty comprehensive . . . illustrations even provided by Dave Whitlock and jacket photograph is by Lefty Kreh.  So, you know Harry has clout in the fly fishing world.

You will find chapters on: Casting, Smallmouth Diet, Reading a river, tactics, streamers, nymphing, tying and more.  There are illustrations on how to rig your line and even constructing a mini-sinking head.  Among other helpful hints and tips, a chart is provided listing Smallmouth Bass Leaders, i.e, diameter, length, strenght, Leaders for Low, Normal, and Sinking lines.  Harry Murray has even provided information about smallmouth bass in lakes.

See ya'!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Bass Bully - Fly Fishing for Bass- Warm water flyfishing. Smallmouth bass - Largemouth bass pattern

I am fired up about Wilson's Bass Bully (Terry and Roxanne Wilson of the famed bluegill book).  It excites me to share this fly pattern with the blogosphere.  I found this fly while looking for a video on tying instructions for the Double Deceiver.  I lost all my internet bookmarks - not even saved on my Google profile.  The Shucker is a pattern that I use consisently.  The Bass Bully is similar looking and I do think has the same presentation but with livelier colors.

A great small and largemouth bass fly from Terry Wilson. Reminiscent of the old bait casters “pig and jig”, hop this along the bottom by pointing the rod tip toward the fly with no slack, lift, remove slack and repeat. According to Terry, that's the best way to fish it. In rust, chartreuse, black. 
Sizes: 1, 4. - Orvis

Yup, this warm water fly pattern can be bought at Orvis.  I have heard of this pattern but haven't paid much attention to it.  You can find it on the ol' interweb fairly easily.

Hook  TMC 8089
Size     10 or 12
Thread 6/0 Uni-Thread or equlivent
Color to match the pattern
Tail     Zonker StipColor of your choice
Body  Ice Chenille or Estaz Color to match tail
Gills    Small or medium Chenille Red
Legs   Sili-legs Color to match tail
Eyes   Lead Barbell - Red extra small
Head  Sculpin wool Color to match tail

In this video of Terry tying the bass bully, he says that a 20+ inch smallmouth he caught on a black bass bully is on the cover of his and Roxanne's smallmouth book which is shown on the screen about 2:30.

I have not see nor heard of this title.  Well, perhaps at the local fly shop but passed the smallmouth titles up because I thought highly of myself, lol.  However, I will be keeping an eye out for it at the local bookshops.  I found some other cheap used fly fishing books that I will be posting about soon.

This pattern calls for sculpin wool and on the video, Terry used lamb's wool.  I couldn't find any at Hobby Lobby or Cabela's so I used egg yarn.  I made a long fiber dubbing which I wound around the eyes.  I then perked it up with my bodkin - no trimming.

I tied up 3 Bass Bullies this afternoon - chartreuse, black and olive.  I have a feeling these flies will be successful.  Next week, the forecast is for warmer weather and I may hit up a private pond - one that left me skunked twice this year . . . but has some fatties in it.

Friday, November 8, 2013

50 Best Tailwaters to Fly Fish - Authorized Book Review

I just deleted 3 paragraphs about the negative experiences my friends and I had fly fishing tailwaters for the first time.  Those being locating lodging, places to dine, etc.  This was the days before the internet.  When you had to ask an employee at the local bookstore to order a fly fishing book you saw in American Angler or such other publications.  Word of mouth was the way to go when locating a hotel, a certain spot on a river, or how the heck to get there and even where to park without getting a ticket.

Gazetteers were even a bit hard to locate.  I remember when Walmart started carrying them.  You would usually have to locate a local fishing map of the tailwaters at convenience stores, local fly shops and bait shops.  Around my area, there just weren't any fly shops around Beaver Dam - the Dam Store as what you need and you can get information there too.  But even around the Norfork of the White River, there was I think one fly shop (when I moved to AR back in 1990).

I'll tell you this much, I could've used a book such as 50 Best Tailwaters by Terry and Wendy Gunn.  I would say that it is "spot on" when it comes to the description of services located near the tailwaters - at least in my neck of the woods.  Let's face it, we all can use a book like this one.  Why is that?  Well, I wrote several paragraphs of trips my friends and I made to tailwaters here in the Ozarks.  In reality, it's exciting to me - probably not to you.  There are books out there such as "50 Places to Fly Fish Before You Die", "Why I Fly Fish", "Angling Baja - One man's fly fishing journey through the surf.".  These are titles that either provide descriptions of why you should fly fish here or there.  Titles such as these describe experiences.  Those of which were perhaps, life changing.  I could bore you with the details of the outings I've had on tailwaters but it would bore you.  Reading these books could be fulfilling but if only for a little while.  You've got to get out there and make your own life changing events.

Why do I do into such detail about tailwaters?  We want to maximize the opportunity we have to enjoy those events in life that make us who we are or those experiences that can change us.  "Tailwaters are the salvation of fly fishing for trout . . . " - Lefty Kreh  "Tailwaters have changed the way we live our lives, as well as the way we fly fish.  Our experiences catching a dozen trout in December would be out of the question if not for the experience of tailwaters." - Terry Gunn

50 Best Tailwaters by Terry and Wendy Gunn . . . . The first book to look at the very best tailwater fisheries across the U.S. and Canada, from Terry & Wendy Gunn - fly-fishing icons, and owners and operators of Lees Ferry Anglers, on the Colorado River below Glen Canyon Dam. Each chapter is written by an expert outfitter or guide for their featured tailwater chapter, including contributions from such seminal figures in the sport as Pat Dorsey, Craig Mathews, Mike Lawson, Tim Linehan, and others. Detailed GIS maps accompany each tailwater, and suggestions for gear, lodging, dining, and more are highlighted. Seasonal hatch charts are included where appropriate, and over 200 four-color location photographs appear throughout.

I like to keep things simple.  Complicating plans or trying to pack too many things into a vacation can stress me out.  Therefore, my wife and I will purchase Frommer's Travel Guides.  Such as for San Francisco, San Antonio, Austin, Vancouver, etc.  My wife has been to Europe, South America, island hopping in the Caribbean, Sweden . . . on and on . . .  I've learned from the best (the wife) about organizing for a trip.  Books provide a quick reference - an informative reference.  Especially, when information is provided by those that live and work in the area and on the tailwaters.

In comparison to those other tailwaters books that I've read, this is the most comprehensive.  The layout of each region and chapter is very user friendly.  Nothing wedged into the midde of the book.  No handcrafted maps and drawings.  Straight forward information. You are going to be getting a lot of information for each tailwater by those boots have been wading in these streams a long time - local experts who are contributing authors.  Just some of the information found will be, "where to, how to, what flies, best times of year, tips", etc.

Here is the book video promo.

The tailwaters are divided into regions.  I'm proud to say that at least 3 of the tailwaters in Arkansas are listed!  Many other streams such as Lees Ferry, Big Gunpowder Falls, and the Hiwasse River are listed.  Not only will you will find color photos of the streams, and a few fish but also of the contributing authors - those folks who guide and fish on the streams.  Maps provide locations of parking, campgrounds, boat ramps, RV parking, fly shops, wading points, bank access and roads.  From steelhead fishing, chasing a few trout to landing a few smallmouth in-between - regulations, hatches, tactics, tackle, and rigging tips will be provided for each tailwater.  Where was this book when I needed it?  I've had to figure things out the hard way.

"Tailwater trout fishing is a very important component in the North America fly fishing scene. Just looking back at my best fishing this summer, all my destinations were tailwaters; the Beaverhead in Montana, the Taylor in Colorado, the West Branch of the Delaware in New York and the Deschutes River in Oregon. Terry and Wendy Gunn have now cataloged the best tailwaters with appropriate information that will enhance every reader’s fly fishing experience. 50 Best Tailwaters to Fly Fish may never leave my tackle bag." -  Brian O’Keefe, Cofounder, Catch magazine

Reading blogs is exciting but you need to use this book and go make your own life changing events.  Go make a bucket list.  This book helps to simplify the process.  Take the stress out of planning while you can do most of your research at home.  Use this book to take the stress out of wondering if you are doing things to right way or if you have the proper flies to match the hatch.  Prior to the trip, you will know which rods and lines to pack.  Why not tie your own custom patterns with those slight variations you know will land you the big boy.  Take some of that "worry" out of your trip.  When I spend time to travel a long ways to relax on the tailwaters, the one thing that drives me crazy the most is wading out into the stream and feel like I'm slugging it out with the fish - or wishing I knew the waters a lot better.  After all, when you plan that amazing trip, why not do it while utilizing the information given to you by reliable sources . . . fellow fly fishers who know what it takes to put the feeling of satisfaction and confidence into an proper outing on those amazing tailwaters.

Terry and Wendy Gunn

As of 11/8/13, the book is not yet available in print and can be back ordered.

Stonefly Press -

50 Best Tailwaters to Fly Fish -

My thanks to Stonefly Press for approaching me about the opportunity to do a book review.  My first - if you don't count that warmwater book I'm always raving about, lol.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Buffalo National River - possible contamination issue.

*wikipedia photo

I have made a post or two about the hog farm approved by the state within the Buffalo National River watershed.  Recently, 2 members of the international group Waterkeeper Alliance said that hog farms in NC sullied rivers.  This March, Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality approved a permit for a Cargill hog farm (C&H Farms) to place a industrial scale farm near a tributary (Big Creek) of the Buffalo River.

ADEQ's permit approval was met with an uproar across the state.  Especially, northwest and northcentral Arkansas.  Fayetteville and other local communities within the watershed of the Buffalo National River held forums and meetings with ADEQ and other state folks demanding a repeal of the permit and to give feedback about the negative aspects on how this hog farm could and probably will affect the state.

October 31st, Rick Dove and Larry Baldwin spoke at the Buffalo River Watershed Alliance in Little Rock.  They mentioned that hog farms located within watersheds had damaged rivers, fish and tourism in North Carolina.  Untreated animal waste used as fertilizer has eventually runoff into the streams and rivers of eastern North Carolina.

The Buffalo River Watershed Alliance opposes C&H Hog Farms operating near Mt.Judea, AR.  They are also in party to two lawsuits against the Farm Services Agency and the Small Business Administration.  Unbelievably, the farm has been approved for 2,500 sows and 4,000 piglets.  I love my bacon but not when it affects the state and it's people and the environment.  The farm, which has contracts with local farms can spread hog waste as fertilizer on 630 acres.

KARST - what is karst??  Landscape formed from the dissolution of soluble rocks including limestone, dolomite and gypsum. It is characterized by sinkholes, caves, and underground drainage systems. Nearly all surface karst features are formed by internal drainage, subsidence, and collapse triggered by the development of underlying caves (Palmer, 1991). Rainwater becomes acidic as it comes in contact with carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and the soil. As it drains into fractures in the rock, the water begins to dissolve away the rock creating a network of passages. Over time, water flowing through the network continues to erode and enlarge the passages; this allows the plumbing system to transport increasingly larger amounts of water (Gunn, 2004). This process of dissolution leads to the development of the caves, sinkholes, springs, and sinking streams typical of a karst landscape.

*University of Texas at Austin

Karst allows water to easily run through cracks in the ground.  Hog waste will be able to filter through the ground and seep into waterways.  This can lead to algae growth and possible large fish kills.

C&H Hog Farms received the first National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit but I don't think it's going to change the fact that animal waste will be spread as fertilizer.  I'll keep you guys more abreast with knowledge of the affects of the hog farm, those that oppose the river and those that use the Buffalo river for recereation.

A certain publisher asked me to do a review of a soon to be released title.  Hopefully, I can get it done before the book is released.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Mayan Cichlid - Panfish on the Fly.

This Mayan Cichlid was caught by Rick Ortiz on a TFO Clouser rod - posted at Panfish on the Fly.  I love the feel of the Clouser rod.  Yes, I have held several but for some reason am stuck throwing flies on my GLoomis.  One day, she will be mine.  The cichlid is also one of my favorite warm water specie of fish.  I have never caught one.  I absolutely love it when others post photos of cichlids.  I have thrown a few flies out on the Gaudalupe but never landed a cichlid. is a page I set up to promote fly fishing for panfish and warm water fly fishing.  However, it seems that I am stuck chasing smallmouth bass on one or two fly patterns.  I am hoping to get back into the panfish next season.  Several of my usual spots which are usually filled with bass and panfish have become filled with gravel or brush and cover swept away due to heavy flooding this year. I spent a lot of time scouting new places much of which does hold rock bass.  Another 2 locations filled with goggleye and warmouth are now inaccessible.

Most of my blog traffic are folks who enjoy fly fishing for panfish . . . not smallmouth.  The more I post about smallmouth, the less traffic my blogs receives.  I posted a page about foam flies for bass and panfish a few months ago which has become one of my most viewed posts.  Then I began posting about smallmouth again and blog traffic died.

Those smallmouth bass have led me astray!  So, back to tying panfish flies during the winter months!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Time for Fall Smallmouth Bass on the Fly.

I know this isn't the best way to handle a smallmouth bass.  I'll be the first one to tell you that but it was also released quickly.  Somebody made a statement about my grip and I was quick to say that it's not like the other photos I see.  It seems that folks will tire out a bass so that they can place the fish on a paddle, on the bank with their rod or somehow grip it with one hand as it hangs limp.  

Obviously, this is a better hold.  A few folks were upset that I even defended that at the least I don't tire the bass out and place it for a photo opportunity . . . but it was catch-and-release.  I am doing my best to hold it properly and when I took the first photo,  I figured it was resting on the back of my hand.  Quit a few folks don't really care or perhaps just a little bit.  I care.  I do.  I want that bass to continue to grow and help provide off-spring. 

 I can appreciate the smallmouth.  Year after year, my accesses are shut down.  Year after year, more and more developments come and cause improper run-off and pollution issues on my smallmouth streams.  I understand that folks just don't care if there are fish or the state of the habitat or environment.  I've seen a stream's quality go downhill and an organization created to preserve it by creating awareness.  And with that same stream - the knowledge that it is there and was once a popular recreational stream and that there were publications printed about it . . . and that it isn't just a river where affluent flows from several streams.

I know that it is my - heck, all of our responsibility no matter how small to help preserve what we can - even if it is griping a fish properly so that it is released unharmed for a prosperous future.  

That being said . . . I am still chasing smallies and they already seem to be holding tight and deep.  We've had some colder nights which temps ranging from 35-45 degrees and daytime temps about 60-70.  Fishing on my stream is slowing down.  I am fishing deep and slow.  The smaller bass are hitting the fly on the drift in swift riffles running about 1-3 feet deep.  I am catching smallmouth and spotted bass in deep still pools at the edge or riffles with a heavy fly that is stripped VERY slowly.  On Friday, I took about 20 rock bass around structure.  They were pretty slow too.  Bass and panfish were slashing or soft-striking my flies.  Recent rains with some regularity have brought dirty water since August which still runs swifter than the norm and at a high level which has prevented me from getting to certain locations.  I actually had to put on my waders to stay warm which is the first time since maybe March or April.

The rock bass love that Shucker pattern.  If I had a nickle for every one of those panfish . . .  

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

(Been out several times lately - note pics).

For me it was a leap.  A big jump.  A dedication would have to be made.  I never just did anything "part-time".  My father went all out in everything he did - moose hunting, coaching, fishing.  He made me a part of those things.  In one way or another.  He tried to teach me a lot.  He read up on things or learned from seasoned vets.  I tagged along and either got along with his friends or got chewed out for "not doing it right".

The move from the office to the stream wasn't going to be easy.  I had been sitting behind a desk for quite some time.  I had made earning money my top priority - taking care of the family.  In becoming a desk jockey, I had gained quite a few pounds.  Most of that was while the wife was pregnant.  Or, so that was the excuse.  Previous to that, I had dropped quite a bit of weight.  Comfort in riding the chair and the solace of a proper daily routine - other than travelling several times a year was important to getting through a 10 hour day.

I grew up in a middle class family.  My parents paid for both my sisters' education.  They went away to school while I stayed home to decide what the heck to do with myself.  I paid for my own education.  Working in steel mills, restaurants and other odd jobs, I saved up during each summer.  It took my 7 years to make my mind up and graduate college.

(the first three paragraphs were written a week ago).  I'm just gonna wing the rest of it.  So, in as far as dedication goes, I really like to feel like I am immersed in something.  My father coached football.  I would help out the equipment managers, hold a dummy for someone to block, etc.  I would even be on the sidelines during the games wrangling the wire between the coache's headsets - obviously, pre-wireless.  I played football for 7 years.  I had been involved in football for at least 10 or so years.  I love the "locker room" feel.  An immersion of football.  I didn't always start the game but loved the bus trips, pep rallies, etc.

So - immersion - being a larger part of something . . . wading . . . in the stream and feeling the water flow, the water temperature, rocks in the shoes, hard stream bed, mushy stream bed . . . . wondering if you can wade across or through an area, etc.  I want to be a part of the outdoors.  I grew up living on the edge of the Lac Du Bois Provincial Park or "protected area".  I would step out the back door and there it would be.   had a fort, there were trails, I would take my air rifle, ride my bike . . .  My father and I went hunting and fishing there.

I feel better about the outing that I have when I feel immersed.  When I almost become placed in a trance - yet, aware of those things around me.  It's much more relaxing for me to wade than to take out the boat.  I almost don't care about landing big smallmouth bass and large fish.  I know something will be caught but I have to enjoy myself or it's just not worth going out and getting worked up about catching a lunker and becoming disappointed when it doesn't happen.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Monotonous excitement - smallmouth and panfish fly fishing

I went fishing yesterday.  Yup.  Simple outing.  Again.  On the same water.  Well, technically, it was the same stream but not the same water.  Recent rains and flooding as the likes of which we haven't seen here in ages has changed the stream bed.  The challenge was trying to figure out where the places smallmouth bass had moved into.  Pools which had not been there before provided a swift dirty pool of wonderment and frustration.  The lies situated at the ends of riffles had disappeared and log jams were preventing upstream movement of fish into areas which once had an abundant population.

OK, maybe it wasn't so simple but there I was again, throwing the same fly.  The Shucker, a one time fly swap pattern that sat unused in a fly box for several years before being thrown into the pitching rotation to save my afternoon from "skunky-ness".

Since last fall, I have used this pattern more than any other fly.  It's got legs, it's provides motion and it sinks down in the water column or sinks to the bottom.  Most of the time, I use XL stainless steel eyes for weight.  I really want to throw Double Deceivers but don't want to use sinking line.  So, I stick to ol' faithful here.  I occasionally use purple Crazydads too.  Hoppers have been uneventful this fall.

I really would like to blog about something like tossing DD's at smallies or posting about how fish smashed my foamies.  But I'd rather just keep casting the Shucker because it catches fish.  Along with a ton of rock bass and a good amount of smallmouth which includes the one in the photo, the Shucker didn't fail me yesterday - nor did the five replacements, lol.

In the photo, it seems like I make be stretching the jaw or mouth.  I was criticized yesterday about how I held this smallmouth bass.  Other folks have criticized past photos of how I hold them.  Dave at seems to be holding them just right.  Perhaps, next time, I will attempt the same hold but they seem to wriggle out of my grasp such as the last outing I had when a 18-20 incher squirted from my hold.

What did I do today?  I tied up 5 replacement Shuckers for my next outing.  Am I ever going to tie up Double Deceivers for which I had bought material this spring?  Dunno.  I really wish I could provide more interesting posts for ya'll.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Foam Hoppers - smallmouth and panfish foam flies.

I follow Kevin at Fly Waters Edge. I was hoping to link the instructions to his Diablo Hopper but the site is down.  This is my version. Kevin made a foam skirt with wings that encompasses the abdomen from side to side. I'm not sure about my indicator though. Bryan has a few photos at  I'm sure something will hit it.  I do well on custom hoppers and especially those that are large.

I copied this pattern from an image I saved from some website months ago.  This has legs and I love legs.  I took photos while tying this pattern.  Well, until about half way but I'm planning on posting instructions.

Here's a nice smallmouth bass I caught on a custom pattern.  This was a good one.  The wings didn't stay on though.

Here's another smallie caught on one of my foam hoppers.  A few years ago, I was using the King Kong fly pattern I purchased from  The hook was probably a 4.  I can't be sure but the hook wasn't big enough - or, so I thought.  I think the body was large and mushy and somehow, it interfered with the hook set.  Time after time, I would watch smallmouth bass take the fly down to the bottom and release it.  Perhaps, three sets of elk hair wings are a bit much, I don't know but once I made the foam body larger and got rid of the mushy elk hair, the pigs were gettin' stuck.  I tie my foam flies large and use size 4 or larger hooks.

Once the heat dies down, I'm gonna be throwing some hoppers at smallmouth and panfish.  Can't wait to post a few more pics.

Tight lines.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Still chasing those smallmouth bass.

I received the most awesome decal EVER from "bassbum" on Instagram.  He has a blog too but it's all in Japanese.  I look at the photos and try to comment.  I absolutely love this sticker and immediately placed it on the back of the SUV.  I still have to send his flies out - a few foamies and my Shucker.

I made a trip out to one of my favorite smallmouth bass streams a little over a week ago and did fairly well.  18 smallmouth were landed in 5 hours but that number could've been better.  Not to mention, I lost a 18-20 incher because I had not net and lost my grip as I tried to take a photo.  However, I plodded on and proceeded to watch the bass "suck and spit" or "grab and go" but lose them when I tried to set the hook.  So, I bought sharper hooks!!  Those suckers won't know what to do when that hook eases into their mouths.  I am tying up my Shucker pattern on these hooks.  I may tie up some hoppers too but they just aren't working right now.

Yup, I bought a budget friendly line.  I sold a reel on ebay and forgot to take off the sinking tip line.  Since that line will have to be replaced, I went cheap on the floating line.  I think it will last at least one season.

I forgot about that GLoomis GL3 5 wgt. rod sitting in my closet.  Since the WR3 reel I bought for my 8 wgt. fly rod performed well this spring, I bought a WR2 for the 5 wgt and put the Cortland line on it.  The 5 wgt. is sensitive and does feel close to that of my 4 wgt. but it seems a bit rigid on the cast.  My hand seems to slip to the end of the grip and rubs on the reel.  I don't remember that happening on any rod.  A few more trips out and perhaps, it will begin to feel normal again.  I switched the drag over to the left so that I can easily adjust it when necessary to do so.

This smallmouth bass was not the biggest of the day but I did send it in for the Photo of the Day contest to the local television station.  And it won!  My second to win such a title - and a free travel mug, lol.  A fellow fly fisherman posted a "small" bass that hit his large fly and mentioned that only smaller ones were hitting it.  I mentioned that there is not such thing as a small smallmouth bass and I enjoyed fishing streams and catching them.  He proceeded to comment that we differed on opinion.  However, in his next outing, he mentioned to have caught a number of smaller bass again.  He enjoyed that outing as he was casting his fiberglass rod.  I labeled the caption of my photo "Reflections of the day".  I didn't catch but a few larger bass but that didn't matter to me.

Temperatures have risen and I'm waiting for that moment when it's just right to enjoy the day.  Recent floods have caused gravel to fill a number of places I fish.  Vegetation and cover has been washed away too.  It was a tough outing but I am hoping that somehow, that gravel is pushed back out.  A few of my favorite logs and trees have been washed away over the past few years and those "pigs" have moved on.  It's going to be a fun fall!!

Tight lines.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Shucking Smallmouth Bass.

It was Tuesday when I hit the water for a 5th time in 8 days.  With the wife at home watching the kids, I sneaked out early for some smallmouth bass action on what I figure may be one of my last days out until fall. Hitting some familiar water again, I tied on the Shucker for another day of great bass action.  The bass were doing a lot of soft striking and sucking and spitting.  They were picking the fly up from the side or plucking it off the bottom from the tail. In the riffles, they would just follow my flies in groups.

Trying different patterns such as Matt's LLano Critter, Crazydads, Clousers, and Ariculated Boogiemen, I had to switch back to the olive Shucker.  Perhaps, I don't spend enough time with the other fly patterns.  That Shucker has been my "bread and butter" all year.

I really want to float some smallmouth streams but will only do it with a friend.  None of mine want to do it!  I'm pretty content on wading though.  One of my most reliable spots on this streams was filled in with gravel and the logs washed away.  Pretty sad.  There were some hogs in there.

I do believe 18 smallmouth bass in all had been landed.  Most of the action was in the riffles.  The bite was off about noon.  Most were 10-12 inches with a few larger ones thrown in there and there.  I caught a few large panfish too.  I lost a few good fish but am happy to have had the chance to go out.

This year, I've been taking most of my bass from swift and deep riffles.  In most cases, I'm catching smallmouth off of structure in those riffles or I am casting downstream into the current and stripping the line into the slackwater.  I have tied many large flies but for some reason, the smallies only give chase without chomping down on them.

I am seriously considering an attempt at scaling or filleting these rock bass.  They put a good bend in the 3 and 4 wgt. rods.  This morning, I ordered a 5-6 wgt. Wind River reel from Cabela's.  Earlier this year, I bought the WR3 reel and really like using it on the 8 wgt.  The 5-6 wgt. is just a smaller reel.  I'm looking to put orange line on it.  This reel will match my 5 wgt. GLoomis GL3 rod which I totally forgot was tucked away behind some junk.  If the rod matches well with the weighted flies I throw, I may not need the TFO Clouser or Scott fly rods once considered to be at the top of my NEED list.

As fall approaches, I look to improve and integrate color into my Clousers.  I also need to purchase hooks of better quality and those geared towards bass.  Foe example, the hopper (above) was hit and smashed many times.  I had a couple of bass on but the streamer hook wouldn't hold them long.  I need a larger gap and sharper hook to convert those strikes into catches.  I've also been looking into wading sandals like Korkers, a sling/shoulder bag and a new guide or fishing shirts. Time to update the gear!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Summer smallmouth bass.

While the kids were at camp last week, I made four trips to the smallmouth streams.  Two of my outings were to new water and went very well.  The stream I waded was to a spot that I usually go to but had yet to muster up the gumption of tossing bugs in my favorite location.  I usually work my way into this area but was thrown off my warm-up pattern this spring by an access or two being shut down.  AND, a "friend" taking over my spot every weekend.

Anyways, I figured to hit up the stream one last time before the kids came home from camp.  As usual, I tied on the Shucker and went to town.  The first fish was foul hooked (pictured above).  Funny thing too because after my 13th smallmouth, I hooked myself badly and went home.  What's with the number 13 and bad luck anyways?  Or, was it karma, lol.

Due to several major storms and flooding this spring, the stream I once knew had changed.  Some of the deeper pools had almost filled in with gravel and some logs that once provided cover in a smaller pool had been pushed downstream.  With the spring flush, new and more numerous smallmouth bass arrived and found new homes in some of these streams.

It was nice to see one of favorite location loaded with smallmouth bass which is unlike I've seen in about 4 years.  Last year, the bait fisherman were loading up stringers from a deep pool with a long run and good riffles which holds good amounts of smallmouth bass.  So, my first trip there on Saturday, I was not surprised to find jars of scented bait and trash.  And yet, there they were - sitting at the bottom of the first deep pool.  Large spotted bass and smallies.  However, it wasn't that pool but an even deeper one at the end of this deeper section of the stream.  I guess with all the flooding and flushing, what used to be a four foot deep hole running about 5 feet long was about a foot deeper.  However, the riffles and lies at the end of it were running more shallow.  The smallmouth were hanging out in those lies and at the edge of the pool while swimming intermittently into the clear depths of it.  Oh, how grand it was to stand in the stream and watch from above as those smallmouth would strike my fly and shake and swing back and forth with big tugs.

I know this isn't a big smallmouth but I'm more than happy to land these guys on a beautiful day.  Top water action was at a standstill but I took a bass and panfish.  While I didn't take photos of all my fish, I will say that it was the best outing I had this year.  I did some drifting with the Shucker but I also did some stripping.  Even when the bass would give a soft strike, they would normally hit it again.  They would shoot out about four feet from their cover just to tag it hard.

I have to say that I am truly blessed to live where I do and be able to hit a number of streams and rivers in this part of the country.  Sure, I don't catch big hogs all the time but I am more than happy to be able to land the fish that I do.  Saturday was an absolutely beautiful day and one that makes me want to enjoy God's good earth more.

Here are just a few photos from the other day (3 above).  I only caught 6 smallmouth bass but am more than glad they obliged.

Tight lines!