Sunday, January 14, 2018

Trip Report: Fishin' With Cody

Our friend Cody made the trip out from Montana for a few days. We decided to go for a little drive and cast a line in a cold stream today. Temps were stupid cold but it felt good to get out of the house and the valley with fished was heavenly.
I don't think there's a better place on earth. We arrived on stream around 1pm and fished until 230pm. Snow began to fall before too long and ice covered much of the stream. The open areas looked good for fishin' but catchin' was slow.
 We fished upstream using orange scud and pink squirrel of prey nymphs. We spotted no fish rising and very few scattered upon our approaches. The water was clear but the clouds helped conceal or efforts.
Cody struck out and I landed three little guys. We each had a few missed hook sets which is to be expected this time of year. It looks like temperatures over the next week should warm and fishing will improve throughout the week. We'll probably see some some good midge hatches next weekend!

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Trip Report: Cold Water Trout

After weeks and weeks of tying flies and working on rods I made myself free to fish this weekend! I hoped yesterday would have been a little warmer but by noon, at 8 degrees, I went for it. I chose to hit a short easement on the headwaters of a popular local stream. Expecting to find the stream low and clear it ran at a good volume and with a heavier stain. I fished from 1230-330pm and landed a half dozen or so. I didn't take any pictures and kept the fish in the water to avoid exposing them to the bitter cold which would likely damage their gills.
Today a friend and I hit a local hot spot that is usually free of ice even during the coldest periods. The stream was ice free but this stream also had a heavy stain. We fished a little ways and I landed one 12 incher. As we fished up the stain became chocolate milk. We called an audible and headed to a spot with smaller fish but cleaner flows.
This is the key to finding open water and willing trout. It's striking to find healthy greenery in the midst of a frozen landscape. We found fish stacked in areas dense with springs. Most were on the bottom and in deeper pools but I took a few fish from faster and shallow runs.
 The cloudy skies and slight stain on this usually crystal clear water concealed our prowl. This guy and many of his friends took a size 16 orange scud. Others ate a size 14 pink squirrel of prey. For a rod I used a Whitewater Valley 7' 6" three weight. Check out Whitewater Valley Flies for the flies and rod I used today!
One of only two brookies, he was the lone fish to eat a size 20 rusty mayfly nymph. Despite temperatures reaching the low 30's the wind left today feeling much colder than yesterday. 
 Conditions weren't too bad for winter fishing today. Temperatures are on the upswing and fishing should improve throughout the week as long as the area doesn't see any rain or sunny days with temps above the mid 30's. If snow begins to melt into streams water temperatures will drop and fish will become more lethargic. I'm not sure why the streams we checked out today had such a stain to them. We saw no bovine activity and it couldn't have been run off. If anyone has any thoughts let me know!

Sunday, December 10, 2017

New Rod Build

This was a fun one. A 13' 6" nine weight spey rod.
 I did a lot of experimenting on this one and didn't fuss too much over the epoxy finish. The only thing I'd have done differently would be to do be more stingy on the amount of epoxy applied to the thread wraps.
I've never seen the sliding band and hood recession on the reel seat thread wrapped and epoxied so I thought I'd give it a shot. It turned out decent. I also learned a new decorative wrapping called the "olive branch". These techniques will be featured on future rods and as well as some new ones (I hope). While perusing rods online for inspiration I found a few rods using the spiral technique. I like how that turned out too! I also tried to write a signature on the rod. It worked OK but my hand writing isn't very good. In the future I'll be trying some other methods.
 It's not easy to photograph such a long fly rod, especially since the light I use burned out. I learned a lot building this rod and can't wait till the next one! I may build myself a 7 weight switch rod soon:)

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Trip Report: The Old Hunt 'n Fish

Yesterday, today, and tomorrow I planned to hunt-fish-hunt from sun up to sun down! Yesterday worked out well and although I didn't get a deer the fishing was great. I woke up to 20-30 mph winds and temps in the 20's so I decided to sleep in and spend the late morning and early afternoon raiding some deer beds I found yesterday. I only sat for a little while but with gusts hitting 50 mph I decided to hunt for only 2 hours.
This rock on the left acted as my perch yesterday and today. I had a great view the trough pictured above and a steep ravine that funneled deer through about 30 feet below me! It should be a good spot, there was evidence of deer activity everywhere.
I arrived at the parking area and immediately found a familiar face! My buddy Eric was suiting up and after some brief preparation we headed to a hole near a bridge. We strong armed casts into stiff winds and immediately tied into some trout. Eric used a fly rod I built him a few years ago and some flies he tied. I used my 3wt and a combination of my flies and a fly tied by Eric's girlfriend. We call it the Pink Panther. Although the wd40 started off strong the Pink Panther earned the distinction of fly of the day.
This was the most colorful fish of the day. Eric landed at least two dozen fish and I brought around the same amount to hand. Even though the winds were strong and the deer were hiding it turned out to be a great day for fishin'! Stay tuned, I hope to do the same tomorrow but hopefully with better hunting than fishing.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Trip Report: Small Flies, Big Fish

s This bridge is very photogenic. Two kids stood on the bridge just like my brother and I would have done growing up, spying for trout from above.
I arrived on stream at 10am with air temps near 30 and cloudy skies. I headed to a few spots in the park today and found cooperative fish at every stop. Fish ate the gray zebra midge, disco midge, quill body midge emerger, and matt's midge dry. Fish were most interested in size 22 and 24 flies but I managed a few on up to size 16's.
This rosy cheeked rainbow took a gray zebra midge bounced along the bottom under an indicator. I've found that in some of the more heavily pressured areas of the parks it's best to use small flies and light tippets. It is important to make sure your fly is very close to the bottom as such heavily pressured fish will often only bite if the fly comes within five or six inches of its face. Having a drag free drift matters as well, although giving the fly a few twitches at the right time often elicits a strike too.
 This handsome rainbow trout was the only fish landed on a dry fly. He took a sz 20 matt's midge dead drifted perfectly through the foam line. I tricked four fish into hitting but only landed the one.
This stout little guy came from an unassuming lie and put up a great fight. He took a size 24 quill bodied midge emerger tied on a light emerger hook. I had to nurse him to be sure the light hook didn't straighten out.
 Fish came to hand pretty consistently throughout the late morning and early afternoon. There was never any really consistent surface activity but fish remained happy to take flies subsurface.
This silvery bugger took a purple size 22 disco midge. A hole lot more fish came to hand including a few little brown trout. In case anyone wonders the reel seat and grip on this fly rod measures 10.75". I estimate that the biggest fish caught today may have hit 15 or 16". It was nice to get out again since I'll be hunting, working, and doin' family stuff over the next few weekends.

All flies used today were tied by me and are available at Whitewater Valley Flies. I fished with a 7' 9" three weight fly rod that I build. Those are also available @wwvalleyflies.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Trip Report: Cold Cold Cold

I had today off work because I was going to head to the Milwaukee area to see some family. I still plan to go but decided to wait until Sunday. With a day off work and no real plans I considered staying home to tie flies, then I thought better!
I arrived on stream around 1030am and headed to a quiet little run that always produces a fish or two. It yielded two little brown trout. Because I was fishing a State Park I decided to look around for where rainbow trout have been stocked. It didn't take long before I found 'em!
 Initially they came on a size 16 tungsten beaded WD40. After a while I tied on a Matt's Midge dry fly dropper in a size 20 and that took quite a few fish. The dry fly dropper is pulled under by the lead fly and gives the trout something a little different to look at which can be a game changer when fishing heavily pressured waters like our state parks.
This was the big fish of the day. I'd guess he measures around 15 inches. After fishing one spot for a few hours and landing a dozen and a half fish I moved to another area where they sometimes stock and sure enough!
This was the most colorful rainbow of the day! At this point I had switched over to a gray size 16 zebra midge with a tungsten bead. I could see a ton of fish through my polarized lenses and almost every dead drift caught fish for the first half hour of fishing at this second spot. Some of these fish looked pretty darn big too! 
With a cold wind blowing all day my hands were really cold. As I type this my fingers still feel a little clumsy. When I got too lazy to tie on 5x tippet the fish took notice and my catch rate slowed. I did lose a good number of flies due to light tippet and saturated fly line. 
 By about 345pm I decided to call it a day. Now I remember how much it sucks to have my fly rod guides ice up every three or four casts! It never got above 30 degrees today but the fish didn't seem to mind. I didn't try to catch any on the surface but a few fish did rise throughout the day. I notice no bugs in the air.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Trip Report: State Park Rainbows

I've been healing from a cold and today I felt great! The problem is that Friday evening I lost my voice. I was scheduled to work but being unable to talk I would be unable to fulfill my duties. This morning I felt great, minus the voice issue, so I laced up my boots and headed to the nearest State Park. Armed with size 16 WD40's tied with a tungsten bead and size 20 Matt's Midge dry flies I arrived on stream shortly after 10am.
First cast!
Second cast! Action slowed down a little after these two, but remained consistent for an hour or so. I could hear gunshots in the distance and although I love deer hunting there was no place I'd rather be this morning.
 Action really slowed after an hour, but then this guy sucked down the WD40 and put up a great fight on the 3wt.
I'm not sure if these fish were stocked a while ago or if they came from a different area of the hatchery than most. Most of their fins didn't have the characteristic gnarled edges that newly stocked fish have. They could also be holdovers (stocked months ago) but this area sees so much pressure I doubt they were stocked less than a month or two ago. After puttin' a hurt on the rainbows I hopped into the car and headed downstream in search for rising brown trout. I found 'em and landed a few on the Matt's Midge. I ended the day around 1pm with at least two dozen fish to hand, about half rainbows and half browns. The browns were all 8-12 inches and the rainbows between 12-16.