If there is one thing I have learned in quite a few years of fishing it is the value of being flexible and versatile in my approach. This week we made our annual trip up to Erie for our warm water extravaganza. I had sight fishing for carp on my mind and chasing smallies off of drop offs and weed beds in my dreams. Unfortunately, the water wasn’t very warm and after being pelted by rain and wind for three solid days, neither were we. As if that wasn’t enough of a challenge from old mother nature, she decided to throw in water that looked like black coffee (the moment your fly entered the water it literally disappeared) and a a shad kill that deposited thousands of dead rotting shad all over the bay.
So CW, Ray (CW’s dad), and I did what any self respecting fly fisher would do… we beat water till we figured out ways to make it happen. I can attest to this because after blind casting an 8 and 9 wt rod a few thousand times I may need to invest in a new shoulder! All kidding aside though, It made for some really challenging and interesting fishing.
By all accounts the smallies just were not in quite yet (not in large numbers anyhow) but we did manage to pick off a few here and there. For me the venerable black wooly bugger was my go to fly with dark skies and dark water.
CW seemed to have some good luck with brown sculpins as well but the action was far from prolific as we had to work pretty darn hard for our fish.
The above picture was a 2 hour window that saw the only blue sky or sun of the entire trip. The other major frustration was that I lugged all of my camera gear up with me intending to shoot a bunch with my digital SLR but the weather kept it in the car… thank goodness for my beloved iPhone! So outside of trout and steelhead, Ray is more of a conventional gear guy and he took us to town on the first day and a half throwing plugs and picking off fish much faster than we were as he covered twice as much water in half the amount of time. Not only did he pick up some really nice bass but landed the only pike of the trip as well.
Mr Bucketmouth is always welcome a the end of my fly line. I can’t even tell you how many trips this fish has saved from a major skunking. It seems when nothing else is cooperating you can always get a few hungry bass to chase. This particular fish was so hungry that after eating the bugger it attempted to swallow a very very small fly fisher along with it.
I have seen a few fish kills in my life but I have to say, this was truly one of the biggest I have seen. The smell at times was unbearable and it was rather unsightly to boot. The shad would be swimming in brain dead circles on top of the water until they died and then they would belly up till they washed up on shore…. It looked a bit like this….
I am not sure if they intend to attempt a clean up or if decomposition will just have to take it’s course? If it is the latter it will make for one really stinky spring season on the bay.
One of the cooler experiences I had was on the last day. Ray had taken off for home and CW and I tried to figure out a strategy to finish out the afternoon. We found a bay that had a bit of shelter to it so we gave it a go. We ran into a few other fly fishers in the lot and all seemed to have the same idea. Luckily there was plenty of water for everyone to spread out and do their thing.
After fishing through some decent weather, a major (I do mean major) front moved in. The thunder could be heard rolling across the bay like it was in your own head. As the front moved through I managed to capture this moment as the skies turned black.
We decided to do what any well read, college educated, fly fishers would do… we stood out in a raging thunder storm in an open bay waving long graphite sticks in the air. After calling CW out for being a woos for not posting a few weeks ago I have to say he did redeem himself. We fished hard and fought the good fight but most importantly had a tremendously cool time doing so. There was something very cathartic about fishing the storm. It was like it washed away a layer of crap that life heaps on you and leaves you almost fresh again. Was it smart? Not so much. Would I do it again? Yep
My rewards were multiple. Any time I give a talk I always tell folks that carp fishing is a sight fishing game and that if I have to blind cast for them I will fish for another species. I still stand by that but after seeing the 30plus pound carp washed up on shore I couldn’t resist. I couldn’t see individual fish but I knew they were working out in front of me by the occasional leap and the muted muds through the stained water. I put a sculpin on my intermediate line and started dredging it ever so slowly fan casting across the flat. My line came tight and it was on. She didn’t put on a blazing run but bull dogged me back and forth for a while before I could back up and bring her to shore.
Fishing out the storm was a blast and hanging with CW and getting a chance to reconnect was the icing on the cake. I would be remiss if I didn’t throw a major shout out to Mrs. Brownliner. She doesn’t read this blog (doesn’t get the whole fishing thing) but while I chased fish, drank good beer, and yukked it up with my buddy, she was at home chasing two 19 month old kids around and covering for me.
If you haven’t got together with your fishing buddy in a while, take the time out to do so. Plan a trip! Even if it is just for a day. Go somewhere cool and have a story to tell when you get home!
Good Luck and Tight Lines
It’s not often that I get to bust CW’s balls because more often than not the sneaky bastard out fishes me. So we had made plans to meet up on the creek for a few hours on Sunday morning while the kids were at school. I drop them off and am on my way when I get this….
I was totally chomping at the bit to get on the water so I didn’t care if there was an ice storm going on, I was getting out there. It was 37 degrees and the water clarity wasn’t great but I could make out the outlines of some fish from an elevated position. Not too long after this exchange it continued something like this…
And of course like most fish, this one has a story. If you read the last post you know that I started tying up some of they hybrid flies that John and Trevor pioneered. I liked them but had in our typically very murky water it was super hard to see the fly compared to the high viz orange blood dot’s we typically throw so I decided to tinker. (don’t I always) The result I thought was pretty cool which is basically a hybrid with a high viz head so it was easier to see a take. I tied it in a couple of different versions to play with.
The first version I replaced the hackle with a bright orange puglisi dubbing brush. It sank a bit slower so I don’t recommend this for faster water. The second I tied traditionally but dubbed the head with some fire orange dubbing. It sank faster but you could see both pretty well.
I had cast to the lead and largest fish in the shoal but she passed it up. Truthfully I did not see her sister following behind make the take and before I knew it, my line came tight and it was game on. I was perched up on a ledge above the creek and had to work my way down stream to get in the water. As I was making my way down, she took off up stream. I looked down and I was already in my backing. As I jumped down into the cold creek waters, I started recovering line and something didn’t feel right. The familiar head shake had stopped and my line had no give in it. I was hung up. My heart sank as my first good fish of the season was gone. I began trudging upstream to to retrieve my fly. I could see the rock it was wrapped around and as I approached I saw my leader with a full turn around the rock and the carp still attached. I gave the line and upstream flip and the fight was on again.
By the time we pulled into an eddy to exchange pleasantries I was grinning at my good fortune.
Is there a lesson here? Hell I don’t know… It’s never too cold and never give up on a fish! So here endith the lesson…
Good Luck and Tight Lines!
Has anyone got a look at this yet? Definitely looks worth checking out!
So I typically don’t pimp much on this blog for much of anything… to be honest, it’s just not my style. With that in mind, if you are a carp fan, you have to go give a vote for the slab of the year over on http://www.moldychum.com/home-old/2013/1/16/vote-now-for-2012-slab-of-the-year.html
John Montana of www.carponthefly.blogspot.com fame landed this slob… I mean slab of a carp and he is competing with all of the “high brow” contestants so go and give him a vote and let’s win one for the brown liners! Carp addicts of the world UNITE!
Damn…. I can’t believe how long it as been since I posted. I am truly sorry but life has had a funny way of getting in the way of my fun lately. So where were we? I have quite a few things on my mind today so this will be a bit of mish mash all thrown together… consider it like fly fishing chili… a little of this, a little of that in one tasty bowl.
So I have managed to hit the creek a few times but sadly the conditions have just been down right crappy for sight fishing so carping was pretty much out. On the other hand, the smallie fishing has been somewhere in between steady and prolific. A few weeks back CW brought about 20 to hand in a couple hours with some very nice sized chunkers by creek standards. One of the things I love about our local creek is that is is such a pot luck fishery. We were swinging and stripping streamers and mostly expecting the smallmouth bite to be on. CW had an early morning walleye surprise.
Not to be outdone, I ended up with a drum that just about ripped the rod out of my unprepared hands as I was swinging a streamer through a shallow run.
So other than a few trips down our local creek, life has been crazy but good! I started a new job that entails some travel again and I have managed to make the most of my evenings on the road.
A few weeks ago I was in Michigan and managed to fish both the Grand and the Muskegon. I had the pleasure of spending an evening on the Muskegon courtesy of the good folks over at Mystic Fly Rods. (more on that later) Fish were rising and we had a bunch of fun fishing dries to rising browns and bows. Sadly it was too early for the salmon to be in yet but that didn’t stop me from giving it a good college try.
The next evening, I fished the Grand River around Grand Rapids for kings and summer run steelies. Unfortunately for me I was early but some ever cooperative smallies made what would have been a fishless day slightly better. As I was fishing the riffles in town my swung fly came to a dead stop and we were hooked up. As I was attempting to clear my line, my slack got looped around my reel handle and before I could say fudge monkey it was over. All I was left with was this cruel reminder to never fish for kings with a streamer tied on a light gauge bass hook. (note to self made)
So back to Mystic Fly Rods. So most of you who know me are painfully aware that I have made sure that this blog does not turn into an advertising forum for the highest bidder. I have not monetized the blog and I do not intend to. I don’t work for any fly fishing companies and have no financial commitments that obligate me to say anything about anyone.
Having said that, if you are looking for an extremely well made fly rod, that casts beautifully, and won’t cost you a mortgage payment, you MUST check out Mystic. They are an American designed and made product that is not your typical value slot rod company. The M series is a sweet stick with a fast or med-fast action depending on the model. I have thrown their 5 wt for trout and their 8 wt for chrome and both feel fantastic in the hand.
One of the more interesting things about the rod is the length. They come in 9’3″ and 10″3″ in the rods I used and I don’t know if it was the taper or the extra 3″ but I loved them both. This of course beckons the age old question as to whether size matters and does an extra 3″ actually make a difference. I was not in a good position to answer so I did what any good journalist would do and called in an “expert”. So I called…. No, not Lefty Kreh…. Not one of the Rajeff brothers… Nope, I called my wife (who by the way has never picked up a fly rod in her life) and she assured me with her best spousal grin that a rod can be too long or too short depending on the water you are fishing but in most cases an extra 3″ can make all the difference. In any case, you can check them out at www.mysticoutdoors.com.
Hopefully it will not be this long before my next post as I am heading out this Saturday with the good folks from www.internationalanglers.com to learn how to spey cast! It has always bothered me that I had not learned so this is my golden opportunity to change that. In the mean time….
Good Luck, Tight Lines, and don’t worry about those extra 3″!
Last week was a banner day on my home creek. I guess all the stars must have aligned correctly because I was one fish away from a sweep… What is a sweep you ask? A sweep is much like a grand slam on steroids. The creek I am talking about has the following species on a pretty reliable basis:
- Channel Cat
If you wanted to stretch the species list there is the odd largemouth, wayward trout, and a variety of suckers and not to be forgotten the rumor of musky although I have yet to see one.
I’m not sure what got into the water (other than untreated sewage) but everything was eating this day! Carp? Check… brought six of them to hand which was a personal one day record for me.
None of them were giants but this nine pounder gave a very solid accounting of itself and even smiled for the camera.
The bonus of the day was my very first ever leather carp which for some reason we just don’t see very many of around my local waters. Stop snickering John Montana…. I know… it looks like a carp only smaller! Now being that I don’t see these very often, I am assuming it is a leather by it’s scale pattern. If I am mistaken and this is a mirror (which we also don’t see many of) please correct me!
So as the carping slowed a bit, I switched gears and hooked a few smallies as I worked my way upstream.
I was pitching a rabbit strip against a retaining wall when my line came tight and much to my surprise was my first Sauger of the year in only about two feet of water. I must admit, as much as I love their markings, they tend to put up about the same fight as Paula Jones gave Tonya Harding in their celebrity boxing match. Pffft.
After a bit of a lull in the action I came on a deeper pool and the sight fishing was off so I started swinging a fly through this pool hoping for a few more bass when once again much to my surprise a drum chased down my fly and put a smile on my face.
A few minutes later as I was trying to untangle my fly line from my waders, I felt a tug on my line and thank you very much for playing….. I think the fly was almost as big as he was but that sure didn’t stop him from impaling himself on the hook.
So for those of you who are keeping score at home, this left me one catfish short of the sweep. A slightly more desperate man would have rubbed his fly in chicken liver and had a go but not this man. I just marched my ass home feeling greedy for even being disappointed. The fish gods smiled on my this day but made sure I went home just humble enough to come back to try again. Despite dodging diapers, water heaters, and various other forms of human waste, I consider myself a very lucky man to have a fishery 5 minutes from my house that can produce this in a day…. by the way…. saw one other fisherman all day. Big smiles
So I am not completely unaware that I wade in some questionable water…. to the point where the glue that holds the soles on my Korkers has now de-laminated twice. The funk that comes off of my waders and off of my fly line when I wash it is well…. nasty. How nasty?????
So nasty that it ate an entire car and only left one tire…..
Yes… yes… I can’t explain it either but that is in fact a hot water heater.
I don’t know what happened to this guy… but all that was left of him was a boot. If only I wore my prescription polarized sunglasses I would have noticed the fine print.
The following is not suitable for children under the age of 17. I can’t promise that your mind will ever be the same so view at your own risk…..
Now I don’t know about you but that is one crazy ass bug eyed albino genetic freak of a catfish and it is seriously making me reconsider this whole brown lining thing! Damn…. every time I look at it the thing just freaks me out!!! CW caught this bad boy swimming in a pool and he said it practically glowed nuclear. Somehow I don’t doubt him for a minute. Long live the Chernobyl Catfish! Screw it…. we are all going to hell in a hand basket any how. How bad could some untreated sewage water hurt anyhow?
Well if Saturday belonged to CW, Sunday belonged to me. We only had a half day to fish today so we left the boats racked up on the fishmobile and hoofed it. Our first stop was an area that we knew to hold some large pike and musky as well as a healthy carp population. The aforementioned were not very cooperative but the carp most definitely were. My first hook up took off screaming across the cove and took me into my backing twice before I brought her to the beach. She was not quite the 20lb slob that CW landed yesterday, but she was my largest to date and a healthy double digit fish (did not have the scale with me… sorry)
Hook up number two turned out to be quite the epic. Once again… two trips into the backing…. then the fish ran right at me…. then back again. For a rather pedestrian sized carp she had some serious shoulders on her. CW had positioned himself in the water and was trying to get some good footage of the battle …
About a nanosecond after this picture was taken, I hear a very loud “SNAP” and the tension in my hands disappeared as I found myself holding 1/4 of a fly rod. It had literally snapped clean at the ferrule between the butt and second section. I dove to the ground picking up the remaining portion of the fly rod and began stripping in line… She was still on!!!! I managed to beach the stubborn fish and sat there on my knees in disbelief. Despite being down one rather expensive fly rod, this ranked up there as one of the coolest fly fishing moments ever for me.
I made my way back up to the fishmobile to grab my second rod (Yes… Mrs. Brownliner…. this is why I needed all of those fly rods!) but by the time I got back the bite was off. I did manage to throw to a few true 30 plus lb fish but they would not eat. I would love to tell you I was a bit disappointed but that just sounds flat out greedy. So CW and I headed back over to the other side of the bay for one last attempt at a bowfin and some more bassing.
I only managed to find one bowfin and it had no interest whatsoever in my fly. After migrating back to some flats we finished out the trip pitching clousers for bass and the fish gods smiled on me once again. I went through a stretch where every other cast was attached to a football shaped bronzeback.
In 2 days, we caught:
- largemouth bass
- smallmouth bass
- rock bass
- yellow perch
It was truly the perfect end to an amazing trip. The truth is that we could have been skunked and still had a great time on the water laughing like two teenagers. CW’s main squeeze (“The Meghanator”) made sure to tell him to enjoy his “bromance” before he left for the weekend. Don’t worry hon…. after smelling his waders in the car I kept my distance.
All in all, great fishing, great time, great friends. What could be better?