12.30.2010

Once in a Blue Moon

Better pop yourself some popcorn and set aside 40 minutes of your day because this is a good one. Be sure to make this one full screen and enjoy.



Just another mouthwatering look at New Zealand. Have I ever mentioned I really would like to go there someday? One thing in the video did dampen my enthusiasm just a bit for the whole New Zealand thing though. BIG eels...{shudder}. However I still think I am up for the task.

12.26.2010

One Fish, Two Fish...

...Brown Fish...
...RAINBOW!


My last outing on the river was another quicky.  I spied two fish feeding less than 5 feet apart in a tiny current seam and figured there was no way I could pull both out of there.  Once I hooked one it's fight was sure to spook the other, but I went to work on the downstream fish just on the off chance it would not bolt upstream and spook that fish if I hooked it.  It took about 5 minutes of casting over this fish before I got everything right and it picked my tiny transitional midge out of the buffet line of naturals floating through the seam.  As it took the fly and I put pressure on it the fish just happened to turn and bolt straight downstream practically swimming straight into my net.  The fight lasted all of 5 seconds, if that.  It was a very nice 20" brown.

As I revived that fish and watched it swim away I stole a glance up to the seam, and sure enough that other fish was still feeding away as if nothing had happened.  This one only took two casts.  As soon as the hook dug into the fish's lip it took me on a ride.  This fish had 10 times the fight of the previous one, but I couldn't really tell if it was actually that big, or if it just was feeling spunky.  It bolted downstream spooking a pod of three feeding fish below me, then headed upstream threatening to wrap my tippet around an exposed boulder.  Finally it settled into a pocket behind a large rock and slugged it out.  As I brought the fish in close I saw why this fish had so much more fight than the previous fish.  It wasn't larger, not by a long shot, but it was one of the few rainbows that inhabit this stream.  And there is no comparison in how they fight.  The browns in this river are sluggish and slow.  Especially the large ones.  The rainbows, apparently are not.  It was only the second rainbow I have ever landed on this river this year, and I have fished here quite a bit.

I was quite happy with the days results as I watched the 15" football shaped bow slide from my net back into the lazy current.

12.23.2010

Focal Fish

Here is a new favorite blog to keep an eye on.  It combines two of my favorite things.  Great photography, and fly fishing.  Just one post everyday, with no words.  Simply a picture which as they say, is worth a thousand words.  Good stuff from some talented photographers.  Take a look.

12.19.2010

The Midge Wins Again

I really like those winter time dry fly opportunities.  The hatches are sparse, and short lived but when you have the right fly at the right time it is very rewarding.

12.15.2010

Been Tying PMD Sparkle Duns

Anyone else been stocking up their flybox?  It is that time of year.


12.07.2010

December Dry Fly Fishing

I have a little streak going.  Last February I told myself I wanted to try and catch a fish on a dry fly in every month over the next year.  So far I have been on track.  February through November I logged fish on a dry.  December is when things can get a little more tempermental.  The weather is frigid, the fish are conserving energy, and the hatches are sparse.  I had scouted the river last week though and found a spot with fish rising to midges in the middle of the day. 

So today I decided last minute to take bit of a break and see if I could be so lucky again and try casting over these fish to see if I could add December to the dry fly streak.  Driving up the canyon it was cold and foggy.  Not the bright sunny day I had seen last week.  It turns out I still found a pod of rising fish a little lower down on the river this time.  I quickly rigged up and headed down to the water. 

I tied on a #22 Harrops Transitional Midge pattern, my favorite midge dry fly, and made my first cast into a foam line that I had seen a couple rises in.  Sure enough as the fly slipped right down the sweet spot in the tail end of the drift a snout rose and engulfed it.  I set the hook and felt the hard tug of a nice fish for a couple seconds when the small hook pulled free.  Although disappointed I was still happy to know that this fly was acceptable to the sporadically feeding fish here in the run. 

I moved up the run and made several fruitless casts to areas where fish were rising.  Finally I had another short hook up with a fish on the outside edge of the run.  Zero for two on takes was not good, and wouldn't keep the streak alive.  As my frozen toes and the hands on my wrist watch told me it was time to head out and get back to the office, I notice a very subtle feed up in the choppy nervous water higher in the riffles.  One more cast I decided.  It was almost impossible to spot my fly in the choppy water and the feeds here really blended in with the broken surface.  As I followed the area I figured my fly to be I saw an ever so subtle swirl that did not appear to match the rest of the current.  I brought the rod tip up and immediately felt the solid tug of a hungry brown trout.  As quickly as possible I brought the writhing fish to the net and the smile on my face widened.  She was not the prettiest fish in the river, a 17 inch spawned out snakey female, but despite her lack of girth she was full of spunk and very healthy.  I watched her dart away and mentally checked the December box in my head. 

I love fishing those heavy summer hatches, but there is something very rewarding about catching a trout on a dry fly in December. 

12.03.2010

Winter rises


Have you ever taken a trip to your favorite river, left your fly rod at home on purpose, and just spent some time observing what goes on there?  It is a good exercise and one I do a couple times a year at least.  When I am on the river fishing there are definite lessons to be learned but still much can be missed when the focus is turned to the desired result of catching fish rather than on the process that brought that fish to the surface to begin with.  Taking time to truly focus on simply watching what goes on during a hatch is a learning experience that can pay dividends on future trips.


Today I felt the itch to get out and do a little poking around up the canyon.  It has been a couple months since I have taken a real fishing trip out here to the river I hit 2-3 times a week during the summer months.  The river that I last fished with the summer sun beating down on it, and with grasshoppers overtaking the surrounding willows has changed quite a bit.  A stretch of cold weather and a real good snow storm meant the slow stretches were covered in ice and the surrounding landscape was covered in a fresh white cloak.  The river is beautiful, but it no longer is teaming with insect life and visible signs of fish in the river are far less abundant.  The hoppers have long ago been killed off but there is a bug that hatches this time of year that will still bring these fish to the top.  The midge.

As I drove the long winding road along the icy river today though I saw no tell tale rings on the glassy waters surface that would indicate fish were taking advantage of this winter time snack.  Finally at one of my favorite holes to fish in the early mornings up here in the summer I spotted the first rise ring of the day.  I hopped out of the truck with my camera and went about doing a little recon.
There are at least 6 rise forms visible in this picture (Click the picture to Enlarge) as soon after I arrive at this hole the water started rolling with rising fish

Then I spotted this nice fish feeding in the foam that was pushed up into the near bank.
 This fish was fun to watch and I spent most of my time on him.  It was a very nice trout, probably one of the rivers many 20 inchers.  He was feeding in a 10 foot circle that stretched from the near rock you can see out to the submerged rock you can see just beyond him in the above picture.  Several times the big fish had to chase out other trout that happened to wander into his little area.  You could tell that this fish owned this spot and had the bulk and seniority to hold it. 

The big trout rose to pluck bugs from the surface quite a bit, but spent most of it's time darting back and forth feeding subsurface on the drifting midge pupa attempting to reach the surface.


This and the next picture were in sequence.  He is rising here...

...after a subtle rise he slips back beneath the surface.

This picture shows the big fish feeding on the far right while you can see the rise ring in the upper left hand corner of another fish.  The bigger fish would protect the area stretching from the submerged rock right in front of the snow capped rock on the shore out to the submerged rock you can see just to the right of the rise ring of the smaller fish.  If that fish ever got any closer than the rise in this picture the big daddy was over there to chase it out.

Another angle of the bigger fish rising with the rise ring of the smaller fish about as close to it as the king would let it get to his area.  The rises of the big fish always were much more subtle and disturbed the water far less than his smaller competitor who seemed to always leave a very large ring on the waters surface.

So it was fun to just sit and observe today.  Now I look forward to returning with the tools to put some steel in the corner of that big fish's jaw.

12.02.2010

Heads or Tails

These takes get the blood flowing.  It's a big part of what fly fishing is all about for me.  That moment where a big fish you have spotted, and stalked rises to your offering.  A quiet rush. 

heads or tails from Todd Moen Creative on Vimeo.

11.02.2010

Fishing Trout in a Desert Oasis

There is a little trickle of water that cuts through a steep rocky canyon not far from where I work that I never had considered fishing until I was hiking around out there a few weeks ago.  As I hopped from rock to rock across the creek in one spot  I was surprised to see a nice little trout take off in water that was not even deep enough to cover his back.  So today I headed back up this trail to see if any of those little guys would eat an artificial fly.

I kept things simple.  A couple Sparkle Duns in a small plastic box, tucked into my shirt pocket, and my 3 weight fly rod.  I made my way up the quarter mile trail to a nice little waterfall of about 30-40 feet (just a guess).  It's a pretty little spot and the fact that trout do in fact live in these waters is amazing to me.  Trout are very sensitive to high water temps and this creek runs out of some of the hottest high desert in the state.  The summer sun gets to be blistering here but the steep canyon walls and overhanging rocks and brush shade this little stream just enough to keep the temps within a livable range for the native Columbia Basin Redband Trout that swim here. 

As I arrived at the biggest and deepest pool right below the waterfall I could see several splashes from aggressively feeding fish.  I tossed the small fly in and almost immediately it was engulfed by a hungry little trout.  I continued to catch several small trout, the biggest ran in the 6-7 inch range.  Still they actually could put a nice little bend in my light weight rod.  These would not be considered trophy's in their size, but they are fish to be admired none the less.


 I was having fun, catching a fish on nearly every cast when I decided to try and land the fly as close to the base of the cliff to the right of the water fall as I could.  The rocks there looked a bit undercut by the current and I wondered if there was maybe a chance of a little larger fish lying in wait back in a shelter little nook.  The fly landed perfectly and as it drifted just an inch off the edge of the rock face it was suddenly sucked down.  I set the hook on what was probably a monster fish for this little water.  The fish ended up going a full 10 inches in length, indeed a trophy in this little desert trickle.  With a blazing red stripe down it's side that expanded to cover it's entire head the colors on this fish were amazing even to this colorblind fisherman. 

So I learned again that when fishing it's not always about chasing 20 inch hawgs.  There is something to be said for keeping things simple.  Fishing small waters for small fish that have adapted to live in conditions that would prove hostile to some of their very near cousins.  One has to pause and admire these fish, no matter what their size.

10.31.2010

Down by the Lake



 
A Duck Takes Flight
The kids throwing some leaves around
 




10.21.2010

A Morning Hike in the Desert

I have not been fishing in a while due to the local river's browns being in the midst of their spawn.  So in lieu of disturbing the Browns, busy creating the next generation, I decided this morning to take a hike in the desert near my office.  I took the camera and snapped a few hasty shots.  Lighting wasn't perfect this morning but it was nice to just get out and burn some calories and try and get back into the photography mode.

First off I ran into this guy on the trail up.  Kind of a freaky looking and very large insect that I found out later appears to be a Jerusalem Cricket.

The big Orb making it's appearance, and in the upper left corner an early morning flight probably filled with business travelers heads east.

Looking out over the valley from the top of the trail.  Out there somewhere is my office.
Another look at the Valley.
 

10.03.2010

Fishing Journal - Week 31

September 29

First cast back from vacation
 
Love the early morning sun bouncing off the hills and reflecting on the river.



September 30
Another fish eating hoppers before it was light enough to really even see the hopper

Here is Old Snaggle Tooth again. 
 
Mahogany Spinner

10.01.2010

Tom This One's For You

My brother Tom thought the last video I posted of guys fishing tarpon out of a float tube was crazy. I warned him he hadn't seen the half of it yet.

Now is your fair warning on the language. They understandably get pretty excited when they hook the fish. The video quality is not exactly professional, but you will get the idea. Now THIS is taking it to the next level.

9.30.2010

Another Repeat Customer

This one was not hard to recognize.  I'm calling him Snaggle Tooth, and he's a rough looking fellow. 

September 3rd, caught on a Hopper Juan, 300 yards up river from where I fished today:


 
Then this morning I caught him again on the same fly pattern...while I was wearing the same sweatshirt.

9.15.2010

Fishing Journal - Week 30


September 13
Only two fish today but one was a very nice one.
23" fish on one of the first casts of the morning



September 15
Another great morning but the hoppers are fading fast.  I don't expect them to be effective much longer but I milked it another day despite a prolific trico hatch which I ignored this morning.  Caught four fish, and they were all on the bigger side.
Trico


First fish of the morning.  A nice fat 20 incher.
The last fish of the morning.