Tag Archives: fly fishing

Not Quite What I Wanted

It’s not quite what I wanted, but at least it’s a fish.

The desire to fish the Fox River in the early months of the year disappeared a few years ago.

Now I wait till the conditions are right to fish the creeks that feed the Fox.

A few years ago, by mid March, conditions were perfect with an unusually warm March and the fish cooperated accordingly.

Not so lucky the last couple of years.

Got out today to do some creek hopping. Chose to hold off on baptizing the new waders yet, conditions aren’t right to be combing long stretches of creek. The weather has been a little colder than normal, so I opted to hit a few key spots from shore.

Wound up hitting three spots on two creeks. Both creeks are crystal clear and perfect depth.

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I think that’s a creek chub that I caught, but there’s something out of the ordinary about it, so I may be forced to look it up, some day.

This was nine miles up a creek. I didn’t expect to see anything moving in the water this early and this far up from the river, but minnows were in a few of the deeper pools and the gut on what I caught shows that it’s feeding on them. Plus, it hit the usual small twister tail I use, so that’s a good give away.

The next creek was more of the same. Clear, but only here there were no signs of life in the water. Walking the shore was made easier by the lack of growth. Normally the grass in this stretch is well over waist high and will be in a few weeks. At least now I could see all the ruts in the ground instead of taking a back breaking, bone jarring hike.

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Where the two creeks come together there were more minnows in the slightly deeper pools. With a warmup coming this week, next week may be a good time to baptize the waders and take this all a little more seriously.

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It was nice to see that after nearly 5 months of no fishing, I haven’t lost my casting touch. Forty to fifty foot casts were made with little effort. This called into question whether or not I will bother using a fly rod this spring. Over the winter I looked at a lot of other blogs and all the pictures they put up. The bulk of them are all fly fishing centric. I came to understand why so many fly fish. There was virtually nothing along the shores except rock or grasses. Trees were almost always far back from the shore. There was nothing hanging out over the water.

This is a far cry from the creeks I fish. Trees and high brush line the shores. The arching trees create a cathedral effect over the water with some nearly touching the surface of the water. Today I was standing in and under canopies of leafless trees on the shore. I had just enough room to flick the lure out over the water. The light gear and light lures I use are no different than a 5-6 weight fly rod and clousers. There was simply no way I could have done the same thing with a fly rod. Moving out into the water is not always a better option. Still no room for back casts and going too far over head is a recipe for disaster.

The efficiency expert in me won’t allow me to waste time and expend energy to make a simple cast for the sole purpose of catching a fish. In my eyes, they’re all just tools and the tool lends nothing to the experience of being out, enjoying the surroundings, fishing small water and catching fish. If you have nothing between your ears that will allow you to enjoy the experience of fishing and all that it entails, using an inefficient and clumsy tool isn’t going to fix that for you.

I think I just made a decision about how much I’ll be fly fishing this spring.

Well, anyway..

I’m enjoying taking these shots of light on shallow running water. I may have to play around with this some more. Maybe try a movie, add the sound of water over rock.

If I can find that damn feature in the camera menu somewhere.

Ready To Go

Spent a couple of hours this morning going through all the fishing junk and getting it ready to go.

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Hardest part was finding all of the fly fishing parts. It’s been at least two years since I used any of it and I came up short one fly reel. Was looking forward to putting that one to use since I’ve had it for around 15 years and only used it twice.

It’s in a box somewhere. Or a drawer. Or it’s now a cat toy and in a dark corner of the basement somewhere. It will probably show up the next time I move.

Oiled up the spinning reels and immediately put the heavier one away. Didn’t use it at all last year and unless I destroy the lighter one, I don’t see using it this year. I prefer fishing relatively light using light line and small lures. It’s always worked for me, see no reason to attempt anything else.

I do have quite a few flies.

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Notice the pattern in the next shot? Go crayfish or minnows for smallies or go home.

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Some just stashed in your typical Plano boxes and that took a bit of sorting. I think I came up with the beginning of a lovely selection.

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Yes, I plan on tying on those plastics and using them. Not much of a stickler for tradition or getting any real satisfaction out of catching a fish on something I tied. I’d just as soon buy them.

Like the helgies, from Orvis, they’re killer.

Some of them I think are hand me downs from my friend Bob Long, Jr.

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Others seem to appear out of nowhere. I know guys that tie flies. I admire them. They give me a few.

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For some reason at the end of last year I came up with the idea to use a fly rod this spring. Dumb logic tells me I can do just as well with a fly rod as I do with my spinning gear. Over a decade ago I proved to myself that I can walk into the Fox or Apple River and do as well as I do with light spinning gear and little lures.

I should have never mentioned this idea in public. Now I feel committed.

We’ll see how it goes. The first time I get into one of my usual tight casting situations on a creek I know I’ll give up.

The car is all cleaned out and organized. I put away the wispy wand and two fly rods are in the trunk. Spinning gear in the car. Lures and flies all ready to go. New waders in the trunk waiting to be baptized.

Now I wait.

Did some scouting today. I probably could have got in the river for a couple of hours, but I think I would have been lucky to catch one fish. And that would have been on spinning gear.

I don’t like that time to fish ratio.

One more week if this weather keeps up.

Maybe two.

I’ll know when I go down to the river or to a creek and smell fish.

Then it will be time.

Don’t Tell Anyone

Shhhh. Don’t tell anyone.

I have three fly rods.

I have a nice selection of flies.

I know how to fly fish.

Now and then I’ll go use these tools and skills.

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Even on those sluggish pond bass.

And the occasional little bluegill.

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I’ve been thinking about using nothing but fly rods on the creeks this spring just to see what happens.

Of course, I’ll have to lie about it.

If I do well, nobody will believe me if I tell them I’m fly fishing.

Other fly fishermen only seem to appreciate struggle and missed opportunity.

So, keep this to yourself.

If word gets around, it will ruin my reputation.

Fall River Fly Rod River Test

The plan is to fish the Fall River Fly Rod every day through next Wednesday. I might miss a day, maybe tomorrow. The wife is off work, the weather is fine and I like to hang out with her after work when she’s around.

The plan was to also leave updates every day of the fishing. I think that will fall apart during the week, no time. At least not if I fish till sunset every day like planned.

I do have to sleep now and then. Eat something maybe.

When I’m done playing with this rod I’ll be doing more of an official review, maybe two. For now, I may as well put up something since I have a bit of time.

Got out this morning at sunrise even though I knew I should have waited.

We had torrential down pours on Saturday that kicked the river up from a low of 250 cfs to 1100 cfs in a couple of hours. It then plummeted almost as quickly and was down to 500 when I walked out the door this morning.

Past experience tells me to give it 24 hours when the river does something like that. It seems to confuse the hell out of the fish and they need time for the river to stabilize a bit.

The other factor working against me was using a fly rod. The Fox River is not a fly rod and flies friendly river. Normal summer clarity is barely six inches, most of the time even less. North from where I fished today the Fox is primarily an urban river. There are 8 dams up stream that have stagnant pools that are prone to algae blooms. This all gives the Fox a color similar to that of pea soup during a hot summer, which we’ve had. If what you’re throwing in the water doesn’t make itself known in some way, it will be missed. A fly tends not to cut it.

One last factor working against me, I never use a fly rod on the river itself. I’ve used them in the clear creeks that feed the river, but I only recall using one on the river itself once in 16 years and that was a good dozen years ago.

I did catch smallies that day, so there’s always hope.

The skies had cleared the temperatures had dropped and there was even a bit of a chill in the air as I headed for a starting point.

The rod performed and behaved flawlessly, but the fish didn’t cooperate much. I was expecting double digit numbers, but only managed to land seven smallies. I didn’t bother tracking the missed hits. There were quite a few.

Again I was surprised at how much easier it is for me to use and control this rod compared to the other three fly rods I own. Something about the bamboo, the slowness pointed out by others, suits me fine. It handles these smaller fast running smallies just fine too. I’m hoping at least one outing will get me one in the 16 inch range. See what kind of backbone this rod really has.

When I was bored I kept letting out more line and making longer and longer casts. I have to be getting it out there a good 60 feet. I may have to make a measurement just out of curiosity. There’s no need for casts that long when fishing for smallies, but it’s nice to be able to do it anyway.

Then the wind picked up, right in my face, and the casts went to hell quickly. Try as I may I couldn’t figure out how to get the line and fly to cut through the wind. Something else to practice.

At least it wasn’t a skunking out there this morning.

Next up is a clear water creek, a clear small river and a crystal clear pond.

It will be interesting to see how this goes.

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The Outdoor Blogger Network teamed up with Fall River Rods, Montana Fly Company and RIO Products this spring to put together a rig consisting of an 8ft, 2-piece, 5wt “South Fork” bamboo rod, Madison reel, and double taper, floating line to be fished by 15 far-flung anglers over the course of the season. One of those 15 anglers will own the rod, reel, and line when all is said and done, along with an accompanying journal in which all 15 anglers will record their thoughts and experiences during their time with the rod. With a first season like that, the story of this brand new rod is off to a very good start.

Fly Tying and Fishing Show

I’ve been remiss in mentioning this and it’s coming up this weekend, Saturday, January 21, 2012 from 9 A.M to 4:30 P.M.

The Illinois Smallmouth Alliance is putting on a Fly Tying and Fishing Show to be held at:

St. Charles Borromeo Church
Holy Family School
145 E. Grand Ave.
Bensenville, IL 60106

Click on this for a map of the location.

If you’re into fly fishing and fly tying and you don’t have the budget to skip town to Colorado, Montana, Patagonia or New Zealand, it might be worth checking this out. Their handout says that it will have a Midwest focus.

I found an announcement for the show on the Northern Illinois Fly Tyers website, so click on their name to take you to the announcement.

I’ve noticed a growing interest in fly fishing our local waters and there are some names on the show list that would make it worth stopping by.

My friend Bob Long, Jr. will be there and it’s well worth your time to strike up a conversation with him.

A couple of guides I’ve been paying attention to, Dustan Harley and Austin Adduci, will be on hand.

There will also be daylong fly tying demonstrations. Two tyers mentioned that I know are Rich McElligott and Bob Davenport. Rich ties some flies that I find especially intriguing and Bob was a long time employee of the former One More Cast Fly Shop, whose reputation around here under the ownership of Joseph Meyer speaks for itself.

It’s not mentioned anywhere, but I believe this whole event was organized by John Loebach of the ISA. Would be worth your while to track him down at the show and strike up a conversation about fly fishing our local rivers.

Admission to the event is $10 and kids under 10 are free.