Saturday, April 30, 2011

Fishin' with Micky

Whenever I fly into Orlando, it seems like I'm going to Disney World. Kids on the plane have their Micky Mouse stuff on and are all excited for their chance to meet Micky. My first trip to Disney as a kid was not very exciting and subsequent trips with my kids bordered on downright boredom.

Never really understood the fascination with Disney World that most children and some adults have. My idea of a great amusement park is Cedar Point or King's Island or any park with great roller coasters. For me, guess it's more about the thrill than the entertainment.

Last week I traveled to Orlando on business and for the first time after of dozens of trips to this city I decided to bring a fly rod. I know there are large bass in the countless ponds and drainage easements that dot the Central Florida region, so I figured it was worth the 20 bucks for a 3 day license for the chance to chase some bass in the morning and evening.

Stuff bought at Orlando Outfitters
Whenever I travel to a new area to fish, I always do some googling to find the local fly fishing resources.  First on the search for Fly Fishing Orlando was Orlando Outfitters. I called, left a message and the owner, Chris Barco called back the next morning with some suggestions. Chris told me to come by the shop and we could look on the maps for a couple of places close to where I was staying.

Like almost all fly shop owners, Chris is one of those guys you need to meet. Full of life and energy, he was working hard when I arrived at his shop getting several clients set up with flies, lines and gear. His help had left for the evening so he asked me if I could wait while he finished lining a couple of reels.  Of course, I can wait and explore his expansive fly shop. The shop is one of the biggest fly shops I've been to. Tons of tying materials, flies, clothing, rods, reels -- everything you would expect in a well stocked shop and more.

When he finished up he took me behind the counter to look at maps of water near my hotel. Just by the google map images, he could tell me which ones would be accessible and ones that might be more difficult to access. We picked a couple of local ponds close to the hotel and one park that had public access to Lake Toho (Lake Tohopekaliga). Chris had some great stories to share about fishing the golf course ponds along with suggestions on how to master these places--more info than I want to share here. I picked up the latest Drake Magazine along with a couple of bass bugs and was on my way.

Had about two hours to fish the next morning, so I went to one of the ponds across the road from the hotel.  As I drove down the dirt access road, I ignored the big NO TRESPASSING sign and parked out of sight from the main road. Fish were rising and I was chucking bugs at them without any luck.  A pair of eyes broke the surface about 20 feet from the shore right where I was throwing my fly.  We had a bit of a stare down contest, but I decided to let the 4 ft Alligator keep his fishing hole and started to walk away. The gator started to swim towards me as I backed away from the shore, so I picked up my pace and walked around to the far side of the pond.

Fishing for another 20 minutes on the other side of the pond also brought no luck, so as I was tying on a different fly, a older gentleman drove up talking on a cell phone. When he hung up, he politely told me that I was on private property and although I seemed like a "nice gentleman" there was no hunting or fishing allowed here and he asked me to leave. I wasn't having any luck and my time was up for the morning, so I packed up and left.

Double Rainbow on Lake Toho
That evening, went to Lake Toho to fish with the bait chuckers and spin casters. Saw a huge fish in the shallows and was told it was a Monk fish by one of the bait guys. They where catching bass and bluegills but I continued to not have any luck throwing bass bugs.

Saw more alligators, much smaller, beautiful birds, turtles and lots of rising fish, but nothing would take the 1/2 dozen bugs, nymphs and drys that I tried. Also watched a small squall line blow over the lake providing a wonderful double rainbow as the sun was setting.

As a final attempt to defeat the skunk, I tied on an olive Klinkhammer as many bugs where hatching and at least one fish would have an interest in a little buggy floating emerger.

I'd cast out and let the fly sit, slowly pulling it back in occasionally. Some fish were rising to the bug, but just were knocking it under the surface which would require me to retrieve and recast to put it back in the surface film.

Flying bluegill caught on Olive Klinkhammer
On one of these retrieves, this poor little bluegill became airborne and landed in the weeds next to me. He survived his roller coaster ride on the end of my line and was released.

Back at the hotel that night, I started to scope out the ponds around the golf course on the property. One of them was probably a Koi pond with Carp. These carp where huge and I was very tempted.

They were mudding and taking bugs on the surface so I know they would have been easy pickin', but didn't want to deal with several onlookers and hotel security.

Carp in Koi Pond on Resort Property
As always, good to get out and explore new water, meet new people and take a shot at landing some fish, regardless of the size and type.

Thanks for listening.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Field Testin'

I truly enjoy driving 10 mins, hiking for another 10 and fishing the ponds and streams in town.  This gives us the opportunity to spend some time on the water after work without the 40 minute to 3 hour trek to the local trout streams. Granted it is bass fishing, but fishing is fishing and catching the local bass is just as fun and not as technical as targeting the local trout.  We are very fortunate to have these waters in our back yard.

Yesterday after work, I picked up my two fishing buddies (my son and his friend) and we hiked in to one of the pristine ponds in town. It's a remote pond on town land that sees little fishing pressure but is filled with largemouth, panfish, perch and pickerel.  I first tried a brown woolly bugger, tossing this for about 1/2 hour with no takes. Midges and some stones where coming off in the greatest numbers so far this year, but only saw a couple of rises. The water is still a bit cold for bass so I decided to try one of the woven nymphs tied earlier this year.

Local Largemouth with Woven Nymph
The boys were chucking rubber worms, poppers and crank baits on their spincasters with no luck. I threw out the woven nymph to some likely holding areas and was having similar results. I was getting ready to move and had started to slowly wade back to shore during my last retrieve when a light tug was felt. After a brief and feisty fight, this small bass was brought to hand.

We fished for another hour with no luck, but I feel vindicated that the woven nymphs will catch fish. Never really doubted this, but their is confidence and proof.

Largemouth in hand
Confidence is a mental exercise and proof is the sanctification satisfaction of something done right.

Happy Easter all!
Resting before his release

Friday, April 22, 2011

Will Korkers start selling hair hackles next?

This just came to my inbox and the first thing that comes to mind is a great company with great product trying to appeal to the fashion minded fly fisher. Not the first time for a fly fishing company and certainly not the last either.

An extended marketing thought "You too can been seen on the river in this exclusive, limited edition boot, becoming all the talk of your envious fly fisher buddies."

Don't get me wrong, I love my Korkers and think they are a great product, but either offer the product to everyone or don't offer it at all.

Monday, April 18, 2011

3 1/2 Months

Last Fish in 2010 - New Year's Eve
Yes, it has been 3 1/2 months since I landed a fish on a fly.  Sure, there was winter and ice fishing and I did bring a few pickerel, bass and perch up through the ice - but that doesn't count. The last fish landed was a nice rainbow on New Year's Eve.  She took a size 20 midge emerger on a local stream.

Fast forward through 10+ feet of snow, warming temps and finally the spring peepers and black stones hatching. I've probably been out on that same stream, plus some other local waters at least a dozen times since then, but nada.
A walk in the woods

Today it finally happened. The skunk is off for 2011. We trekked to one of our local bass ponds in 55 degree, sunny weather.  The wind was stiff, but not a problem for an 8 wt.

The water in the pond is still cold, but we did see some bass swimming in the shallows. I tied on an brown eelworm streamer and started casting with slow long strips. Still nothing - no takes, no follows, nothing.

My son and his friend were spin casting with no luck either.  After working around the lake pond for about an hour, I decided to change to a fly that came with high recommendations from a virtual friend through a fly swap. I tied on Ian's beadhead black and gold streamer with rubber legs and cast it where I saw a fish rise.  About five cast later, this little beauty made my day (and year, so far). Thanks Ian!!
First Fish on Fly in 2011

Beadhead Streamer in Largemouth

A colorful little pumpkin seed

We continued to have success on another local pond landing dozens of panfish between the three of us. They switched to fly rods and were throwing drys while I continued to have luck with Ian's streamer.

All in all, a good day.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Fishin' in Colorado

When I started this blog a little over a week ago, I had no idea what I was doing or where it would lead.  I love to fly fish and see lots of other fly fishers out there blogging, so I thought it would be fun to try.  What's cool is that the first subscribers are all from the Western US and two of you are in Colorado (Thanks!!).

I fished for the first time in Colorado, and out West for that matter, last year after a business trip in Denver.  A friend of a friend was into fly fishing and put me on some nice water outside of Boulder the first evening and guided me on the Big Thompson in RMNP the following day.  I also took the short hike up to Dream Lake that afternoon, before hopping on a red eye back to Boston.

Small Brownie - UDL

Nice Rainbow - UDL
 Here are some of the pics from the pleasure part of my business trip last year in late August (all the fish were released unharmed, although I need get better at capturing these beauties in their natural environs).
Small Brownie - Big Thompson RMNP

Little Brookie - Big Thompson RMNP

Dream Lake - RMNP
Cutthroat - Dream Lake RMNP
Cutthroat - Dream Lake RMNP

I had such a blast fishing 1 1/2 days in Colorado, we decided to plan a family vacation this summer staying near Grand Lake, fishing/hiking RMNP and the surrounding area.  This is our first family summer vacation away from New England in over 15 years, so it will be very interesting and fun exploring the Rockies for the first time with my family.

Thanks for listening to me ramble on. Oh yeah, the background pic on the blog site is also from the Big Thompson in RMNP.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Internet Fly Tying

Not sure what motivates you to tie a new fly, but as I cruise the intertubes, I see many great patterns that just need to be tied.  One came across my screen today called the Razor Foam Caddis from Hatches by  of Colorado Skies Outfitters.

Simple, clean and designed to float high without a lot of floatant, this is a cool way to use foam--wrapped as the body.

Not sure what razor foam is, but it probably costs an arm and a leg in the local fly shop, I resorted to my stock of craft foam from Michaels.  Cut it into very thin strips and wrapped it for the body.  Tied both black and green bodies and used hackle at hand -- a grizzly black and yellow, one with a blue dun genetic.

Probably will catch some trout and certainly pan fish.

Keep it simple.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Embarrassing and Pitiful

It's the bottom of the 9th inning and the Red Sox are loosing to the Tampa Bay Rays 16 to 5.


Daisuke gave up 6 runs in the 2nd and his first pitch to former Red Sox hero, Johnny Damon was a homer in the 1st.


Tampa Bay was 1 and 8. Just one dismal game behind the Red Sox 2 and 7 record coming into this game.


The second third highest payroll in MLB (second in the American League) and the Red Sox will be 2 and 8. Looks like Manny's early retirement has no effect at all on the Rays. Tampa Bay did win the AL East last year.

It sucks being a Red Sox fan.  At least the season is still young.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Weavin' Nymphs

Had the pleasure of meeting Aaron Jaspers last month. Aaron is arguably the "King of Euro Nymphing" here in the Northeast. Aaron showed us how to weave flies. This is a great technique that produces very attractive flies that certainly catches fly fisherman and is supposed to catch lots of fish as well.

Aaron has some excellent videos that make it very easy to learn this technique. Check out his YouTube Channel at Trout Predator Online.  Links to two weaving videos:
Here is a shot of his flies Aaron was tying at the Bear's Den show.
Below are some of my first attempts.  These are woven with embroidery floss purchased at Michaels for $1.25 each.  The floss comes in a variety of colors (S938 Brown, S729 Gold and S3820 Yellow/Gold).  Wind these on to a couple of thread spools and weave with a bobbin.  Vary the size of the weave by using less strands (the first couple where tied with the full 6 strands and the smaller ones where tied with 4 strands).  

Here are a couple weaved with brassie wire.

Friday, April 8, 2011

0 and 6

Hope springs eternal.  This is the mantra of a Red Sox fan today.  Second highest payroll in MLB and they couldn't even beat Cleveland, let alone draw anyone in that town to the games.

We all love an underdog, but they really don't have the feel of an underdog. The "faithful" will be happy that hard alcohol will be served at Fenway this year--I'm afraid they will need it.

Dustin Pedroia Postgame Presser

What is 'Gin Clear'

Clarity of Water
A goal of Koi farmers:
  • Crystal-clear water
  • Water like glass
  • Perfect clarity assured
All well and good, but what does this really mean.  Some gin clear waters are:
  • Devoid of life
  • Sterile
  • A backyard swimming pool
Some look "fishy", some have fish and some don't.  Some we will never know.