Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Contemplating a good day...

Fished the South Fork of the Snake River today.  Low water makes things much easier to navigate.  If someone had a mind to they could pace the whole river... almost.  I found myself standing in areas of the river bottom, looking around me and thinking, "this places has seen some powerful water."  The shape of the gravel bars, huge trees with roots intact, and crystal clear water make one feel they are wandering through a natural art gallery.  One created in the literal "wake" of a monstrous creature.

 I stared into some deep water thinking how much more deep it would be when flows are high again.  I feel a bit sheepish admitting it, but water SCARES me.  It's powerful, and as fishermen that is something we ought not to forget.  It's a fickle thing, and a love hate relationship of sorts.  Water (or the things water can do) gives me the heeber jeebers at times, but I can't seem to leave it alone. 

I headed to the river with the intent to primarily nymph, but after a while and only one little brown to show for it, I swapped to a streamer.

The large black articulated offering was the ticket.  I trailed a large prince and had a couple takers on it as well, but most of the fish came on the streamer.  The clear water made for some exciting takes!  The extra rush from the aggressive takes while fishing streamers has me hooked.  I can't believe I didn't start this type of fishing sooner!

Browns and Cuts for the day.  Didn't touch a single bow.

Check out this midge stew!!!!   These little buggers were everywhere, but I didn't see a single fish rising the whole time out.

Have you ever seen a happier looking brown?  Seriously, this guy looks like he's smiling.


Natures bling.

Last one for the day.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


The homework was finished so I drove to the river.   I parked the car and sat there watching the gale force winds whip the willows around frantically and lay the grass flat.  Sitting there I half expected to see a house or a witch fly by.  And then I started the car and drove home.  I am a die-hard fisherman, ask anyone I know and they will attest to it, but if there were one deterrent holding me back it would be the wind.  It is fishing kryponite in most cases.  Curse you wind.  The fish thank you for sparing them sore lips.

Here's a bit from yesterday's adventures though...

No takers on the streamer.  The brown rubber legs shouldered the load.

If you are craving a hard fighting trout, the Henry's Fork can't be beat.  Healthy fish with an attitude!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Tying and Catching = Awesome

I slipped out the door around 3 and headed to the closest accessible water I could think of that had large fish potential.  Twenty minutes later I was bundling and rigging up.  The wind was blowing and a snow storm rolled in as I headed down to the water.  It took a little while to adjust to the direction of the wind and to the new Glacier Gloves (A great gift from a giveaway over on YGF's blog.  Thanks again!).  The gloves worked great once I got used their feel.  I was surprisingly toasty despite the conditions.  It's amazing what good layering can do for you, and how you can be standing in the middle of a river, surrounded by a blizzard, and feel completely comfortable!

I threw a black streamer with a hares ear trailer for the first while.  Had one taker on the trailer.

After a while I switched to a nymphing setup.  The good old brown rubber legs, pheasant tail, and midge setup.  I managed a few more medium bows.

Not the most glamorous bow ever, but still put a tug on the line.

After things had completely shut down I started my way back upriver toward my vehicle.  While wading against the current in the quiet cold dark I started pondering on the fish that were caught.  I analyzed the circumstances in which they were caught and what they were caught with.  I often do this.  It is part of the fun, trying to understand your success and learning to duplicate it.  But this time it occurred to me, the fish were caught on flies I had tied myself, and looking back I had trouble trying to remember catching a fish on a fly that I did not tie myself.  As goofy as it sounds, the realization felt good.  Something of a personal accomplishment.  I feel much more self-sufficient as an angler.  I'm no pro, but it feels good when you start to "get-it" for lack of a better word. 

On another note, I just watched this trailer for an instructional video on European Nymphing and had to laugh a bit.  I kept expecting some car chase or explosion with the music they chose.  Maybe it's just me but I had trouble matching the music with the fishing, at least with the size of fish they were catching.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Charlie Brown, what are you doing here!?

Sometimes the unexpected moments are what make fishing so enjoyable.  Yesterday was my birthday, but the party was postponed till this coming weekend.  Instead the day was spent with my nose in a chemistry book, followed up by a short trip to the testing center.  I finished the test up at 10pm, headed home, worked on my pre-calculus, and then tied flies till 3am.  What can I say, some flies needed to be tied.  As my friend Kyle says, you can sleep when you're dead.

Today, after getting out of classes around 10am, the plan was to meet up with Jared and fling a fly.   He couldn't meet up for another hour and a half so I decided to go keep the fish company in the meantime.  The section of the Teton that I usually fish has become soft water again so I thought to give it a try while I waited.

After one little cutty...

came the surprise!

To my knowledge, there aren't any brown trout in the Teton River.  At least I didn't THINK there were.  Charlie (the) Brown was a beautiful fish.  The colors made me wish I had taken my SLR, because the video and pictures don't do him justice.

Later Jared and I met up, he treated to breakfast burritos at Gator Jacks (thanks again), after which we recommenced fishing on the Teton.  It was slooooooow.   Some more small cutties were managed, but the warmer weather has spoiled us this winter.  It was COLD and our guides were constantly freezing up.  The fish were sluggish, but I'll take any day fishing over work or school.  And who can complain about a beautiful healthy brown trout.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

My kind of lunch break

Today's route caused me to pass to and fro through Swan Valley.  Knowing that the South Fork was along the path, I decided to take along my trusty 5wt.  I thought that if I had any time (which I rarely do) that it would be just as the sun was setting.  Lately this part of the day has treated me well.  I thought I might get lucky throwing a streamer... that is IF I finished my jobs soon enough.

The planets aligned and I found myself parked alongside the river at 4pm.  I didn't get touched on the streamer.  I knew fish were there so I reverted to the old habits.  Brown rubber legs, a pheasant tail concoction, and a midge were the fallback.  Landed one little guy on the pt, a medium sized bow on the rubber legs, and then I had to head out.

Here are a couple shots of the medium guy.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Strike one...

But in a way, I got walked to first base.  Let me explain.

The weather has been uncharacteristically warm this year.  Indeed, it sometimes seems that fall was just too darn stubborn to leave this year.  We could rename it a new season.  Finter.  Maybe Wintall.  Anyhow, the warmer weather has produced good fishing on the rivers in many ways, and a much more comfortable environment when flogging the water.

The warmth has been giving me delusions of grandeur.  Carp grandeur.  Last year winter was a robust blanket of snow that kept falling.  There was so much snow that the runoff just kept going and going and going.  But even with the great amount of snow Jared and I were able to get into fly-carping as early as mid March.  That has been on my mind quite a bit, especially with the warmth.  I'm getting antsy to make a connection with 20lbs of golden goodness.  Jared suggested that we make it a goal to catch the said beast in February.  The moment he suggested this it solidified in my mind.

Tuesday we were faced with the dilemma.  Make the drive for carp that we do not even know will be there, or chase some willing trout with our 3wts.  The sun decided for us and we felt almost obligated to try for some gold.

We arrived around 1:30pm and the spring-fed area we were planning for looked good.  We wadered up, rigged up and set out to sight some fish.  Jared waded out while I wandered down the bank for a different angle.  Ten minutes later and nada.  Not one.  Crystal clear blue water, and all we could find were some carp minnow bait balls.  We couldn't figure it out.  The spring kept the water surrounding it plenty warm for feeding fish.  And then we spotted it.  This area is a cove that comes off of the main river of the Snake and right were it met the river was a large iced up area.  We deduced that this blockage was keeping fish from moving in because it kept the water so cool.  We blind casted around the edges of the ice to see if we could find a wandering trout, but it was not to be.

Low water.

Good to go.

Looking for something... anything!

The Sheet of Ice

Carp Bait Ball

As optimistic as we are, it pays to be a realist.  Before the trip we had decided on a backup plan to follow if things went south.  We drove to another section on the river fed by springs.  Walking up stream a bit we felt like we found the end of the rainbow.  We had walked up on about 6-7 feeding carp.  Here was our chance.  Unfortunately we botched it.  The circumstances made for tough fishing.  Fly eating lava rock bottom, the sun just about to sink below the horizon, heavy flies, and sluggish fish all added to the difficulty and I can't lie, I'm rusty!  These fish had their tails up, but were hardly moving.  It appeared that they were very slowly sucking things in and out, but we couldn't really get close enough to see.   After a few poor attempts by both myself and Jared we realized the visibility just wasn't enough for the tough situation.  If we had started there at midday this post may have been very different.

Not being willing to give up so easily we decided to use the magic fishing hour to seek out an otherwise wary trout.  I stuck on a black streamer, walked out to the drop off before the current and lobbed away.  On only a few casts in BAM!  Fish on.  Jared walked down to watch the fight.  The fish fought well and I wasn't so sure that I hadn't caught a carp.  After a good roll we could identify it as a good trout.  Thanks to Jared's netting abilities this beautiful male came to hand. The on-site pictures don't do its size much justice.

Jared's son loves fish and is glad when his dad can bring some home, so this guy was slated for the dinner plate.  One more shot before dinnertime.

Strike one for carp, but the month isn't over yet!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Will Tomorrow Bring Carp?

Took a detour on my way home from school today. It was about 3:45 p.m. when I arrived at the river. Five minutes later I was wadered up and had my rod in hand. I decided not to tie up just yet because I wanted to scope things out first. I haven't fished this stretch of river in roughly 10 years. It's amazing how much a riverbed changes over that time. The main channel flows on the opposite side now, and what once were excellent holes to fish are now large dry gravel bars. Part of me missed the old "go-to" places. Even so, a greater part of me was excited to rediscover the area. I already had a good idea of what the water looked like down stream, so I decided to head up. After eying the water a bit I decided to start out with a black streamer prototype I'm working on. No love. Fished it for a bit, but the clear sunny day today resulted in wary fish. I swapped my big rig for some midges and hooked up on a few little guys. Each in their turn decided to come loose mid-fight. Curse small hooks.
After meandering about, enjoying the beautiful day and scenery, the sun began to sink behind the trees. I thought to try the streamers once again since dusk began to show her face. Man it gets cold quick. Second cast to the very first place I had started fishing and BAM! A decent 13" brown. In my excitement I forgot to get a picture. Subsequent casts yielded some fast and furious fishing. Nothing large, but I did gather my wits enough to snap a coupe pictures. It becomes difficult to get a good shot when the light wanes.
This little guy must think he has a bigger mouth!
Tomorrow Jared and I are considering an afternoon venture to see if there are any carp to be had in the chilly month of February. It's a bit of a leap, but who knows, maybe it will turn into one of those amazing stories we'll repeat for years to come. Then again, we may just end up fishing for some little troutskies on the Portneuf. Either way we will be fishing, and that's worth the cold any day.