Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Warmwater Action!

The warm water fly fishing is getting going again! If you haven't been bitten by the bug yet...don't be squeamish, give it a try! There are few better ways to work off the winter kinks than to pop down to the nearest pond or city park and have a go at the inhabitants (no...not the kids and afternoon dog-walkers). I always have a rod in the truck now that we have a few hours of daylight left after work. The last trip out was great! I landed several catfish and a nice two-pound bass in a lake behind one of our local high schools! There were a couple kids taking pot shots at me with a home made potato gun...but I proved to be a hard target...and they were slow to reload. Amateurs...

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Best Fly To Use For Carp (Zimmerman's Backstabber)

The evolution of carp flies has been a slow process. We have seen a couple carp specific patterns launched into the commercial market several years ago...and they have remained there, filling the one or two designated "carp" bins of local fly shops. This has usually been enough to appease the majority of fishermen. But now, with the rapid gain in popularity, there has been a serious scramble for reliable and super productive carp flies. I have seen (and fished) many great flies tied by local carpers that would fit the bill...and some of these patterns are FINALLY becoming available commercially. My not-so-humble contribution to this new insurgence of carp flies is the Backstabber. I take a couple hundred fish every year on the leech version alone. I tie mine on a #6 Gamakatsu SL45 with 1/8 inch black Dazl-Eyes tied onto the top of the hook shank to counterbalance the fly...this forces it to ride hook up. I use SLF Hellgramite dubbing on the body, two tufts of black marabou as the wing and dark olive (or brown) soft hackle tied in at the front.
I use this carp fly almost exclusively...with much success! The Backstabber is commercially available in four different flavors: Black Leech, Rust, Wine and Grey Minnow. I prefer to use the darker colors (black and wine) when the water is high and muddy. Most of the carp fishing we do on still water is sight fishing. Not only do you have to see the fish in the water, but you need to see the fly! Later in the summer, once the water levels begin to drop in our local reservoirs, the carp will often act more like temperate bass (wiper, striper) and corral small shad in back coves. This is when a Grey Minnow Backstabber can be deadly! The Rust version is a great crayfish imitation and I use it when the water clears up slightly, or in creeks and rivers.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Fly Fishing for Catfish

Catfish are the forgotten game fish amongst us die-hard fly fishers. I have fond childhood memories of my dad taking me down to the boat basin back in Huron, Ohio to catch bullhead and channel job was to have plenty of worms dug from the garden before he got home from work.
I still catch a few every year. Often accidentally while I am carp or bass fishing. The flies that work the best for me have usually been a #6 Leech Backstabber or a black or natural Mini-Sculpin.

Watch Fly Fishing for Catfish video:

Thursday, June 11, 2009

A Fishing Story...

I would like to think of myself as the Anthony Bourdain of fly fishing...but that hasn't worked out the way it was supposed to. Guess I wound up being more the Walter Mitty of the industry (go ahead and google that Jon). So, I preface this story about an odd encounter with a gerbil while fishing in the hopes it won't brand me as the "Richard Gere of Fly Fishing". How is that for a hook!

So...on my day off I swung by the fly shop to see what the guys were up to. Russell Miller was hanging out (should have been working) and said he had a rod in the truck and an hour to kill. Long winded intro, but we wound up driving back to the lake near the shop. Russ took a small bass right off on one of my Backstabber flies, then we decided to walk the trail to the back side of the lake in search of a carp. And it was on the trail when what appeared to be an albino field mouse came scampering down the trail toward us. I remember thinking, "yup, about to get my ass bitten!" but just had to try to catch it! Snatched it up by the scruff of the neck and to my surprise it didn't try to maul me... Turned out to be a tame gerbil! I kept the little rodent in my shirt pocket for the rest of the fishing trip.

I tried unsuccessfully to gift the little guy to some kids in the park, but the attending nannies wanted nothing to do with me or the gerbil. Then I remembered three young friends of mine who would absolutely love to provide a new home for a wayward, whiskered vagabond! (Abby, Tess and Jim Leuchten)

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Fishing Steamboat Springs During Runoff

If you find yourself in Steamboat, Colorado in the month of prepared for heavy runoff! But, all is not lost. There are many great opportunities for the fly angler, just not the Yampa River in town (the main source of income for fly fishing guides in the area). I was in town this week and the flows were over 3000 cfs!
There is a nice tailwater stretch below Stagecoach reservoir with big rainbows and the headwaters of the Yampa (commonly referred to as the "Bear"). We also fished Stillwater Res for cutthroat and 'bows as well as Pearl and Crosho Lakes for Colorado Cutts and good-sized Arctic Grayling!
Call Bucking Rainbow fly shop in downtown Steamboat for up-to-date reports as well as their top notch guide service: 1-888-810-8747 or check out their web site:

Sunday, June 7, 2009

New potential state record!

The current Colorado record channel catfish is 33 1/2 pounds...but that may soon be topped! Check out this monster taken on a fly from a local pond. It may be just a tad short of the record, but maybe next year!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Casting Streamers During Runoff

Fished Boulder Creek the other day. Water was high and a tad off color, but I had a few new streamers Rob Kolanda had tied for me. They are small, super sexy and VERY heavy...just what I needed for fast, deep water! I landed over two dozen good Boulder Creek brown trout in no time! Stop in to the shop and have him show you how to tie this fly...he calls it the "Belly Ache Minnow".
Buy these flies online

Monday, June 1, 2009

Flyfishing for Texas Redfish on the Cheap

Scratching the saltwater itch can be more expensive than a gambling addiction, especially when you live in Colorado. For many landlocked flyfisherman, the $3000 price tag of a guided week of flats fishing might as well be a million. However, determined to get our saltwater fix, fellow Front Range Anglers Guide, Tyler Bowman and I set our sights on the redfish along Texas' Gulf Coast. With a budget not allowing for the conveniences of a boat, guide, or rental car, we strategically located ourselves in Aransas Pass, Texas. Fueled by peanut butter sandwiches and armed with 8 weights, we found expansive flats within walking distance of our $50 per night motel. We quickly discovered also that a thumb and a smile can easily get you a few miles down the road from a friendly local on their way to work. Every new flat provided shots at tailing and cruising redfish, along with an occasional speckled sea trout hookup.

Tyler Bowman with a beautiful Texas Red

If you go: The beauty of salt water flats fishing is that the gear is pretty simple. A good fast action rod in the 7-8 weight range, a pair of wading boots or old sneakers, a few leaders, and a handful of flies is all you need. Here is a short list of effective gear:

Rods: A 9' 8 weight with a fast action will is an ideal rod for smaller reds.

Reels: Any reel with a half decent drag system and at least a 125 yards of 20 pound backing will do.

Flies: The Texas coast is filled with abundant populations of crabs and shrimp. Any fly that imitates these creatures will produce fish if carefully presented. Also, red fish feed heavily on mullet, and in several instances we found reds cruising with groups of these fish, so smaller bait fish imitations are good to have on hand. On the sand flats shrimp patterns without weed guards worked well. However, we quickly learned that many of the grass flats in Texas require a weedless fly. Simply put, sometimes a double weed guard was not enough to keep our flies free of grass. The more weedless your fly, the better. We threw all of our flies on 9-10' leaders tapered down to 0-2x fluorocarbon tippet.

Every minute on a flat is educational. For every hookup, we had to put quite a few miles on the old chevro -legs. Wind, spooked fish, and bad casts are more the rule than the exception.
Hiring a local professional guide is always worth every penny, but if you're low on pennies, your next experinece on a pristine saltwater flat may only require a plane ticket, a cheap hotel, and a short swim...

Tight Lines,
Patrick Knackendoffel and Tyler Bowman