Friday, December 31, 2010

Craziest Fly Shop Questions of 2010!

#1 "What fly should I put the floatant on? The dry fly or the leech?"

#2 "Why is it so important that waders be waterproof?"
#3 "My line is winding onto my reel very loosely...when I tighten my drag it seems to help. Do you have any other suggestions?"
#4 "It looks like all you have are looped leaders. I don't like looped leaders. Do you have any without loops?"
#5 "Do you have pants that go over my pants won't get wet?" We have waders. "No, I already have some of those."
#6 "I applied a small amount of super glue to the end of my fly line to seal a crack...has this changed the weight of my fly line?"

See Craziest Of 2009!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Colorado Greenback Cutthroat Trout (A Fisherman's Guide)

When this book came out many of my friends (who spend a lot of time fishing the high lakes) were pissed off. They were upset because many of their favorite cutthroat lakes and the hiking routes were mentioned. This told me one thing: I needed a copy! And, now...that I do own a copy, I am a bit nervous about it. My favorite lakes are mentioned, too. But, here is the final is a great book. And every fly fisherman who lives in Colorado and hasn't had hip replacement surgery yet... should own this book. It is as close to a "must have" book as you are gonna find. Perfect bound book, only $19.95 new...full of information and notes. All the good, pertinent stuff for those of us who have fallen in love with the Colorado high country. There is something about being above treeline...makes my blood thicken and my heart race! And, to get back to my friends...and their hurt feelings. This book does not "hot spot" anything. It outlines every spot here in the state of Colorado were we can find our only native trout. A magnificently beautiful fish. Stunning. The book does not give any one particular lake more attention than any other. As I sit here indoors in December...staring at the front cover, I already have two or three overnight trips planned for next summer. Damn! Can't wait!

Colorado Greenback Cutthroat Trout (A Fisherman's Guide). Jim Rubingh & Richard Fritz. Frank Amato Publications, Inc. Buy A Copy Amazon.Com Or, better yet, stop into your local fly shop and get yerself a copy!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Bunch of Old Crap

Mementoes. Keepsakes. Call them what you want. Call them all just a bunch of old crap. But they are artifacts from past lives. We don’t think about them until we stumble onto them…unexpectedly. Then the old stories swarm out of the subconscious like ground hornets from under a lawn mower. They come out of nowhere…a spectacle, snapping the unsuspecting operator out of a droning monotony. And sometimes they sting your ass. I had an entire armload of my past lives dropped into my lap recently. My sister was in town for a visit and had left me some old things she had dug up at our parents’ house. I have not been back that way in years…so was more than mildly interested to see what sort of childhood relics my sis had unearthed. Some old journals, fly boxes and photo albums. Very cool. Being a complete geek about flies, I had to dig into some of the boxes. They could have been some of Dads’ old lures…maybe one of my early fly boxes abandoned at home when I left for the Army. What I found (tucked into an ancient hard plastic Heddon box) was not what I had prepared for…not just an old box of moth-eaten Muddler Minnows. Inside were the very first flies I had ever tied. For real. The very first. Rusty bait holder hooks rescued from the bottom drawer of my dads’ tackle box when I was about 12 years old. I remember attempting to secure the hooks into the arm of a piece of living room furniture. Lashing chunks of raccoon fur to the hook shanks…having not a clue about dubbing or dubbing loops. And doing my best to tie on wings using some turkey feathers Dad had laying around. I am sure I took my creations down for my mother to see. She probably raved and over-complemented them…and asked me to set the table.

Then I opened one of the photo albums and came face-to-face with another of my past lives. Gone were the fond, bare-foot memories of my childhood…plate of freshly made sandwiches and orange juice for lunch…making adventure plans for the endless afternoon. Take off your good shoes if you are going to play near the pond again! Pow. Fast forward straight into the Army. Condensed spaghetti MRE’s for breakfast. Miserable sleepless nights. Living out of a rucksack as though it were an 80 pound studio apartment you are forced to carry on your back. Those memories. The ground hornets that will sting your ass.

View More Old Army Photos

Friday, December 10, 2010

Gift Ideas for the Fly Fisher

Friends always ask me (knowing I work out of a fly shop) if I was crazy busy on Black Friday. Not particularly. Just the usual. It is more the big box outlets and electronics stores who have customers stampeding through the double front doors at 4am the day after Thanksgiving. Trampling the elderly. Throwing elbows like Shaq under the net. Not necessarily fly shops, though. The holiday shoppers out there with a flyfisherman on their gift list usually wait until the last week to hit up the fly shop. In most cases waiting for the last minute is not a problem…the guys at the local shop can line you up with what you need. Every fly shop in the country has set aside the typical gift ideas at a few different price points. Rocky Mountain Anglers, for example, has a few things perfect for beginners—a 4wt rod and reel combo ($140) a waist pack fully loaded with nippers, floatant, hemostats and water bottles ($80) or an intro to fly fishing book ($22). Those on the list who want to get into fly fishing, or who have just recently gotten hooked, can be the easiest to shop for…and the most fun. There is a ton of gear and trinkets that they need, if they know it yet, or not. But, it is the seasoned fly fisher that you know that can be the most difficult. They are opinionated and fussy. Particular…they will try to say. Whatever. With these guys, the best avenue is usually just a gift card. But, if you want to add a little something on the side “in the stocking” so-to-speak…stick with the essentials. Everyone goes through leader and tippet. Be safe and get 9ft 5x leaders and only spools of 5x tippet. A bottle of dry fly floatant is also a safe bet. And flies are, too. Stick with dry flies (some dudes only fish dries, all dudes sometimes fish dries) in the most common sizes…#16 and #14. There…that was painful and boring to write, but I did it…

Call the shop (303-447-2400) or stop in!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A.K. Best Fly Tying Demo!

A.K. Best will be making an appearance at Rocky Mountain Anglers this Saturday! He will be in the fly shop tying flies and telling stories from 11:00 ‘till 1:00 on December 11th. You most likely have been fishing one of A.K.’s quill-bodied dry flies for years…or read stories about he and John Gierach fly fishing our local Colorado trout streams. Supposedly he has a brand new hopper pattern that he is going to unleash into the word as well. Should be interesting. I don’t know what is on the menu for our complementary RMA lunch, but it will be hard to beat the breakfast casserole from last Saturday! We will have good food for sure, chili and maybe some cinnamon rolls too. Always have the coffee on, as well…but most of you already knew that. If you have never been into Rocky Mountain Anglers, it is on the corner of 19th and Arapaho in Boulder (just west of McGuckins). See you guys there!

A.K will have some of his books for sale at the shop, as well. Or, be sure to bring copies that you may already have in your collection...we will make him sign them for ya!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Small Bugs of Winter

Season of the midges, they say. It is true that the small flies in your box are the ones that work now. The size 20s and under. The tiny, hard-to-see reasons your dad no longer likes to fish the late season anymore. But, it is not just midges and midge pupa that the trout in your local creeks are eating. There are little mayflies and even stoneflies still moving around down there, occasionally loosing a grip (physically, not emotionally) and getting snatched up like little Skywalkers by the spotted river Rancor. Wow…that was a bit of a stretch….

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Being Thankful

I have not always been thankful on Thanksgiving. It is not necessarily my default state-of-mind. Although being thankful is an act of introspection and humility (appreciated traits, yes?) it smells ever so faintly of contentment and submission. Most Thanksgiving mornings I have woken up hungry. Not for turkey leg and sweet potatoes. Hungry for respect and success…and whatever other fleeting and hard to gauge things I wanted in my life and felt I didn’t have. But this morning I woke up feeling good. And thankful. Not in an overly-sentimental-sticky-candied-apple sort of way…but in a kilt-the-bar-that-kilt-me sort of way. I woke up a few hours ago a thousand miles away from any family, but nevertheless, thankful as hell I finally found a town to live in where I could make a living talking to fishermen about fishing. And that somewhere behind me—always—there are mountains. And that my big sister, after thirty some years, finally thinks I am cool. And, as macabre as it may sound, I am thankful I still have the stomach to put a bloody boot heal to the neck of obstacles, adversity and ingrates.

Oh, and I am pretty stoked that tomorrow there will be some massive turkey carcasses on crazy sale at the grocery store! Gonna buy one and hyena-gnaw the thing for a week!

Read Another Story!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Free Fly Tying Clinc! (and food)

Jason Goodale will be demonstrating his fairly bad ass talents in spun deer hair down at the Rocky Mountain Anglers fly shop tomorrow from 10 am until...1:00, or whenever. Randy promises there will be fresh ground coffee, rolls...and chicken green chili! Yeah! See ya there! 1904 Arapaho. Boulder, Colorado...

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Keeping the Ice Off (A Holiday Survival Guide for Fishermen)

‘Tis the season. Holidays are comin’. Heehaw. You are about to fall off the diet wagon and gain back that 12 pounds, get into an argument with an in-law that will haunt you for the next decade and blow your entire rainy-day cash stash on crap that will most likely get given, unused, to Goodwill sometime in the new year. And the next time you break away from the family for some alone on the river time, your fingers are going to freeze and the guides of your fly rod are gonna ice up. Sorry to be so brutal, but look on the bright side…now if only one of these things happen to you in the next month and a half you will consider this holiday season a success! Here is some free advice from Jay to avoid all these holiday pitfalls. Drink way too much whisky on Thanksgiving and Christmas. This may seem inadvisable, but hear me out…whisky is as effective as bulimia at saving a diet minus all the self hatred. You will still say the same antagonizing shit to your in-laws, but with the support of the whisky, they won’t understand you! This will still be embarrassing for your spouse, but that is perfect…it is just the right sort of diversion to distract them all from the fact you, once again, didn’t buy anyone any gifts! Heehaw! As for the ice filling up your tip top and snake guides, there are a number of things to prevent this. You can pick up some ice-off paste at a fly shop or smear lip balm on the guides. This keeps them ice-free for a bit, but you have to keep reapplying it. Probably the best thing to do is keep your fly line clean and dressed and not make casts long enough to require you to retrieve fly line back through the guides of your fly rod. The water is low…you can get right up onto the pools, anyway. No need for long casts.

This is exactly why I write a fishing blog…and not a self-help piece in your local newspaper. Again…Heehaw!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

How to Tie the Iceman Midge

I am a big fan of midge pupa. I love to fish them, because they work so well…and they almost never don’t work. I think that made sense? But, more than anything, I love to tie them. And I love to look at other guys midges, too. (Not in the shower at the gym, however.) Especially the hard-core winter tailwater fishermen. They have such awesome midge boxes. Row after row of midges…all slight variations in size and color. And they are always on the prowl for something new to add to the ranks. So, here ya go…

Click Here for Step by Step (with photos!)

Step 1. Begin by wrapping red 6/0 Uni-Thread behind the eye of a TMC 2488 hook.

Step 2. Using the red thread, tie in three strands of extra-small UTC wire (one must be black, the other two can be silver, copper, chartreuse or olive.) Tie off thread using a whip-finish knot and cut.

Step 3. Wrap all three strands of wire to the rear of the curved hook shank. Once you have reached where you want the midge abdomen to end, snap them all off simultaneously. It will be easy, the wire is thin. But, if you cut the wire, the tips will not lie flat to the hook shank.

Step 4. Tie on olive dun 6/0 Uni-Thread immediately behind the hook eye. Build up only a very slight thread head before tying off using whip-finish knot. Be sure to leave a small band of the original red thread showing. Then use a black Sharpie marker to color the top of the olive head.

Step 5. Use the Loon Outdoors clear UV Knot Sense to build a true pupa shape over the entire fly. Harden with the Loon UV light. Lastly, place the finished fly into the lip of a Styrofoam cup or something similar and coat with Hard-as-Hull or another head cement.

Here is a fly tying video you can watch...Iceman Midge: Click Here To See Video!

Tie A New Fly, The Banksia Bug!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Asylum on the Williams Fork

I already had the overwhelming desire to be off grid for awhile…to get on the road and out of cell reception. So, I leapt at the suggestion to join my friends Jeff and Cody on a slightly misguided jaunt down to the Colorado River. The reports of good fishing in that area had grown a couple weeks old, and the snow and cold had arrived in the mountains with authority. But it was only a day trip and seemed much more practical and less knee-jerk than the ideas I had been brewing the day before over coffee…as I fiddled, idly with my passports.
The three of us met early in the morning at the same parking lot meeting spot we, as well as many other fishermen, have met at for years and years. We all looked a bit Salvation Army…wearing warm clothes dug from the backs of closets. It was summer a couple of days ago. Weird. We stood around, stomping our cold feet and getting our college football arguments out the way (I miss Dan Hawkins already—Cody, a CSU Rams fan. Boise State would not even be a 500 team in any real division—Jeff, not a Boise State fan) before we all set aside our differences and piled on into my pickup, a cramped fit but we managed. And a few hours later we were at “state bridge” on the Colorado River paying our parking fee and bravely climbing into our frozen waders which had been transported over the hill in the open bed of my truck. And the reception we got from the river and the trout was equally frigid. We did not give up quickly, as we probably should have. Several hours, and only a minimal few fish later we reconvened in the warmth of the vehicle to decide our next move. Our contingency. Our plan B. Because the current one was obviously a failure. Below Green Mountain? The Williams Fork? All the way back to the Blue? But, the sun wasn’t getting any higher. Daylight savings time was ticking away fast. So we rolled the rigged dice…took an uneducated chance…and ended up at the Fork in the river. And, as a New York Yankees catcher once suggested, we took it! And the snow came down harder, but the tailwater was warm to the touch. And the brown trout were eating midges and tiny Baetis. There were a couple other fly fishermen down on the water, but we only saw them in passing. And we all waved. And the three of us caught some fish. And I felt good…no need to change my name and buy a one way plane ticket. Not just yet.

Friday, November 12, 2010

I’m Back, Baby!

I was a free agent for exactly five hours. Once word got out that I was unyoked and on the market I was snatched up like a twenty spot on a street corner! And, the most awesome part about this is I’ll still be here in Boulder. Yup, right smack dab in the heart of town. Chett and Randy and the crew at Rocky Mountain Anglers (on Arapahoe) opened their door to me as though I were their dim-witted step brother who didn’t know when to come in out of the rain. Damn, it felt good! I have not felt this appreciated in many, many years. I feel like I just worked up enough courage to blast through a road block along the Berlin Wall. Oh, the grease guns were howling (confused sputtering, really) but I kept my head down and stomped the gas! Free at last! Free at last!

So, here is the deal…. Rocky Mountain Anglers is hosting a big bash down at their shop tomorrow from 10 ‘till 1:00. The legendary Charlie Craven will be the feature fly tier (that is him in the photo lookin' like he his a big deal and all...) showing off some of his skills at the vise. Maybe he will have copies of his new book Charlie’s Fly Box. I don’t know. Either way, it will be good times. I will be there too…just hanging out. So if you show up, come say hello. It will mean a lot to me!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Times, they are a changin’…

 Yes, sir. The times, they are a changin’. A Zimmerman much more famous than me once said that. This news may not come as a surprise to some of you avid readers…but may, indeed, come out of left field for others. As of today…veterans’ day, 2010 (yes, planned intentionally) I am leaving the company of, and entire association of, Front Range Anglers. I have given more than six years of unfaltering commitment and loyalty to the promotion and prosperity of this company, the owner and his family, and all those remotely connected. For many years I have been the main voice and face…the primary front man and often, falsely, recognized as the owner of Front Range Anglers. The difficulty of these years is represented well in a collection of ball caps I found in a closet the other day while purging logo-ed equipment and clothing. All mine. Worn every day…consecutively…for well over 2000 days. But, no more. I am a student as well as an employee of fly fishing and the fly fishing industry. And I am a servant to you all, much as I was when I was a soldier…only now to those fishermen and women in my community who seek guidance, assistance and honest advice about anything from fishing spots and fair rod prices…to spouse problems (when pertaining to fishing) and “seriously, do I look fat in these waders?” I have never lied. Sometimes at the cost of a sale. And I have always tried to entertain. In order to be that guy and do those things, I must have a true fly shop as a stage to work and speak from. It does not come across as intimate and genuine if I am representing an internet warehouse with true “big box” ambitions. My departure today from Front Range Anglers was voluntary and amicable…and I truly wish them all well. And, to all of you whom I have met and befriended in the Boulder fly shop…I bid you adieu.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Secret Flies of the Czech and Slovak Fly-Tiers

Apart from spending half your life behind a vise tying flies and the other half on the water fishing those flies, there are few ways for an experienced, long-time fly tier to add a new flavor to the repertoire. I have always considered myself lucky to have worked closely with some great fly tiers. Each one has had their own flair and specialties. It has always been a fun, yet challenging practice to see what others are working on and dabble a bit yourself. It keeps you fresh and invigorated. But, it is often difficult to surround yourself with that sort of tying inspiration. Hence my endless search for new books. New books, I said. Not just another published collection of 800 slight variations of basically the same midge pupa. I found a good one here, though… Secret Flies features over 350 proven fly designs by twenty-one respected Czech and Slovak fly tiers. Flipping through these pages will get your creative juices flowing…I guarantee it!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Being a Good Host

I learned what it was to be a good host by watching my sister. This was years ago…back before I lived in Colorado. I was living and working in fairly random places. Canada… Alaska… wherever there was promise of good fishing, a story or the potential for some adventure. And every so often I would run into my sister (who is still on her own global walkabout). She always managed to provide way more than just a crash pad. Most of my old Army buddies who I run into in my travels consider it generous if they provide a couch and a dirty pillow. Oh, and maybe the makings for a bloody marry for breakfast. Help yourself, dude. My sister, on the other hand, always had food in the refrigerator and coffee brewing in the mornings. And it went on from there…she would take time off work and usually have the low down on some local fishing, too. Damn, good times! So, I felt like I was under some pressure when she flew into town the other day. In from Australia, this time. So, I made sure to de-bachelor my hovel. Clean the toilet. Buy some groceries. Re-socialize my wild ass cat. You know, the essentials. But my sister travels with a fly rod at the ready, same as me. So, not only did I have to have my domestic shit together, I had to have my guide face on as well. But, no worries! I showed her some good carp fishing…we landed a half dozen decent fish each, including a fun double which I forced her to hold up for a photo opportunity. Two slippery, lively carp…it was a circus! Mud getting flung around everywhere. Hurry up and take the damn photo already! Ah…still good times!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Big Thompson Fishing Report (November 2010)

The Big Thompson River is flowing at a steady 50 cubic feet per second and has been now for a solid week. It had jumped up kind of unseasonably high there for a few days. But it is all good, now. And the fishing has been good. The weekend crowds are still intense directly below the Estes dam, so try getting there during the week...or be prepared to move farther down the canyon. Dry fly fishing has been a bit slow, so be sure to have some good late-season nymphs with you. Take some dark olive BTS nymphs, Two-Bit Hookers and Poison Tungs. All in #20...or there about.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Enjoy the Perks

The last thing I want to get into is a long-winded speculation about why we fly fish. Good, god…that has been done to death. Beyond trite. If anyone should invest time into figuring out why they fish, it should be those of us who have let it consume our lives entirely. No worries. I invested about twenty minutes of think time on the subject about eight years ago. Too much cheap wine. Figured it out, though. Now I’ll share it with you. It will save you a ton of time…and possibly a failed marriage and a random-life crisis to boot. Ready? Now brace yourself. Here comes. Fishing is no more pointless than anything else we could be doing with our time. There. Said it. And I said it in only one sentence, too. I didn’t need to waist twelve evenings of your life on two hundred and fifty-four pages of self-reflective drivel (otherwise known as fly-fishing literature). Sorry if I have done that to you in the past.

ALRIGHT! Settle down. I can hear you scoffing from here. And I haven’t even published this story yet. I do understand our drive and incentive to spend time on a river, casting a fly to fish. It is deep seeded in our psyche…something to do with our hunter/gather upbringing as a species. Yada, yada, yada… The irony now is that we only go through the motions. We spend an entire day hunting fish that are easy to capture if only we were using any other method than the one we have chosen. And when we are successful in our pursuit, we turn right around and let the fish go. It all ends up looking like a mountain lion masturbating on rabbit. But we do it anyway. And we preach to others to do the same. Catch & Release is the fly fishing mantra, as it should be…you know, conservation. There are a lot of us mountain lions out there and only a few, very confused rabbits. So, come to terms with who you are and what roll you play. Embrace the pointlessness of it all. Appreciate the urge that brought you to the river in the first place and while you are out there, let it overlap into things other than fishing. Enjoy all the perks of being outside, stalking the creek banks. Set down the fly rod and put a mean sneak on an unsuspecting fox squirrel, or hunker down behind a tree and watch a mule deer buck parade his harem down to the water for a drink. The hunter in you will be wishing you had a strung bow and at least one sharp arrow (he offered me a perfect seven yard broadside shot!) but the dweeby fly fisherman in you will be OK with letting him go.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Find Fall Pike In Deep Water

There is always an opening in the Fall (a small window) to whack a few more Northern Pike before the season is over. You know, in case you didn't quite get your pike fix earlier this spring. It can happen. But, this time of year it is sometimes easy to fall into the habits of spring, wherein you can’t help but waist most of your morning searching (in vain) for pike in shallow, weedy coves. They were all over these areas in the spring…but that was because they were there to spawn. They ain’t doin’ that no more. You may still find them in tight to the bank, but only right at daybreak, and only very near the sanctuary of deep water. Getting to the lake before light and hanging out at the deep end is usually the best strategy. Almost all of the Colorado pike water is in the form of a reservoir, so finding the deep side is a no-brainer. Drive to the side with the dam. Also, a heavy sink-tip fly line is not out of the question, especially if you find yourself out there around mid-day (the pike will be in the deepest water). And be prepared for the possibility of a slow day. You will rarely put up the same numbers as you can on a good day during the spring, but there is always the chance of you hooking into the fish of the season. The big female pike are on the prowl for an easy meal to help them through the winter.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Clown Shoe Caddis Hits Fly Bins!

The Clown Shoe Caddis is a Hi-Viz dry fly and may look very familiar to fly fishers on the Front Range of Colorado. This fly has been known for years as the Boulder Creek Caddis. It has now gone “Hollywood” so-to-speak…as it is tied commercially and is available for sale for the first time. And, like many who have come before, was required to leave the regional name behind.

The development of this fly began with the frustration over the inability to find a decent work horse dry fly to act as a mule for a couple heavy dropper nymphs in rough water. Foam bodied hopper patterns are too big to work well all year, elk hair caddis always seem to find a reason to sink and stimulators have a knack for riding sideways and then falling apart after the third trout eats it. The low-slung abdomen of the Clown Shoe forces it to ride correctly every time…even when rigged without a dropper. This fly is an exceptionally buoyant dry fly, I have found it often does not need any Gink…and when it does, only once an hour to keep it riding high. This is a result of two ingredients; one is the proportionally gigantic clump of elk hair as a wing, and two; the McFly Foam post at the top (almost impossible to sink!). With distinctive clump of flouresant cerise McFly Foam the Clown Shoe is by far the most visible caddis dry available. Over the last five years I have tested every imaginable color of McFly Foam post (on friends, family, fellow guides, clients and half-blind strangers on the river) and have found that none of the colors, even the most gaudy, have any baring on the effectiveness of the fly…but the flouresant cerise was the one color that the most diverse group of people could always see on the water with odd light conditions. I have also extensively tested the durability of the Clown Shoe…and can say with confidence that, if tied correctly, an individual fly can land over 100 trout and still be quite fishable!

See Charlie Craven Tie The Clown Shoe Caddis Step By Step!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Beginner Fly Tying DVD

There is an absolute ton of assistance out there for beginning fly tiers. There are books and online tutorials and free instructional videos on YouTube. But, like fixing sewer pipes, you have to wade through a whole lot of crap. I am not ashamed to admit that I am a bit of a book geek…and that is how, as a kid, I learned to tie my first decent-looking fly. But there are things a beginner always has difficulty learning from photos and illustrations alone. FlyFisherman magazine has recently released a series of fly tying DVDs called the Foundation 40 Fly Patterns. The series is listed like a college class list, 101-Beginning Patterns, 201-Basic Patterns, 301-Intermediate Patterns and 401-Advanced Patterns. In this DVD (first of the series) you will get to take a lesson from the master, Charlie Craven. He will walk you through 13 of the “must know” fly patterns, such as the Pheasant Tail Nymph, RS2, Woolly Bugger, Ant and nine others. (Runtime: 87 min).

Buy a Copy!

Friday, October 29, 2010

How To Act In A Fly Shop

A hundred fishing writers have written about stream etiquette. As fly fishers, most of us have read these articles and talked about our own and others behavior on the water. We all have funny or nasty stories to tell about random encounters with boorish turds. And any of us worth our salt know the rules of the river. They can all be boiled down into one golden mantra to follow…Do Not Disrupt Others In Any Way. Simple. End of conversation. Just don’t be a dick. But no one has ever written about fly shop etiquette. And, because of many social and professional dynamics, this can be a much more complicated and delicate conversation. This is why it is a discussion topic usually avoided—like religion and politics. But I have zero qualms with instigating an argument about any of the three. Here are a few hot topics…

Uh…dude. Yer in the wrong place.If you go into a fly shop and ask for “snaggin’ hooks” do not be alarmed, or surprised to get a strange look from the man behind the counter. He will most likely explain curtly that it is a fly shop….selling only fly fishing gear. You would get the same reaction if you showed up at an archery shoot armed with a semi-auto shot gun, or to a B.A.S.S tournament event with a tin full of chicken livers. Severe faux pas. The same applies to phone calls. Do not call a fly shop looking for live night crawlers, minnows or sucker flesh. Call a bait shop. The difference between the two is immense. And they are easy to tell apart. Even in a phone book. It’s all in the name; anything with the word “angler” is a fly shop. Anyplace with a name that includes “beer” “bait” or “ammo” will have some old guy who will just love swappin’ stories about homemade egg cures and snagging big spawning rainbows at night.

Check yo self ‘fore ya wreck yo self!The quality of service and information you receive at a fly shop is a direct reflection of your attitude and demeanor once you walk through the front door. So, do not act like you are hot shit and smarter than the young punk working in your local shop….even if, in fact, you are. It does you no good. The best advice for improving your experience in a fly shop is to understand the typical fly shop employee. They are usually more intelligent and worldly than the average joe at the 24-hour convenience store, but probably paid less. Fly shop employees are there because they are proficient at what they do and love sharing that knowledge with others. They are there to promote the sport and enhance your experience on the water. If you exude cockiness and attitude it puts a shop guy on guard. He is working there to help people, not prove a point about his fishing prowess. If you experience an employee acting aloof and only replying to your questions with short, vague answers…check yourself closely before storming out of the shop and telling your friends about how arrogant the jerks are down at the fly shop.

Yo! Wrap it up, B!Make your fishing stories brief and please god let there be an odd ending or a punch line. An average story told by a fly shop customer goes something like this: “Yeah just got back from the Frying Pan River. Oh, it was great! I went down with Joe. You know Joe, he comes in here a lot, I think. Anyway, Joe and I went down and stayed two nights in Basalt….no, wait….it was two weekends ago. Anyway we both caught fish. Well, I got a bunch and Joe struggled a bit. But I was using small blue-winged olive mayflies at first, but I was getting these big rainbow trout coming and looking at my fly and not eating it, so I switched over to a size 24 emerger….an RS2, I think…I have one here in my fly box….no wait, it is out in my car. Anyway, it was this tiny fly that had a dark olive body and a tuft of something white up front, by the head….or maybe it was grey? I have one out in the car…really. I can go get it right now. No? OK. So, I switched to this other fly…the RS2, I think. Well, the trout didn’t like that one either. So, I finally switched over to this really big green mayfly pattern. I mean REALLY big! I’d show you that one, too but I…………”
At this point the fly shop employee is contemplating either suicide or that job at a 24-hour convenience store. That same fishing story told by a fly fishing guide goes like this: “Yeah, took Joe down to the Pan…whacked em’ good on drakes… Shoulda’ been there! Saw some guy fall in trying to net a fish! Friggin’ hilarious!” Wham. Bam. Story done. And, true or not, a punch line thrown in for good measure! The point is this: we all love a good story….but if it is a long one, it had better be a good one. The best and most memorable fishing story I ever heard in a fly shop was told in three words. “STONEFLIES! GUNNISON RIVER!” The man had not showered in days, had a wild look in his eyes and never came all the way into the shop. He just stuck his head in and yelled! Great!

Are you shitting me?Do not expect the guy at the fly shop to tell you all his secret hot spots. At best you will get a slight gesture to a certain corner of a map and a sly nod of approval. Do your own homework and put in some leg work. If you pressure the guy he will send you to the same place he sends everyone else….you will most likely catch a few average fish and see a bunch of other guys. Look close, you might recognize them from the line at the cash register! You can get some great leads on fishing spots, but only after you have developed a friendship and rapport with the guys.

Have I shown you my rear naked choke?Do not go into a fly shop and have someone tend to you for 45 minutes while you cast a rod, or try on waders if your intention is to leave the store and purchase your crap online. If you are doing this, please inform them right away, so they don’t waist time on you. And while I am on the subject, if you do your shopping online solely to avoid the state sales tax do not bitch when your local fly shop goes out of business. Also, do not order a reel and line from a big box store such as Cabela’s and then bring it into your local fly shop and expect them to spool the line on for you. You may or may not have gotten a better deal at the big box, but what you certainly did not get was the service. Most fly shops will do several things for you. They will often give you a break on the cost of the new fly line when you buy a reel and they will give you free backing…and, most importantly, they will put it all together for you.

Closin’ time, bud!Do not come into a fly shop right at closing time to pick at the fly bins or even cast a new fly rod. The employees are experts at what they do…they get that way by spending a lot of time on the water. They probably have plans to hit the local creek or bass lake for an hour or two after work. Or maybe (now, brace yourself!) they actually have a life outside of fishing. Yeah, crazy…I know.

Crazy Fly Shop Questions!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Late Autumn Carp Fishing

Nope. Carp season still ain’t over yet. Total sweetness. Stinky wading boots and filthy waders sweetness. The mud flats are nice and low this time of year and the water is getting chilly ‘cause of the long, cool nights. The carp are in the mood to do nothing but sit on the couch, eat corn chips and argue about gridiron. (How ‘bout those Brownies…spankin’ some Saint ass!) Anyway…what I am attempting to say is, the water is cold (maybe time to stop wet wading?) and the carp are hungry and eating willingly. The carp season is definitely still on. In fact, I had my best day of the entire season in the past week. (300 pounds of carp on a Sage 5 weight…is that a good day?) It was a sunny day, high of 67 degrees…I had the entire flat to myself…and I was never without a tailing fish within casting range. Was using 3x leader and a #6 “Grey Minnow” Backstabber Carp fly. Most awesome yet grueling 4 ½ hours of the year. Carp averaged about six pounds apiece. You do the math. Oh, and don’t even bother asking what mud flat I was fishing…ain’t gonna tell! Well, if ya feed me a good bottle of pinot and show me some leg…then maybe.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

How To Rig A Dry & Dropper

The concept of using two flies at once is not a new idea, nor is it an obscure tactic reserved for the self-proclaimed“experts”. Most fly fishers use a tandem rig in one or another of its’ many forms. I will say again…most. I speak to an exorbitant number of beginning or inexperienced fly fishers. A perk/challenge of being based out of a fly shop in Boulder, Colorado—a town known for many things, to include free thinking (good as well as insane) more bicycles than humans and, of course,transients. Not just the guy on Pearl Street with a pet dog, cat and mouse all living with him in a cardboard box, but pilgrims and college students and just blue-collar dudes with an unexplained magnetism to the mountains. So, for those few out there who are not yet indoctrinated into the fold of the “Dry & Dropper” I will drop the knowledge. (As the comedian Daniel Tosh says, “Don’t worry, baby birds. I’ll feed ya!”) It is a simple two fly rig. And a staple in the culture of Rocky Mountain fly fishing. Start with a 9 foot 5x leader. Tie on a dry fly. My suggestion this time of year is bushy caddis fly adult, something that has a ton of elk hair and hackle packed onto a small dry fly hook so that it is super buoyant. A size 16/14 Stimulator is a practical choice, although the new hi-viz Clown Shoe Caddis (just arrived in fly bins yesterday!) is my new favorite. Now, once the dry is in place, tie on some 5x spooled tippet material onto the bend of the dry fly using the same knot you used to tie on the eye of the hook. Trim this tippet material to about 18 inches and select a sub-surface fly to use as the “dropper”. I like to go double caddis…adult on top, pupa underneath. The Banksia Bug is one of my top picks as it has such a great “buggy” look as well as the proper weight and durability needed in a bottom bouncing fly. Fish this rig exactly how you have been fishing a single dry fly. Cast upstream and let the flies drift back downstream as naturally as you can…being sure to keep your rod tip held high and as much fly line and leader off the water as possible. If the trout eats the dry you will know (duh) but if the dry fly suddenly disappears, please set the hook. The trout has just eaten your dropper. Yes…also duh.

Pictured above are the Clown Shoe Caddis and the Banksia Bug. Two brand new flies from Umpqua Feather Merchants. Together they make the best (arguably) autumn caddis dry and dropper partnership!

Monday, October 25, 2010

When in doubt...

When in something different. When you are sure you know the answers, or what fly to use, but things just ain't going according to the script you had prepared...switch it up. Go unconventional. Do the opposite of what your conventional wisdom is telling you. I am mildly dyslexic. So when I am driving home from somewhere I have never been...and I come to an intersection. And I know I need to turn left...nope...I go right. And sometimes when I am on the river and I, again, know what flies to be using. And it is not working out that way. And I try all the right flies. Then, all the right flies...but a different size. And still nothing. Then I turn in the opposite direction. I tie on 1x leader material and the biggest, ugliest monster in my fly box! So, the other day while struggling on the Blue River, I tied on a big Geezus Lizard bass fly. Shouldn't work, should it? Rainbows ate it...

Sunday, October 24, 2010

We Are What We (fish for)

Based on extensive surveys conducted over the course of almost four years I have broken our local Front Range Colorado fly fishers into two categories and five sub-groups. The two categories are based solely on the amount of time an individual spends on the water. The five sub-groups are based on the type of fishing an individual does. I originally compiled this information solely for marketing purposes (working in a fly shop ain’t all bad!) but now I would like to share the information because it is fun to be introspective. So, read on and see where you fall in….

Category 1:
“Hard Core 10”
This is the ten percent of the fly-fishing population that spends far more time on the water than the rest. A male fly fisher who gets out in excess of 100 days per year, or a female fly fisher who spends in excess of 50 days on the water.

Category 2: “Normal 90”
This is the category that the majority of fly fishers fall into. This is the normal segment of the fly-fishing population that actually has a real job or family that won’t allow them to spend enough time on the water to end up a Hard Core. On average, men fish 33 days per year and women fish 15 days per year.

Sub-Group A: “Trout Heads”
These are the fly fishers who exclusively target trout. About 34% of local fly fishers fall into this sub-group.

Sub-Group B: “Trout & Dabblers”
These are the fly fishers who almost exclusively target trout, but will dabble a bit every year with other, usually warm water species. A typical scenario is someone who fishes for trout 25 to 30 times a year, but may spend a couple days at a local bass pond and another day chasing carp or pike with a friend. About 20% of local fly fishers fall into this sub-group.

Sub-Group C: “80/20’s”
These are the fly fishers who seriously pursue two fish species. Usually trout is the primary species (consuming roughly 80% of their time on the water) but the remaining 20% is spent after a second species. About 35% of area fly fishers fall into this sub-group. Most commonly the second species is largemouth bass. These Trout/Bass fishers are often in their late 20’s or early 30’s. They are blue-collar, or beginning career people and usually put in more time on the water then others in this sub-group, mainly because of the close proximity to good trout and bass water on the Front Range. Trout/Bass fishers make up about 19% of local fly fishers overall.
The second most common “80/20” fisher is the Trout/Salt guy. These make up about 12% of fishers overall and they are usually middle aged and older career/family types who don’t have a ton of time to fish, but get out for trout as often as possible. But they are financially stable enough to take a couple long weekend trips to a well-known trout river and at least one weeklong fishing vacation to a saltwater destination.
Another type of fisher in this sub-group is the Trout/Steelhead junkie. These guys have about the same type of career/lifestyle as the aforementioned Trout/Salt guy but tend to be a bit older. They are usually retired (or near retirement) own a spey rod or two and have a healthy collection of classic fly fishing literature in their home library. These guys spend a good deal of time fishing for local trout, but the highlight of their year is the annual trip to Washington or British Columbia to fish for steelhead. Trout/Steelheaders make up only 4% of local fly fishers overall.

Sub-Group D “Triple Threats”
These are the fly fishers who seriously pursue three fish species. This group makes up only 8% of area fishers. Most commonly these were “80/20” Trout/Bass fishers who branched out to seriously include a third species such as carp or northern pike. An equally common scenario is the “80/20” Trout/Bass fisher who finally gets to the point in their life to afford the annual Alaska (salmon) or saltwater fishing vacation. The two frequent time breakdowns for the typical “Triple Threat” is 70/15/15% and 45/45/10%. Someone who fishes 24 days for trout, 6 days for bass, 1 day for carp and another day for wiper should NOT consider themselves a “Triple Threat”. They are an “80/20” Trout/Bass guy!

Sub-Group E: “Aces”
These are the fly fishers who seriously pursue four or more fish species. Those in this sub-group make up only 3% of local fly fishers and are usually also in the Hard Core 10 category, primarily due to the immense time involved in fishing seriously for four or more types of fish. These are often fly fishing guides or otherwise engaged in the fly-fishing industry. A common scenario is someone who spends over 100 days a year on the water, 60% fishing for trout, 20% after carp, 10% after largemouth bass and 10% after something else. The fourth pursuit is varied, sometimes northern pike, sometimes wiper…maybe to the salt. Interesting is the tendency for the second pursuit to usually carp!

Note: For ease of classification I have lumped all trout (cutthroat, brookies, browns and rainbows) into one species “Trout” and have done the same with large and smallmouth “Bass”. In the same vain I have included all saltwater species into “Salt”.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Americas Cup Fly Fishing Tournament

The Americas Cup international fly fishing tournament was held in Frisco this September. It was a three day event, with competitors fishing stretches of the Blue, Arkansas and Colorado Rivers. There were 65 fishermen from at least five different countries...USA, Australia, Japan, Poland and Ireland. Devin Olsen from Utah took first place and Lance Egan took second. Our own Cody Burgdorff of Lafayette, Colorado took 23rd, but took the largest trout of the competition; a 22 inch rainbow from the Blue River. Ironically, he was using a "Frenchie" nymph (a fly desigened by Lance Egan and sold through Umpqua Feather Merchants).

Monday, October 18, 2010

Blue River Report (October 2010)

The biggest inconvenience in having a friend who is a teenager is not what you might think. It is high school. Yup, same as what the biggest inconvenience was when I was a teenager. I keep trying to get him to drop out, but he won’t. The fishing is so much better on the weekdays, I tell him. No other fishermen around. But he won’t drop out…even after I promised him a job at the fly shop. Maybe I am a poor role model…?
But, Cody had a day off of school during the week. And I agreed to go wherever he wanted. Apparently he had some unsettled business with the large rainbow trout in the Blue River. Off to Silverthorne we go. It is a bright, bluebird day. Not a cloud in sight. So we are not expecting great fishing, but we try for arguably the most harassed and highly educated trout in the river. The ones in the stretch of river in town, directly behind the Cutthroat Anglers fly shop. I saw some big BWO’s hatching, but we took our best rainbow trout on streamers and weighted caddis pupa. I would stand on the walk bridges and spot fish…and Cody would cast to them and catch them down below. Was fun to watch.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Redd Raider

The hardest thing usually to leave behind can loosely be called the conscience
—Norman Maclean

It’s dark outside, really dark, probably two hours after sunset. The wind is seemingly blowing from every direction as you try to attach an egg pattern to light tippet. Your headlamp is not quite bright enough to see what you are doing but somehow the egg fly and tippet come together and you cinch the knot. Now you direct your headlamp’s attention to the shallow riffle in front of you…two feet of burnt orange meanders back and forth in the current (a big, spawning brown). You shut the headlamp off. Then you strip off just enough line to land the egg above the fish’s viewing lane. The headlamp clicks back on and you relocate the fish, you cast above the spot and watch as the egg drifts into the fish’s face. Wham! Who knows if the big trout actually ate your egg or if it more or less smacked it in the mouth? Either way you’ve got yourself a true trophy and a great grip and grin photo opportunity. After horsing the unsuspecting fish around in the current, you put a big bend in the rod and drag the specimen to the bank. Out will come the camera and the fish’s eggs for that matter…

If you have ever spent much time fly-fishing in the spring or fall, you have no doubt found yourself in this situation, or at least contemplated yourself in this situation. At some point as fly fisherman the desire to raid a redd is all too tempting, and I can’t think of too many anglers (including yours truly) who has not taken a fish off a redd. I mean, come on…who’s going to know? What’s the big deal with sticking a nice fish and taking a few pictures? The big deal is, that beautiful fish is sitting in that shallow riffle in order to create tomorrow’s trophies. So, the next time you wander by a redd, why not just put the fly rod down and stop and marvel at the beauty of Mother Nature sitting right in front of you, instead of taking advantage of her?

Author: Tyler Bowman
Guide, Bucking Rainbow Outfitters
Steamboat Springs, Colorado

Friday, October 15, 2010

Mug Shots

Every now and then we are convinced we recognize a particular fish. We are sure we have caught the same fish previously. It is just so hard to be sure. Sometimes it is some distinctive spots on a trout, or some scarring or disfigurement. I have caught the same 13 inch brown trout with a crooked spine out of the same pool on Boulder Creek several times. And the same, hare-lipped largemouth bass from the same cove of the same pond twice this year. Now I have mug shots of what I believe is the same carp…caught four months apart. This in itself is not really a big deal. What I do find fascinating is how this individual fish has grown and changed. The odd scale configuration on this fish is the sole identifying characteristic…this is a semi-rare genetic mutation that you will see in common carp. The results are known as “mirror carp”. You will notice the stark difference in the scale configuration between the June photo and the October photo. They may appear to be two different fish, but keep in mind the pond that this came from is very tiny. There may be only 80 to a 100 carp, at best. And I have caught most of them at some point or another during the course of the year. I am fairly certain this is the same fish. It has gained the appropriate amount of weight…but the real cool part is how the scales have developed.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Boulder Creek Report (October 2010)

On Tuesday this week I had only an hour to fish the creek…and I was having severe motivation issues as well. Took me awhile to crawl out of bed. And the lack of drive continued once I was up in the canyon. The last thing I wanted to do was don my already cold, damp waders... I was reminded of what an old friend used to say, "Waders make you look like you're serious." And I didn't feel serious. I just wanted to see the creek and maybe catch a trout or two. So I left my jeans on and hopped from dry rock to dry rock doing my best to stay dry. The creek is so low right now that I could easily get away with it. But I couldn't get in the right positions to make the proper casts and presentations. I was left to attempt casts I haven't tried in years...40 foot roll casts (with a 3 wt) and big slack casts aimed up at a 45 degree angle to allow all the line and leader to collapse back on the water in long, lazy curves. These are designed to absorb all the conflicting currents between you and your fly. And I looked like a tool...until trout ate my fly one after another. Took a half dozen small browns on a #20 Adams. Then I went home.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Dead Fish Do Tell Tales

I heard it said once that you don’t really know a trout stream (even if it is the home water that you have fished forever) until you have volunteered with an electro-shock fish survey. The state division of wildlife will occasionally do these surveys to get an idea of the health of a particular body of water. The electrodes can be stuck deep under even the most cavernous undercut banks. The trout come belly-up…and the volunteers scoop them up in nets. Once the fish are measured and counted they are released unharmed. A bit punch drunk, maybe. The point being…as a volunteer you get years of unanswered questions answered. You will be shocked (pun certainty intended) and maybe a bit humbled to know just how many trout were in your favorite pools. And just how big the biggest trout really is…not that one fat 16 incher like you once thought. You might feel silly when a 22 inch brown trout floats out from under that root ball that you never put a fly near because you were too afraid to loose that $3 streamer.

So, if you ever get the chance to volunteer for one of these endeavors, don’t pass it up. But, these opportunities don’t crop up very often. You usually have to conduct your own reconnaissance. The actual act of landing fish is the best way to determine what size and/or sort of fish live in any given area, of course…but often the fish you catch are just the dumb ones. Sometimes you have to rely on old age or winter kill before the largest or smartest fish show themselves. Always stop and inspect the rotting carcasses. The most decomposed ones really test your species identification skills, but can be fun. Pretend you are on one of those CSI television shows. “Something smells fishy, Grisham. I suspect foul play…yuk…yuk…yuk…”

I have discovered some very interesting things about my local waters by taking a closer look. Sometimes it is simply a matter of not being aware of how big some of the bass are in a certain lake, other times it is discovering that there are big wiper or walleye in a little reservoir that no one in their right minds would suspect. Mmmm…juicy little secrets!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Solitary Life of a Commercial Fly Designer

There was a time (I am told) when a guy in his early 20’s could help put himself through college by tying flies for his local shops. Those days are long gone. The mind boggles trying to calculate the number of flies it would take to pay the average tuition these days. The flies you buy at the fly shop today are almost exclusively tied overseas. Thailand mainly. But your fly purchase may still be putting food on the table of someone in your own home town. These local tiers may not have put the finishing knot on the actual dry fly you just lost in a tree, but the idea for that particular fly may have been conceived in the mind of that surly guy with the dirty ball cap who hangs out at the back of the fly shop. Maybe. Or not. Point is…the commercial tying scene has changed in the past couple decades. Remove the image of the young English major crouched over his hand-me-down Thompson vise and a pile of 40 dozen zebra midges up in a dorm room. Nope. Remove that mental image. (Oh, that kid is still up in his dorm room...but crouched over a bong instead. Bloop…bloop…blooping away his parent’s trust fund.) Now the flies are tied in other countries. But the ideas are still home grown. Nowadays the fly industry more resembles the book publishing industry. A tier spends years developing and tweaking a particular fly for his favorite river. A fly that is different from what already exist. some way. Then he sends samples of this fly off to “publishers” and hopes they buy the pattern. If they do—and they rarely do—he can then expect an 8 to 10 percent royalty check every three months for as long as the fly is in circulation. Sounds cool, right? But, although fly fishing may be considered a rich man’s sport, it remains a poor man’s industry. God, that’s depressing. So, let’s look at this fly thing realistically. You pay what for an average trout fly? $2.00, right? Now, the fly shop only paid about $1.14 for that fly…8% of that is what? 9 cents. Yup. Livin’ the high life. But some of us are still chasing down the dream. The dream of making a living doing what we love. Working at a fly shop all week, not so much for the meager pay, but to be surrounded by everything new coming out in the tying world. New hooks…new materials. And sharing and gaining ideas from others of the same ilk. Listening to the complaining, too. Paying attention to the grumblings of fisherman. W
hat sort of flies do they like? What catches their eye in the fly bins? And the countless days spent out on the water testing new patterns. This part of the job is the aspect that friends and family incorrectly identify as the “off” time. “Oh, he gets to fish a lot. That must be nice.” Nope. Still at work. And then the nights. The long nights. Every night. Slaving away at the vise…chasin’ down the dragon…

Read another story: The Male Ego

Thursday, October 7, 2010

"Hey carp lover"

Had an interesting email from Jason Matthies the other day...entitled "Hey carp lover" and some great fishing transpired because of it. Now, sitting down and chaining myself to the keyboard, doing my best to weave it all into something fun...or at the very least coherent...I have decided to just copy and paste the entire on-line conversation. I could not tell it any better...

Jason: "There's 5-6 acre pond/slough I occasionally drive by that is packed with nice size carp. Over the past few weeks I've watched the water level drop dramatically in it to the point that I'm getting somewhat concerned that this slough is going to turn into a mud pit shortly and the 70 - 80 carp are going to be killed off. I can't image that the water is any deeper an 12-18" on average now. It's apparent that the water is down a few feet from the spring time high. I'd hate to see these fish die so I'm curious if it's possible to contact someone (which is what I'm hoping you might know) and obtain permission to catch as many as possible and transplant them into deeper water somewhere close. Any ideas on how to go about this and where one might start? Either that or we go out there and catch them until our arms are sore."

Jay: "The state could care less about contacting anyone is pointless. Transplanting any would be highly frowned upon...they are evasive species after all. Carp are survivors, though. They can live a few days in nothing but damp mud! But catching so many my arms feel like falling that's a good time! Let me know when ya want to fish it!"

Jason: "I'm game for hitting the water today and/or tomorrow. I'll probably work half a day today and the same tomorrow. Are you at the shop?"

Jay: "Yup. Lets do it!"

And, yes...we caught carp 'till our arms were sore!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Junk Food

Yup. Sorry to say. These are the two main reasons why I am a fisherman. Good ol’ pretzel rods and orange soda. No, really. I mean it. It is rumored that I owe my life to Jim Beam (good on ya, Dad!) but I am certain that I owe my passion for fishing to junk food. Yeah, yeah…I’ll explain. My childhood diet consisted of bran cereal and yogurt for breakfast, not Fruit Loops. My school lunches were sprout-laden sandwiches on homemade, whole wheat bread, not Pizza Fridays at the school cafeteria. And Mom made me bring the empty brown bag home every day to reuse. Dinner was wild game, home-grown potatoes and a fresh tossed salad from an organic garden. After school snacks? “Go pick some raspberries,” Mom would say. “And take these three dozen pint baskets out with you when you go.” Children were apparently the one thing cheaper than migrant farm workers. But, if it wasn’t being an organic produce mule for my mother…it was being shanghaied by Dad. Almost a mile out on Lake Erie in a 12 foot metal boat and a temperamental 9.9 Johnson outboard…20 foot swells…didn’t matter. If he could bribe my sister and I out on the boat it would triple the limit of walleye he could keep. Oh, it was plenty safe. We had an old, 1960’s era life jacket and at least two potentially floatable seat cushions pulled from some tractor seat. But we kids were easy marks. Unbeknownst to Mother, Dad would hide contraband junk food at the bottom of the cooler. And we craved it like Tyrone Biggums craves crack. Nothing like a couple little kids hopped up on caffeine to give some great action on an Erie Dearie worm harness.
So, I guess it is some sort of weird irony that fishing now completely defines my life. And I get sea sick thinking about junk food. What I crave more than anything now is my mother’s homemade bread, some fresh cucumbers from her garden…and to spend a day out on the water with Dad. Haven’t in years. And it sucks.
If you liked this story read: Bunch of Old Crap

Friday, October 1, 2010

How to tie the Geezus Lizard fly

Name: Geezus Lizard
Source: Jay Zimmerman

Color: Crayfish (pictured)
Gamakatsu Jig 90 Heavywire (round bend)
Size: 2 and 1/0
Tail Thread: Danville’s 210 flymaster plus (black)
Tail Tip: Frog’s Hair dubbing (Golden Yellow)
Tail Dub 1: Whitlock SLF (Dark Stone Nymph)
Tail Dub 2: Whitlock SLF (Nearnuf Crayfish Nat.Orange)
Body Thread: Danvilles’s 3/0 waxed monocord
Legs: Spirit River Tarantu-legs Hot Orange(Med)
Belly: Hareline Dubbin Scud Back 1/4” Clear
Rib: UTC Ultra Wire (Black) Medium
Weed Guards: Rio Saltwater Hardmono
(17 pound test for size 2, 26 pound for size 1/0)
Body Rear: Dark Rust (micro mink on #2,rabbit on 1/0)
Body Front: Lite Rust(micro mink on #2,rabbit on 1/0)
Topping: Dark brown marabou
Eyes: Yellow dumbells (Med on #2, Large on #1/0)
Head: Whitlock SLF (Dark Dragonfly)

Color: Black & Olive
Gamakatsu Jig 90 Heavywire (round bend)
Size: 2 and 1/0
Tail Thread: Danville’s 210 flymaster plus (black)
Tail Tip: Frog’s Hair dubbing (Golden Yellow)
Tail Dub 1: Whitlock SLF (Dark Stone Nymph)
Tail Dub 2: Whitlock SLF (Rd Fox Sq. Abdomen)
Body Thread: Danvilles’s 3/0 waxed monocord
Legs: MontanaFly, Centipede Legs, Speckled Clear Tan(Med)
Belly: Hareline Dubbin Scud Back 1/4” Clear
Rib: UTC Ultra Wire (Ginger) Medium
Weed Guards: Rio Saltwater Hardmono
(17 pound test for size 2, 26 pound for size 1/0)
Body Rear: Black (micro mink on #2,rabbit on 1/0)
Body Front: Olive/Brown (micro mink on #2,rabbit on 1/0)
Topping: Black marabou
Eyes: Yellow dumbells (Med on #2, Large on #1/0)
Head: Whitlock SLF (Hellgrammite)

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