Monday, December 28, 2009

Just One More Whitefish This Year Please

December 26, 2009

Normally, if you suggested floating the South Fork of the Snake River between Christmas and New Years I would respond with, “Ha! No thanks! Snow and ice covered boat ramps, brutal cold, no fun and no way.” I can’t stand when my guides freeze up every cast. However, when friend Rob Parkins, a well know fishing guide and fly tier here in Teton Valley, asked that I join he and another friend , Zack Dalton, of Rio Fly Lines, to fish the day after Christmas, I surprised myself when I answered cautiously, “Maybe.”

Robs offer to me came about a week or so ago. I said if it wasn’t unbearably cold I’d be interested. Assuming that it would be, I never gave much thought to the idea again. But on Christmas Eve Rob was visiting the house and was quick to let me know he and Zack were still going. Since my hunt to Minnesota and Iowa two weeks ago, I’ve spent most my time hunched over art projects waiting for a new excuse to get outdoors. I knew by now that temperatures for the day after Christmas were predicted to be about 12 degrees Fahrenheit along with sunny skies. Surprising to most, 12 degrees isn’t too bad around here as it’s generally a dry cold and with sunshine feels considerably warmer. With all that in mind, my response was, “I’m in.”

Despite being 5 below zero when I woke up this morning, Rob picked me up at 10am and one could already feel the suns warmth. When we met Zack who was arriving from Idaho Falls at the icy boat ramp at the Palisades Dam, it was already about 10 degrees and continuing to rise. While they did our short shuttle, Dam to Husky, I rigged my 6-weight Ross with 10 feet of straight 0X
Rio Flouroflex Plus tippet and attached two flies. Usually my streamer rig is about 18 feet of 0X (Shockingly long to most), however, knowing my fly rod guides were going to freeze, the shorter leader would be easier to handle. When the boys returned I offered to row the drift boat across the river to so they could nymph below the dam.

There are huge rainbows and cutthroats taken with regularity directly below the dam on nymphs. If your wondering why I rigged up a streamer it’s because I’m not a big nympher. Despite many years of competing internationally and applying European nymphing tactics to my daily fishing, it’s not my favorite method. My heart is really in dry fly fishing and I’m known to enjoy chucking streamers. I knew Rob and Zack would cover the water well without my help and until it warmed up I’d be content popping some photos and giving moral support.

Fishing was slower than expected. Although Zack nailed a fantastic rainbow on his first drift with a mysis shrimp, they caught only one other trout and a handful of whitefish. Rather than waste a day there we floated down to another favorite run. I struggled to get more than three casts in a row without having to crack ice out of my guides during the drift. That diminished my fly in the water time and I realized my highlight of the day was going to be lunch.

Rob took charge of lunch putting four huge elk burger patties on the boat size charcoal grill. Both Zack and I felt as though we were on a guided trip and indulged on the delicious lunch. Between eating and cooking, they nymphed the run and I dredged, slowly stripping my two streamers. Zack landed a beautiful cutty but then followed with a hand full of whiteys along with Rob and me.

We floated the rest of the short float in an hour hap-hazardly fishing as we drifted along. I avoided a skunk by landing two nice rainbows and Rob nymphed up a good brown and a “mighty whitey”. While spending much of December working on art projects, preparing for the show circuit and gorging around the Holliday table, it was great to hit the river again. The thought of floating the last week of December will never again be considered a “not a chance” deal. In fact, I’ll just bet there will be another fishing report posted here shortly!

Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing Web Site

Monday, December 14, 2009

Blizzards, Beer and a Pheasant

Usually you expect a fishing report from this blog, however, this weekend I found myself in South Eastern Iowa on a pheasant hunting trip. It was a get together with some of my old college buddies from Northland College in Ashland, WI. We studied together there over twenty years ago! Remarkably, we continue to stay in touch like family and do some really fun trips together.

Although this particular trip has been an annual for over a decade, I’ve never been able to go because it occurs in December. Getting time off from the old retail job during Christmas season was next to impossible. But now with my new career, I gave myself the time off and don’t plan to miss such excursions ever again.

There were eight of us total. We expected more, but the blizzard that ripped through the heartland last week put a damper on some schedules. I lucked out by flying into Minneapolis Thursday night just scathing the huge storm. A couple of the fellas are from MN and asked me to co-pilot their road journey to IA. It was a great idea as we got extra time to catch up and I got to see some countr
y that I rarely get to see.

Our precise destination was Marion, IA at our colleague Mike Birmingham’s family farm. It’s a gorgeous estate where he has turned the farms corn crib into his house. It overlooks the property and at any given moment you could watch whitetails feeding on the edge of the oak forest or pheasants in the snow covered corn fields.

Birmingham greeted us in his driveway with open beers. He was quick to inform us, we’d be drinking quite a few of these because pheasant populations were horrible from consecutive harsh winters and serious floods from last spring. This wasn’t bad news to us for the true meaning of the visit was to catch up with old friends. Two of the gang had been hunting the farm for two days and literally saw one bird. That was enough for me to not even pick up a gun (I’m not a serious hunter or a good one) and let the others get their best shot.

That proved to be a wise decision. Despite spending Saturday on another private farm, only a pheasant and a rabbit were taken amongst the crew all weekend. While most the boys spent their time carrying shotguns and running the dogs, I enjoyed a snowy walk through the oak forests where I jumped the occasional whitetail deer.

Today I’m travelling home and as one can imagine after a weekend of post-holing through deep snow and late evenings with old friends, I’m flat out exhausted. It was a great four days and I look forward to our next get-together. From what I hear, it’s warmed up in ID and I just may sneak over to the South Fork on foot for a couple hours this week to fish some midges. Stay tuned. . .

Monday, December 7, 2009

More Art, Less Fishing and Moose

December 5, 2009

There isn’t much snow on the ground here in Victor, Idaho, but the winter temperatures have arrived. It’s seriously cold and with the exception of a run or a hike I’ve been inside working on various art projects. It’s the exact weather needed to get me off the rivers and on to my work. Most of the artwork I’ve been doing is filling orders for Christmas. These include watercolors of cutthroats, brown trout, rainbow trout and even a muskellunge to name a few. It’s been great fun working at home for myself.

It would be a lie if I claimed I could go a whole week without fishing. And sure enough, a trip to Jackson Hole for a few hours of errands today turned into a quick jaunt up to the Jackson Lake Dam in Grand Teton National Park. Although most of the Park is closed to driving during the winter, the road to Moran Junction and to Jackson Lake remains open. From the dam runs the Snake River. Because the water running through the dam comes from the bottom of Jackson Lake, it’s warm enough that it doesn’t freeze. The warmth attracts baitfish such as Utah Chubs and whitefish that in turn bring in the predatory Snake River Cutthroats and brown trout. The dam turbines also blow through some lake trout from Jackson Lake itself. If you can stand the brutal temperatures, you often catch numerous fish until you’re so cold you can’t move.

Today such fishing was not the case. I fished with my friend Mark Kuhn, better known as “Milkfish” and between the both of us managed only two fish. I caught a brown and a laker. It was a surprise to do so poorly, but perhaps the fish were a little “doggy” because it was literally only five degrees.

Two nice fish certainly doesn’t call for a bad day, however, due to the slow fishing and severe chilly conditions, we opted to head home early to perhaps see some wildlife. Sure enough, our drive hardly let us down. We saw a coyote, hundreds of buffalo, elk, and best of all, several rutting bull moose. One of the bulls was quite large and I managed a few photos. Unfortunately, all I had was my point and shoot Canon so the photo you see is the best I could get. Hopefully in a few days I’ll round up a shot from Milkfish who had a nice camera and a zoom lens.

Global Fly Fishing web site

Monday, November 30, 2009

I Love My New Boss!

On October 25, 2009 I became self employed. All I can say is, “I like my new boss”.

This has been one of the fishiest November’s of my life!

From Baja to Idaho - here’s a few photos to remember from this great fishing month!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Baldies, Beaves and More Good Fish

November 27, 2009

This is insane! A week ago winter set in but yet again disappeared. We floated the
South Fork in Swan Valley Idaho once more and didn’t get even a flake of ice in the fly rod guides. Float fishing and ice-less stripping guides should have been a thing of the past three weeks ago, but our season keeps going and going and going . . .

The weather was mostly cloudy with temps reaching about 42 degrees. There wasn’t a breath of wind and when the sun occasionally broke through it felt like 50. You wouldn’t expect a better day in early October.

I fished with Tom Montgomery, whom I introduced in my November 24th report. We expected a third to join us, Andy Asadorian, but not only did Andy not show up but we didn’t even hear from him. A little weird but it’s a fact. And when a fishing partner drops out at the last minute, fishing is always good. Today was no exception.

Despite a late start of noon, Tom and I agreed upon a goal of twenty fish to the boat. That was a bit eager, and although that didn’t quite happen, we managed fifteen. We floated from Husky, also known as Palisades Creek launch to the highway bridge. This is about a nine mile float and with dark setting in by 5pm these days there’s no time for stopping. This meant a constant drift with the most effective method of fishing, stripping streamers. I used my usual rig of several streamers on straight 0X
Rio Flouro-Flex Plus tippet. Normally my best streamer color on the South Fork is olive, but today the black and silver screamer streamer knocked them dead. It was an even mix of rainbows, browns and cutthroat. Although we caught at least one quality fish of each specie, our nicest fish was a cutthroat. What was amazing about this cutthroat (in photo), while I was fighting him he spit up an 8” white fish! Impressive!

Fishing was so good today I forgot to mention the wildlife. November on the South Fork never disappoints. I’ll guess we saw hundreds of ducks and swans, at least five bald eagles, a family of beavers and a whitetail.

That’s about enough for now. Supposedly it’s going to snow and get nasty tonight, but with all this talk I’m going back to the SF tomorrow!

Global Fly Fishing Web Site

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thunnus Albacares aka Yellowfin Tuna, Aint No Chicken of the Sea

November 24, 2009

Winter is finally here and my days on the water will be fewer. In a way it’s a good thing because it will keep me indoors and perhaps I will get some work done. For those unaware, I worked at the Jack Dennis Fly Shop in Jackson, Wyoming for over twenty-three years! In August I gave my resignation and October 25, 2009 was my last day. From here on out I pay the bills solely working for myself.

My new career will continue in the fly fishing business. For years I have spent much of my time on the road speaking at fly fishing clubs and sport shows. In 2010 I will do even more of this. I am also an artist and will follow my dream of making this a major part of my career. I sell my work on my website and through the Wyoming Gallery in Jackson, WY. With my new free time I plan to become a better artist, explore more mediums, exhibit at art shows and expand into more galleries.

Although I won’t be fishing as much for the next couple months, I expect to get out at least once a week and report about each wintry adventure. I will also report on my progress with the new career beginning today. I just completed my first painting of a yellowfin tuna. This is a Christmas present so I won’t give too many details other than it was caught on a fly rod. I can tell you from experience, tuna, specifically yellowfin tuna, are the hardest fighting fish in the world!

Global Fly Fishing Web Site

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Fishing With the Gurus

November 20, 2009

It’s possible this was the last day of float fishing for 2009. For when we hit the boat takeout at dark this evening, we felt the temperature plummeting and smelled snow in the air. Winter may finally be arriving.

This was a special day on the water for more reasons than the fact that it could be the last this year. I was fishing with two close friends and long time guides of
Jackson Hole Wyoming, Paul Bruun and Tom Montgomery. Both men descended on the Jackson Hole guide scene in the 70’s and to this day are considered the best in the business. Furthermore, Tom is a professional photographer whose photos grace the covers and pages of magazines and catalogs. Paul is a well known sports writer for our local paper and writes for various national magazines. I’m proud to say, Paul even wrote the foreword to my first book, “Currier’s Quick and Easy Guide to Saltwater Fly Fishing”. Fortunately for me, both my older friends took me under their wing back in the 80’s when I arrived on the Jackson Hole scene and have shared knowledge and friendships ever since. I have been very lucky to have such mentors!

Tom has been sick as a dog for a week. Today was his first day out of the house so we took it easy on him with a casual start of about noon. We went to my November favorite, the South Fork, the river I’ve been reporting on this blog just about daily. Temps weren’t bad, about 45 degrees, but the wind was awful. It was blowing steady at about 20mph with gust recorded up to 40mph. Sounds like a rough day to cast, but just imagine rowing in it!

Nevertheless, veterans like us are fearless and after a shaky launch at the Irwin Slide we were on our way. Although there were fish rising in slicks between whitecaps, this was a streamer day and with Tom on the oars Paul and I were launching heavy bugs into the wind in no time. I was tossing streamers on my 6-weight
Ross fly rod. However, had I known when leaving the house that it would be this windy I’d of stepped up to a 7-weight. Just a little extra backbone for this kind of wind would have been nice. But without the option, I simply shortened my leader and went for it.

It turns out, today was the slowest day of fishing I’ve experienced this week. Between the three of us, we caught a total of about ten fish. However, slow as it may have been, this was truly another bonus fishing day. I need to keep pinching myself – THIS IS LATE NOVEMBER!

Global Fly Fishing Web Site

Thursday, November 19, 2009

No Ice In the Guides and It's November?

November 18, 2009

As long as the temps stay warm enough that the guides don’t freeze, expect continuous reports. Today I headed back out with Ed and Lucas and did what should be impossible in mid November; we floated nearly the entire canyon of the South Fork of the Snake. We shortened the normally twenty-six mile float about five miles by pulling out at  Wolf Creek. I often do twenty mile floats in July during the longest days of the year when flows are high, but to do it during these short days of November in low water conditions is unheard of. We put on the water in freezing cold temps at sunrise and got off in freezing cold temps well after sunset. Luckily, in between we had a sunny day with temps reaching a high of about 45 degrees and the fishing was excellent!

Although there were plenty of rising fish eating blue wing olives and midges, this was a full day of chuck-and-duck streamer fishing. With lots of miles to cover, we did not have time to stop and work rising fish. Such a shame as we could have absolutely hammered the fish dry fly fishing. One thing I have learned over the years is that just before winter truly sets in, the trout around here gorge themselves every chance they get. Unless a major cold front or snowstorm sets in, November is a superb month for anyone who loves to fish small dries to quality trout. The action may only last a few hours in the afternoon, but it is non stop. You can get all sophisticated with your dry flies if you like, but the fact is that these fish are trying to put on weight for challenging winter conditions. I can see a size 18 Parachute Adams on the water easily so that’s about the only pattern I mess with. The normally selective trout eat the fly like it’s going out of style!

Plunking streamers on the heads of risers would normally be a sin, but yesterday as we covered water fast, this is exactly what we did. Sure, many of the trout ran for their life, but the big boys often came for a look and many got caught. The action was steady all day however, particularly good early and late. Many people think the water needs to warm up but today was not the case. All in all I believe we landed about thirty fish consisting of mostly cutthroats with a spattering of browns and rainbows.

Global Fly Fishing Web Site

Nunya - Creek

November 17, 2009

There will be many days on this blog where you will not be informed of the location where the story took place. Sorry folks, but that’s the way the real anglers work and today is one of those days. Even though fishing wasn’t that great, I still can’t tell you where I was.

I fished with friends Ed and Lucas. They picked me up at my house about 8:30am and we headed on out. Later we were doing what I do a lot lately, chucking streamers. On this river, because of its size, I tossed only two flies and on a shorter than normal leader. My usual streamer leader is a 15-20ft long piece of 0X Rio Fluoro-Flex Plus tippet material. To most streamer fishers this sounds absurd because they use short stout tapered leaders. Short and stout makes sense for turning over big flies. I used such a formula for years. But trust me; fish the long 0X leader for a couple trips and you will be amazed! Once you develop the casting stroke it turns over just fine. It also sinks efficiently and helps give you direct contact from you to the fly. You rarely miss a strike. And to top it off, 0x Rio Fluoro-Flex Plus is 14lb test so you can land a big fish fast or rip down a tree branch when you miss that target!

All that talk and unfortunately I must tell you again, fishing was slow. In total we landed seven fish. Four of the fish were decent with one large brown of about 20-inches. It was a gorgeous fish that Lucas caught while dredging a deep pool. One of today’s highlights was a moose that was very annoyed to see anglers floating this late in the season. With her ears back, she stood her ground as we drifted on by.

Global Fly Fishing

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Aint No Lakers Here

November 10, 2009

Fishing wasn’t too great today. I took my webmaster, Ken Holder, down the South Fork. Ken works for United Airlines and is based out of the San Francisco area. He has a home in Jackson and gets out to this area about five times a year. He and I have been busting our butts on my website a few hours a day since Sunday so it’s time for a break. I never like to leave an empty seat in the boat so my friend Rob Parkins from Victor came along with us and took the backseat.

You couldn’t ask for nicer weather for mid November. It reached a high of about 45, there was no wind and it was partly sunny. Perhaps that’s why fishing wasn’t as good as yesterday, and remember, we didn’t try too hard yesterday but still caught fish.

The first run from the Husky boat ramp to the rapid was nearly dead. I always boat a few fish here. In fact, yesterday we caught five fish in this run. However, today the one fish we did catch was unique for this river - a lake trout. Yes a lake trout! In all my years on the South Fork that was only the second one I’ve seen there.

This was my treat to Ken for all his hard work on my website so I chose to row most of the day. Although Rob would have been happy to share the rowing duty, I only had him relieve me for about an hour towards the end. All I wanted was few casts and a fish. Overall we landed about eight fish. Seven of them were cutthroat and one rainbow.

Despite the slow fishing it was a great day to get out. Any day your guides don’t freeze in November is a treat. Our days are numbered now as we all know the ground will soon be snow covered, high temps will be below freezing and the rivers will be close to frozen.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Sweating to Shivering, Home Sweet Home

November 9, 2009

It’s hard to believe you can go from casting barefoot on a beach in Mexico to barely squeezing into your waders because you have on two pairs of long underwear and the thickest fleece pants you own. But in the world of jets it happens all the time. In less than 48 hours I experienced such a scenario. In fact, the shock caused me to freeze my butt off today!

It was our end of the year
Jack Dennis Fly Shop employees & gguides party, a favorite event. We float the South Fork of the Snake River in Idaho. Jack Dennis buys us a huge breakfast at the Angus in Swan Valley, Idaho and all the beer for the day on the river! What a guy! And let me tell you, we do eat big and drink a lot of beer.

I’m not sure if fishing was just so so or if we just didn’t fish hard enough. I’m thinking the latter because we literally drift fished the first two miles of the upper South Fork then tied all our boats together, put our feet up and drank beers and smoked cigars. It doesn’t get any better. When we did take time to fish we threw streamers. I like my 6-weight with the
Rio Aqualux Intermediate Line with multiple flies. I always have an olive Kiwi Muddler and a small wooly bugger attached to a long flouro leader. Even though it wasn’t about the fishing, we nailed a few. I would guess our boat landed a dozen fish. It was a nice mix of cutthroats, rainbows and browns. Home sweet home again!

Global Fly Fishing Web Site

East Cape Relaxation Day & Cool Species

November 7, 2009

There’s nothing like a day fishing solo on water you’ve never fished before. Today was nearly exactly that. I say nearly because I did have a driver today to run me from my hotel in Cabo to a couple spots up the East Cape. But this person, Iban, didn’t speak English or fish for that matter. He just kicked back and watched me fish. Oh, and took a couple photos for me!

The day started early with a long ride north up the East Cape towards Los Barrilles. I have fished up here before, but today we were trying some new beaches recommended to me. When we arrived at the first beach I thought I went to heaven. Compared to yesterday where the surf and wind beat me to death, this place was calm and surf was nearly nonexistent. I
strung up my 10-weight
Ross fly rod and reel with a Rio Saltwater Tropical Intermediate line and a big popper. You may wonder why not a floating line for popper fishing. The answer is, in the surf with the waves, if you use a floating line, your popper just kind of jumps from wave top to wave top. An intermediate line helps keep the popper on the water. If your popper was small than the intermediate line likely would sink it, but in the tropics I almost always use big poppers because I’m hoping for big fish like jacks and roosterfish depending on my location.

I made my first cast right about where we parked the truck and started working my way up the
beach. I had a landmark of a jetty about a mile away that I planned to fish my way to. On my first cast I had a nice roosterfish chase my popper to my feet. Which brings up a point, to those new to roosterfishing, don’t let the roosters see you. I like to back up while I’m retrieving my fly so by the time my fly reaches the beach I’m well out of sight. I even get into a crouch like I’m stalking a trout on a spring creek when a fish is following. If they see you standing there forget it! I made several more cast the direction the big fish came from but he was gone. With the exception of a baby rooster and a few small Pacific Jack Crevalles, my efforts went unanswered.

After about two hours I reached the jetty I’d seen from the start. I poppered the water thoroughly then changed my rig. I strung up my 8-weight with a Rio Deep Sea 200gr line. This line has a 26ft sink tip that with a Clouser tied on gets me down deep. On my first cast I landed another peanut of a roosterfish followed by a handful of jacks (both crevalles and greens). It was a blast after the slow beach walk. When I reached the end of the jetty I let the fly
sink deep and caught a beautiful Pacific Dog Snapper. The next cast produced the unusual look down fish. Not only did I catch this one, but I caught one on my next twenty casts!

I played around the beaches of the East Cape until I couldn’t see anymore today. I continued to pick up an array of species while switching back and forth from my popper to the
Clouser Minnow. What a fantastic day and a great way to end a Baja adventure!

Global Fly Fishing Web Site

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sand, Crabs and Cool Surf Fish

November 5, 2009

Sam Vigneri and I are still in Baja. Our attempt to catch a marlin ended yesterday and today we rested up by sleeping in until about 7am. Once awake, we headed to Todos Santos to have breakfast with Grant Hartman and his wife Giselle. After the superb Mexican meal, they spent the day relaxing while Sammy and I opted to chuck flies in the Pacific surf.

Grant gave us excellent instructions as to where we may find a few fish. At our first stop we wandered out on to the beach and sized up the fishing challenges. It was simple, the breaking surf was huge and the tide was just beginning to drop. Fly fishing the surf is one of the most difficult forms of fly fishing there is. You almost always have a strong wind blowing directly in your face making it difficult to cast. Crashing waves make it even more difficult by not only taxing your ability to physically stand without being swept out to sea, but also play havoc with your fly line. It’s simple, as you strip line down on the beach while retrieving your fly; waves roll up the beach and wash the line away. As you go to make the next cast, it’s hard to shoot the line because it is getting sucked out to sea by waves. Toss in the fact that your line is gritted up with sand and you can hardly get the fly out there!

A couple tricks that work for me are first off, use a stripping basket. Stripping baskets strap around your waist and rather than stripping line on to the beach, you strip it into the basket. By doing so you don’t have to fight the waves when you go to shoot a cast and you will get a lot less sand on the fly line allowing it to slide through the guides much easier. In addition to the basket, I like to use a 9½ foot long rod. The extra 6-inches helps elevate my backcast over the top of a steep beach. Most of the beaches along the Pacific Ocean are steep and today was no exception.

Four hours into our fishing we were absolutely getting our butts kicked. Neither of us had a strike. We where exhausted, soaking wet and had plenty of sand in our hair and everywhere else you can think of. Worst of all, we completely lost our confidence. Sometimes the surf appears so inhospitable that you just can’t imagine fish live in it!

We kicked back and had some fun catching a few crabs. While doing so I noticed some rocks becoming exposed from the dropping tide. Sam and I both agreed the rocks looked worthy of a few casts so we put on the old Clouser Minnows and placed some casts around the rocks. I picked up a croaker on my first cast then next cast another. I think they were yellowfin croakers, but any verification would be appreciated. I called Sammy over and as I took pics of my second croaker he hooked into something different. It actually put up a heck of a fight. I think it’s some sort of surf perch. I plan to research it this week but if you know please tell me.

Sammy and I had a great week despite challenging fishing. It’s always good to spend time with old friends and that we did. Sammy and I fished until sunset and tomorrow he will head back to Wyoming. I have one last day and will solo the beaches of the East Cape.

Global Fly Fishing Web Site

No Naps, There's a Marlin Out Here

November 4, 2009

Today was Sammy’s and my last attempt at a marlin on the fly with
Grant Hartman. As planned we left Cabo Harbor early and traveled up the Pacific side of Baja for over an hour. Then we pointed our bow out to sea and started dragging our hookless teasers. We expected a weather change of wind and clouds today, but instead it was exactly like the previous two days, calm rolling seas with hardly a cloud in sight. Figuring a change in weather was needed to get the marlin feeding meant to me that we would not find our prize.

Unfortunately I was correct and in fact, even the dorado didn’t show up. It was simply a brutal day and at 3pm the hum of the motors and lack of action had us all borderline insane. What such a day does to me is make me eat excessively and take numerous naps. Thank God we didn’t have a case of beer or I’d of probably drank it all!

In order not to go crazy Grant, Sammy and I were swapping stories. I was well into my
“tiger story” when while gazing out to sea over Grants shoulder I saw just the tip of a marlin tail 50ft away. As I jumped up to confirm my sighting a wave rolled just right that I could see the whole magnificent fish beneath the surface, it was indeed a marlin. It took the boys a few more waves to get the view I had, but when everyone confirmed we had a marlin in range they jumped into action. Let me make this clear, this was not an active marlin in our teasers, but rather a sleeping marlin on the surface. While Grant began to circle the great fish with the boat hoping he would charge a teaser, our mate Arturo launched a live bridled hookless skipjack the marlins direction attached to a large spin rod. He let it sink, but the marlin ignored the treat. After several attempts the marlin sank from sight. Sure enough within seconds a tug of war was on as the marlin tried to take the live skipjack from Arturo.

This marlin was by no means the aggressive one we needed. Arturo easily pulled the skipjack away several times before at last he was behind the boat. I was fully ready and launched the 8” tandom-hooked 6/0 popper at the marlin. By now he was fully identified as a striped marlin of about 130 pounds, a perfect candidate to test my new
Ross Momentum LT #8 reel. By now Arturo had yanked the skipjack out of the water and we hoped the marlin would think my fly was it. Unfortunately, this billfish was smart and expressed little interest. He false charged my fly twice before disappearing to the deep.

My heart was pounding as Arturo tossed the skipjack back out several times with no response. Then suddenly the marlin appeared on the surface again. We motored his direction and Arturo cast the skipjack right at him. The problem was it was over the marlin and the line crossed his back. This evidently scared the living crap out of that marlin and he took off gray-hounding as if he was hooked. That was it. That big boy was a mile deep after that. We dragged the teasers through the area for two more hours but nothing. No marlin this trip.

Global Fly Fishing Web Site

Friday, November 13, 2009

All Dorado and No Bills

November 3, 2009

Sammy enjoyed catching dorado yesterday, but he loves catching marlin on the fly. Last year Sammy was down here in Cabo at the exact same time and had spectacular striped marlin fishing. Both the Pacific and Sea of Cortez were alive with
bait balls and feeding predators. Bait balls are huge concentrations of baitfish, and around Cabo they usually consist of sardines. If you look at a bait ball underwater it looks like a tornado as literally thousands of baitfish huddle together for protection and swim rapidly in circles. Marlin, snappers, dorado, tuna or even the unusual Brutus whale to name a few will completely devour an entire bait ball in a very short time. Not a single sardine will survive!

This year is not the same. It’s apparent the full moon has things messed up and/or the fact that Hurricane Rick pushed the marlin and the bait balls out to sea two weeks ago. Like yesterday,
Grant Hartman warned us that finding marlin would be tough, however we would go to a place where a few were seen yesterday. The location was not far out of sight of Cabo and by 8am we found ourselves dragging the hookless teasers. Everyone stared with anticipation just waiting to see an explosion in our wake with a slashing bill. But like yesterday, it was all about dorado. Today we landed several nice ones. For some reason they were actually finicky and would not take my normal first choice of a large popper. Instead they just looked at it and went crazy looking for our teasers again. The only fly we fooled them on was our striped marlin fly. Hey whatever works!

I’m pretty content banging up the dorado but would love to see us get a marlin. Sammy truly expected another year like last and he and Grant have discussed a new plan for tomorrow. It appears we will be leaving early and getting home late as we will travel far north and out into the Pacific.

Global Fly Fishing Web Site

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Strip Teaser Fun, Yankin' and Crankin' It

I arrived in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico in the afternoon of November 1st. I’m fishing with a great old friend Sam Vigneri of Casper, Wyoming. Sammy coincidently started at the Jack Dennis Sports fly shop a day before me back in 1987. Back then we did a ton of fishing together, but we both got so busy over the years we hardly ever have time we fish together. So when Sam invited me to try to catch a striped marlin on fly rod with him and guide Grant Hartman of Baja Anglers, another old friend, I didn’t think twice!

We met Grant early this morning and he was quick to warn us that we could be wasting time hunting marlin. Apparently, Hurricane Rick from a couple weeks back moved the marlin out to sea and few have been seen lately. Grants advice was to target dorado (dolphin fish) and hope to see a marlin. We ran about 30 minutes from Cabo Harbor up the Pacific side of Baja. It was a gorgeous morning with little or no wind with gentle rolling seas. Already I was suspicious because despite incredible visibility there were no birds and no signs of fleeing bait.

We began trolling our hookless teasers about ½ mile from shore and headed in a southwesterly direction. It didn’t take long before a dorado crushed one of the teasers. Grant and his mate and I retrieved teasers and his captain tossed out a bridled green jack. Within seconds a tug a war was on between the captain and a nice dorado trying to swallow the hookless jack. Once teased in casting range Sammy launched a popper on my 12-weight Ross fly rod and the hot fish hammered his fly. Sammy was soon holding a fine dorado.

We had a few other dorado in our teasers today and I hooked two and landed one. But really, things shut down after we each got into a fish. I’m a little worried as we are dealing with a full moon.

Teasers are basically hookless lures with bait attached. A fish comes in and hits it, gets a taste and they try to eat it. You take it away from the fish usually by jerking it out of the water and into the boat. The fish keeps hunting expecting it to reappear and you replace it with your fly.

Global Fly Fishing Web Site

Kayak Bivouac for Bonito and Bass

Whenever I’m on the road I always try to wet a line if I have time. I don’t know why more traveling folks whether it business or pleasure don’t try to do the same. It takes little to pack a rod and reel. I guess most people just assume there’s not much to fish for. Like me down here in Southern CA today, what in the world would I bring a fly rod here for? Duh! How about the ocean?

On October 30th, I ventured out with an old friend, Rich Garrett, who generously took time from work to take me fishing. Rich and his gal Mary Lou hooked us up with their friend, Mike Allen, a pro for Hobie Cat, and we sea kayaked outside Newport Beach.

Mike Allen is an expert in kayak fishing to say the least and he kindly took the day and time not only to join us fishing but also teach us how to use a sea kayak. Kayak’s are great fly fishing tools and within five minutes I was sold on the Hobie. We had the option of paddling and/or pedaling for moving in these kayaks. I loved this option because pedaling freed my hands so I could cast to fish with ease.

Today was a gorgeous 85 degree day with no wind. I quickly found myself two miles out to sea rolling in huge Pacific waves while chasing a school of bonito. I’d of chased bonito all day but somehow I’d ventured a long way away from Mike and the gang. I knew as a total rookie that wasn’t such a good idea and didn’t want to worry everyone. Also, it occurred to me that a kayak could resemble a seal to a big shark! I’ve fly fished for blue and mako sharks in the nearby waters off
San Diego and recently friend Jeff Patterson actually caught a great white on the fly down there! So as fast as my legs could pedal I hauled ass back near shore. There I met up with Rich, Mary Lou and Mike and dredged Clouser Minnows along the kelp beds. I have fished the surf in Southern California several times and learned the good fly’s should have some orange and gold. Therefore, the Clouser I used was orange and white with some gold on the body. Throughout the afternoon we landed a handful of handsome little calico bass and mackerel. A fantastic day!

The Clouser Minnow was originally designed by
Bob Clouser to be a freshwater fly, but tied in bigger sizes, it is deadly in the brine as well. A great prospecting pattern, you can cover alot of water with this one on those rare occasions when you might not know exactly where the fish are hanging out. On the retrieve it darts like a wounded baitfish just begging to be swallowed by something higher on the food chain. This fly should be tied sparse to imitate the long, narrow silhouette of most baitfish. Since the weighted eyes are on the bottom of the fly, it rides with the point up, so you can drag the bottom with it and not get many snags.

Global Fly Fishing Web Site

Saturday, November 7, 2009

225 Species of Fly Caught Fish - No Far Flung Fish Fables, Forgeries, Fibs, Fiction, Fallacies, Fertilizer or Fairytales

Thousands and thousands of air miles, airline cuisine (yuck), endless hours waiting in dirt strip airports for lost luggage, journeys across oceans and continents, sleeping under the stars, a tree branch, a tent, in the dirt on or near a critter colony, hundreds of yards of trashed fly lines, pounds of lost streamers, dries and nymphs, gallons of Gink and warm beer, busted fly rods, demolished fly reels, useless dead-end hand drawn maps on bar napkins, forgotten names, faces, pungent smells, hundreds of rolls of 35mm film (thank God now for digital) blisters, calluses, sunburn, diarrhea, frostbite, sprains and pains, countless skeeter bites, spectacular rivers, lakes, streams, creeks, ditches, channels, culverts and miscellaneous mud holes ...

FISH are where you find them !

View lots o' fish in a larger map

Thanks to Google Maps and internet magic, I'm now able to share with you the locations of every one of the 225 species of fish I've caught on a fly rod, since I was but a wee little one on the banks of a pond in New England, to my latest adventure in Baja California in November 2009 and beyond.

I'll be adding new data to this Google Map as often as time permits, so check back often. I'll include the common and Latin name of the fish, the name of the water found and they'll be marked on the map with a little fish icon.

The right hand side of my blog is where this map will always reside.

Global Fly Fishing Web Site

Friday, October 30, 2009

No Time for Starlets, Autographs, Glitz or Glamour ... Where’s the Fly Shop on Hollywood Blvd?

The weather here in Southern California is fabulous as it is most of the time. If it wasn't for the traffic, living here would be a consideration from about January till April. The fishing here in the Pacific surf and local lakes with huge largemouth bass could keep the interest of any serious angler throughout the winter. I'm down in this neighborhood because I spoke to the Long Beach Casting Club last night. Long Beach is a large city located in Southern California on the Pacific coast. It is situated in Los Angeles County, about 20 miles (32 km) south of downtown Los Angeles. Long Beach borders Orange County on its southeast edge. The Douglas Aircraft Company (later McDonnell Aircraft Corporation and now part of Boeing) had plants at the Long Beach Airport where they built aircraft for World War II, and later built DC-8s, DC-9s, DC-10s, and MD-11s.

Founded in 1925, the Long Beach Casting Club is a fantastic group of serious anglers and casters that take great pride in their club. They have a really gorgeous facility consisting of a classic clubhouse with walls covered with unique fishing artwork and fly collections. There's even a lighted casting pond right outside the front door - it's awesome! As one of the oldest continuously operating fly fishing clubs in the country, they have a rich history of contributions to the sport, i
ncluding several world and many national tournament casting champions. Two of their members are American Casting Association Hall of Fame Honorees, while ten members have been casting All Americans.

The talk I gave is called "
Four Seasons of the Yellowstone Troutbum", and is one of my favorites to deliver and always draws a good crowd. Most fly fisherman have fished Yellowstone National Park
a few times or if they haven't, it is surely near the top of their "To Do" list. As I always do at these presentations, I arrived early and did a fly painting while folks watched and then donated it to the club. I'm staying here a couple days with good friend Rich Garrett whom I met in Jackson, Wyoming 20 years ago. Today we are just taking it easy. We spent an hour at the club casting pond. Rich and some of the other club members practiced their spey casting while I borrowed a 5-weight from Rich and worked on some long casts across the pond. Tomorrow Rich and I are taking out the sea kayaks with Mike Allen of Hobie Cat to try and scare up a few bonito, calico bass and whatever else wants to suck in a fly. A great way to kill a day in Southern California before I head down to Baja on Sunday, November 1st.

Global Fly Fishing Web Site

Monday, October 26, 2009

Cub's, Coffee, Frosted Flowers and 'JackDennisless'

I feel as though I'm retarded (retired) today even though I am by no means a 44 year old retiree. Yesterday I ended a 23 year run of being a full time employee at the Jack Dennis Fly Shop. TWENTY THREE YEARS!!! And today, I am "JackDennisless" It seems weird but I know it's going to be great thing.

The beginning of the second half of my life went like this: I slept till 7:30 am, I haven't done that in a year. Instead of hurrying to answer emails before a long day at the shop I proceeded slowly to website and spent over an hour. I read why "Next Year is the Year". Then I had another cup of coffee. Two big cups today. A first for me and quite enjoyable I might add. Then I headed for the yard to clean up some leaves and cut some grass, but it was cold and I retreated to the house. I decided to rest up an hour or so and let it warm up some more. I just may like being "JackDennisless" I thought to myself. Eventually I got after it and did about 6 hours of yard work. As I clipped down frosted flowers and protected small tree trunks from voles I reminisced about the great times I had at the fly shop over the last two decades. All the great friends I made and employees I worked with. It's going to be a big change for me but I think I'll make it OK.

After hours in the yard I spent 2 hours buying plane tickets. I heard a rumor that prices are about to rise so I figured I'd save some money, something of major importance now that there's no regular pay check. Sure enough, it was a good move as I bought tickets for a pheasant hunt/fishing trip to Minnesota/Iowa in December, the Fly Fishing Show in Marlborough Massachusetts and Somerset New Jersey for January, Pleasanton, California in February and I just started sorting out tickets to Brazil for a March Amazon trip when friends Bruce and Katrin Smithhammer dropped in for a visit. Bruce writes for various magazines and in fact has an article in the latest Drake fly fishing magazine. We had a couple beers and shot the bull about our Fall fishing and hunting adventures so far. The Smithhammer’s were over to pick up one of my large cutthroat Gi-clees. I made a sale on my first day of retardedness! JackDennisless may be OK after all!

Global Fly Fishing Web Site

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Baja Billfish and Baetis Bonkin' Trout

It looked to be a good day to stay inside and get some artwork done, rig some billfish flies for Baja and perhaps a little yard work, that was until Josh Franco, former Jack Dennis Fly Shop fishing guide called me, "Jeff, let's go hit the Ranch. Should be some bugs coming off" he said. He was definitely right. It was raining lightly and about 45 degrees. Near perfect conditions to produce mass baetis hatches on the Henry's Fork.

Feeling as though we are running out of time in October, my favorite fishing month, I said
let's go. It was a great decision. We arrived on the banks of the Henry's Fork only to see nice fish rising everywhere! As expected, the baetis mayflies were hatching thick on the slow waters of the lower Ranch. When I say lower, I mean below Osborne Bridge. In fact, we were at my favorite Fall spot, the gravel pits. For me, the best imitation for the baetis is the smallest gray mayfly that I can see. Not only see on the water, but that I can tie on to 5X. My eyesight isn't the best these days and I'm being a bit stubborn on getting glasses. Today, that fly was a European CDC posted parachute in a size 18. It's body was of very thin profile with a gray chunk of CDC. Not much to be impressed by really, but boy do these things work. At first my fly seemed too big. It dwarfed the real bugs on the water, but on my first presentation to about a 16" rainbow, my fly was absolutely crushed! The fiesty fish leaped several times and then ran entangling my line in heaps of weeds. Luckily my RIO 5X tippet held on and I landed the gorgeous bow. During the next 3 hours I landed 5 rainbows from 15" to about 17". They were not the hawgs the Ranch is famous for but for a 3 hour fishing adventure, I'll take it any day!

Global Fly Fishing Web Site

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Carp Commandos Down in the Trenches

I left the house in the dark this morning to meet friends Dennis Butcher, George Kuvinka and Jay Buchner, a well known fly tier of Jackson Hole - truly one of the best I have ever seen. I owed Dennis a guided trip to fly fish for carp and today was the day. It's normally about a 2 hour drive to my spot, but thick fog slowed us and the ride took about 3 hours. Once there it was so cold and cloudy it wasn't yet worth fishing  so we filled up on a huge breakfast at the town hotel. By the time we were finished the weather still sucked, but I had no choice but to lead the troops to the small reservoir. To my dismay, it was nearly dry! Nice guiding job Currier! I had no idea that the dam on the reservoir was being repaired and the carp flats were dry to the bone. It was time to re-learn my favorite carp lake on the spot.  This was no easy feat for the weather still sucked with thick clouds and fog and temps around 35 degrees, absolutely horrific carp conditions. The reason this was so horrible is that it helps tremendously if you can see the carp before you cast and this requires sunshine. Also, 35 degrees is brutally cold for carp as they prefer much warmer conditions. The only water left was basically the old river channel which was too deep to see the carp feeding along the bottom sun or no sun. Fortunately these guys are friends and we went for a walk along the dried up mud flats searching for carp in what water existed the best we could. It was pretty cool actually as we found all kinds of things from soccer balls to half frozen crayfish that we were able to rescue. The only thing missing were the carp! The sun finally popped at 2 PM and at last a few carp began to show. And I do mean a few. On this lake I normally find myself casting to carp almost all day. But with today’s conditions and the lack of flats we only saw about 10 all day!

Luckily, some of these carp were cooperative and we landed three 4-7lb mirror carp. Jay caught one of them on Jay's crayfish pattern. It's a brownish orange color in a size 8. Jay was letting it sink to the bottom and slowly stripping it back. I caught my fish in one of Jay's nymph patterns. It's a beadhead in a size 14. It looks similar to a pheasant tail nymph only it has a red dubbed head and rubberlegs.
Most of my favorite carp nymphs have rubberlegs. The fly retrieve was as slow as you could imagine. I literally crawled the nymphs in front of fish using a one finger hand twist. The fish were so lethargic that they followed the fly at a snails pace before sucking it in. In addition to the carp, Jay streamered up quite a surprise when he landed a healthy little smallmouth bass. A species I'd never seen in the lake.

It appears my carping may be done for the year in Wyoming and Idaho due to the onset of winter.
I think tomorrow morning I'll do some art then head up to the Henry's Fork Ranch, fish the baetis hatch and stick some pig rainbows!

Global Fly Fishing Web Site