Sunday, October 31, 2010

We Made It!

It was a long 36 hour door to door trip. Actually add 20 hours for me because I drove up to Bozeman, MT on Thur. Anyhow, we are glad to be here and ready to rock. We got in to Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania two hours late, just after midnight Dar time. Everyone's luggage made it and we were pumped up enough to have some dinner and beers in the wee hours this morning here at the SeaCliff Hotel. As you can imagine our schedules are messed up bad. We are 9 hours ahead here. It will take a few days to adjust.

The program for us now is today we are taking a ferry ride to
Zanzibar Island and Stone Town. We've been advised to either not go or be careful because Tanzanian elections start today. Evidently things can get out of hand particularly in Zanzibar. Whatever, we're going out there and spending the night there tonight than back to Dar tomorrow night to meet up Tourette Fishing company and Keith Clover.

Should be good. I'll try to post some pics tonight as
long as I keep lucking into Internet access.

Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing web site


Saturday, October 30, 2010

Half Way There

One 9 hour flight done. One more to go. We made it to Amsterdam and in two hours we will fly to Kilimanjaro - another 8 hours. We chill there for an hour then fly to Dar Es Salam. It will be another long day and we don't get in to Dar until 11 pm Dar time. At least we can crash out a few hours. Then in the morning if all our travel goes well we are taking a ferry out to Zanzibar. Our fishing for tigers will start Tue.
First pic is Jim Harris from Bozeman working diligently on his computer.
The second picture is me rewarding Jim with a drink from the classic self service airport bar in Amsterdam. I'll stick to Heineken. Good stuff!

Friday, October 29, 2010

On the Way

Not much to say other than we have a long way to go. We are in Minneapolis just about to board our flight for Amsterdam. Planes are running late today. Tomorrow we have a 3 hour layover in Amsterdam then a long flight to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Can't wait to put this part behind us!
Photo - Jim Klug founder of Yellow Dog Flyfishing Adventures - He's all business!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Tiger Talk

Africa still has so many remote and unexplored fisheries that some of its fish species are not yet scientifically identified. I just spoke with Keith Clover of Tourette Fishing and he told me the tigerfish we will be targeting in Tanzania next week is no longer classified as the same type of tigerfish as those of the Zambezi and Okavango River systems. If you look back in my previous blog posted October 24th I mentioned that they were the same and want to clear it up.

My information came from an article
“The Quest for Trophy Tigers” written in 2008. If you want a great read and to see some unreal photos it’s archived on the Tourette Fishing website in the articles section. At the time of the editorial there was little information on the Tanzanian tigerfish and despite its different appearance and larger size they were still considered to be (Hydrocynus vittatus). However, after recent studies of DNA from fin clip samples provided by Tourette Fishing, this amazing predator has been determined its own species. This Tanzanian tigerfish is (Hydrocynus tanzaniae).

The visual differences in tigerfish species aren’t nearly as dramatic as say that of trout species but I can see differences. In past trips to Africa Granny and I have caught at least two types of tigerfish.

The first hero shot on this entry is Granny with the Zambezi tigerfish (Hydrocynus vittatus). We were in
Namibia fishing the Chobe River (five miles up from where it enters the Zambezi). It was actually my 40th birthday when she caught this beast!

The next photo is me holding a tigerfish that Granny caught in
Egypt, (Hydrocynus forskahlii). We were Nile Perch fishing on Lake Nasser (the lake formed on the Nile River by the Aswan Dam). We were five days into a two week camping trip. Granny was tired of casting the 9-weight for Niles so I rigged her a red and white Clouser Minnow on a 7-weight. All I can say is she wished she had the 9-weight for this 7.5lb Egyptian tigerfish. Did I mention that tigers fight hard?

Lucky for me, Granny isn’t joining us to Tanzania next week and I’ll have a chance at a big Tanzanian tigerfish, (Hydrocynus tanzaniae). That’s the tigerfish in the last photo, courtesy of Tourette. They were only discovered a few years ago and the biggest caught so far is 28lbs.

The largest tiger is the goliath tigerfish (Hydrocynus goliath) of the
Congo and Lake Tanganyika. You can find pictures of them on Google but I have yet to hold one and don’t have a picture to show. I would do about anything to go try to nail one of these on a fly. Goliaths reach 100lbs!

There’s plenty of work being done studying tigerfish these days. For your average angler having one on the line is enough. But I find it very interesting and hope to catch them all before I’m done.

Tanzania should be a great trip with plenty of stories and photos to come. If they don’t appear on my blog next week - not to worry. My guess is there won’t be any chance at all of internet in the jungle, but I’ll keep a good journal and transfer it to the blog the minute possible just like on my past adventures. I should also mention I will be interviewed live on Fly Fishing - Internet Radio on November 17th. It will be entirely about fishing for tigerfish and I’ll share stories from this trip and past trips. You won’t want to miss it!

Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing web site

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Back to Africa

The weather has changed. This October has been the nicest I can remember in my 24 years living in the Yellowstone area, but this morning the birdbath is frozen solid and the smell of snow is in the air. You may have noticed this past year that when the snow flies, so do I. That’s exactly why there haven’t been many posts this week even though late October can be the best fishing of the year. I’ve been packing, gathering info and pouring over maps.
I’m headed back to Africa. This time to Tanzania to fish for a colony of tigerfish only discovered in 2008. Although these tigerfish are thought to be the same species of tigerfish (Hydrocynus vittatus) I've fished for in the Zambezi River and blog_Oct_24_2010_2[1]
the Okavango systems, they reach sizes far larger. It is believed that the incredible biomass in this river allows the fish to grow faster and bigger than at other locations. They are also a good deal lighter in color and their stripes are much fainter likely because of the water color on these remote Tanzania Rivers.
The main reason of this expedition is to film a segment for the latest Confluence Films project. In the past three years Confluence Films has released two highly acclaimed fly fishing movies, Drift and Rise. The new movie to be released in fall 2011 is tentatively called Connect but that could change. The masterminds behind these movies are executive producer Jim Klug and blog_Oct_24_2010_3[1]
director/cinematographer Chris Patterson. Jim is the founder and director of operations for Yellow Dog Flyfishing Adventures and a long time friend. Chris is known for his stunning visuals and unparalleled camera work in numerous action sports. He has been the director/cinematographer of the Warren Miller Ski Films feature films for twenty years and has numerous other projects including all of the lead camera work for the winter action scenes in this year’s blockbuster DiCaprio movie, Inception.
Our hosts for this incredible shoot are South African natives Keith Clover and Rob Scott of Tourette Fishing – Fight it in Africa. Keith and Rob pioneered what they dreamt of for years – a place where one can catch a 20lb tigerfish on a fly. I’ve never met either but can tell from corresponding via emails and reading Tourette's incredible website that they are very keen adventure seeking fly fishermen. These guys not only guide tigerfish throughout Africa, but also on prime African saltwater fly fishing destinations including a place high on my list, the Seychelles.
Hopefully I’ll get on the water a couple more times this week before I head to Africa. Late October truly is one of my favorite times to fish my home waters, but there’s a lot that goes into preparing for a journey to Africa. If I don’t get out locally, I’ll be sure post on my progress of packing. I’ll also do my best to pass along some tips on preparing for an international fishing trip. It’s crucial that I'm ready for massive tigerfish so I too can be soon holding one of these incredible fish pictured here today!
Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing web site

Monday, October 18, 2010

45 Doesn't Seem So Bad

blog_Oct_18_2010_1[1] I turned 45 today. 20 years ago that age seemed ancient to me. Even on paper it’s a little scary. But the truth of it, I feel great. I still feel like a kid and hopefully will never act my age.

Naturally I wet a line on my birthday. Good friend Rob Parkins and I did a short float on some sacred water. Our weather continues to baffle. It was easily in the upper 60ºs and the sky was cloudless. To top it off, we hardly had an ounce of wind. It was absolutely perfect!

Fishing was ok. I must admit we didn’t fish that hard but I think the weather is so nice that the big fish are inactive. Normally late October is a time of the first cold cloudy days that deliver blankets of blue winged olive hatches. Big trout are usually on the surface eating every mayfly in sight to fatten up for winter. But instead it’s bluebird days and the random blue wing, October Caddis and believe it or not, it’s so nice there are a few hardy late season grasshoppers around.

blog_Oct_18_2010_2[1] Nonetheless, we caught plenty of fish but the biggest was probably less than 13 inches. It was a variety pack however of good-looking little rainbows, cutthroats and brook trout and we caught them all on dry flies. We even caught a few whitefish which leads to the highlight of the day. Robs dog Shang loves to eat whitefish. Yes you heard me correct, Rob owns a fish eating dog. Obviously trout are kept a good distance from the jaws of Shang. In fact as I unhooked a brook trout Shang fell overboard trying to get him. However, when it comes to a whitefish, if he’s a good boy, he gets him. I watched Shang slam down three whities today in which he devours in less than eight seconds!

blog_Oct_18_2010_3[1] I don’t think I need to tell you it was no less than an ideal way to spend a birthday. We caught fish. We saw some moose. We saw a porcupine. We woke up some owls. And once again the weather was unbelievable. If only the Cubs were playing on October 18th! Someday. . .

Fishing was ok. I must admit we didn’t fish that hard but I think the weather is so nice that the big fish are inactive. Normally late October is a time of the first cold cloudy days that deliver blankets of blue winged olive hatches. Big trout are usually on the surface eating every mayfly in sight to fatten up for winter. But instead it’s bluebird days and the random blue wing, October Caddis and blog_Oct_18_2010_4[2] believe it or not, it’s so nice there are a few hardy late season grasshoppers around.

Nonetheless, we caught plenty of fish but the biggest was probably less than 13 inches. It was a variety pack however of good-looking little rainbows, cutthroats and brook trout and we caught them all on dry flies. We even caught a few whitefish which leads to the highlight of the day. Robs dog Shang loves to eat whitefish. Yes you heard me correct, Rob owns a fish eating dog. Obviously trout are kept a good distance from the jaws of Shang. In fact as I unhooked a brook trout Shang fell overboard trying to get him. However, when it comes to a whitefish, if he’s a good boy, he gets him. I watched Shang slam down three whities today in blog_Oct_18_2010_5[1] which he devours in less than eight seconds!

I don’t think I need to tell you it was no less than an ideal way to spend a birthday. We caught fish. We saw some moose. We saw a porcupine. We

Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing web site

Thursday, October 14, 2010

100 Degrees and Few Bass

blog_Oct_14_2010_1[1] I was all amped up after giving my talk at Desert Fly Casters last night. It went very well and when we got back to Steve’s house at 11 pm there was no way I was going to try and sleep. Instead, Steve and I each grabbed a beer and watched a cool DVD called “Once in a Blue Moon”. It’s about the mouse hatch in New Zealand. I hit a mouse hatch in New Zealand many years ago and the DVD brought back incredible memories. We didn’t get to bed until 1 am.

It was no easy task, but we got up at 4 am to head to Bartlett Lake to chase down some bass. We were the lucky guests of Skyler Clark, a really nice kid about 22 years blog_Oct_14_2010_2[2]old. Skyler works part time at Sportsman’s Warehouse while going to college and is a friend of Steve and Cinda’s. He’s also one heck of  a bass fisherman and last Saturday his boat took 10th place out of a field of 60 in a bass tournament on Bartlett Lake.

Both Steve and I were a little groggy out of the gates this morning. Steve could hardly tie his fly on. However, once on the lake and after a few casts the body completely forgets about how tired it is and before we knew it we were concentrating on our fishing. It took me about ten minutes to realize our fishing was not going to be that good. I began by popping the shallows. It was great blog_Oct_14_2010_3[1]looking water but not even a small largemouth stirred. Steve was dredging streamers on a sinking line and Skyler was using his bait caster with all the right lures – but nothing. I think the field of 60 competitive bass anglers last weekend really educated the bass.

Despite the lake being full of bass, Steve and I landed four bass on the fly and Skyler landed about a dozen while using every trick he knew with his bait caster. It was slow to say the least. And the biggest bass were a couple of 14 inchers that Skyler dredged up. Not exactly the hawgs we were hoping for. Nonetheless it was a gorgeous morning on a spectacular blog_Oct_14_2010_4[1]desert setting. But at noon we reeled in and made a dash for some carp lakes. Skyler had never caught a grass carp and Steve and I knew we could probably put him on one.

We didn’t have a lot of time for carping because we had dinner plans at Eddie’s House. By the time we fought our way through the Phoenix Arizona traffic and arrived at the urban lakes we had an hour to fish. It was calm and a scorching 100º! Both Steve and I knew although miserable for us, the grassies would be feeding. We split up and started beating on some fish. I got my grassie the other day so I rigged a nymph and hammered away on some nice koi. I even caught what appears to be a giant goldfish. It’s definitely not a normal koi because of its long draping fins.

At the end of our hour Steve, Skyler and I met on a school of grass carp that were feeding vigorously. I was taking some photos of them and Skyler made a cast. Most of blog_Oct_14_2010_5[1]these grassies refused the offering but the last one in the rear of the school couldn’t resist. Skyler watched the grassie indulge his fly and set the hook perfectly. Five minutes later, Skyler had his first grass carp.

Tonight Steve, Cinda and I had a scrumptious dinner at Eddie’s House. Chef Eddie Matney is a great friend of ours. Eddie fly fishes like crazy and therefore Steve and Cinda have known him for years. I met Eddie in Jackson Hole with Chef Michael DelMaria whom we had dinner with on Tuesday night. Chef Eddie fishes the Jackson Hole One Fly Contest every year. This year Eddie led his team to a top ten finish by scoring 9th blog_Oct_14_2010_6[2]among all individual contestants. Not an easy thing to do when you consider there are over 160 individual contestants. Eddie’s House is located in Scottsdale on Indian School Rd. Every course of our meal was phenomenal to say the least and I highly recommend a visit to Eddie’s House if you have the chance.

The warm weather fishing is over for me for a couple weeks. I’ll be leaving Arizona early tomorrow morning fat and happy and ready to play with my local trout. Expect a few good stories from my neighborhood but the big news is I’m off to Africa in less than two weeks to chase a subspecies of tigerfish that was discovered in 2008. I will be part of the latest Confluence Film project hosted by blog_Oct_14_2010_7[2]Tourette Fishing in Tanzania. More on this trip to come in the next few days.

Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing web site

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Not All Carp Species are Equal

blog_Oct_13_2010_1[1] Steve, Cinda and I couldn’t travel far from the big city today because I had to do my presentation for Desert Fly Casters tonight. That didn’t hinder our fishing at all because the lakes in and around the city limits of Phoenix Arizona have plenty of fish. Most of them have bass, sunfish, crappie and various carp species. It’s the grass carp (white Amur) that I like to fish for. Grass carp are Asian fish frequently stocked throughout the southern United States to trim aquatic vegetation that often grows in lakes. It seems the hotter the climate the quicker vegetation grows so almost every lake in the Phoenix area has a population of grass carp.

blog_Oct_13_2010_2[2]Grass carp (I call them grassies) are very hard to catch on the fly unless you have experience with them. I remember speaking at the ISE Show in Phoenix over ten years ago and noticed the peculiar looking fish in  a pond behind my hotel. I had a 5-weight with me (I always do) and thought I’d waltz right out there and catch one. Fat chance! I fished them for five straight mornings and only landed one. He was worth it though as he would have topped 15lbs and was the grassie that got me hooked on the species for life.

With few exceptions, grass carp fishing is all sight fishing. You must creep along the edge of these lakes and hunt them. Grassies are extremely spooky and will sink to the deep if they see you. If you are lucky enough to see them first, observe them. Happy grass carp ease their way along inches below the surface and rise to almost every piece of plant life they see. With that in mind, greenish dry flies work best. Being that plant life comes in every shape and size imaginable, I don’t get too concerned about the pattern itself. I have done excellent with olive blog_Oct_13_2010_3[2]grasshoppers. Once I know the direction my grassie is traveling in I try to land my cast about 6 inches in front of his nose. I want him to see it land and think a leaf just blew out of a tree. There are definitely times when the grassie spooks but often they move to it ever so slowly. Now for the part you won’t believe. While some do sip the hopper like a trout, be ready to watch the grassie nibble on  a leg and gradually work the rest of the fly into his mouth. Don’t set until you’re sure the hook is in there. As soon as you see that, strike hard.

We got up around 6 am today and made our way to a group of lakes that have plenty of grass carp. I could hardly wait. These particular lakes are also blog_Oct_13_2010_4[2]stacked with koi and have few common carp. I rigged up my 5-weight Ross with a floating line and a 12-foot 3X Rio leader. I tied on one of my green grasshoppers and walked out to the first lake. These lakes are true urban lakes. They all have sidewalks and houses completely around them.

At first I stood and looked around. The one thing I didn’t want to do was spook a grassie by hastily walking down the sidewalk. Right away I noticed some koi mulling around. The koi rarely rise to a dry fly so I gazed  beyond the koi still hoping to see a grassie. Steve and Cinda made their way to me and saw that I was rigged for grass carp not koi. Steve dropped a cast with his nymph to blog_Oct_13_2010_5[1]the nearest koi. The koi looked but then slid into some deeper water where we could no longer see him. We walked this pond together and continued to see many koi and a few common carp but the grassies were hiding. Perhaps it wasn’t hot enough yet. Steve and Cinda got numerous shots at koi but most were not participating. Finally, Steve hooked and landed the first fish of the day, a very lightly colored common carp. By the time I snapped a few pictures of Steve and his fish Cinda hooked up to a koi. That was it. The bite was on. Due to the lack of a grass carp sightings I took off my hopper and tied on a nymph. The three of us proceeded to catch numerous koi in every color imaginable during the next three hours. I even caught a blog_Oct_13_2010_6[1]strange looking fish that may have been a koi/common carp hybrid.

Gradually, we began to see some grass carp. Grassies don’t eat the nymphs anything like the koi do so to catch one I had to change back to my green hopper. This was a tough thing to do because koi fishing was red hot and a lot of fun. I made the change though and then like you’d expect, I couldn’t find another grassie to save my life. I walked five ponds in the next two hours and never made a single cast to a grass carp. Meanwhile, Steve and Cinda kept reeling in the koi.

blog_Oct_13_2010_7[1]I was about to give up and switch back to a koi rig when Cinda suggested we walk to some spots where she recently saw some nice grassies. By now it was easily 95° and very windy. Weeds and other debris often accumulate on the windy sides of these lakes and attract the grass carp. Sure enough the first spot we went had a pod of grassies nestled under such debris. The problem was there was so  much debris I couldn’t land my fly where the grassies could see it. It was useless. We kept walking and at last we spotted several grassies floating high and happy. Cinda generously stepped aside and let me have at them. I landed my hopper just in front of a cruiser and he moved to my fly. Then just as I thought his mouth was blog_Oct_13_2010_8[2] going to open and take I my fly he spooked by exploding at the surface. I think he freaked out because he knew at the last second it was a fake and realized how close he came to being caught. I was extremely disappointed assuming he likely spooked every grass carp around. But luckily that wasn’t the case. Two more grassies were slowly meandering my way looking for their next meal. I picked the larger of the two and once again dropped my fly six inches in front of his nose. Again the fish moved to my fly only this grassie opened his mouth and chomped it. I waited for the huge mouth to shut the door on my fly and  struck with authority. Mr. Grassie was on!

Grass carp are not only hard to fool. Once hooked up they put up a battle. It would be nice to have a 7 or 8-blog_Oct_13_2010_9[1] weight rod for this part, but heavy rods just can’t provide the finesse needed for the initial presentation. So you just take your time, steer them from any structure that they could snag you on and hope they give up. That’s exactly what I did and eventually I was lifting a quality grassie from the pond. Success!

Tomorrow we are bass fishing so I’m thrilled that I landed my grass carp today. These guys really are a favorite of mine and being that they like the heat, we don’t have them near home. Shortly after the fun catch, we packed it up so we’d have time to clean up and set up for my presentation for Desert Fly Casters.

blog_Oct_13_2010_10[1] My presentation was called “Fly Fishing Through Midlife Heaven” and was a collage of my top fishing trips that have occurred since I left my day job at the fly shop last October. This was a new show for me and I’m pleased to say the show went great before a large crowd. If any of you ever need a presenter for your club or Trout Unlimited banquet keep me in mind. I offer numerous presentations that you can choose from my website and there are instructions on how to book me. Keep an eye on the presentation list as I’m always keeping it up to date. Soon I’ll have a great one on how you too can succeed with the various carp species on a fly.

Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing web site

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Big Ugly Spider & Gorgeous Little Trout

blog_Oct_12_2010_1[1] While most fly fishers that pass through Phoenix, Arizona don’t bring their fly rods, I always do. In fact, Phoenix is one of my favorite places to travel for work because the fishing here is so enjoyable. Personally I like chasing the grass carp (white Amur) in the ponds in and around the city limits. Grass carp are incredibly challenging with the fly and chasing them is the ultimate. Not only do these ponds have the grass carp but also koi, common carp, largemouth bass, bluegill sunfish and black crappie. Sometimes I venture northeast to the Mogollon Rim where trout fishing can be fantastic or not too far beyond even fish for Apache Trout. And when I get the chance I love to fly fish the reputable bass lakes found in every direction.

blog_Oct_12_2010_2[1]I arrived in Arizona last night and will be presenting my latest creation, “Fly Fishing Through Midlife  Heaven” to Desert Fly Casters on Wednesday night. This is a PowerPoint presentation highlighting what I can honestly say has been the best year of fishing and traveling of my life. A year ago I was a little nervous about my career adjustment but so far it’s surpassed my wildest expectations.

I’m here early so I can do some fishing. Today I went with friends and hosts Steve Berry and Cinda Howard. Both of them are locals and know the fishing inside and out. Steve is a fulltime spokesman and helicopter pilot for the city of Mesa, Arizona Police Department. He devotes much blog_OCt_12_2010_3[4]of his free time to fly fishing. He not only fishes but he is very involved with the community teaching fly fishing and is president of Desert Fly Casters fly fishing club. Cinda is fulltime in the fly fishing business. She manages the Orvis Fly Shop in Scottsdale, AZ, teaches fly fishing and is also very involved in Desert Fly Casters fly fishing club. She is frequently found harassing the fish of Arizona but also hosts trips around the world. Her most recent adventure took her to Alaska with Midnight Sun Trophy Pike Adventures where she landed numerous northern pike over 45 inches!

Our jaunt began today with a three hour drive to Canyon Creek on the Mogollon Rim. Although scorching blog_Oct12_2010_4[1]hot in Phoenix, it was a comfortable 70° in the mountains. We arrived at the creek at about 9:30 and hiked a mile downstream from where we parked and cut off to start fishing. This stream is tiny. In some places it’s as narrow as three feet across and in its widest spots not more than fifteen feet. I don’t do enough small stream fishing at home so today was a true pleasure. While Steve and Cinda rigged up dry-dropper rigs (a dry fly with a nymph dangling below tied off to the hook of the dry fly) I went straight dry with a size 10 Chernobyl ant.

On any small creek I prefer to start downstream and fish up. Assuming most river trout face upstream into the current, I have a better chance blog_Oct_12_2010_5[1]at them not seeing me and spooking. I fish fast but thoroughly dropping my fly on all the good looking spots. I generally find small stream trout aren’t too selective so if I don’t get a strike on the first drift I move up a few steps and hit the next spot.

The other thing about a small stream like Canyon Creek is that if you’re fishing with friends you either split up and fish different sections or stay together and take turns. You just can’t have three people jockeying for spots and expect the fish to hang around. Cinda, Steve and I have a lot of catching up to do so we stayed together and took turns. Cinda went blog_Oct_12_2010_6[1]first and Steve and I  kicked back to watch. It quickly became apparent that there were plenty of aggressive small brown trout that were literally only 4 to 6 inches. Steve dropped into the next run and hit a very nice rainbow that I’d of guessed to be nearly 14 inches. I was surprised to see such a nice sized trout out on this tiny creek but it turns out Cinda and Steve have caught a few monsters over the years that broke the 20” mark!

Canyon Creek was not only full of trout today but it was absolutely gorgeous. The trees are just beginning to turn and while the most places are full swing into fall, it is just starting here. Between the three of us we must have caught a dozen trout and a wolf spider. Yes you heard me correctly, blog_Oct_12_2010_7[2] a wolf spider. The spider was nearly the size of my Ross Evolution reel. We spotted him crossing the road near the river and after a photo or two I messed with him  for a minute. I set my Chernobyl in front of him and twitched it a few times. At first there was no reaction but then like a striking rattlesnake he attacked my ant and went into a full blown wrestling match with the fly. When he discovered it wasn’t real he let go and appeared very embarrassed.

We ended the day with one of the best meals imaginable. We had it thanks to a mutual friend, Chef Michael DelMaria, who kindly invited us to have dinner with him at his fantastic new restaurant called Heirloom. Heirloom is located in blog_Oct_12_2010_8[1] North Scottsdale at the DC Ranch. I have known Chef Michael for years because he is a veteran angler of the Jackson Hole One Fly Contest. All I can say is that if you ever get the chance to eat at Heirlooms, I’d highly recommend it. Every course of the delicious meal was superb starting with our appetizers and ending with our desert. Chef even has his own special blends of coffee to finish off the evening.

Tomorrow is an urban fishing day in the lakes and ponds around Phoenix. We are fishing around the city because we need to be done early as I will be giving my presentation at the Desert Fly Casters fly fishing club. Expect to see some cool carp pictures here tomorrow!

Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing web site

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Wildlife Viewing Turns to Fishing

October 5-6, 2010

blog_Oct_5-6_2010_1[1] Granny and I had big plans of doing a two day float this week. However, the weather called for cold temperatures and a mix of rain and snow. That’s not exactly fun floating and camping weather so we bagged it. We decided to do our annual fall trip to Yellowstone National Park earlier than normal and perhaps in two weeks Indian summer will return so we can do our two day float.

Despite great fall fishing in Yellowstone, our fall trip is really about the wildlife. I always pack a rod but it’s a great time to watch and hear the bull elk bugle and observe a grizzly or two fattening up for hibernation. We left the house late yesterday and didn’t even enter the Park until noon. We entered through Yellowstone’s South Gate and made a quick stop on the banks of an old favorite river blog_Oct_5-6_2010_2[1]of mine to eat some lunch. At this point the weather wasn’t so bad. It was overcast with a light drizzle but the temps remain unseasonably warm so we broke out the camp chairs and ate on the bank of this great river.

When I used to fish this river religiously, fall fishing was never worth it. I rarely found risers and that’s what is what this place is all about. But naturally as we chomped away on our sandwiches I instinctively watched for rises. Twice while I was looking away I thought I heard one. My head turned quickly and the surface was broken. But on this river, thermals, common in Yellowstone, often create these sounds and appear like a rise. I wasn’t sold that this blog_Oct_5-6_2010_3[1]disturbance was a trout.

I kept a watchful eye and sure enough I witnessed the disturbance. Indeed it was a rising trout. Naturally I had to try and catch him. This place is tough to fool a trout on a summer day with high water. In October the water is low and clear and yesterday the surface was like glass. Granny saw me stuff my last four bites of sandwich in my mouth as one and as I trotted to the car for my rod she rolled her eyes and told me I was wasting my time.

Getting humbled by a trout has never been a waste of time. If I failed I’d only be better next time. It was warm enough I didn’t need my waders and my 4-weight Ross still had the 18-foot leader and Mahogany Dun fly from Friday on the Henry’s Fork. I was blog_Oct_5-6_2010_4[2]ready to go with hardly any effort needed.

On still water like this, the trout has all the advantage. One bad cast or even a hasty false cast for that matter will send the trout running. With that in mind, I measured my distance with some false cast far away from the occasionally rising fish then crept into position. Then as I held my fly with the line stripped off ready to cast, I waited for the trout to rise one more time. He did and with one swift false cast I landed my fly exactly a foot above the rings of the rise. I held my breath as my fly drifted to the trout’s location and sure enough he munched it. I lifted gently and the battle was on.

Granny seemed very impressed and quickly fired up the camera. We had it handy because I was taking some pictures of October caddis flies during lunch. Then after a several jumps and a solid run I beached blog_Oct_5-6_2010_5[2]the sizeable brown trout. I was really surprised. A lunch break turned into a one cast one fish deal on a normally difficult river. Very cool stuff! After I released him I plopped back in my chair for desert, dark chocolate.

That was the only fish we saw from the lunch spot and being that fishing was not our priority I didn’t look for anymore. Instead we continued our journey north towards Lamar Valley and Cooke City, Montana, our final destinations for the day. Of course we did peek at a couple more rivers along the way. One was the Yellowstone River at the once called Buffalo Ford area. For more than twenty-five years I’ve never drove passed this spot without stopping to look for rising Yellowstone Cutthroats but yesterday there were none. Unfortunately the Yellowstone River in the blog_Oct_5-6_2010_5[1]Park has its problems these days and can often resemble the Dead Sea.

An hour later we made our turn from the Tower Falls area up towards Lamar Valley. Five miles into it after navigating through herds of bison you pass the turn into Slough Creek. This is another spot I don’t drive past without a stop. We drove the dirt road up towards the Slough Creek Campground and stopped at every spot where you can see the river. It was close to sunset. The temperature was dropping and there was a stiff breeze. It was far from ideal conditions for seeing rising fish. Then, unexpectedly we viewed a pool that had several feeding fish in a sheltered slick. There was just enough sun poking through the clouds that you could see we were in for an amazing sunset. Granny wanted to set blog_Oct_5-6_2010_6[1]out the chairs to watch it so I opted to wader up.

My rod was still rigged perfectly so I set out. Like the fish at our lunch spot, Slough Creek trout don’t give in easily in October. They have had tons of pressure and are skeptical of even the real bugs hatching from the water. Nonetheless, yesterday was obviously my day because on my first cast I hooked up. My fly simply bobbed in the wind chop for about five seconds and then got devoured by a nice Yellowstone Cutthroat. I landed him while Granny watched and shook her head with a smile. Wow! I released him then cast it out again and to my disbelief hooked up again. This time I landed a big cuttbow (cutthroat/rainbow hybrid). That was it. Three casts and three great fish. No sense in blog_Oct_5-6_2010_7[1]pushing it. I reeled in and grabbed a seat next to Granny for the sunset.

We finished the day by watching a black bear forage amongst some logs and then during the last glimmer of daylight we watched a grizzly sow and her cub along Soda Butte Creek. We grabbed some dinner at the Miner Bar in Cooke City then camped just outside of town. Due to the numerous grizzlies in the area there is no tent camping allowed so we slept in the back of the truck.

We got an early start this morning in hopes to view some wildlife but it was so foggy we could barley see the road. The morning remained foggy until 11 and by then we were long past Lamar Valley (our favorite bear area) and all the way to Gibbon River blog_Oct_5-6_2010_8[2] meadows. This is another favorite haunt of mine so I parked and walked out to the river. I couldn’t believe it. There was a blue winged olive hatch and fish rising everywhere. I ran back to the car and for a third time grabbed my already rigged 4-weight and headed out for a few fish.

I fished for about two hours. I must have caught twenty gorgeous little brown trout all on the same Mahogany Dun I’ve used all week. It was some of the best dry fly fishing I’ve had all season long. Granny and I finished the day with our three hour drive home through West Yellowstone and down through Idaho. In case you didn’t know by now, I’m a hard core baseball fan and the drive went quick as we listened to Roy Halliday's historical no hitter. Sometimes it’s the unplanned fishing days that are the best. Not just the fishing but everything that occurs during the day. This weekend was a prime example.

Expect me to be idle the next few days as I prepare to speak at Desert Fly Casters in Arizona next week. The good news though is that I will be fishing while in Arizona and should have some good bass, carp, crappie and etc fishing stories and photos to share soon.

Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing web site