Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Fly Rods are Confused

As winter keeps on delivering its early punch, catching up on my work continues to take priority over fishing. There’s a good chance I’ll get over to the South Fork with friends Tom Montgomery and Paul Bruun later this week as we see a window of 30 degree temperatures. We haven’t fished together in awhile so hopefully we make it happen. In the meantime its paint away and update PowerPoint presentations for several Fly Fishing Shows I speak at starting in January.

Earlier this week I did two miniature watercolors for a shadow box that will be a gift for the president of a fly fishing club I frequently speak at. They were little 5” x 7” paintings, one a rainbow and one a largemouth bass. I’m presently finishing up a watercolor of a black and white Llewellyn setter named “Bernie”. While the layers of paint dry on “Bernie” I nibble away on my “Trout Bumming the World” show. It’s a popular PowerPoint program I’ve been presenting for years, but before each season I update it with new material. I’m presently adding a segment about an incredible Mongolia expedition I was on a couple years ago. A few taimen pictures and stories along with some photos of lenok, pike and grayling will be cool as heck!

Our crab apple trees continue to please the local birdlife and today we even had a few mule deer in the yard. It’s not often we have deer in town but the last few years there’s been a few along with the occasional moose. The deer are ok as so far they only eat my apples, but the moose is a completely different deal. They make dinner out of my actual trees and that leads to some ugly snowball fights!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Art Season Begins

A week of severe winter conditions including about 18”s of snow at the house followed by sub zero temperatures has helped keep me indoors and off the water for a few days. It’s been good because I have a lot of work to do. My biggest priority has been catching up on some artwork. As many of you know I take commission orders for fish and even pets giving customers the choice of having me do the art using either watercolors or pastels. Orders tend to accumulate during the heat of fishing season. It’s just hard to keep me off the water when the hatches are good and the fish are hungry.

One of the commissions I completed this week was a 9” x 12” bonefish (Albula vulpes) watercolor painting for Dan Beistel of Florida. This was one of many gorgeous bones Dan recently caught at Little Abaco in the Bahamas. I even remarqued his painting with the fly he caught him on, a pink puff. If you’ve ever wanted to preserve a memory of a fish you caught feel free to contact me while it’s Almost too cold to fish!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Tiger Slime Gone - Mr. Speckles Slime Back for Awhile

When the temperatures are forecasted to be in the 40’s in the months of November through March you always go fishing. These days are few and far between in my neck of the woods and they must not be wasted. So when Gary Eckman called to see if I wanted to take a seat with him in his good friend Ed Emory’s boat I said yes.

Since I got home from Africa the weather has been lousy to say the least. We’ve had high temps in the 20’s and 30’s with blustery winds and just enough sloppy wet snow each day to make going outside miserable. It’s been a bummer because I really love fishing the South Fork in November. It can be the absolute best streamer fishing of the year. The weatherman is predicting some big snow for us here during the weekend and with the storm on its way our temperatures rose to the mid 40’s last night. The only catch is this temperature change brought along strong wind. Nonetheless we had to give it a go.

It was windy when Gary picked me up in Victor at 8 AM. I had to wedge my trash can up against my truck so it wouldn’t blow over while I was off fishing. Then as I carried my waders to Gary’s truck a gust of wind filled them and nearly took me half way down the block. But it was so warm that my driveway is practically clear of snow.

Gary and I met up with Ed Emory at the Angus, hopped in his truck and headed for the Irwin slide boat launch. Ed has been guiding the South Fork for years and this season alone I’ll bet he has over 100 days under his belt. His knowledge of the river is far beyond the average. This is the second time I’ve had the good fortune of fishing with Ed. My first time was in December of last year. Ed has a reputation of catching some huge fish out of the South Fork. I have posted a picture of Ed holding a memorable brown trout he guided his client into in the summer of 2009. This beast was taken on a dry fly! What a monster!

It was blowing so hard at the boat ramp that there was no question we’d have the South Fork to ourselves, something worth a little suffering. While Ed launched his boat down the narrow shoot Gary and I rigged up with streamers. As always for me, it’s a simple set up, straight 0X Rio Fluoroflex Plus with two flies, a heavy fly at the bottom (the point fly) and a light fly 5ft above (the dropper fly). My point fly was a black and silver conheaded Screamer and my dropper was a terribly tied, light as a feather chartreuse Kiwi Muddler. I’m sorry to say I tied this one.

Our fishing started slow. I’m talking real slow. I heard from several friends that it wasn’t so hot lately, likely because the flows out of the Palisades Dam recently dropped to winter levels. This massive water level change scares the fish pretty bad. But once they settle fishing is good again. Even though things started slow we caught a few fish here in there. I got a big rainbow, then a decent Yellowstone Cutthroat, a brown and then a Snake River Cutthroat all in a row in less than an hour’s time! That’s about when things turned on.

These first few fish I caught were on the black and silver Screamer. In an attempt to catch more fish I made some unsuccessful fly changes. Before I knew it I was back to the Screamer and stuck with it the rest of the day. Gary changed flies numerous times but he too found the black and silver Screamer to be best. That was until the end of the day when he tied on some Scott Sanchez creation. I have no idea what Chez calls this tan rabbit fur with big red eyes concoction but it was relentless from about 3 PM till dark.

It was a good day on the water. The threatening wind gradually subsided throughout the day to where the afternoon was quite pleasant. And the slow fishing I heard about didn’t happen to us. We probably caught 20 fish or so. And if we switched to dries tonight when the fish got hot to trot on a major midge hatch we could have easily doubled that total.

Now that I’m home I can see the forecast is calling for even bigger snowfall then was predicted this morning. They say we may see up to 17”s of snow by Saturday night. Weather forecasters around here are just like any old fisherman, meaning we’ll probable get only around a foot – ha! Regardless, of what happens, it’s good that I took advantage of the fishing opportunity today. It looks like temperatures will plummet after the storm and who knows how many more fishing opportunities will come about this year.

With less fishing on my schedule, unfortunately there will be fewer postings. I will do my best to keep everyone abreast of any neat things that come about. At the moment I’m painting up a bonefish for my friend Dan Beistel. I’ve painted fish for Dan before and he’s got quite a collection going. I’m also taking on pets and next week I’ll be painting up a dog. I’ll be sure to post him when he’s done. This is art season for me so if you’ve been waiting to have a fish or pet painted or want to challenge me with another subject, now is a great time to do it. In the meantime, I better tune up the snow shovel!

Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing Website

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Little Currier Under the Tree this Christmas?

You probably already know but in case you don’t, tonight at 7 PM MT I’ll be the guest on Ask About Fly Fishing Internet Radio. I’ll be talking tigerfish and my recent adventures in Africa. I hope you can listen in. If you can’t make it tonight, Ask About Fly Fishing Internet Radio archives all interviews and you can listen at your own convenience. In fact, you could go back over the years and listen to ones I did about European Nymphing, Nile Perch fishing in Egypt and even hear the famous tiger story encounter I had while mahseer fishing in India. Kick back and enjoy.

With Christmas right around the corner it’s time to think about purchasing some “Currier” product to put under the tree. I just picked up a shipment of
coffee mugs with my artwork on them. These have been very popular gifts for the angler that has everything. These hefty coffee mugs are offered with many popular fish species on them.

By this weekend I’ll have near full stock of
Simms T-shirts with my art on them. There are many kinds of fish to choose from including trout, bass and even saltwater fish. There are a few species not pictured so feel free to ask for your favorite.

If you want to remember that special catch you or someone made this year,
let me paint the trophy for you. With winter in full swing here in Idaho I’m ready to paint. Check out my watercolors and prices on my website.

I have full stock on both
my books. I’d be happy to autograph and personalize the books for you or the person you’re giving it too for Christmas.

Last but not by any means least. I’m still looking for one more person to join me and my group in
Brazil March 5 – 12, 2011. This trip will be as epic as Africa. Trust me - I do it every year!

I’m looking forward to tonight and hope to hear from you all soon!

Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing Website

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Don't Miss Wed Night

From the heat of Africa to a backyard blizzard. It's been snowing and blowing like crazy today. I think I'll keep the tigerfish slime on me and save a trip to the South Fork for later in the week. I wanted to let you know, tomorrow night at 7 PM MT I am being interviewed on Ask About Fly Fishing Internet Radio. I'll be talking about my Africa trip and how you too can go catch a tigerfish. It should be great fun. Just tune in relax!

Today's photo is my backyard full of sharptail grouse. They show up during the first winter storm every year and demolish all my crab apples. Fun to watch but they better be careful, I like a little upland bird hunting now and then!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

All Great Trips Come to an End

November 8-9, 2010

It’s hard to believe it’s over. According to the KLM map on the seat in front of me we are over the heart of Sudan and will be landing in Amsterdam in about 5 hours. Yup, it truly is over but this adventure will definitely go down as one of my favorites. And there’s no doubt I’ll return again.

I give a special thanks to Jim Klug and Chris Patterson of Confluence films for bringing me along on this epic trip. There was a tremendous amount of planning that went into this expedition and we are all thrilled that it went so well. This movie, which has not yet been named, will be released around November 1, 2011. The segment we just filmed is just one of several incredible shoots from around the world. The movie will launch on the big screen in Bozeman, Montana and will tour nationwide at many favorite fly fishing destinations and fly fishing shows. It will also be purchasable as a DVD.

We could not have made this incredible segment without Keith Clover, Rob Scott and Leonard Flemming of Tourette Fishing – Fight it in Africa. These guys have the exclusive on what may be the best fly fishing in Africa. They were the most incredible hosts we could have asked for!

I can’t forget Jim Klug’s Yellow Dog Flyfishing Adventures. They organized our entire itinerary from start to finish and all was smooth. Smooth is a rare thing with such exotic travel. I can’t recommend them enough for any fly fishing travel you can think up. Also a special thanks to Simms who not only sponsors the Confluence Film projects but provided us much of the gear. Not only did I have the perfect attire for the heat of Africa but everything from my wading shoes to dry packs to tackle bag, it all kept me organized and prepared for Tanzanian tigerfishing.

This is a MUST trip for every adventure fly fisher. Don’t put this one on the back burner. I’ve fished a bunch of places and this one ranks at the top as do tigerfish. Feel free to contact me to help you plan your own trip for the biggest tigerfish of your life!

If you’re free Wednesday night I will be talking tigerfish live on Ask About Fly Fishing Internet Radio at 7 PM MT. It should be a fun and entertaining show. If you miss it, you can catch it at a later time. Ask About Fly Fishing Internet Radio archives all interviews.

That’s about it. I guess it’s about time for me to get my presentations ready for the Fly Fishing Shows, catch up on my artwork and oh yea; it’s my favorite time to fish the South Fork! Stay tuned for some much tamer reports in weeks to come. . . .

Last but not least, here’s a few more photos from the trip – enjoy!

Special Note – Because I was busy fishing for the Confluence Film project I didn’t have time to take many of my own pictures. A special thanks to Jim Klug, Jim Harris and Chris Patterson for providing most of what you see on the blog for this Africa trip.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Unknown Specie & a Monster

November 7, 2010

Its hard to believe today was our last day. It’s possible we might get out on the water for a couple hours in the morning but it’s doubtful because we need to catch up on interviews for the film. Today was likely it. And knowing that, the South Africans put on their best show yet. Of course, we were up at 4:45 am. Then after a quick breakfast and coffee we were in our safari vehicles crossing the Mnyera on the ferry before entering the blood thirsty tsetse fly forest. Tied on top of one of the vehicles was a small inflatable raft. The South Africans had big plans for us. The whole travel time was about an hour to what is simply referred to as the rapids.

These beautiful rapids are home to numerous tigerfish of the Mnyera River. Most don’t think of tigerfish as a fish of rapids but they can be. I’ve fished them before in the Chobe River rapids in Namibia and the Zambezi River Rapids in Zambia. Both places provided superb fishing but the tigers are much smaller than here. Yellowfish, a group of fishes made up of many species, also thrive in the rapids and before we began tigerfishing Chris
filmed Leonard and I sneaking around the rocks and river channels trying to catch one of these popular African game fish.

The yellowfish fly of choice is a nymph. Leonard recommended a pattern to me but I chose one of my favorite Euro nymphs tied by no other than my good Polish friend Vladi Trzebunia. As you know from past blogs Vladi's flies are always good luck for me. We could see the yellowfish slowly milling around the back eddies between the rocks and riffles. They were incredibly spooky. The sun was blocked by clouds making it even more difficult. While Leonard headed towards a small waterfall I slowly stalked my way towards the main river.

I gave up on trying to sight cast to yellows. The light was terrible. I rigged up a dry dropper rig and started covering water. Right away I caught a tiny fish with gorgeous colors. Keith told me the name but it’s slipped me now. He said it’s a miniature cousin of the tigerfish and definitely a popular food for them. In fact as I lifted him from the water a 5lb tiger nearly took out my kneecaps trying to eat him off my line.

Chris and the crew continued to follow Leonard and me with the cameras, never losing hope that we would catch a yellowfish. Sure enough I connected while nymphing a seam against a very powerful rapid. I didn’t know what to expect from a yellowfish. Seeing pictures of them led me not to expect much fight but this fish took off. I was using my 6-weight Ross and it was all I could do to fight him in the rapids. As I finally subdued him, Leonard was at my side and he started going ballistic. This was a kind yellowfish that has yet to be named. Leonard is the only other person to catch this unusual species. He was thrilled. Evidently, when he caught one earlier this year he thought he’d go home and look him up. But he couldn’t. This yellowfish is a new species not yet even named or documented. If you remember from previous blogs, this entire fishery wasn’t discovered until 2008. I caught a fish that has yet to be discovered! Very cool!

Leonard very professionally took a fin clip. Because of the high chances of documenting a new species he even carries a vial and we carefully put the fin clip in the vial. This area is so new to the fishing world several ichthyologists eagerly await to study DNA collected by the Tourette fishing guides. It was only recently that they classified these unique species of tigerfish we’ve been chasing all week (Hydrocynus tanzaniae).

I thrive on adding new species to my personal life list but this was over the top. I was so excited about catching a species that has yet to make the text books that I could hardly think straight. I could have continued to stalk the rapids with my nymphs the rest of the day, but it was time to climb aboard the rubber raft. I was a little uneasy on the whole raft deal. My closest ever to drowning was on the famous Zambezi River whitewater below Victoria Falls. I haven’t’ been on much whitewater since. These rapids weren’t really much but I had no idea how well Rob and Keith could row a raft. We also had concerns of crocodiles and hippos. This is a crappy little rubber raft!

What the heck - before I knew it we were dropping through the rapids. First the raft was a tool to get from one pool to another then I was casting as we drifted. We’d row through some little rapid then hold against some rocks and make some casts. Fishing was superb to say the least. At every good pool we hooked up and landed some nice fish. 10lbers were a dime a dozen and then we landed back to back 14lbers. These rapids were unreal! Due to the heavy current, we were back to straight 30lb Rio Saltwater Tippet and the 40lb wire. We allowed no mercy on these powerful fish. It was simply clamp down on the line and hold them and strip them in. Let the line slide from your clenched fingers and you were sliced wide open and your tiger was gone. It was about as exciting as fly fishing gets. Then it happened. I hooked into a beast.

I’ve had a few fish take off on me this week and I fought them with the drag of the reel. But none like this. All I remember is strip setting once and then my Ross Momentum LT reel was singing like I was standing in the floor seats at Aerosmith. The ***** just hit the fan!

At the same instant Rob also hooked up and he too had the line taken away. Then mine jumped. Only I wasn’t sure it was mine because both Robs and my fish were steaming the same direction. All I knew was that the leaping tiger was one to remember. He was significantly larger than any we hooked all week. And most serious, he was at the tail out of this deep pool and another ten feet to his run and he’d be in the next rapid likely never to be seen by humans again. It was then that I realized it was my fish. I peered down to my smoking reel and heaps of backing was missing. I don’t know what got into me then but it was a good thing. I cranked my drag two spins, lowered my rod towards the fish and began reefing on him and reeling. It was like I was brutalizing a yellowfin tuna from the depths of bluewater. I’ve been dreaming of this monster all week and I was going to land him – period! Meanwhile Keith was frantic. He wanted this fish as much as me and was blurring instruction that I could not comprehend. By now Rob was holding a respectable 12lber. He thought briefly about hanging on to him for pictures of a double tiger catch but then thought wisely. He realized I was going to need some help. He released his tiger and came to the front of the raft to assist.

The immense tiger was close by now. He made a few heart stopping jumps next to the boat but I had him hooked well. I tried my best to get him to Rob and then the usual craziness began. Every time I hoisted him to the surface he spooked and shot deep and under the boat. Nets are useless on giant tigerfish because their teeth chew right through the mesh. The only way to get them is to tail them. Several times I got his head up but the tail dangled three feet below the fish. Finally after numerous scares, Rob got two hands around the tiger’s tail. I yelled with delight and dropped down to Boga the prize.

We never weighed this incredible tigerfish. Lifting heavy fish by their jaw on the Boga grip is a practice that often injures such large fish. There was no way I was taking that chance. I would have easily estimated him at 20lbs, but the final vote went to the South Africans – it was 18lbs. Like I know a 6lb trout from a 4lb trout, they were probably right on. Until I make it to the Congo for goliath tigerfish, this will probably be the biggest tigerfish of my life. Fantastic!

All the excitement in our rubber ducky kept us unaware of the excitement that Leonard was experiencing. He too was fighting a great fish from shore. His fish was 15lbs and soon we were posing for a double with our fish. Then he released his and we all went to work for Chris. My fish was what this film was dreaming of and we had to work fast to keep the tiger safe.

After a serious filming session and some photos, I watched the remarkable creature return to the Mnyera River rapids. This place is so rarely fished that it’s likely he will go on to pass the 20lb mark and most likely will never see or meet a human again. He was truly one of the great fish of Africa.

We continued to catch the tigerfish for the remainder of our float. Except for a very scary run in with some hippos I was daydreaming, continuously replaying the incredible day in my mind. It was epic to say the least. I caught a species that’s not yet documented and a tigerfish so big that I will have difficulty believing it until I see the photos and film.

We spent the later part of the afternoon relaxing on a beach while Chris interviewed the South Africans for the
movie. I leaned back on the raft and before I knew it I was down for the count. The trip had reached its peak on the last day and as a team we may have made one of the coolest fly fishing film segments ever. Today will go down as one of my most memorable fishing days of my life!

Special Note – Because I am in the Confluence Film I will be very limited on taking my own pictures. A special thanks to Jim Klug, Jim Harris and Chris Patterson for providing most of what you see on the blog for this Africa trip.

Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing Website

Friday, November 12, 2010

Day 5 The Wind has Stopped

November 6, 2010

It’s always nice to wake up fully intact after a nights camping in Africa. It was a baboon spider free night and quite honestly one of the soundest sleeps I’ve had in a long time. But deep inside I thought I heard some commotion in the wee hours. Sure enough, I did. The South Africans got attacked by army ants! I wouldn’t have even known what to do. Actually they just ran from their tent swiping the biting ants from their bodies and ended up sleeping down by the beach without a tent. It was their only choice and I guess I’d of done the same.

As always, we were up at 4:45 am this time driving across the bush back to the Mnyera River. We stopped for some sunrise photos then proceeded through the tsetse fly infested forest. From there we crossed the Mnyera on the ferry and moved back into our original camp. We’ve still yet to film what the South Africans consider a big fish so after a quick breakfast we headed upstream to some new water in the hunt for a big tiger.

The only thing Chris could use to spice up this film segment is more wildlife. In fact we quit fishing early today just to do a wildlife drive at sunset. Fortunately along the way to the fishing spot this morning we ran into elephants, hippos and crocodiles. Chris got some great footage and it took off the pressure to find animals tonight. Once we started fishing I noticed a big difference from days before, the tigers were eating with vengeance. What I mean is almost every strike I got ended up with a hooked tiger. The tigers weren’t just striking and getting off but they were hammering the fly and getting hooked. I wasn’t the only one to notice either. Keith was quick to point out the fact that the wind was gone and now the tigerfishing was improving. Boy was he right. Every time my fly landed in a good looking spot I caught a fish. I knew a big one was coming soon and sure enough I strip set into a new personal record – a 15lb tiger. It is amazing the difference between a 12lber and a 15lber. This fish had tremendous girth and Chris filmed the fish at every angle imaginable. Then Klug and Harris stepped in and took some fabulous still photos. Then Chris got out the underwater camera and filmed me releasing the giant tiger back to the river.

At that point we made an already great movie segment even better and it was all high fives. I was in awe. While I was preparing for this trip weeks ago in remote Victor, Idaho I never would have dreamt of catching such a huge tigerfish on film. Meanwhile, Leonard was in croc danger while casting off a drop-off and he too connected to a large fish. Keith whom was helping us film my tigerfish screamed at Leonard for his carelessness. Fortunately all was good and Leonard retreated from the edge and remained hooked up to his hefty tigerfish. This tiger looked like the twin to my tiger and once again Chris, Klug and Harris went to work.

These two big fish were the icing on the cake. So much so that Klug actually put away his camera and started fishing for the first time all week. And yes he hooked up. Klug landed the biggest fish of the week, a 16lber!

Klug is not in the film so after few pictures of him with his tigerfish of a lifetime, Rob took over and Chris filmed yet another beast of a tigerfish. Man do these big tigers have some teeth! When I was holding my big tiger I was in such la-la land that I didn’t even admire the teeth. They are just plain serious! For the first time all week the South Africans were finally at peace, the big fish were eating.

Unfortunately it was time to head on out. We bolted downstream and back to camp and loaded up on the safari vehicle for a trip to the bush in search of some wildlife. Along with us was Masai warrior Michael, the guy that watches over camp at night. Michael was born in the bush and a great guy to have along when searching for African wildlife. We drove a four wheel track for at least ten miles but other than numerous pukus and waterbuck, the wildlife viewing was extremely slow. Even the elephants were somewhere hiding.

The highlight however was Michael. Michael was a great model for photos and showed us some of the Masai traditions. He doesn’t speak much English but it was really fun hanging out with him. Michael went as far as to loan me his club of which I gave some elephant crap a good ride. Then he gave me a lesson on the Masai high jump dancing. That guy can jump! Dare I say another great day in Africa!

Special Note – Because I am in the Confluence Film I will be very limited on taking my own pictures. A special thanks to Jim Klug, Jim Harris and Chris Patterson for providing most of what you see on the blog for this Africa trip.

Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing Website