Thursday, March 31, 2011
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Just finishing up the food in the fridge the beers in the garage and the wine. We have a 9000 mile trip starting in the morning. Expect the blogs to get good. However, who knows how many shots I'll have internet access. I expect I'll have access on the 9th for sure. Hang tight! Cool fish, cool fish, cool fish, cool fish. . . . . . . . .
Monday, March 28, 2011
Friday, March 25, 2011
In addition to all this I’ve been preparing for a weekend of seminars in Boise, Idaho. If you are in the Boise area this weekend, be sure and stop in one of the local fly shops to sign up for the event. Pete Erickson, Phil Rowley and I will be teaching classes and giving seminars on every aspect of fly fishing both Saturday and Sunday. You could even catch us at the Boise Cabelas tonight as we will be there signing books and hanging out till closing.
The most excitement I’ve had in Victor lately has been watching the arrival of the migratory birds. As you’ve seen in my past postings, my birdfeeder hangs about 8 feet from my computer and I glance at them all day. Yesterday a pair of red crossbills arrived. This species always shows up in late March and my guess is that by the time I get home from Boise on Monday afternoon I’ll have a flock of 50 rummaging around for seed – as long as Granny keeps the feeders full this weekend!
Unfortunately, our weather has turned on us again. Last week I was surprised that my old car in the yard was still buried in snow. Well, it hasn’t gotten any better. Other Wednesday’s sunshine for about 5 hours, it has snowed nearly every day and it just started dumping again. Say goodbye to the old car for another few weeks I guess. And I better tighten that seatbelt for my long drive to Boise!
Thursday, March 17, 2011
Yes, that’s my old car almost completely buried in snow in mid March. There’s some absolute garbage falling from the sky today here in Victor, Idaho. It’s been warm so the snow is soggy. It rained all night. Then it turned to sleet this morning and now it’s dumping snow. It’s just lovely! But, it’s a perfect day to paint a jumbo Snake River Cutthroat, do a little writing, continue packing and researching for Madagascar and . . . watch a little NCAA – absolutely perfect!
For some odd reason I’m craving mirror carp fishing over at Blackfoot Reservoir here in Idaho. You can’t even drive to Blackfoot at the moment because of deep snow and even better, the lake is covered with three feet of ice. Nonetheless, I sit here daydreaming about tailing mirror carp.
In case you’re not up to speed on your carp you should be aware there are many different types. Carp are natives to Asia and Europe, where there is a variety of species. They since made their way around the globe carried by settlers for food. Here in the US the most prevalent and widespread is the common carp (Cyprinus carpio), (top) which is so common that it is found in 48 of the 50 states. The mirror carp (bottom) is a mutation of the common carp and is so different in appearance that one might incorrectly assume that it is a separate species. But it’s not. It is actually descended from common carp bred by monks back in the 12th century to have few or no scales, making them easier to prepare for eating (Although we’ve tried, my friends and I haven’t had much success making them edible!).
The mirror carp’s shape is similar to that of the common carp, but its scales are fewer and significantly larger. Usually, the scales are arranged in linear fashion, with two rows on top of the back, one down the lateral line of each side, and a row along the belly, all separated by golden brown skin. Some mirrors, however, have completely haphazard scale designs, and others are fully scaled. No matter how many mirrors you catch, no two will be the same, but all will be beautiful.
Like most invasive species, all carp are harmful to our shallow lakes and wetlands. Their feeding disrupts shallowly rooted plants muddying the water and they compete for food and spawning habitat of the native species. But like the cockroach, house sparrow, starling, and the red fox to name a few harty species, carp aren’t going anywhere. With that in mind, I hope you do or will learn to enjoy fly fishing for them as much as I do!
Monday, March 14, 2011
Today is officially the first day I can wake up and not be bummed that I’m home instead of fishing the Amazon. Had we been able to make the trip I’d be on the long flight home as I write. Now I can truly move forward.
I made the best of the week and got in some good outdoor activities in the snow. I cross country skied several days, hiked, ran and Granny and I worked every muscle in our bodies to the breaking point on Saturday when we summited a no-name mountain on the outskirts of Teton Valley. We hiked over about 8 feet of melting snow on snow shoes. You could say it was steep and deep and the pics tell the story. We’ll be feeling that workout for a week!
I also managed to catch up on some art projects. I decorated some Cliff fly boxes for Travis Mason of Deep Creek Fly Fishers in California. This is a great club that I’ve spoke at in the past. I know Travis from my visit to the club and ran into him again while at the Pasadena Fly Fishing Show last month. Deep Creek has one of the best looking club hats I’ve seen and Travis generously sent me not only one of the hats but also a club t-shirt. Being in California last month also got me fired up about golden trout so I painted one up this week. I plan to frame him up and hang him in my den until I stock up some of the local art galleries for summer.
The species info I posted last week about several fish of the Amazon was a hit. I had a few requests to do more postings similar when I don’t have current fishing stories to post. It’s a good idea and I’ll try to do more of it. I’ll probably post more exotic fish than what we run into with regularity just because its fun!
I could fish this week but I’m rolling with all kinds of projects that keep me home. I haven’t been home much the last 18 months so I’m kind of enjoying it. And the college basketball – superb. I only started following it a few years ago. I really enjoy it and my bracket is set. Also, being home won’t last long because next week I go to Boise for three days of giving seminars and then Granny and I head on our expedition to Madagascar. Madagascar should be some good blogging!
Thursday, March 10, 2011
The outfit we use is River Plate Outfitters. I had a couple options as what trip or type of trip to do. Based on my previous trips, I booked what they call the “Floating Tent Camp – Regular”. You will not be disappointed. You can see exactly what this is on the River Plate website. It’s truly incredible! You may also check out photos and stories from my past trips at my Blog and my Website.
All I can tell you is that peacock bass are one of my absolute favorite game fish on the planet and on this trip you have a chance at several different species of peacocks! That’s not to mention the many other kinds of fish you will catch.
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Wednesday, March 9, 2011
As promised I’m going to keep writing about the many fish species you might catch while fly fishing in the Amazon. The last two days I separated the peacock bass species, the largest cichlids of South America. However, there are many other cichlids other than the peacock bass. In fact, the Amazon is full of cichlids. And although most are small and overshadowed by the peacock bass, there are a few that will definitely catch your eye.
The jacunda (Crenicichla sp.) is one that does not go unnoticed. This elongated cichlid will devour even the largest of peacock flies. They thrive in shallow sandy areas often times with the butterfly peacocks. They are spooky because of the shallow water but if your fly gets to them before they see you casting you’ll get a strike for sure. I’ve never seen them bigger than the pictures I’ve provided but they are known to reach 6lbs. What I like about them is their beauty. Even though I show two different colored ones, both are all the same species.
Another cichlid you will likely catch is the Oscar (Astronatus ocellatus). These fellas live in trout like spots. What I mean is anywhere there is shallow water next to a drop along the bank you find them. Usually several burst out after your fly but only the biggest one can fit it in his mouth.
There are numerous smaller aquarium size cichlids called cara’s. Every once in awhile you land one of these guys on a peacock fly but if you really want to have fun bring along a 5-weight and mess around with nymphs. While the guides and most anglers are having their afternoon siesta, I catch a lot of these little cichlids and have fun with other non game fish species as well. Many of these “other species” are the primary food of peacocks, so it never hurts to have a good look at them!
Obviously I’m missing the Amazon badly this week. But time flies and I’ll be there again before I know it.
Remember, I will be hosting the Amazon February 11-18, 2012. Next year will be above average because of the high water of 2011.
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
First and most common is the “butterfly” (Cichla ocellaris). This smaller member of the peacock bass family is by far the most cooperative. It’s rare to catch one larger than about 3 lbs but I’ve seen a 6lber in Venezuela. Butterflies most commonly have three black spots and no black patches behind the eyes. These fish frequently live in slightly fast water and often shallower than the other species. Butterfly peacocks have successfully been planted in Florida.
Second is the “gray bar” (Cichla monoculus). The gray bar is another of the smaller species rarely reaching over 5lbs. I’ve never caught one bigger than 2lbs. They are absolutely beautiful with three black triangular markings along the back, a black smudged like bar from the base of the pectoral fin half way back and some fire orange from the lower jaw back into the belly. The gray bars love to hang tight in sunken trees. I haven’t caught many but when I find one I often catch several.
Third is the “royal” (Cichla intermedia). This is the smallest species of peacock bass and lives in the Orinoco drainage of Venezuela. This little guy has about eight black bars and a faint stripe the length of his body. I had the good fortune of fishing Laguna Larga Camp on the Cinaruco River in Venezuela where the royal is plentiful. During the same week, angler Steve Jensen of Bogotá, Colombia was specifically targeting fly rod world records for this species. I probably wouldn’t have payed much attention to this fish but Steve pointed out the beauty in these guys. We caught a lot of them and Steve broke several fly rod line class records including a 3.8lber on 16lb class tippet.
With all this extra time this week I’ll continue to post information about the fly rod species of the Amazon. Tomorrow I’ll tell you what I know about a few of the smaller cichlids you often catch while chasing peacocks. This certainly isn’t as fun as being there but it’s the best we can do. Hopefully this gets everyone fired up enough to join me February 11-18, 2012!
Monday, March 7, 2011
Most people know what fishing in the Amazon is all about. But just in case you don’t, it’s about catching the heck out of really cool fish. And a lot of different ones. However, the most sought after specie is the peacock bass. The peacock bass is not a bass at all but rather a Cichlid that pound for pound is one of the Amazons fiercest predators. Peacocks have a reputation of shattering the strongest of leaders, straightening saltwater hooks, breaking fly rods and leaving the best fly fishers shaking in their flip flops. I absolutely love fishing for them!
What most people don’t realize is that there are at least four species of peacock bass. There’s actually a lot of debate in this. Personally it seems like there are more from my experiences. What’s confusing is there’s one, Cichla temensis, more commonly known as the “speckled”, which takes on two distinctly different looks of either speckled or striped. This species is known in Brazil as tucanaré or in Venezuela as pavón. This specie is the most desired because of its size. My biggest is only 13lbs but last year three of my guests got 18lbers. Tucanaré have been recorded to nearly 30lbs, but trust me, an 18lber on a fly like this one here Gregg Friedman is holding is all you can handle.
The tucanaré requires the use of at least an 8-weight rod; I prefer my 10-weight. Your typical tarpon leader of a 60lb butt section connected to 20lb class tippet with 12 inches of 40lb mono shock tippet will handle most. Or, you can do it the easy way (it’s not IGFA certified) and just attach 6 feet of 40lb saltwater tippet. The most important thing to do when a humongous peacock takes your fly is give him the full bend of the rod and don’t let them take too much line. If he does, he will be in the sunken trees in a split second. Honestly, the first 15 seconds after these beasts eat your fly can be terrifying!
Typically I like fishing big colorful flies. I also like flies with eyes. The flies I fish are usually concoctions rather than standard fly patterns. I collect cool flies from friends all the time if they are big and bright they work. If you want to get technical I like Lefty Deceivers type flies, big eye baitfish, Warpath Jig flies, Puglisi type flies, crease flies and poppers. The bottom line is peacocks in general aren’t too selective. Most important is that you use flies made on top quality saltwater hooks.
That’s enough dreaming about being in the Amazon today. If I dwell on it too much I’ll have a flashback to the cancellation of our trip last week and get depressed. By tomorrow I’ll dig up some pictures from my stock and show you the other three types of peacock bass you often catch in the Amazon. In fact, as the week goes expect to learn of many fish species in the Amazon.
Saturday, March 5, 2011
The floods in the Amazon are very unusual for this time of year. Now is towards the end of the dry season and typically the water levels are extremely low on the rivers we fish. Usually the water is clear enough that we sight cast to huge peacocks. But it is the Amazon. It is the rainforest and sometimes Mother Nature can throw a twist. We’ll just have to hope that everything gets back to normal for next year. Did I say “next year”? Yes I did. Amongst my rescheduling of this years trip, I went ahead and booked next year’s trip. The dates for 2012 are February 11-18 and I already signed up two. So if you’re ready to enjoy this incredible fishery, contact me soon!
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
With less than 24 hours till takeoff, my hosted Brazil trip was cancelled. I couldn’t believe it was happening. I was in shock. However, beginning last Thursday, torrential rains even beyond the norm of the rainforest, began to flood the Amazon. River levels were rising 4 – 6 inches per hour, the absolute worst scenario an angler could have while camped in the Amazon in search of peacock bass.
To make a long story short, yesterday was one of the most difficult days I can remember. Not only was I traumatized, disappointed and the list of lousy feelings goes on, but I had to call all seven of my guests on this trip and tell them their dream trip was postponed. The experience was brutal.
Reluctantly, everyone accepted the horrid news. They too were stunned, but no one wanted to spend that much money and travel that far for poor fishing and soggy camping. So after a day on the internet and phone, the trip is officially postponed and plane tickets are cancelled. My hosted Brazil 2011 will reschedule.
As my good friend and one of the guys on my trip Steve Berry said, “When it rains it pours”. I’m not sure I really wanted to crack a smile at that, but it’s true. Even during the midst of dry season, Mother Nature can cut loose in the Amazon. The fortunate thing about this mess is that we aren’t trapped down there right now and River Plate Outfitters are kind enough to allow a reschedule without loss of any money.
Don’t let this unfortunate situation scare you from booking your dream trip to the Amazon. The Amazon is truly one of the most amazing fisheries on the planet and you need to go. Not only that, 2011 will go down as one of the Amazons least fished years in recent memory. 2012 has good potential to be the best ever. Rain doesn’t scare me, and to prove it I’ll be booking my 2012 week shortly. Contact me soon!