Monday, December 31, 2012

A Year in Summary - And Memorable Fish of 2012

2012 was action filled with 113 days fishing.  61 were on the home waters of Idaho, Wyoming and Montana.  26 were scattered around the US and 26 took place in foreign lands.  57 were trout days, 29 were enjoying warmwater species and 27 took place in the salt.  These outings led to over 50 species caught however only one new species of note, the tripletail in Belize. An enormous roosterfish off the beach in Baja more than made up for the downturn in new species caught.  That rooster was long sought after and he alone made the year.

There were challenges in 2012.  You probably remember Dads brain surgery for his Parkinson’s.  What doctors claimed was routine was as far from routine as this family could imagine.  I arrived in New Hampshire on August 20th to be with Dad for his surgery.  The doctors said he’d be out of the hospital in two days.  I remained in NH almost three weeks and Dad didn’t get home until late October.  The trying experience was a first.  The good news is Dad seems to be doing much better and I will return to NH in January for a visit.

There’s no doubt 2013 should be a good one.  To start the year I’ll be working my tail off.  I have a full schedule of speaking engagements and as always I’m playing catch up in the art.  But there’s plenty of exotic fishing planned.  Definite adventures already include Brazil, India, Bolivia and back to Africa.  I expect there will be some last minute opportunities as well. 

Here’s one last look at 2012 with some of the years most memorable fish.

Sam Vigneri's roosterfish is tops.  Yes, we both caught huge roosters this trip, but if it wasn’t for Sammy, Baja wouldn’t have happened. 

Granny wasn't expecting a 100lb plus tarpon from Belize during the off season.  But when the massive tarpon took her fly she handled him like a pro both during the fight and posing for pics.

I got hooked on roosterfish in Panama in 1993 and caught many since.  But this one ends the quest for a monster . . . at least for a few years!

My brother-in-law has the waters I grew up on a mile from his house, but like most fly fishers, fishing for anything other than trout is rare for him.  Don poses with his first nice largemouth

An impressive barred pargo off the rocks in Mexico.

I spent a lot of time in New Hampshire this year with Moms 70th and Dads surgery.  There was nothing more fun than watching the nieces pulverize the sunfish colonies around the docks of Lake Winnipesaukee.

My friend Libby with her long awaited first carp on fly!

It doesn’t look like much of a fish, but you should have been there.  What a fun day with the girls!

Big fish of Day 1 in the Jackson Hole One Fly - Thanks to my guide Jean Bruun!

Here's to a happy and healthy 2013!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

A Very Cool Christmas Present

Granny and I quit exchanging gifts for each other years ago.  That’s because if we can afford something we want - we buy it.  Why wait till December 25th?  This practice certainly eliminates accumulation of unnecessary and unwanted stuff.

When I saw a present under our fake tree with my name on it I was surprised, and reluctant to open it, especially because I could tell it was something to hang on the wall.  What was in there?  What was I going to do with it?

It turns out that its one of the neatest gifts I’ve ever got.  On Day 1 of the Jackson Hole One Fly Contest last September I competed against long time customer/friend, Ray Thurston.  We were guided by my friend Jean Bruun and Ray and I had a One Fly day to remember in which we each racked up enough points to make the podium.  One of my fish was a cutthroat that won me the big fish trophy for Day 1.  Jean clicked off a snap shot in the heat of the moment and Ray had a painting done of me and the fish.  The painting is done by Tammy Callens and is truly fantastic.  What a great memory!

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Christmas Rush

Sorry for the lack of blogging.  You’ve not missed any fishing adventures.  When you’re an artist, Christmas is the busiest time of the year and I’ve been grinding away.  Twice I nearly snuck to the water but last minute commission orders continue to come in.  Check out my first ever painting of a Westslope Cutthroat.

I also spoke in Bozeman, Montana last Wednesday night.  My PowerPoint presentation was “Improve Your Fishing Photography”.  Lucky for me and the Madison – Gallatin Chapter of Trout Unlimited, I left Victor, Idaho at 9 AM for what is generally a four hour drive.  Snow and wind turned the normally enjoyable drive in to a six hour white knuckler.  Even downtown Bozeman was a snowy skating rink.  They don’t call me "Monsoon Currier" for nothing.  The early start got me there in plenty of time and I had a great night and a surprisingly large crowd despite the weather.  Then Thursday I drove a whopping 35 MPH all the way from Bozeman to home – another 6 hour plus drive thanks to hard packed ice.

Last but not least, I’m updating all my shows for my speaking circuit.  I’ll start the 2013 season at the Denver Fly Fishing Show and go non stop till mid March.  Sure, that includes hosting a week in the Amazon in February, but overall I’ll be doing more than 40 presentations nationwide the next three months. 

Hope to see you soon!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Fishing in the Rain - IN DECEMBER!

We don’t get a lot of rain in Eastern Idaho.  Summers are dry and during spring when we get most our precipitation it often comes in the form of sloppy snow.  So as funny as it sounds, when I get the opportunity to fish in the rain I take it.  Today Tom Montgomery, Paul Bruun and I kept our late season tradition of floating the South Fork alive while fishing in the rain. 

It’s December for crying out loud.  We should have two feet of snow on the ground.  Every boat launch on the South Fork should be impassible and instead of getting doused by rain when we started today it should have been blinding snow.  But this is a strange year.  There’s no snow on the ground and today it was 45ยบ.

We did a short float from the Spring Creek Bridge to Conant.  I’m still in the “Belize” mode and as Tom rowed I put my feet up and kicked back while Paul meticulously worked a riffle with a tiny dry fly with a midge dropper.  He landed at least ten fish in the time it took me to enjoy a cigar and a beer.

Paul took the oars next and Tom and I smacked streamers against the banks and in the tail outs.  One particular tail out has a new name, the hamburger hole.  Last month a big truck lost control and skidded off the road and plunged into the South Fork.  The truck lost 39,000 pounds of burger and most of it ended up in this one hole.  The place was lined with eagles, hawks, crows, ravens, raccoons and the list goes on for weeks.  Unfortunately there’s a lot of trash lying around also, but not enough to keep this big rainbow off Toms fly.

I had no business fishing today.  I have tons of work to do.  But what the hey, anytime you can spend a day fishing with good friends it should be taken.  That being said, I’m grinding for a week now.  On Wednesday December 12 I present my updated, “Improve Your Fishing Photos”, for the Madison – Gallatin Chapter of Trout Unlimited in Bozeman, Montana.  It should be great fun!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Belize Wrap Up

Granny and I are home and believe it or not, I could mow my lawn today.  Seriously, this is Idaho, we should have at least a foot of snow on the ground and there’s none!

As you know by now our Belize trip was a great success.  I encourage anyone to go to Belize, and keep this in mind; Belize River Lodge offers a two for one deal every fall.  Yes, TWO ANGLERS for the PRICE OF ONE!  There is no better deal for a trip to the flats that includes lodging, all meals and an excellent guide.

Feel free to contact me if you want to go to Belize.

Here are a few more pics from the trip.

Granny getting it done!

Skinny water bonefish

The new “Currier” permit fly box from MFC.

A screaming Ross F1 reel!

Granny and her tarpon

Deeply loading the 12-weight

Tarpon release

Typical Belize bonefish

Patience for permit

Granny chilling out at Belize River Lodge

Stay out of my luggage!

The end of a great trip to Belize!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Last Day - If it Swims it Eats!

November 27, 2012

The last day is always sad.  Granny and I’ve had such good time down here at Belize River Lodge.  This morning we awoke to developing clouds.  This would normally deter us from the flats; however the tarpon weren’t rolling at the Belize River mouth either.  So off Granny, Pedro and I went to test our eyes in tough flats conditions in hopes to see wakes, nervous water and tails.

We made about a ½ hour run to Hicks Key.  Hicks is one of my old favorites and you can find about any species here.  The plan was to look for permit tails.  When Pedro cut the engine I wasted no time taking the bow.  One thing with permit, if you’re not ready they’ll be there.  I don’t know how many times I haven’t got a rod out quick enough.  Sure enough a school of what looked like permit swooshed from fleeing cormorants.  Pedro yelled, “Permit moving right”.  I already had them in my radar and was ripping off line.  My first cast was short but two more huge line pulls from the reel then a new cast and my crab was sinking in front of the fish.  In a split second I felt a vicious thump.  Fish on!

At first we thought I had a permit.  With the poor light some dorsal fins cutting above the water looked black.  But as my fish and his friends got on our right I could see the fins of big jack crevalle.  The initial run was all my 10-weight Ross RX could handle.  Seriously, the jack crevalle is an underrated gangster of a fish.  These guys courageously eat anything and then test your forearms and equipment to the max.  If you’re inexperienced, expect to fight a 10lb jack for at least 20 minutes.  And if you know what you’re doing, fight him hard but remember, jacks have busted up more fly rods next to the boat than most fish.  About eight minutes after hook up I was gripping the tail of a respectable mean looking crevalle.

When done with the jack, it looked like it was about to rain.  I noticed a wake in very shallow water.  I reached for my 7-weight rigged with an un-weighted pink crazy Charlie and made a short sidearm cast in front of the V.  Wham!  My hands still reeked of jack and I was hooked to a small bonefish.  After I landed him Pedro looked to me and asked, “How about some snappers?”  

It was Granny’s turn however she knew how much fun I was having.  She’s still celebrating her tarpon.  She told me to grab my snapper rig and get read to have fun.  For snapper, especially if there are big ones around, you need mono shock tippet.  I picked up my 9-weight RX already affixed with 60 pound mono shock and a red and white whistler.  I checked the hook and nodded to Pedro.  He told me to get line out as he motored to the edge of some mangroves.  On the first cast I landed this handsome gray snapper (also known as the mangrove snapper).

A cloudy day fly fishing in Belize couldn’t have gone any better.  During the next hours Granny and I boated more snappers, two baby black groupers, a horse-eye jack and some small barracudas.  It was a fantastic multispecies day.  So what if we couldn’t find the permit and tarpon – what a great way to end a fantastic trip to Belize!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Day 6 - Fly Fishing for Stubborn Permit

November 26, 2012

I opened our room door at 5:30 expecting a whim of cold air like the last few days, but there wasn’t.  A t-shirt would suffice for my first cup of coffee.  More delighting, there were few clouds overhead.  Today we were going permit fishing with Pedro.

For starters we motored right over the rolling tarpon at the mouth of the Belize River.  Then we zoomed by the channel markers where I landed the tripletail.  We skipped the snook holes and skirted south past Belize City and made a 45 minute run to Pedro’s favorite permit grounds. 

Once there I handed Granny my 10-weight RX with a brown crab pattern securely loop knotted to a 16lb leader then I scanned ahead for tails.  “I’m fishing?” she pointed to herself with a look of surprise.  Granny was fishing and she knows how hard permit are on the fly.  She didn’t have the confidence in her cast.  But I convinced her that after yesterday, you never know. 

A wake of small permit came into casting range almost immediately. Mentally Granny wasn’t ready and she hastily made two short casts.  Then ripped her heaped leader and crab out so fast to cast a third time that she spooked the permit badly and they ran for Honduras.  I laughed and reminded her she’s the millionth person to do that on the first try. 

Two minutes later we found three more permit and these were tailing.  These were nice permit, easily 15lbs judging from the width of their flopping black trimmed tails.  They were a good 80ft out and due to calm conditions we couldn’t go any closer for fear of spooking them.  Even with encouragement, Granny wouldn’t attempt the long toss.  Any other fish species in the world and I’d of insisted.  But I go crazy for permit. 

I grabbed the rod and ripped off another 20ft of fly line and quietly perched myself on the bow of our panga.  Then I side armed the crab right in front of the lead fish (A heavy crab lands much softer with a side arm cast.  Then there’s less chance of spooking the fish).  His tail rose and flapped as I pulled ever so slowly.  There’s no doubt he saw my fake but rather than eat the fly he did a quick circle around it.  I bumped it again with several short strips but he refused it again and moved away. 

I stripped in like a mad man and launched another cast right in front of them again.  Now they were near 90ft away.  My crab sank inches in front of all three.  I pulled slowly then added several short strips.  The finicky fish twirled around with interest but moved away again.  I ended up with five good casts to these permit before they finally got suspicious and slipped to deeper water out of sight.  Damn!

That was our best chance at permit all day.  In fact we hardly saw another after that.  That’s permit fishing.  Our biggest enemy today was once again, the weather.  It was so calm that all fish, not just permit, picked up on us as we snuck down every flat.  It’s rare that its calm all day in Belize but it certainly was. 

When fishing the flats you almost always encounter something else cool other than the fishing.  Today we came across a herd of manatees feeding in a bay.  I see a lot of them every time I come to Belize but today was unique in that we got to essentially hang out with them for as long as we wanted.  They are so strange!

Tomorrow is the last day and the forecast is for rain – not good for the flats.