Friday, November 6, 2015

The Tug On The Bug Is The Drug

There is no doubt that strike indicators help us capture fish.  There was a time I could nymph quite well without an indicator by simply greasing my leader and high-sticking through a tasty run of water.  But, my eyes and reflexes are not what they use to be so I have come to depend on indicators and again they do help us bring fish to hand.  That doesn't mean I'm in love with them though.  Often, I find them a real pain in the butt. 

As I drove to the Blue yesterday morning there was a steady shower for my entire trip.  It wasn't going to be enough rain to make a change in the river and certainly not enough to keep me out of the river.  And, we need any rain we can get right now. I actually enjoyed driving in the rain... it slowed me down a little and gave me pause to notice things I might not otherwise.

I stepped into the river with that indicator on, but I knew I was going to fish without it this morning.  I wanted to go back to the days of simply casting a bugger and stripping it back.  I was standing on the top of a beautiful pool of water - one favored by many.  Anytime any of us can stand at the top of this pool, we most likely are going to get into the trout.  A down and across cast, count to five, take the swing, ride that swing out, pause, strip... and bam... set the hook! 


The tug on the bug is the drug as my friend Michael Mercurio likes to say and Michael is right.  The trout of yesterday morning were absolutely slamming the olive bugger at the end of the swing.  I use to like to fish all day, but anymore after capturing so many trout I'm quite content and enjoy taking in the beauty of the Blue.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words and on Blue this is two fold true.  Blue River is thousands upon thousands of brush strokes making one grand masterpiece. No matter where you stand on Blue River you find yourself surrounded by natures handiwork.

Unfortunately there are those who seem to care less about keeping Blue River as pristine and clean as possible. For years now, many have remained hopeful that the trash problem on this river will somehow get better and I think for the most part it has.  However, a problem still exists.

A heads up to anyone new to Blue river.  If the area manager or one of the game wardens catches you with a fire on the river bank you're likely to loose some money.  Fire or alcohol is not allowed on the river bank and can result in a fine.  And, littering Blue River can also result in a citation. 
Please keep your Blue River clean. 

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Adapting To The Situation

The trout went in the river on a Friday afternoon.  That evening the rains decided to ramp things up a bit.  When daylight broke on Saturday morning and I was able to get my first look of the river after the rains I saw a constant and rather raged stream of chocolate milk flowing downstream and my hope went the same direction. As I stood on the bank with little hope at all of capturing fish my mind drifted to my mental fly box and the image of the bugger brown appeared.

When conditions are not in our favor it comes time to adapt to the situation and that was what it was going to take to catch trout on Blue River that how now turned brown.  Dark patterns in off colored water is the rule I've always employed.  The color rusty brown has yet to fail me in off colored water.  Black is another must have choice. 

It's not just the color that we choose, but more importantly the water we choose.  Look for the calm waters on the fringes, the shallows, the soft patches and soft seams and place your offering in these structures.  Fish will move out of the violent currents to conserve energy and that is why exploring the fringes is so vital to capturing fish under adverse conditions.

My first two outings produce eleven trout on Sunday and the majority of them came on the bugger brown. I had the pleasure of fishing with Ken Norris on Sunday and Ken was also capturing trout with brown patterns.  On Monday seventeen bows would come to hand and again primarily on the bugger brown. I fished with Ralph Fullenwider on Monday and met a fine gentleman and fellow jarhead Tom Leonard from Madill. Tom was fishing with glo-bait and had only found one trout.  We scrounged up a water bubble and tied on a bugger for him, but as hard as we tried we couldn't get a trout to hand for Tom.  He had several strikes, just couldn't get the hook-set.  Tom was having surgery the next day and will be out of commission until January when he plans on coming back and when I plan on getting a fly rod in his hand.

When Wednesday rolled around the river had cleared significantly.  Early Wednesday I got to fish with Jeramy Sellers for about twenty minutes, but worked called Jeramy away. Wednesday was a grand and fun morning fishing the bugger brown under an indicator, stripping the bugger brown across the faces of the trout full well knowing it would be to much for them to endure.  Then the soft hackles came out and were placed in the calm rifles where surface activity was revealing the hiding trout.  The partridge soft hackles would also be more than the trout could bear and they went into a frenzy of slamming the flies as they swung at the end of the drift. 

Later I would break out the small stuff like the TS midge and drift it through some runs.  I cannot overstate the importance of eliminating drag, including micro drag when drifting flies.  It can make the difference in capturing fish or not.

Scott Dittner and Ralph Fullenwider joined in on the fun and all of us were capturing trout, all of us were smiling, and all of us were feeling good. 
Scott Dittner
Ralph Fullenwider

A bow I caught at the pool I call 17.


Monday, October 26, 2015

The Hungry Ocean

The time has now come to begin writing another chapter of history upon the Blue River.  Through school and college one of my favorite subjects was history.  I love the recorded word and such word gives us valuable accountings.  History teaches.  History illustrates.  History inspires.  We of the present ask questions of the past.

Over the last fifteen or twenty years, the Blue River has become a cradle of southern plains fly fishing.  It has become a continuing narrative of what it is to be a member of the fur and feather casting club.  In other words, and more simply stated, what it's like to be a fluff chucker.

This season I hope to not approach the trout with my usual presumptuous attitude... thinking I know all as to what these creatures want.  This season I hope to approach the trout with the clarity of a blind man.  I seek a deeper understanding of fish. 

Blue River is a hungry ocean and the native species take in her pleasures year round.  Come November, more mouths have the need to eat and Blue becomes a ravenous ocean.  Such a hungry ocean presents wonderful opportunities to teach others about species, their habits and habitat, and how to angle for these often elusive creatures. 

Each season a new chapter is begun and at some time the chapter is closed.  It is now time to begin anew and pen another chapter of the Blue River experience. 

The annual get-together of the Blue River Fly Fishers is November 7th at Blue River.  It is a festivity of food, fun, fishing, and fellowship.  Everyone is invited.  If you cook please come prepared to do so.  Many that attend cook in their Dutch ovens, but all offerings are appreciated.  Everyone should bring their own choice of drink, a chair to set in and if anyone has an extra table that will be greatly appreciated.  We will most likely meet in the main parking area.  Look for Ralph Fullenwiders Ruff Diamond motor coach and Steve Wolf and his camper trailer.  Lunch will be at noon. 

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Back To Black

I knew that I would be going to a Blue River that wasn't sporting her usual clear complexion, but I didn't think she would be so compromised that the fishing would be just darn tough.  We had several rain events the week prior with the most recent one being Thursday.  It was the event on Thursday that had everyone scratching their heads as to how Blue would change.  I figured I was going one way or the other.

I still not use to the time change that took place almost a month ago.  Somehow I keep thinking the sun will be up and rising by 7 o'clock, but that simply isn't happening and certainly wouldn't on this day with overcast skies being dominate. With time to kill I decided to fuel up for that burst of energy I was going to need.  I call it rocket fuel.
By the time I hit the river it was daylight and I proceeded to the south wilderness destination Desperado Springs.  Desperado has been very kind to me this season.
Now anyone that knows me or most likely anyone that meets me probably won't take me for someone who likes Amy Winehouse music, but I do.  As I stood on the bank and looked at the brown soup in front of me I was reminded of one of Amy's songs - Rehab, as I murmured the words, "No, no, no" just as Amy sang in the song.  The river was quite compromised... more that I thought it would be, and the toughness of the morning set in deeply. 
However, I was reminded of another Winehouse song "Back To Black" and I opened the fly box and selected the black patterns.  I've always fished dark patterns in dark water and it usually always works. Brown colors are my favorite colors to use, but sometime we have to go a little darker.
The three flies that produced trout on this day were not totally black, but certainly predominantly black.  One thing we need to remember is these fish are going to eat no matter what.  When the water is simply off color then we need to think color of our flies.  When the river is really off color and the flow is up significantly we need to think about color and placement of the flies.  When the flow is rolling we need to fish those soft patches and shallow fringes.  Fish will move to the sidelines to keep from fighting the extra volume and flow created by significant rain events.
The first fly to go to sea was Chris Adam's Black Bubba Bugger.  The first cast resulted in a missed hook-set, but the second attempt brought him in.  I was fishing the road side of Desperado Springs - that long stretch of flat, basically slow moving water.  I rarely fish this run, but three other anglers had claimed my favored place on the east side of Desperado.

The Bubba would capture five trout before being retired and the Black Molly was employed.  The Molly seemed to be rather popular, but this angler was doing a poor job in setting the hook and missed several opportunities.  However, the Molly would take three before giving way to the Black Gnat.  The Black Gnat would only find two.  Total for the morning would be ten trout and that was good enough for this angler.
There were a total of nine anglers at Desperado Springs on this morning.  I was the lone fly angler and the rest were both bait and spinner anglers.  Seemed like the bait crowd had a slight advantage as far as numbers.  Everyone was catching trout - certainly not every cast, but still stringer limits were going to be realized. 

I started back up the hill on the way to the parking lot around 10 o'clock.  The sun never made an appearance while I was on the water.  I do understand that it did break through around noon.

The trout are still in the river and there were a good number of perch nibbles Saturday.  The bass should be getting quite active in the coming weeks.  It's all good on Blue River.
Having rolled cast all morning long, my right shoulder was screaming at me and therefore I decided it was time for a little pain reliever at Scotty's store.
See you on the Blue. 



Friday, March 13, 2015

Fly Fishing Area 4

After Wednesday's great outing in the south wilderness, my plan was to return to Blue this Friday and fish all day with my good buddy Scott Dittner of Marlow.  I went as far as telling Scott I would meet him there.  However, about mid-morning I suddenly remembered I had told Trina, the young lady that works with me, that she could have Friday off so she could spend time with her daughter.  No way I was going to go back on that.

So, with Friday out and it being horribly slow at work this Thursday I decided to take off at lunch and head to Blue River.  My thinking was I could hit the river by 1 p.m., fish a couple of hours and be back at the bunkhouse before the evening news aired.

I decided to fly fish Area 4.  Area 4 can be a jewel to the fly fisherman or it can be one big challenge.  The lower end of Area 4 is also known as Chris Pool and it can be very accommodating to the fly angler.  This part of the river is fairly shallow and quite wadeable.  Of course, the bottom of this river is quite geographic and slow wading is always a good idea or carrying a wading staff is an even better idea when navigating Chris Pool.  In front of you are pockets - pocket after pocket and the trout are within and awaiting your offerings. 

For years I fished Chris Pool, but always found myself looking upstream at that long almost totally unwadeable stretch of water that few ever fish.  Even bank access is limited and this always told me that the inventories of trout just keep on building with each passing week.  So, this year I was determined to find a way to get a fly in that stretch of water. 

The place I chose to try and cast my fly is about 100 yards upstream from Chris Pool and I have to tell you it's certainly not a picnic.  I'm talking about down in the trenches, trench warfare, standing in a mud-pit that any self respecting pig worth his weight in bacon would be proud to call his own.  If the mud is not enough then there are numerous tree roots and branches that continually catch your fly line and oh... I forgot to mention the overhead obstacles that contain you to roll casting only.

To fish this area you will have to own a solid and fairly strong roll cast.  With the overhead tree branches you will only be able to employ a side arm roll cast to boot.  If there is any south or southwest wind at all, then your job of getting your fly out 30 feet or better is compounded even more.  However... if you can get your fly to where the trout are staged you can have a very good day.
I started off with the olive Bubba Bugger yesterday.  It was amazing how quickly the river had cleared.  First cast with the Bubba and a trout was brought to hand.  The Bubba would go on and take 6 trout, but then he was lost at sea. 
Next, the red ass brown bugger went on and again on his maiden voyage he connected with a trout.  The brown bugger would capture one more trout, but honestly the community I was fishing didn't seem really all that interested in the brown bugger.  Really not for sure if it was his body color or just his red ass. 
I retired the brown bugger and decided to go tandem using an aqua green Copper John as the lead fly and a size 16 pink Frenchie would be subservient.  The Copper John would capture two trout, but the Frenchie was the real star capturing three times the number of trout the Copper John did.  
Yesterday I spent two hours on the river and today I would do the same.  No... I didn't capture 51 trout today like I did yesterday.  Those days are rare and come around every now and then.  I walked away from the river having met 17 trout and pretty much had to work for each one of them... as far as casting. 
I guess I could fish seven days a week if I only had the chance.  Here we are living in a world where we are connected by greater and newer technology coming our way almost every day.  These things are meant to connect us, but here we are living more disconnected than ever it seems. 
One reason I love to fly fish is the connection I feel with fish.  Fish, for me, have substance.  If you ask me whether I'd rather talk to you on the cell phone or stand next to you in the river, what do you think my answer would be? 
See you in the river. 

Thursday, March 12, 2015

The Best Trout Fishing Still To Come

Some of the best trout fishing at Blue River takes place in the month of March.  However, this great opportunity oftentimes goes without the audience that one would think would assemble.

Being on this river for almost 40 years has taught be the art of observation and each year I see mostly the same thing happen.  When November rolls around each year there is a sudden rush of trout deprived fans that cannot wait to get to Blue River.  Around the middle of November there is the first of two trout derby events at Blue River and this event has created it's own culture over the years.  December still brings fairly nice weather and the crowds keep on coming to Blue.  In January we will find the real die-hard trout fans wrapped up in overalls, and layered beyond belief donning a pair of waders and standing in the middle of river.  In February we find the faithful and after the trout derby takes place is when we see the declining of numbers as far as people making trips to Blue to trout fish.  I've seen it year after year.

When March arrives it's almost like the lion has fallen asleep as the lamb takes control.  In other words, interest in trout wane as warmer weather offers other fishing opportunities.

Fishing during March and also during the month of April can be awesome.  Not only have the inventories of trout built all season long, the bass and pan fish community become active, along with catfish and Redhorse sucker - all which can be caught by way of fur and feather. 

Wednesday of this week I decided to take Scotty the proceeds from the Blue River Fly Classic.  Scotty had already told me that the snow melt and the rain on Monday had caused the river to go off- color and that a fly fisher might have a hard time.  I was determined to go fishing anyhow.

When I arrived at Scotty's he was filling propane tanks for a customer so I went inside and waited.  Once he came in I give him the proceeds and even though it was only 10:30 in the morning I went ahead and order a Scotty burger to go.  Then I shoved off for the south wilderness.

I got in the river about an hour before noon and sent out an olive Bubba Bugger, and the action started right away.  It was a trout with almost every cast.  On trout number 15 I would end up loosing the Bubba Bugger and I believe this is a good illustration of the need to re-tie our flies after so many catches. 


A dark brown 1/64 oz. Micro jig fly went on and this fly would produce even better than the Bubba Bugger.  I am convinced that the fall rate of this fly had a lot to do with it's success.  The trout were grabbing this fly within seconds after it's landing.

In less than an hour I was up to 30 trout and determined to get to 50 before calling it a day.  Guess my thinking was 50 would be a nice number to stop on, but then I remembered that old son-in-law Van was on the river Sunday in the south wilderness and he stopped on 50... so I needed 51.  I needed 51 just to show Van that the old man here still has it every once in awhile.
Number 51 came on an olive 1/64 oz. Micro jig because I lost the brown Micro jig to a trout for not practicing the re-tie discipline after 20 or so trout caught. 
I do believe an angler could have caught 100 trout yesterday if they were willing to stay all day.  I wanted to stay longer, but too much to do back at the bunkhouse.  I think the success of the day paints a picture at how good the trout fishing can be in March and this often carries on into April.
Scotty is going to try and promote trout fishing in April by having a weekly largest trout contest.  No entry fee required, but you do have to register at Scotty's One Stop.  There will be two weekly winners - largest trout fly fishing and largest trout spinner or bait fishing.  Each winner will receive a $25.00 cash prize and a Scotty or Gloria burger.  Dang... you can't beat that.
Beautiful day yesterday and I enjoyed the walk in the wilderness as much as the fishing.  As I was leaving I walked past Desperado Springs and there is a good flow of water gushing from the spring right now.  And yes, I did retrieve that plastic bottle and carry it out. 

Monday, March 9, 2015

And The Reel Winner Is

Last year when the Blue River Fly Classic raised $2,495.00 I thought we had probably peaked as far as the amount of money we would ever raised.  At last years event we had two vintage bamboo fly rods along with a beautiful piece of fly fishing artwork that we auctioned off.  Those items accounted for $500.00 by themselves.  This year we were void of such auction items.

So you can imagine my surprise when the Classic this year surpassed last years total.  This years event raised $2,550.00 and therefore the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife is a winner!  The proceeds from this event along with the $1,320.00 raised by Chris Adams and his Bubba Buggers For Blue program will hopefully qualify for federal matching funds, and if so the end result will be around $15,000.00 to the wildlife department.

There were all kind of winners this past Saturday.  The early bird award went to Jon Paul Griffin.  Jon Paul received at $25.00 Bass Pro gift certificate for getting his entry in first.  The winner of the Guess The Mystery Fly game was Brodie Reed.  Brodie will receive Fishpond's Headgate Tippet system. 

Boone Merhman and Chris Adams were both big winners in being awarded the Spirit Of The Blue award for their outstanding efforts in supporting Blue River this year.

Everyone that had the pleasure of eating Vernon Forrester's chuck wagon food was a winner!  The food this year was off the charts!

Ralph Fullenwider is always a winner and on Saturday he was named the Keeper Of The River for 2015.  This award has only been awarded one previous time and the first recipient was Harold Beck.  Harold had the pleasure of announcing Ralph as this years recipient.

Thanks to the generosity of a good number we had a lot of giveaway prizes this year.  The crown jewel of the giveaways was a Cabela's fly rod and reel donated by Dan Ham of Ada, Oklahoma and Dallas, Texas.  That sweet package went to Andrew Weatherford.
Then there were the competitors in the Blue River Fly Classic.  After five hours of hard fishing we had the top three finishers.

Coming in third place was Scott Dittner of Marlow, Oklahoma.  Scott received a $50.00 gift certificate from Backwoods in Oklahoma City.

Coming in second place was Eric Nunn.  Eric received a $100.00 Bass Pro gift certificate.

1st place went to Walker Hairston.  Walker hails south of the Red River and has become one of our favorite fly guys on Blue River.  Walker received an Umpqua Fly Vest for winning the Blue River Fly Classic 2015.  Thanks to Tailwaters of Dallas, Texas for donating the Umpqua vest.

And then there is the reel winner.  The big winner in all of this is Blue River.  How awesome must it be to be loved by so many from so many different places.  The more people that come to this river results in more people getting love bit.  And the more people star struck by this river results in more people wanting to see the Blue always healthy and safe.  Again, how awesome it must be to be so loved.

Here are some pictures from this weekends event.



Sunday, March 1, 2015

Finals Words For Classic 2015

The Blue River Fly Classic will be this coming Saturday, March 7th.  The Weather Channel is showing sunny skies with a morning temperature of 33 degrees warming to a balmy 59 with north east winds whispering at 5 to 10.  Sounds like nice fly fishing weather.

Contestants should of course bring their normal gear as if they were on any fly fishing trip to Blue river.  In addition, we ask contestants to bring a chair to sit in during lunch and their choice of drink. 

Here is how the day will unfold.  The contest begins promptly at 7:30 and we ask contestants try and get there by 7:15 if possible.  We will meet in the main parking lot of the campground area by Hughes Crossing. 

Harold Beck will once again serve as our Master of Ceremonies.  At 7:25, Harold will present his opening remarks and go over the rules of the contest along with explaining the score card.  Then, the winner of the "Guess the mystery fly contest" will be announced and the Early Bird gift will be awarded.  Michael Mercurio and Michael Lanning will then announce the pairings and contestants will be given a zip loc bag with their two mystery flies, score card, and ink pen. 

All contestants must return and turn in their score cards no later than 12:30 at the same spot they were given their score card that morning. 

Vernon Forrester and the Forrester cooking team will have our lunch ready between 12:30 and 1 p.m. On the menu is cowboy style chicken fried steak, cowboy potatoes, creamed spinach, an additional side and of course Vernon's wonderful desserts. 

Matt Gamble will be on hand to bring everyone up to date on the trout stocking situation and to answer any questions anyone might have.

Michael Mercurio will be in charge of adding the score cards.  Michael Lanning will be in charge of the tie breaker log.  Charlie Wright will announce the winners beginning with 3rd place, then 2nd, and finally the winner of the Classic 2015.

Prior to the announcement of the winners, there will be a number of thank you announcements to be made and special awards will also be announced.  Harold Beck will also announce and present the Keeper Of The River 2015 award.  Yours truly and Scott Dittner will announce two special awards for 2015.

There will be a number of give-a-way prizes to be distributed and this will take place after the winners are announced. 

Classic 2015 t shirts will be given to all contestants and we will call it a day.  It's all going to be a lot of fun.