Blue River Fly Classic

Blue River Fly Classic
A One Pattern Fly Event

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Saturday Afternoon Stream-side Stroll

In her short story "A Tree, a Rock, a Cloud", Carson McCullers suggests, through character, that love is a science. She further leads us to believe that in order to love the most complex things - each other, we must first practice the science in learning to love the simplest things such as a tree, a rock, a cloud.

Often time I believe the best thing for the inside of a man is the out-of-doors and this theory is the reason I come to the river Blue today.

Last Thursday I learned that a dear friend of mine is seriously and terribly ill and the hard battle he has to wage is forthcoming. He is a man that I've come to admire and respect; a man that taught me how to fish the famed crappie of Cumberland Pool; a gift he gave to me in the teaching; a gift he shared willingly.

Today on the river I come with a questioned mind and heavy chest. The weather today is remarkably splendid and somehow I find disappointment in this. Where is the cold and wind that I hate so much? Today, I wanted to feel the bitterness on my skin, the cold rush in my lungs, see things through cold wind-induced watery eyes; all reminding me that I am well and good and have work to do, important work, ahead in the days to come.

Inasmuch as I enjoy the company of others, today I need to be alone; seek the solitude for quite reflection. Therefore I choose to walk on the other side of the river. Here, the trail is unfamiliar to many... for they never make this trek. Here, there is water that is never tested by the masses, and here the fishing is much more challenging. To get to the solitude I seek, Chimney Falls must first be passed and once done, the crowds, the human connection I shun today... will come forth

At the beginning of the trail, a trail I call Trail of Tranquility, the river forks not twice but three times. Here the water is stair-stepped and in some cases stair-cased. Intimate water the all of it is, and it's so very inviting. Few bows are here however, and to capture one is a special reward.

At the end of Chimney Falls run I make my first stop to test waters that have produced before. Across the way is two young fly-fishers with two gentleman fly-fishers. After making a few casts with no offers of battle I settle on a rock to watch the young men cast... and they can indeed cast. I'm assuming one of the gentlemen is the father and he is giving good instruction to the boys with his gentle commands of mend, mend, mend. These boys are being taught well. Meanwhile, between the lesson plans of instruction the gentleman gets to make a cast or two and he is capturing trout. I stay long enough to get a couple of pictures but then it's time to get back on the road to solitude.

The trail on the other side hugs the boundary of public land for quite some distance but as long as we are on the stream side there are no worries.

In the half mile I have walked only one bow has been captured but the fishing has been extraordinary. On this other side I speak of, there exists some beautiful pools and pockets and from time to time they do indeed hold fish... not a lot of fish, but sometimes a few. On this other side I speak of, the fishing is certainly more of a challenge and a challenge for me today it certainly is proving to be. But, that's not important this day.

In the half mile I've walked, and since leaving the young fly-fishers, another human being have I yet to meet. However I am nearing Desperado Springs and as I do, humanity finds me again at this particular spot. On the familiar side of the river there are bank fisherman aligned along the bank like birds sitting on a high-line. On this other side where I stand, there is a trio of fisher's (two ladies and one gent) and they are fishing one of the feeder falls supplying the main pool. I quietly slip behind them and take stance on another feeder falls. Here, at Desperado... a place where I go from solitude to connection, the fishing changes for me ever so largely.

Instead of drifting, which is what I've done all the way upstream, I start to strip a bugger through the oxygen run in front of me and it is here I find a strike with every cast, a bow to hand with most casts. The trio downstream from me are capturing bows also but the bank dwellers appear as forlorn souls for no fish are coming to their hands. The water in front of me is so very rich; so steeped with bows it's seems like they believed it to be a safe haven; the bows seem surprised...caught off guard by my arrival. But, after meeting nine of these warriors it is time to go. Today's bows are the most remarkable I've met this season... colors that astonish, fight that grow admiration, indeed...they are beautiful creatures.

On the way upstream I picked up trash and on the way downstream decided to do the same, but this time on the familiar side of the river. It doesn't take long to fill the plastic bag I carry on my wading belt.

The abundance of trash in our wild areas and particularly our streams is one reason I'm trying to pursue Trashless Wild.

I don't know if I've every seen so much discarded fishing line as I have this year. As to the reason... I have no idea, but there does seem like a lot of it. There are programs and companies that recycle fishing line. All we have to do is to package it up and send it to them.

At the end of today I found myself spending over four hours on the river and it was good time. I didn't come today to conquer trout. I believe that a point in my fly-fishing life has been reached where capturing trout is not a requirement of my fulfillment, even though I still enjoy the battles.

Today I came to the river as a fly-fisher, but perhaps I was really here in search of that tree, that rock, that cloud.

Monday, February 15, 2010

No Thrill - Just Chill

I think it's impossible to describe the feeling that comes with ice cold river water channeling down the crack of your butt then migrating to other highly sensitive areas of the lower anatomy. There are a lot of descriptive phrases I could use such as spine-tingling, the chilling effect, chilled to the bone, and breathtaking, but I don't think any of these adequately illustrate the experience.

It was Sunday morning and I had been in the water less than an hour fishing at the Island below the crossing. Young Kody was coming downstream as we struck a conversation. Kody had done some late afternoon scouting the day before and had two big trout pinpointed about thirty feet downstream from my position. I told Kody to walk behind and get down there and fish them. As he walked past me I turned to say something else to the young lad and the back of my foot hit a submerged boulder. I start going backwards and knew there would be no recovering from the backward motion I was now headed. I told myself to lessen the pain that was about to become mine by simply sitting down in the river which I did. Problem was however, the river was about shoulder blade high where I sit and the river came rushing in the back of my waders.

It's amazing what a motivator cold water can be. Suddenly we are transformed from the sluggish and clumsy clown that just went in the drink to a guy with Superman-like powers - able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. It didn't take me long to launch myself from the stew.

I pretty much knew then that my day was done with no dry clothes in the schooner. Making a quick exit I headed to the parking lot and the schooner. On the way, brother of the angle Chris Adams was rolling off the bank in some slack water and I took time to tell Chris about the big bows downstream and my chilling experience.

Once in the Prairie Schooner I got the heater going and went downstream to sit and warm up. After about thirty minutes I kept thinking about just calling it a day and going to the bunkhouse. As I was thinking, a particular thought came to mind about the cold water experience I had just had. I was wondering that in the days of yesteryear, when baptisms took place in creeks and rivers, if fewer people found their salvation during winter compared to spring and summer. I think it's safe to say that yes... salvation often waited and fewer Hallelujahs were heard in January rather than May.

I pull out of the parking space on my way home but at Glory Hole I noticed there wasn't a single angler and the wind looked to be calm here. I decide to try and fish again and managed several bows before the wind picked up and sent me packing again.

Before leaving Blue I wanted to check on Pat Latham. Pat likes to get started fishing early, early, early and I knew she had been on the bank for a good number of hours by now. I found Pat at Area 2 and sure enough she had been fishing a good long time. She was clad in neoprene waders, a heavy coat, and had a tent heater going that was doing nothing but heating the outside air. Pat reported the fishing had really been lousy but she was going to stay with it. Headed back to the schooner, Jon Bolig had pulled up and was fishing the channel so we struck a conversation and he suggested I fly-fish the channel. Although I was already shivering in my waders I decided to give it five minutes or so and landed a couple more small bows. Jon told me there was a big one lurking in the channel but my teeth were chattering to the point I simply wasn't interested.

Driving past the weigh-in station there wasn't anyone manning it so I didn't even bother weighing-in and went to the bunkhouse. The snow was really coming down at ten o'clock.

I did talk with Scotty this Monday morning and he reported that not a single derby trout was weighed in on Sunday so the fishing was really off. He estimates there are thirty trophy sized bows still in the river. If you're interested in big bows then come get you some... just don't do what I did and take the squat plunge.

Good fishing everyone.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

FlyFish Texas 2010

There's a fly fishing event going on in Texas in mid March called FlyFish Texas 2010. The exact date of this event is March 13th which is a week I have vacation planned, so I'm thinking about taking a trip south across the Red River.

The folks at FlyFish Texas 2010 are offering a celebration of the art of fly-fishing with basic fly tying and casting being offered. Also, there will be a day of seminars, demonstrations, and presentations along with vendor venues available.

Festivities start at 9:00 a.m. and end at 4 p.m. so it's not a long enduring day with party animal plans afterwards (unless that's your forte). The event is held at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens, Texas and there will also be some fishing opportunities available.

Robin Rhyne has invited me to come and I really want to. The only thing that is holding me back is the fact I don't do well in traveling along busy highways. Put me on a busy highway for any distance at all and my anxiety level rises to a point I start looking like one of those cartoon characters with the quitin' time siren sounds and smoke coming out of my ears and my eyes looking like kaleidoscopes. Now... you can put me on any backroad in the world with a six-pack of beer and I'm just fine... just fine. But, when it comes to the busy roads of the metroplexity... I don't fare well at all.

I've plotted a trip through Bonham, Texas then through small throughfares such as Leonard until I hit Greenville. Once at Greenville I should be able to find Athens... hopefully.

As an Okie, I feel like I should support my fly-fishing brothers and sisters in Texas for they certainly support Blue River. On any given weekend, most of the visitors to Blue are from Texas and these guys and gals are spending their dollars enjoying the pleasures of Oklahoma waters... such as Blue.

What's good for the goose is good for the gander.

Check out FlyFish Texas 2010.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

A Big Change

The Blue River area received precip from the early morning hours through the afternoon yesterday (Monday) and the river has changed. The ground is saturated and all the new precip simply runs along the banks and into the river.

The river is currently muddy to murky at best with a significant increased streamflow. Fishing will definitely be off for several days at best.

There is an additional chance of rain or snow or a mix for late Wednesday continuing into Thursday.

I will try and keep everyone advised as to current conditions as they change.

The Prairie Ocean

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Thirty-second Blue River Trout Derby

The thirty-second Blue River Trout Derby sponsored by the Blue River Association along with the Johnston County Chamber of Commerce will be held this coming weekend, February 13th and 14th.

The trout derby has become many things to many people. It's a time of renewing long distance fellowships, sitting around campfires, enjoying great camp food, and a time to bloviate about fishing adventures.

For more information about the Trout Derby contact Scotty at 580-371-9288.

Outdoor Legislation

There are currently some bills that have been introduced for 2010 and they await hearing at the Oklahoma State Legislature. Some of these may be very interesting to many of you.

My favorite:
HB 2861: Would increase fines for certain wildlife violations and require restitution for illegal killing or possession of wildlife.

SB 1393: Would eliminate the trout stamp. Cost of the trout program would be offset by increasing fishing license fees for non-residents.

SB 1781: Would give those holding senior citizen hunting and fishing licenses the same benefits as regular lifetime holders.

HB 2555: Would require that only fishing guides on Lake Texoma be required to have guide licenses. A regulations passed in 2009 requires all fishing guides in the state to be licensed.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Project Trashless Wild

I plan on starting a personal project soon and I'm naming it Trashless Wild.

The goal of Trashless Wild is to rid our wilderness areas, rivers, and streams of as much debris and trash as possible. I have chosen two pilot projects areas to begin this effort and they are Rock Creek in Sulphur and of course beloved Blue.

Upstream is downstream is a simple and workable theory. The cleaner water is upstream then the cleaner water will be downstream.

Rock Creek will be tackled first. She meanders her way along the boundaries of the local school system. Of course with school comes a lot of activities and the sports complex is along the banks of the creek. With all the sporting events that go on of course trash is going to accumulate and unfortunately it ends up on the creek's banks, trees and shrubs and in the water itself. From here, Rock Creek flows through the Chickasaw National Recreation Area on her way to Arbuckle Lake. Again... upstream is downstream.

Here are some pictures of what I will be trying to remedy. My ultimate goal is to make this project infectious and many more outdoor-minded people will join me. Hopefully the day will come we can form as an organization or society. Once that happens we can take Project Trashless Wild to other wild areas across Oklahoma and even beyond those borders.

I'll start the project at the bridge north of the school system and clean the creek until I hit the main bridge that divides east and west Sulphur. This is about three quarters of a mile of water.

There is a wide assortment of trash along the creek including clothes, discarded toys, aluminum cans, and plastic.

Many of the plastic bags have become lodged in the overhanging tree branches and shrubbery.

Unfortunately, the area of the creek behind the school system is the trashiest spot on the whole of Rock Creek.

More and more plastic in any color you want, black, white, yellow, and clear in the form of discarded water bottles.

Plastic, plastic, everywhere.

Lots of Styrofoam too in the form of drinking cups. I wonder if Styrofoam every completely degrades?

Hanging like ornaments in the trees... more plastic. It's quite unsightly and will eventually end up downstream.

There are some rather large chunks of Styrofoam also and I know they'll be there quite sometime.

Upstream is downstream. There's no doubt about it.

A Brief River Report

As it is, best laid plans do indeed go awry and this morning was no exception. Last night Miss Carol and I made plans to be on the river Blue fairly early this morning but with a five minutes to opening phone call that announced my assistant was ill, a scotch was thrown in the cogwheel of our plans.

As I hung up the receiver I knew that on the river early was not to be but I was still determined to get some "river time" regardless. As it would turn out I wouldn't get out of the workplace until past mid-morning and by then Miss Carol has made alternate plans which including a shopping trip. Therefore... to the river alone I go.

The weather was rather cool this morning being thirty-five upon leaving the bunkhouse with a slight wind. But between my prairie home and the river's edge the wind had picked up significantly. Guess those damn wind gods saw me coming and decided to give me a most unwelcoming welcome. Butthole wind gods!

The two reasons I wanted to see Blue today was because of all the varying reports as to the condition of the river, with the second reason being I simply wanted to fling some fur and feather.

On the road to the river I met this friendly chap and he had a colleague that looked like his twin. The both of them were wet and evidently they had been to the river also for a look-see.

Once I saw the river today I was quite surprised at the good condition she was in. For sure the river is off-colored but I would say there is a good twelve inches or more of visibility and the off-coloring is not a case of murky water but rather green stained water.

What surprised me most was the volume and flow of the river. Going by some benchmark rocks in the river I would say the level is up a good six inches and perhaps more. The flow today was quite healthy but not to the point that one cannot wade. However, with the increase flow and the stain... wading can be tricky at best currently.

The river is not off so far that the bows can't see the offerings as evidence by this fat bow. This first bow caught today is one of the brightest and thickest bows I have battled this season. She was simply fat, shaped more like a football than a trout and would have easily pushed two pounds.

I was fishing a ten foot leader today... a nymphing leader if you will and I had a bugger tied on so I simply nymphed the bugger free-line style without an indicator. I knew very well that I should add split, with the increase flow, but didn't out of laziness but still managed bows.

My time would be short on the river today with the workplace on my mind so I headed back to that dungeon to do my duty. I'm glad I made the trip today because opportunities ahead look iffy.

Be advised that rain is predicted for tomorrow - Sunday, and then on Monday rain turning to snow with another chance of snow on Thursday. Some parts of the prairie ocean are near record yearly amounts of snow with that being around twenty-four inches. That's a lot of snow on the prairie ocean but snow is a vitally good thing for spring fed rivers like Blue. Look for Blue to be healthy for some time to come.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Lie

When we hairy legged fly-fishers announce to our sweethearts we're going a-fishin' and she gives that "ahem...", then we better be prepared to come home with some dog-gone good fishing stories that don't sound too fishy... much like this one.

The Lie

I cast my fly into a lie
hoping for a trout to vie, trout there...I give a sigh.

To another lie I cast my fly
hoping for a trout to vie, trout there...and another sigh.

For a trout to vie
I cast my fly to yet another lie, trout there, and one more sigh.
I spool up, go home to my wife.
She asks, "Did you cast your fly into a lie
hoping for a trout to vie?"

I say, "Yes my dear, I cast my fly into a lie
hoping for a trout to vie,
and... I... did... not sigh!

For in the lie I cast my fly,
I found forty trout that wished to vie.

I just told my wife a big fat lie.

Trail Building Workshop

Some of you trail and bicycling fans might be interested in a trail building workshop to be held at the Chickasaw National Recreation Area on March 6th.

Here is the information from the Chickasaw National Recreation Area.

National Park Service to Host Trail-building Experts

Chickasaw National Recreation Area is hosting the International Mountain Bicycling Association's (IMBA) Subaru/IMBA Trail Care Crew on Saturday, March 6, 2010 to talk trails, teach people proper trail-building techniques, and spend quality time digging in the dirt. The event will begin at 9:00 A.M. at the park’s Travertine Nature Center and in the afternoon travel to the park’s Rock Creek Multi-Use Trail corridor for some hands-on practice. Everyone is invited to attend this trail-building event. For more information on this event, contact Randy Scoggins at 580 622-7245. Registration for the IMBA Trail-building School will be available through IMBA’s website at:

The award-winning Subaru/IMBA Trail Care Crew program includes two full-time, professional teams of trail experts who travel North America year-round, leading IMBA Trail-building Schools, meeting with government officials and land managers, and working with IMBA-affiliated groups to improve mountain biking opportunities. IMBA's crews have led more than 1,000 trail projects since the program debuted in 1997.

The crews teach "sustainable" trail-building, which means building trails that last a long time and require minimal maintenance. This helps reduce trail damage, protects the environment, and enhances visitor enjoyment. The crew coming to Chickasaw is led by Chris and Leslie Kehmeier.

Now in its eighth year, the Subaru/IMBA Trail Care Crew program is more popular than ever. The Crews travel in 2010 Subaru Outbacks provided by Subaru of America - the company that has been IMBA's leading sponsor since 1997. The Subaru/IMBA Trail Care Crew program has inspired great volunteer trail work across the U.S. and abroad - a big help to government agencies and land managers who have limited funding for trail construction and upkeep.