Blue River Fly Classic

Blue River Fly Classic
A One Pattern Fly Event

Sunday, February 27, 2011

In The Last Week Or So...


There's a big golden trout down in Area 1.  Well... at least he was as of yesterday, and as far as I know he still was as of eleven o'clock this morning. 

I had reservations about even going to the river yesterday.  It seems that since last Thursday I've come to own some kind of palpitations in the chest area.  At times they can be quite unsettling.  Guess my reasoning on Saturday was I could either deal with the thumps in my chest at the bunkhouse or on the river... provided they didn't get any worse. 

Walked into Scotty's around 9 o'clock and his store was quite busy.  Made chat with several fly anglers that I'd never met before and suggested to a couple of them they explore the south wilderness.  Of course my intentions were good, but today I find out the south wilderness had quite the crowd yesterday and there wasn't any parking spaces available in the parking lot.  So... if you are the two guys I told to go there and it didn't work out for you, let me say how sorry I am for giving you some ill advice. 

I knew very well I wouldn't be taking the hike into the south wilderness yesterday because of the thumps in my chest, and therefore elected to go downstream in Area 1. 

At the river I crossed a branch and climbed onto an island going toward a point.  At the point I slide into the river and wade out about fifteen feet.  While rigging up, a rather large golden idol submerged in about four foot of water catches my eye.  No doubt, this big boy is one of the leftover derby trout.

I make about four casts at him, and with each one he simply moves to one side or the other.  After the fourth cast, this golden icon of wall hanging excellence disappears like a fart in the wind.  It isn't long after his departure that I also disappear in the same fashion.  It seems the short wade and climb on the island had compounded the palpitations.  Not being one who cares to share a near-death experience on one of those satellite stations, I packed ass and headed for the prairie home.

At the prairie home I quickly took to the bunk.  After a couple of hours I rise to find myself still uneasy and bored out of my mind.  So... I decide to go to the creek and see what the carp are up to. 

We received rain late in the week and it was enough to have most of the creek blurred.  I did see carp at Charlie's Pasture, but they were all sticking to the far side near the undercut bank.  Now... Charlie ran down there the other day and was able to coax one to take his offering, but on Saturday I would have no such luck. 

Saturday was mostly a wash.


Sunday morning begin pretty much the same with the dominating thumps riding me like fly paper.  Again, I had reservations about even going to the river and it was only when I reminded myself of how many times I've said I wanted to be standing in the river when my good lord and master calls me yonder.  Besides... I figure I've already written a epitaph and it pretty much says to the letter and word, "I've enjoyed all the women I've known, the fish I've caught, and the beer I've drank.  Adios."  With this Sunday morning revelation in hand... I head to the river.

There were two goals on Sunday.  One was to try and locate ol' golden boy again and after giving that effort about a half hour I turned attention to the second goal, which was fishing small flies to rising trout.

Seven or eight years ago, I received the most delightful book from fellow fly-fisher Graham Jones.  This book written by Darrel Martin is not one that can be digested in one setting, or even in a number of successive settings.  It is acutely detailed and technical and gives a lot of attention to the virtues of CDC as a tying material.  I've often wondered which is the buggier material - CDC or peacock herl.  Over time I've digested this book in servings, and it has been a wonderful eye-opener to the beauty of microsized flies.

Seventeen hasn't fished well most of the season.  However, with the way Seventeen is we can usually always count on her to provide a little rising action.  Today was no different. 

I'm not a real good dry fly fisherman... wish I was better.  On Blue... dry fly fishing can be really tough unless we find exactly what the trout are keying on.  On the water today were the same small black flies that Chris, Donny, and myself saw last weekend, but today they seemed much smaller.  I was convinced that the trout were keying on midges today and therefore I fished four or five different variations of the midge.  The midge did seem to be what held interesting to the trout with a number of trout missing my offering or my offering missing them.  I did bring one trout to hand on a black midge pattern.  The only other dry pattern I offered was Ralph's Ol' Gray and sure enough this pattern took a trout.  I think the poor trout came up on the fly so fast he didn't realize what he had until it was too late.

I stay at the river for only an hour and then the driving winds send me packing.  Sunday was much better than Saturday... from a fishing standpoint.


Back at the prairie home, I do some chores around the bunkhouse until it comes time to go to the mercantile store for some staples.  On the way to the general store I decide to stop by Rock Creek for a look-see.  Standing high on a bluff looking down I see two carp feeding in the shallows.  The problem is I'm on the wrong side of the creek with no waders or wading boots.  To get to the carp requires me to drive around to the other side of the creek, which I promptly do.  I have no waders, boots, camera, but... but, I do have a makeshift carp rod with a fly attached.

I say makeshift carp rod because the rod I broke during the trout derby was my fly rod for carp.  Instead of sacrificing another "good" rod, I decide to place into employemnt an old Shakespeare rod that has been sitting idle for a dozen or better years.  The Shakespeare is a stick... and, of course there are concerns if it will permit an accurate enough cast to place a fly in front of a carp, exactly where the fly needs to be.  Either I got extremely lucky today, or the question was answered with the first cast.  On the end of the tippet was a well worn and used Carp Carrot.  The Carrot landed about six inches in front of a carp and quickly disappeared from my sight in the off colored water.  Although I couldn't see the fly, I could see the carp and once his gills flared I went for the hook-set.  Indeed, the fly was in his mouth. 

Since the camera was left at the bunkhouse, I must tell you that this was a young carp... only about sixteen inches.  However, he owned the most beautifully red-orange colored tail.  Simply a beautiful creature.


If you are looking to get into some Blue River bass action, then your best chances of doing so are from now to the end of March.  With the warming temperatures and with the water warming up significantly, I suggest we are already seeing the pre-spawn at Blue.  It's during this time the bass feed in frenzy as they get ready to make love.  In April they will go into the spawn and late May or June they go post-spawn.

Now is a good time to carry slightly larger buggers in all colors.  White colored buggers or streamers seem to work quite well as does Clouser Minnows, and don't forget the crawdad patterns.  Crawdads have to be on top of the bass menu selection.
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Monday, February 21, 2011

Trials And Tribulations

I fixed trout with lemon pepper in butter tonight, and it was rather good.  The trout came courtesy of the river Blue and the Blue River Trout Derby.

Indeed another trout derby has come and gone and as Chris Adams noted when I bid he and Laura goodbye on Sunday, "We got another one made."  Chris and I have been friends for about ten years now, fishing together, camping together, sharing personal stories together and simply being the friends we are.

As it is with most people that enter the trout derby, the goal is to catch one of those big derby trout.  However, there are some that simply come for the experience - the good food, fellowship, and spending of quality time with one another.  Unfortunately for me, I feel like I missed out on a lot of the really good stuff that comes with the trout derby and I'm terribly disappointed in doing so. 

Chris and I avoided the derby fishing crowd and a chance at catching one of the lunkers placed in the main campground area.  We opted to travel to the kingdom of the south wilderness and take our chances of catching a decent or good stringer of Missouri trout.  The fishing was good at the south wilderness, but the larger Missouri trout were simply not there for us this derby. 

I got to the river Friday afternoon and as it would seem to be for me... problems started right away.  Fishing for some ten inch trout with a partridge and orange, one trout came up and ate my bug.  With the hookset came the next sequence of unbeliveability.  As my rod tip went up in the hookset, the rod tip and half of the third section went down... into the river.  Now, I refuse to believe a ten inch trout broke this rod and evidently it had some stress on it to begin with.  Most likely the stress came courtesy of you know who... you know, like bumping a tree limb or throwing it up on the bank trying to climb a steep incline.  Anyhow, the broken rod certainly wasn't a day maker.

Pitching a tent and little more, I planned on sleeping on the ground with no mat, air cushion, or anything that resembled some kind of body comfort.  I really don't think that would have been much of a problem if I hadn't been required to toss and turn till midnight because my neighbor next door left his loud-ass generator running.  The dog-gone thing finally ran out of gas, and when it did their was a loud collective cheer from the rest of the campers at the end of Area 1.

The next morning came early at 4:45.  I met Chris and Laura at the wilderness parking lot at 6:30 and we began our walk.  Twenty minutes later we arrived at the fishing hole when a sudden awareness hit me straight in the face.  That awarness was the fact I forgot to bring a stringer.  Stringers are required when one is fishing the derby.  The thought of walking back to the schooner and retrieving said stringer was not all that appealing, as I stood on the bank huffing and puffing from the just finished hike.  

Having a hoodie on... one like a gansta wears, I decided to sacrifice the draw string to save a walk back to the schooner, not only possibly saving the day.  The first two trout I catch are small and they go back, but number three is kind of nice at a pound plus.  He goes on the makeshift stringer and it goes on my wading belt.  Five minutes later I check the hoodie cord stringer and it's just fine.  So was the trout... because he was free - guess that knot I tied wasn't real secure.

By 10:30 I have five trout on the hoodie stringer and I'm also feeling the effects of a broken rod, sleeping little on the hard ground, the hike in, the forgotten stringer, and some darn hard wading.  I decide to get one more and at eleven o'clock I tell Chris I'm done, as I leave him and Laura to the water.

Sunday I got a little later start having to catch up with Chris and Laura.  By now, the soreness had started to set in.  The winter storms had kept me off the river for two weeks and although I hate to admit it, when I don't fish regularly and then try to do so, it's a toil on my body.  The fishing started off like gang busters with the first two casts producing two one pound trout.  The third fish was a small one, but having damaged the fish I had no choice but to keep him.  After that third fish the catching died for me, but Chris was sore lipping tons of fish.

Although I was done with the fishing part of the derby and tried no more, I did have the opprotunity to visit a little.  I got to watch Donny Carter do what he does best - dry fly fishing, visit with James Webster a little, and watch Susie's brother James present her memorial award to the overall fly fishing winner.  The smile on James face told that whole story. 

The folks from CPASA (Citizens For The Protection Of the Arbuckle Simpson Aquifer) were on hand encouraging the outdoor community to get involved and be concerned over the aquifer and the many things, like Blue River, it makes possible.  CPASA is a good organization and I'm proud to be a small part of the effort.

Lastly, as it is with each derby, there is one guy I'm always on the lookout for.  He's a young man that, not only I, but so many people have come to love and admire.  Kody Young is one fantastic young man with a great sense of sportsmanship and stewardship.  When I look at Kody... I know I'm seeing the future of fly fishing at Blue River.  His fishing etchics are so highly held by himself... there is no chance of Kody doing anything but right.  That's something that can't be taught and can only be owned.

Kody certainly owns it.    
Kody Young - always excited by fly fishing.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

A Most Beautiful Day

Twelve days had passed since last visiting the river Blue.  The winter storm kept anglers in shackles, locking us in our warm shelters and preventing us from getting to or on the water.

It was a miserable time for me, so naturally I was excited in turning the prairie ponies in the direction of the river, and trout that awaited therein.  Getting a really late start I wouldn't arrive to the designated spot until after ten o'clock this morning.  Upon arriving there were already eight other schooners hailing from Oklahoma, Texas, and Idaho.  Hello Idaho! Under my breath I'm sure I uttered "holy crap", but then I asked myself, "Why wouldn't anyone expect anglers to be out on a day as beautiful as this?"

And... on what a beautiful day it was.  The hike to the fishing waters took about twenty minutes and I passed snow-packed banks that revealed footprints of the wonderful community of wildlife that makes Blue river their home.  I recognized the tracks of deer, coyote, and raccoon, and a couple of prints of smaller animals I wasn't familiar with.

Making it to the fishing hole, a particular pattern in a particular color was tied on and cast into the sea.  This pattern would be the only one I would use today.  The river was up slightly today... not much, but still up and that is welcoming.  I think the river was as beautiful and inviting as I've seen her in quite some time.

The bows were in pockets and I made it a rule not to over-fish any pocket today, setting a three fish limit.  Three fish, leave them be, and head to the next pocket.  
I moved at a much slower pace today and took a lot of long breaks simply sitting on the snow covered banks and taking in all the beauty.

Two hours into the trip I touched bow number seventeen... and this seem to be enough.  Usually I tend to under-dress, but today I definitely over-dressed.  I don't know what the temperature was at noon when I decided to walk out, but I'm guessing around fifty degrees.

Giving thanks I leave the river.  What a beautiful day.

Monday, February 7, 2011

In The Teeth Of The Beast

This past Monday, the normally tranquil prairie ocean turned into a frozen sea not fit for man nor beast. The fluid swells had become statue-like frozen sculptures; sea lanes were hardened washboard currents that would make navigating difficult at best.

However, as master of the prairie schooner, my task was to report to my assigned harbor, and not making such an attempt would be considered treason at high sea.  Additionally, another task was in my hands with the delivery of the sweet maiden Miss Carol to her assigned port.

The prairie ponies seemed hearty and ready to go as I warmed them in their stable.  Fashioned to the schooner, Miss Carol on board, we sailed on the frozen sea. 

Although the sailing was slow, the schooner held steady in her course and the ponies pulled forcibly but without rush.  It seemed our journey would be a success and I was confident all would be well.  But, we then topped a frozen swell only to see four other sailing vessels at the bottom - floundering and listing hard.  The only choice for a sea faring captain was to employ a hard right rudder, and the ponies were begged to veer to their right so we could sail through the fare way of the local pastry shoppe. Our plan seem to be working well, but then, we saw the frozen plow-line made by a ice breaking vessel - a plow line that rose as high as the stern of the schooner. 

With forcible voice and hard leather across the backs of the ponies, I cheered the lads on asking them to pull harder and faster so we would break through the frozen impediment. The ponies made it through the embankment as the schooner tossed side to side.  The entire vessel fell free of the entrapment, but the plow-line was enough to slow our progress and the ponies lost their footing.  There we were - floundered at sea.

Photo courtesy of Sulphur Times Democrat
The local Scribner made note of our demise, forever etching our fate in a captured record.  Ship after ship would suffer the same fate as Miss Carol, myself, and the ponies would. 

A dispatch was sent to another captain who commands a much larger vessel with twice as many hooves.  Throwing me a taut line, I secured it the the bow of the schooner where Captain Tully and his 4X4 team would pull us out of the sea lane.  The captain then delivered Miss Carol to her port and me to mine with the promise to return so we could free my schooner, but, first he had other vessels to save. 

Several hours later the captain returned and we devised a route that insured a sea lane my schooner could sail.  The plan worked and the prairie schooner sailed freely to port.

The fish were calling, but the sea was too violent at the time to pursue their request.