Blue River Fly Classic

Blue River Fly Classic
A One Pattern Fly Event

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Chapter 58 Day 30 - Trout Season

The Ebb And Flow Of An Oklahoma Trout Stream

In the first three weeks of November, Blue River was the beneficiary of extra trout.  Of course, all who love fishing for trout were pleasantly pleased.  However,  for some of us, it was a sad comment on the demise of Oklahoma's first year round trout fishery - the Lower Illinois. 

Several things came together at once in the demise of this precious tail water.  A leak in the dam, that supplied a constant flow of water, was repaired this past summer.  Then there was the exceptional drought and the record heat of 2011.  All these things worked together causing flow and water quality problems in the Lower Illinois river.

In September, the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife suspended trout stocking.  In October, there was a significant fish kill.

Good news is the stocking has been resumed at the Lower Illinois, but, the future of this beautiful trout stream is cloudy at best.

In his article for the Amarillo Globe News, Ryan Shelton shares his story in "Death Of A Trout Stream".  Shelton describes his arrival  at the Lower Illinois on opening day of trout season - not knowing about the issues surrounding  the river. 

What he found, what he saw, most certainly served as the catalyst and motivating factor for Shelton penning his article. 

In that piece, Shelton includes a quote from Scott Hood, President of the Oklahoma Chapter of Trout Unlimited.  Hood said, "It's a problem that can be solved by putting pressure on the government." 

Shelton goes on to include the names of two elected Oklahoma officials that can help at the federal level. 

As members of the fly-fishing community we should always fight the good fight when it comes to our fishing water.  It is our duty to save every inch and every ounce of our fisheries. 

I invite you to read Ryan Shelton's complete article and have included the link below.  I also encourage you to contact the two elected officials mentioned in Shelton's article and let them know the Lower Illinois can not be lost as a trout fishery. 

Death Of A Trout Stream.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Chapter 58 Day 29 - Trout Season

Tuesday Afternoon With The Trout

It was a pretty afternoon today on the river, even though it was a little airy again.  It was airy enough to create a complete riffle on the long, wide, and deep stretch of water I fished.  This was a familiar water, however, I decided to approach it from the opposite side.  Looking back now, I'm glad I did because it placed me on the inside lane of the wind; hidden behind a tall island that served as a perfect wind-break. 

The side I chose is a more wooded area that overlooks the river and two different runs of water. Here there are a number of trails that will take you to both runs and it's nice to walk through those woods.

I took one of those trails down to the long, wide, and deep water and found a small sandy shoal that would allow a fly fisher to wade out about five feet.  It was all roll casting today - no room at all for a backcast, but, that didn't seem to bother the trout.

Even though I was attempting a thirty to thirty-five foot roll, I would soon discover the trout were only eighteen to twenty feet in front of me.  And... they would slam the fly - it seemed like they were hooking themselves.  Fish after fish, fun... oh, so much fun.  It wasn't a fish every cast, but, the cast-to-catch ratio was pretty darn high. 

Never changed patterns this afternoon, just kept tossing the streamer.  The trout were finicky in how the fly was moving.  They wanted it deep in the column with little movement at all.  Although I was slow-crawl-stripping all afternoon, I do believe if a fly fisher had fished under an indicator they would have actually done better. 

Looking upstream, two good size submerged boulders catches the eye so an investigation is launched.  The boulders are large enough for a fly fisher to stand on, but, the water between me and boulder was hard to judge.  It looked to be chest deep, but, could have been deeper so I deemed it too dicey to try today since I was fishing alone.  Maybe when someone is fishing alongside I'll try it.

What is amazing to me is that all these wonderful years I've had on this river, new pools and pockets are coming this way.  The structure of this river is absolutely amazing with countless places for the trout to hide and make their lies.  Exploring this river more is part of the goal of my Chapter 58. 

The weather is predicted to change for the worse in the coming days.  Today was a good day to be on the river Blue.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Chapter 58 Day 28 - Trout Season

Gifting The Gift Of Fishing

At the mercantile store that I owe my employment is a collection box for the Marine Corps Reserve "Toy For Tots" program.  This morning I couldn't help but notice how forlorn the collection box looked - it was completely empty.  Seeing this sight was more that this soul could bear so I scheduled a break to obtain a gift for some boy or girl. 

Deciding what kind of gift to give was easy - I wanted to give the gift of fly fishing.  Here at my prairie home there is only one of the big retailers and from the past I knew they always carried those inexpensive Shakespeare fly fishing beginner kits.  The kits have a rod, reel, line, leader, and some flies.  There is really no quality to anything in the kit, but, for a kid starting out they are almost perfect. 

At the fishing section of the big retailer, disappointment set in early.  Ol' big retailer did not have one single offering of any beginner fly fishing kits. 

Pausing for thought, I realized what I was really wanting to give was the gift of fishing itself.  The majority of us that fly fish today didn't start out fly fishing.  Some of us are old enough to remember fishing with cane poles and bobbers.  At my grandfathers home cane poles were all we had and we were happy to have that. 

Big retailer had seven or eight different beginning fishing kits so my reasoning was to get one of these in hopes that it would spark interest in a boy or girl child somewhere.  If that happened, then the day they might evolve to fly fishing could possibly come. 

At the checkout stand I pay Markel and head back to the mercantile store where I placed the fishing kit in the Toy For Tots box - a box no longer empty.  Soon after that, two fellow employees came up and handed me $40.00 and said they wanted to donate gifts also.  The box is slowly filling up.

Having personally participated in the Marine Corps Toy For Tots program in the 1970s, I can tell you it is a good solid program where 100 percent of gifts donated go to the intended recipients - children. 

So, I'd like to say to all the brothers and sisters of this culture we call fly fishing, if you see a Toy For Tots collection box somewhere near you, consider giving the gift of fishing this Christmas season. 

It's an uplifting thing. 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Chapter 58 Day 27 - Trout Season

Trash Can 101
Although the sun was shining ever so brightly today, it was easy to tell this would be a raw day on the river Blue.  The temperature was in the low 40's, which is not bad as far as trout fishing weather, but, then there was the wind.  It seems the northern wind god was being his sometime boisterous, belligerent self - his breath dispensing misery up and down the river.

Still, I wanted to be on the river and thought I could manage a little time in the harsh conditions.  Uh... I was terribly wrong - didn't last long at all.  Fishing off the Boulder at Seventeen put me in the middle of the river and the wind was sweeping all around my position. 

Catching a trout right off the bat, it looked like fishing might be okay today.  However, three short-strikes later, tears running from the corner of my eyes, hands going numb - the deciding factor that sent me packing was when old blowhard blew my hat off.  His cold steely breath was too much today.

On day 24 I also fished the Boulder and you may remember me noting that some joker or jokers had been drinking beer on the Boulder and left their empty beer vessels behind.  That day I didn't have a trash bag, but, today made it a point to carry one with me. 

This is what I call the "before" picture - being the beer containers on the Boulder before they went into what is known as a trash bag.  Imagine that!

This is the "after" picture of the Boulder after said beer containers had been placed in what is known as a trash bag.  Doesn't the Boulder look much better now?

This is known as a trash can.

Can you say trash can?

Trash cans are called trash cans for a reason.

Do you know why trash cans are called trash cans?

Trash cans are called trash cans because they are meant to hold our trash.

Do you know there are trash cans on Blue River?

Do you know why there are trash cans on Blue River?

Trash cans are on Blue River because the river is not a trash can.


Do we need to go over this again?

Thank you!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Chapter 58 Day 26 - Trout Season

A Reason For On Line Fly Fishing Stuff Shopping

I made a conscious decision today to make this a non-fishing day.  In hindsight it looks like that was the right decision with the rather nasty weather encountered today - northerly winds up to 40 m.p.h. with rain. 

Yesterday was the infamous day known as Black Friday.  Ah yes, Black Friday... the day that some shoppers get too excited and caught up in the frenzy and decide to pepper spray their fellow humankind, or trample them at the entry, call in a bomb scare, and even worse shoot someone. 

Always having removed myself along with my rather not-so-temperate mood in crowded situations, I've always started my Christmas shopping the day after Black Friday, and therefore a trip to the big city was on the tab today.

Miss Carol is an outdoorsy kind of girl and likes outdoor-fashioned clothing - clothing lines such as Bob Timberlake, Natural Reflections, and The North Face.   In the big city is Bass Pro and they handle every needful thing that Miss Carol requires, so it made sense to start my shopping there.  In addition, I didn't see anything wrong with combining a Christmas shopping trip with a trip to re-supply a badly depleted fly fishing/fly tying arsenal. 

As far as the fly fishing and fly tying stuff, I had two goals in mind - things that these days are considered essential gear in this fly fishing life.  Since this body doesn't do the things it use to and the balance and coordination no longer allow for rock hopping, a wading staff was on the top of my personal shopping list today.  Secondly, I wanted to replenish material to tie flies for the upcoming carp season. 

Now, I knew that wading staffs could be pricey little devils, but, through self-talk and great visualization on the trip up, I could see myself opening the wallet and as the moth's ascended and hovered above the deepest and dark recesses of the money holder I would pluck a good number of Jackson's to purchase said wading staff. 

Bass Pro didn't have any wading staffs.  First disappointment of the day. 

Now, at the fly tying section, there were two main items the carp-by-fly lives of Charlie and myself required.  You would think that a fly shop would handle more than two sizes of curved caddis hooks, but, that wasn't the case today for me. 

Then, I started searching for krystal eggs that can be slipped on a hook. I come up with an idea for a new twist on a carp fly recently, but... no krystal eggs either. 

So, I bought some fly line cleaner, a bucktail, blood quill marabou, and a few other things and then went to the ladies apparel section.

The Natural Reflections line of clothing seem to put Timberlake and North Face to shame today.  Miss Carol will be receiving a good and varied wardrobe of Natural Reflections this Christmas.

On the way back from the big city it came across my mind how poorly I had done in my shopping quest today.  Poorly I say, and that's not mentioning the thirty-five dollars in pony feed I had to buy to keep the schooner ponies at full gallop. 

I would have been better off to stay at my prairie home, save the thirty-five dollars in pony feed, while most likely being able to get everything I needed or wanted and get free shipping by shopping on-line. 

In the competitive market of retailers these days, a good number are offering free shipping.  L.L. Bean is one that comes to mind and I've always loved L.L. Bean products. 

Sometimes... I really have by head up my arse.  From here on... it's on line shopping. 

Friday, November 25, 2011

Chapter 58 Day 25 - Trout Season

Favorable Circumstances

For sure, today was going to be a non-fishing day for me because of the requirement the mercantile store had for me.

However, around mid-morning a favorable circumstance came my way - so favorable it would put me on the river Blue within the hour. 

If I were to go into detail regarding this favorable circumstance I would certainly be incriminating myself and the result might turn out to be me standing in the unemployment line. 

The event would place me in the community of Tishomingo and when we are in Tishomingo we are just ten minutes away from the river Blue

Of course I went.  Why wouldn't I?  The waders, boots, rod, fly packs and all the other stuff required was already in the schooner and it didn't take much convincing that what I was about to do was a perk. 

Today on the river I wanted to fish a place called Ted's Pool.  Ted's pool is a long, wide, and quite deep pool directly above Horseshoe Falls.  Ninety percent of Ted's Pool is way too deep to wade, however, the downstream end is more shallow and full of rock structure - structure the trout think they can hide.  Hide they may try, but if you put your fly in the right spots and employ the right presentation, the trout will come to you as they did today in my short time fishing. 

Horseshoe Falls

Ted's Pool is above Horseshoe Falls
Soon after entering the drink at Ted's Pool, there was the pleasure of some company across the way - company in the form and fashion of a young fly-fishing couple.  I like that.  There's something special about couples that fly-fish together. 

And as you can see this fly-fishing duo was finding the bows also. 

It was such a beautiful day on the river today.  I could have stayed all afternoon.  But, even as favorable as the circumstance was, that got me to the river today, luck shouldn't be stretched. 

With an olive bodied bugger with a bi-color tail of olive and yellow I caught a few trout.  Then, I took a few pictures and left the river a happy man. 

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Chapter 58 Day 24 - Trout Season

A Bluebird Day Not

Thanksgiving morning certainly wasn't shaping up to be a Bluebird day - wet and damp, hazy to foggy, gray and ovecast with enough southerly wind to make the body uncomfortable.  It was hard to tell if this was a perfect day for trout fishing or a perfect day to not sit around the bunkhouse and be bored to tears. 

Indecision has never been a vice I own and it wasn't long until I was in the prairie schooner slapping leather across the ponies backsides setting sail for the river Blue. 

These days I take a more eclectic approach to fly fishing.  I enjoy planning the trip, trying to imagine exactly what fly will be fished and where, and then... there is the voyage itself. 

Each trip starts out pretty much the same... taking a sea-lane of hardended concrete. 

Always, at the first opportunity a sea-lane consisting of a dirt road is taken.  Something about dirt roads that seem to call this fly angler.

On the voyage I stopped by the old west town known as Sipokni West to see what the townfolk there had going on.  However, town was vacant - guess they all loaded in the wagons and went somewhere else for Thanksgiving. 

Shortly thereafter, I cross Pennington Creek and stopped to see how this little beauty was doing.  Little Sister, as I call her, lost a lot of herself this past summer - growing thin and looking drawn.  Today though, she looked to be filling out once again. 

One of the main reasons for coming to the river Blue today was because of the conflicting reports received about the river's conditions.  Right after this week's rain it was reported the river was murky and may get worse.  Then yesterday came a report that the river was just a little murky, but fish-able.  Today when I got to see the river for myself it was, "Blow me down - shiver me timbers!"  This river is clear as a bell!  Clear and extremely fish-able. 

The trout at the first run of water I fished wasn't interested or frisky at all.  And... that was okay with me because I wan't feeling very frisky myself having to fight a chest and head cold.  Spooling up, downstream water calls me and on the way there I find a recently abandoned campsite with a campfire still going.  I don't know who left the campfire, but, it was very inviting and I appreciate finding it.  Stopping at the campfire, I take a seat by the fire and enjoy a cold beer.  Nothing like a cold beer on a brisk cold day. 

After the drink is disposed of, I step into the stew headed for the boulder above Seventeen.  Here, the trout are willing and are feeling frisky.  Almost as soon as the water is split I sense a drop in temperature and that makes for the decision to give the trout the fly low and slow - deeper in the column and a slower action.  This presentation seemed to be what the trout wanted.

The trout today had some surprising size to them .  No, they weren't big by any means but they were a pound and half that fish.  And, another surprise was how many of them showed the characteristics of male trout.  The only thing that figures, to me, is these were some of the pound to two pound trout the derby organizers placed in the river. 

The wind continued to pick up and I decided to call it a day. 

Standing on the boulder reminded me of why I prefer the wilderness areas to the main campground area.  It's the damn trash.  On the boulder I find six or seven empty beer bottles and folk we do not take our alchohol-laden beverages with us on the water.  The wildlife department forbids it and for good reason.  Void of a trash bag today, a bookmark was made, and next time I hit the river the trash bag will be with me and the damn beer bottles will be removed. 

Overall, it was a good day on the river.  Not a Bluebird day, but a good day that I am thankful for this Thanksgiving.  

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Chapter 58 Day 23 - Trout Season

The Thanks We All Should Be Giving This Thanksgiving

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving.  For Miss Carol and me, this Thanksgiving is kind of a wash with me having to be at work early in the morning and Carol having to pull a six hour shift beginning at noon. 

Most likely, we will go a non-traditional route, late in the day, fixing some tacos or maybe tamales.  Our children are here, there, and everywhere, some of them traveling, and therefore getting everyone together would be a logistical nightmare. 

I would like to go to the river Blue tomorrow afternoon and regardless of whether I get to or not, I will remind myself this Thanksgiving of all I have to be thankful for as a member of the outdoor community. 

Here on the prairie ocean, we have been blessed with a wonderful outdoor and wildlife program managed by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife

I truly believe if you ask anyone with the wildlife department about Blue River they will be quick to tell you that Blue River is one of the crown jewels of their program.  Blue is a sparkling stone set concretely in the cap that a proud department wears so proudly.

Although Blue River is not one of the year round trout fisheries, it is the most popular fall and winter-time trout fishery in Oklahoma.  In addition, this river has another distinction - a trout fishery that is classified as a put and take trout fishery, but, has a delayed harvest catch and release section - something that is unique.  The delayed harvest catch and release area is the result of a proactive wildlife department listening to a small segment of the fly fishing community.  I don't know how we could ask for more.

Blue River has a number of distinctions and the one I like best is the fact that it is a free-flowing river.  No dams to impede it's natural flow or course - this river's direction is left to nature.  

And on this prairie ocean we have excellent coverage of the outdoor community with people like Ed Godfrey, outdoor editor for the Oklahoman, and Kelly Bostian, outdoor editor for the Tulsa World Journal.

So tomorrow if I am lucky enough to get to the river, I will find a rock along the river's edge and take a seat, and it is here I will talk with the creator telling him of my thanks for all the blessings in my life in general, and as an outdoorsman.  

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Chapter 58 Day 22 - Trout Season

And Oh... How The Rain Came

You see that weather map above... the one on my boob tube last night.  That was the prairie ocean at 6 p.m. last night.  All that green, yellow, and red was different rain systems plowing across the prairie. 

Here on the southern sea of the greater ocean it begin raining mid-afternoon and rained steady for six or seven hours. 

The Blue River area received even more rain and a report from Blue River Area Manager Matt Gamble reveals the river has gone murky and might be on it's way to turning into a beefy colored stew. 

The good news is that we received much needed rain after such a miserable spring and summer, record heat, and terrible drought.  The rain is good for this river since much of the river is spring fed. 

Although many people stay on the river through the Thanksgiving holiday and following weekend, the fishing may prove to be tough.  If you are a fly fisher, and you must go fly-fishing or go insane, then pack the darker color patterns.  My favorite is a rust brown - fish brown in brown water. 

Even though it is trout season I'm constantly thinking about carp.  Today, after work, I decided to check Rock Creek to see how the rain changed this prairie ocean current.  Much to my surprise the rain did little to disturb the color or flow of the creek.  While standing on a high bluff looking down at the creek, riffles caught my eye.  Directly below was some really nice carp feeding against the bank.  I say really nice - they were like sows. 

Figuring they needed their picture taken, I rushed back to the schooner and grabbed the memory maker. 

Oh grand and golden ones, sweet beasts - I will visit you this spring.  You should expect a visit from Charlie also.  

Monday, November 21, 2011

Chapter 58 Day 21 - Trout Season

To Overline Or Not To Overline - Is That Really The Question?

If we ask a broad spectrum of the fly fishing community including fly casting experts, line manufacturers, and rod makers about the wisdom of underlining or over-lining our rods, the answer we will most likely get is that it's best to put the appropriate weight line on the appropriate weight rod. 

In other words, a five weight rod should receive a five weight line.  However, these days, we see even the line manufacturers challenging that concept.  Line manufacturers like Scientific Anglers have created a line of fly line that is not exactly what it says it is.  SA has a series that is slightly more than the box tells us - it's labeled a five weight, for example, but, is actually a 5.5 weight.  To me, and I have been wrong more often than not, that's over-lining.

This past weekend on Blue River an over-lined rod went with me.  I could not have been more pleased with the performance of this rod and line.  And, the fish didn't seem to mind either. 

The rod in question was one of the two Cabela's Three Fork rods that Charlie recently gifted me.  No doubt, they are a little bit on the stiff side and rather fast.  By over-lining, the rod was slowed just a bit, causing a bit more flex and the delivery was really nice.

Charlie was the one that suggested I over-line these rods and that's because Charlie has had a long history of rods, weighing fly lines for grains and all that whoopy-do stuff.  Charlie knows what he is talking about.

There are guys out there that do nothing but cast fly rods and they are indeed good at it.  That kind of thing doesn't interest me at all however.  Just can't see myself in some competition casting on a landlocked area or in some casting pool where there are no fish. 

The argument, or intellectual discussion, I should say, will go on and on for years.  Some will say it's perfectly fine to over-line while others will rant as why it should never be done. 

For me, it's quite simple.  The fish could care less if we over-line, use the appropriate weight, or even if we under-line.  It's not like they're down there in the water column and suddenly say, "Hey guys, get a load of this!  This joker has a 9 ft. 4 weight and he's got 5 weight line on it!"

No, that conversation in the trout community will never take place.  All the trout will be interested in is that natural drifting pheasant tail nymph floating my their head. 


There is more to fly fishing than capturing fish - much more.  However, if most of us are honest about it, we do like battling the fish the most. 

Resting my case.  

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Chapter 58 Day 20 - Trout Season


It wasn't too long ago I asked Carol why in the world she married me?  Was it because she found me charming, charitable with my meager funds, or just simply drop-dead good-looking? 

Carol... doesn't mince her words and quickly informed me she married me for none of the reasons I mentioned, but, rather for the fact I was dependable and she knew she could always count on me. 

In our fly fishing lives there are certain fly patterns that we usually know we can always count on to produce.  That's dependability. 

Yesterday morning on the river Blue at 9:30 a.m. it was 65 degrees.  This morning on the river at 9:30 a.m. it was 45 degrees with a noticeable breeze and a little mist.  Since the Prince Nymph did so well yesterday I tied him on again went to the exact same spot as yesterday.  Today however, it was a totally different story.  I don't know if the trout got wise to ol' Princey boy or what, but, he couldn't have bribed a fish today. 

After giving him ten or so runs the decision to go to plan B was put into effect.  Some of the patterns that I've always been able to count on are the Hare's Ear, Pheasant Tail, and the venerable Bugger.  The Bugger went on and the fish started coming my way. 

There are still a lot of campers at Blue River, but, the crowds on the water were much thinner today.  I didn't have long to stay because of things to be done at the prairie home. 

On the way in to the river this morning I saw two deer hunters dragging a deer from the woods.  Guess their day was made.  It is hunting season at Blue and there were probably a half dozen hunters in the woods on the road going in. 

On the way back to the prairie home I got to shoot some deer of my own.  Shot em' with a Fuji Finepix.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Chapter 58 Day 19 - Trout Season

An Improving River
Blue River is trying desperately to return to the color and complexion that many of us consider normal.  This morning the river had improved immensely and is now what I call a tannin color.  It's my opinion the river is tannin-colored because of the muddy conditions caused by the big rain ten days ago, along with the runoff capturing much of the burned debris from the wildfire in the north wilderness.  Then if we add the hundreds of thousands of leaves that have found their way to the river we get tannin. 

If you are a fly fisher and sought out the shallow runs this morning at Blue, the river could have been very rewarding to you... as it was to me. 

I went downstream and found a shallow run and tied an olive bodied bugger with a bi-color tail of olive and yellow on the tippet.  The trout liked it.  Then I switched to the red ass bugger, which has been the talk of the river lately, and again the trout liked it.  However, my best friend of this morning's outing would be a size 14 Prince Nymph.  Ol' Princey boy produced a lot of trout. 

There were a lot of people on the river today - a lot of people.  I guess they were thinking the same way I was, which was to take advantage of the 65 degree weather and try and get some good fishing time in before the big rain comes late tomorrow - a rain that is sure to blow the river again.

After catching so many fish in one spot I tend to get a little bored so leaving the downstream water a course is set upstream to the water below the Crossing.  Here there are fly fishers, spinner fishers, and bait fisherman. 

I stand in the river a good thirty minutes intently watching the other anglers.  With the exception of one spinner fisherman who caught one trout while I was there, no one else caught any fish.  When I first stepped in the river I tied on the Olive Zonker Minnow I spoke of recently.  Casting it upstream and panic stripping it back, a trout absolutely slammed the Minnow.  I got a hook set, but after about twenty seconds it was the old quick release and the trout said, "Goodbye cowboy." 

Then, tying on the red ass bugger I found the only trout I would catch at this particular spot.  It was near noon now and my prairie home called. 

If making the river is possible tomorrow, think I will give Bubble Boy a run to see how he does. 

Today was a rewarding and beautiful day on the river Blue.  I give thanks and return to the bunkhouse. 

Friday, November 18, 2011

Chapter 58 Day 18 - Trout Season

So Far Away From Me

Thirsty... so thirsty.  Not for a drink of water, but rather for water to fish.  Water so near but I cannot seem to get there. 

Michael Mercurio sent a message to me and Charlie too that he was coming up today to fish the catch & release area.  He said he could use some company and Michael makes for wonderful company, but, Charlie was busy at his inn and I was tied to the mercantile store.  The water escaped both Charlie and I today.  Hoping Michael had a bang-up outing. 

There is this weekend however and from what I am hearing it is go now or wait a long time.  Anyone that is hoping to battle the trout of Blue River better do so this weekend or be prepared to wait for things to get better.  The fore-sayers of the weather are predicting that we will receive four inches of rain come Monday or Tuesday.  If that indeed takes place then Blue River is going to be a mess for the rest of November and into early December. 

Even though the river is still murky and the wind is predicted to howl tomorrow, I have to go see the princess of the prairie and drown a fly or two. 

Last trout season, near this time, I tied up a pattern called the Bubble Boy Soft Hackle and took it to Blue with me.  On it's maiden voyage it caught trout and then caught more trout.  But then... a shipwreck - the fly slamming into a submerged boulder and Bubbly Boy was lost at sea.  I only tied one of this pattern and never tied another last season. 

Tonight, I tied another Bubble Boy and Bubble Boy Jr. to go with it. 

The Bubble Boy requires few materials - a gold beadhead, partridge feather, glass bead behind the partridge and dubbed body.

I may invite these two to go with the river with me tomorrow and if so they will get to taste the stew. 

Also tomorrow, I am hopeful to find some clear fast riffles to try my hand at a little Euro nymphing leaving the indicators in the package where they belong.  

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Chapter 58 Day 17 - Trout Season

Fascination With Flies - Estate Sale #3

In that big bag of 700 or so flies I acquired through a source that attended an estate sale was this beauty. 

It's a creation of zonker strip and mylar. 

So, what is the name of this fly?  I call it a Zonker Minnow.

Will it catch trout?  Yes, I've use them before on Blue River to capture trout, but, the one pictured is a little too large I think for the trout at Blue. 

And how to fish it?  I panic strip it or strip and twitch it.  This pattern is intended to simulate an injured minnow or baitfish.  So, with that in mind you want this pattern to act fleeting.

Haven't fish this pattern in quite some time and in the estate sale bonanza is some smaller versions of the fly pictured above.  Think I'll pack them in the fly box and carry them with me soon.   

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Chapter 58 Day 16 - Trout Season

Confessions Of A Fly Fishing Hoarder - Part 2

Indeed by hoarding is getting worse.  Each year, the accumulation seems to grow.  Sometimes when sitting alone and thinking about all the fly fishing stuff and what I would do with it if something happens to me... I get even more confused. 

I don't know anyone that would want all this crap.  I have a good number of fly fishing friends that could certainly use some of the stuff.  I guess I could donate it to a fly fishing/fly tying group somewhere and they could use it or auction the crap off for funds for their club.  That sounds like a pretty good idea I think. 

Anyhow, here today I want to share a little more of this disease I suffer from. 

This is what they call a "spinner rack" and I got this from the mercantile store I work.  Very handy instrument since you can stand in one spot and spin it until you find what you're looking for.  This particular rack holds beadheads, saddle hackles, and marabou.

Here's another spinner rack and this one holds CDC, a lot of flash, some turkey, duck, and some specialized materials.

And yes, there is a third spinner rack that holds zonker strips, dubbing, ostrich herl, peacock herl and an assortment of other stuff. 

There are a lot of caps.  Caps from Fly Rod & Reel, Oklahoma Department of Wildlife, Outdoor Oklahoma, Bass Pro, and a good number from the Blue River Trout Derby. 

More caps... Old West Fly Shop, Blue River Fly Fishers, and Temple Fork Outfitters.

Now, this isn't exactly a cap, but, rather than a Santa Claus hat.  Each year around Christmas time I take this hat and put it over the crown of that old cowboy hat I wear and then wade out into the river Blue.  My way of celebrating the Christmas season.  Weird?  Maybe. 

There are plaques hanging on the wall from trout derbies past. 

Awards on this wall, and awards on that wall.

And then.... there are do-dads.  Lots and lots of do-dads.  So many do-dads I forget where they came from.

One day at work, a guy came through my area carrying this and told me he was fixing to take it to the dumpster.  I said, "Oh no, no, no!  That fish represents an epic battle and special moment... let me have it!'  He did.  And now, I have one more piece of hoarding history. 

Of all the things in the hoarding room this plaque is the most precious.  This is a hand-crafted plague made by a friend of mine when I went on the 2005 Trout Bum Tourney.  The gentleman that created it was one of the kindest, considerate men I've known in life.  He went to fish the big waters of heaven a year ago this month. 

I keep old fly fishing calendars.  Why?  I don't know... maybe it's because they mark time.  Or maybe it's because they have pretty pictures on them. 

Sure, I would entertain the idea of a professional organizer to help with my hoarding problem.  However, in all honesty it would probably end up being a battle royale. 

The organizer would most likely be a lady - a most likely patient and sweet lady.  A patient and sweet lady that would make the mistake of picking up something and asking me that question. 

"Mr. Shrader, do you think this is something you could let go of?"

"No way sister... a guy named Stillwater Blue give that to me in March of 07.  Just put it down please."

"Okay, okay, that's fine.  How about this Mr. Shrader?"

"Uh-uh, forget it, ain't going to happen.  I found that dollar bill submerged in Rock Creek whale fly fishing for carp.  Just put it back and step back."

"Well then Mr. Shrader, surely you can let go of this?"

"Mam, this session is over.  I'm asking you to leave now please."

Yeah, hoarding is a mess.  

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Chapter 58 Day 15 - Trout Season

Confessions Of A Fly Fishing Hoarder - Part 1
It started as a most innocent kind of thing.  Slowly it grew.  I did not fear it... I welcomed it.  However, it has definitely become a problem. 

I kind of know how Andy Rooney must have felt.  Often he spoke of all the things that people sent him, things he really didn't want.  In my case, people started sending or bringing me all kinds of fly fishing things, but, unlike Andy, I wanted the stuff.  And, once I got those things I usually couldn't let go.

Looking back, I truly the believe the catalyst that served as an avenue on the path to becoming a fly fishing hoarder was a gift brought to me by the grandson of a man I knew.  Grandson showed up and handed me a contraption and told me it was from his grandpa and that grandpa said it was a fly reel. 

I looked at the contraption and it did not look anything like a fly reel.  At that particular time I was remodeling a room and I place the "so-called" fly reel in a box in that particular room being renovated.  At some time, that box was taken to the trash and that "so-called" fly reel - the one I was convinced wasn't a fly reel went to the landfill. 

About six months later there was an article on antique fishing stuff in the outdoor section of the Sunday paper and lo and behold there was a picture of the contraption that grandpa had sent me.  Turns out I had a Billingshurst fly reel in my hand and didn't know it. 

As the thought of that fly reel going to a landfill somewhere overwhelmed me... I think I hit the breaking point and entered the world of fly fishing hoarding. 

I have since not thrown a single fly fishing-related-anything away.  The mountain of stuff is uplifting... the peak has yet to peak... I think I may need help. 

Here are just a few examples of the stuff that is in the spare bedroom which is now known as the hoarding room.

There are hooks in hand crafted boxes.

There are hooks in cigar boxes.

Hooks just lying around here and there and everywhere.

There are boxes and boxes of finished flies wishing to take the plunge in the drink... the stew... the bath.  Sad they have not received a baptism.  Part of my sickness I guess. 

And, the of course there is the famous Island Of Misfit Flies which is basically a 1980's era wood frame television (that actually still works) but is better served being the island.  These are flies that have seen their better days... worn out, in need of a steaming, have become unraveled, or were simply a bad tie at the vise.  I do not own the heart to discard them. 

Pretty sad huh?  This is the organized chaos of a disorganized mind.  Trust me, I know where everything is on this tying table.  If anyone, and I mean anyone, tries to rearrange it... it screws me up beyond belief. 

Back to my thoughts that I know how Andy Rooney felt with people sending and bringing all kinds of stuff.  Like Andy, I have become an old curmudgeon, but, unlike Andy, I do want the stuff. 

If what you have seen so far is disturbing... just wait.  Being at the point of wanting to share my affliction with the rest of the fly fishing world, I will open up more in the next chapter. 

There is a new career field these days I understand called "Professional Organizers" and they help people with hoarding problems. 

I say I want help, but, perhaps I don't.   I really like fly fishing stuff. 

Nobody touch a damn thing!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Chapter 58 Day 14 - Trout Season

I don't really know if I come to the river Blue today to fish or simply reflect.  Perhaps I came to do a little of both. 

None of us could have asked for a prettier morning.  Wonderful temperatures, wonderful fall colors, a river that is desperately trying to clear, and close to near solitude on the water. 

Upon arriving at Blue, I see a fly fisher standing on the crossing and I must go shake this man's hand.  Ralph Fullenwinder is a sweetheart of a guy and a fine angler.  He and his wife Charlotte will be camped in the "Rough Diamond" for a few days at Blue and they expect company in the coming days. 

After visiting with Ralph I head downstream to the Riffles below the Island.  Tying a bugger on I cast down and across the fast current at the Riffles allowing the current to capture the fly line and swing the fly.  Trout slam a slingling bugger and I love that tug on the bug. 

Shortly I move to the side of the Riffles deciding to highstick a seam.  It wasn't long until I hear a sloshing behind me and upon turning there is the back of a large trout sticking out of shallow water.  The trout looks to be struggling trying to get out of the shallows and then suddenly the fish bellies up.  I spool up and go to the fish to try and revive him and once close he slowly spooks and goes to deeper water.  Not seeing any injuries I am puzzled to what was making this creature sick. 

Although the river is trying hard to clear, I still think it will be two or three days before we see a major improvement.  More rain is predicted for tonight and tomorrow and the rain, although badly needed, may add to the problem of clarity on this river.  In additon to the off-color water there is the problem with leaves.  Currently leaves are falling by the thousands and choking the river.  If leaves were fish we all would have a banner day because right now our hook-point will find more leaves than fish. 

I say I come here for fish and reflection.  Fish I found and reflection I seek. 

When it comes to the trout derby in November, there are things I enjoy and things I do not.  I'm not particularly fond of the large crowds and competition for those good fishing spots.  In the excitement of the event all courtesy and etiquette goes out the door, but, I can understand.  People are excited about the possibility of catching large fish.  The other thing I do not care for about the derby is that if you enter you have to keep trout.  I don't like keeping trout.

There are things I do like about the derby however.  I like seeing people that I usually don't get to see throughout the year.  I like visiting campsites and sharing camp fires and usually there are plenty of opportunities to scarf-up on some good food. 

The November trout derby is always a bittersweet moment for me.

The November trout derby always signals another defining moment in my life.  Usually a day or so after the derby there is a date that impacted by life.  On November 14th, my wife Susie passed from this life. 

So today on November 14th, after fishing and reflecting, I go to the prairie schooner and take flowers to Susie.

My life is intertwined with this river.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Chapter 58 Day 13 - Trout Season

Derby Sunday

Today, I took my time getting to the river.  Leaving my prairie home about an hour later than yesterday I hit the river Blue and the sun was peeking over the eastern horizon.

I was telling my friend Michael Mercurio that I would have went to the wilderness area yesterday to escape the crowds, but, I didn't have the legs for it.  After a good night's rest I felt good enough to make the wilderness trip and did.  My thinking was the water might be a little clearer.

After a good mile and half walk I quickly discovered how wrong I was.  The river in the wilderness was as muddy if not more muddy.  I fished about twenty minutes landing one bow and decided to walk out and go join the crowds. 

Actually, I learned that the crowds were very thin today.  About half the people that participated in the derby yesterday didn't even bother to show up today which serves as a testament on the river's conditon and how tough fishing was. 

The river is trying to clear along the fringes, but, my experience tells me it will be a good two days before the river is good enough quality for successful fly fishing. 

4th And Goal

Ted Meador is a fine fly fishing gentleman from Denton, Texas.  I come to know Ted personally a couple of years ago during a derby while in the wilderness area.  Ted knew I had lost my wife Susie to cancer and he struck up a conversation about Susie and her cancer.  I could tell he was looking for information so I shared Susie's story.  It turns out Ted was asking for a reason - his wife had just learned she also had cancer.  Today, I asked Ted about his wife and the wonderful news is she is doing remarkably well in her battle.  I always love to hear a success story when it comes to cancer.

The reason I am mentioning Ted is because he, like many of us, had experienced a tough weekend of fishing.  At 11:30 a..m. today, Ted had managed a total of three small trout all weekend.  But... then his luck would change.

There is a seasoned angler named Floyd (we call him Wally) and Floyd ties a lot of flies.  He had just given Ted a special fly he ties and Ted had just tied it on and plopped it in the drink.  I had just stepped in the river at this spot when I heard Ted holler, "I've got one and I think he's a good one." 

I got to watch the whole battle, from hookset to net - a battle that lasted almost thirty minutes.  This fish, when first hooked, didn't move more than a foot one way or the other.  I swear the fish acted like it didn't know it'd been hooked.  After five or so minutes the fish started to move, but, again not much.  After another ten minutes the fish started upstream and Ted found himself  "walking the dog".  About fifteen minutes later the fish had worked to more shallow water and about thirty seconds before the net went on the fish I got a glimpse of it.  Not wanting to excite Ted (anymore than he already was) I simply said, "Ted, that's a huge fish... you got to get him to the net."

He did. 

Ted's fish would have tied the state record for Rainbow trout if the wildlife department had done the stocking... but they didn't.  The derby organizers stocked these fish. 

Take a look.

Ted's trout weighed 10 lbs. 4 ounces.  In the 4th quarter, with only three small trout to his name, Ted Meador got the football and scored a touchdown.