Blue River Fly Classic

Blue River Fly Classic
A One Pattern Fly Event

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Chapter 58 Day 92 - Trout Season

Conversations With Carp - Early Talks

The weather today was so gorgeous, no man in his right mind could have kept off the water if the opportunity presented itself. 

The temperatures were in the low sixties, which made it quite pleasant.  The wind was a little stiff however and when I got to the creek in an attempt to spot for carp I could easily see the chop on the creek.  That chop, along with the green tea stained water made spotting carp almost impossible this afternoon.

Choices were go back home or just stay on the creek for a good measure of time so I go downstream to a rock I fancy and take a seat.  There, I simply sit and unwind from the workday at the mercantile store.

The trash on the creek this year seems abundant and as I sit on that rock I couldn't keep my eyes off the plastic bags, Styrofoam cups, cans and bottles in and along the creek.  It was then I noticed something in the water and went to fetch it.  It turned out to be a 25 pound-weight bag that once held water purifying crystals.  The darn thing still had the handle on it and it would end up being a perfect vessel for me to put all the other trash in.  So, for the next ten or fifteen minutes I collected trash.

Then, it was time to go back to the prairie home, but before I did I wanted one more look at the pasture Charlie and I call "Honey Hole". 

Standing high on the bank at Honey Hole I strained to see any activity in the water.  Just about the time I was ready to give up I saw a flash and I knew that flash was from a carp.  So, I put the trash bag down and slid down the steep hill.  Now, when I say slid I mean slide, because once you get to going there is no stopping it seems.

Being level with the water I couldn't see squat and blind casting was the only option.  After six or eight blind casts I was striking out so the decision to make one more cast was made.  On the last cast I went downstream instead of up and after slowly stripping about three-fourths of my line in, I realized I was going to strike out completely.

But then, there was a sudden pressure and with  a side sweep hookset, today's conversation with carp began.

Gosh, I could easily tell how rusty I am in fighting carp.  This fish wasn't big by no means but ever so feisty.  I had tied an olive and yellow Carpolo Charlie fly on and that was the ticket.  Getting the fish to the bank I could see it was a young Mirror carp.  I say young... it was at best three pounds, but oh what scrapers they are.  And, Mirror carp are simply fascinating looking.

I may just be me, but, Mirror carp seem to fight differently than the Common.  Mirror are quicker, faster, more acrobatic in their efforts to escape.  Common carp, especially the larger ones, just bulldog the daylights out of you and tow-boat you all over the creek. 

Today is the last day of January and this carp is the first carp I've ever caught in January.  I think this doesn't speak as a testament to my fishing ability, but, rather to the weird unseasonable weather we are having this winter. 

Hopefully, the carp will become quite active soon and more conversations will be struck.


Monday, January 30, 2012

Chapter 58 Day 91 - Trout Season

Torn Between Trout And Carp

As the sun warmed the prairie land this afternoon, I couldn't help but think of my outing on Blue River this past Saturday.  Hiking into the wilderness at Blue on Saturday morning I knew full well I would find a muddy chocolate milk-like river.  Still, the fish were there and fish were caught.

On the way in, it was easy to tell the wind was from the west and I was reminded of what Walton wrote, "Wind from the west, fish bite the best."  Well, maybe.  I think, however, Walton should have put some footnotes with that summation such as (1) Unless the friggin' river is chocolate milk! 

It was all good though. 

Today, fellow caster of fur and feather, that Grizzly Adams of carp-by-fly addict Charlie was on Blue - fishing the trout.  He reported today that the river is trying to clear and is in better shape.  Sounds like Charlie did okay this afternoon capturing trout. 

Although he captured trout he reported the bait fishers on the bank were looking like forlorn souls not getting any bites at all.  That news does not bid well for my Wednesday outing where I am entertaining some... bait chunkers.  Yep, that's right... bait chunkers. 

I'll tell you more later.

Anyhow, today would have been a good day to be on the river Blue - just couldn't swing it. 

Instead, I spent some time on the vise and tied up a couple of trout flies and then switched to carp patterns for friend Charlie. 

I didn't get a lot of patterns tied today - a couple of Carpolo Charlies in different weights, a mega San Juan wormball in claret, a regular sized San Juan wormball in red, and a Carp Tease.  Tomorrow, I'll try and do some Crazy Charlies, Mysis Shrimp, and Clousers.  Yes... Clousers will capture carp. 

Later on will come the Carrots and Backstabbers and even more Carpolo Charlies in different color schemes, and good measures of all will be at Charlies' disposal.

Right now, the fly-tying desk is a total mess - an apocalypse of bou, rubber legs, dubbing, flash, and chenille, with material for trout flies such as pheasant tail and hare's mask - all laced together in no rhyming shape or fashion.  The desk is a disaster - a sweet disaster of possible opportunities.    

No, I'm not haunted by waters, I'm torn by species.  

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Chapter 58 Trout Season - Day 90

Prepping For Carp By Fly Season

Staring through the picture window before daylight I saw ice crystals on the grass blades sparkle as they were illuminated by that miniature moon hanging on the utility pole.  It looked cold this morning.

Yet, the pretty young lass giving the morning weather forecast promised the cold would give way to unseasonably warm weather later toward the afternoon hours.  It was then I knew I would go to the creek to do some scouting for the grand and golden ones. 

Trying to plan my time on the creek today,  I knew that time would be short.  Granddaughter Brillee spent the night and a skating party was on her schedule for today, so managing my time would be essential. 

The mercantile store always beckons on Sunday morning so the schooner headed that direction.  As I approached the Rock Creek bridge in the center of town, there was a group of does gently taking their morning graze.  They seemed oblivious to the morning traffic and noise - impervious deer that somehow know they are safe within the real, but invisible boundaries of federal land.

With Rock Creek being only a block away from the mercantile store, this precious little water serves as a constant magnet on me.  At least a half-a-dozen times a day, I walk out on the back dock and look at the tree line that runs south along the creek - wishing I was there instead of where I am. 

There is an old dilapidated trail that runs the south course of the creek on the west side.  The trail is rough and potted, overgrown and abandoned.  Many a time I have taken that rough road to a lunch hour outing on Rock Creek. 

I wish this trail could be rehabilatated so it could serve as a welcomed avenue for the hiker, walker, jogger, and occassional fly angler.  The trail leads to the innards of the Chickasaw National Recreation Area. 

Making as short of order of work as I could, I arrive on Rock Creek to discover the same conditions as I found on Blue River yesterday.  The creek is mostly an off-color and blended water and is only clear along the fringes with the deeper pools having little visibility.  Spotting carp today was out of the question.

Although it would be difficult to see carp or any other living thing in the creek, trash was quite easy to see.  It seems the flash flood of November has washed a lot of unwanted crap into the creek. 

I guess if I truly looked for trash that was treasure, then this little dandy here would have been the treasure of today. 

This little jewel of a big wheel jeep most certainly belonged to a child somewhere upstream.  Most likely the toy was swept away by the flooding water that took place in November. 

Not far downstream I found another real jewel of a piece of crap in the creek.

Having my waders on, the tire was taken from the water and dry-docked on the beach where the federal maintenance workers can reclaim this trash.

While on the subject of trash in the creek, it was a couple of weeks ago I found a red barrel in the creek and not knowing exactly what it was I decided to do some checking before removing it.  However, when Charlie learned of the barrel he went to investigate himself and through careful deduction, much in the manner of Sherlock Holmes, Charlie ascertained it was a barrel from the football field.

Even though the trash barrel was three-fourths full of water, Charlie was able to heave it out of the creek and get it to dry-dock.  I followed Charlie later and moved it a little further up where maybe it can serve as a trash barrel for the families that frequent this part of the creek.

As far as spotting carp today, I went skunk.  Charlie seems worried that many of the carp are gone having been swept downstream.  I'm not quite as worried as he is and have seen this before during the winter months.  When I stop to think of the last several outings on Rock Creek, when looking for carp, I haven't seen a number of species including bass, catfish, and perch.  These creatures are simply wintered. 

At least I hope I right, for if I'm not it may be a very long carp-by-fly season this year. 

Tonight I will start on a measure of carp flies for Charlie, and once those are done I'll tie some for my use. 

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Chapter 58 Day 89 - Trout Season

Of Beer And Brown Buggers

Sitting at the bunkhouse this morning I knew very well that the river Blue was off due to mid-week rain.  The reports had the river as running chocolate.  However, I'm not one for just sitting around, and therefore I pack the gear in the schooner. 

Besides, fly fishing is the only form of exercise I get and after a week of not getting on the water I was feeling  rather stoved.  Additionally, I was dying to try out the new cane walking/wading staff Charlie brought me last week. 

It was mid-morning when I arrived at the river and it wasn't long until I struck out on the trail into the wilderness.

I must tell you what a difference the cane walking/wading staff has already made in my fly fishing life.  Today, there would have been no way I could have waded the river without that cane.  There was zero visibility one foot past the bank. 

However, the most amazing thing about this cane staff is the difference it made in my hiking ability.  I would dare say it took 70% of the stress or effort off of my legs while hiking.  I've always been much stronger in my upper torso compared to the lower.  Today, I simply kept the cane in my predominant hand (right-handed) and when I come to one of those steep inclines I would simply bear down with my arm on the cane.  It was truly amazing.  It makes sense however with me having Popeye like arms - strong forearms, but not much mass elsewhere. 

Hiking today, thanks to the cane staff, was a breeze!  So, I'm putting all you young fly fishers on notice that I may be able to keep up with your young arses now! 

There are some things we own that a value can not be placed.  Just like that ol' dirty cowboy hat I wear, this cane staff from Charlie is already... priceless. 

Arriving at Coyote Pass, the reality of the river's condition set in as you can see from the short clip below.

Since the trek had been made there was no reason to simply turn around and hike back out.  Looking in the fly box the selection was rather easy. 

The brown bugger - that Duke of Marabou Brown was plucked from the slot and quickly commissioned for duty on the high brown sea in front of me.

With a roll cast of twenty, maybe twenty-five feet the brown one was sent on his maiden voyage of the morning. 

And how did he fare on that maiden voyage?  Watch in the brown water.

On the hike out of the wilderness today I felt energized!  I don't know if it was the cane staff that was causing me spry or the brown bugger producing in such off water conditions.  Perhaps it was both.

So, thank you Charlie for the wonderful cane staff you created - it has already made a huge difference in my fly fishing life.

And, to you brown bugger - the Duke of Marabou Brown, here is something for you.

Oh bugger of brown
  dear friend so fine
If you could drink beer
  we'd drink one anytime

I'd tilt the glass
  testament to your favor
Drink the pale ale
  pleasure to simply savor

For you're the grand bug
  when I'm on the river
Trout to my waiting hand
  you never fail deliver  

Friday, January 27, 2012

Chapter 58 Day 88 - Trout Season

On The Fritz

Since Blue River is pretty much chocolate milk due to the rains of Tuesday and Wednesday, I decided to wipe the dust off of one of the pattern books in my collection and find some patterns to tie. 

This is the kind of pattern book I like - lots of pictures, over a thousand to be exact.  Many of the patterns are one's that I've never fished and I can see how I guy could get so involved in this book, he'd never get much fishing done. 

As I was thumbing through the pictures and recipes, another fly pattern that has been the topic of discussion recently came to mind and I decided to tackle that particular fly. 

The fly in question is called the Montana Fritz and when I first heard of this pattern I wondered who in the world would name a fly Montana Fritz unless  it was a guy in Montana named Fritz.  But, I don't think that's the case.

Materials for this pattern are few and simple, but, even with as much fly tying material as I have I still didn't have the exact color of one of the ingredients.  Not to be outdone, I tied up a pattern with a much darker cactus chenille. 

According to one fly fisher that comes to Blue this little fly is dynamite and I can't wait to try it.  Maybe I'll get the right color cactus chenille and tie up some lime Montana Fritz flies and give them a try too. 

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Chapter 58 Day 87 - Trout Season

Campaign Charge

It has been a strange week so far.  Tuesday and Wednesday it was almost constant rain, which I should say we are quite thankful for.  Rain however, in the amounts we received, does tend to blur the river Blue and shuts down fishing for sometime. 

Today, it is in the mid 60's here on the prairie ocean and tomorrow is predicted to be even warmer. 

The problem I'm having is that this time of year; at the window of an early spring; when the weather is so sublime; I, along with Charlie tend to start fixating on carp and trout season kind of takes a backseat. 

It's a shameful thing actually.  Trout are the pretty fish that bring us a tremendous amount of joy and pleasure and because of their existence in Blue River we experience spectacular sunrises and peaceful sunsets. 

Carp though, have become our calling of sorts and after last year's slap-in-the-face by nature we are more excited than ever about this coming carp season. 

On the local creek here there is cane.  I guess that Charlie sometimes gets into a hunter-gatherer mode and one thing he looks for is this cane.  He takes the cane and crafts wonderful gifts. 

Today at the mercantile store, Charlie surprised me with two wonderful cane gifts - one being a walking/wading stick and the other being a fine cane flute. 

I guess some will look at this as just another hand-crafted flute, but I have a different feel for this creation. 

With me, since history was always one of my favorite subjects, I think there is a tendency to imagine and live in other times - times much more romantic than the time I have lived and currently exist.  So, when I look at this flute I see a magical call - a campaign bugle that will sound to the grand and golden ones. 

As you can see, Sir Charlie embellished the flute with the Carpolo Charlie fly and that serves as the standard to my belief that this is a carp flute. 

Come around March, I will take this magical instrument to the fringes of the creek.  There a few melodic notes will be played and those notes lingering and hovering in the air will be an attraction that the carp will not be able to resist.

Much like we can read in the Odyssey, this flute will serve like the Sirens that led many a sea-faring man to a fate they could not stop.  The carp, just like the sailors of Odysseus, will not be able to resist the lovely, luring, voices - in this case the voices the carp flute will send forward.

The carp will follow the attraction of the melodic notes to the point they originated and it is there that the carp by fly fisher will stand with his offerings of marabou, chenille, rubber legs and flash. 

Dazed and confused the carp will flare their gills and suck the offering where the lance will find their upper lip and the battle will begin. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Chapter 58 Day 86 - Trout Season

One Fly Contest Taking Shape

Since the prairie schooner came down lame and has been in the shop and with the much needed rain blurring Blue River quite badly, which means not much chance of getting on the water, I decided to go ahead and order the prizes for second and third place in the 1st Annual One Fly Contest at Blue River.

Of course we all know by now the first place finisher will receive a $100.00 Cabelas gift certificate.  Fellow fly fisher John Haney has been gracious enough to make a trip to Cabelas and now has that prize in his hand.  He plans on delivering the gift certificate to yours truly on a February fly fishing outing. 

The second place winner will receive an Okuma Sierra 5/6 fly reel.  Now, an Okuma is certainly not a Tibor, but I can personally tell you these are tough little reels.

I have fished them for a good number of years and the poor things have been slammed into rocks, smashed up against trees, completely buried in mud, and in 2010 one Okuma reel had over 120 bulldog carp try and rip the guts out of it.  They're good tough little reels and the second place winner should be well pleased with what the reel will bring.

The third place finisher will receive a Spirit River spring action rotary vice.  Again, just like the Okuma isn't a Tibor, the Spirit River isn't a Renzetti.  But again, this little vice will be a good back-up or secondary vise.  I can also see how this can be a vise one would want to take to the river for some tying, particularly if a clamp board or table is also in tow. 

All in all there are some good prizes to be claimed and we also hope to have a number of give-aways by random drawing. 

Entries are still coming in and I should remind anyone interested that the deadline for entering is February 10th, so get those entries in soon please. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Chapter 58 Day 85 - Trout Season

Friends With Chickens

This is my co-worker and friend Melissa.  Melissa is an outdoorsy type of girl and she likes to fish so naturally we have become good friends.

When not at work, Melissa is on her farm near Dougherty, Oklahoma - a farm with a good number of critters.  Among the critters there are chickens - lots of chickens. 

When talking with Melissa it is easy to detect how proud of she is of her yard birds and she has a good selection of breeds.  Most importantly she is always looking to expand her variety of breeds and that is where I come into this story.

When I think of a chicken, two things come to mind - fried and feathers.  Oh yes, feathers - lovely, beautiful feathers that will tie lovely, beautiful flies that will catch lovely, beautiful fish.

Now, I see nothing wrong with trying to warm-up to Melissa a little more in the hope that I will come to know her chickens even better. 

You see, as Melissa adds to her varied breeds in the yard, the opportunity for some very fine feathers presents itself. 

About once or twice a week, here of late, I've asked Melissa if she has acquired any new breeds - particularly a bird known as a Buff Orpington. 

Once she tells me she has said bird, the Buff that is, then my plan of action of clamoring over Melissa and catering to her wants and needs will be fully employed. 

It will be at that time I will ask myself, "What does this girl desire - chocolate, flowers, egg Mcmuffins?"  Perhaps there is a certain genre of music she likes, or something she collects like miniature porpoises... I don't know and it doesn't matter... I plan on getting whatever it is.

My effort is all in the attempt to grow closer in my friendship with Melissa and therefore coming closer to those delightful feathers on her beloved chickens.

No, I don't feel cheesy at all.  I'll be upfront with my friend and tell her it's a few feathers I am after and in case one of the birds meets it's demise she should call regardless what time of night it might be. 

Through a carefully constructed curriculum of casual communique, I will most certainly learn what tickles Melissa's fancy.

And... once I do, then said fancy will be fulfilled and my fingertips will grow a little closer to those beautiful Buff Orpington dressings.  

Monday, January 23, 2012

Chapter 58 Day 84 - Trout Season

A Sucker For A Sucker Punch

There has been a lot going on in the fly tying arena with trout season at Blue River this year. 

Currently there is a fly swap taking place and then of course we have the 1st Annual One Fly contest taking place in March on Blue River. 

Most currently there is a rather good discussion on midge patterns and how these creatures (the real bugs) can drive us nuts trying to figure out how to match them. 

All of this talk about flies is with regards to trout. 

However, last week in the mail I received a most delightful surprise in the form of four Sucker Punch carp flies tied my friend and fellow caster of fur and feather Kevin Harris.  Kevin tied up four of these patterns and two were for me to use with the other two for Charlie. 

I've read about the Sucker Punch over the last two years and I want to say the pattern was developed by a man named Dave Speer down Texas way.  I think the pattern is tied with different colored legs, but, I like this particular color that Kevin used because one thing I've noticed is that carp like orange. 

I gave Charlie his two patterns yesterday and have mine safely tucked away in the ol' carp fly box.  All we need now is a little more warm weather, a little more rain, and we'll be in business in our conversations with carp.  

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Conversations With Carp

Charlie Talks The Talk (And Walks The Walk)

In 2010, Charlie and I called our carp by fly adventures the Carp Crusades.  In 2011 we came back with the Carp Redux, but, 2011 was a disaster because of the severe drought and temperatures. 

In 2012, our carp by fly effort will be labeled Conversations With Carp, and today... Charlie started the conversations early. 

I say he started early because generally we don't begin to fly fish for carp until March.  To tell you the truth we don't see a lot of carp out and about during the winter months.  However, this winter has been weird to say the least.  Yesterday morning I was freezing while on Blue River.  Today, it is somewhere in the sixties. 

Charlie sent me a message earlier today saying he was going to go to the local creek and at least scout for the carp, so I decide to join him.  When I catch up with Charlie he is armed with his fly rod and has spotted carp.

The wind today was howling at 35 miles per hour or more and it created a terrible chop on the creek.  Standing high on the bank we could see the images of the carp, but, once you got on the same plane as the creek you lost that visual.  So, Charlie went down to the creek and I stayed high trying to spot for him. 

The first eight or ten casts produced nothing except I'm quite sure one carp picked his fly up and we were just late recognizing it. 

Soon however, Charlie would holler "I've got one!"  And, he did have one. 

Charlie was using a make-shift hastily tied bonefish shrimp pattern I tied last year.  We didn't get to use it much at all. 

The difference in the one Charlie was using today was that it was predominately white with a red sac instead of pink. 

Charlie hooked up with this carp on the blind.  About eighty percent of the carp we catch here on this current of the prairie ocean is by sight, but, we've come to catch more and more on the blind. 

With the prairie schooner being lame and me not being able to drive out of town and get to Blue... Charlie made my afternoon with his antics. 

The only thing that could have been better is if the result turned out differently.

Chapter 58 Day 83 - Trout Season

Classified Information

The flies for the 1st Annual One Fly contest arrived Friday and they are currently under lock and key in the mini-fly fishing museum. 

Not only are they under lock and key in the spare bedroom, the perimeter of this prairie home is guarded by a motley crew of killer felines. 

And if someone managed to get past the fury of flying fur and the fiery claws of the frenzied felines outside the prairie home, in the effort to have a look-see at the flies, they would also be facing an interior threat from one mean motor scooter of a Chiweinie.

Meet Sadie - the killer Chiweine.

Good girl Sadie - keep up good work.  

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Chapter 58 Day 82 - Trout Season

Grand Morning In The Wilderness Kingdom

This was a rare morning for me - I did not step a foot into the mercantile store.  Instead I turned the prairie schooner to the east and headed for the beautiful Blue. 

Arriving around seven, I hit the trail into the wilderness kingdom.  It was rather chilly this morning and there was a steady north wind facing me head on. 

However, the fishing was grand!  Wading into the middle of a special stretch I took perch upon a submerged boulder and the brown bugger went to work right away. 

It was one of those ice-in-the-guides morning.  Moreover, it was one of those wind-induced tears in the eyes outings also.  At times my vision was completely blurred from the tears welling in the corners.  Hands numbed early and I never give thought to changing patterns because of my frozen digits and the fact the brown bugger was doing so famously well. 

Soon, the reel would begin freezing up, but that didn't seem to matter much.  The fish were only ten to fifteen feet to my side and they were being plucked at an almost rhythmic fashion.

I had to call it a short day however.  It seems the prairie schooner has pulled up lame and the condition became terribly worse on the trip down.  I would dare say there is a ball joint issue and therefore the schooner will stay at the stable until a wagon mechanic can have a look. 

Despite the cold weather and the problem with the schooner it was a grand morning in the wilderness kingdom.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Chapter 58 Day 80 - Trout Season

Tying For Strikes... Hopefully. 

In high hopes of getting a little time on the river over the next several days, I've been on the vise tying  some patterns. 

One pattern I've read a good deal about is the Rainbow Warrior nymph.  Never have I fished this pattern, but looking at it... the fly should fish. 

Not having the exact materials this pattern calls for I improvised.  The pattern calls for wide pearl tinsel, which I was void of, so I used clear scud back.  The Rainbow Warrior also calls for rainbow colored dubbing and not having any of that exact material, I blended my own. 

I tied a second pattern tonight.  First let me say that Michael Mercurio is some kind of guy.  He's always doing something for someone else.  Last year he sent me some studs for my wading boots and recently he gifted me with an Alaskan Amber beer.  Last week when we were fishing the catch & release with Charlie, the subject of San Juan worm patterns came up.  I told Merc that I had looked high and low for the claret colored micro chenille used in one particular San Juan pattern.  The only way I knew about this pattern - the claret colored San Juan worm, is because Merc had given me one to fish. 

That worm fished like no tomorrow.  It would catch fish when nothing else would.  I would end up losing the fly to a rock, tree, fish... I don't remember and since then I've been looking for the same colored material to duplicate it.  Merc told me he knew where to get it and lo and behold in today's dispatch from the pony express there was the prettiest package of claret colored worm chenille.  Ahhhhh.... bliss. 

Going to tie some of these puppies up standard style, like above, and a tangled worm pattern also.  Have plans to tie up some claret colored worm balls for those grand and golden ones - the carp.  Killer!!!!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Chapter 58 Day 79 - Trout Season

A One Fish Fix

This has been, for the most part, a really miserable week as far as fly fishing.  As I said on Monday I was having that feeling of being a sharecropper in dry weather. 

It's amazing what some of us will do to get that fix that we so badly need.  Today, I took a so-called lunch hour and went to the river.  At the river's edge I tie on the red-throat brown bugger and sent the ol' chap sailing - sailing backwards into the tree line where he became terribly entangled. 

Freeing my friend I wade back out into the river and sent him the second voyage of this day.  Soon, he would reward me with a small, but feisty bow. 

That seemed to be enough.  I spool up and return to the schooner to leave.  A lunch hour goes fast when getting to and from the river takes the better part of twenty minutes, gearing up and down takes a good ten, and then getting our flies free of the clutches of the trees burns another five or so. 

It was all okay though - that rush that came courtesy of one trout traveled through my veins - the body and soul relaxed with just that one fish in my hand. 

I say all was okay... but, it really wasn't.  I fished the lower end of Ted's Pool today on the northeast side bank.  Saturday I was at this same exact spot fishing and after being rewarded handsomely by the river I did a good cleaning of the bank where the bait fishers sit. 

On the way to this pool this afternoon I met four bait anglers coming out and we exchanged friendly greetings.  Once I got to the bait-chunking sitting bank, it was unbelievable what I was seeing.  The bank was totally trashed.  There was an empty can of whole kernel corn, Dr. Pepper cans, and a empty plastic container of pimento cheese just to name some of the trash.  Pimento cheese?  Are they trying to give these fish heartburn? 

Then, looking into the shrub line behind the bank I discover how the angling community have been trying to hide their trash within the cover of the thick shrubbery and brush.  It's absolutely shameful!

I picked up one single piece of trash to carry out with me and intentionally left the rest.  Sometime this weekend I'll go back to this spot just to see if anyone else has made an effort to remove the refuse from the river.  If not, I'll do it - just call my action today an exercise in trying to understand certain river culture. 

Field Test Report On Alaskan Amber

After enjoying the bottle of Alaskan Amber that Michael Mercurio gifted me recently, it is now time to post a field test report on said beer.

Alaskan Amber is a beer that certainly has taste... particularly to someone who has consumed light beers for many years. 

You can expect about a one and half or a two finger head from Alaskan Amber with somewhat of a red color when poured into a glass (which I usually don't). 

Upon first taste your palate will dance to the slight bite of this amber and somehow to me it was so reminding of a similar biting, but wonderful, beer I drank years ago - Jax. 

However, unlike Jax, Alaskan Amber will deliver a wonderful aroma much like light cream and nutmeg perhaps.  It is a wet beer and slides down quite easily. 

The aroma of the beer is pleasant and I can see how the senses could easily cry-out for more. 

So, in the overall assessment of Alaskan Amber the question begs, "How good is it?" 

And, the answer to that question is... it's good enough to induce a fellow to think about moving to Alaska somewhere near the Kenai River. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Chapter 58 Day 78 - Trout Season

Sweet Fascination With Glass

Last year, during the Carp Redux of 2011, I rediscovered the sheer beauty of glass rods.  After initially fishing glass rods early in the fly fishing life, I slowly migrated to the faster and lighter graphite rods.  Now however, I have rekindled a love affair with sweet and slow glass.

Currently I have only one decent glass rod that was purchased from a pawn shop.  There are several more in the mini-fly fishing museum located in the spare bedroom, but all of the lot are in very poor condition. 

Here lately, I've been thinking about venturing into the world of building custom glass rods.  Most certainly I have no need for another expensive habit that would keep me from tucking money back for those days of so called retirement, but I'm afraid the mystery of building a glass rod is going to be too much for me to bear. 

So as I usually do, when in need of wise and sage advice, I turn to my friend and fellow carpster by fly Charlie.  Charlie has an affection for glass rods and it turns out he has some building knowledge. 

In the initial dispatch to Charlie I ask for just basic information on what it would take to build a glass rod.  His return dispatch or dispatches were rather detailed dissertations - chocked full of overwhelming information that led to this pea-brain going into overload. 

However, I read his dispatches several times over a got a good basis of what all is involved in building one's own glass rod. 

Then, I countered Charlie's words with a dispatch of my own with the subject being glass rod building suppliers.  In my email to Charlie I threw out names like Steffan Brothers, Strubble, Lemke Concepts, and Hopkins and Holloway. 

Soon, Charlie would dispatch me again and through his words I learn of E glass, Lamiglass, McFarland, Fenwick, and Tom Morgan. 

Now... I have even more to consider.  I feel like I'm back to square one.  

One good glass rod is probably all I will ever want to build... unless it's addictive like the rest of the fly fishing world.  In building one good rod that I can take great pride in, I figure it's going to take several attempts, which no doubt will lead to building more and more and soon I'll be on the brink of bankruptcy. 

But, I'll have some nice glass rods at least.   

Monday, January 16, 2012

Chapter 58 Day 77 - Trout Season

Like A Sharecropper In Dry Weather

With the pressure turned up at work, I see few opportunities to get to the Blue River and pursue those pretty little fish this week and I'm feeling like a sharecropper in dry weather.  There may be one chance to squeak in a quick afternoon trip, but, the weather is also changing on that particular day. 

I can't gripe... it's been a really rewarding season so far and I am luckier than most living as close as I do. 

Besides, there are a lot of things coming up like several planned outings with other fly fishers, the trout derby in February and the 1st Annual One Fly Contest. 

Speaking of the One Fly... there are going to be plenty of the mystery fly on hand.  Yesterday, I decided to go ahead and order the mystery pattern.  I guess I could have just tied the flies, but, after more thought it seemed it would be more appropriate to have the fly come from an independent source. 

So, after clicking the button confirming 60 flies I suddenly noticed I ordered the wrong size... the really wrong size.  At that point I had no choice except to order another 60 units of the right size.  Therefore, there are 120 flies coming this way soon.  60 will be dedicated to the One Fly for use and I figure the other 60 are going to end up in sets to be given away to contestants in a random drawing.  All is good and well. 

Going To Have To Get Creative

With the weather as pretty as it was today, a trip to the local creek to see if the carp were out and about was in order.  The carp were not out and about, so I decided to go to the north part of the creek and try and get a handle on how much trash had washed down during the November flash flood.

It didn't take long for me to realize I was going to have to get creative on getting some of this crap out of the creek. 

It that darn barrel is half full of water, as I expect it is, then there is no way my skinny arse is going to heave it out of the creek. 

I guess I could try and invent one of those harpoon thingies where the barb's flex on the way in and then spread out once penetrated.  Then I could take a well-rope and tie it on the harpoon and to the back of the prairie schooner and slap hard leather across the backsides of the ponies. 

Nahhhh... I'll see if the help of the City crew can be enlisted and maybe they can bring a winch truck down there and get this ugly thing out of the creek.  Have no idea where it came from or what it had in it, but I figure it was some kind of chemical - hell, it's painted red for a reason.

Right now though I'm not going to worry about it too much.  I have a much appreciated prize awaiting me that came my way and thanks to Mercurio.  I think it's going to go down good. 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Chapter 58 Day 76 - Trout Season

Sunday Stuff

Networked Blue River

It's amazing how many things have been lost and then found at Blue River, primarily to the wonderful network of fly fishers and river people we have in place.

Most recently, the net above was lost last week, and recovered this past week.  The net belongs to Chris Adams and Chris, myself, and Boone Mehrman had been fishing the south wilderness on a Saturday.  After lunch, Chris and Boone decided to hit the catch & release area and that's when Chris lost his net.  He didn't discover his loss until this Saturday and made a post on the fly fishing forum. 

Charlie, my fellow carpster by fly, fished the catch & release this past Wednesday and found the net.  So... the two connected and the net is now on it's way back to Chris. 

There are plenty of other examples of lost and found accounts like one that occurred last year.  A gentleman had finished his day of fishing in the catch & release and propped his bamboo rod, yes bamboo, up against the fence and drove off and left it.  Remarkably he was able to recover his rod.

About seven years ago, a fly fisher from Frisco, Texas contacted me with the story of how he had placed his camera phone on the bumper of his SUV and drove off from the river.  He told me the phone wasn't that important to him, but he did have a rather large file of family pictures on the phone he cherished. 

So, I drove down to the river in search of his phone, but struck out.  Not knowing anything else to do, I placed a notice on Scotty's front door describing the phone.  The next day Charlie with the wildlife department at Blue called me and said he had discovered the phone a couple of days prior.  The two were put in touch and a happy story was the result.

Not all stories of lost and found gear come out the way we want them to.  This past weekend a fly fisher forgot he placed his rod on top of his vehicle and drove off with it.  His rod has still not been found.  I did the exact same thing in November of 2010 and nope... never found the rod. 

The most memorable story of lost and found is one about a dog.  A family from Ardmore had come to Blue to camp and brought their cherished family dog.  If I remember correctly, and I think I do, he was a beagle.  For sure, I remember his name - Stoops.  Yeah, a dog named after a football coach. 

They had Stoops attached to a chain at the campsite, but, as dogs can and sometimes do, Stoops went Houdini on them.  The family searched until dark, but couldn't locate their friend.  The next day I received an email from the family and I drove over to the river looking for the dog.  As I drove each road on the river I would stop and enlist the help of the regular bait and spinner fishers and the old salts of the river.  Again, I would place a notice on Scotty's front door.

This story didn't turn out happy.  It seems Stoops had headed west, which was indeed the direction of his home in Ardmore, Oklahoma.  He had made it all the way to highway 377 north that leads to the northern wilderness of Blue River.  However, that's as far as Stoops would get.  A county worker found Stoops body on the highway and called Scotty. Then Scotty had to call the family.  The family recovered Stoops and took him home. 

Watching Nature At Work

Yesterday while fishing a favored pool in Area 1, the river was very good to me.  The bows were coming to hand one after another, which is always enjoyable. 

However, there was another treat in store for me that I enjoyed every bit as much.  I got to watch the nature in trout at work. 

The water in front of me was crystal clear with a pale green background.  I watched a trout picking off mayflies from his staging area or his lie most proper.  This guy would launch from his lie and travel a good four or five feet to his intended target. 

Once he launched, he traveled in a diagonal plane from deep to the surface and quicker than you could blink your eye, and at about the same time you saw the dimple in the surface, he would pluck the insect and reverse course.  His method was extremely fast and oh so efficient. 

I could have watched this fellow for hours and now that I look back on yesterday I wished I had just spooled up and sit there watching. 

Spotting Designations

When on the Juan do as the Juanians do - visit Aztec Anglers

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Chapter 58 Day 75 - Trout Season

The Difference A Day Can Make

Today marks the halfway mark of trout season at Blue River.  It has been one of the more interesting seasons that I can remember. 

The popularity of fly fishing on Blue River continues to grow and if this trend continues, we're going to need a bigger river for sure. 

The outings with friends I have been on this year have been the best in my recollection... and there are more scheduled.  The trout derby is scheduled for February and then in March we have the 1st Annual One Fly Contest. 

Yesterday, the report was that fishing was slow, but today it was a much different story.  Although the fishing, or catching, wasn't stellar for all, it was good for this fly angler. 

Upon arriving at the river I drove straight to the south wilderness area only to find about twenty vehicles in parking area already.  So... I turned around and went downstream.  I didn't have to go far; just across the low water and up the hill where I would pick up a trail to the river. 

Tying an olive bugger on the trout quickly informed me they weren't interested at all.  The olive bug was replaced black and this fly took one trout, but, the activity was less than I hoped for.  Finally, the Duke of Marabou Brown bugger came out and went on and ten trout in succession came to hand. 

Probably, a fellow could have stayed in this spot and caught a good number of trout, but there were people to see. 

After some very good visits with friends Ralph and Charlotte, Chris, Larry, and fellow carpster Charlie, it was time for me to return to my prairie home. 

The weather today was again more like springtime.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Chapter 58 Day 74 - Trout Season

Slow Day In The Catch & Release

When I hit the northern part of Blue River this morning it was 26 degrees.  It should be noted though there was no wind.  So... it wasn't all that bad and certainly not January pain. 

I struck out on the trail where Michael Mercurio and Charlie Wright would soon join.  We all had high hopes, I think, that it would be a stellar day of fishing... which, it was.  It just wasn't a stellar day of catching. 

I thought Michael did well, but in his own estimation he described today as slow.  That's because Michael knows the catch & release area quite well and usually has twenty plus fish days that come with ease.  Today, it was sort of a struggle. 

Michael put me on a pool of water and bet me I would catch one before he got his rod assembled and he was right.  Had a good number of strikes and caught a couple of bows but that was it. 

When I arrived at the catch & release this morning I caught a bow with my very first cast and that led me to believe it was going to be one of those kick-arse days.  It really wasn't.

As to why the fishing was so slow today neither Charlie, Michael and especially me had a clue.  What we would discover is some dead fish.  As I walked to the top of the c and r with Charlie the first thing I spotted was two dead trout.  Later on and further down the river I spotted a couple of more.  I think Merc also found some, and below the middle he called me to a pool to have a look at something he'd discovered.

In a soft eddy was three or four trout acting lethargic.  Lethargic is the word Michael used and that's a good description.  Confused and dazed is what I was seeing in these fish. 

The second stocking took place in the c&r this past week and these may be some of the new stockers and they simply have not acclimated to their new surroundings yet.  Hopefully this is the case.

The weather turned out rather nice this afternoon, the scenery was wonderful, and the company was fantastic.  It was a good day of slow fishing. 

Michael Mercurio in the catch & release area.
Charlie Wright in the catch & release area.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Chapter 58 Day 73 - Trout Season

And Oh How The Crowds Thin

Year after year, I've seen the same occurrence take place on the river Blue usually around this time of trout season. 

For the most part, those of us who fish during trout season at Blue River experience quite tolerable and mild weather.  However as it is with cold weather trout season, seasons change and so does the weather. 

Yes, the mild fifty-degree days we grow accustomed to begin to fade, usually in January - giving way to the Arctic blasts.  Its called January pain.

But again, the changing weather in the form of frigid temperatures do not dissuade us... for we are the rugged lot known as fly-fishers!  Uh huh.

If you're a fly-fisher then certainly there will be a day during January you will rise at an early hour and catch the morning weather report.  A report that tells you plain and simply that the air is cold enough that water dispensed from a cup, thrust suddenly in the air, will crystallize before touching the ground.  And, the forecaster will also let you know that the wind is scheduled to howl on this given day and the wind chill factor will become known as the wind kill factor.

But, the call is too strong, the gear goes in the wagon, you grab another cup of Joe and hit the road to... paradise?  Maybe, maybe not, we will see. 

Once you get to the river you quickly gear up while the vehicle, and the heater inside is still running, the first tinge of doubt slowly enters the backdoor of your mind.  So, you jump back in the wagon for one final warm-up and then through self-talk convince yourself that your are on a mission to defy the elements and clean house on the unsuspecting trout. 

Most admirable.

The wade you make to the designated water you've chose is slow and methodical, mainly because you know that one slip-up and you'll be taking the polar bear plunge, which will certainly bring an abrupt ending to your expected wonderful day on the water. 

Ten minutes in... you find that your hands are already numb.  Fingers that are coiled around rod and cupped around line are by now fairly static due to the fact the digits are also numb - numb with the exception of that unbearable burning feeling in the tips of the ol' digits. 

By now, the olfactory has kicked in high gear and is running like the river itself.  You snort, sniff and suck, but the olfactory keeps on producing as the product trickles down your face.  If you have a moustache, like some of us do, then your agony is only compounded with the product freezing in that dividing meadow of your face.

Twenty minutes have now passed and suddenly you wonder if your ears are still attached or have they fallen into the river?  If there is another part of the human body, outside of the ears, that is more affected by cold temperatures, it is most likely a body part that we normally keep covered... unless we live in a nudist commune. 

With your ears aching and throbbing like there is no tomorrow you find yourself looking over both shoulders, keeping tabs on that clown of a fishing buddy you brought with you.  Knowing your buddy quite well, you remain on edge and guarded because this is a guy that is most likely to sneak up behind you and thump your throbbing lobes. 

The pain of your friend doing such an act is not your only concern - you are also concerned for his life.  For you see if your friend committed such a thoughtless act it would call for swift and sudden action through retaliation that would result in murder right then and there in the river. 

However, if you did grab your buddy and hold him under the current until he turned blue, and his body went limp you should not fear any charge that might be brought against you.  Once the judge and jury hears your story you will most certainly be vindicated and set free.  The judge will most likely go as far as telling you that never has there ever been a more clear case of self defense. 

Now, an half hour has passed and you no longer can feel your legs or feet.  The thought runs through your head whether or not your toes have turned black or maybe just a dark blue.  You need to move about, but out of fear of not being able to perform said function you stand rigid as the doubt builds in your mind.  As that doubt grows, the question of whether your are frozen solid in the river... a place you will remain until the spring thaw arrives, plays over and over in your head.

The gods of the north are tormenting you with their icy breath, but, you stand in defiance of their omnipotence.  They blow another breath and your grab your collar and pull it a little tighter, while under your breath say, "Bring it on your dark northern devils!"  Two minutes later they deliver a hard steely blow, and again, under your breath you say, "Okay, okay... I take back the devil thing!" 

But stay you do.  The word wimp is not in your vocabulary.  Hmmmm.

At this point you begin to wonderful if you're the biggest idiot in the world, but with a simple look up or down the river you see that you're not, because you have company.  But... the difference is these anglers are sitting on the bank, wrapped in cover-alls, with a fire going. 

An hour has passed and even though you are sure your body is frozen stiff, your central nervous system is not.  Working just fine, your nerve center is efficiently dissipating pain throughout your frozen carcass.

All this time you've been in the water you haven't had so much as a bump on your fly and if you did it wouldn't make any difference anyhow because your reflexes have totally shut down by now.  The fish are smarter than you because they are holding deep in the column, slowing their metabolism, while laughing at your dumb-ass. 

You decide to call it and as you spool your line in a trout slams your fly.  You find the strength to bring the fish to hand, and in the excitement of this tiny moment you dare to wet your frozen hands, gently removing the hook and freeing the fish.

You tell yourself what a fine fly-fisher you are.

It took two minutes or less to wade into the river, but not it takes a good ten minutes to wade out.  You make it to the bank and begin to go up the hill, looking like a waddling duck that has just had a prostate examination. 

At the wagon you do not take the time to break the rod down and just like you throw the rod into the back, you thrust yourself behind the wheel where you turn the blast furnace of a heater on.  Your day is done - you are toast.  Well... frozen toast. 

You pull onto the road while once again telling yourself what a fine fly-fisher your are. 





Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Chapter 58 Day 72 - Trout Season

A Bluebird Trash Day

Today was so awesome you would not have believed it unless you were actually here.  Today, it was spring in the middle of winter on the prairie ocean. 

I dare say that today's beautiful weather was the calm before the storm with a severe winter front known as the polar express headed our way.  As a matter of fact, the first tinges of that front could be felt around four this afternoon. 

Around noon I saw my fellow carp by fly addict Charlie pulling into the petro pumps and I quickly pulled along his side.  I told Charlie he should be on Blue River.  Charlie said, "I'm going... please join me."

Charlie's invite was so tempting, but I still owed some hours to the company store and just couldn't make it.  I hope Charlie made a killin'. 

However, not all was lost.  Taking advantage of the bluebird sky and warm temperatures I went to Rock Creek and began the spring cleanup a little early.  There is a lot of trash to clean and it will take a while, but it will get done one piece at a time. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Chapter 58 Day 71 - Trout Season

Pardon Me Please

Photo courtesy of Felix Frazier via the blog of Kevin Harris.
This trout season the subject of river etiquette has been quite a hot topic and rightfully so. 

A good example is Blue River.  Over the last ten years, Blue River has become increasingly popular and that means increasingly pressured - there's simply more folks and the same amount of river. 

In the fly fishing community many of us pride ourselves on a good knowledge of etiquette while fishing a stream, creek, river, or larger body of water.  However, as good as we think our knowledge of etiquette is, there are times we probably should review.

So, with that in mind here are a few thoughts about river etiquette.

Use Your Head

It's common sense for the most part.  It's easy to see that someone is enjoying fishing a certain pool, pocket, or run of water and it's simply not polite to crowd.  The best course of action is to stand back and watch.  Oftentimes we can learn a lot while watching someone that is doing rather well at a certain spot.  In addition it might surprise you at the invitation you will get from some anglers asking you to share their success in this honey hole they have discovered.

Working in the retail grocery business for thirty years, I have seen the gambit of rudeness - trust me.  I equate crowding someones water to someone trying to beat someone else to the checkout lane or to a large display of a food item that is advertised at a hot price and "while supplies last". 

The best course of action on the water is to wait until the angler has had his or her say with the water that's being fished and then take that water, or to simply leave (after making mental notes) and come back to that water later. 

Be Polite - Offer A Wave

In my book, politeness and being friendly go a long way.  Perhaps this is the reason I can honestly say I've never had a bad experience on Blue River.  Bad in the sense of having an issue with another angler (I have had rather bad catching days). 

A simple acknowledgement or hello can often break the ice and lead to a friendly discussion of what the fish are interested in and that often leads to a certain stretch of water being shared. 

Besides, one of the experiences of fly fishing is getting to know other anglers.  No, I'm not suggesting your gregarious nature will always be accepted or recognized - but that's not your loss is it.

Kids Will Be Kids

They're energetic, excited, enthused, and often extremely loud. 

Seeing kids on the water should be a welcome sight to any of us older anglers.  Kids on water today might lead to adults on the water later on. 

Indeed they can be loud, splash around, and spook the daylights out of fish.  But, instead of hushing, chastising, or being gruff with the kids, try calling them to your side and explain that fish have the unique abilities of detecting motion and sensing sound which can put them off the bite. 

Be proactive instead of reactive is what I'm suggesting when it comes to kids.  Granted you may have their attention for a good fifteen minutes or so and then they'll start chunking rocks again, but, there is no sense in making their fun day a bad experience.  Find some other water and believe that maybe something you told them sunk in their blessed little brains at some point. 

Take Out More Than You Carry In

Want to set an example?  Pick up the trash you find on the river while your fishing.  Someone else that is fishing will see you and whether they tell you or not - you'll gain their respect. 

A cleaner river is the highest example of etiquette we can pay to the fly fishing experience.

You can find the blog of Kevin Harris at

Monday, January 9, 2012

Chapter 58 Day 70 - Trout Season

A Good Week For Tying

Fly swaps can be fun, but I haven't participated in one for years.  Currently the Blue River Fly Fishers have a fly swap going on, and I indeed did sign up. 

I don't mind fly swaps these days... I just wish I could see a little better.  A fly tying magnifying glass has been on the wish list for years, but, waders, boots, rods, or other stuff always seem to trump this much needed fly tying tool in this fly tying life. 

Originally, I was going to tie a beadhead pheasant tail cripple (or challenged) pattern.  However, upon checking inventory, discovery revealed a severe shortage on the appropriate sized beadheads. 

One material I did have plenty of was hare's ear mask and hare's ear flavored bug fur so close to two dozen classic hare's ear patterns have been churned as an offering.  I hope they will fish well for many. 

Speaking of fly tying... when I arrived at the prairie home today there was a rooster perched in a tree out the back of the bunk house.  I have no idea where the poor chap came from and felt rather sorry for him.  He had took refuge in the tree, I figure, to escape the clutches of the area felines.  At first, I try to coax him down, but he wouldn't budge.  And, that's probably a good thing... I may have been tempted to borrow some of his feathers. 

With the weather turning, for the most part, raw the rest of this week I do plan on spending a good amount of time on the vise.  After yesterday's experience with those midge blasting trout, a good number of different midge patterns or in order.  And then, there is a scheduled trip to the catch & release looming on the horizon and the need for some patterns for that area is also in order.  

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Chapter 58 Day 69 - Trout Season

Too Much Enthusiasm

It seems like my enthusiasm got the best of me this morning.  I knew any outing to Blue River would be a turnaround trip - get there, jump out of the schooner, mad dash to the water and maybe forty-five minutes of fishing, and then deadhead back to the workplace. 

If I'd known this morning that once arriving at the river I would find the trout keying on midges, I'd just stayed at work.  When the trout are fixated and feasting on midges, it... drives... me.... nuts! 

In the water I was standing there was an assault by the trout taking place that was nothing short of phenomenal.  It was a gorge-fest.  I could easily tell from the numbers and frequency of the assaults that the competition from the naturals would prove to be too much for my flies. 

After tying on six different midge patterns - different sizes and variations, I only had two eats and would end up losing those fish before they came to hand.

Finally, I gave up... had to get back anyhow. 

I left the river with my tail between the legs. 


Mitchell George has been doing some video work on Blue River and I feel obliged to include his video on these posts.

In this video, Mitchell takes us into the south wilderness and gives us a look underneath the surface.