Saturday, February 23, 2008
The truth is I've always flied on the wing, haphazardly if you will and so far it's worked for me. But, in doing so it has required a lot of expended energy and frustration. So, recently I decided to get a little more structured with the way I carry flies and asked the Blue River fly fishing community for advice on which fly box system to purchase.
Overwhelming, C&F got some great reviews and recommendations. Although I'd heard of C&F many times I'd never actually seen one and figured they were kind of pricey for an indentured servant like myself. However, we get what we pay for and I figure a C&F is coming my way soon.
But, there was another system on my mind that had me interested...one that Chris Adams showed me in November. Chris had a Scientific Anglers X System. I loved the functionality of this system because with a snap, one can easily change seasons. The second thing I noticed was how organized Chris was in his order of flies.
Now, I have known Chris for about eight years and from my first encounter with him I came away with the feeling that this guy has it together...he's neat, disciplined, and organized. I think his fly boxes are representative of my observation of Chris.
I'm going to get both a SA X System and C&F and then maybe I will have the best of the fly box world...but will it change my habits? If the picture above doesn't show the disarray in my life general and fly fishing life, just wait until you see the upcoming pictures of my fly-tying room. It's the room I've been calling the "museum". The museum of unnatural fly fishing.
Check out Chris's fly boxes below.
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
A young taxidermist named Rusty Ponder mounted this bow and I couldn't be more delighted with Rusty's work so naturally I am going to plug him. If you would like to see some of Rusty's creations then you can visit him at his website Ponder Taxidermy.
Although I have caught some very nice fish in my lifetime I never considered having any of them mounted until this one. This bow is the one that won Susie's derby memorial award for me one time and one time only which is what I wanted. I am very proud that my name will be on her plaque along with the likes of Chris Adams, Bruce Dixon, and other members of the Blue River Fly Fishers. I hope to fish long enough to see many more familiar names on Susie's plaque. Donn Rist is certainly due as is James Webster and there are so many others I hope will win the award someday.
The bow is going in the fly tying room which is quickly becoming a fly fishing museum. Someday I will get it all organized...maybe.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
I arrived at Blue and was on the water by 10:30. On the way down I had a fly on my mind. It was a fly I tied about three years ago and have never used it. It's a bugger but kind of an unusual bugger. When it is wet it looks more like a soft hackle pattern. It has a beadhead but not a metal beadhead but rather a plastic fluro colored head. And, the fly is brown. Perhaps these are the reasons I haven't ever tried it.
I start my day at Chuck's Ledge with a purple sparkle bugger and capture one bow. Then I decide to tie on the fluro head and land five more bows. Like Chuck reported recently, the bows want the fly at a crawl and this part of the river has stained quite significantly.
James Webster was fishing off the crossing and he decides to go downstream to the island. So, I decide to follow him and take the flats.
At the flats I still have fluro head tied on so I start high-sticking it through the runs and capture two more bows. But then I start seeing a few risers, not many, but still a few.
In my fly box is another fly that has been on my mind. It is my attempt at Ralph Jame's Ole Gray pattern; one he showed me a couple of months ago.
I can't resist and I tie old gray on. I miss the first three takers and am in shock at this point that I had three takers. Then I capture four bows in a row with the last cast being made all the way to the other side of the river which I didn't think I could pull off. That last bow was the most fun. I had a blast using ole gray today. After that fourth fish I decide I better take ole gray off and put him up before I lose him, so in the box he goes.
I waddled back upstream to the ledge and tie on a regular brown bugger and take one bow. Then on the next cast a rock captures that fly and it's gone. Now comes a crawdad pattern and that same damn rock, evidently, takes that fly. Looks like it is time to go downstream.
I want to fish Glory Hole but it is covered up with fishermen so it's to Seventeen. Seventeen didn't produce anything for me today and to tell the truth Seventeen is not the pool it once was. Ten years ago, Seventeen was one of the best spots on the river.
I go upstream to the boulder using fluro head and capture four more bows. By now it is 1:30 in the afternoon so I call it a day.
Out of the seventeen bows landed today, fluro head took eleven and Ole Gray took four. Two wonderful flies that had never been used until today.
Monday, February 18, 2008
About a month or so ago, I put a question up on the Blue River Fly Fishers group site as if anyone had any experience with L L Bean Waders. The overwhelming answer was no, but that post did receive quite a bit of input as to which brand of waders, in the posters opinion, were the best.
Simms seemed to be highly regarded by most but not by all and I do believe I recall one rather dissenting voice against Simms. Cabelas seem to get a lot of good reviews as did Hodgman and several other well known names.
However, since there seem to be no one with knowledge or experience with L L Bean waders I decided to give them a try just so I could give this review. It was'nt only that...I was simply tired of leaky waders and Carol needed a new pair of waders also.
The L L Bean waders we ordered were reasonably priced, under $60.00, which I know makes them "cheapies" in a lot of fly fisher's eyes. But, my reasoning was as follows.
I could have very well ordered a pair of Simms Guide waders and paid just twelve cents short of $300.o0 for that distinction. But, I know myself well and in that self-knowledge I have come to realize that my rough and rowdy butt will get two years out of a pair of waders...regardless of the brand or name. With that in mind and doing the math I can get five pair of L L Bean waders for the price of one pair of Simms Guide waders. Now, I doubt that a pair of Simms Guide waders would last me ten years and that is what I will get out of five pair of L L Bean. The economics were simply with the L L Bean product.
So, what do Carol and I think of our new waders. More good than bad and here is our review.
The first thing I noticed about our L L Bean waders was less seams. Our waders are void of an inseam and that spells good with a capital G to me. Less seams...less chances for a leak.
The first thing Carol noticed was the inside chest storage pouch. It seemed to be much smaller than previous waders we had owned or wore. As a matter of fact, with the last two set of waders I have owned I could get a small digital camera, pack of cigarettes, lighter, a pack of strike indicators, and small notepad in the storage pouch. But, with the L L Bean waders I had to make a decision between digitial camera or pack of Doral's and being the weak willed creature I am, the cigarettes won out. The pouch is not real accomodating.
Size and fitting are very important to Carol and myself. Most companies that offer waders do offer small sizes but "small" doesn't always fit Carol and myself. Both of us are cut rather thin and short to the ground. I have a 28 waist and Carol's is even smaller. We have problems finding everyday clothes to fit us at most times. However, the L L Bean small waders fit us quite well. Actually they don't fit quite as snug as the last two pair we have purchased which makes it easier to bend and squat.
Personally, I did find one big downside to our L L Bean waders. The waders came with a waist belt...but no belt loops. I don't like that and for very good reasons. It seems like every time I go to the great outdoors my bladder and prostrate hears the "call of the wild" and goes into doubletime. It is not uncommon to see me crow-hopping out of the river, scurrying my way to the brush trying to find the closest tree. In order to water the natural grass, lillies, whatever, I will have to take that belt off which means putting the belt on the ground or somewhere. Once I finish my required nature break it will be time to put the belt back on. As sure as the sun will rise tomorrow there will come the day that in my haste to get back to the water coupled with my absent mindedness, I will get back in the water and realize that my waist belt is still on the bank somewhere. And, when that happens...that will chap my butt. L L Bean should have put belt loops on these waders.
All in all, we like these waders so far. We've only wore them three times but so far no leaks and that is a good thing. I have had waders in my past that I realized a leak with the first outing.
L L Bean is a respected company with great brand name recognition. It's our hope our waders will live up to the quality of their company name.
Sunday, February 17, 2008
Heavy Stringer (Bait or Spinners)
Roger Flynn with 17 pounds.
Heavy Stringer Ladies
Veronica Canada with 8 pounds, 8 ounces.
Heavy Trout Male
Heavy Trout Female
Youth Heavy Trout
Youth Heavy Stringer
Heavy Trout Fly-Fisher
Heavy Stringer Fly-Fisher
Heavy Stringer (Bait or Spinners)
Heavy Sringer Ladies
Heavy Trout Male
Heavy Trout Female
Youth Heavy Trout
Youth Heavy Stringer
Heavy Stringer Fly-Fisher
The weather for the 2008 February Trout Derby was raw, bitter, and at times just down right miserable. Pictured are some of those who braved the bitter conditions to fly fish the derby. Not pictured are Ralph James, Gary Bujack, and yours truly who were also willing enough to inflict self-pain on our bodies. Pictured from left to right are Don Rist, Carol Radford, Chris Adams, Ida Gaither, and James Webster.
When Carol and I arrived at Blue River on opening derby day the temperature was thirty-two degrees and it was raining. Simply...it was cold and wet. If these things weren't enough, the lightning flashes running down the river channel or across current sent us running for safer ground.
For Carol, it was a disappointing adventure. She was excitied about fly fishing the trout derby for the first time and this is a lady with only seven fly fishing excursions under her belt. But, conditions as they were had us both returning to the SUV thirty minutes after entering the water. Our whole weekend would turn out that way having less than four hours of water time in the two day event.
But, I admire Carol for trying. Her hands were the big thing against her. Less than a year ago she had carpal tunnel surgery on her right hand and the other hand is scheduled. Her hands may very well be more senisitive compared to those of us who don't have similiar problems.
Another thing that was against us was just simply newcomer problems. There were tree limbs, rocks that capture hooks, leaders wrapped around rods and so on and so on. And...Carol still remains tentative in her hook-sets. That meekness and shyness cost her at least thirty fish this weekend.
And besides that...it was damn cold and we were wussies.
Ralph James has a motto that says, "Fly fish anwhere anytime", and Ralph stayed true to that mantra by driving up from Gainsville, Texas only to face miserable conditions.
James Webster is another veteran of fly fishing and the trout derbies and he has the plaques to prove it, and yes he too was bracing the elements this weekend just to get to fly fish the derby.
Dateline: Trout Derby Saturday Weigh-In
There wasn't a weigh-in! That's how miserable the weather was and the organizers decided to wait until Sunday in hopes the weather would be better.
However, I can tell you at the end of the day Saturday, Chris Adams was in charge with the heaviest stringer but he had Don Rist hot and heavy on his tag end. Don, decided to split his stringer weighing-in both the heaviest trout for Saturday, (which he won), and the heaviest stringer division which didn't have him far from Chris. But...there was a young lady named Ida Gaither that was just ounces away from taking the lead from Chris the next day. Would she?
Dateline: Trout Derby Sunday
The weather didn't seem as severe as Carol and I left Sulphur enroute to the derby. The ambient temperature was thirty-seven degrees and we found ourselves driving absent of rain. However, the wind was more prevalent which made the wind chill factor more severe than Saturday.
Carol's and my day Sunday was much like Saturday with a lot or problems, missed opportunities, and just feeling miserable. We basically quit around ten that morning. I was disappointed in myself because my mission this derby was to get Carol into some trout and I failed miserably.
Soon, one o'clock rolls in and it's time for the final weigh-in. Chris, being a force to be reckoned with weighed-in a decent showing but would it be enough?
Ahh...she is a young pretty lass and her name is Ida. Now, Ida is certainly not a newcomer to the Blue River trout derbies having won many awards before, but this is the first time I can remember her fly-fishing in the event and well...the girl done good. Ida weighed-in the heaviest stringer for Sunday and edged out everyone else for the overall award.
When you're standing in the wings , as I was, watching the results I guess it's just natural to root for some of mainstays like Chris, Don, Jamie, and Ralph. And...honestly that is how I felt plus I wanted Carol to have a better outing. But, with that being said, it is also refreshing to see someone young and new like Ida keep the interest in fly-fishing fresh. Hopefully, her showing and example will encourage more young people to take up this art of ours.
Saturday, February 9, 2008
This poor guy was either having a bad day or had a really bad night.
Incriminating evidence was spotted by Carol and myself as we walked by the scene of the accident. A Keystone beer can rest in the console...guess the guy was in a hurry to get away once he realized he was a little on the upstream side.
Shortly after Carol and I walked by the car, here came Scotty McCarthick and sidekick Luke Marshall with the owner of the vehicle. Scotty and Luke were on a good Samaritian mission. Luke brought his flat-bed truck with power wench on back. They made several attempts to wench that car out of the river but it was not to be a mission accomplished.
From my vantage point I could tell the entire front end of the vehicle was bottomed-out and I kept wondering if the oil pan was compromised? I guess four quarts of oil is not a lot of oil but it's more than I want to see in Blue River.
Later on the car was removed from the river by a much larger tow or wench truck. I was fishing off of Chuck's Ledge and that is when I kept noticing that each time my fly line hit the water there was a dispersal of something that definitetly didn't mix with water. Hopefully it was just my line conditioner and not motor oil for that would be a bad thing for the owner of the car and a bad thing for the river.
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
For a number of years or seasons of the bows, there were discussions about how nice it would be to have a designated part of the river classified as catch and release for those of us who align with that discipline.
The most enthusiastic and determined voice in this discussion was Donny Carter of Stratford, Oklahoma. Donny never was loud or arrogant about it...he just simply brought it up season after season. Donny's enthusiasm bled over to more and more of us in the order of the fly fisher and so it was decided to simply ask if such an area could be created.
It was decided to contact Paul Mauch, Chief of the Southeast Fisheries Division with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife. Paul was asked for an audience with a contingency of the Blue River Fly Fishers and Paul agreed. Late in the 2006 season Paul met the group near the banks of Blue River for the discussion. Now...Paul is pretty straight talking and in short order he informed the group of our options, and in this case, it was a single option. Paul told us of a half- mile of water located at the extreme northern end of the north wilderness area above the Highway 7 bridge. This was a stretch of water owned and managed by the wildlife department but had never been stocked for lack of a road. Paul was also quick to inform us that a road would have to be constructed and asked for help in paying that cost. Then, Paul said, "Put your proposal in writing and forward it to the Wildlife Department."
For that task, writing the proposal, Kevin Harris of Ada, Oklahoma was either drafted or volunteered...I really don't remember now but it doesn't matter. I will be the first to say that Kevin did a superb bang-up job in writing that proposal. Kevin sent it to the department and then kept an open dialogue or communique' with Paul. Word came that the Wildlife Department accepted the proposal and public hearings were held with little or no opposition. Then on December 28th, 2007 Kevin received a message that the new Catch & Release Delayed Harvest Area had been stocked with 1100 Rainbows weighing 1300 pounds. It was a reality.
So...has the catch and release section been a success?
Michael Mercurio is an avid fly-fisher from Arlington, Texas that tries to travel to Blue River almost on a weekly basis. Michael likes the catch and release area even though it requires him to make a rather long hike or ride his mountain bike after making a grueling drive from Arlington. Michael shares that he likes to strip buggers, "the tug on a bugger is exciting" and he finds the water in this new addition to be diverse enough to employ several different disciplines of fly-fishing. And then...there is the solitude.
The catch and release area will be strictly enforced from November 1st to the last day of February each year. Then, on March 1st of each year the area will be opened for harvest which, it should be and is a good resource management tool. The bows do need to be harvested instead of letting them waste to rising water temperatures.
Personally, I think the greatest thing about the catch and release area is that it's taken an already great river and made it greater.
When Robin Rhyne of McKinney, Texas decided that fly-fishers need a forum and created the Blue River Fly Fishers group in 2002 he created an explosion in the number of fly-fishers on Blue River. That...coupled with an increase of trout fishing with all disciplines has resulted in a more crowded river at times. The catch and release area simply gives us another avenue, more room, and more solitude to do what we love to do.
It's amazing to me what can be accomplished when people come together. Looking back at the whole thing now, when we were talking about the possibility, all we ever had to do was ask. This area became a reality by asking and then supporting with our back pocket dollars like fly-fisher Ed Safely and many others did.
Personally, I plan on continuing to support the catch and release area through personal donations. Yep, I'm still collecting, stomping, transporting aluminum cans with the Recyling For Rainbows program. It takes a lot of darn cans but a lot of darn cans are kept out of a landfill somewhere.
(Photo courtesty of Michael Mercurio)
Monday, February 4, 2008
I haven't always striped with brunettes. It wasn't so long ago I was striping with a six foot blond.
Striping with six foot blondes certainly have their advantages. For one thing six foot blondes are very adapt at retrieving flies from tree limbs when that task would be difficult for a person...well, let's just say... my height. Another advantage to striping with six foot blondes is that they cast long shadows which serves as a most excellent sun-shade on those bright, rather warm and steamy afternoons. And lastly, when you are at five foot seven, graying, and aging, you look rather darn good standing in a river with a fourty year old six foot blond. Now, it may very well be true that blondes have more fun, but that doesn't neccesarily mean that blondes are more fun to be with...and so it was with me in striping with that six foot blond. No, I don't think all blonds are dumb by no means. However, the few I have known in my life have all seem to suffer from attention deficit disorder. I still liked them though.
I've never striped with a redhead, in a fly-fishing sense, and man do I ever have a thing for redheads. There's just something about that auburn flow against the porcelain skin that clicks my trigger. Show me a redhead and I'll begin to salivate like Pavlov's dog did when he heard that bell. Would I strip with a redhead? Well, heck yeah!
These days it's just not brunettes, blondes, and redheads...there are multi-colored hair girls. I saw one the other day that was jet black on top with purple endings. Would I strip with her? Sure! Hey, the goth chick might bring a whole new dimension to my striping life.
The fact is it doesn't matter if it's a brunette, blond, redhead, or multi-colored. For the most part my frisky days are behind me and these days striping a bugger is just about as exciting as striping period.
But, with that said, I think I'll keep the brunette just in case.