Thursday, December 29, 2011

A 'Shit Load' of Fun in British Columbia

Count me fortunate. Not only did I get to spend most of last Winter in B.C. skiing one of it's best Winter's in years, I also got the invite from the guys at Montana Fly Company to come up to Fernie, B.C. to fish for football sized Cutties and beastly Bulls.

This would be my first time target Bulls, my first meeting with all the ladies and gentlemen of MFC and as it would turn out...the first time with food poisoning so bad that I wouldn't eat for 3 days, sleep for 14 hours a day and yes, folks...shit my pants. Now this may seem like quite the revelation on the internet, but I don't really care, because as the infamous bumper sticker of the 70's and 80's said, "Shit Happens". And regardless, it makes for quite the hilarious story.

So to start off the week, and where I think this whole food poisoning scenario started off, I hopped a plane from Reno to San Fran (don't eat at Boudins!) to Whitefish, Montana.

After an afternoon post flight excursion to the Flathead River with the infamous @OutsideHilary and @OutsideShane, I crashed out on their couch for a good night's rest. I went to bed at about 11 that night and didn't wake up until 4 the next afternoon. Something was horribly wrong.

That evening, Adam Trina would swing by and pick me up for the drive up to Fernie. I was so exhausted, depleted and wiped that it took everything in my power to not pass out while walking, to string together a complete sentence and to talk to the plethora of people at MFC I was meeting for the first time.

When I awoke in the comfy fishing lodge in Fernie the next morning, I felt like a walking corpse. I could barely move and barely talk. The only thing that motivated me was the thought that soon I could be sticking 20" Cutties on the beautiful Elk River.

The Glorious Elk River

As we shuttled boats, I pulled up my waders and waited for Adam to come back to the launch point after dropping his truck off at the take-out. While waiting I grabbed my rod and started drifting a deep, juicy run. But then something painfully awoke in my trousers. I tried to relieve the pressure. Uh Oh. That was more than your average passing of gas. Shit. Literally.

I ran behind a large rock to get some shelter from the others fishing down stream of me. I took all the loose paper and the little bit of spare TP I could find and began to..yeah, you get the picture. I couldn't believe that had just happened. I was about to go on a 5 hour float with the president/founder of the company, whom I just met and just got sponsored by...and I had to go shit my pants right before getting in the boat with him. I couldn't help but laugh, except I could laugh for the fear that laugh might cause another bowel evacuation.  At that moment I knew was in for a loooonnnnggg day.

Oh well, time to tighten up the wader belt, jump in the boat and throw some flies.

A room with a 'shitty' view...get it, huh huh.

My boatmen.

It's nice to work for a fly production company huh?

Within minutes of drifting into the first run we started rising cutties out of their camouflaged rock beds. Adam's lady pulled the first big beaut of the day.

A 19" fatty.

Such fun fighting and beautiful fish.
I'll admit that while we were all getting into some nice fish, it wasn't wham-bam-thank-you-maam out there. Which in reality I prefer (who really wants to stick fish on every cast?)...So we jumped out of the boat and started working some seams, zoning in on flies and looking for the donkeys.

Vodka (Gin is overused) clear water. And the cutties are so well disguised that I would be willing to bet there are 3 cutt's hiding in plain sight of this shot. 
After walking around a little bit, we rolled into a side channel that would make most rivers jealous.  The deep slow pools beveled what looked like a cutthroat paradise.  We wanted in to this heaven.

The amazing side channel.

Soon enough we started spotting cutties down deep in slow moving water. I crept to the edge of the bank, side casted behind myself to not line the fish in the glassy water and unrolled as soft as a cast as I could to gingerly lay down a MFC Patriot fly. As it drifted into the cutt's view he bounced off the bottom and sipped the fly off the top. When I set the tension on him he took off like the wild man his native roots have bred him to be. After a tricky fight that involved down climbing a 6 foot tall vertical bank and keeping the cutt away from two sunken, line-snapping logs, I somehow brought him in.  Damn did it feel good.

It's too bad this pictures isn't the cutt I caught though, that one was (ALERT: Fish Story) a solid 3 inches taller across the back and thick like a football. So friggin fat that when I tried to one-hand him for the picture of glory, I couldn't get my thumb around his back and he shot out of my hands like a snot-covered bowling ball. Too bad, so sad. Guess I'll have to keep fishing and searching for a bigger one...heh.

But I did I catch this beaut a day later in the exact same spot.  That way the one I lost could here this guys' story about how fun it was to get in a good fight for the day.
Big banks, dangerous logs and a patriot in the lip. 

Oh and I must not forget to mention that in between catching fish, I was ceaselessly shitting my brains out in the woods at about 20 minute intervals. Besides catching fish and being in such a beautiful place, it was a pain inducing, gut wrenching, miserable experience.  I sweated like a whore in church, only to shiver with cold 5 minutes later and then do it all over again.  Fevers, sweats, chills, shits.  I had it all and if I wasn't fishing it would've been one of the most miserable days of my life.  Good thing I actually caught some fish.

Day 2 & 3

Day 2 started like Day 1.  Diarrhea, stomach cramps and no food.  But screw it.  It was time to fish.
We headed into the....well, for the interest of locals, let's call it... the John Doe River. We had two main missions to fish the upper section and lower section of the Doe.  One way would take a mud-skipping, pot-hole dodging game of four wheeling, the other way would take a few mile pedal on a bike.  In the interests of the length of this post, Days 2 & 3 are being combined into one because both days I didn't eat a single bite, both days included lots of hellish food poisoning symptoms and both days amassed big fish in one of the most stellar locations I've ever seen.

Really?  Is this a real place.  So beautiful.

The best commute ever.

Adam Trina sight fishing to some holding Bulls.

Amy Trina 3/4 upstream and dead drifting a 8 inch Streamer into a pool of Bulls

Not the biggest Bull, but definitely big enough to have fun with!

We fished and fished.  I shat and shat.  And then we fished some more.  It was an amazing experience that I was lucky enough to be a part of.  I can't wait to go back.  I just hope next time isn't so shitty.  HA!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Fly-fishing is rapidly becoming a sport that is not just for the jet and lodge crowd.  More and more, fly-fishing is becoming a crucial pastime in the lives of dirtbags, outdoor enthusiats and even, yes, professional skiers.  Check out a couple buddies of mine, both skiers whose day job involves spinning double-corks in the air and jumping apartment building sized cliffs, in this beautifully shot video with a great down home Alaskan feel.

Friday, August 19, 2011

I think I just figured something out...

If all the Caddis literature and LaFontaine's Sparkle Pupa theories are right, then perhaps I just stumbled upon something here.  Being full on Caddis season here in Nor Cal, I've been fishing many of my various 'adventures-in-fly-tying' Caddis imitations.  Some have worked brilliantly and others have been brushed off the faces of trout who ignore the creations like they were pieces of shiny garbage floating downstream.

Taking the good pieces of what worked, throwing out the bad and adding some additional features brought me to the vise and into this guy.

Now at first you can possibly see the vestiges of a caddis pupa, but the outline is far from an pupa.  Yet, a lot of the fish from this past week on the Truckee and East Walker were keyed on a similar trail tie.  But this one differs in one major aspect because of one special material used in a way I haven't used it before.

 It gets wrapped in bubbles like a kid in a soapy hot tub!  No sunken floatant here.

Beadhead and non-Beadhead versions. 
All in all, this hasn't been fished but through some of my little water-in-a-bowl experiments I'm hoping that the 'trapped air technology' pulls some tail. 

Sunday, August 7, 2011

There's a reason why secret spots are secret spots.

David Lass with a "Shanghai" Donkey.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Back on the Bandwagon

So if I haven't said it already, this past April I sustained quite a devastating ski crash that partially exploded one of my knees. Considering the gravity of the accident, I was pretty fucking lucky to walk away with a 'stock' knee injury. If you would like to see exactly what I'm talking about just watch the movie trailer below and take note at mark 2:38.

Attack of La Niña Trailer HD from MSP Films on Vimeo.

I've digressed. What I am trying to say is that after a wee bit of surgery I haven't been able to fish too much.  That is until this past week.  I finally got the doctoral clearance to be a bit more active, hike around a little bit and be on my feet for extended periods of time.  I'm sure the two readers of this blog know exactly what I thought when my doctor laid these words down.  Time to go fish!

The first opportunity was thrown my way by my buddy Nick Bliss.  He pitched the idea of a trip up into the Northern Sierra's to fish the legendary Hex hatch.  I was in like flynn the moment he said to me, "Donkeys on size 4 dries." Other than bumping Hoppers of the banks in Montana and skating mice in Alaska, I'd never heard of huge fish rising to such huge dry flies.

When we arrived the first thing I noticed when getting out of the car was this guy.  It was a good omen.
For my bug nerds: Hexagenia Limpata. I just call them "Big Fucking Yellow Mayflies".

It proceeded to fly away with my finger.
 Before the evening hatch we did some exploring in some remote parts of the Sierra.
Some Northern Sierra creeking.  There is literally hundreds, if not thousands, of amazing streams like this in the Northern Sierras.

Trying to stalk small and skittish fish.

Nick spotting a riser.

Got 'em.  Beautiful wild fish on dries. One of the best parts of fly fishing
 After a couple hours of driving we launched into the sunset on Lake Almanor.
Nick getting his pre-hatch nymphing on.
 And then they started showing up.
And while the hatch has been slow this year due to high waters and cold temps, the bugs starting coming off pretty heavy right at sundown

If you look carefully you can see the thousands of bats swooping in on the high calorie Hex.  Birds, Bats and Trout all gorged down on these giants flies.
 When the hatch started raging and the risers started coming from the depths, it became one of the most hectic 10 minutes of fishing I've ever experienced. We casted into rise pattern lines in the hope that the fish wouldn't stray off their line of attack and pick your fake looking fly out of the hundreds of other Hex's around.  Sure enough we got into some fish.  I hooked into two, totally botched one and got a donkey rainbow three feet up the edge of the boat before it benched pressed itself out our winky little 'trout' net and back to the freedom of the lake.  So no pictures of mine, but that doesn't really matter because the excitement of a 25 inch bow taking such a large dry was pretty much unmatchable.  I still get the shivers from it.

But we did get some glory for my bud David Lass from the Truckee TU chapter.
Look at the size of the dry this guy took.

Lass doing a classic "Grip and Grin". Big fish in the scheme of things but honestly, this guy was a midget compared to the toads out there.
So stoked to be back on a healthy knee and on the fishing train!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

They ain't no fish in Nevada

Those words came from a smokey lunged, raspy voiced lady who obviously didn't have enough interesting things to do that day and decided to talk to the silly boys walking around corporate building parking lots with fishing poles in hand.   Sure, the hot and desolate concrete jungle of Reno would make it seem as if they ain't no fish in Nevada, but alas, even minutes outside of seedy motels and grungy casinos they be some damn big fish in Nevada.

Carp definitely have a bad reputation.  Yeah their rep for surviving in warm toxic ponds and propensity to eat just about anything (we saw them gingerly sipping on surface oil slicks and foul smelling foam) upholds their image as trash fish.  But this being Nick and I's first carp targeting mission, we found out that carp are a surprising challenge on the fly.  Getting them to suck your fly into their vacuum-cleaner lips takes precision casting, technical sink timing and rhythmic stripping intervals.  And lastly, the fact that they take off like dump trucks when hooked makes them a helluva lot of fun on a 5wt fly rod.

Nick and I at one of the more 'rural' urban Reno ponds
After a few refusals and a little bit of technical learning, Nick dialed in the fly and presentation and got the first in of the day.

Nick with his first targeted Carp on the fly.

Fishing in the wild.  And by wild I mean, it was wild to fish in such an urban setting.

I think that's swamp gas turning the colors all funky.

After a fore-arm wrenching, rod folding, 10 minute fight, Nick lands another.

Fish face!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Soft Hackle Glass Bead Caddis

Sort of a green rock worm, sort of a caddis pupae, sort of a caddis emerger, maybe a skunker, maybe a winner.  Hackle is a little long...but who knows.  This is the kind of thing you come up with when you haven't fished in a month and a half because your doctor says wading could spell doom for your newly repaired knee.  Yesterday I casted for nearly an hour on a soccer field.  Desperate times calls for desperate measures.

Green Thumb
Hook: Size 14 BH/Emerger 
Thread: Black 8/0
Abdomen: 11/0 Green Glass Bead
Overbody: UV Epoxy
Wing: Hungarian Partridge
Thorax: AZ Synthetic Partridge


Saturday, May 21, 2011

Let's face it, we all hate strike indicators.  I know some people can turn a blind eye to the 'worm dunking' visual similarities of and vouch for their fish striking assistance, but in we all know that they look cheesy, they cast terribly and their use is too one-dimensional.  That's correct, strike indicators can be two-dimensional.  Take this for instance.

Some Hoppicators I recently tied up.

The Hoppicator.  Mikey Wier, who I've admired as an angler for quite some time, originally tied the Hoppicator as an indicator fly with so much damn foam on it that it could suspend up to three flies below. We've all used hopper dropper set up's before and they're by far one of my favorite set ups to fish. But ultimately adjusting the length (depth) of your dropper flies is a re-rigging nightmare.  So the Hoppicator has mono loops tied directly into the skyscraper of foam so a simple loop-to-loop connection can attach the Hoppicator to your leader and the tag end of the loop-to-loop passes through the tail mono loop to then attach your tippet and your flies.  Genius.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Hot Head John & Black John

Hot Head John
Hook: MFC KBL 7000 or MFC 7045 (pretty much anything you want size 14-20)
Thread: Black 8/0
Tail: Black Goose Biots
Under Body: Thread Base
Abdomen: Black Ultra Wire
Thorax: AZ Black Synthetic Dubbing
Wing Case: Lrg Pearl Tinsel & UV Epoxy Back
Head: Fire Orange Cyclops Bead

The Hot Head John under UV light.  Check out the glow!
Black John
Same as Hot Head John except with Black Tungsten Bead Head.

Electric Bubble Bug

Stoned Possie

The Truckee River is a veritable minefield of basement deep holes, car sized boulders with overhangs big enough to hide submarines and speedy pocket water that creates the trickiest of drifts .  The simple technical solution to these problems is weight, deep-sea fishing style weight.  But in all honesty I despise crimping lead --even the lead-free birdie friendly kind-- on to my leader.  It's a pain in the ass, slides around easily and compromises the line.

So the general solution for myself is to load down flies with tungsten and non-toxic wire wrap. A heavy lead fly I've grown to admire on the Truckee is the Possie Bugger.  It gets a lighter dropper down quickly and although it doesn't quite resemble anything, it's natural movement can spark strikes.

Inspired by the Possie Bugger, I tied up some Possie styled Stoney looking buggies.  Generally a lot of stone flies don't seem to have the movement I like, so I tried to imitate some of the movement of the Possie Bugger with the psuedo-look of a Stone fly.  All in all a lot of my own successes on the Truckee have been brought not on realistic imitations but on impressionistic styled flies, natural movement and presentation.  So hence my trial at the Stoned Possie, something that will hopefully get deep, wiggle around a bit and resemble a little trout appetizer. 

Stoned Possie
Hook: MFC 7002 
Thread: Black 6/0
Weight: Non-Toxic Lead Wire
Tail: Natural Rabbit 
Rib: Black Ultra Wire
Abdomen: Dark Fox Squirrel Dubbbing
Throax: Arizona Synthetic Peacock Dubbing
Legs: MFC Centipede Legs: Med. Clear/Tan
Head: Gold Tungsten Bead

Luminescent Stoned Possie (LSP)
Hook: MFC 7002 
Thread: Black 6/0
Weight: Non-Toxic Lead Wire
Tail: Natural Rabbit (Fluffy Bunny Furs) 
Rib: Mirage Opal Tinsel & Black Ultra Wire
Abdomen: Australian Opossum
Throax: Arizona Synthetic Peacock Dubbing
Legs: MFC Centipede Legs: Med. Clear/Tan
Head: Gold Tungsten Bead

Adding the Opal Tinsel ribbing adds to my Sparkle Theory on the Truckee --
"Fish like Sparkles".  Well I guess it's not a theory, more like and idea I'd like to believe..  
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