Friday, November 1, 2013

A Fall Day in the Ozarks

Beautiful earth tones, bronze, orange, yellow, rust, the evergreens, as their name implies, adding green and the occasional splash of a bright red; that was the view on an early morning drive to Lake Taneycomo. A perfect start to a day on the water with friends from home. Meeting up with Marty and Jim by what use to be called the Rocking Chair Hole. Of course with the storms of the last few years, the only hole(s) seem to be the ones in front of and behind the large rocks that where put in the water to trip unsuspecting waders.  So far I've avoided that, but I have a feeling my day will come.

I'd love to report that the fishing was great. Although we all caught fish, in general it was slow.  I did have a few times when I had takes on two or three consecutive casts.  The fish were a decent size, probably only one keeper and he was in the under 12 inch class. Some of the fish had good color, too bad I'd left my camera at home and my phone in the truck. I know that I don't have to say this for my friends...soft hackles with a g-bug dropper.  Most of the first fish were on the dropper and then later, most on the soft hackle, so go figure.

As Jim said, it was a beautiful day to be on the water and then we caught fish to make it even better. To top it off we went to Dana's and were met by Cheri and Jan for a nice lunch.  Good to see friends from home and get to fish with them.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Baby Tarpon fishing, Campeche and Edzna

Tarpon do love to jump!

Standing on the casting platform, fly in the left hand, rod ready to cast.  Sam, our guide, suddenly calls " ten o'clock, mangroves,....more right....closer...strip, strip, strip." That's just the beginning of fishing for juvenile tarpon in Campeche, Mexico. Its an exciting, tiring adventure.

When I was in the army, one of the acronyms that was often used and appropriate was FUBAR. I usually don't use the words that is used for, but, unfortunately, it would be a very accurate description of my casting on this trip. I had practiced with my 8 weight rod and was casting 40 to over 50 feet with it and feeling quite good. But when I used the stiffer, saltwater rod with 30 and 40 pound leader and tippet, I lost all of my timing.  Was it the excitement, the feeling that I had to hurry, nervousness from the situation? Whatever it was , my casting was absolutely terrible. It reminded me of going to dances with Connie.  I could sit and listen to the music, keeping perfect timing all evening long, but get up to dance and all of my timing and coordination  to leave. Steve, Sam and Alex all gave me pointers, and occasionally, I get a good cast, but I sure need to work on something.

Each day we were picked up by Alex who drove us to the boat. We then took off in the dark with Sam holding a flashlight for our running light. Most other boats were using the same system. The first day I was first to fish and we saw fish, but my casts either spooked fish or were too short. Steve fished second and had two tarpon strikes.  The first one was missed due to a "trout" set.  With tarpon, one needs a strip set to the hook properly. The second miss was just that, a miss.  It looked like he had done everything correctly. Later in the afternoon, Steve caught a nice snook. We were met back at the dock by Alex who offered cold beers to both of us. I'm not much of a beer drinker, but that one sure tasted good.

The second day we went much farther then the previous one. A small flock of flamingos flew over us on the way. It was still too dark to see much color but their shape gave them away. Later in the day a larger flock flew overhead and they were very colorful. Steve was up first and when we got to a "river" the tarpon were rolling everywhere. The tarpon seemed to enjoy toying with our flies. They were hitting and moving them with their head, playing with the flies and teasing us. After a few misses, Steve hooked and landed a tarpon.  It wore me out just watching the fight. With Steve's help I managed to entice a couple of strikes, but tried the old "trout" set. I finally got a decent cast to one, set the hook properly and played the fish for a few jumps.  I thought I had him whipped, but one more leap and my hook was loose. The fish was unhooked and I was hooked, to this kind of fishing. Not too bad of a day: Steve had four jumpers and boated two, I had two jumpers. After going back to the hotel we walked to the central market and then to supper. 
Jumping Tarpon

Steve's Tarpon

The third day was a side trip to Edzna, a visit to one of the forts, and supper with Alex and Eduardo. More on that later.

The third fishing day was another good one, but no tarpon were boated. I went back to my "trout" sets and, of course, missed them.  Steve had two jumpers, but mishaps loss both of them. The first one Steve had next to the boat, grabbed the leader making it a "caught" fish when it tried another run.  Unfortunately, Steve was kneeling on his line and when it went tight the leader broke. The other fish was a real fighter and just about took Steve into his backing. After several jumps, probably at least seven or eight, the fish made another long run, jumped and threw the fly. When the line was retrieved and the tippet and fly inspected, Steve found that the hook had been bent by the fish.
The point has been bent downward.
Fishing day four was by far the slowest.  I managed one cast to a rolling tarpon that Steve and I spotted. It was probably one of my best casts of the four days.  Problem...what neither of us saw was that this tarpon was on the far side of a large school of tarpon.  As my line sailed over  the school to my target, the water boiled from the school scattering and of course my anticipated tarpon with them.
Steve caught a small snook.

The trip to Mexico was my first and I really had a good time. I would go back after I practice casting with a saltwater 8 weight.  Just hooking the tarpon and having them make their jumps is so exciting.  It was a good trip and everyone was pleasant to be with and fish with.

The crew at Marganzo's: Steve, Alex, me and Eduardo.

 Steve was my traveling companion, Alex is the owner of Campeche Tarpon and Eduardo is an excellent fly tier and tarpon enthusiast. We met at Marganzos where they ordered a Mexican style supper for us.  Vet entertaining evening discussing tarpon and flies.

That's all the fishing talk, but for my non fishing fans I want to include a few pictures of the Mayan ruins at Edzna and a few pictures of Campeche. We fished Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. On Wednesday we were met by Alfredo who works for the Bureau of Tourism.  I believe I heard that he helps to train other tour guides. Steve had requested him as our guide Wednesday and as our driver to and from Cancun. Alfredo has wonderful English, and knows his Mayan culture very well. We practically had both Edzna and the fort to ourselves.  Here are a couple pictures of Edzna.

There are two forts like the one we visited.  One at the north end and one at the south end of town.  They were built to defend the city from pirates.  Alfredo started naming pirates who attacked the city and about the only two that I know and he did not name are Captains Hook and Jack Sparrow.

Draw bridge over the moat. Beyond the moat is a high curved wall that led to the bridge.

Empty moat and entrance to the fort.

A few pictures of the cathedral, town and waterfront.

This and the picture above are in the garden courtyard of the cathedral.

Part of the old wall around the city.

There is artwork everywhere.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Sunfish Heaven Revisited

Watching my grandson again last week, so I figured I'd be able to visit the pond for some more fishing.  When I asked the Tri-lakes members to suggest warm water flies for the boys at Good Samaritan Boys Ranch to tie this fall, Paul made a few suggestions.  One that he said we should tie is the Briminator.  I don't have any Pheasant feathers, so I made a substitution to get almost the same look and, I hoped, action. I took my two Briminators with me last Friday morning to give them a try.

When I unlocked and opened the gate to my sister's place, I was greeted by a couple of cows. I didn't know if they had broken through the electric fence or if my brother-in-law had moved them over.  Either way, it meant they had the same access to the pond as I did. I drove past their yard and saw the gate closed, so I now knew there were cows in the same pasture as the pond I was going to fish. And, as I found out later, in the pond.

I decided to try the Briminator first, so I tied one on and walked down to the water. I started at the closest access point and caught a few sunfish. I moved over to the dam and caught a few more.  A few of the cattle decided they wanted to cross the dam, but after spotting me and the long rod, they watched me a while, decided they wanted to avoid me, turned around and walked to the other side of the pond.

Two or so hours of fishing and my Briminator was terminated. My thoughts about the fly, the fish and the pond are: I caught a lot of fish including two bass, but all small ones. There were several times when I had to get out the hemostat to remove a fly taken too deeply.  That wasn't a problem with the poppers I used two weeks ago. Instead of a six weight, I used a four weight that I built.  It was a real nice choice because none of the fish caught were very big.  The fish didn't seem to have any fight to them even on the lighter rod.

Sharing the pond

Sunfish caught on a Briminator
The next evening I decided to try my luck again and I thought I'd mix up the flies a bit. The fishing was the slowest this summer. All of the takes except one that I missed were easy takes, nothing hitting anything hard. I caught three bass and a few sunnies. The smallest bass, all of about eight or mine inches, gave me the best time as he broke water with nice jumps three times. The flies I used were a popper, a Briminator, and a bug-z.  I caught fish on all three.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Sunfish Heaven

Having no plans for the Fourth of July, I decided to head to my son's house in Chamois and fish my sister's pond less than 5 minutes from Randy's. If anyone else fishes this pond, they are sneaking in and doing such when no one is around.  So its about as close to my own personal fishing spot as possible.  My plan was to fish for a couple hours, twice a day, starting at about 6 AM and then again 6 PM.

I'm very fortunate to have an upcoming trip with Steve, author "Campeche's Baby Tarpon" in the latest issue of Flyfisher to fish for these fish he described. To fish for these baby tarpon I'll need to use an 8 weight rod, which I seldom cast.  So, even though I've been practicing some with my 8 wt., I decided to take it to the pond and cast on the water.  Armed with the 8 wt. with a helmet head sculpin and a 6 wt. with a Wilson Bug-Z, I decided to attack the sunfish and bass in this little pond. First I used the 8 wt. and to my surprise started catching sunfish. Yes, this is a lot bigger rod than needed, but again I need the practice casting a heavy rod.  When I got tired of the heavy rod, I changed to the 6 wt. and caught sunfish and largemouth of this as well, yes, I'm aware that the largemouth is also a sunfish. That 6 wt. really felt light after the 8 wt.

Sunfish caught on a Wilson Bug-Z
I returned to the 8 wt. and my sculpin pattern was eventually destroyed, so I tied on a large deer hair popper.  One bass that took this barely was able to get it in his mouth and the sunfish were only able to move it about. 

Last Monday, Sharon hosted a "popper" party at her and Joe's house.  She, Lou, Tom and I met before our Tri-lakes Fly Fisher meeting and tied poppers.  Those I tied that night, along with a couple I already had were my weapon of choice the other several times I fished. The fish loved them. I don't normally use poppers, but that may change.  As I said, the fish loved them, any that I threw to them.  After these sessions I can understand why Tom likes them so much.

I fished am and pm on both Thursday and Friday, tied some flies and went to a local church's fried chicken dinner on Saturday, then fished again Sunday AM.  Here are a few more pictures of the fish and the pond.  There is probably a different popper in each picture and I believe I'll have one more with a Bug-Z. 

One of Tom's poppers

Love the color this one shows

A Bug-Z fooled this one

Going back to Randy's the end of this week to watch Rowan, who informed me he wants to fish.  I just may forget the worms and give him a flyrod with a popper tied on.  Fishing this nice little pond early and again in the evening was very nice.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Back in the Water Again

Man, its been awhile, both trout fishing and posting.  I did go with the MSU class in May, but that was mainly helping the students.  Fished Rex's pond and caught some fantastic blue gills.  Helped the boys at Good Samaritan Boys Ranch, but again, that was mainly helping.  Took Rowan fishing a couple of days last week; he's casting a Zebco pretty well and he caught a few blue gill.

I did try a new fly by Terry, he's calling it a Bug-Z.  I caught blue gill and bass on it at the boys ranch and a nice crappie when fishing with Rowan.  Should have tried it today at Taney, but I never.

Fishing buddy Russ and I wanted to fish a tail water the last two days, but everyone was running water.  Today, Russ couldn't go, but the generators were off this morning at Taney, so off I went.  As I approached the 248/165 intersection I saw eight deer standing on and near the shoulder of the road,  Slowed way down, didn't want to collide with one, much less eight.  Fortunately, they saw me, turned and ran back into the woods. Drove down to the parking lot by the outlets and geared up.  Realized my net was back in the garage.  Not a big deal unless I hooked a really large suspense, I did not. 

As I approached the water I noticed that the spot I like to fish was available, so I was happy to get it.  On about my third cast I got a snag and broke my hook, I was fishing an extra fine one.  Tied on another, just a little heavier and on the first cast I found the same snag.  I can be a slow learner.  This time the tippet broke.  Retied, slightly adjusted my approach and got a beautifully colored trout about 14 inches long.  This guy must have thought he was a wild one as he jumped at least 7 or 8 times.  Brought him to hand an released him.  This trout and all of the other brightly colored ones were very slender,  The duller ones actually seemed fatter and healthier. One bad experience from not having my net.  If you are  fishing a dropped be sure you are clear of the lead hook when you release the fish on the other.  I wasn't and the fish really set the hook well in my finger.  Sure glad I fish barbless hooks. This one was in deep enough that it still took some effort to remove. The blood on the fly may have helped because I started catching fish on that fly.

There was a father and son fishing just downstream.  They had just one rod and the father was trying to help his young son how to fly fish. I could tell the boy was getting bored, he wasn't getting any hits, so I told his dad about Mountain Spring.  He said they may try it before they head back to Tulsa.

Not too many fish, but standing in the cool water with the fog surrounding me really felt good.  I finished a good day by visiting Dana's for lunch and then buying a 2013 Silverado Crew Cab.

Monday, March 4, 2013

March Madness Begins...

The two white creatures on the water are white pelicans.

Yes, I skipped the opening of trout season at Missouri's trout parks.  Tried that once and decided that was enough.  So when today looked like it would be fairly nice and with the water off, I headed to Taneycomo. The temperature was not too bad, but the wind was gusting pretty good and made casting a little difficult.  I've been tying a lot of classic wet flies and thought I'd try one or two of those.  But I still tied on a soft hackle as a dropper.  In what was probably a little less than two hours more than a handful of trout were brought to hand, or net, and released. All but two were caught on a soft hackle!

One of the pelicans
The second trout I landed was probably the heaviest, a nice fat rainbow of about 15 inches; the last one was probably just as lengthy, maybe a little longer, but no girth at all.  It was colored nicely and fought okay, but "skinny as a rail". March madness? As I was putting my net away after landing that second fish, I somehow managed to undo the net from my vest.  While playing in the water successfully retrieving the net, my rod bent.  Yep, I had left the flies drift down stream as I was playing with the net. The result was another nice, 14-15 inch rainbow.  These were the only two fish caught on the wet fly and not the soft hackle.  They were the largest fish caught by me today.  Two white pelicans were swimming on the lake for awhile.  It was a pretty sight when they decided to leave.  They were so white against the drab background of the leafless trees.

This is a busy month, five of us are planning a two day trip this weekend.  We'll be fishing the upper end of the North Fork of the White Saturday and then Simms Valley Lake from our kayaks on Sunday.  There are supposed to be chain pickerel in the lake and that is what we will be going after. The following week we begin our fishing class at the boys' ranch and then I head to Mountain Home, Arkansas for the sowbug round-up. Thankfully, the MSU class doesn't start until the first week of April this year. Hope to have some more stories for next week.

Have to add a few fish pictures!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Fishin the "Glades"


Gary and I flew to Fort Meyers, then drove to Naples on Tuesday for three days of fishing with Capt. Jon Sebold.  Gary had fished with Capt. Jon several years ago and has been talking about going back ever since. A cold front, actually two, and strong winds prevented us from fishing in the gulf, so Capt. Jon got his flats boat and we headed to the Everglades. Each day, we dressed a little warmer and put in at Chokoloskee Island in the northwest part of Everglades National Park

  I have always pictured the Everglades as very narrow creeks flowing through the mangroves. The amount of open water, large rivers and bays really surprised me. The first morning after passing over several bodies of open water, traveling up wide and fairly wide rivers at nearly open throttle, we were going up a narrower creek at the required "no wake" speed and came up to two park rangers.  Capt. Jon showed them the required license, life preservers and throw cushion and then we were on our way to the next bay and some tarpon fishing.  If you are only interested in fly fishing, let me say right away that I left my fly tackle at home and was using spinning outfits.  After the three days, I've probably redeveloped all of my bad habits, not that I was ever a good caster.

The first day proved fun and eye opening, but was very slow. I think of it as a day of ones.  I saw one dolphin, one shark, one alligator and Gary had one very good hook-up. A very nice tarpon that unfortunately took one great leap and shook loose from the hook.  He left Gary with a souvenir, a scale that a half dollar would not cover up, perhaps not even a silver dollar. Both the captain and Gary guessed that the tarpon would have been in the hundred pound class.  Gary caught one that large last time he was down. That was the only hook-up on the first day. A few more tarpon were seen, a few takes, but no hook-ups.

Thursday morning was colder and windier than Wednesday.  We decided to target redfish and snook on this day. The Lady fish had a different idea.  It seems like every place we cast they were present. When the ladies took your lure they started shaking and dancing all over the water.  Although they are fun to catch, we were looking for snook and redfish. We also got into some sea trout and that is when I got lucky.  The Audubon book says the sea trout get up to 28 inches and this one that I caught and Capt. Jon is holding for me is very close to that size, if not larger.
 Thursday gave us many more fish than the previous day, but no redfish and no snook. We did catch lots of ladyfish and sea trout.  Lots of fun, but not what we were looking for.  We saw more alligators, pictures follow, and a couple of sharks.  The captain said he hit a bull shark twice on the nose with his pole when the shark came up to investigate.  Later we saw another large shark that was swimming on his side and not showing his dorsal fin.  Sick or injured, or just acting strange?

 The gator shown here followed us up this creek and kept cruising past us.  He was there when we were fishing and came to look at us when we were having lunch. In the last of these three pictures you can see him between the captain and Gary. He's not too far from the boat. Its possible he thought our bottles of water were fish and that's why he stuck around.
 Wednesday we were dressed even warmer.  I believe Gary and I each had two long sleeve shirts, a fleece vest and a rain jacket, we were also wearing rain pants to act as a wind breaker.  It was a very cold, for Florida, morning so we had decided to start a little later than the previous two days.

As on the previous day, we went after snook and redfish, but started with ladyfish and a couple of trout.  Then we finally found some snook.  They are definitely fun to catch; good, strong fighters and, yes, I speak from experience as I managed to catch a few nice size ones.  I believe it was some time after lunch when we finally found a couple of redfish and a few more snook. Wish I could describe what it was like to catch a redfish, but I still haven't experienced that yet. Gary landed one or two, but all I managed on Friday were snook, sea trout and, of course, a couple of ladyfish.

I really enjoyed the trip.  Gary is always fun to fish with even if he doesn't fly fish.  Capt. Jon was helpful and you could tell he enjoyed what he was doing. Good time, I'm sure I'd do it again, but perhaps when its a little warmer.

Now a few more pictures.

What I thought all of the Everglades looked like.