Saturday, November 15, 2014

Getting Ready for Belize

Johnson's Blue Bonefish Villa

Looks inviting. The end of February several of us are going to Bill from Plateau Fly Shop and his wife Sarah on a trip to the Blue Bonefish Villa on San Pedro, Belize.  The plans are four days of flats fishing from boats, one day of reef fishing or snorkeling and one free day.  Looks like several good ideas for the free day, but I may need to just relax.

The owner, Jim Johnson, sent a list of flies (and other gear) to bring, plus I have a few friends that have given recommendations on flies, leaders, etc.  Steve, who I'll be traveling with, just gave a fantastic program on how to tie leaders and improve our knot tying.  Soon I'll get started on that.  Also, I've been trying to improve my casting with my 8 wt saltwater rod.  Its turned cold, but I still need to get out and practice more.

Here are a few of the flies that have been suggested.
Bonefish Bitters

This fly was on the list from the Villa, also some friends recommended it. I used a Tiemco U401 #8 hook on the ones shown. The head is small bead chain eyes, coated with Clear Cure Goo and then colored with magic marker. I've used two different kinds of legs: Speckled Centipede, Med Orande and Sili Legs, Sand/orange-Blk Flake. The wing is a tan Hi-vis under deer hair.  Hopefully, the deer hair will serve as a weed guard.


This fly was highly recommended by Steve and I've learned to listen to his advice. I used a #4 saltwater hook and the eyes are beadchain.  I've varied the size and color of the eyes. The tail is fox fur, as is the wing.  The legs are the same Sili Legs as above.  The body and head are a sparkle material.  I did some of the heads in pink, all of the bodies are white or pearl.  

Lefty's Bonefish Fly

This one was not recommended, but for the salt you have to have one of Lefty's patterns. Side note: I was lucky enough to meet and talk to Lefty a couple of years ago...what a character!  Also, this is a very simple tie.  I used both #8 and #6 saltwater hooks. Everything was tied in over the beadchain eyes. The fur is badger and some pearl or gold krystal flash. One small bunch of fur on top (what will be the bottom) of the hook. After turning the hook over, I tied in fur, flash and the more fur. The person who did the video used white thread, but then did the head in pink for Lefty. I did a few that way and a few all pink thread.

The Avalon

Jim recommend this fly for permit.  It is weighed much heavier than the others and is tied larger.  The hook is a # 2 or 4 saltwater and the eyes are bead chain.  The keel is 20 lb hard mono with 4 1/8" beads, this adds weight and is suppose to rattle when stripped. Mouth is orange antron yarn. Black krystal flash makes up the antennae. The legs are the same Centipede legs as above.  I just realized that you can't see the body (tan Chenille) and the shell back ( pearl flat braid) in this picture. The claws are rabbit strips, one tied to each side.

Because of the keel, this fly won't sit properly for a picture, so I put the keel in the vise to show the shell back and also how the claws are attached. Sorry the picture isn't the best.

That's what I've tied so far, going to do some Gotchas, Crazy Charlies and Christmas Island specials.  I'll add them when I get some tied.

As I mentioned before it just turned cold here, and I'm really looking forward to the warmth of Belize.  

Friday, November 14, 2014

Fall at the Springfield Nature Center

If you are looking for fishing, I'm sorry.  This will just be some pictures I've taken while walking at the Springfield Nature Center this fall.  I've included some animal and some that just show Mother Nature at her best. I like what I call "artsy-fartsy" pictures, so the subject matter may vary, but all photos where taken at the Nature Center this fall.

I was on the board walk watching these young ladies.  I had spotted them from the bridge and made my way along the boardwalk. Then I saw the buck shown above coming along.  He was aware of me, but didn't seem too concerned.  Usually, the buck are more skittish than the doe.  This morning I came upon one group of doe that I could have hit with a short roll cast and one that I could have tickled with my 8' 6" fly rod.  They really are that used to people.

At this point, I'd estimate the distance between me and the buck was less than 30 feet. This morning, directly below the Nature Center building I spotted the buck shown below.  There was a man and his daughter walking down the steps from the building and when they reached the bottom of the steps I pointed out the buck.  That will give those of you familiar with the area just where he was.  This is the second time I saw him in this area.

Besides the large critters, there are a few smaller ones. There is at least one more little fellow that had ran out of the picture. I believe I saw more chipmunks this year than ever before.  And there are lots of squirrels! Like the songbirds, these guys are hard to photograph, always on the move.

I really got lucky on the shot above. The focus seems to be pretty good with the background blurred. Now a couple of my "artsy-fartsy" shots.

Last week one of my Facebook friends, I forget who, posted a picture of a frost flower.  I don't believe I had ever heard of them before.  Then this morning, my good friend and fishing buddy Larry, posted pictures of some from his backyard.

Just after I saw the nice buck I saw what I thought was white plastic bags thrown close to the trail.  When I got close I saw what I believe are the first frost flowers I've ever seen. They are definitely the first I ever recognized as what they are. Here are a couple of shots of them. A few up close and then an area shot.

Near the end of today's hike I saw a flock of about 10 turkeys. These two started across the trail, changed their mind and ran along the trail for a short distance, then back toward the others.

That's all for now.  I've got to tie some flies and leaders for a February fishing trip to Belize. I might show some of the flies as I get them tied and, hopefully, some fish pictures when I return.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Floating and Fishing the Big Piney

First time for me on the Big Piney.  We put in at Six Crossing and planned to float and fish down to the Ross access. We did stop fishing and started to paddle harder when it looked and sounded like a thunder storm was about to hit.  We reached our destination with just a few drops hitting us and I don't believe the storm ever really developed. Even with the earlier than expected takeout, I had a long but fun day.  Left home at 5:45 am and returned about 10:45 pm. I've been tired today, but would definitely go again. What can be much more fun than good friends, floating a beautiful river and even catching a few fish?

Three of us, Sharon, Lou and I, that floated the James Saturday did this one Wednesday.  Unfortunately our fourth from the other day had to work. Just after the put in we came up to the first of the many pretty bluffs along the river.

Notice the cave near the top of this bluff. Look at the close-up below.  We think that straight below is an eagle's nest, near the bottom of the photo, and another one to the right of the cave, vertically between the cave and the first nest.

Each of the ladies spotted at least one snake, one had a frog in its mouth.  I was downstream from them and missed this sight. Saw a few heron, both Great Blue and Green. Also saw a very large soft shell turtle, the largest I've ever seen. Two things that really added to this trip was we didn't see or hear many other other people.  There was one couple in a canoe that passed us.  The other was something we did not expect to see.  Take a look at Lou's photo:

Yes, that's a stealth bomber! It was very loud as it passed overhead.  Actually, it either made two passes or there where two different ones. In spite of the noise from this, the trip was very nice, peaceful and enjoyable.

What about the fish? We all caught some. I got several longear sunfish, a couple of creek chub (Lou called one a hornyhead chub), and a small smallie. I believe Sharon's caught three goggle-eye, a few green sunfish (her favorite), a chub or two, and some longears, not sure what Lou caught, but I know she had a nice smallie and was talking to fish the entire float.

Just going to add a few pictures now from the float. Some with comments.

Tying on a new fly and taking a short break.

Lunch time.  We also stop for a morning and afternoon snack break.  Afterwards we went to a Chinese Buffet that also featured a Mongolian Grill.

Lots of trees and rocks makes for good fishing!

 I'm heading down stream while Lou is fishing.  Sharon's somewhere up stream from me. Now a few of Lou's pictures.  She got most of the fish pictures.
 One of the green sunfish Lou caught.  Notice all the pink reflecting on the fish and Lou's glasses.

Sharon and me coming floating down stream.

Nice smallie, another selfie by Lou.

My smallmouth, not as big as those I caught in Wisconsin or Canada, but it still put a nice bend in the flyrod. Good friends, good fishing, good water to float, almost no other river traffic all made this a very good day.  Thanks to Lou and Sharon for showing me this river to fish and float.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Floating the Lower James River

Three friends and I set out Saturday to float and fish a five mile section of the James River. Our plan was to put in at the Kerr Access and take out at the Cox access. We planned a late departure from Springfield.  I hoped this would put us behind the crowds, but no such luck.

The fishing was fun, but nothing to brag about. We caught smallmouth, Kentucky bass, bluegills, longear sunfish, creek chub and Lou even landed a soft-shell turtle that was foul hooked.  Sharon was nice enough to unhook it, but says the turtle tried to reward her with a little nipping.  Personally, my biggest fish was the creek chub.  Other than that, I caught several longears.  There were several places were I had hits on just about every cast. I fished poppers almost the entire float and I believe Lou and Sharon did the same.

First stop: Lou, Isabel and Sharon resting and and refreshing.

Sharon playing one of her many fish.  You can see just a few of the other river users behind her.  We often went to the edge of the river to let the crowds pass. Some of the others insisted on forcing everyone on the river to listen to their music.  It was blaring so loud you could hardly hear anything else.  The later the day, the more their alcohol took effect and the more vulgar they got.  But even that didn't ruin a fishing and float trip among friends.
Lou and Isabel pulled over in the shade to let others pass us by.  One of the few times Lou did not have a fly rod in her hands. Isabel didn't fish, just along for the ride. Near the end of the day, when I was fished out, I held on to her canoe and she paddled us down the stream, so I guess I was just along for the ride then.
Sharon tying on a new fly, Isabel relaxing.

Lou making one of her several hundred casts of the day. There is no way I can fish as long as she can.
There were fish all up and down this section of the stream, they seemed to be swimming in the channel here.
The three fly fishers.  The three of us plan on fishing and floating the Big Piney on Wednesday.  Isabel has to work, so just the three of us this time.
Sharon and I up close, I believe that's Lou just behind and then more of the other floaters. The bow of Isabel's canoe in the foreground.

Beaching the kayak's to stretch our legs and do a little fishing from the gravel bar. Thanks to Isabel for taking these last few pictures for us.

We took out about 7 or 7:30. Had a very good day with good friends.  We made a nice day even better with a stop in Nixa when four tired, grubby floaters went into Ruby Tuesday's for a late supper.

Just got this photo of Sharon with the turtle that Lou caught.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Fireside lodge on Little Vermillion Lake

Four of us, Steve, Rick, Gary and myself left for Ontario, Canada on July 5.  We arrived at Fireside Lodge mid afternoon on the 6th. We settled into our cabins, had an orientation on the lake system, was given a warning about the motor eating big rocks just below the water surface and enjoyed a very good evening meal. I'll say now that all of the evening meals and breakfasts were wonderful with all we could possibly want to eat.  The lunches were sandwiches, chips, fruit, and cookies, very satisfying.  If you go hungry here, you're too picky.  That's all I'll say about the food. We then got into our two boats and headed for Chicago Bay on the lower west side of Little Vermilion. Rick and Steve were in one boat, Gary and I in the other.  Rick and Gary use conventional equipment, Steve and I are fly fishermen. Gary caught a small pike, I had lots of casting practice and I'm sure Rick and Steve caught fish. I drove the boat back that evening to be sure I could handle it in an emergency, I thought my arm was going to drop off. Thank goodness Gary was the captain the rest of the trip.

Sunset from our back deck

We had long days, sunrise was about 5:15 and sunset was about 9:15.  Seemed like it was light for about an hour before and after those times.

Monday we boated to Muskinonge Lake, better know as Musky Lake. We had to boat to the west end of the upper lake and then motor up a very windy, over 50 bends, creek. The trip up the creek took up to 45 minutes, depending if you made it over the beaver dam or not.  Rick and Steve got stuck each time up, but not back down when the current was helping. Gary and I made it each time.  After the fishermen knocked part of it down, the beavers built it back up at night. That morning I caught my first pike.

And then later that morning I got a little nicer one.

These were two of the smaller ones I ended up catching, but it was so much fun and tiring that I didn't take anymore pike pictures. I took very few pictures at all once the fishing got hot. As the afternoon worn on, it looked like a storm coming so we left for the lodge about 4 pm.

We beat the rain.  Most of the week, we had nasty looking skies, but except for a few drops near the end of the week, all of the rain came after we got to the lodge and mostly at night.

Tuesday we went to the upper arm of the lake, Gary and I fished Boot Bay and Chairman Bay.  Most of  this will be about Gary and I because we were fishing together.  Steve and Rick, especially Steve, always caught more than we did.  This was Steve's 10th or 11th trip, so he had a slight advantage. Gary and I had a slow day and it turned very cold on the way in.  We each caught nice smallmouth, he caught twice as many as I did.  I don't recall if I caught 1 or 2.  Hey, at least we were fishing and having fun.

Wednesday we went back to Musky Lake.  This time when Steve and Rick got stuck on the beaver dam, we had to pull them off.  Both Gary and I caught several nice pike.  Rick and Steve also got into some real nice smallmouth.  On the way up the creek, we saw 2 beaver and there were a couple of eagles.  We also saw loons and gull every day. The loons calls were just like On Golden Pond.

Thursday we started at Cedarbough Lake.  We had to motor up a very small creek to get there.  Not nearly as long as the one to Musky Lake, but very twisty and narrow.  Gary only put me in the trees once, so that wasn't too bad. No way I was going to complain as long as he was driving. We also went back to the upper arm and fished Ament Bay and then fished Chicago Bay again. It was a slow day and Gary and I quit about 3. This was Steve's best day of the trip: one of the items on his "bucket list" was to catch a Musky on a fly.  Thursday he was successful.  When he sends me a copy of the picture, I'll add it here.

Friday we went back to Musky Lake.  In spite of the long ride, it was my favorite place to fish.  Gary and I led the way followed by several other boats.  We cleared the dam, then had to pull Rick and Steve off the dam.  Then we pulled a couple off the dam.  The next boat tried the other side, got no "running start" and hung up.  Since there was other help there and the small holding area above the dam was getting crowded, Gary and I went on. Here are some pictures of the dam.

Stuck again!!!

This was my best day as I caught 20+ pike, most of them between 30 and 36 inches long.  They were all caught on a single fly, a Murdich Minnow.  Gary did even better than I did. Besides all of the fish, we saw an eagle sweep down and take a pike off the water and then to the trees to have a meal.

I caught a fish on each of these flies, plus another one that I lost due to operator error.  The pike I caught on it managed to undo the snap and I did not notice until the fly went flying off the line. I caught the smallmouth on the fly on the upper right.  I don't know it's name, but Terry Tanner tied one like it at a SMFF meeting and I liked the pattern. The fly at the lower right is the minnow that I used all day on Friday.  This one was tied directly to the wire leader and you can still see the pary I cut off at the end of the day.

It was a very good trip.  Alan and Audrey, our hosts at Fireside are very friendly people and went out of their way to greet us each day.  I enjoyed the company of Gary, Rick and Steve.  maybe all 4 of us can fish together again someday.  I highly recommend Fireside Lodge. The pike had my 8 wt rod bent double a few times, but I still prefer Ozark Trout fishing.